food staple that I had in my diet and I literally kept a southside pizza joint in business with my patronage. I find it so weird that I can stay away from pizza so easily these days, especially since my hometown of Tucson is kind of becoming a mecca for pizza making, and many other artisan style pizza makers are using dairy-less crust! Thank goodness I am broke! Well, maybe that is not the best way to look at it, for being broke is no fun whatsoever.
Anyway, it must have been strange for my parents this week to see me show up to the house and NOT drink any of their coffee. You see, when my work hours were a little hospitable, I would show up before work, drop my “kids” off at “grandma and grandpa’s house” and share some of the good brown brew. Then I had to start going to work a lot earlier, and thus had to stop going. I can only imagine how weird it must have been when they only needed to make one pot of coffee the last few days that I have been showing up, which due to a big conference in Miami, my job has been operating on a skeleton crew and thus I have to work a different swath of hours than I usually do (I typically start work at 7:15 or 7:30, depending on when my early opening co-worker shows up). The good thing though, my “kids” are having a lot of fun playing with their “cousins,” “uncle” and “aunt.” (I know, I am such a dog nerd!)
As I look to find some ways to overcome the shakes, I have been trying to get some better work in the gym now that my lower back is healed and my leg is starting to feel better again (in case you forgot, I kind of hurt myself at the ill-fated Arizona Distance Classic…it was a residual injury, for it didn’t really affect me in everything until a couple days later). The good news for me is I have been getting some good one-on-one time with Jon, for now we get to address some issues that have been lingering for me over the past weeks. The first one being the fact I really haven’t worked on my bench press, and the second being the fact I haven’t been doing too much with my back squats. It was an interesting conundrum when Parsons Trainer Clif asked the simple question on what your total lift weight was for the three main lifts (bench press, dead lift and back squat) on his Facebook page. He insinuated a good goal to achieve is 1,000 pounds between the three lifts, which would allow you to assess where you might need to get better or where you might be focusing too much on. It got me thinking, and it left me at a blank. Either way, these three lifts are the foundations of what is needed to be exceptional in weight lifting. You need strong arms to help with the dead lift and you need strong legs to to do the back squat. All three lifts help the other in a perfect way, which is I why I have the audacity to call them foundation lifts. Now in answering the question, I knew my bench press was 215 and my dead lift was 385, but I had no clue about the back. I remember Jon having me do some work on them months before, maybe getting up to 175 or something. I don’t know, it has been so long I just can’t remember. I do remember the fact I leg pressed a good 800 pounds once, but those days are in the past (man do I miss the leg press, that was my favorite apparatus at the gym). Fortunately on Wednesday, Jon had a pretty good all around functional workout for me to play around with.
While it was mostly circuit style training, I was still recovering from a really tough Monday workout. Jon had me do some really heavy lifting on Monday, so much so that I skipped out on running the next night due to fatigue. I hated the idea of missing out on a day, but some reason, I was just absolutely spent. I can only assume the lack of coffee played a large role in the debacle. Anyway, I did five rounds of chest presses with the 55-pound dumbbells, doing 15 reps for each round. While I did rest between the sets, this was a pretty good showing for me. I am still stuck on 89 out of 100 as my all time best with the 55-pounders. I am getting better with them, but it will take sometime. Five round of jumping pull-ups was a breeze, for I was blowing them just to make up some time after the chest presses. But then came the next challenge, the front squat push-press. Now I should have seen some potential in the results I had, for I easily did two sets of four at 125 pounds. I then bumped the weight up a little, and accidentally pushed the weight up to 145 for three sets of four. I didn’t even notice my poor math skills until one of my lifting partners, Jim Ward noticed. You see, he and his sone Ryan were sharing the rack with me and we were constantly changing the weights. I thought I was lifting 125, until I realized the main bumper plates I was using were 35-pounders, not 25. It was such pleasant surprise that I coasted through a set of four at 155 pounds. I finished the unusually long session with 50 curls with 30 pound weights and 50 curls with 35 pound weights (Jon needed the 30-pounders for a couple of his clients).
Anyway, back to Wednesday’s madness. We did an assortment of seven exercises, all of them working the body in a different way. I did “ring” push-ups to start, forcing me to use my entire body, not just my arms. Truthfully, the toughest part to deal with was my stomach, for it was already tired when I segued into the next exercise, which Jon called a “Plank Shoulder Touch.” Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, for I would have to touch my opposite shoulder while keeping my body held up, and I had to do this for a minute at a time. Then we finally would got to the moment that I really wanted to move on to….the back squats. Since I had to do four circuits, we changed the weight each time. The first round I did eight squats at 185, then did two rounds at 205 while doing six reps for each round. It was actually quite doable for me, even though I was mixing in a lot of other exercises, like reverse flies with 35-pound kettle bells and single arm rows with the 53-pound kettles (I even did a round with the new 88-pound kettles that John Shaver brought in). So here I was, near the end of my workout and dog tired and decided to do 225 on the back squat. Despite the fatigue and the wear and tear I had already gone through, I still did the set of four quite easily. I guess this means one of these days Jon and I are going to have to figure out what my max is (I’m thinking 275). I felt quite liberated by doing this, of it was something I have been wanting to do for a while. One of the downsides of primarily working out by myself is the fact I can’t really use the squat racks unless I am supervised or have a spotter. It felt good to actually do all of this stuff and actually succeed at it. And it wasn’t like that was really the toughest thing on the docket, for I was still doing hang-clean presses in addition to some of the other stuff. Once again I did hang cleans at 135 and 155, which is starting to become normal for me and possibly leading to a new personal best on the horizon (my best so far is 170, but that was a while back).
It was pretty fun later in the day when I got to update my response to Chris’ post. My bench press is 215, my dead lift is 385 and now I can say my back squat is 225 for a grand total of 825 pounds. While I still got some work to do, I feel confident I can get those numbers up to a more respectable level in regards to man of my size. But I was feeling pretty good in spite of that, going out for a short three-mile run even thought I just did four rounds of hell (and 100 sit-ups, hehe). I can admit, I felt pretty heavy going on the run, for my body had used up so much energy from the hour before that I felt like I was barely moving at all. But then when I read the running time and distance, it said I had averaged a pace of 9.05 for my little run. Yeah, it was jus ta three miles, but this was the type of effort I could put prattler easily before my injuries. So to say the least, I am getting back in the game and getting my body back into shape. I kind of need it, because now I have a rather ambitious goal for next year (provided I lose the proper amount of weight).
I think I will enter the “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest that is held by PETA. Yeah, it seems like a huge stretch for me, but why not? Truthfully, I’m going to keep making gains, I’m going to keep making improvements and I’m going to keep getting faster. I’ve done Ragnars and what not, so there is no race I am really afraid of for the moment (well maybe a full marathon). So why not try for something that is more aesthetically based. Yeah, I’m no model, so I would have to come up with a schtick that might aid in my selection. One thing is for certain, there were no younger guys in that contest finals, so that might be my angle. “Vote for the 38-year-old hunk with the average face.” Let’s just hope I can attain a body decent enough to pull off that look. It’s gonna take a lot of energy, so with coffee out of the picture, I will have to look to new avenues. At least I am well and feeling better, and at least I have some good measurable statistics to look at in regards to my improvement. Because right now, that is really I have going in my life, so I better at least make it count!
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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