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Ryan's "Hope to compete again in 2014" log

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FINALLY got out to get my imbalance diagnosis done today, not horrible news, but it's going to take some work. Apparently, my mid-trapezius on my right side isn't firing properly, which is causing my shoulder blade to cock out when I'm straining to complete a rep. It's not a big issue NOW, but down the line it will only get worse if I don't bring that side up, so that's the plan. Added on, I found out that my left spinal erector is WAY smaller than the right (from babying it for so long after my repeated injuries, my right side overcompensated), so that's adding to things getting worse over time. Gotta lighten my deadlifts up for a while and start super-light off of a defeceit pull to help bring that around, so apparently they want me to max my DLs out at no more than 225 for a bit. Going to be easy with that kind of weight, but I'll have to keep the ego in check so I can actually get better this time instead of always making things worse.


So, I'll be going in to rehab these issues every Wednesday, we'll see how things come along by the end of summer. Kirk (guy who's helping me out and got me into strongman years ago) says he's determined to get me back stronger than I was at my previous best, so it's on!


I'll be going in to do some deadlifts and other stuff tonight to get started, we'll see how things go in due time!

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Thanks, Robert! It's never fun having to slow down a bit and start at the bottom, but I need to do it and come back properly. I never seem to do it correctly by my own plans, so I need some guidance this time, for sure.


Shoulders and lower back work tonight (which I'll be doing again on Wednesday next week) -


Standing strict 1-arm overhead DB press -

1x5 @ 35 lbs. each arm

1x5 @ 50 " "

3x12 @ 75 " "


Deadlift from 1.5" defeceit, standing on plates -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x3 @ 225 lbs.

1x1 @ 315 lbs.

Then, laddered up according to the plan:

1x2, 4, 6, 8, 10 @ 225 lbs.

3x12 @ 225 lbs.

10, 8, 6, 4, 2 @ 225 lbs. back down again

The plan originally called for one set @ 12 reps, but I wanted to up the volume slightly while still staying in my lower weight range. I never seem to follow the program completely, eh? All sets done double overhead thumbless grip to work the grip strength a bit.


1-arm cable shrugs, right arm only -

4x25 @ 120 lbs.


Blue 2-handled cable overhead press, standing about 14" out on cable to increase tension -



Finally, some weird movement that it supposed to help the imbalance, it involves roping a 2-handled cable around a post at about neck height, pulling just a bit of tension, squeezing the rear delts back and doing some partial overhead presses (stopping just short of lockout), done for 3x20 reps with the thin red cable.


That was it, all good for today, not sure how the program will be changing for deadlifts in the near future if the ladders will go up in reps, more sets at the top, more weight added slowly...I'll find out more next week, hopefully this will finally be my path to a proper comeback and not be just another false start!

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I like your training program. Emphasis on compound lifts, and assistance work for each key lifts. That's my kind of strength training! I hope your back gets better. I know how that goes. I have a childhood injury that left my entire vertebral column curved over to the side, so now I have a chiropractor working on fixing that. They took x-rays, and it was painful just to look at, haha!

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Thanks, everyone! I know that the combination of not wanting to concede to dropping down my weights and never having a proper diagnosis until now are the main reasons I've floundered for so long, but my new resolve is this: I'd rather spend a year fixing things slowly and properly even if it means lifting lighter than spending my days trying to convince myself I'm still strong to where I keep getting hurt. So be it, I'll fight and claw my way back up again!


Got up early to go watch a strongman comp on Saturday, definitely was motivated again to get back in action, so I have to keep training with those guys to get my rehab done and move back to event training once I start to rebuild my base. Did a light leg workout tonight:


Plate hug front squats (emulating lifting a stone from the lap to standing upright, hug plates in front and basically just front squat them up) -

1x6 @ 90

1x6 @ 135

3x8 @ 180

I forgot how tough these are, gonna take some work to re-adapt again.


Plate-loaded squat machine, but the one that I don't like at my 24-hour gym -

3x20 @ 300 lbs.

It's really uncomfortable, I probably BARELY hit parallel on all reps, the plate for positioning legs just won't let me find a spot that feels good.


Horizontal leg press machine -

1x20 @ 250 lbs.

1x20 @ 275

1x20 @ 300


Finally, alternating sets of light leg extensions and seated leg curls -

3x20 extensions @ 75 lbs.

3x20 curls @ 150 lbs.


In between each movement, I did some core work and threw in the following things:


3x20 rope chops to each side @ 25 lbs.


3x12 trunk twists on machine @ 100 lbs.


3x20 on crunch machine @ 100 lbs.


3x10 4kg medicine ball throws at wall each arm, done wind-up shot put style


Just some light core stuff to bring that back up again - my abs are still big as heck, but they've definitely gotten weak from not doing heavy squats and deadlifts for so long, so they need some work.


Tomorrow will be upper back and chest, skating Tuesday, then more rehab work for lower back on Wed.!

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Chest/upper back day -


Pull-ups -

2x2 @ bodyweight (232 lbs. this morning)

1x2 @ 45 lbs. added

1x1 @ 70 lbs. added

3x8 @ 35 lbs. added (all sets to this point done parallel grip medium width)

2x10 @ bodyweight, done ultra-wide grip, which I'm not very good with but am hoping to improve on


Plate-loaded incline bench (one of the few things that doesn't make my right shoulder cock out sideways) -

1x5 @ 180 lbs.

1x5 @ 270 lbs.

1x10 @ 360 lbs.

1x9 @ 360 lbs. (lost all steam on 9th rep, no 10 for me)

2x15 @ 280 lbs.

2x25 @ 180 lbs.


Seated V-handle cable low row -

2x15 @ 250 lbs.


Seated row, neutral grip medium width -

2x25 @ 200 lbs.


Close-grip flat BB bench -

1x10 @ 185 lbs., shoulder going haywire, not fun

1x20 @ 135 lbs, shoulder in place because it was light, but mentally defeated after previous set


Seated EZ bar preacher curls -

3x12 @ 95 lbs.


That was it, felt good, may go skate tomorrow, lower back and shoulders on Wednesday!

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More lower back rehab work today -


3 rounds of 3 minutes step-ups on a tire to warm up, winded me good on the final set trying to keep a fast pace


Incline face-down DB raises for rear delts -

3x20 @ 5 lb. DBs, light weight but they'll sneak up and wear you out quickly!


Deadlifts off 2" box, very light, laddering down and back up:

135 lbs., done as 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 12 reps with 60 seconds between each. Just working on learning again how to activate the glutes and hamstrings properly each rep, something that's been my weak point so I need to start off really light to get back in the groove


Sledgehammer swings hitting large tire, 3 sets of 20 reps


That's it for this week, just a bit of conditioning and form work. Next week I may start with adding in some light stone loading with their 170 lb. one for a few weeks before moving up.


Tomorrow will be upper back and shoulders, a few days off to skip town for my birthday weekend, then back for leg training on Sunday!

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Upper back and shoulders today -


Pull-ups -

2x2 @ bodyweight (232 lbs.)

1x2 @ 35 lbs. added

1x1 @ 70 lbs. added

1x1 @ 90 lbs. added - barely made it, but it worked

3x6 @ 45 lbs. added, done as singles with 2 seconds w/feet on floor between each rep, all done with solid form


Barbell behind the neck power jerks -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x8 @ 185

1x8 @ 190

1x8 @ 195

1x20 @ 135


Barbell behind the neck press, semi-strict (maybe 1-2" dip on knees on some reps near the end, minimal assistance) -

1x12 @ 135 lbs.

1x20 @ 95


V-Handle seated cable row -

3x12 @ 270 lbs.


Cable lean-away lateral raises -

2x20 each arm @ 30 lbs.


Wide-grip pulldowns to collar -

2x20 @ 230 lbs.


DB front raises -

1x20 @ 20s


Wrapped up with a circuit of the following, done 3 times -

Right arm only cable shrugs - 3x40 @ 150 lbs., changing angle each set

Rope/cable face pulls, 45 degree angle - 3x20 @ 150 lbs.

Rubber band w/handles pull-aparts (hands in front straight out from chest, pull to crucifix position) - 3x20


That was it, felt good, two days off for some birthday R&R to celebrate the 36th coming up, back to leg day on Sunday. Feels good to finally have some sort of training plan again and have a goal!

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Hey, Rob!


I've been doing behind-the-neck style presses for quite a few years, and have never had any problems from it. I know there's always been conflicting info, but I think that there are a few main things that have lead to people getting hurt by not doing them safely:


1. Too close of a grip. The closer the hands, the more shoulder stress there is, I go with a very wide grip, with anywhere between pinkies and middle fingers on the wide rings on the bar. I think that too many people go with a grip where their upper arms are inside of the distance of their elbows, which to me puts a lot more stress on my shoulders. I always have done it so that my arms are either goal-post position in a U shape or wider to feel comfortable, and it's never been a problem. A narrower grip is fine when pressing in front (it just means more triceps work to get things moving), because you can have elbows flare forward to be in proper position. Behind the neck, you don't get the same luxury of having the ability to flare the elbows forward, making the shoulders tighter which means it's necessary to be in a position that's comfortable from start to finish.


2. Letting the bar drift back is not good for the shoulders by any means. Using weight you can't control properly from the bottom position is a recipe for disaster. The closer to full extension, the more you can drift back without as much risk for injury, but still, best to never drift back at all.


3. I start the bar off the traps on each rep. I don't feel comfortable trying to cut each rep at ear height coming down - I've always done it that the bar starts and ends on the upper back. I think that people who go heavy and try to slow the bar down too much on the descent to cut the bottom position above the traps may be putting their shoulders at more risk of injury. Of course, it's MUCH harder pressing off the traps than from about 6" up as most people do it, but if it means I don't get hurt, that's okay by me


Like I've heard said many times before, people have done behind-the-neck lifting for a long time, but it was when people started to cut reps short and started letting bad form take over that more people ended up getting hurt. Just like anything else such as upright rows, pulldowns behind the neck, etc., if they're done with good form and safely, there's probably not much worry about injury, but when ego takes over...well...we all know how things go

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Thanks, Joe!


Two days off to run off and have fun away from home for a bit, came back today to get back to business -


Leg day, light as usual just to keep maintaining and work on conditioning -


Zercher squats -

3x25 @ 135 lbs.

Just light for endurance, nothing more than that.


Horizontal leg press -

1x20 @ 300 lbs.

1x20 @ 315 lbs.

1x20 @ 330 lbs.

2x40 @ 200 lbs.


1-legged RDL w/DB in opposite hand -

3x20 @ 65 lbs. each leg


1-legged leg extensions -

2x20 @ 50 lbs. each leg


1-legged seated leg curls -

3x20 @ 80 lbs. each leg


That was it, did some stretching out and the day was done.


Upper back and chest stuff tomorrow, going back to eating super-clean again after about 6 weeks of not being all too strict. I'd stalled out for all that time, so I'm due to get back on track!

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Pulled something in my middle back just a bit on Sunday night (feels like it's right where that malfunctioning trapezius issue has been affecting me), took yesterday off except for a nice 30 minute walk, may train tonight if I feel up to it. Otherwise, another walk today at the very least, lower back work tomorrow!

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Hey, Robert!


Things healed up pretty quickly - I used to pull that muscle every few months, it had been a while since the last time, but it felt back to normal this evening. Opted to lift tonight instead of skate (too late to get out skating by the time I finished my work), did some chest/upper back stuff -


Weighted pull-ups -

2x2 @ bodyweight

1x2 @ 45 lbs. added

1x2 @ 70 lbs. added

3x8 @ 50 lbs. added - done as 5s, then 20 seconds rest, then 3 singles to finish. Went well with these!


Close-grip flat barbell bench -

5x20 @ 135 lbs., just going light for endurance and tricep work


DB rows -

2x25 each arm @ 100 lb. DBs


Dips -

2x10 @ bodyweight, boy, so I still suck with these, never felt comfortable on dips yet after all these years


1-arm seated row on some weird low row machine that actually felt decent -

3x25 each arm @ 140 lbs. (felt more like 80-90 lbs. max compared to a DB, definitely VERY light for the listed weight)


That was it, just had some fun training tonight, lower back rehab work day tomorrow, gotta get rest now because I don't have much time to recover before I'm out the door again!

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Lower back rehab work day!


Lots of stretching and warm-up work that really winded me, then it was deadlift time -

Ladder sets with a very light 135 lbs., done 12 reps, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and back up again, 60 seconds max rest between sets, shortened a few sets down to 30 seconds to just keep things moving quickly.


Incline rear delt/lat DB raises to work on problem trapezius -

3x20 @ 5 lbs. each hand


Tire flipping - hadn't flipped a tire in 2 years, thought that it'd make a good lower body movement, kicked my arse thoroughly -

2 runs of 75 feet of flips with 560 lb. tire, done in 3 parts because my conditioning sucks. Would do about 4 flips, rest 20 seconds, 3 more flips, rest 30 seconds, do the last few to finish. These will do me a lot of good, I need to get myself a nice tire to be able to work this more often.


That was it, next week will either be more tire work or some light stone loads with 170-200 lbs. to re-learn form. It'll be a slow comeback, but if it takes me a year, I'll get to where I was before!

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Thanks, VLV! And yes, to follow the pun, I was rather tired after that session. On top of having terrible endurance for that sort of thing from lack of training it, that tire shredded my shoulders like I spent an hour rubbing a cheese grater against my skin. It's super nasty, torn up and bruised everywhere, but I always toughen up after a few sessions. I had to promise Courtney that I wouldn't train on the tire next week because she thinks I'm going to end up scarred all over, so next Wed. it's stone lifting for me, I'll tear up my forearms instead


Two days off, went in tonight for some shoulder and leg work:


1-arm standing strict DB overhead presses -

1x5 @ 25 lbs. each arm

1x5 @ 50 lb. " "

3x12 @ 75 lb. " "


Behind the neck strict presses, wide grip, bar starting and ending on traps each rep -

1x8 @ 155 lbs.

1x7 @ 165 lbs.

1x15 @ 115 lbs.


Cable lean-away lateral raises -

2x20 @ 30 lbs. each arm


1-leg presses, keeping up with recommendation to only do light assistance work, no squats for a few more months -

5x12 @ 250 lbs. each leg, deep as I can go, wide stance


Seated leg curls -

3x25 @ 120 lbs.


Came home, did some glute/ham raises, 3x20 and that was it.


Shoulders tired, legs pumped (something I rarely experienced with squats) and exhausted, upper back and some chest stuff on Monday!

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Decided to get my upper back and chest stuff out of the way today, despite my usual avoidance of doing chest and shoulders too close together -


Pull-ups -

2x2 @ bodyweight (235 lbs. clothed)

1x2 @ 35 lbs. added

1x1 @ 70 lbs. added

2x3 @ 80 lbs. added, done as singles with 30 seconds between each rep

2x12 @ 45 lbs. added, done as singles with 10-20 seconds between each

1x25 @ bodyweight, done in clusters as 6 reps, 30 seconds rest, repeat, did 7 reps on the final set. Lots of pull-up volume today!


Incline plate-loaded bench machine -

1x5 @ 180 lbs.

1x5 @ 270

1x12 @ 300

1x12 @ 310

1x12 @ 320

1x12 @ 330

1x18 @ 270

1x30 @ 180

1x65 @ 90 (done as 50, rest 20 seconds, 15 reps to finish)


Inverted rows, feet slung out over back of power rack, parallel grip, medium width -

3x25 @ bodyweight


DB flyes on floor, crucifix-style -

3x25 @ 25 lbs. each hand, arms totally straight out to sides


Tricep cable/rope pushdowns -

2x20 @ 140 lbs.

1x25 @ 100 lbs.


EZ bar preacher curls -

1x10 @ 100 lbs.

1x8 @ 110 lbs.

2x18 @ 75 lbs.


That was it, tomorrow is time for some light cardio, skating for sure Tuesday, lower back rehab work on Wednesday again!

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Skateboarding for a while last night, nice 2.5 mile power walk on Monday, back to lifting. Tired as hell, body feels burned out, but went in for my lower back rehab training today -


3 rounds of 3 min. tire step-ups to warm up


Face down on incline bench flyes for bad trap activation, 3x20 @ 5 lbs. per hand


Then, it was just deadlifts on a 2" box to work things out, starting to add a little bit of weight -


1x12 @ 135 lbs.

1x10 @ 185 lbs.

1x8 @ 205 lbs.

1x6 @ 225 lbs.

1x4, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 reps @ 225

All sets with 60 seconds' rest between, until the last set, I needed about 90 seconds to catch my breath. Made me realize how much time I spend getting my wind back on my own squat and deadlift sessions - it's not as short as I seem to sometimes think it is


Didn't make me any less tired, stuffed my face with anything I could eat once I got home, and that's it for today.

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Thanks, Medman - it's a long time coming, and Kirk (my friend who is training me for my lower back rehab and is fixing my upper back imbalance) has definitely instilled the "train smart" mentality in me now. He went through some injury related issues himself and is now squatting about 700 lbs. (at only about 230 lbs!), so I have no choice but to take the advice from someone who has been there. I'm through with this "start to get strong then get hurt" junk - I'd much rather take a year to work my way back PROPERLY than make fast gains, get hurt and be back to square one in 3 months as has been happening over the past years. I guess now that I'm closer to 40 than 30, I need to wisen up a bit


Upper back and shoulder day today, warm up for about 5 minutes, then on to the good stuff -


Seated straight-bar cable row, done to upper chest, focusing in keeping right shoulder in place (my imbalance makes me want to pull slightly upward when I near completion of the rep) -

3x15 @ 240 lbs.


1-arm standing DB overhead press, no side lean, strict -

3x18 @ 60 lbs. each arm, upping reps a bit for endurance


BB rows, haven't done them in ages, starting out lighter again -

3x15 @ 205 lbs., first set all in one, set 2 as 13, rest 10 seconds and complete, final set 12 reps, rest 15 seconds and finish. Lower back just a bit worked from yesterday's high-rep deadlift day, I'll be changing my rowing days to be further away from deadlift Wednesdays.


Seated BB overhead lockouts, about 10-12" ROM from pins to lockout -

2x12 @ 205 lbs.

1x20 @ 185 lbs.

Just something to work on supporting for longer periods of time and to build up tricep strength more


Inverted rows in power rack (always strapped in, I don't need to fall 6 feet down onto my head!) -

3x25 @ bodyweight, one set parallel grip, one set wide overhand, one set on chin bars with semi-underhand grip


Blue 2-handled cable overhead press, standing about 12-14" out from center of cable to add resistance -



Mega-set of blue 2-handled cable alternating 1-arm rows to chest, wrapped around cable stack tower, bench set about 12 feet away for most resistance possible -

20 reps alternating arms, 15 reps " ", 10 " ", 5 " ", no rest, just alternating arms and dropping reps by 5 each round.


Finally, a few sets to work on rehabbing the bad trapezius -

3x20 face-down on incline bench trap flyes (may as well call them that!)


Shoulder blade pinch band overhead presses -

3x20 w/ red cable


Band pull-aparts -

3x20 w/ yellow cable


That's it, worked through everything quickly, tomorrow is off, may get my leg day in Saturday!

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Thanks, Octo!


Leg and chest night on Sunday -


Plate-loaded incline press machine -

1x5 @ 180 lbs.

1x5 @ 270

1x8 @ 360

1x7 @ 380

2x15 @ 300

2x25 @ 230


Single-leg presses, still working on just maintaining the leg strength until I can squat again in a few months:

5x12 @ 270 lbs. each leg, all reps deep for a good stretch and more glute/ham activation off the heels


Crucifix flyes on floor, working on keeping shoulder in place -

2x25 @ 30 lb. DBs, fully stretched out each rep with DBs touching the floor


Seated leg curls, single leg at a time -

4x20 @ 75 lbs. each leg


That was it, just kept it simple tonight, should be in for upper back if I'm up to it later. Only about 5 hours' sleep, got a LONG day ahead of me, I'll get there today or tomorrow at latest!

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