Trainer–First Time Ever!

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Workout: January 3, 2016

Happy New Year folks! For the first time in my life, I decided to hire a trainer. Why? Well, as I was doing some barbell rows I noticed the guy next to me holding a barbell over his head (with what looked like 95 lbs,) doing deep squats. When I say deep, I mean butt almost touching the floor.

I have been trying for many, many months to rebuild my squat with the goal on improving my form and going deeper in the hole while maintaining a solid upright position with my top half (as I tend to fold at the bottom). I believe I’ve improved, but I am still no where close to where I’d like to be. So, after seeing this guy next to me doing some of what I’d like to do, I tracked him down after my workout (he is a trainer at my gym) and asked him if he could help me. He told me it took him a long time for him to be able to achieve the strength and flexibility to do what I saw, but he could help me out.

We scheduled an hour evaluation and at the end I purchased a couple of months of sessions! The first session was great as I left with a bunch of warm up exercises designed to help with flexibility and also a list of additional exercises to increase strength in my weak areas that I will do along with my regular StrongLifts Advanced routine. This is while you will see me performing a bunch of new stuff!

I hope everyone is ready to take on the new year and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

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Stress Relief

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Workout: December 1, 2015

Little bit of work related stress today, so I’m glad I was able to hit the gym for squats, bench press, Pendlay rows with a side order of chin-ups. I am still loosely following StrongLifts Advanced, modifying and mixing in some StrongLifts 5×5. I think I’m getting parallel on my squats, but it looks like I’m still folding at the top, which seems to happen at the heavier weight (225 lbs in the picture below).

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Glad to get my lift in today–hope you did too and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

12-01-2015-workout

Back To 2 Plates On Squats

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Workout: November 24, 2015

I finally got back to two plates per side, or 225 lb., on my barbell back squat. And, most importantly, I am doing the movement with parallel depth. It’s been months and months of working on mobility and squat form, plus working through and injury (very sore where my right leg connects to my body) to get myself to this milestone.

I’m going to try and remember to film myself next time so I can make sure I’m using proper form and hitting parallel. Only had time for squats today, so I hope to be able to hit bench press and Pendlay rows tomorrow.

In the mean time, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

11-24-2015-workout

Workout: June 5, 2015

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Friday Night Quick Lift

Short swim practice for my son tonight as he has a meet all weekend, so I was just able to get the final workout for Week 3 of my current StrongLifts Advanced cycle in. This included squat, bench press, and Pendlay rows. The squat form rebuild is going great as my depth is parallel as the weight is beginning to climb, little by little. I’m in no hurry because my goal is good squat form as opposed to heavy weight and not hitting the hole.

I’m off to visit Mom so I’ll be missing a couple of workouts next week–until then…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

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Food: March 28, 2015

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Family Time

Woke up this morning feeling great after catching up on some much needed sleep. Tonight the entire family spent the evening at my Dad’s house along with my sister and her family. My life is pretty hectic, but I need to slow down and do this more often! I ate a huge amount of delicious food and had a wonderful time.

Earlier in the afternoon, I went to pick up my daughter from her dance rehearsal and on the way I listened to a great podcast titled, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Crossfit hosted by Tim Ferriss featuring the guest Kelly Starrett. These are two smart guys and this is a very interesting interview that deals with much more than Crossfit.

I own this book by Kelly Starrett–very technical but a fantastic read if you are serious about athletic performance.

I’ve been complaining a bunch lately about my terrible squat form. In the podcast Kelly talked about having basic movement functionality–in the context of the squat he said you should be able to keep you feet together heels on the floor then, with your knees together, squat to the floor (no weights involved).  You should be able to squat all the way down, like a little kid at a campfire. He said if you can’t to that you clearly have hip and/or ankle mobility issues that need addressing.

Hello! This is my problem. Now I’ve known this was an issue for me, but hearing an actual, simple test is great because this will help me focus on my mobility/form and, until I fix the hip/ankle faults, I will leave the weights alone! Sure it will be frustrating to completely start over but using good form will help my squat in the long run.

I hope your weekend is going great and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

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Workout: March 25, 2015

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My Squat Stinks! 😉

Today is the Wednesday workout for Week 3 of my current StrongLifts Advanced cycle which calls for squat, barbell standing overhead press, and deadlift. I also threw in some pull-ups for grins.

I’ve deloaded my squat weight significantly to work on form and I think I’m making progress on the depth of my squat, but I have a long way to go! With only 180 lb., here is what today’s depth looked like:

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You can see I’m not going deep enough!

At this point in the squat my body “feels” like I’m deep in the hole and parallel, but this picture shows I still need to drop another few inches to complete a full squat. I’ll just keep working on it!

Here’s hoping you are getting your workouts in this week and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

3-25-2015-workout

Workout: February 27, 2015

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Dang These Weights Are Heavy

Happy Friday folks! Today I’m doing the final workout for Week 8 of my current StrongLifts Advanced cycle which included squats, bench presses, and Pendlay rows. This is the tail end of the cycle so the volume (reps) are low, each lift is three sets each consisting of three reps, and the weight is getting heavy.

squat-rack

290 lb. loaded in the rack this morning.

My squat form fell apart on the final two sets (290 lb.), so I added an extra set at only 225 to practice form. My form on the Pendlay rows wasn’t to good either, but I stuck it out and finished the lift.

Looking forward to the weekend–as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

2-27-2015-workout

Workout: February 23, 2015

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Oops, I Loaded The Wrong Weight

I’ve been trying to work on my squat form, which is best done at light weight. It just so happens I’m also moving closer to the end–I started Week 8 of 9–of my current StrongLifts Advanced cycle, so the weight is getting heavy! Seems like competing goals to me. :) Today I noticed, after completing my squats, the spreadsheet said to do 275 lb., three sets of three and I had done 280 lb. #doh!

The good news is I got to the gym first thing this morning and lifted some weights. I hope your week kicks off with a workout and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!

2-23-2015-workout

My Fancy Workout Shoes

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chucksThey say, “Clothes make the man/woman.” Ever heard this? It turns out this phrase originated from Shakespeare in Hamlet, where the character, Polonius, is giving fatherly advice to his son, Laertes, before he leaves for Paris. He tells him:

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Among other things he is saying something along the lines of don’t be a poser, don’t buy stuff you can’t afford to impress people, and the clothes you wear matter! More on this here if your interested…

Well my “not so fancy,” old school shoes are important too, but for a much different reason. Certainly you can go to any high school and see the kids wearing a version of my classic “Chucks” to make a retro fashion statement, but I assure you I wear them to the gym for a completely different reason… :)

running-shoesFor most of my life I wore other types of athletic shoes, either basketball or running, to lift weights, after all, I never thought footwear had anything to do with weightlifting. This included the 20+ years I spent wandering around the weight room doing split routines, you know, chest/shoulders/triceps on one day, them back/biceps the next, and legs once a month! 😀 A few years ago I changed my weight lifting philosophy to a simple, compound barbell program which includes squats and deadlifts (DLs). Adopting this program, based on StrongLifts 5×5, took my focus away from the weight machine area of the gym to the free weight area. Here’s where I noticed some really strong folks lifting heavy weight and many of them donning old school “Chucks.”

I still didn’t get it! I remember seeing these guys and thinking, “these guys/girls are wearing those shoes to show everyone in the gym they’re hard core iron pushers. Showoffs!” As the weeks and months wore on, and my program called for heavier and heavier weights for the squat and deadlift, I began to struggle, unable to progress with more weight. I wanted to get stronger and lift heavier, but these exercises are technically difficult and, as you know, form is everything!

So I started asking for advice (oddly enough from mostly dudes wearing “Chucks”) and doing a bunch of reading. A friend of mine, who had become very proficient at deadlifting, suggested a book titled, Deadlift Dynamite: How To Master The King of All Strength Exercises. Boom, there it was, right on page 121:

Do all your DLs and DL-related training barefoot or in minimalist shoes with a flat and thin sole. This is essential for safety and performance.

The light bulb went off and I immediately purchased a pair of “Chucks!”

Did my squat and deadlift performance increase? Absolutely! The question, the same one the Mars Blackmon character asked in the Air Jordan commercials, to be asked, “Is it the shoes?”

Like Jordan in the commercial, I can’t come to the same conclusion Mars famously comes to, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” However, I do believe the shoes play an important part in helping both my squat and deadlift form, which ultimately helps me lift more weight and thus makes me stronger!

chucks-squatHowever, as I’ve repeated many times on this blog, everyone is different and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I see people in the gym all the time wearing running shoes with big cushioned heals squatting and deadlifting huge amounts of weight–double and triple what I can do. In fact, I know one guy in my gym who not only wears running shoes but also puts a pair of 10 lb. weights under his heals when he squats (and he can squat over 400 lb.). Isn’t that exactly opposite of the above? How is that possible?

It turns out how one performs these complex lifts depends greatly on one’s body type, bone length and other physical factors. One of these factors, depending on the person, can be the shoe. This video does a great job in explaining the mechanics of the squat and how all these factors play a roll. I would encourage you to watch the whole thing, but at 2:35 he specifically talks about how a raised heal affects the knee and hip.

Fascinating stuff!

Now you know why I wear those “not so fancy” but ever so flat shoes when I squat and deadlift. I truly believe they help! If you find your knees pressing forward and you’re having trouble getting your hips to parallel, might be time to pay attention to your footwear. Before I actually bought my “Chucks” I experimented with squats and DLs in bare feet. I immediately felt a big difference and I knew I needed flat shoes. I would love to do those lifts in bare feet, but my gym won’t allow it for safety reasons.

Any other “not so fancy” shoe wearers out there? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you and, as always…

Be smart in the kitchen and a beast in the gym!