Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Heck with Leg Workouts!

Just kidding. Sort of.

In my last post, I mentioned some niggles that were bothering me so I was going to take some weeks off working the legs. Around this same time I had noticed that my speed on the bike was actually decreasing. No idea why but it was. Age? That hip thing? Didn't know.

So I took a few weeks off the weights but I did keep riding. Then something odd happened: my speed on the bike was ticking up. Noticeably. What the heck?

When the pain in my hip went away, I didn't start up with the legs right away. Soon, my speed on the bike was back to normal. I should mention here that I'm not very fast on the bike but I know how "fast" I should have been going. What was happening?

My theory is that it was the leg workouts. They were just too much overall so while my legs were getting stronger in the squat department, they couldn't recover enough for the bike rides, so my speed decreased.

So, what to do about my legs? Frankly, I knew my legs were strong from bike riding. Maybe not squat strong but my calves are bigger from bike riding than they ever were from weights. Same with my thighs. Did I even need to work my legs off the bike? Maybe not but I still wanted to. Why? Osteoporosis. See, riding the bike, while a great workout, doesn't put much stress on one's skeleton. Bones react the same way to stress (i.e. weights) the same way muscles do: they get stronger. Cyclists have been shown to be a bit weak in the bone density department. So, at the very least, I wanted to do some weight training for my legs that would help my bones out (i.e. squats).

What I came up with is that after a weekend where I do a very long ride (50 - 100 miles), I would do a leg workout. My legs would be pretty trashed anyway so the workout wouldn't mess me up anymore than that. Plus my bones would get the stress they needed. I would keep the reps higher than before (10 reps vs. 6), so that should keep me from getting weird injuries.

I have been doing this for several months and all is well. Speed is staying where it should be (or getting faster...sometimes). No new niggles.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

New Workout and Fractional Gains

Back in June I added a new workout. It hits the same muscles and the current one, just with different exercises. The weights on all the exercises have flattened out so time to share the latest workout (all weights are what's on the bar, as usual). Three sets each of:

  1. Partial Deadlift: 8x110
  2. Barbell Military Press: 8x15
  3. Seated Cable Row: 8x75
  4. EZ-Curl Barbell Curls: 10x38
  5. Overhead Tricep Dumbell Extension: 10x32.5
  6. Gripper: 15x7,1

Some explanations:

  • A partial deadlift is where I set the long pins in the power cage to just below my kneecaps and put the barbell on top of that. I don't like deadlifts all the way down with a straight barbell. Someday I'll get some kind of trap bar.
  • The barbell curl is moved over from the other workout. They have been replaced with dumbell curls over there.
  • The tricep extension is with a single dumbell.
  • The "7,1" notation for the gripper is from the chart I wrote about in my last post.

So what's up with "38" as a weight for barbell curls? Two words: fractional plates. Love 'em. They go down to 1/4 lb. See, with some barbell exercises, a 5 lb step up is just too much--for me, anyway. Enter fractional plates and I, typically, only go up 1 lb when I use them. I have been using them with the military press and barbell curls. So nice.

I have encountered one problem, though. I have a little niggle in my left hip. I suspect that increasing the weight every workout on the deadlift was too fast. So I'll take a few weeks off from that exercise to let the soreness die down. Then I'll dial back the weight and go a lot slower upping the weight.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Getting a Grip (Again)

I have come up with a different workout (more on that in another post) that I will be alternating with my existing one and it includes deadlifts. After such a long layoff, of course my grip strength isn't what it used to be and I know it will soon be lagging behind what my legs and back can handle. I have found that the best way to increase my grip strength is to do deadlifts (or whatever) followed a session with my Ivanko Gripper. The DL works the grip indirectly, fatiguing it, and the gripper session works the grip directly.

This time, though, I know I need to start light with the gripper and increase gradually or tendonitis will soon follow (my forearms are especially prone to that). The Ivanko Gripper has this two-spring setup that is great but increasing linearly isn't straightforward (and it sure didn't come with instructions way back when I got it 25-ish years ago). Fortunately, someone has already worked that out. Behold, Drew Baye's Ivanko Super Gripper Resistance Chart. It is, seriously, one of the most useful weight training things I have ever seen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


I have been doing weight training and cycling workout on back-to-back days and have found that I must take a day off afterwards. It's possible that if I was younger I wouldn't need one right away. However, I wasn't cycling when I was younger so who knows? I have to listen to my body today and it's telling me that I have to take a day off after two days of training like that. I can cycle multiple days in a row and could probably get away with doing weight training two or three days in a row but different workouts? I need that day off.

Along the same lines, if I am going to do a bike ride longer than 40 miles, I can't do weights the day before. Well, maybe I could but I can't do squats (and who wants to do a workout without squats?).

Make sure you listen to your body, folks.

Here is today's workout:

  • Squats: 3x6x80
  • Superset:
    • Bench Press: 3x8x65
    • Pulldowns: 3x8x60
  • Superset:
    • EZ Curls: 3x10x35
    • Pushdowns: 3x10x35

Friday, March 5, 2021

Slowly But Surely

I have been making slow but steady progress. I did get sweats so I could workout in cold weather (reminder: my home gym is outdoors). I even added an exercise. Here is what today looked like:

  • Squats: 6x45
  • Bench Press: 8x35
  • EZ Barbell Curls: 10x25 (they have been EZ curls all along)
  • Cable V Pressdowns: 8x35

Reminder that the weights are what I put on the bar or machine, not the total.

I have been regularly working out except I developed a blood clot in my left leg a few weeks ago. That paused things for a couple weeks. I up the weights when I can do at least two extra solid reps on the last set and everything (e.g. shoulders during bench press) feels good. So far so good.

I did up the reps for the EZ curls. My forearms weren't liking things so I went from 8 to 10 reps to keep the weight from moving up too fast. First workout at 25# and it feels much better than when I tried 8x25 a few weeks ago.

I am alternating bike riding days with weight days. Seems to be going well. I'm not even looking at the scale these days because I know I am going to start gaining muscle (if I haven't already) and seeing my weight go up because of that is just going to mess with my head. Weights haven't affected my cycling, though. The blood clot did but even that has passed and I'm increasing the distance I ride again. Blood clot is still there but it's decreasing.

I did start using an app to track my workouts. Different reps and whatnot were getting too confusing and I didn't want to use paper this time so I hunted for an iPhone app. I settled on Strong. It's not perfect but it's simple and meets my needs. So I have the app to guide my workouts and I play music on my iPhone during my workout. You could say that iPhone is my training partner. A lot has changed in 20 years, right? 😋

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Baby Steps

Increased the weights a bit after a couple of weeks:

  • Squats: 6x25
  • Bench press: 8x10
  • Barbell curls: 8x10

I tried jumping up from 20 to 30 on squats. Too soon. 😆 I'm such a girlyman.

Sunday, January 3, 2021


I had to reset my notion of "starting off easy". I was getting some soreness in my right shoulder. Not a sharp pain but a dull soreness. Throw in the weather turning colder with my not having any sweats for outdoor workouts and you have a great time to take a few weeks off.

I got some sweats and my shoulder feels fine so back to square one:

  • Squats: 6x20
  • Bench press: 8x0
  • Barbell curls: 8x0

More like square -1. I'm going to keep it here for at least two weeks and maybe as long as four. Once I'm sure all is well I will go back to stepping it up. Very slowly, though. Like no increases until after a couple of weeks each time.

I did notice something interesting this time, though. I wasn't happy with the way I was doing squats and offloading weight from the bar allowed me to work on my form a bit. Long story short: I need to not drop down so much. I was trying to go all the way down, like I used to. Turns out I'm not like I used to be. So I end up going down around parallel or maybe a bit below. It's what's comfortable for me now. Perhaps I'll go lower when I am naturally ready for it. Perhaps not. I'll do a better job of listening to my body and not trying to force things.

P.S. Do people still say you shouldn't squat below parallel? There is nothing wrong with going all the way down, as long as you keep the tension on your legs and don't rest at the bottom. That puts the tension on your connective tissue which can lead to injury.

The Heck with Leg Workouts!

Just kidding. Sort of. In my last post, I mentioned some niggles that were bothering me so I was going to take some weeks off working the le...