Monday, September 29, 2008

Next Time, Just Count Sheep

The next time I ever get the bright idea to take something to help me sleep, I'm going to do the exact opposite. For whatever reason, I wasn't able to fall asleep Friday night. Sometimes I think I get so overtired by the end of the week, that I get wound up , and it's hard to get to sleep. So I figured, what the hell, I can sleep in a bit later tomorrow if I need to, I'll try taking a sample of this great sleeping medicaiton. WRONG! I definitely fell asleep quick and slept through the night (I think), but when the alarm went off the next morning, I thought I'd been out drinking the night before. Once I finally made it out of bed (an hour later), I headed to the gym in a complete fog. I was still so messed up from the stuff that I was practically cross-eyed. It took a large amount of caffine to even get me to function normally. Needless to say, my usually enjoyable Saturday morning arm workout was a little rough, but I managed to muddle through it and still get a good little pump going.

Usually, we alternate each week starting with bi's first one week and tri's the following week. We somehow got mixed up and started with bi's again this week, hitting incline db curls, 1 and a half rep preacher curls, hammer curls, and one-arm cable curls. Then we moved on to tri's which included regular grip press downs, a superset of reverse grip press downs and overhead extensions, one-arm db extensions, and 1 and a half rep decline skull crushers. After we finished tri's, we went back to the preacher curl machine and hammered out two sets of 20 reps to burn out our bi's. Then it was time for the Homeslice to work on posing and get some pictures taken to send to Dave. I have definitely been living vicariously through his prep this year knowing that I won't be getting started for quite some time. It kind of breaks things up for me. Even though I don't have my own show to focus on, his might as well be my own (without all the miserable bs of dieting of course).

Saturday morning weigh-in: 137.0, just like I figured.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So You Think You Can Train

It's amazing, no matter how strong I think I am, I inevitably realize that I'm so not. And leg day is always a good reminder of that. There's no doubt that training with a 250 lb bodybuilder and a 180 lb rower pushes me in ways that I might not be pushed if I was by myself (or even training with another female). But I have a bad habit of thinking I can put up more weight than I really can, especially when it comes to training legs. Yesterday's workout went like this:
Step-backs on smith: 2x15
Leg press: 1x20; 2x10-8-6 (increasing weight); 1x10; 1x20
Hacks: 3x8 (5 sec. negative)
Smith lunges (rear leg on bench): 2x10
Squats: 6x10 (light weight, emphasis on perfect form)
Extensions: race to 100reps

The problem for me came during leg press with the increasing sets. In my infinite wisdom, I figured I could handle 3 plates and a 25 on each side for 10, then 4 plates for 8, and finally 4 and a 25 for 6...just kidding. I got the 10 reps no problem, then barely squeaked out the 8 with 4 plates. And the final 6? Not happening....I struggled to get 2. So the next set I dropped the weight down and hit all the anticipated numbers. Sometimes it's very frustrating for me to see the boys load up the sled and crank out their reps only to strip it down to a few measly plates for me to huff and puff my way through. The remainder of the workout went well, and we actually had some fun (yay for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!). That's another great thing about the three of us training together. We all have the same sense of humor...a very weird sense of humor. Not to mention the fact that I can always count on plenty of good jokes being made at my expense.

The earlier workouts this week (back on Monday and chest on Tuesday) were relatively uneventful. Back was a little frustrating because my dead lift strength isn't coming back as quickly as I'd hoped. What's even more frustrating is that a nagging injury that I've had in my left glute/hamstring continues to worsen, and it impacts dead lifting (as well as squats, and virtually all hamstring exercises). I thought for sure that my 4 weeks off from the gym would help it heal, but it's back and as bad as it's ever been. Plus, it's so deep in the muscle that I can't even get to it to massage it. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to wind up seeing a doctor for of these days.

Anyway, my overall strength seems to be back and finally progressing, which makes training fun again. Plus, I have chosen a show/shows for next year and can now start nailing down a plan for the next several months. As of right now, the plan is to compete at the Eastern USA's in November next year and try to qualify for Nationals the following week. It's a lot to take on, but I think I can do it with the help of my Homie. This will easily be the longest stretch of time I have taken for an offseason, but I'm committed and focused. I intend to make an impressive debut as a bodybuilder and know that I need time in order to do that. In the past, I've typically done shows in the spring and early summer (or in the case of some years, spring summer and fall). This will be a nice change of pace. Plus, many (too many) of my friends caught the wedding bug, and I already have three weddings to go to between May and June of next year--one of which I am in. And while I would love to show up to these weddings in shape, I know I wouldn't have fun if I was run down and hungry. So, Easterns in November '09 it is....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dynamic Duo

I swear that there are some relationships that have incredible chemistry that only builds upon itself and only in a way that's specific for the two involved. For me, one of those relationships comes in the form of a particular training partner. There happen to be many dynamics to that paternership/relationship (fortunately and unfortunately), but it's those dynamics that seem to make it so productive sometimes. This morning was one of those times--and all we trained was arms. It's not like we went in and pounded out some heavy squats or crazy db presses, just arms. But that chemistry was there and on point, and that resulted in a pretty sick workout. We hit bi's first with 1-arm cable curls, three drop-sets of preacher curls, a superset of incline db curls and hammer curls, then finished with three simple sets of straight bar curls. My bi's were so pumped, I could barely fix the rat's nest on top of my head that I call my hair. Next was tri's, and well, considering how my bi's were feeling, muddling through tri's was interesting. We started with three sets of 1.5's on close grip incline bench on the smith machine, followed by three heavy sets of skull crushers, three sets of one arm o.h. cable extensions. Finishing up with a superset of regular grip EZ bar press downs and reverse grip press downs.

For quite some time, I had been separating arms and training bi's with back and tri's with chest. Initially, I saw some good changes, but after awhile, my arms became a pretty weak body part because of that. Plus, my back and chest workouts were suffering because I was always thinking about having to cram in extra stuff afterwards. I have found that I get a much better pump when I have an entire workout devoted to arms...big surprise, huh? Plus, I figure that if I'm making this switch to bb, I better completely revamp everything and train/eat like a bb.

My two previous workouts were Thursday night shoulders and Friday night hams and calves...neither of which was much to write home about. I was on track with eating this week (I certainly do not have a problem getting all my meals in like some people...that inner fat kid loves it), and it showed in my weight today. 135.6 I can't remember the last time I ever saw that number on the scale. I know next week's weigh in is going to be tough for me. I know for a fact that I have never seen anything higher than 135 on the scale, and it's a pretty safe bet that I'll be at least a pound if not two, over that by next week. Just gotta keep the bigger picture in mind...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Little Redemption Goes a Long Way

Well, here it is, Thursday of my second week back, and I'm still standing (so to speak). After last week's workouts, I thought, for sure, that I would have a huge mental battle to fight for a couple of weeks before I could really start to get into training again. So far, that hasn't been the case this week. As usual, this week started off with back, which always tends to go well. 5x5 on dead lifts left me with another small increase in strength, going 245 for 5 on my final set. My goal is to hit 280 for 5 in two more weeks. I think that four weeks of training should put me back on track or at least pretty damn close. Nothing too crazy to finish off the rest of the workout...Dorian style bb rows, seated cable rows, WG pull downs, one-arm T-bar rows (love them!), and finally reverse grip pull downs. I know it looks like a lot on paper, but we tend to do only 2 or 3 sets of each exercise to keep variety. Hmmm, I guess that still makes it a lot--overtraining is a word I've often heard associated with my workouts (good thing my training parters overtrain too).

Tuesday was chest, and that's certainly nothing for me to write home about these days. You know, it's funny...before my surgery, a lot of my girlfriends who've also had the surgery done were so excited for me because they said I wouldn't have to train chest anymore. Now don't get me wrong, I've always disliked training chest and I've never been one to hide that fact, but as far as I know, the sport of bodybuilding is largely about symmetry and muscularlity. Neither of which can be achieved if you don't train the bodypart. While I knew that I would not be able to get back and start hammering chest right away, I simply cannot understand the rationale of just not training a bodypart. In fact, the way that I've tried to approach training chest post-surgery is that now I can REALLY kill it (once I'm fully recovered, that is) because I don't have to worry about my boobs shrinking...something that was always in the back of my mind before.

On to yesterday's workout...quads. I had the typical leg-day anxiety surrounding last night's looming working with the added stress of my failure to complete the workout last week. I knew that if I had as bad a workout last night as I did the week before that it would likely mess with my head. Fortunately, last night's workout went pretty damn well. We started off with some isolation exercises before moving into the big stuff...3x15 single-leg extenstions followed by 3x10 lunge step-backs on the smith machine. Then it was on to a big superset...10 reps just short of failure on the hack followed up with a heavy set just short of failure on the leg press. Now this was particularly difficult for me because I have a bad habit of ALWAYS training to failure, and sometimes beyond. After hitting failure on my second set and getting yelled at by Captain Crankypants, I managed to pull it together for the rest of the exercise. We did 4 of those supersets then added a little icing-5x10 strip set. So what I did looked like this:

6 plates (total): 10

4 plates and two 25's: 10

4 plates: 10

2 plates and two 25's: 10

2 plates: 10

Then we went back to hacks for two more sets of good ol' one and a half's. And of course, we still weren't done. We finished with 6x10 squats with light weight and perfect form (taking it aaaaalllll the way down) and then 3x20 leg extentsions. So, needless to say, my legs are F-R-I-E-D, but I felt pretty good about it-relatively speaking.

Tonight is shoulders, which is usually enjoyable for me. Seems like once I get past legs, everything else is cake...mmmmm, cake. I love the offseason.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shock But No Awe

I made it through my first week back to training in one piece...barely. I managed to finish off last week with a couple of decent workouts. Shoulders on Thursday night and arms on Saturday morning went pretty well, but hams on Friday just sucked. Granted, my quads were still so intensely sore from Wedensday that my ham workout wasn't all that productive. In fact, here it is 5 days after my quad workout and they're STILL f'ing sore. Unfortunately, it seems that I've lost a significantly greater amount of strength in my legs than in my upper body. And I have a distinct feeling that it's going to be much harder for me to get that strength back. It's so frustrating. I realize that getting this surgery was not necessary by any means, and I need to understand the tradeoff. But there have been times during this past week when I feel like I've lost so much of what I've worked so hard for. This feeling was not helped out by a comment I received while at the gym on Saturday, either. One of the girls at my gym who I have trained with a few times informed me that it makes her feel so much better to see me with the extra weight now because I "look like the rest of us." I mean, really, was that necessary? I know what you're thinking, she didn't mean it like that, blah blah blah. I realize that, but still, who says that to someone?

As usual, I weighed myself on Saturday...133.6. Not entirely surprising since I significantly increased my calories this week and added carbs back in. I have gone back to the original diet plan that Sean set up for me at the end of June when I kicked into offseason mode. I'm pretty sure that once I get back into heavy training he'll want to increase the calories some more. I've also received strict instructions from him to take it easy for one more week. Yeah, I'll work on that. Though, I will say that not going to Atlantic City this weekend and getting plenty of rest has helped my body recover from the shock of training last week. I do feel like I missed out a bit by not going, but I know that it was ultimately better for me not to go. Besides, I may be going to Nationals in Atlanta in November, which is a pretty cool trade off.

Anyway, now that I have wasted an hour of Dutchess County's precious time and tax payers dollars, I must return to fighting crime...or rather typing term papers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Hurtin' Unit

Apparently "take it slow and easy" is NOT in my training repertoire. Here it is only Thursday of my first week back, and I feel like I've been hit by a bus. I completely overdid back on Monday (thank you dead lifts) and have been paying for it ever since. I was good on Tuesday when I trained chest, as I had a certain added fear since I know I'm still healing. Unfortunately for me, my lower back was still screaming come last night when I tried to train quads, and this is where the real trouble began. With my two fave partners, we started off with 4 sets of leg press. Ok, not so bad. Not a lot of strength, but I can still hammer some reps out. Well, we decided to do a 5th set and strip plates off after 5 reps. I had 5 plates on each side and tried to push out my 5 reps...I couldn't even get the second rep and they had to pull the sled off my chest. What the? Frustrated, I bolted to the bathroom to try to pull myself together because I was on the verge of committing the ultimate gym sin. I was about to cry. I managed to make it to the stall before the tears came, but it was still so embarassing and frustrating. After I pulled it together, I tried to hit that last set. I got 5 (shitty) reps with 5 plates, then 5 again with 4 plates, 5 with 3, 6 with 2, and then 10 with one. I thought that would mentally reset me for the rest of the workout. Not so. I proceeded through the rest of the workout of 1 and a half rep hack squats, 6 sets of extensions, and three sets of smith lunges on the verge of tears the entire time and incredibly frustrated that I had even less strength than I thought I would. In fact, I couldn't even make it to the last exercise...6 sets of squats for high reps. My legs and lower back especially were completely done. I have been training since I was a senior in high school (that would be 11 years for you non math majors), and I have NEVER EVER EVER bailed before the end of a workout. I have had workouts during contest prep that have left me pretty teared up, but I've never not finished them.

Anyway, tonight is a new night and another chance to redeem myself doing shoulders. Let's hope things run a little more smoothly. I think "slow and easy" needs to be my new mantra for the next week and a half.

So, in other non-training related news, my body is technically not the only thing hurting these days. My poor little car is quite f'ed up, too. When I came out to the parking lot from work today, I found a note on my car and some very large scratches and dents in the driver side rear bumper and quarter panel. Some girl hit my car when she was pulling into her spot this morning (our parking lot is rediculously tight). Lucky for me, she was nice enough to have left her number and has offered to pay for the damages. It was just one hassle that I don't need. I was supposed to go to the Atlantic City Pro this weekend to work the ALRI booth again, but I just don't have it in me to do it. Between my poor car, some exceptional extra stress at work, plus my struggle to get back into training have left me completely drained emotionally and not feeling much like being nice to the typical bodybuilding show d-bag. All I want is to have a nice, quiet, BORING weekend at home consisting of some good training and lots of relaxation.

For now, it's off to the gym...

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Band Is Back Together!

Yeah, man! Day 1 back in the gym post-surgery, and what better way to start it off than by training back with my two favorite training partners. Even though I expected to lose some strength during the past four weeks, it was still incredibly frustrating to get in there and have no strength OR stamina. My original plan for the next week or two was to just get back in and feel the movements and get used to training again. Of course, that wasn't exactly how things worked out last night. As usual, we started off with 5x5 dead lifts, and I made it up to 235 for 5 on my fifth set. It was a struggle, but they were clean. I knew I wasn't going to touch 280 for 5 like I did before my surgery, so 235 was ok by me. The boys tried for 1RM and both had some pretty decent showings. Not wanting to test the limits too much, I opted to drop my weight to 185 and crank out 8 and then drop again to 135 for 10. We finished with some wide grip pulldowns, reverse grip rows, two-arm db rows, and close grip pulldowns. Not surprisingly, my back was fried even before I made it out to my car. I felt pretty good on all the exercises, but the pulldowns were tough since I'm still tight in the, um, chest reigion. I had trouble getting the full range of motion and feeling a good squeeze. Tonight is chest, which I'm very leary about and will have to make a concerted effort to TAKE IT EASY.

As far as my nutrition goes, the past four weeks have been a pretty serious breakthrough for me mentally. I have always always ALWAYS feared "getting fat" in the offseason and was very concerned that it would happen over the course of my recovery. While I certainly don't like the loss of muscle, I finally managed to see that I was able to eat a fair amount and maintain my weight and shape. What is truly the breakthrough for me is that I can say that I know I need to eat more food than I was eating four weeks ago in order for me to grow and build muscle--but more importantly that I WILL EAT. I intend to devise a new plan of attack by the end of this week.

In other news, I was at Team U in NYC this weekend working the ALRI booth Friday night and aaaaallllll day Saturday. It was a long weekend for sure, but it was a good time. I got to see a lot of people that I haven't seen in a while and also got to meet some cool new people. I wasn't fortunate enough to watch much of the show, but I did get to see the figure girls at night. I have to admit, it's sad for me to watch the evolution of figure. I remember watching my very first show at the Tribecca in 2005....Atlantic States. I never thought I'd be on that stage in a million years, never mind on a national level stage. I used to aspire to look like those top level competitors. But with the new look that is being pushed in figure, I was very disheartened to look at the pro card winners from Team U and not want to emulate any of their physiques. That's not to say that they aren't exceptional competitors with great phsyiques, but they have had to morph them into what the judges are looking for now....a look that I no longer admire. It simply reaffirmed why switching to bodybuilding is a good move for me.

Anyway, this weekend I will be heading down to the Atlantic City Pro to work for ALRI again, and I'm sure it'll be another interesting weekend. In the meantime, it's good to be back.