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.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The First Week

I know enough about working out with weights to know that I would have to really take it easy for a while. When starting back up again, you're not just dealing with weak muscles but also with connective tissue that needs to get used to workouts. Just because your muscles can handle putting on more weight doesn't mean your tendons and ligaments can. So, I'm using weights that I used to warm up with, as expected. Still, even I was surprised at how little I am squatting.

I ride my bike a lot and I know my legs and calves are strong. However, cycling strong is not the same as squatting strong because the muscles are used differently. So I'm using warm-up weights there, too.

I am getting used to everything again. Moving the long pins in the cage as I setup for squats, then bench. The breathing while lifting. Getting my feet setup just right for squats. During the bench press I now put a pillow under my head because it doesn't like the position it's in (I can't have my head flat when I'm laying down or I get a dizzy-like feeling). It's all coming back to me.

I never lifted very heavy weights. I have long arms and legs so those long levers aren't an advantage in sheer pounds. So I could max just over 200# on the bench press and about 315# squatting, as I recall. However, I was a heck of a lot stronger then than I am now. I will be glad to get some grip strength back, too. Slowly but surely.

My workout is super simple. Three sets (after warm-up) of (all weights are just what's on the bar):

  • Squats: 6x60
  • Bench press: 8x40
  • Barbell curls: 8x30

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 exer...