While I still post exercise logs quietly in the background of my website, my focus now is more on getting them logged for personal records more than anything else not to provide good content for the blog. So I figured a good idea just to catch up on the whole training cycle all at once by summing up my training progress in one article, particularly when I end a complete rotation of all my cycles of training.
So I just wrapped up Mesocycle 2, which lasted from June 25th to August 10th (15th counting a deload at the end). My plan is periodized into 6 cycles of four workouts (A – Deadlift & Front Squat, B – Bench Press & Deadlift, C – Front Squat & Bench Press, D – Developmental Day), so I’m going to review and recap each cycle below…
Cycle 1: Conditioning
Period: June 25th to 30th
Rest Days: 2
Workouts were solid up until front squats (Workout C), where I noticed some poor form developing in my squat depth. I put it on my list to fix this. Dev day (workout D) focused on core work and overhead pressing.
For cardio, I clocked in a meager 4 miles on treadmills. This whole training period was a low point in my cardio conditioning.
Cycle 2: Hypertrophy
Period: July 1st – 8th
Rest Days: 4
The extra rest time was directly attributed to getting real sick, the sickness lasted 2 weeks but the peak of it hit during this cycle causing a lot of time off and poorer workout quality. Figured out during workout A what the issue was with front squats (tipping forward too much, back not upright) I did a bit to help fix this in workout C (details linked here), in that log I went over the problem in more detail and started fixing it, a lot was thanks to a form video from Jonnie Candito. This helped a lot. Dev day (workout D) was more squatting to reinforce the improved depth.
For cardio I clocked in 6 miles, 2 inside and 4 outside, which was nicer than the week before.
Cycle 3: Hypertrophy+
Period: July 9th – July 16th
Rest Days: 3
Being sick was still a factor here. Inbetween workouts A-B I did a home workout just to stay active during the worst of being sick.
Workout A was short, due to being sick. The extra workout was a 50 chin-up/100 push-up/100 dip challenge at home, which was a great way to get the blood flowing without the whole aggrevation of having to leave home while ill. By workout C, I was feeling good enough to put the energy into the normal workout volume, albeit it was a struggle. Dev day was upper body, which I felt was the best thing to focus on while ill, since it’s less neurologically demanding than lower body work.
For cardio, I only did 2 miles on the treadmill, and it was a rough, haggard run due to being sick.
Cycle 4: Speed
Period: July 17th – 26th
Rest Days: 5
Lots of rest days which I believe were primarily from Meetup activities. I had two extra days today of physical activity, did kayaking inbetween workouts A-B and bouldering the same day as workout C which is arguably the hardest of the workouts. I cut legs a little short to get to bouldering on time, so I made dev day a leg workout day with a little bicep action. Training as planned, but I realized during this cycle that having a whole routine set aside for speed on top of two hypertrophy cycles is excessive time in a lower weight level… so I’m going to completely rework the plan as a whole to accomodate this.
For cardio I only had the kayaking, which was 2 1/2 hours on the Youghigheny River. My girlfriend did more rowing than me, but 7 miles of kayaking is not insubstantial for cardio. Still, it was bad to neglect running for such a long period of time. Several meetup activities and work in general kept me off my game for the other rest days.
Cycle 5: High Intensity & Stability
Period: July 27th – August 2nd
Rest Days: 3
This workout cycle is dedicated to pause reps, working exercises that demand more stability or use unused muscle groups and focusing on using high intensity principles to get more out of the weight. However it is diminished weight, and it follows 3 other weeks of diminished weight training. So again this appeared to be a programming problem that drove the point further home that I need revisions. I returned to doing flat bench pressing during workout B, which was the first time in a while. I am still very cautious on the bench due to the shoulder issues, but feel much better now. Workout on dev day (workout D) was with a friend, so it just kind of was whatever it happened to be but the focus was rear delts and biceps.
The only cardio this cycle was a short 1.3 mile run to the gym and 1.3 miles back on workout D. Very concerned about the slacking here.
Cycle 6: Pure Strength
Period: August 3rd – 10th
Rest Days: 3
The final cycle here was heavier than usual lifting and it was used at the gauge to determine where I stand in terms of increasing the max estimates used for the whole next mesocycle’s worth of lifts. Workout A was rough and made me afraid I had not made any progress deadlifting, but workout B showed me that perhaps it was just how I felt that particular workout. I do however believe the long period in the middle of this plan at lower weight levels is impacting my deadlift progress, so again need to change it a bit. Workout B showed my decline bench press is still very strong, and that I’m still a little nervous about standard bench pressing in comparison just yet. Workout C had me hit a new Front Squat PR, which is awesome and felt great. Between Workouts B-C I had a nice 3.7 mile run in the rain through the hills of Boyce Park.
For cardio, the Boyce Park trail run of 3.7 miles and a followup hour and a half hike of 3-3.5 miles again through Boyce Park was it. Still lagging behind in terms of mileage.
Optional: Deload Cycle
After this was over, I did workouts A, B & C at deload weight levels (60%-70% of one rep maxes). I used the new estimated training maxes to do these lifts. The deload felt good, and came at a good time because it let me recollect myself to deal with outside stresses (work mainly).
I also got out for some more normal level training runs, a 5.28 mile on my half marathon training loop in Frick Park and 6.14 mile run in Monroeville Community Park on a familiar loop there. I thing improving my mileage was the biggest bonus of this deload cycle, as I felt I had more energy for the running with the lower demand on my lifts.
Conclusions & Progression Updates
Alright so my new training maxes, which are theoretical but realistically projected one rep maxes are as follows:
Deadlift: 330lbs (previously 325, tested one rep max is 315)
Stated Goal: 400lbs verified one rep max
Front Squat: 195lbs (previously 185, tested one rep max is 185)
Stated Goal: 225lbs verified one rep max
Bench Press: 190lbs (previously 185, tested one rep max is 175)
Stated Goal: 225lbs verified one rep max
Gotta push numbers forward to encourage progressive overload. I am cautious to push myself on the flat bench press due to shoulder issues, but they feel better and as I integrate it more, that caution will wear away. I will still be decline bench pressing primarily for one more cycle, however, swapping it out as I feel appropriate.
As for problems, well as noted above I felt the program has too much time in sub-optimal weight levels. I’d rather do fewer reps at higher weights to acclimate myself to improving better, than have a lot of the lower volume stuff. I also recalibrated reps and sets to fit more in line with other major weight lifting plans and the suggestions outlined from Prilepin’s Chart, a chart of sets to reps and optimal loadouts as determined by Soviet scientists studying Olympic weightlifters. After the revisions, I’ve seriously changed the periodization of my plan. I kept what I felt worked, and threw out what didn’t.
So the new plan which I call Phase 2.1 is still periodized into “cycles” like above which all estimate to being about a week (so 6 weeks) and still have the same A, B, C & D plans. Cycle 1 is still conditioning, with sets/reps revised. Cycle 2 is still hypertrophy, and I’m making my accessory work during this week the high intensity loadout and tweaked the main lift volume as well. The third cycle is Stability & Control where I will do the pause reps and supporting exercises, which is the last sub 80%-cycle in the plan (so only two weeks worth of plans in the sub-80% lifting category). The rest is decided to throw in the rest of what I like into a heavier lifting plan – Cycle 4 is a second set of conditioning exercises mixed in with explosive speed lifts at the end at lighter weights (but high volume). Expecting this to burn. Cycle 5 is intended to get me ready to lift heavier, and Cycle 6 like the existing cycle 6 is pure strength and lifts intended to help me project new training maxes for the next full rotation.
Another big recurring problem (which has been with me since the end of the half marathon in spring) is the fact that especially during this training period I’ve really been neglecting the cardio. I really need to pick it up to be ready for future races I have planned. If I don’t improve my regularity soon, I fear going into next year I won’t have the conditioning to do fat loss without substantially cutting back the calorie intake (which will further slow my lifting) and possibly not have enough training to consider trying a second half marathon race or trying to complete the Rachel Carson Challenge. I look forward to Phase 2.1′s revisions, and think it’ll make for a much better experience. We’ll see though how this goes and where life takes me! Thanks for reading.