Sometimes it is necessary to take a break and or back off a bit. Sometimes those breaks/back off weeks are planned. Sometimes they are not.
A couple of weeks ago I had a back off week planned. Typically I have been still lifting and doing my conditioning on those weeks. But I normally lift much lighter and reduce the sets. I work on form and conditioning. During this back off week I didn’t lift at all and it wasn’t in the plan at all.
I missed the first day of the because we were away. No problem, I figured I would just pick it up on Tuesday. But Tuesday I slept in and woke up with a sore back. Wednesday arrived and I got in some conditioning. I slept in again though and only did half of what I was planning. I got some extra conditioning in that evening though at my son’s soccer practice (I am one of the coaches). Thursday I got in another conditioning workout but Friday and Saturday were off days.
In the past I would have been very upset that I didn’t get my workouts in. But I realized that sometimes you need those weeks. Sometimes your body is trying to tell you to slow down and rest. I am quite certain mine was telling me that. I suffered that week through some back issues, late nights and headaches.
After a week of backing off on my workouts, chiropractic adjustments and rest I was able to get back to my normal workouts last week and am feeling better. An important lesson to always remember is to listen to your body. It will help you in the long run.
Last week I saw an increase in three of the four lifts I am currently working on. As detailed in my previous blog post the trap bar dead-lift went up by 10 pounds, floor press went up by 5 pounds and the Bulgarian split squat went up by 2.5 pounds.
Unfortunately that streak ended last Friday when I did the dumbbell shoulder press. Last month I worked up to 50 pounds and hoped to move up to 52.5 pounds. That did not happen. I started with 40 pounds, moved up to 45 pounds for my next two sets and then got ready to match last months 50 pounds. As I got the dumbbells into position and attempted the lift it became obvious quickly that it wasn’t going to happen. The weights moved up about half way and then came right back down. I was angry and disappointed but knew there was no need to try again. It just wasn’t there on this day.
Sometimes in weight lifting this is how it goes. It is important to know when you have it and when you don’t and on this day I didn’t have it. I opted to regroup and try again next month. It isn’t worth pushing too hard and ending up injured.
It was a tough way to end what had been a successful week of lifting. But I know my limitations and knew it wasn’t worth getting hurt. I’m happy about the success I had last week and although disappointed I couldn’t even match my previous personal best, let alone improve it, am pleased with my overall progress.
Since I do not currently have a power rack or bench I have had to think outside of the box for some of my exercises. One of those exercises is the floor press. If you don’t know what a floor press is, it is a bench press done while lying on the floor instead of a bench.
Back in March when I started my new fitness journey I had a 1 rep max of 145 lbs in the floor press. In July I was able to get my 1 rep max up to 170 lbs, although it was a struggle. My first two sets went well. During my third set at 165 I got stuck midway through the rep. I didn’t think I would be able to complete the rep but continued pushing. Once I got past the sticking point the weight shot right up. I had the same experience at 170. The barbell didn’t want to move then suddenly went up easily.
This month I felt good as I started lifting. Once again the first two sets were easy. My third set of 160 went up without a problem. I put 170 on and fairly easily matched July’s best. I then became a little overconfident. Since 170 went so well I figured I could get 180. It seemed logical. I loaded the bar and slid underneath it. After getting the bar into place I began the lift. I pushed with everything I had but this time, not only did the barbell get stuck in the midpoint, it slowly started to come back down. It didn’t matter how hard I pushed back I wasn’t going to be successful. I set the bar down and reset the weight to 175. I got back into position and pressed the barbell up. The weight slowly moved and didn’t stop until my arms were locked out.
Although I still have a long way to go, I am excited with my progress so far. I have improved my 1 rep max in the floor press by 30 lbs over the past 5 months. I am ahead the pace I need to reach my goal of 200 lbs by next March. I’m not getting too excited though since I know that progress can come to a screeching halt at any time.
Today was Trap Bar Dead-lift(TBDL) day. I chose to do this lift this past winter after yet another lower back injury. I have found it to be much easier on my lower back but seems to be a bit difficult on my knees so I am still evaluating my long term commitment to it.
In March when I started to get serious with lifting my 1 rep max for the TBDL was 230 pounds. Since then I had worked up to 250 lbs last month. This morning I was maxing out again and hoping to hit 260 but I was less than confident.
I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night and didn’t get to bed as early as I would have liked last night. I slept in this morning and felt a bit rushed. As I was progressing this morning 200 lbs felt easy, 220 lbs felt heavy but 235 felt good. I added weight to 250 in hopes of matching last month before hopefully going for more.
As I lifted the bar off the floor it seemed very heavy and in fact I didn’t think I would manage the 250 lb lift I had achieved last month. I did complete the lift and after resting a moment I decided to add more to the bar in spite of my struggle. When I began to take the weights off the bar I realized that it felt heavy because I had mistakenly put 260 on the bar instead of 250!
After that realization I felt much better about my workout and was very excited to have made a 10 lb jump. I’m slowly getting stronger and more fit and inching towards my goals.
One of the reasons for starting this blog was to document my journey in fitness. Since I haven’t done that yet, I decided today would be my first update.
My lifting goals center around the following four lifts and are as follows:
- Trap Bar Dead-lift – one rep max of 300
- Floor Press – one rep max of 200 (I don’t have a bench yet)
- Bulgarian Split Squat – one rep max of two 52.5 dumbbells plus a 20 lb weighted vest
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – one rep max of 52.5 lbs (my dumbbells max out at 52.5 lbs)
I started this journey in March and below is my personal best in March and my current personal best.
- Trap Bar Dead-lift – March 230 lbs; Currently 250 lbs
- Floor Press – March 145 lbs; Currently 170 lbs
- Bulgarian Split Squat – March 35 lb dumbbells; Currently 50 lb dumbbells
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – March 40 lb dumbbells; Currently 50 lb dumbbells
Since I have been doing predominantly body-weight training for the last 10+ years I am pleased with my progress so far. I know I have a long way to go to reach my goals but feel confident I will get there by next May.
The last few weeks of working out have been inconsistent at best due to my constantly dodgy lower back. I can remember having pain in my lower back pop up since I was in high school. I always just dealt with it until it went away. It wasn’t until a few years ago that my boss at the time convinced me (or ordered me, it depends how you look at it) to go to the chiropractor. After a week of very heavy snowfall and a lot of shoveling I couldn’t stand up straight and was having trouble walking. After an adjustment or two I was feeling great and a believer in chiropractic care.
I also found that when I go consistently my migraine headaches are reduced in both intensity and frequency. Unfortunately, I have not been going regularly these past few months and my headaches and back pain have been back. Once again, just dealing with it was not working. Over the past few weeks I have visited my chiropractor twice and my back is feeling much better.
During the last few weeks while my back has been at it’s worst, I tried to get some type of workout in each day. I focused on lower intensity rides on the Schwinn Airdyne and rowing. These really helped to loosen my back up.
Any time I have an injury, headache or an illness I always wonder if I should train. Unless it is really bad most times I do. This time it was especially frustrating because I have been making good progress lately, getting stronger and better conditioned each month.
I believe I dealt with the back pain very well and found a good balance. Most days over those few weeks I concentrated on lower intensity conditioning. This allowed me to continue working towards one of my goals while not causing further injury. In fact, I believe it helped me heal quicker by helping to keep my back loose. When I did feel well enough to lift I made sure to wear my weight belt (I don’t always wear it; although I should) and I really focused on my form.
As I get older I am more aware of the necessity of training smarter. I wish I had learned it when I was younger!