Saturday, November 3, 2012

Joe's Garage

It is required that I reveal the secret to my continued success. I have abandoned my gym in a closet for Joes Garage. A friend of mine, named Joe, is also in the pursuit of strength. He has his own rack, bar, ~300 pounds of weight, and a two car garage with only one car in it. There was plenty of room for my equipment along with his. I made a make shift chalk box and Joe provided music (an ipod fitted with computer speakers playing mid-nineties grunge with some newer and older stuff mixed in). Schedules have been aligned and much labor has been carried out under the bar in Joes garage.

It is ideal to have a training partner and Joes garage has facilitated this. Training partners help you keep up on your training. There have been many days when I felt tired but we had a plan to train. I could have stayed home but that would have been really lame and my testosterone levels would have probably dropped due to such a spineless act. As stated in Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It:

"Neal, in Montana there's three things we're never late for: church, work and fishing."
Like Brad Pitt is deedicated to fishing, in Joes garage we are dedicated to training, we don't miss training sessions. 

Training Update November 2, 2012

Ate more food this week which made for much better performance.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Training Update October 13, 2012

Been on the Texas Method for about a month and a half. I like it so far. It is teaching me how to grind through tough reps and how to keep on task during volume days so the sessions don't last forever.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Training Update September 21, 2012

Finally got that 365 hook grip deadlift. I ought to be able to motor on up to 405 in another month.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Training Update September 7, 2012

Another good week. Missed my deadlift again but everything else is moving along.


Squat 270 3x5 paused

Press 150 5x5

RDL 205 3x5


Squat 250 2x5

Bench Press 205 3x5 Very little rest on these. I was feeling really energetic on these.

Barbell Rows 165 3x5

(BW) 14/10/14/14 I didn't rest long enough between the first and second set


Squat 285x5 Time to put all the pause squatting to work. I am gonna switch my squatting to Texas Method style programming. I figure I'll still be able to do paused squats on volume days (just 3x5 instead of 5x5).

Press 175x4 I planned to do a set of 3 but it went up real easy so I got four. At the end of four I questioned whether I had loaded the bar properly (It was 175 just as prescribed). None of the reps were even grinds. I could have done one more but didn't. I don't know why. Still a new PR.

Deadlift 365 2/1/1 The weight felt really heavy and I felt really weak. I think I wasn't there mentally. I'll give it another shot next week.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Training Update September 1, 2012

Solid week of training. Had a friend give me some ideas for improving my bench press. I may incorporate them next week.


Squat 260 3x5 paused

Bench Press 225 3x5, 205 2x5

RDL 200 3x5


Squat 265 3x5 paused

Press 135 3x5

Barbell Rows 165 3x5

(BW) 4x12 These are going well


Deadlift 365x3 lost my grip after three then quickly got 2 more in (hook grip PR). I'll get it for a solid five next week. Did the deadlift first because last week 355 was a lot harder than it should have been, due to fatigue from squatting, I believe.

Bench Press 250x5 Hallelujah!!!! I have been chipping away at this weight forever it seems. I finally got it and it was quite the head game during those last two reps. The weight went up fine. The fifth rep wasn't even a grind.

Squat 225x5 regular then 250x5 paused. My left leg is hurting pretty bad (general soreness but a bit sharper and much more prolonged than any other body part). I have really been working on getting the weight onto my right side but old lefty seems to be getting a lot more stress.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Training Update August 25, 2012

Wedding, packing crap up, and driving across the most boring part of the country kept me out of the gym until Friday. I made it count. Having my own bar and chalk made all the difference in hitting my deadlift goal.

Friday (August 17th 2012)

Deadlift 245x5 nailed it! Probably could have done 10 - 20 pounds more. I did the deadlift first to make sure I wasn't fatigued. I really didn't want to miss this one. I didn't

Bench Press 245x4 (I keep missing the fifth rep!!!) 225x8 (last rep very hard)

Squat 240 3x5 (paused)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This one is for Phil

Proper terms must be used properly!!! It is technical I know but I am a scientist/engineer so it comes with the territory. Someone who runs is not necessarily a sprinter, marathoner, or steeple chaser but the converse is true. I have a friend (we'll call him Phil) that refers to my training sessions as "doing powerlifting." I must inform you Phil that this is incorrect. I may lift weights but that does not make me a weightlifter or a powerlifter. Phil, please read on.

A weightlifter finishing a Snatch (above) and a powerlifter finishing a Deadlift (below)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Training Update August 11, 2012

Overall I got the work done. I missed some planned reps and I am still figuring out the volume day weights for press and bench work.


Squat 215 5x5 paused

Press 150 3x5, 135 2x5

RDL 190 3x5


Squat 225 3x5 paused

Bench Press 205 3x5

Barbell Rows 160 3x5

(BW) 4x8


Squat 235 3x5 paused

Press 165x4 I was going for 5 but I didn't make it. I almost got the last rep but I layed back way too much and just couldn't get it.

Deadlift 345x2  then one more single. I will explain this utter failure below.

I had to travel from Iowa to Utah to get to my brothers wedding. We made the drive in 19 hours through the night. I slept for abotu 45 minutes while Kellie drove a bit. So I missed out on some sleep. I hung out at my parents house for the afternoon and waited until the next morning to go work out. Excuse number one: poor sleep and nutrition the last few days.

I paid 10 bucks to workout at a golds gym. They had three squat racks so it wasn't that bad. They had some Ivanko bars that were very straight but the knurling was crap. The knurling was very coarse and the edge was knocked down so it was very smooth and of course I forgot my chalk like an idiot. Even with a mixed grip the bar was slipping. Excuse number two: bad grip.

I have plenty of excuses but I am still pretty pissed that I missed the press and deadlift I had planned. I am going to see if I can work out on Monday between the wedding and the reception. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Training Update August 4, 2012

I had pretty bad squat form a while back. Due to my crappy ankle I tend to put a lot of weight on my left (good) side. I can keep things straight at lower weights so I backed the weight way down and started doing 5x5 paused at the bottom. It seems to be going well and gives me time to focus on keeping everything in the right place. Anyway this is what I did last week.


Squat 185 5x5 paused

Bench Press 205 5x5

Deadlift 325x5 (hook grip PR)


Squat 195 5x5 paused

Press 135 3x5

Barbell Rows 155 3x5

(BW) 4x7


Squat 205 5x5 paused

Bench Press 250x4 was going for 5 but I didn't make it. 250 is my nemesis!!!

Deadlift 335x5 (hook grip PR)

I was deadlifting much more a few weeks ago. I think deloads in general are healthy and I don't like the alternate or mixed grip so I want to train my grip up so I can always use the hook grip even on heavy deadlifts. Should be able to hit 375x5 (previous PR) in a month or so. Then another month from there I hope to hit 405 with the hook grip. I figure is olympic lifters clean 400 with a hook grip like its no big deal I ought to be able to deadlift at least that much without having to resort to the alternate grip.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Training Update July 19, 2012

Last two weeks have been okay. We (the scout group I work with) had a practice hike last Wednesday and the uneven terrain really did a number on my ankle. That prevented me from training for a few days. We'll see how Wyoming treats it.

Running: The Honest Truth

"I'm going for a jog" says the typical healthy person. That is what typically healthy people do, they jog. Besides cycling, and yoga training for a 5k that supports cancer research is the only reasonable way to exercise. Right?..................Wrong!

I have been thinking about running for some time. As someone who once ran for health, the mental and physical challenge, and just for the fun of it I now have developed a very different opinion of how important running is.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Training Update June 30, 2012

I again ended up shifting my workouts around due to my inability to wake-up to an alarm. I am starting to do my workouts in the morning and I don't know that I like it. I also worked out with partners this week. Training with like-minded people is very good for the morale and overall energy of the workout. I liked it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Training Priorities

Getting strong is an important part of my training. It is part of being human and developing ourselves such that we can operate at a level very close to our genetic potential. Getting strong requires sacrifice. Sometimes we must temporarily sacrifice good things to allow another to flourish (conditioning and visible abs for strength in this case). This doesn't mean you have to become a blob in order to get strong you just have take things one step at a time. Nobody ever learns 7 languages at once. Similarly you can't train for a 400 lb squat and a marathon at the same time. Order is important here.
Order of Operations

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Training Update June 23, 2012

New training regimen. Lifting twice a week using these two workouts. It is an intermediate type of program and has parts of the texas method integrated in it. It was given to me from Andy Baker of Kingwood Strength and Conditioning.


Squat work up to a 5 RM then do a back off set of 10-15 reps
Bench Press work up to a 5RM then do 2 back off sets of 8-12 reps
RDLs or Banded Good Mornings  3 sets of 10 reps
Body-weight Dips super-setted with Barbell rows


Squat light 5 sets of 5
Press work up to a 5RM then do 2 back off sets of 8-12 reps
Deadlift work up to a 5RM then do a back off set of 10-15 reps
LTE super-setted with Barbell curls

I will do workout A on Mondays and workout B on Thursdays. I'll be working on chins every week day. Instead of sets across I do sets when commercials are on. Chins respond well to high frequency training so I do them daily at get 15-20 reps in per day. Going to a lower frequency of lifting heavy allows for more recovery time which I need since I am going to be going on a backpacking trip in a few weeks. So to prepare for the backpacking trip I will be doing some conditioning on some of the off days.

This week I did this new program without any conditioning. The extra back off sets are very taxing and the extra upper body work burns and leaves me pumped. It seems appropriate that I get the burn and pump at a University gym amongst a bunch of sweaty guys grunting to cheat curls and doing 1/4 squats with the bar up on their neck. I have been working out at home so long I forgot about this stuff. From my observation weight training can never be blamed for injuries that occur in the gym. That is like blaming drivers ed teachers for killing people in automobile accidents. IT IS THE IDIOTS MOVING THE METAL AROUND THAT ARE TO BLAME!

Anyway I didn't realize the gym closed at 11 pm (last time I was here it was open until like 12:30). Because of this I had to split workout B into two days. I ended up getting a PR on the deadlift so I wasn't too upset.


Squat 305 1x5 PR, then 225 1x11

Bench Press 240 1x5, then 185 1x10 and 1x8

RDL 170 3x10

Dips BW 4x5

BB Row 135 3x5


Squat 245 5x5

Press 160 for 4, then 1201x8 and 1x9


Deadlift 365 1x5 PR, then 250 1x10

LTE 45 3x12

BB Curl 55 10/8/8 I wanted to do 3x10 but I couldn't do it. I was surprised at how hard these were. I guess anything new is usually not easy.

I'll include the conditioning stuff next week.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Training Update June 17, 2012

Between family visiting and laziness on my part I have made a habit of training twice a week rather than thrice a week. Given this habit, I am going to implement a new twice a week training program which I will detail in the next post. 


Squat 295 3x5

Press 160 5/4/5 PR

Chins BW 3x5

RDL 165 3x10


Squat 300 3/3/2 PR

Bench Press 250 for 3 PR, 245 for 3, and finally 240 for 3. (I was hoping for a good 3x5 but I clearly over-reached)

Deadlift 355 1x5 Last rep didn't quite make it to lock out.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Training Update June 9, 2012

Missed Tuesdays workout because I was helping some neighbors move. Thursday and Saturday went great-ish.


Squat 290 1x1 Failed on second rep. I don't think my head was in it at that point.

          285 3x5
Press 157 3x5 PR

Chins BW 3x5


Squat 290 3x5 PR

Bench Press 2405/5/4 missed the last rep. My form had deteriorated a little by the last set.

Deadlift 350 1x5 A solid 5 reps! PR

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Goals: Moving Targets

The biggest reason people fail to "get in shape" is the rapidly waning motivation. Training is hard and it isn't always fun. Sometimes your tired, lazy, or even legitimately busy. In order to do something hard (easy things rarely produce results) continuously one must have a set of goals. By set I mean short term and long term goals. Fighting to reach those goals and tracking progress towards those goals is often the difference between success and failure.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Training Update June 2, 2012

Not this last week but the week before that I had a lot of things get in the way of training. Tuesday May 22nd was good but I missed the following two sessions due to chores, laziness and other crap. I have been toying with my program for 2-3 weeks now making excuses for not nailing down my squat at 285. I did 290 for 4 but I feel like I have more in me I just need to eat plenty and get after it. So I did. This week I reset my squat to 275 and hit three workouts and I nailed 3 sets of 5 at 285. The last rep was a real grind. But the last time I had a grind like that it was at 280. Sometimes there is no excuse and you just have to get things done. I got stuff done this week.


Squat 275 3x5

Bench Press 230 3x5

Deadlift  345 1x4.8
I got 4 solid reps but the 5th rep didn't get locked out all the way. I'll hit this weight again next week.


Squat 280 3x5

Press 155 3x5

Chins BW 3x5

RDL 160 3x10


Squat 285 3x5 Oh Ya!!!

Bench Press 235 3x5

Chins BW 3x5

Here is a video of my recent Deadlift and Squat PRs. The deadlift was done in the evening when I can control the music (Dropkick Murphy's). The squat was done on a Saturday afternoon with my daughter watching "Mighty Machines" in the background. I think its great that my kids appreciate the awesomeness of heavy machinery like bulldozers and skid-steers but the "voices" they use for the different pieces of equipment didn't quite capture the moment of my squat PR.Whatever.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Mighty Pull: The Deadlift

The most misunderstood and underutilized lift is the deadlift. One of the most common chores an individual must do is picking stuff up off the ground. It could be groceries, small to medium sized children, bags of salt, sand, or cement, books, weeds, dog crap and the list goes on. Most people have never thought about how to pick things up with efficient ideal bio-mechanics that protect the spine from injury and use the proper musculature. Back injuries are far too common and often stem from poor mechanics and/or the lack of supporting musculature. Wouldn't it make sense to devise an exercise that teaches good lifting form and strengthens the back such that the chance of spinal injuries occurring is minimized? Yes I agree! That is what the deadlift does. If you want to protect that all important spinal column and be able to lift sickening amounts of weight, learn how to deadlift properly and train it hard.

Franco Columbu pulling well over 700 pounds

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Training Update May 19, 2012

Finally a decent week of training. My squat has been crappy for a while. I don't know if it is a mental barrier or what but I can't conjure the testicular fortitude to move past 285. I changed my squat routine to ramping up to 1 heavy set of five at the beginning and the end of the week with a light day in the middle. We'll see how it works.

Training Update May 12, 2012

Now I am just being a pansy. Two weeks with only 3 sessions. Horrible.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Most Dangerous Exercise: The Bench Press

A sure way to die is to put a few hundred pounds on the anterior portion of your neck while lying down. Really, the only way give this hypothetical situation a chance to occur is to bench press. The squat, deadlift, clean, and even the press have all been incorrectly labeled as dangerous to your back shoulders or knees for some silly reason by some stupid person or group. In reality these exercises are extremely safe when done correctly. In fact they are far more safe than the beloved bench press. Don't get me wrong the bench press is great and just because it is dangerous doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Riding a bike in traffic is pretty darn dangerous but people make a choice to do it everyday because the benefits (for them not me) outweigh the risk. The best way to build upper body strength is to bench press and in order to do that safely you have to be smart about it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Music and the Power Therein

Music can be awesome and music can well.....suck. In high school I was a music nut. I mostly loved all forms of rock and blues (guitar music) but I also listened to classical music (usually on Sundays). Most rock stars are not great weight lifters. In fact most of them are poor role models in general. Though the mighty zeppelin did drugs and other stupid things, their hard pounding rhythms, screeching voices and screaming guitars serve strength training athletes well. If you've found yourself stuck in your training, find some good rock that gets you amped up and you'll find yourself unstuck.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Training Update April 21, 2012

A solid week of training. Normal ups and downs but I am nearly in PR territory on the press and bench press and hit 315 for a new personal record on the deadlift. Squats are coming right along as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Press

"How much can you bench?" A silly question often asked between members of the male sex of the human race. The result of this question seems to determine the strength of the individual answering the question. The question is flawed. A person with a strong upper body (big bench press numbers) may have really weak back, hips, and legs (since these muscle groups are not stressed sufficiently during the bench press). Also there are few times during which an individual is lying on the ground (or a bench) and required to press some heavy object away from his/her chest. If you want to know how strong a person's upper body is in a highly functional way the question to ask is "How much can you press?"

Bill Starr Pressing 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Training Update April 14, 2012

This week had some up and downs. I started good nearly getting 250 3x5 in my squat on Tuesday. Then out of paranoia of asymmetric squats I de-loaded on Thursdays training. Saturday was a bang (the good kind).

Friday, April 13, 2012

More on Squatting

If you are not yet convinced that squatting is good for you, you should take some time to read more about squatting in order to convince yourself.  It IS good for you. Strength coach Mark Rippetoe thinks our society would be improved if everyone could squat 185 pounds (this level of strength only takes a few weeks of training for 90% of the male population and a few months for the females). Dan John, a widely respected strength and track and field coach, thinks even a few sets of 10 body weight squats would do the world good. This sentiment again comes from the idea of "use or lose it."

Taken from on 13 April 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Most Important Exercise: Low-bar Back-squat

Good exercises involve multiple joints through the full range of motion and recruit lots of muscle mass. The low-bar back-squat does this. It is often thought that the squat is a leg exercise about equivalent to what is done in leg press machines. This idea is not true. The squat involves the ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder joints. The back is heavily trained during squatting just like all the muscles that control flexion and extension of the joints listed in the preceding sentence. Yes even the shoulders are worked, especially if the low-bar version of the squat is used.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Training Update April 7, 2012

I hate missing training days. I had a conference this week so I only got two training sessions in.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Ankle's Sad Sorry Story

It all started when I decided to lead a climbing route that, in hindsight, I clearly was not experienced enough to lead. The route is called no nuts and it found up Ogden Canyon in Utah. It is pretty much a vertical wall of gneiss (metamorphized granite) with two small roofs. A roof is a big chunk of rock that juts out from the wall, they are challenging to climb over. I was a little more than halfway up working on clipping into a bolt on the second roof. I tried to get my quick-draw clipped in twice and missed then on the third try my left hand fatigued and I fell down. It probably looked something like this:


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Training Update March 31, 2012

Good training week. I failed to complete a few sets as prescribed. So I'll need to make sure I eat plenty and get decent sleep. Otherwise the recovery part of training, the part that actually increases strength, won't be as effective and progress will stall.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Big Ones and Little Ones

I mentioned a while ago that I was planning on getting some new plates. Well, they are here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Training Update March 24, 2012

Started off with a good training week. The ankle gave me trouble towards the end though.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

What is soreness and what causes it? Nobody likes being sore, but everybody who has done a new workout is familiar with it. I have often heard that it is caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. For the longest time I have thought this was correct. Technically I am a scientist so please indulge me for a bit as I wax scientific.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Training Update March 17, 2012

Alright. I had ankle surgery that took much longer to recover from, in fact I am still recovering from it. Then I got the flu. So my training took a bit of a break. Now I just have a cold sore for I this week I got back to it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gym in a Closet

This is the home of our home-gym. It is a utility closet with a little extra space. It this closet we store two squat stands (that also act as supports for the bench press), a padded bench, a rubber-plywood platform, and a few weights.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

First workout since the surgery

I recently had an ankle surgery. 8 Years ago I fell rock climbing, took a 15-20 foot whipper into the wall I was climbing just to be clear, and shattered my ankle. I suffered what is called a pilon fracture, which means my talus (bone that supports the tibia) went up through my tibia and fibula. In order to put me back together 3 plates and 16 screws were installed in my lower leg.