Hmm, ok, I’ve fallen of the face of NF lately but this might be the only mini challenge in which I’m able to participate 100%.
I will not reflect only on the last year though but on the last two years (sorry Br0din, not sorry :P).
Sooo… around this time two years ago I wrote my first letter of intent. I had just started working with an online coach, who I still work with, and I had successfully finished the russian squat routine for all lifts and gotten new 1RMs so I wrote a very optimistic letter. This year’s letter won’t have the same flavor.
As I state in that letter I had learned the following things:
Not train close to failure
Sometimes eat like an asshole
Be consistent but not worry about taking one week off
My plan for 2016 was:
Try not to overthink
Technique is still going to be the number one priority
90/60/120 (kg) should be attainable strength goals for this year which at 63kg would give me a wilks of almost 290 so for extra challenge let's round it up to 300
I don't intend to compete (ever) but I will submit 1RMs to the Leaderboards and might participate to one of the virtual NF comps if possible
What I did instead was that I ignored most of the things I learned and of course didn’t adhere to the plan for the most part.
What I actually did was:
I indeed didn’t train close to failure. In particular, I very rarely trained close to my max. While consistently training close to failure is one thing, avoiding “heavier/scarier” weights is also bad for me. I can’t keep up with my form once I get challenged or my brain goes into worrying mode. It's a skill I need to learn.
I am now conditioned to things of absolute values as heavy or light weights so even when a weight should be easy for me, I still think of it as hard.
Regarding eating habits, I spent most of these two years worrying about my weight and wilks, I did a cut both summers trying to get leaner and stronger. It was not until I was really hungry, gave up and started to reverse last winter that I saw some gains and hit PBs.
Regarding consistency, that’s for the most part done. I rarely skip sessions unless its unavoidable or it's one of those couple of times per year that I feel lazy. One of the things I did wrong last year was that whenever I got a cold, I was in a hurry to get back to the gym. That resulted in me getting sick very frequently (January, February, March, and May in 2017). Of course I didn’t have enough time to fully recover between getting sick in order for my training to be really meaningful. I even lost strength during that time.
Of course I never stop overthinking, I have to try more.
Technique took a lot longer to work on. Squat and bench have been consistently getting better but not deadlift. This lead to the following issue which was that…
I couldn’t reach the number goals in 2016. In 2017, I came very close to the squat goal (87.5kg), halfway to bench but hit some nice volume PRs on the way (I’m at 55kg max achieved, although I failed that in the last max out), and deadlift hasn’t really moved.
Funnily enough I did participate at an informal competition last March. Unsurprisingly I came last.
I seriously thought of giving up about a month ago (at the max out session). I enjoy the process of lifting, getting better form even if annoyingly slowly, setting new rep PRs when possible but the thought of having a max out session which determines whether I have got stronger or not is stressing me way too much. After discussing with my coach he said i should be able to push strength this year so my intent for 2018 is the following:
Evaluate my strength progress. Try to learn the skill of doing heavy singles. As I said, I do enjoy lifting and training but if I’m not making any measurable progress in my 1RMs then maybe powerlifting isn’t for me. I’m in a very weird place where I don’t want to throw away 4 years of training for that but also don’t want to keep doing something and investing time and money in it if I suck at it. I'm constantly in a "what if" state where I think of giving up but wondering what if I'm really close to breaking a plateau. (I did not make any progress in 2016 and most progress was made in the second half of 2017. It's the only thing that still keeps me slightly optimistic and motivated).
Finally, I’ve started to feel for a while now that my battle log has fulfilled its purpose more than it needed to so I’ll probably not keep updating it.