1 week out
Another week that brings me closer to the show! For those of you who don't know yet, I will be competing in the Vancouver Show Down. After running an Iron Man last year in Whistler which saw me loosing 30pds of gains, running a marathon with a limp the whole time and getting my time absolutely crushed by my dad a week after the race, I decided that this year I was going to compete in something else. Ideally something that involved muscle, and more importantly, that my old man has no interest in, just in case.
Lucky for me he doesn't seem keen on getting all oiled up and flexing, whereas that just sounds like a ball of fun for me. So on October 14th, I'll be flexing on stage, and we will see how that goes! I'll make sure to have some pics for you guys.
I think I've found something I really enjoy in this sport. The prepping has been fantastic, I really love how everything falls into order after months of preparation. My biggest concern was the dieting part which is thought to be hard, but to be honest, it's so healthy (I basically only eat salads and lean protein and healthy fats) that I've never felt so good before. I do get the urge to eat a cheat meal once in a while and it's easily avoided when I realize how good I feel on an on going basis.
The way that I've trained dramatically changed as well, having me focus a lot more on the quality of each rep versus the intensity of each rep. It's very easy for an 20 something guy like me to get caught up chasing PRs every single workout. I remember going to the gym and wrecking my back deadlifting heavy just because I wanted to beat last week's weight. Or hurting my shoulders doing incline flies with absurd amount of weights. Nowadays, I find that focusing on quality also yields regular PRs due to the fact that I can train for prolonged period of time because I keep my body injury free.
Another great thing that happened this week is me being set up regularly at RYU to teach classes! These classes are FREE for everyone, I will be there every Sunday at 11:30 am to kick butts. There's a cool outdoor spot in front of the store or an amazing smaller studio right about the store. Either way, I really enjoy being there.
Group training brings me back to training rugby teams in my uni days and rediscovering the feeling is amazing. There's just something about torturing a group of people that just gets me every time.
Ok so last week I had a full body rash which went away, only to give way to new shoulder pain! What in the eff? Can't my body stay normal for a few days?
The verdict from my family doctor is a pinched supraspinatus tendon. Ok now that I know what it is I can actually go ahead and fix it. This muscle abducts the arm (brings the arm away from your body) and it's tendon can get inflamed when you have slumped shoulders...like me!
A big training adjustment I will make after the show is strengthening my rhomboids and work on posture, to keep my shoulders in more of a neutral position instead of slumping forward.
There's another key point here that I would like you to take away: if something hurts, if you had a small accident and things fall out of place, please, please, PLEASE get it looked at ASAP by a doctor. A doctor will be able to make the initial diagnostic and then either advise you where to get rehab if you need any or if you need further assessment.
It's crazy the amount of people I train who tell me they have a nagging pain somewhere and they never bothered to get it checked. Don't kid yourselves, it may be "just a small pinch" today but I guarantee you that over time it will develop in something much nastier that will be a royal pain to treat.
Nagging injuries can also lead to muscle imbalances due to your body compensating for the new pain. All in all, how much do you value your body is what it comes down to.
I started incorporating cluster sets in my training. The principle is pretty straight forward: You add very short rest periods (15 sec) in your set to break it up into smaller sub sets.
This allows you to use heavier weights for more reps, increasing the workout's total output.
Say you usually squat with 100 pds for 10 reps in a row. Using the cluster approach, you can take a heavier weight, like 120 pds and do 4 clusters of 3 reps for a total of 12 reps. You would do 3 reps, put the bar down for 15 seconds, then do another 3 reps, put the bar down, repeat that 4 times.
The result is 12 reps at a heavier weight. This technique is best used to increase raw strength without changing muscle mass. Great for people who aren't interested in putting on muscle but want to increase their strength and power.
With different levels come different cluster loads. A beginner may do cluster of 3-4 reps with moderately heavy weights (70% of 1RM) for sets of 9-12. An advance athlete can do clusters of 1 rep with very heavy loads (90% of 1RM) for set's of 5-6.
Tracking your workouts
A very quick note on tracking your workouts/training. I am not suggesting you become a tracking nazi, carrying your note pad around the gym recording each and every single rep you do with it's load that you then graph at home to chart your relative strength gains. That's for fit geeks like me.
All I will say about the subject is that without knowing what you usually do for a workout, how will you know when you progressed? People are often better at timing there runs and all my clients can tell me how fast they did their usual run on the weekend. And that helps me, and them, see where there at. So why not do it in the gym as well? How many pull ups did you do last week? How many push ups? If you trained with the same weights and same reps, then no wonder nothing new is happening.
Your body is very good at being lazy. When you do 10 reps of front squat with 100 pds for the first time, holy moly you're sore the next day!!! That's your body adapting to the new load. But when you squat 10 reps with the same weight, every workout after that, you're body's like "nice try homie we already got this, let's just chill where we're at". If you want to know more about the matter, you can look into the fascinating subject of progressive overload, but I will definitely write a post about this subject very soon.
You should have a general idea of how many reps you can do with which weights at least for the main lifts (deadlift, squat, bench, or which ever you deem are your main lifts). That way, if you notice the weights or reps not increasing over time, you can be like "oh hey, I'm not progressing, let's change things up and see progress".
You can also sign up for the blog updates which will also get you 5 weeks of workout templates to help you get started.
Skipping Thanks Giving
I made a pretty big mistake when I registered for this competition...IT'S A WEEK AFTER THANKS GIVING!!!!!!! Which means that Thanks Giving, a glorious, free for all dinner that usually sends me in an meticulously anticipated food coma falls exactly during my strictest nutrition phase. I'm not too sure how it will all go down, my current plan is to curl into a ball in my bed and watch my anime show waiting to be over but another side of me tells me to suck it up, go socialize with friends and family and just see it as the toughest mind disciplinary exercises I've had to face so far.
I'll let you guys know how it went next week!
Happy Thanks Giving everyone!