I’m Back!

I am so happy to be back to the gym today!

My deadlifts were terrible, I can’t remember the last time 225 felt so heavy.  I did some other stuff for volume and to mess around.  Not following a program at the moment.  I’m planning on going on a program with the Ultimate Diet 2.0 when I start the week after the 4th, so there’s little point in getting overly fancy for the next week.  I just plan on doing lots of benching and playing with Tabata front squats.

  • Overhead Squats: 45x6x4-55×3
  • Overhead Press: 45×5-55×5-65×3-85×0-75×2
  • Dumbbell Swings (like a kettlebell swing): 45×15-50×10 *Was trying to find my working weight.  50 is too heavy.
  • Bench Press: 45×10-55×10-65×3-85×5-95x7x5x5
  • Deadlift: 135×5-195×2-225×1-285×0-275×0-225x1x0
  • Seated Cable Rows: 45×10-75×10-90x8x10-105x8x7x6

I haven’t done Tabata front squats before, so I flipped the cycle times to get me started: 10 seconds of front squats, then 20 seconds of rest.  Around the 2 minute mark, I started getting really sloppy – banging the bar on the rails and dropping my arms.  I finally realized that I couldn’t get my arms up into the rack position at all, so I put the weight down.  I looked at the stopwatch, and was at the 3 minute mark.  I’ll call this 3 minutes, though it was a bit less.  I just used the standard bar.

Considerations for next time: Don’t use the squat cage.  Use the power cage with the safeties at the bottom or no cage.  If I have to stop again, I should just drop the bar and finish with bodyweight. Should I switch to a 20-40lb curl bar?

After that squat session, both my legs and shoulders were trashed.  I was having trouble walking, so I went over to the light dumbbell area to do some shoulder raises.  I was struggling with the 5lb dumbbells, and my form was bad, so I stopped.  At this point, that kind of squatting is clearly both a shoulder and quad exercise.  Excellent, I need to work on my shoulders 🙂

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Supplements

I’ve gotten a great deal of help with supplementation from herman_gill and silverhydra.

Picking through supplement misinformation and overhype from people trying to make a buck is difficult to do.  The best source for tested information is PubMed, but it’s not an easy task to pick through these published papers.

I’ve created a static supplements page to keep track of things I’ve tried, and if I thought they worked/were worth it or not.  I plan to keep this updated as I try and either keep or reject new things.  I do mix powders into my morning and evening protein shakes, it’s cheaper than buying pills and easier to dose.  I have a script that I use to build mixes, I plan on publishing this at some point when I find some cheap hosting for it.

Summer Classic 2012

Summer Classic

Summer Classic

I’d gone to my first meet in February, this is my second meet.  After the first one, I used the Texas Method to work hard on my squat.  I’ve made wonderful progress on my lower body lifts from this, though it hasn’t helped my upper body lifts as much as I’d hoped.

I weighed in at 88.8kg, about 195lbs.  My home scale is a filthy liar, it said I was 200lbs that morning.  This put me in the 90kg/198lb weight class.  I was alone in this class, so I placed first.

Lift February lbs June lbs February kg June kg
Squat 159.7 203.7 72.5 87.5
Bench 99 105 45 47.5
Deadlift 242.5 286.5 110 130

The lower body progress is clear.  My bench hasn’t moved much, nor has my overhead press.

I’m going to get some help with my bench training.  I think I’ve taken technique as far as I can (which is what got me the gain I did get), now it’s time to start working really hard on building up some upper body muscle and getting stronger.  My shoulders are weak, my traps are small, and my upper back needs work.  I need power cleans, I need chest flies, and I need to start pressing every time I work out.  Building more arm strength is also going to help.
For lower body, I’m returning to what worked for me before, the Texas Method.  As a side note, I did the method where I swap out back squats for front squats.  I’ve become really fond of front squats at this point, I feel like I get a nice quad pump out of them and they’ve made my back squat form feel more natural when I switch back.
I’m also strongly considering adding a barbell complex as a warm-up.  I haven’t been doing a separate warm-up, but I’ve been reading Dan John’s book Never Let Go, in which he talks about being sure to hit all your major movements each time you work out.  This makes a lot of sense to me, so I want to give it a try.  I’ll start with one of the ones he suggests and see how it goes.
HOWEVER: I am considering doing a fairly dramatic cut first.  I was considering a meet in August, but it costs almost twice what the last one did, and I don’t know that I can manage that at the moment.  This means no more meets until next year.  So, if I’m going to do something that won’t directly make me stronger, this is the time.  After I’m done recovering, that is.  I managed to lose 10lbs of fat on Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss.  I did that with an online friend, who has since tried The Ultimate Diet 2.0 by the same author.  He got better results from UD2.  UD2 comes with a hypertrophy workout, which I think will help me build up some muscle in my upper body.  It also has a really dramatic carb cycle.  I’m quite curious to see how that will work with my PCOS.  RFL had a less dramatic carb cycle and I lost fat on that, so I’m very interested to see if something more drastic will also work, or if my insulin resistance will kick in and ruin it.  This should be obvious after the first week.

My Story

As I’ve grown into my fitness lifestyle, I’m realizing more and more that there just isn’t a whole lot of information out there on PCOS when it comes to an active lifestyle.

We know that we need to eat less calories than other women, but how exactly does that work when we want to get stronger?

My goal here is to write out my experiences, in the hopes that they will help other women with this syndrome.

Let’s start with my history.  I was diagnosed when I was 25 or so.  I had over a dozen cysts, elevated testosterone, and weighed 265lbs at 5’11”, which is obese.  I had been in the military on weight management before that, they did not diagnose me and gave me diet information that helped me to balloon to this size – they kept telling me to eat pasta and tortillas.  Because I’d followed the military’s direction on how to lose weight and continued to gain, I thought that I was incapable of weight loss and had basically given up.  I was very sedentary, I lived in the south while being pale, rarely walked anywhere, and wasn’t involved in any sports.

A few years later, I got a job offer in the Pacific northwest and made the decision to go there.  I left my car with my husband and flew up to my new job with two suitcases, a laptop, and no cell phone.  I moved into a room in a big house for cheap, and started taking the bus to and from work.  This had several effects on my health.

  • I was walking a minimum of a mile a day to and from the bus.
  • I was working on a campus and suddenly had access to a variety of very cheap ethnic foods that I’d never tried before.  I wanted to try everything, so I’d go to a different place for lunch each day until I ran out of new places to try.  This exploring included more walking, an extra mile or three a day.  I ended up settling on pho as a favorite new comfort food, and was eating that for lunch nearly every day for an entire winter.
  • My cycles normalized a few months after moving into the big house that contained 2 other healthy women.  I thought at the time that it was just due to being around them, now I think it was a combination of that and starting to be healthier in general.
  • I now had to carry my groceries home by hand.  The grocery store was about half a mile from home and uphill.  This changed my shopping practices, I stopped buying drinks and switched entirely to water and tea.
  • I had very little money, but I suddenly had access to farmer’s markets that carried veggies I’d never heard of.  I wanted to try them all, so I went from eating next to no veggies to eating them on a daily basis.
  • Between boredom, brokedom, and no car, I ended up spending my weekends exploring.  I’d hop on a random bus and ride it to see where it went, then wander around.
  • I developed a nasty case of plantar fasciitis from my sudden switch from no walking to heavy daily walking.  I sat down one day and looked at the soles of my cheap boots, discovering that I’d worn down the heels on the outside.  I went out and spent more money than I ever had before on a good pair of boots, I think it was around $160.  A couple of weeks later, the pain lessened considerably and I could get up in the morning with almost no pain.

A year after the move, I was down around 200lbs.  I felt great and no longer got winded walking uphill.  My husband finally made the move up with me, and I realized after a few months that our marriage was over.  We’d grown far apart in that year apart, both physically and mentally.  He’d spent most of that year on a sofa watching tv, while I had been out exploring, making friends, and taking dance lessons.

There’s no such thing as an easy divorce.  I found for the first time in my life that my appetite was gone. I slimmed down into the 180lb range after a couple of months.  I felt less healthy than I had before, I got winded easier and felt weak.  I was happy to be down in the weight range I’d been in when I was 17, though, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

Once I felt ready to start dating, I created an online account and started talking to men.  I met my current boyfriend this way.  He is the one that got me to join a gym and start lifting.  I did a lot of research online about weight training, starting with the fitness subreddit FAQ and expanding into buying myself a copy of Starting Strength and starting that program.  That was the start of a bumpy path into serious weight training, which has actually led to me competing.

I’m not the strongest person out there.  A good friend of mine that’s almost a foot shorter than I outlifts me in all the major lifts.  Some of the reason for this is my fear of getting obese again, which I realize is a very real possibility if I let myself get out of control.  I get very uncomfortable the minute the scale tips north of 200lbs, yet 200lbs now looks better on me than 185 did a few years ago.

I understand that you need to eat above maintenance calories in order to build muscle and get stronger, yet getting too heavy has become a phobia for me.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I know that I can do more.

I started lifting when I was 30, well past my lifetime peak strength.  However, I still have a long way to go before I find out what I’m really capable of.