Four weeks are in the books and I’m half way through the training cycle for my meet on October 21. I almost forgot how hard training for a meet is on your body. I also encountered something in this cycle that I have not experienced yet: the mindful*k.

Early on in the training under the programming of Brian Carroll, he told me not to miss weights because it screws with your head. I told him it doesn’t bother me, and as I’m using percentages, it should not be an issue.  I trained Westside for years and missed weights n training because I always attempted a new max on ME day.

Sometimes I got it, and sometimes I didn’t. This is not the best way to train Westside but it is what I did for years. It never bothered me because I thought it was okay to miss a max attempt.  Yeah, I know it is not how things are supposed to be done, but it is what it was.

This week I was supposed to take my opener (645) in the squat for a double and I had 100% confidence that it would be a SMOKESHOW. I also did this while wearing my new size 58 Metal Jack Pro Squat Suit, which was a little loose. One thing I really like about the Jack suit is the orange color that is very slimming and does not make me look like the Great Pumpkin from Charlie Brown. I’m glad they didn’t go with a stupid color like black. Nothing goes better on a man in the 275s or up like bright orange.

As you will see in the video, all of my warm up sets were great, but when I got to the 645, things went south, dirty south, like Spud. On my first set at 645 I lost my balance as I began my descent and re racked it. Instead of waiting a few minutes, I took off the knee wraps, and then said “let’s go”, and re wrapped. I should have rested at least 3 or 4 minutes.  I got under the bar and took the weight down at about ½ MPH. I don’t think I could have gone any slower if I tried to. This has always been an issue, when the weight gets little heavy, something happens in my brain to tell me to slow down. This leads to a miss 9 out of 10 times.

A few years ago, Dave T, Jim W, Spud, Kroc, Vincent, Jay Ferruggia and a bunch of others form elitefts™ were at my gym for a seminar and we had an UGGS style session the night before. I don’t remember what my weight on the bar was, but it was well over 750. I took it out, went down SLOW and missed.

As I was gasping for air after, I asked Dave what I did wrong.  In his extremely supportive coaching style he told me that I was a pussy and took it out, and brought it down like one. He then said to do it like a man and walked away. Really, I was looking for something groundbreaking or a secret. Guess what kids, there isn’t one. He was 100% right. On the next attempt, I did exactly what he said to. I took the weight out strong and went down with the same speed as I would have used or 225. Guess what?  I smashed it. I wonder if I can fly Dave out here 3 days a week to yell at me.

This brings up something I have said, and heard a million times: treat the heavy weights like they are light and the light weights like they are heavy.  Use the same speed with a heavy weight that you would with a light weight when lowering it. I KNOW these things, yet still continue to make this mistake. I even say to myself during the descent “go down fast!”.  I will fix this today. As I write, it is the Monday of week 5. I am supposed to be deloading again, but after consulting with Brian Carroll, we decided to do some work in the Metal Jack Pro Squat Suit to let me get more used to it. I will not be using a max, but a moderate weight and doing a few doubles. I will focus on getting down like I have a pair of balls.

After my awesome performance on the squat, Brian had me do raw squats Olympic style. My left hip was a disaster and going raw was not helping things. I stuck with 275.  Squatting 275 isn’t going to do much to get me stronger, but squatting raw is really beating me up. I’ll need to check with him to see if using briefs is an option.  By the time I got done with this, I had about 20 minutes before my first client was coming and I had to shut it down for the day.  I made the very intelligent decision to go to my office and dip instead of stretching and roiling.  I LOVE dip. I should have rolled.

The next training day was Wednesday and it was bench day.  The mindfu*k of missing weight on Monday was forefront in my head. He told me so. I talked to one of my training partners, Steve, about it and he said to forget it. I wish it was that easy. The plan was to touch my opener and then a second to a 1-board followed by a PR for a double to a 2-board.

I plan on opening at 365. I know this is nothing, but to me it is a huge accomplishment. I used to look at the weights that I have lifted in the past, but the more I write these articles, the more I realize that I can’t compare my situation now, to 5, 10 or 15 years ago.  Just about a year ago, my training partners used to love upper body day because I would walk around the gym and try to do anything while they pointed and laughed. I t really was pretty funny. I’d try to overhead press, that wouldn’t work. I’d try dumbbell benches, that wouldn’t work and it went on with just about every exercise you could think of. I ended up not doing ANYTHING with my left arm for a long time. I did unilateral work with my right arm only.

This did wonders for my bench (read-sarcasm). When I could finally got back to benching, I spent a long time doing things that were pain free or at least almost pain free. Now, I realize that going form an empty bar to 365 for an opener is not going to set any records, but it is a step towards a 600 bench. I’ll take it.

I have a few issues with my bench, one is my butt popping off the bench, which I HAVE been red lighted for. The other is taking the hand-off properly. These are the two primary things I am working on.

I am fixing the butt pop by moving my feet wider and trying to start with hips all the way up at hand-off. I did a pretty good job on my opener. I also have been moving my grip out just a hair more than usual.  I kept my grip narrow to protect my shoulder, but I know think I can get to full legal width because the shoulder feels good and the design of the Jack shirt really supports the shoulder capsule.

Things went fairly well for the rest of the bench session, but the butt popped a little. I view this in my twisted reality as progress because it popped a lit a few weeks ago. It is staying on the bench better and I think with some more stretching of the hip pre-workout next time, it will stay down all the way.

I finished with 405 to a 2 board for a single. I was supposed to do a double, but the guys with the blowtorches were back in my hip again. I moved on to floor presses.

I like using the EFS Multi-Grip Swiss Bar™ for these because it takes a lot of pressure of the shoulder and biceps. By the time I got to the floor press, every piece of connective tissue in my elbows felt like it was going to rip off the bone. Yeah, I know I sound like a whining pussy, but hey, it’s true. This reminded me of reading about the bodybuilders in the 80’s and 90’s using Nubain and then going on to harder drugs. I do not advocate this, but I recall reading that quite a few did Nubain because of joint pain. It allowed them to keep going. It also turned them into junkies. I’ll go with ice, thanks.

This reminds me of a few weeks ago when my boy Z brought his son over to the house to play with my son. No it was not a “play date”. Those are for pussies. They just play like regular kids. Anyway, when Z showed up, all was perfectly normal to me, but he was in shock. It takes a lot to shock him; he’s the SWAT commander for the local PD and has seen some bizarre stuff.  I answered the door with about 58 ACE bandages on with ice underneath. He’s yelling at me “What did you do?” and a bunch of other stuff as I stared back at him blankly. I had no idea what he was talking about. It took a minute to realize he meant the 58 ice packs. He thought THIS was bizarre.

So, after the floor presses I finished up with some boring accessory work and called it a day. This leads us to Friday, deadlift day. Deadlift day went surprisingly well. I took 85% for 2 doubles in the Metal King Pro Deadlifter and jacked the straps down hard. I am really getting used to using this suit and I think I love it. The weight seems to lift itself.

I do have a few issues in the deadlift, but they are getting sorted out. I did a set of 6” block pulls at 95% for a triple and then assistance work. I used Fred Hatfield’s Lift Assist Harness for these. This is out of production so you can’t get one. It never seemed to take off and I don’t know why. It is a great piece of equipment that should be a staple in everyone’s training. It is basically a long set of straps that goes across your back and loops around the weights. It fries your spinal erectors much more than holding the weight in your hands or behind your head while doing back raises.

Good mornings were next for 3 sets of 5 and then some ab work.

I usually do upper body assistance on Saturday and fully intended to this week. After about a 40 minute warm-up and   struggling through 2 exercises, I decided to shut it down and work on flexibility/mobility instead. This was a good idea. I had a busy weekend and didn’t want to be burned out for next week.

I will be working with Vincent Dizenzo on my bench technique when he comes to TPS for his monthly clinic. I’m, sure there will be some tough love from him there. I am supposed to be de loading for the entire week but this is the last chance I have to get some work in on the bench before the meet with a world class coach. I am taking advantage of it. Get the ice packs ready.

I have also been focusing on EATING more. This has been a chore for me and I am now treating it like a job. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the issues I have been having with the volume of the workouts is due to insufficient caloric intake: read CARBS. It is tough for me to get the back loading meals in because I am training clients all night and don’t get home until about 9:30. I think it is unprofessional to eat on the floor, but I am doing it at least until the meet. My 6:30 on Wednesday was a little horrified at the stack of 9 slices of bread I was shoving in my pie hole during her squats.  I have added another 300 grams of carbs post workout by doing this each night. I am still not at the suggested 100 grams of carbs post workout, but I am getting there. Last night I took my son to the WWE Night of Champions at the Boston Garden and we were in the Heineken Board Room. This is an ULTRA luxury box that has tons for free food. I made it my goal to eat at least the price of the ticket in food while I was there. People were looking at me like I was a barnyard animal as I was mixing my protein to go along with my carbs. They were busy eating super high GI carbs by themselves ensuring that they were adding pounds of fat to their already obese bodies. I was busy getting jacked Kiefer-style with my Leucine and protein, along with every piece of food in the room. Security also gave me a second look when I pulled a bag of powder out of my pocket. Just so you know, I am lucky enough to know someone who is a member of the Board room. A measly gym owner cannot afford these tickets! If you ever get the chance to go to an event in one of these rooms, do it. It is AWESOME.

Check out the videos to see what I was describing earlier. 4 weeks left until the meet. Keep reading.

If you are in the Boston area, stop in to Total Performace Sports to meet Murph