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

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Thanks, Zack! The 16" box at my gym is about 1-1.5" above parallel for me with wide stance squats (and about 2" above for medium stance), so it's a bit high, but not excessive. I'm finding out that, like in the past, I can't go all-out for squats and deadlifts during the same training period, so the box keeps just a bit in the tank and doesn't tax my lower back as much as going deep does. I'll probably be ditching the box completely in around 2 months, once the deadlift gets closer to the mid 400s again it'll be time to put more focus on squatting while backing off on the deadlift for a bit. Otherwise, my lower back is definitely taxed for the bulk of the week - it's JUST getting better by squat day, then it's worn out again until deadlift day, which isn't giving me the best for recovery right now.

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Two days off to recover, leg day killed me a bit more than I'd expected. Was going to do shoulders/upper back tonight, opted to do shoulders/biceps instead, still felt a bit sluggish and didn't want to risk screwing up tomorrow's training.


Standing overhead strict BB press -

1x10 @ empty bar

1x3 @ 135 lbs.

1x3 @ 155

1x6 @ 185

1x6 @ 190

1x6 @ 195

1x5 @ 200 (too wiped out for the 6th rep, still a good comeback on these)

1x10 @ 175

1x15 @ 135

Definitely seeing some overhead improvement again after a few bad months. Looks like the close-grip work combined with some partial overheads have been the right way to go


Overhead BB shrugs, done on the wondrous Smith machine -

1x20 @ 180 lbs (not counting bar on sets)

1x15 @ 250

1x10 @ 320

1x20 @ 180


Viking Press type thing on plate-loades squat machine (which has handles mounted where it would be for log pressing overhead) -

1x10 @ 320 lbs.

1x10 @ 410

1x8 @ 500

1x6 @ 600

Of course, weight in hand at top of press is not what the plate-loaded weight is, probably about 35% or so, 600 lbs. felt more like the low 200s at most compared to a barbell. Still, a good assistance movement.


Cross-body 1-arm DB hammer curls, slight forward lean -

1x12 @ 60 lb. DB each arm

1x10 @ 65 lb. DB each arm

1x8 @ 75 lb. DB each arm

Some cheat to get it moving, but it's by far the easiest biceps exercise to move a lot of weight on. Good to keep those biceps feeling proper for when I move to more strongman event stuff this fall.


That was it, short and simple, deadlifting in the morning!

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Lower back and event training today!


Deadlift from floor, getting used to wearing a belt to help my starting setup, which is my weak spot -

1x10 @ 135 lbs.

1x8 @ 225

1x6 @ 225

1x4 @ 225

1x2 @ 315

1x3 @ 365

2x3 @ 415

Belt definitely helped me stay more stable at the start, still have to grind out my first reps when going heavy, but all reps afterward feel pretty easy.


Stone work w/ 240 lb. stone -

1x3 rows to chest

2x3 attempts to load, chalk only. First rep, got it to platform height. 2nd rep, mid way, but form failed on both sets. 3rd rep just to lap on both sets. Not a huge improvement, but still, I was having a tough time just getting this one to the lap a few months ago, now lapping it is easy enough. Once I get to putting in an event day where I'm not deadlifting first, I think I'll see some major improvement (not to mention, once I start using tacky to lift stones again!)


Yoke walks to re-learn how to set up properly -

1x40 feet down and back @ 225 lbs

" " @ 315 lbs.

2x" " @ 405 lbs.

Just light work to re-learn the proper way to get moving with the yoke, definitely feeling it in some new places in my middle back from supporting that thing when it would start to swing a bit.


That was it, nothing too brutal today, just a nice session with more progress.


Rest for a day or two, upper back and chest coming in a couple of days!

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2x3 @ 415


When I stop cutting, It's on!


Also, should I start belting up on heavy deadlift sets? I really really hate belts.



Glad to hear it'll be on soon, Zack! Enough with the cutting - time to get bigger!


I've NEVER been a belt fan before, but this was the first time I used one of those big-ass powerlifting belts that covers a lot of territory. Those skinny belts never did crap for making me feel stable - it was more that the wide belt covers a lot more of the abdominals, helping remind me to keep my air in my belly for stability vs. doing chest breathing. Support-wise, I don't think it made a huge difference, but it helped me keep my form tighter from start to finish, which is always a good thing. I don't plan on using it for anything under 400 lbs., but when I get to heavier sets, I'll give it a shot for a bit and see how it works. If I come to find it really helps, I'll have to order one of those vegan ones that the guys in the U.K. had made, since I'm currently resorting to using an old leather one that someone in the Wisconsin Barbell powerlifting crew keeps at their facility.

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Well, Zack, whenever you're ready, it'll be on!


Took 3 days off because I just felt too taxed from the harder training, gave myself a bit of a break, went back to hit chest/triceps and back tonight -


Pull-ups -

2x2 @ bodyweight

2x12 @ 25 lbs. added (both sets as 10, rest a few seconds, 2 to finish)

1x8 @ 45 lbs. added (done as 6, rest 10 seconds, 2 to finish)

1x20 @ bodyweight (done as 15, rest a few seconds, the rest as singles with a breath between each rep)

Felt good, but endurance wasn't so hot tonight. Mongolian BBQ was not sitting well with me, didn't make it any better


Close-grip flat BB bench -

1x5 @ 95 lbs.

1x3 @ 135

1x2 @ 185

1x2 @ 225

1x2 @ 245

1x2 @ 250

Was originally pondering a handful of doubles @ 250, but then when the 2nd rep was really tough, I had to recall that 265 was my current max at last test, so I can't complain.

2x10 @ 205

1x20 @ 160, done as 18, rest 10 seconds, 2 reps to finish


Seated straight bar cable row, narrow grip -

1x20 @ 225 lbs.

1x20 @ 250 lbs.

1x20 @ 275 lbs. - tough, but handled it well enough


Incline close-grip BB bench, at the suggestion of someone who insisted it does wonders for overhead pressing, bench at about 35-40 degree incline -

2x15 @ 135 lbs., tough as hell as triceps were quite taxed by this time

1x25 @ 95 lbs., even that was tough at the last few reps


Rear delt flyes -

2x12 @ 120 lbs.


That was it, kept it pretty simple, will work in the leg day I didn't get to either tomorrow or I'll wait until next week. Kirk is suggesting that I alternate heavier weeks with lighter speed squat weeks since my lower back is pretty fried all the time with the deadlifting, so it'll be an easier day when it comes around!

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Moderately heavy leg day, mostly conditioning, short rests between sets.


20 minutes to warm up with rolling out, 5 minute power walk, stretching hips and QL and light squats.


Then, on to squatting with some moderate weight -

10x2 @ 295 lbs., short rest between sets, only 45-60 seconds max done as a walk around the gym and back without sitting down at any time, all sets done in 12 minutes total. Plenty of power on these done with speed, DEFINITELY seeing the potential to be squatting in the mid 400s coming again in the next few months!


Cable pull-throughs, ultra-wide stance -

4x20 @ 135 lbs.

Would do a set then head to the seated leg curl without a break -

4x20 @ 180 lbs.

Rest 60 seconds between each round.


Ballistic horizontal leg presses, jumping about 12" off platform on each rep -

1x20 @ 80 lbs.

1x20 @ 90

1x20 @ 100

Tiring, if nothing else, but conditioning is getting better again!


Wrapped up with an experiment. I was trying to think of one last high-rep quad-dominant exercise to do for a few sets, and thought back to an old picture of Ed Zercher doing an unsupported barbell leg press. Now, I'm not THAT daring to try it like he did (especially without footwear that you could lock the bar into a heel groove), so I went to the smith machine and gave it a go. Turned out to be kind of fun, made my thighs feel like stone afterward, something different to toss in once in a while. Did 4 sets with 90 seconds rest between them -

1x20 @ 90 lbs. (weight only, not counting bar on sets)

1x20 @ 160

1x20 @ 230

1x20 @ 300

Rom wasn't 100% deep (probably 2/3 of what they did in the old days), but it was an interesting diversion to do some quad work and keep up with high rep conditioning. Here's a pic of what it looked like when they did it years ago in the true "leg press" fashion:




Entire lifting session minus warm-up done in 50 minutes, kept the pace up nicely, feeling great tonight.


Lower back stuff on Wednesday, will report back afterward!

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You don't have to worry, Ruhtroh, I won't do anything of the sort


Training with Kirk again today, deadlifts and yoke work -


Tire step ups - 3 rounds of 3 minuntes plus 20 crunches after each round, 30 seconds rest between rounds


Toes pointing in walks with band around ankles to work IT bands and hip flexors, 4 different walks @ about 50 feet each


Deadlifts -

2x5 @ 135

1x5 @ 225

1x5 @ 315

4x5 @ 365, all sets very easy


Yoke walks, 40 feet down, turn and come back -

1 set @ 400 lbs.

1 set @ 450 lbs.

1 set @ 500 lbs.

Then, changed to working on the starting lift and hold with the yoke to work on stability, no walks, just stationary lift, hold for time, and set it down -

1x20 second hold @ 500 lbs.

" " @ 550

" " @ 600

" " @ 650

" " @ 700

1x30 second hold @ 750 lbs.

Felt really good to hold that much weight on my back for a half minute, feels like you could set a car on my back and I'd be able to support it now

Wrapped up with 1x10 quick lift and set down @ 500 lbs. to finish and that was it.

The yoke they have there is my old one, but it's tough for taller guys as they have it set to a short position, so I basically have to do a 1/3 squat to get the weight up (usually it's just about 2-3" to get it off the ground).


Definitely seeing more progress, now to get more time training farmer's walks, stones and log work this fall/winter and I'll be primed to come back as a decently strong lightweight next summer!


Two days off to run away for a bit, celebrating Courtney's birthday tomorrow so she gets a spa day to relax (and I'm treating myself to a massage as well!) Should be back to lifting on Saturday and Sunday!

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Two days off, upper back and shoulder work last night -


Pull-ups -

2x3 @ bodyweight (235 lbs. clothed)

1x2 @ 25 lbs. added

1x1 @ 45 lbs. added

3x5 @ 65 lbs. added, done with 1-2 breaths and feet on floor between each rep, but no long rest periods, all reps clean

1x20 @ bodyweight, done as 15, rest 20 seconds, 5 reps to finish


Seated overhead press lockouts in the rack, done from 1/2" over top of head to lockout -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x5 @ 185

1x5 @ 205

1x2 @ 225 - right shoulder feeling worn out early from playing a game at an amusement park the day before (most mini basketballs into the hoop for points, each game 60 sec. timer, going for most shots in competing against Courtney, played about 15 games in 25 mintues), even just pitching those mini baskeballs can leave me worn out! I guess after doing it about 800 times, though, it's bound to have an effect that carries over to the next day

2x10 @ 185


Inverted rows w/ 35 lb. plate for added weight -



Red thick band single-arm overhead presses, bottom of band looped under foot -

2x10 each arm


1-arm cable row -

3x20 @ 140 lbs. each side


Improvised 1-arm overhead press using Hammer Strength plate-loaded incline press. Done as standing to outside of machine, using exposed part of plate loading pin as handle to press -

2x15 @ 45 lbs.

Much harder than a DB press, just something different to wrap up work on an already tired body part


Cable face pulls -

3x20 @ 120 lbs.


That's it, should be getting in leg work tonight or tomorrow!

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Medium heavy leg day tonight -


20 minute warm-up of power walk, stretching, rolling out and light squats first, then on to the working sets -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x3 @ 185

1x3 @ 225

1x2 @ 275

1x1 @ 315

1x5 @ 335

1x5 @ 340

1x5 @ 345

Still a bit fatigued from last week's tough core stress from the yoke holds, dropped weight -

1x15 @ 275

Felt great on that one, did 12 before I had to start getting multiple breaths in between each rep, endurance died out long before legs did, still quite good for higher reps on this.


Smith machine old-school vertical leg press like last week -

1x10 @ 270 lbs. (not counting bar on sets)

1x10 @ 360

1x10 @ 450, got tough here, dropped the weight down a bit again

1x30 @ 200

Legs solid as can be afterward, I'm not a big "pump" guy since it doesn't translate to actual progress, but it sure felt interesting. I never get that same feel from any other leg exercise.


Seated single leg curls -

1x20 each leg @ 100 lbs.

" " @ 105 lbs.

1x30 " " @ 70 lbs.


Wrapped up with some biceps maintenance work, starting with single-arm DB cross body hammer curls with some mild swing on reps -

1x15 each arm @ 60 lb. DB

" " @ 65 lb DB

1x10 " " @ 80 lb. DB, not pretty with these but got 'em done


Finally, one big endurance set of empty bar strict curls -

1x50 @ 45 lbs., no rest, all done with no cheat


That was it, good leg day, should be doing chest/triceps on Tuesday!

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Smith machine old-school vertical leg press like last week -

1x10 @ 270 lbs. (not counting bar on sets)

1x10 @ 360

1x10 @ 450, got tough here, dropped the weight down a bit again

1x30 @ 200

Legs solid as can be afterward, I'm not a big "pump" guy since it doesn't translate to actual progress, but it sure felt interesting. I never get that same feel from any other leg exercise.


Sounds interesting, I might try this. I currently squat using an Ironmind squat belt because I've got a recurring back issue so this could be a good secondary exercise for me.


Do you find your back rounding when the bar comes down towards the bottom position? This is the reason I don't use the leg press.


Whereabouts does the bar rest on your feet; I'm guessing the heels or the arches?

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Hey, James!


If you try it, it will definitely feel better with boots with a defined heel so that it doesn't kill your arches once you go heavy (my feet are definitely feeling it today!) With flat shoes, the bar tends to roll forward a bit and puts a bit of excess strain on the arches if there's no groove to keep it locked in place. I keep my torso slightly forward from the bar because with having only a straight line of motion, your back will get into a bit of a strained position if you're too far under the bar. I slide under it to be centered, then shift my torso forward out away from the machine about 4" or so to get the best spot. That way, when my legs come down to touch my torso, my butt doesn't lift up and put my lower back in a bad position. It takes a few sets to get used to - just go really light for a few to get the feel, add weight slowly and it'll feel good once you find the groove that you're meant to be in!

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He's saying that the muscle pump/swoll feeling you get when you lift high reps doesn't really mean much aside from you having a lot of blood in your muscles.


He could probably be more eloquent with it, though.


He saying that pump does not equal progress.



Thanks for clarifying for me, Jason! I should have been a bit more clear - I was just noting that the "pumped = good workout with optimal progress" theory never holds water, so I never aim to base my workouts on feeling that way as an indicator of how well I'm faring on a given day. Heck, if a pump meant progress, I'd have been one big S.O.B. my first 3 years of training when I barely gained anything


Trained with Kirk again today - started with some Gua Sha treatment on the legs to try and break up scar tissue a bit (apparently, I have no shortage on either quadriceps), so I sat there for 10 minutes while Kirk jammed a hard comb into my thighs to loosen stuff up. Hurt a decent amount, but I was told that I dealt with it better than most, especially considering my legs are apparently a mass of scar tissue that's hard as hell.


Then, it was 2 rounds of 3 minutes of squatting down, touching fingertips on the floor and back up to get the blood flowing in the area worked on. Legs hard as rocks afterward, even high-rep bodyweight squats kill me sometimes. Finally, down to business with deadlifts:


2x8 @ 135

2x3 @ 225

1x3 @ 275

1x3 @ 325

1x3 @ 375

2x3 @ 415 - first set easy, second set had a bad starting pull, had to fight it for about 5 full seconds to get it moving, really took a toll on me, but last 2 reps were easy. Last time, 3 reps were tough, felt like I could have done 5-6 easily enough this time around.

1x1 @ 435

1xfail @ 455, just too fried from that bad rep on the second set of 415, but still nice to add a few more lbs. again.


Brought out the yoke, loaded it up and had some fun with it -

1x40 feet, turn and back @ 225 lbs.

" " @ 315

" " @ 405

" " @ 500

" " @ 550

A bit wobbly on the last one, opted to just work on getting my holds strong again with it -

1x10 lifts with a quick 2 second hold @ 600 lbs.

2x5 " " @ 700 lbs.

1x30 second hold @ 700 lbs.


Grabbed the light 170 lb. stone and did 1x10 rows to chest with it, two quick lifts to platform height @ 54", then called it a day.


Should be heading back there on Friday to do some upper back, shoulders and some event stuff, will report again when done!

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Quick shoulders/upper back day, got to Kirk's place to train a bit late, didn't want to make him keep the facility open for too long once his training was done -


Standing overhead strict BB press, power cleaned first rep each set -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x5 @ 185

1x5 @ 195

2x5 @ 185

1x12 @ 135

When I power clean, I always have my hands set in too far for optimal pressing, so I fried my triceps fast on these sets for a day on shoulders.


Pull-ups -

1x2 @ bodyweight, slow reps

1x10 @ bodyweight

1x8 @ 25 lbs. added

1x5 @ 45 lbs. added

1x10 @ bodyweight

Kept it light and short, still worn out and didn't really feel like doing much back work


Rows with stone, torso parallel to floor, pull to chest -

1x12 @ 170 lb. stone

3x6 @ 240 lb. stone

Felt easy, there was a bit of tacky still on the 240 lb. stone so grip was not a problem.


In and out in an hour, leg day on Sunday!

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Leg and chest/triceps work today, done early at Bally's so I could hit up some different leg stuff today.


Alternated squat doubles with close-grip paused bench doubles for sets to start -


Squats -

2x2 @ 135 lbs.

1x2 @ 225

1x2 @ 275

10x2 @ 315


Close-grip flat BB bench -

2x2 @ 135

1x2 @ 185

10x2 @ 225, all sets with a 1-3 second pause on chest each rep

1x25 @ 135

1x20 @ 135, triceps fried at 20, no go for 25 on this set


Icarian Plate-loaded squat machine, facing inward, focus on glutes/hams/hips -

2x20 @ 500 lbs. (felt more like 220-250, probably about the actual weight)

1x10 @ 750 lbs. (felt closer to 350-375)


Partial close-grip benching in the rack, half ROM to lockout -

2x6 @ 225 lbs.

1x12 @ 185, fried triceps, done with that


That was it, kept it simple with short rest periods of 30-60 seconds max between sets, felt good! Might get some upper back stuff in tomorrow so I can skate on Tuesday after a few months of not getting out, hopefully it'll happen!

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Thanks, Adena! The deadlifts are coming back, and if all goes on plan, I should finally be hitting 500 again before the end of the year, which will be nice. Then, it's on to that magical 600 I was aiming for before all the bad things started to happen to the 'ol lower back and vision!


Jason X - I'm talkin' shreddin the gnar I've skated for the greater part of 23 years now (minus a few years where I didn't get much time for it), lost 80% of the old skills but still have fun here and there. I skated for years with the owner of Cream City Skatepark in Butler, so we old folks get together on Tuesdays from time to time for a beer and to roll around and see how the old bones still handle the abuse. I pretty much stick to the little 3' tall mini ramp they've got, it's where I fall the least so it is definitely the place for me to be


Upper back and biceps work tonight!


Pulldowns, wide grip, leaning back about 30 degree angle -

1x12 @ 180 lbs.

1x12 @ 250

1x12 @ 270

1x10 @ 285

1x8 @ 300

1x6 @ 320

Last set a bit ugly, but it was still handled well enough.


BB shrugs behind the back -

1x20 @ 315 lbs.

1x20 @ 405

1x10 @ 500, a bit ugly

1x50 @ 315

1x50 @ 330

Felt really good after not shrugging for so long, just felt like seeing what I could do with 315, so when I hit 50, I felt like seeing if I could get it again with a few lbs. more. On the last set, got 40, slipped off on the right hand strap, re-strapped in about 10 seconds and finished. Whew! Still, some massive endurance improvement on those, used to be a battle to do 50 with 225, could probably blow through a 100 rep set now without any problem.


Pull-ups -

1x12 @ bodyweight

1x6 @ 45 lbs. added

Too fried to go heaver, called it a day for upper back stuff


DB cross-body 1-arm hammer curls, slight swing on reps -

2x20 @ 60 lb. DB each arm


Empty bar strict curl death set -

1x50 @ 45 lbs. empty bar, done as 30 regular, change to 20 reps reverse curl, and I was done.


Good in-and-out session in 60 minutes total, lower back stuff on Wednesday again!

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Couple of days off, didn't get to train Wed. with Kirk as the power company turned everything off on my block, alarm didn't go off and I missed my appointment by 2 hours. Was pretty beat anyway, an extra rest day was beneficial, went in and got some deadlifting done tonight instead -


Deadlift from floor -

1x10 @ 135

1x5 @ 225

1x5 @ 315

1x1 @ 365

1x10 @ 385, very easy, just a bit winded

1x10 @ 390, easy until last rep that took a bit out of me, bar slipped out of my hands after I locked out as I was sweaty and didn't have any chalk

But, that's where I spent myself. Originally, Kirk told me 375-385 for 3x8, but without supervision, I tend to go overboard and got those 10s in for the extra reps. I wanted to get 405x8 for the final set, but after a nice long 5 minute rest to let my heart rate come back to a tolerable level, I got dizzy as soon as I grabbed the bar. Rested 5 more minutes, had a sports drink, tried again, same thing, almost fell over just as soon as I grabbed the bar. Thought I should definitely drop the weight, lowered to 315 and wanted to get a 15 rep set, even that nearly made me pass out. Not sure why this happened, but that was my calling to quit deadlifting for the day.


Rested about 10 minutes more to recover, then opted for some "fun" stuff instead to get more work in.


Glute squeezes lying flat on floor with 45 lb. plates on my...uh..."nether region" -

1x20 @ 90 lbs.

1x20 @ 135 lbs.

1x20 @ 180 lbs.


BB hip thrusts, bar over center of waist, torso elevated on a foam pad on top of three 45. lb. plates -

3x12 @ 135 lbs.

Saw a clip of someone doing 500 lbs. with this lift, I don't know how he could handle that kind of weight across the beltline, even 135 hurts like hell.


Back extension machine -

1x25 @ 200 lbs.

1x20 @ 220

1x100 @ 170, tried to make about half the reps emulate the feel of a deadlift pull vs. making it 100% back extension, that was definitely tough, took about 2.5 minutes for the full set


That was it, called it a day. Probably won't get to train tomorrow, but will be entering a fundraiser "contest" for Kirk's trip to compete in Finland this Saturday. they put out around 20 events to choose from, each person picks 6 and apparently they have some sort of scoring system in place (not sure how it's going to work!) I'm picking some lifting events (600 lb. tire flip, heavy bag clean and press for reps, max pull-ups in 60 seconds), the others I chose shotgunning a beer for time, Wii bowling and guessing the resident "old guy" strongman's weight. Figured I'd make it 50/50 lifting and fun stuff, so it should be a good time. Might try to work in a decent upper back workout that day if I'm there long enough, and I'll try to get some photos if possible!

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That was it, called it a day. Probably won't get to train tomorrow, but will be entering a fundraiser "contest" for Kirk's trip to compete in Finland this Saturday. they put out around 20 events to choose from, each person picks 6 and apparently they have some sort of scoring system in place (not sure how it's going to work!) I'm picking some lifting events (600 lb. tire flip, heavy bag clean and press for reps, max pull-ups in 60 seconds), the others I chose shotgunning a beer for time, Wii bowling and guessing the resident "old guy" strongman's weight. Figured I'd make it 50/50 lifting and fun stuff, so it should be a good time. Might try to work in a decent upper back workout that day if I'm there long enough, and I'll try to get some photos if possible!


Oh my gosh, that sounds like a very fun day!

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