Monday, June 17, 2024

Easy Muscle: Week 3

I was able to do 5-rep sets of the calisthenic exercises without pausing before the last or 2nd to last rep. This is an improvement over the previous week.

I also noticed improvement in performance of the kettlebell exercises. Still a little slop here and there, but noticeable improvement over the previous week.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Easy Muscle: Week 2

The first calisthenics day prescribed a number of reps that was very close to my 8 rep max for both pullups and ring dips. I managed to do all the reps for 3 sets for each exercise. For the last couple of sets, I was able to do 4-5 reps, then I had to pause before attempting another rep. I tried to do one more set per exercise when the timer rang, and managed to do 4 reps. I could feel that was it for the day for both exercises.

The kettlebell day prescribed clean-and-push press singles. I thought I might be able to just do singles left and right, over and over without break, for the prescribed number of minutes, but I did end up needing some rest between singles. The prescribed reps per set for squats seemed daunting for bottoms up goblet squat, but my hands were able to hold up, though the very last set required noticeable effort to keep the KB from flopping over. I tried to think of keeping my weight under the KB, which helped.

The 2nd calisthenics day prescribed 4 reps per set of pullups/dips, which was easier for me compared to the first day. I think I managed 5 sets of each exercise within the prescribed period. I didn't keep count because the idea is to do as many sets within the time period as allowed by autoregulation guidelines, rather than to go for a specific number of sets

I started doing these exercises again with the Flexbar because of intermittent elbow pain, which is sometimes manifested during guitar playing or working with the 24kg kettlebell. I'm not sure if the cause was overuse from too much guitar playing or practicing isometric drag curls with the IsoMax.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Easy Muscle: Week 1

Week 1 is now in the books.

The calsthenics day mostly went fine. I was unable to do all the prescribed reps for the last set of ring dips, so I just did a rest pause - about 15 second rest - then finished the set. I have a tendency to lean too far forward on the dip, so I've been working on not looking down so much, and turning the rings out at the bottom of the dip to engage the shoulder external rotators to help protect the shoulders. For the remainder of the week, I had DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in the chest and anterior deltoids from the ring dips.

The 2nd kettlebell day prescribed a slightly higher number of reps per sets of Clean And Push Press. I realized that on the 1st KB day I was not really doing the Clean And Push Press - I was actually cleaning the KB once then doing reps of Push Press. Doing a clean before a push press on each and every rep ramped up the level of effort. By the end of the prescribed minutes of training, I was starting to fail with my normally stronger arm, because of accumulated fatigue, even though I was resting a generous amount of time between sets under autoregulation guidelines.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Suspension Shoulder Extension

This exercise on rings or similar suspension trainer looks fun. Here Matt introduces it primarily as a hypertrophy exercise - that is, an exercise for increasing the size of shoulder and upper back muscles. He recommends the pike pushup or other overhead pressing exercise as the main exercise for this purpose, paired with the Suspension Shoulder Extension as a finisher or as a pre-exhaust.

Matt also mentions that it can be used as a mobility exercise because it stretches the lats. That caught my attention. I'm currently following Easy Muscle, which, unlike other hypertrophy programs, is not built on muscle exhaustion, but I like the idea of doing a set or 2 of suspension shoulder extensions as part of a warmup for Easy Muscle.

Easy Muscle: Day 1

Today was the start of my latest hypertrophy training block, under the Easy Muscle Schedule B program. The exercises and training load, based on program guidelines and testing:

Clean and Push Press - 24 kg

Bottoms Up Goblet Squat - 24 kg

Pull Up - unweighted

Ring Dip - unweighted

The CPP (Clean and Push Press) practice that I did a couple of weeks ago was good preparation for this first session. I still need to keep working on driving more of the weight from the lower body. There were a couple of CPP attempts that failed because I didn't generate enough force from my lower body to help my upper body press the KB to lockout. However, I was able to complete the majority of my CPP reps on each arm.

I chose the Bottoms Up Goblet Squat because holding the KB this way lets the KB act as a counterbalance, so that the torso can lean back. As Mark Wildman explains in this video, keeping the torso fairly vertical in this way allows for greater squat depth and reduces risk to the lower back. Towards the end of the squat session, my hands began to tire and thus I started having a harder time keeping the KB from tipping over. Review of the video shows I should have squeezed the glutes and pulled up the kneecaps at the top of the movement.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Easy Muscle Prep/Rest Week

For Monday training, I did 20 minutes of ring dips and ring pull ups with autoregulation. I did 2-3 reps per set of dips and 2 reps per set of pull ups. The main purpose here was to practice these movements, in hopes of being able to execute them competently when I start Easy Muscle next week. I then did 5 minutes of ring-assisted pistol squats.

For Tuesday training, I did 5 sets of ring dips and 5 sets of assisted pistol squats, alternating between the two exercises and resting as much as I wanted between sets. The lower part of the chest and the front deltoids accumulated quite a bit of soreness so I stopped at 5 sets.

I thought of doing some more ring dip practice on Wednesday but I still felt sore in the chest and front delts and so decided to just walk for about 20-30 min, then take the rest of the week off from training.

Monday, May 13, 2024

IsoMax 6x6: Week 6

For the Monday session, I decided to only do the Overhead Press on the IsoMax. I was still feeling that residual soreness in the hips/groin/glute areas from Zercher Lunge training, and soreness in the abs from Drag Curl training, so I decided to take a break from both exercises. I raised the target load for the Overhead Press from 80 to 82 lbs. because I did 117 lbs. or more 2 sessions in a row.

For the Wednesday session, I tried the Zercher Lunge and decided I was done with it after 5 reps, because of how the glutes/hips were feeling. My Overhead Press performance was the best so far. I hit 134 lbs. on one of the 6 reps and 133.2 lbs. on the last rep. My weakest rep was 124 lbs. I also tried the Drag Curl and did 3 reps before deciding that was enough, because the abs were sore after just 3 reps.

Because of my Overhead Press performance, I decided to try pressing the 53 lb. (24kg) kettelbell. I was able to press the KB a little closer to half way, compared to when my overhead press was in the 115 lb. range.

For the Friday session, I decided to test my clean and push press on the 24 kg KB. My technique was rusty but I had the strength to push press the KB, compared to the first time I tried to push press it last year and simply lacked the strength to consistenly push press it all the way. I then decided to cancel my IsoMax session for the day and move on to testing my readiness for the KB focused days in Easy Muscle Schedule B. I was able to do 7 reps of Bottoms Up Goblet Squat with the 24kg KB before I lost control of the KB. While I didn't get to 10 reps before form breakdown, I felt the performance was close enough to go ahead with 24kg for this exercise. I could have tested the clean and press with the 20kg KB instead but this 20kg KB is powder coated, and I don't feel comfortable doing 15 min. of clean-and-press with the powder coated handle, as opposed to the smoother handle of the 24kg KB. I then did 10 min. of 24kg KB Clean and Push Press practice with autoregulation to practice the movement. Thus ends this IsoMax 6x6 training block.

Friday, May 10, 2024

IsoMax 6x6: Week 5

Kicked off the week with a decent workout. My abs were still feeling the effects of last week's training, especially the curls. It's the kind of soreness that you don't feel until you start applying full-body tension for isometric exercise. The glute/hip area is in a similar situation - no soreness when not doing strenuous exercise, but once I start applying full-body tension, here comes the soreness.

I recalculated my overhead press training load because I logged 115 lbs. or higher for 2 sessions in a row. Thus the new load is 80 lbs. which is 70% of 115. My max for the first rep was 102 lbs. My max for the 2nd rep was 123 lbs. Then my max force numbers dropped until my 6th and last rep which produced 128.4 lbs. I guess the way the CNS (Central Nervous System) works is it can produce the highest possible force once or twice a day, then it needs a day or two to "recharge". My guess could be totally wrong but that's how my CNS seems to work at least. Thus, just because I pressed for 128 lbs. once does not mean I will be able to press 128 lbs. again that same day. Even so I decided to test press the 24 kg kettlebell. Once again, I was able to press the KB just under half way. I think I'll wait until I press 120 lbs or higher for at least 4 reps before I try another test with the 24 kg KB, because consistent numbers at a certain force level is a probably more accurate indicator of whether I can reliably apply that same level of force to dynamic movement.

By the end of the week, I had accumulated quite a bit of soreness in my abs from doing the curls and soreness in my hip/groin area from doing the Zercher lunges. I felt this soreness intermittently rather than constantly. I decided to let my abs and lower body take a break for the Friday session and did only the overhead press. My force numbers were generally in the 115 to 117 lb. range, but hit 122 lbs. on the last rep.