Took me nine weeks to get through the last “8 week” cycle. Such is life. (The new one is getting off to a slow start, too, thanks to a crappy head cold.) At the end of this last cycle, I tested the main lifts in my program with AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets with a certain weight. From that, my current 1 rep max (1RM) is calculated and entered into the next spreadsheet sent to me by my coach. Each spreadsheet cycle is adjusted based on what we want to accomplish during that cycle. During the last cycle, the goal was to at least maintain strength during a mini-cut, hopefully build some lean mass and get stronger. My personal goal was to improve strength on my bench press. That lift has not been progressing at the same rate as all the others.
This is a hard one to compare over time because I’ve used different machines in different gyms. And I’ve worked on improving range of motion, so I’ve had to start over a few times. But I’ve tested on the machine I’m using now a couple of times, so I guess this is a lifetime PR on this machine, right?
Dec 20, 2015: 1RM = 563 lbs
Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 609 lbs Increased 7.6%
A bar with weights. Easy to compare. I set a lifetime PR with this one. This lift just keeps getting stronger, but I suspect I’m going to hit a limit with it soon because of physics. My bodyweight isn’t going to go up, so the leverages have to have a limit, right?
Dec 22, 2015: 1RM = 264
Feb 28, 2016: 1RM = 270 Increased 6%
Dec 21, 2015: 1RM = 124
Feb 25, 2016: 1RM = 126 Increased 1.6%
Disappointed. This lift was stronger back in May 2014. My 1RM then was 127. This lift just doesn’t progress like the others. And I lose it and have to start over after each show prep. So to test this time and miss my lifetime PR by one pound was frustrating. I actually tested this lift twice, once at the beginning of the week and a second time the following weekend when I had more rest. Same result, so it’s real.
HS Shoulder Press
I use this machine for my main shoulder work because the impingement issue in my right shoulder makes free weight work feel unstable. The improvement on this lift was a surprise. I did what I needed to do with the AMRAP set – and it was easier than it should have been. So I added weight and did another AMRAP.
Dec 23 2015: 1RM = 45
Feb 28 2016: 1RM = 52 lbs Increased 15.5%
Like the RDL, this lift progresses predictably. I hit another lifetime PR with it. And also like the RDL, I think there is a limit coming up soon.
Dec 26, 2015: 1RM = 169
Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 186 lbs Increased 10%
Like the leg press, this one is hard to compare over time because I’ve used different pulley machines in different gyms. On paper, it looks like it has regressed, but I know that’s not true. I did use the same pulley machine for these two tests.
Dec 23, 2015: 1RM = 156
Feb 29, 2016: 1RM = 163 Increased 4.5%
I passed all my tests. Basically lifetime PRs in everything that I can compare over time, except the bench. But it’s progressing and I’ll get there. And I’m not a power lifter. It’s just my ego.
It’s worth noting that I’m basically healthy. My coach has done some smart programming – both in the gym and with my food. He also makes a point to support me when I’ve decided to back off from something I’m supposed to do if I’m not feeling it. (I assume he knows I will push when that feels appropriate, too.) 54 years old, scoliosis, lifting heavy things, and the only issues I have are minor. A little tendonitis here and there. I’ve got an old quad pull that likes to act up every so often. I respect these things. I listen to them. If something feels funky, I pull back. I’ve learned my lesson with that. I have been “beast mode” and ended up getting hurt, nursing something for months – years. Nope. Not worth it. It’s true I need heavier weights to progress, but not all the time. One more rep is progression. An extra set is progression. If I had completed one more rep in that bench press set, I would have set my PR. But it wasn’t going up easily enough from the bottom, and had I grinded it at the weakest part of my range of motion, I could have injured my right shoulder that has impingement issues. Not. Worth. It. I know what PRs feel like when I’m strong enough to get them with good form. I also know I’m not competing with anyone – I’m setting up the next spreadsheet cycle. It’s ok to take some more time to get stronger. Even if I hit it, I’d want to set another one next time, so it doesn’t matter.
Made a video of the lifts. Sorry, no narration. I’m sick today, so I’m saving my voice. Had to teach with a bullhorn on Friday.