Tuesday, February 10, 2015

30 day Squat Challenge Day 10 reflections

So I've been doing this squat thing for about 10 days now and it is strange in just 10 days how much stronger I'm becoming.

Well, I don't know about stronger actually since I haven't maxed out or anything, but instead how much easier it is to squat heavier weights for multiple reps and sets.

For those people coming in a little late to the challenge in brief it is a challenge to squat for 30 days straight. Any type of squats can be done as long as it has added resistance to it.

For me I try to do some sort of barbell squat as much as possible for this, but depending on circumstances will do machine hack squats. On my off days of training I am doing either goblet squats with a kettlebell or double KB front squats.

It is sort up to you how you do this challenge as well as far as sets, reps and rest periods go. I do it mostly in a time period unless it is a rest day then I just do a few quick sets and call it good. For me though it is usually I work up to a rep max and then hit it hard for about 15 minutes giving no fucks about what my rest periods are.

So back to the observations and reflections.

I'm doing this challenge mainly because I find 30-day challenges fun, rewarding and because I generally suck at squatting and well... lifting all with squats being my worst. I think most average gym rats hate squats even though they seem to be the best overall lift you can do, although arguments for the deadlift are also valid.

For me though, I am noticing that even on days I feel like utter horse shit and just dreading to get under the bar that my workouts are still pretty productive and I surprise myself. Yesterday was case in point to this observation.

I enjoyed myself the past weekend, but I wasn't overly ambitious and partied my face off either. Hookers and cocaine aside (just kidding) I just had a few beers and stayed up late with some friends. I was a little fatigued from the weekend and then come Monday (yesterday) I had a huge melatonin hang over from popping about 9 mg the night before.

I'm using a lot of melatonin in this experiment because I am trying to ensure my recovery.

Anyways, come training time I am really regretting leaving work early to go to the gym. I am exhausted and feel like horse shit. I was pressed for time since I was working later that evening so I didn't really do any warm ups or a cool down afterwards. I just went to the gym and loaded the bar with a starter weight to get the blood flowing.

Without even thinking I did 135-pounds for 20 reps on a back squat and felt like I could have done more. I was just sorta in the zone and not paying attention– it felt really easy.

The most I ever squatted was 370-pounds with a low bar and wide powerlifters stance. It probably wasn't competition legal and was probably more back lift then an actual squat. That is an old number back when I was relatively healthy with only some mild low back issues, but nothing extreme.

For the most part though my squat has never been shit without stimulants. Anyways my technique lately has been medium stance high bar style. I put plates under my heels to help get me into position and because I haven't wanted to take the plunge on buying a pair of weightlifting shoes.

I'm doing mostly rep work now and am trying to for check the hell out of myself although I think I have rotated hips and seem to push off more with one side versus the other.

Anyways, I did 135 for 20 reps no problem and stopped myself because I realized what I was doing and the whole point of squatting this much isn't really to overload the body with heavy rep or even max work.

It is more about increasing volume overtime and maintaining consistency. Training the movements more like a skill so that it becomes easier. I kept adding plates so that I was staying within more of a five rep range. I worked my way up to about 225-pounds which really isn't much compared to the real OG's of the lifting world, but in a normal gym really isn't done with much frequency.

I was doing 225 fairly easily, but about every fifth rep I was leading with my butt more than my torso when standing up. I'm trying to stay more erect and utilize more of a weightlifting style here and since I'm not maxing out I am trying to be more cognizant of form rather than the weight on my back.

I stayed at 225 even though I felt like I could have went higher or increased the rep range while sacrificing form. I'm trying to rehab some injuries so this seemed like not a good idea.

Instead I resolved to just do some pause rep work. No problem. I'm actually amazed at how easy this all feels despite feeling generally fatigued going into the gym that day.

Other observations I would have to make though is that my legs don't really feel wrecked at all. I can walk around just fine, but there is just a little bit of lingering soreness. It isn't really severe, but it is there. I guess this isn't really a bad thing after listening to an interview with Dr. Andy Galpin on the Barbell Shrugged Podcast.

Galpin already confirmed some of my ideas (more scientifically though) that I had about this concept since I've been reading a little bit here and there about Bulgarian and Russian Weightlifting. I even started reading an E-book called "Squat Every Day" which is basically about constant training versus the usual 3 days a week at the gym scenario.

I'm definitely benefiting in other areas of the gym as well. Not really keeping track or following a set routine for the upper body, but I feel like I am filling out a little bit up top. The only consistent part of my upper body routine has been pull-ups of any kind and typically with weight. Maybe unrelated or maybe not, but my chins are becoming stupid easy and I am trying to work on some harder variations so that I can get enough upper back strength and mobility to begin practicing front levers (they hurt my shoulders).

Dips are becoming a favorite and the dumbbell reverse  bench has been my go to benching movement since it seem less stressful to my shoulders and elbows. All these movements seem much easier and I feel like my gains in pounds used as well as reps are increase fairly quickly despite almost having spent a year away from a gym and then another 4 or 5 months farting around trying to fix my shoulder and back.

Like I said none of this is consistent besides the squats.

My low back feels pretty good for the most part. The upper part of my back and chest is sorta of shitty but feels like it is getting there. I feel like I am rotated or have some vertebrae out of whack which has been the case for awhile. The squats seem to be helping with this and I think it is because the muscles surrounding them are starting to get some blood in them.

I've been avoiding going to the chiro but I imagine going to one would be hugely beneficial.

I wish I was doing more soft tissue work then I am though, I've been more focused on stretching which I still believe is beneficial, but is more long term where as doing some SMFR type stuff is noticeable almost immediately.

Sunday night I was doing IT band and VMO type massage to help iron out some kinks I was noticing in my squats. Mainly my feet were pointing out more than I like to see even though the infamous Kstarr feet straight squat doesn't seem like something I will accomplish in the near future.

Technique wise I have been trying to take into consideration some of Dan Green's technique coming out of the hole. Point the knees in coming out of it. I've been messing with this and it seems to help.

One downside I've noticed though is that my knees are a little sore usually. I'm guessing that I need to slow the progress because my connective tissues are probably not as strong as the muscles. Needs time to catch up. Gymnastics coach, Chris Sommner is big on the connective tissue component and will talk at lengths about how muscle grows faster which can lead to injury.

I don't want to get injured even though I am excited about the gains I have been making. I thinking that squats may have a more permanent place in my routines. I may use them as a gym warm up from now on even after the challenge.   

Sleeping for the most part seems to be improved although like previously stated I am taking melatonin. Deeper sleep, more vivid dreams and I'm sleeping in much later than usual. This of course is sometimes negated if I eat late at night though which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

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