Great morning at the gym, even with waking up late. I have two alarms that I set, one is my regular alarm clock, which is set at 5:30, the other is the alarm on my Sleep Cycle app that will wake me up anywhere between 5 and 5:15 am. Most mornings I turn the regular alarm off before it goes off, this morning I hit snooze on it three times! before getting up. Not sure why I was so tired. I was in bed by 10:30 and asleep before 11.

I was able to get up and get out the door and to the gym by 6:30 so I still had my 45-60 minutes gym time intact. I was concerned when I got there about the quality of my routine. After a quick dynamic warm up and some warm up sets on the bench I got at it and was able to PR my bench. I hit 255# and not only did I do one rep, but I felt so strong I did a second rep. I ended up doing 225×5, 245×1, 255×2, 170×15. That’s the most I’ve ever benched in my life! This routine is paying off. I can’t wait until next week when I go back to a upper body/lower body 5 day split doing a 5×5 strength routine. I’m thinking that I should be able to do 5×5 of 235#.

On the barbell row I even increased the top end to 175 for one rep, went really slow on the lift and pressed my shoulder blades to really squeeze my lats. Felt really good. I finished it off with a 15 minute HIIT session on the treadmill.

The only down side was I walked out of the gym without my water bottle. I put it down in front of my locker to throw out a paper towel I had and completely forgot to pick it up when I left.


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Monday, Monday

After my technology disaster this weekend I was happy to get back into the gym and pick up heavy things and put them back down again. Today was Deadlift and Military Press day. For my Deadlift I tried something different, using a Trap Bar. This is a trap bar:

I read an article about how this is actually a better way to deadlift, an judging from this morning I think it’s correct, at least for me. I felt more centered over the weight and was able to push through my heels better and didn’t feel like my lower back was on the verge of straining like it is when I’m lifting heavier weight. The article said you could also squat like this, just change from pushing off your heels to pushing off the balls of your feet. I tried a couple at 225# and I could feel it in my thighs and glutes so maybe it would work as well. I was able to load the same 335# I did last week and was able to lift that without issue, thinking I could do 355#, which I will try on Wednesday.

After that I was feeling good so I increased my weight on my Military Press, I did 100×5, 125×1, 135×1, 90×15. I’ll hold at that weight for this week.

I followed both of those up with 10 rounds of 5 strict pull ups and 10 Russian Kettlebell swings with no rest in between. I was pretty much a puddle on the floor after that.

Good way to start the week.

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Chains are Meant to be Broken

What is it with me and weekends? Last weekend, at the very start of my unbroken chain to build new habits, I got sick and didn’t even really start the chain as planned. I picked it up on Monday and was able to get back in the swing for all last week, building to one of my best workouts in months last Friday. Saturday morning I woke up early and decided that instead of wasting gas driving to the gym (30 miles round trip) I would run to my kids school and then do sprints on the soccer field with some body weight exercises thrown in. I was able to do that. I did 10 full field sprints with 30 second rest at each end then did a jumping jack, push up, squat combo. I did 1 of each on the first round, 2 of each on the second round, etc until I hit 10 each, then rested 2 minutes and came back down to 1 (10 of each, 9 of each, 8 of each, etc), then a light jog back home.

After showering, eating breakfast I sat down to read email and news. Open Chrome and am greeted with a Unable to Load Page error. Tried a few other sites and got the same. Rebooted the computer and reconnected to the wireless and it wouldn’t connect. Got up and rebooted the wireless router, still wouldn’t connect. Unplugged the wireless router and plug it back in, still nothing. Contemplated throwing the thing against the wall in frustration, decided against it. Time to troubleshoot I guess.

I hopped on another computer in the house and that one connected to the wireless. Now I’m thinking it is my laptop. Several reboots and reconnection attempts later I’m still not online. By this time I have other things to do so I figure I’ll leave it until after dinner when I can spend some time on it. After dinner the kids turned the TV on to watch a few episodes of Mythbusters on Netflix I get the “Dad, the Roku won’t connect and we don’t know what to do” yelling from the living room. More troubleshooting, this time I try to connect direct to a port on the wireless router and that connects so it looks like the wireless is not working. When I was going through the router configurations I noticed there is a firmware update available so I ran that. That loaded and my laptop saw that there was a connection available so I figured that the firmware update did the trick. No luck, it connected but wasn’t pushing any data through. So now I’m thinking it was the cable modem or the cable connection. I called the cable company, nope, everything looks good on their end. They did a reset on the modem and everything started working again if connected direct to the cable modem.

Yesterday, after another two hours in the morning of working on it I decide that wireless router is dead and I need a new one so down to Best Buy I go. They had a Linksys on sale that I picked up. At home I hooked it up and plug it in and…nothing. No lights on the front or the back of the router. I try a different outlet, still nothing. Great, after all of that I get a bad router. By this time I had a birthday party to take one of the kids to so the exchange would have to wait. On the way home I stopped at Best Buy to exchange it, only they didn’t have any of those in stock. After going around and around I was able to talk the manger to giving me the next model up for same sale price. So back home, but by then it was dinner so we ate, cleaned up and hung outside with some neighbors while the kids played out front. Finally, about 9PM last night I finally was able to get the router hooked up, this one worked out of the box and after about 30 minutes of configuring I was back online. By that time I was done for the night.

So not only did I miss one day of writing, but I missed two days. The chain was broken in a big way. This morning I got into work, one of the first things I usually do on Monday is read through some blogs. On one of the first one, I see this. After this weekend it was just what I needed. I beat myself up over missing two days of writing due to something that was out of my control. Going forward I’m modifying my chain. I’m going to still strive to write every day, but if I miss a day I’m not going to let it get to me.

This is Day whatever…

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Friday fun

Felt fantastic today and my workout results showed. I was up earlier than usual, 5:15am, my Sleep Cycle app said my sleep quality was only 60%, but the graph showed a nice 90 minute cycle that ended at just about 5 AM. When my alarm went off at 5:15 I woke feeling refreshed and not groggy at all. I was able to get to the gym and out on the floor by 6:15 so I had more time and used that time to its fullest.

My two lifts, Deadlift and Military Press were at the same weights as on Wednesday, but I felt much stronger than I did on my last deadlift session. On Wednesday I did 335 for one rep and struggled at the top of the rep. Today I pulled through that weight easy and felt I could do an additional clean rep. The military press was the same, I did the same weight on the final set, but was able to press out 20 clean. I’m definitely adding weight to both on Monday.

After those two lifts I ran through an arm workout. With my alternating workouts my arms get plenty of work, the four exercise work arms in addition to the primary body parts they target. But I was feeling strong and it’s Friday and very nice weather here (supposed to be mid 80s with low humidity today) I felt it was a “Sun out, guns out” type of day. I used the same protocol I use on the other lifts and did hammer curls (45×5, 55×1, 60×1, 35×15) and rope press downs (130, 150, 165, 95). Then, because my legs felt strong I did a quick round of back squats. I did 135×10, 165×5, 185×5, 205×5, 135×15). I don’t do back squats, since I have a slight knee problem, but I didn’t have any pain. I think the deadlifts have been helping me strengthen my knees. I think I’m going to add two days of squats starting next week, probably Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll do a 5×5 routine with a drop set. I finished the morning with a core (my least favorite thing to do) routine. Great hour in the gym.

Eating has been better, I’m on my 6th days straight of not snacking at night and eating cleaner during the day. However I’m a bit disappointed in the results so far. Friday is my official weigh-in day and today wasn’t inspiring in that area. Since I weigh myself when I get up I’m happy that it didn’t have a negative effect on my workout (or maybe that’s what motivated me through it?). I was at 208.2 this morning. I was hoping to see the 206 range. Could be added muscle plus the creatine doing that Oh well, I’ll just keep on plugging away. I feel leaner and stronger, that’s what counts.

This is Day 6 of 49.

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Lunch time success

I was able to keep the workout chain going for another day. Left work at 11, got to the gym at 11:15, out on the floor warming up at 11:20 and in the shower at 12:00 and back at the office at 12:20 eating lunch. Did my Bench/Row workout and hit the same weights I hit on Tuesday.

Lunch was more leftover chicken with some steamed veggies. Then settled into the grind of the afternoon. About 30 minutes until go-home time…can’t come soon enough.  

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Sleepy Time

My routine got messed up today. as I mentioned yesterday I had to take two of my kids to my in-laws house for the day, had to have them over there at 7:30. Needless to say I wasn’t up early to train. My plan for today is to hit the gym at lunch. I’ve only been to the gym at lunch a few times so hopefully it won’t be busy. At 6:30 in the morning when I normally get there I know how many people are going to be there and pretty much what they are doing. It’s a good time to go at my gym; in the past year I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had to alter my routine. The gym opens at 5AM and it seems that when I get there the real early morning crowd is done and gone so it is much quieter.

I did get up at my normal time of 5:20 AM so I didn’t disrupt my sleep schedule. Over the past several months I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle app on my phone to monitor my sleep each night. I’ve built up a pretty good amount of data points and the software algorithms seem to be learning my sleep habits. My sleep quality has been improving some, according to the app. I feel like I get a good night sleep most nights. Most people have 90 minute sleep cycles where our sleep goes from light sleep to deep sleep and back over the course of 90 minutes. There have been nights where I’ve slept fewer hours but have felt refreshed since I woke up at the right point of the cycle, at the lightest phase of my sleep. There have also been days where I’ve gotten 8 hours and dragged all day since my alarm went off when I was in the deepest part of my sleep.

The Sleep Cycle app is pretty good, you give it a time you need to get up and, in addition to monitoring your sleep all night, will have the alarm go off up to 30 minutes before your wake up time when it senses you are in a light sleep phase.

This graph from the app shows the quality over the time I’ve used the app, 105 days of data so far. I’m averaging about 60% or so.

This is my best night so far, it was on a weekend and I went to bed early and didn’t have to get up early for anything on the next day.

This was my worse night, just a few weeks ago. Not sure why this one happened, but it was a Tuesday into Wednesday and, based on the chart in the app, that is my worse night of the week. On this one you can see that I didn’t have the 90 minute cycles of light sleep to deep sleep, they were more like 60 minutes.

This was yesterday’s sleep cycle, which is pretty much my average sleep. I was coming out of somewhat deep sleep from about 4:30 AM so the app’s alarm went off about 5:10 when I was in light sleep.

One of the things I need to start doing is getting to bed earlier, on most nights I don’t get to bed until 11, my wife and I need a bit of time to unwind after getting the kids to bed. I try not to do too much during that time, watch some TV (during the summer it is pretty much Red Sox games on the MLB.TV app on the Roku) or doing some reading/catching up with the news of the day. Maybe I’ll try a week or two of getting to bed by 10 PM and see what that does to my sleep numbers.

This is day 5 of 49.

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Short and Sweet

This will be a quick hit, I was in a meeting today and didn’t get a chance to write anything. And yes, in case you are wondering, I usually write my posts at work in the morning when I’m fresh from my workout and awake. Today it was gym, work, straight into meeting, working lunch, then home. My wife had to work tonight so I’m on kid dinner/shower duties this evening, but to continue my daily writing I carved out time to put a few words down.

My workout was good, but short. I didn’t add anything to my two sets (because of the meeting I had to get to the office earlier this morning). Did a quick full body dynamic warm up then got into my lifts:

Deadlift – bit more than Monday, 275×5, 315×1 (seeing 3-45lb on each side of the bar for the first time was nice), 335×1, 215×15.
Military Press: 105×5, 125×1, 135×1, 90×18

Ate pretty good yesterday, on the way home I got a rotisserie chicken, had about 5 oz of thigh and breast meat paired with brown rice and some steamed broccoli. Actually bought two, one for dinner last night and one to pull apart and take to work this week, such a cheap way to get lean protein over the week. Over all my body is taking the brunt of the extra workouts and additional weights. My inner tendon on my elbow has been bothering me (mild golfer’s elbow). I have a elbow strap I wear that helps a lot. I’m also thinking about adding some glucosamine to see if that helps some. 

Next week is my last week of doing the alternating days of deadlift/military press and bench/row. I’m planning my next routine now, thinking of an upper/lower split (3 days upper, 2 days lower). Or I may try a kettlebell workout I found recently, tweaking it some to fit what I want. Stay tuned.   

Have some laundry to finish this evening, then some house work. Tomorrow should be interesting, I have to take two of my kids to my in-laws house in the morning so I won’t be hitting the gym, but I aligned stuff at work today to allow me to hit the gym at lunch so I can keep the chain going.

This is link number 4 of 49 in the chain.

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