Well, not literally, but I am a writer and allowed to bump the baseline, as the song goes. But I am feeling smaller, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.
This is the end of Day 13 of our Whole30 and on top of getting sick and tired thinking about and working for our food. It seems like all our free time is going into food prep and cleanup. I carve out enough time to work out three times a week, and I feel like I’m losing ground.
I started serious strength training on June 20, 2013. I did my first set of squats (5×5) at 25 lbs. On September 16, 2013 my squat was 215 lbs. It maxed out at 290 lbs that November and had read Starting Strength on the recommendation of a chiropractor, so I only needed to do three sets of five, but I did them. I tried to go higher but my standard bar was full and the plates popped off once and there was another dangerous incident where I bottomed out and could not get out of the squat and had to roll the bar over my neck to escape.
Strength training has come and gone, but I am back at it and did a 215 lb squat today, almost three years after I first hit that milestone. My squats are okay, but my press is deteriorating and my deadlift is crawling up and getting dangerous. I need some serious checks on my form and perhaps some special instructions to avoid the–ahem–soprano maker deadlift.
In all this lifting, in this rebuilding of my strength, I don’t feel strong. I used to feel strong. Maybe what I felt all that time was muscle soreness and constant inflammation and that’s the sort of thing the Whole30 is supposed to be fixing in my system. No inflammation, or at least heavily reduced, leads to faster recoveries. Gains in the gym are included in the Whole30 success stories. Perhaps the diet and heavy protien is helping. Although I haven’t counted protien in a while. I counted the first couple of days and didn’t get enough according to the strength training advice for building muscle.
Considering I’m hungry a good portion of the day, perhaps this is the case.
Besides feeling smaller and not feeling my strength, my mood swings have stabilized but my energy level seems to putter around 75%. I just don’t have the oomph to get started on anything. This is mental as well as physical. I tried getting up early to write and so far I have done that three times this month.
According to the Whole30 timeline, this is normal. I should be getting my energy back next week. I miss it. I miss feeling strong. Granted, my strength is there when I need it. I felt it when I put Stephanie’s spinning wheel in the car. I felt it when moving a television table to the garage. Sitting at my computer, I don’t feel it, and I used to.
I have been lax on my strength training lately. By lately, I mean the past two years or so. I get a good run of a week, maybe a month, of consistent workouts and then it stops, and I start over sometime later, usually by pushing myself too far too fast.
Too far too fast is pretty much how I feel after trying the 500-Rep Unloaded Barbell Challenge from Men’s Health. I’m no longer a MH reader, but this linked entered my world and I thought I’d give it a try to kick start myself back into training. Yeah, stupid move for a fat guy two months shy of his 45th birthday. I’m not in great shape, and I’ve never been aerobic. We walked 600 feet to Starbucks after the movie yesterday and it hurt like hell.
But, being an idiot, I tried this challenge. Everything is done with a 45 lb barbell. I have a standard bar, so I had to add 30 lbs.
Hip Thrust: 50 reps in 3:31. These weren’t bad. I’m supposed to be doing this move unweighted every day anyway, as part of a flexibility program. One of the reasons I can’t go 300 feet for a mocha is because my legs are way too tight to move. I felt pretty good but it didn’t occur to me that I was rushing things.
Floor Press: 50 reps in 2:23 I had to drop a yoga mat on the garage floor for these first two. I didn’t think I had room and lack of a bench means I don’t include the bench press as part of my regular workouts (when I work out). I try to remember to do push-ups once a week, usually when American Ninja Warrior is on and I feel guilty about just sitting there. This didn’t feel too bad, either, and the time didn’t seem unreasonable. I credit this to SMIS*.
Zercher Squat: 50 reps in 10:47 Here I got a sudden reminder of what a 5×3 progressive program leaves me unable to do: Lots of reps. I ended up taking this one in four sets: 10, 15, 15, and 10. I think I also need to learn how to breathe in this form. Strength training squats are performed with the torso full of air, inhaling before the descent and exhaling after the lift. Maybe sometimes I start to exhale once I’m about three quarters of the way up. This kind of squat is different. I can’t hold my breath for that long, and I struggled finding a comfortable breathing pattern. I also started spending at least 1 minute between sets trying to get my heart to calm down.
Bent-over Row: 50 reps in 6:37 I managed to pull these off in three sets (15, 20, 15). They went pretty easy. I found inhaling for two reps and exhaling for two reps a pretty good pattern.
Overhead Press: 50 reps in 17:01 The press is also another lift that feels completely different than I’m used to. There is a whole body movement I couldn’t really do involving a hip thrust that takes more time. This really felt like a speed challenge. One of my resting periods involved going back into the house for a glass of water. I took a silly number of sets to finish this: 15, 10, 10, 10, and 5. My shoulders were pretty much toast at the end.
Biceps Curl: 20 reps in 6:55 I did 10. Well, I did 9 and begged my arms to give me one more. Then I rested at least two minutes and managed 8, and begged for two more, which my arms did, and then I heard the equivalent of “If you touch that bar one more time today we’re just going to fall off and drag ourselves away from you.”
So I quit. I had some yogurt and some peanut butter and more water and stopped moving for a while. My next step is to hit the foam roller and try to recover, but I really needed to stop moving for a while.
Will I try this again? Probably. I should, because I don’t like giving up on a challenge, and this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable goal. The remaining exercises don’t look that bad (except the lunges) so I should be able to get to them some day, just not today.
I also need to give myself normal sets and rest periods, even in the early exercises. My tank is not yet big enough to pull this off, and it certainly isn’t controlled enough. I don’t have a good energy control valve. I am happy with my strength, but I have no endurance. When I work, I give it my all, which doesn’t last long enough.
So I will try again, maybe in a month, maybe around my birthday, and see if a regular training regimen will get me shape enough to beat this challenge.
* Stupid Male Impervious Syndrome