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Harriet’s Year of Transformation Act IX
: Hypertrophy Hubris


Harriet

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Hey fellow wrist-problem-haver. Congrats on the bench PR. I have some experience benching and push-up-ing around at least two different wrist problems, and here's what has worked for me.

  • Pushups with dumbbells or parralletes
    • For bonus points try renegade rows
  • On bench press, adjust bar position (for my most recent wrist problem, 1 inch inward took me from near-unbearable pain to virtually none)
  • Also on bench, try a thumbless grip. It seems scary at first but it seems to help shore up a proper wrist position and reduce pain on the palm

So what are those hypertrophy schemes looking like? I feel like I'm still seeing you mostly post about 4 reps here or 5 reps there. Maybe that's just because high rep work isn't as glamorous as the heavy stuff but I am interested!

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Oooh, earplugs! Glad to hear (heeehee) they're helping. Grats on the bench PR.

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2 hours ago, Deckard Gainz said:

Hey fellow wrist-problem-haver. Congrats on the bench PR. I have some experience benching and push-up-ing around at least two different wrist problems, and here's what has worked for me.


Ahh, thank you. Pushups with dumbbells would definitely be something I could try. It seems like it might be less strain on the fingers than doing them off my fists, but still have the same effect of keeping the wrist straight. 
 

2 hours ago, Deckard Gainz said:

So what are those hypertrophy schemes looking like? I feel like I'm still seeing you mostly post about 4 reps here or 5 reps there. Maybe that's just because high rep work isn't as glamorous as the heavy stuff but I am interested!


Oh, really? My light weights? Well... they're pretty unexciting, as you say, but we've got: 

 

squats at 110lb x 8

deadlifts at 135lb x 10

OHP of 50lb x 8

bench at 75lb x 8

glute bridge 135b x 12

kettlebell bottom ups of 13lb x 11-14

seated rows of 85lb x 10-15

negative pull-ups (only 5, ouch)

incline pushups off a bench (8-12)

and taekwondo kicks where I hold my leg in the extended position for a few seconds - 5 per side, 3 kinds of kicks. 

Yeah, so I was doing only three exercises per workout, with two heavies. Now I'm doing five exercises, with only one heavy lift. 

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OHP:

67.5lb x 4

62.5lb x 5

57.2lb x 5

57.5lb x 5

Deadlift: 135lb x 14/13/12/12

Glute Bridge: 135lb x 12/12/12/12

Incline pushups: 12/12/9/10 

pull up negatives: 5/5/5/5

Today the deadlifts were at least two points into the five point scale of doom (nausea-diziness-insanity-coma-death). Not sure how to make these less awful. When I can't finish any other exercise, I can't finish it. Arms hurt a bit or whatever. But by the time I can't finish another deadlift it's really yuck. Everything else was okay. Pull-up negatives are going better. Nothing else is improved, really, but I have now started doing four sets each. 

I'm so groggy and exhausted. Light deadlifts have apparently ruined me for the rest of the day. Must try to wake up and write a bit. 

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Squats:

145lb x 5

135lb x 5

125lb x 5

115lb x 5

Bench: 75lb x 12/10/9/10

Seated Cable Row: 85lb x 14/12/12/12/10

Kettlebell Bottom Up Press: 13lb x 11/13/13/11

Slow kicks: 4 seconds, 4 sets

Squats felt super hard today. It's getting to a point where it feels pretty intimidating getting under the bar and deciding to go down. I guess that's something you just have to gain mental strength in. One rep was very ugly but I think it's because I forgot to use my toes. Kinda scared about doing 150lb next time, but I guess I should anyway. Bench felt hard but in a good way. Everything else just felt tiring. Gotta have faith that it's making me stronger because it sure doesn't feel like it. 

 

Low motivation continues: no meditation, sketching, and not much reading or cleaning. Oh well. In my experience I have waves of motivation and demotivation that last a couple of weeks or so. It'll come round again sooner or later. The key thing to remember is that my low motivation days are much, much better than they used to be: I'm still grocery shopping (by foot, thrice per week), cooking, taekwondoing, writing, and lifting. Hell, my high motivation days used to involve a walk. A walk. I'm doing fine. Also, I'm using the low motivation weeks to catch up on knitting, so there's that. This is the back of a cardigan. The other pieces are knit, I just need to wet block and seam, then pick up and knit a button band.

 

 IMG_6479.JPG.f91d3343696b565c2ea5d284d61c529d.JPG

 

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18 hours ago, Harriet said:

The key thing to remember is that my low motivation days are much, much better than they used to be: I'm still grocery shopping (by foot, thrice per week), cooking, taekwondoing, writing, and lifting. Hell, my high motivation days used to involve a walk. A walk. I'm doing fine. Also, I'm using the low motivation weeks to catch up on knitting, so there's that. 

While motivation to work on the things you laid out as specific goals is low (and maybe means you don't really want to do them very much right now), your activity and habits are still going on, which is huuuuuge. And great. :)

 

The back of the cardigan looks so cool.

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11 hours ago, raptron said:

While motivation to work on the things you laid out as specific goals is low (and maybe means you don't really want to do them very much right now), your activity and habits are still going on, which is huuuuuge. And great. :)

 

10 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Huzzah for keeping up habits, even on low motivation days - sounds like you're aware of and recognizing a lot of positive movement in your life!

 

Thanks :) 

Today was pretty low motivation but I went grocery shopping and to taekwondo. I did my first not-entirely-terrible tornado kick (I think that's what it's called.... it's sort of a spinning jumping roundhouse thingy but not really jumping but sort of), which is not bad at all for a yellow belt, I feel. Looking forward mightily to dinner, which is roast pork tenderloin coated with herbs de provence and a mustard sauce, plus crispy roast potato slices and broccolini. I love potatoes. 

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10 hours ago, Harriet said:

Today was pretty low motivation but I went grocery shopping and to taekwondo. I did my first not-entirely-terrible tornado kick (I think that's what it's called.... it's sort of a spinning jumping roundhouse thingy but not really jumping but sort of), which is not bad at all for a yellow belt, I feel. Looking forward mightily to dinner, which is roast pork tenderloin coated with herbs de provence and a mustard sauce, plus crispy roast potato slices and broccolini.

I thought the tornado kick was the most exciting thing that could possibly be in that post. Then I read the dinner descriptor. YUM!!!!!

10 hours ago, Harriet said:

I love potatoes. 

 

 

Woman after my own heart - but who doesn't love potatoes?

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1 hour ago, Deckard Gainz said:

This one caught me offguard. What does this mean? 

 

Well, I sort of tense my toes--something the trainer told me to do when I did the squat class. She said spread and grip "like an eagle" or something? But the lesson was short and filled with other things so I didn't follow up by asking for more detail. Still, it seems to help. If I don't do it, I'm more likely to lose balance and roll forward. Unsure if placebo or genuine technique. Possibly, it causes tension in my feet and calves. That would be helpful because my feet have little arch when relaxed--they're super thin and flat and tend to pronate a lot.
 

18 minutes ago, Mike Wazowski said:

I thought the tornado kick was the most exciting thing that could possibly be in that post. Then I read the dinner descriptor. YUM!!!!!

Woman after my own heart - but who doesn't love potatoes?


Hehe. That's what I love about Taekwondo. I'm going to learn all the flashy kicks. The pork is one of those happy dishes that combines tastiness with easiness. 

Cats. Cats don't love potatoes. No idea what's wrong with them. 

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3 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

but who doesn't love potatoes?

 

2 hours ago, Harriet said:

Cats. Cats don't love potatoes. No idea what's wrong with them. 

giphy.gif

... I guess I'm at least part cat. I like sweet potatoes, but no thanks for the rest.

 

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2 hours ago, JustCallMeAmber said:

... I guess I'm at least part cat. I like sweet potatoes, but no thanks for the rest.

 

Very likely. I will trade you my sweet potatoes for your plain potatoes--a pareto optimal trade as I do not like sweet potatoes much and would not feel impoverished by their loss. 

Deadlift PR!!! 190lb for 3 reps and one firm Nope. Back off sets 180, 170, 160 for 5 reps each.
Glute Bridge 135lb x 12/12/12/12 (I figured out why these were hurting my back... I was just involving my back to get a longer ROM because I thought I wasn't going high enough)
OHP 50lb x 10/10/8/9 
Incline Pushups off a bar set to knee height x 15/13/14/9
Pull-up negatives x 5/5/5/1 (I aborted the last set because my shoulder joints were hurting significantly... I should have quit earlier but no one wants to be defeated)

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Yay! Congratulations on the deadlift PR! 

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20 hours ago, Hazard said:

Congrats on the PR

 

 

4 hours ago, JustCallMeAmber said:

Woo PR!! Great job! :)

 

2 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

Yay! Congratulations on the deadlift PR! 


Thank you, my pretties. 

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70.8kg/156lb today, which is pretty much the same as the last few weeks. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I still feel like I’m too fat AND not muscular enough AND still weak. But since I’m no longer prepared to attempt dieting and have too high a BF% to justify bulking I guess the only solution is to keep lifting, eat normally, and hope for slow improvements.


I have actually seen tiny improvements in muscle size recently. Switching to the wide grip bench has given me some actual (very small) chest muscles, which were non-existent before. Also, some of my old trousers are tighter at the calves and just above the knee, which I think indicates muscle rather than fat.

I think I need to add planks somewhere to my workout, because my core strength/bracing is the still the limiting factor on my squats, so my legs and glutes aren’t getting as much work as I’d like. Actually, light squats and deadlifts seem to hit them more effectively than heavies, not sure why.

 

The question is, should I do planks before squats, to activate? Or separately, to strengthen?

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27 minutes ago, Harriet said:

... because my core strength/bracing is the still the limiting factor on my squats....

 

The question is, should I do planks before squats, to activate? Or separately, to strengthen?

 

You're already strong enough that I doubt you're going to get any tangible strength benefit from planking.  It's use as a strength exercise is minimal.  Very "Level 1".  If you can hold a plank for more than about 25 seconds, you're pretty much done with planks as a strength exercise.  If bracing your core is actually the limiting factor on your squats, then you'd probably get more mileage out of doing something like a loaded carry (e.g. Farmer walks).

 

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1 hour ago, Hazard said:

 

You're already strong enough that I doubt you're going to get any tangible strength benefit from planking.  It's use as a strength exercise is minimal.  Very "Level 1".  If you can hold a plank for more than about 25 seconds, you're pretty much done with planks as a strength exercise.  If bracing your core is actually the limiting factor on your squats, then you'd probably get more mileage out of doing something like a loaded carry (e.g. Farmer walks).

 


Ah, that's good to know. I *think* the core is the limiting factor on my squats: I have to concentrate very hard on bracing or I end up folding into a good morning as I ascend. 

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

... I end up folding into a good morning as I ascend. 

 

Any chance of a video?  I suspect the issue is actually that your quads are lagging in strength relative to your rear-end.

 

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1 hour ago, Hazard said:

Any chance of a video?  I suspect the issue is actually that your quads are lagging in strength relative to your rear-end.


Recording is banned at my gym, but it might be possible to do it surreptitiously. It could definitely be my quads - they haven't grown visibly while my hamstrings definitely have. And when I try to do front kick holds my quads hate it and feel super weak. They also complain piteously if I am forced to do wall sits. If the problem were my quads, I suppose lighter, higher rep squats might be in order? 

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Congrats on the deadlift pr!

 

I would make the same assumption as @Hazard with regards to quad strength. I still do planks though, for 30-60 seconds at the very end of a workout (generally core is always a finisher for me), also leg raises, straight-ups, and a bunch of other random core stuff for variety. If you can comfortably plank for over a minute (especially at the end of a hard workout), consider RKC planks or dynamic plank variations. I doubt your core is a limiting factor, but a stronger core certainly doesn't hurt. Have you considered trying a belt? Or do you use a belt already?

 

I don't think low weight/high volume work is a specific diagnosis for that issue. I don't even necessarily think it's a problem. You want your quads to be the limiting factor on your squats, as they are the primary movers. If you want to add in auxiliary quad work, you could try front squats, bulgarian/rear-elevated split squats, pistol squats, and my personal favorite for building work capacity: the leg press. I like doing a ton of leg press volume on a heavy/low volume deadlift day. I like to do at least 1 quad exercise in a single-leg format to iron out any imbalances. But I still think regular old back squats are the best quad exercise overall. Just Squat More™.

 

One other note: do you prefer high bar or low bar? I personally think high bar feels more comfortable and does a better job of preventing "squat-mornings" as you tend to stay more upright throughout the whole lift. I'm not super adament about bar position or anything; it's not a huge deal, but maybe something worth trying if you're struggling with low bar currently. Just be aware most folks have to decrease intensity a bit on high bar compared to low.

 

I think the reason lighter lifts "seem to hit [primary movers] more effectively" is because lactic acid buildup is a much more easily recognizeable feeling over the course of a long set than when a muscle group is fully recruited and other groups have to come in and pick up the slack all in a matter of seconds, as is often the case with "squat-mornings" and grinders in general. This makes high intensity blockers more difficult to pinpoint but doesn't mean higher intensity is inferior at working primary movers.

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13 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

Have you considered trying a belt? Or do you use a belt already?


Well then, I might chuck planks in at the end or maybe attempt something more difficult like the leg raise. Though adding in quad work seems to be the priority for now. I only tried a belt once, in a deadlift class. I didn't like it much, as I was required to push out against the belt, which is different from how I usually brace and it made me feel weaker, not stronger. Also, I was told they're not really necessary. 

 

16 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

I think the reason lighter lifts "seem to hit [primary movers] more effectively" is because lactic acid buildup is a much more easily recognizeable feeling over the course of a long set than when a muscle group is fully recruited and other groups have to come in and pick up the slack all in a matter of seconds, as is often the case with "squat-mornings" and grinders in general. This makes high intensity blockers more difficult to pinpoint but doesn't mean higher intensity is inferior at working primary movers.


Oh, this makes sense.

 

19 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

 If you want to add in auxiliary quad work, you could try front squats, bulgarian/rear-elevated split squats, pistol squats, and my personal favorite for building work capacity: the leg press. I like doing a ton of leg press volume on a heavy/low volume deadlift day. I like to do at least 1 quad exercise in a single-leg format to iron out any imbalances. But I still think regular old back squats are the best quad exercise overall. Just Squat More™.


I do wish to add more quad work. I can't do pistol squats and front squats are very painful, but I could definitely do bulgarian squats and leg press. I've never used the leg press machine before. I'll ask someone to show me. Hopefully these exercises won't let my glutes/hams take over.

I squat high bar. With low bar, you're supposed to rest the bar on your rear delts. But I don't have any rear delts. Well, not any that are visible to the naked eye. 
 

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