I’m not half as excited typing this up as I was when the session finished, because frankly I’m on the Mother of all come-downs.

This weekend I ended up on a complete bender by mistake. The intention was to have only 6 cans of beer and let that be the end of it on Saturday evening…but alas, things took a strange turn. I ended up having only 4 cans and feeling absolutely exhausted and actually quite sick. Despite this, I was convinced to head to a nightclub and on arrival, decided to buy vodka redbulls in order to get myself some energy. I succeeded, danced, chatted and walked home. Stayed awake ’til 5am, drank an absolute tonne of water, had two paracetamol and a multivitamin. This normally sucks up my hangover, but the next day I felt absolutely atrocious. I can only suspect that seeing as I didn’t drink very much, the hangover was due to lack of sleep/caffeine abuse. Sunday night I barely recovered and now, Monday, I felt pre-session that tonight was going to be a session to remember – for all the wrong reasons.

Around 6pm I decide to nap for 45 minutes before making moves to the gym. In order to wake myself up afterwards, I had a strong coffee (loaded with sugar), a cheese/ham toastie and made an energy drink for the gym – water, with 3 tea spoons of sugar in it and some tropical flavoured juice. Basically, in the name of strength, I am now diabetic.

It’s worth noting, now, that the important foods in strength training are carbohydrates, not proteins, but alas, that’s for another blog. I had the energy I was after and it was lasting me the session, continually topped up by sugar water. I am now suffering and will sleep very quickly tonight.

————

As a quick aside, people in the ISE shit themselves if you put anything more than 100kg on a bar. It has nothing to do with us being stronger, but since they’re all trainee body-builders, very few of them use a weight that high because they’re in higher rep ranges. They’d all be surprised to see how much they could shift for lower reps if they tried, but they may be quite daunted. If you want to see how strong you are, take a week off and then return and see how much you can lift in one try, with someone there to catch the weight if you’re about to drop it on yourself. A “spotter”. Surprise yourself!

————

As for the session, it’s the Monday 5×5 – week 3.

We began with squats today and worked progressively as usual. The final set on the Monday is meant to be just shy of failure. Strangely enough, loaded with all that caffeine and sugar I felt barely a damn thing. The weight moved as planned and we were stoked with our technique. We opted to do one last rep, after a brief rest, just to make up for any lost effort in the last two/three, but it wasn’t necessary.

Next up was the bent-over rows. All went entirely to plan, except for Ross’ last set where he made a pretty common mistake. The aim is to pull the bar towards your chest by dragging your elbows backwards as if trying to elbow someone behind you in the face. Ross was essentially “hoisting” it up, by throwing his shoulders back in order to take some of the heat off the pull. A lot of people struggle to notice themselves doing it, it feels very natural, but it’s the equivalent of throwing your back backwards when doing bicep curls. It’s a technique fault and it takes away from the target muscles. He was pretty pissed when I told him (through the glory of sign language) but following my own final set, he repeated his with vastly improved technique and the work was done.

Bench press today was memorable. My 5 rep set today I lifted with my 1RM from last year – and we’ve only been training specifically for strength for 2 weeks. An excellent gain! Ross tanked through his final set with vicious intent – not a single assistance needed by either of us and a very marked progression.

In general, today’s session was exactly as we’d hoped. Blatant gains, a session lasting under an hour and a maximum of 3 words spoken the entire time. Pure focus, no distractions, in, out, finished. Exactly what we wanted to get out of the session.

The Monday 5x5s are the real test. It answers the question of improvement – can you or can you not drive for five repetitions what you did for 3 in the last session, with proper form and improved strength.

Today, our answer was yes – it was our greatest gaining day so far and one I’ll be remembering for some time.

Unfortunately, now, I am in pieces. The short-lived sugar high is dead and I may soon collapse – but it was worth it. Tomorrow, I am going to be absolutely useless.

————

What to take from today’s doped up session –

– Lifting heavy things means you get better at lifting heavy things – we have proven this, you should go for it.
– Weight lifting is all about technique – become a techinque nazi and you’ll improve quicker than the “hoisters”.
– Caffeine + Alcohol is a diabolical potion. I almost survived on this in Asia last summer and I now know why I constantly felt like dried out turd.
– If you speak to me tomorrow, the most you’re getting out of me in way of conversation will be belching or dying.

General reminders –

– Squat with a wide stance (legs more than shoulder length apart, but not so far that you can’t get anywhere near parallel on your squat), go low and look straight ahead.
– Go as hard as you possibly can when you perform the concentric (muscle contracting) part of the movement, you’ll recruit more motor units and your body will become stronger as a result.
– Go nice and slow and controlled when performing the eccentric (muscle lengthening) part of the movement.

Also, if this is the first post you’ve read and you’ve seen concentric/eccentric and can’t be arsed reading anymore because you don’t know what that means, here’s the stages of the exercises we perform which are concentric/eccentric:

Squat

ECCENTRIC – Bar goes down
CONCENTRIC – Bar goes up

Deadlift

ECCENTRIC – Bar does down
CONCENTRIC – Bar goes up

Bench press

ECCENTRIC – Bar goes down
CONCENTRIC – Bar goes up

Bent-over row

ECCENTRIC – Bar goes DOWN
CONCENTRIC – Bar goes UP

Pull up

ECCENTRIC – YOU go down
CONCENTRIC – YOU go up

Military Press

ECCENTRIC – Bar goes down
CONCENTRIC – Bar goes up

THERE!

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