As you may have noticed, I have stopped recapping my workouts every week. This is partly because I am not training for anything in particular, and partly because my gym access will be sporadic for the foreseeable future so I will not be following any structured programming.
Over the next few months, my aim is simply to maintain my strength. You could say that I’ve transitioned to more of a bodybuilding style of training. I’m still following a four day split, and begin each of my workouts with either a squat, deadlift, bench press or push press. However, I have reduced my volume of these exercises to just four or five sets of four to five repetitions.
Funnily enough, I’m having the most success with squatting. All I need is a squat rack, and I’m good to go. I accidentally threw away my knee sleeves when I was packing, but so far I haven’t had any knee problems (I have terrible knees and sleeves really help to keep them warm, but I guess the Italian climate is doing a good job of that).
This video is from last week. I was training with an ex-powerlifter, who offered to film me. I will look like a complete douche (well, more than usual!) if I start filming all my lifts in this gym.
Bench press feels good, but I’m not pushing it too heavy as I don’t have the lovely Em spotting me anymore 🙁 That said, I have hit two rep PRs in the past two weeks: 50kg for 5 sets of 5, and 52.5kg for 3 sets of 3.
Deadlifts are the biggest nightmare. My gym does not have a single bar which has knurling in the middle and I can’t use chalk, so trying to keep a hold of the thing is nigh impossible, especially given how sweaty my hands are.
Combined with the fact that they really don’t like me deadlifting in general so I’m trying to lower the bar as gently as possible on to mats, it’s really not a great time for my deadlifts. I can do at most three repetitions at any weight before my hands give up. I haven’t lifted anything more than 110kg, which makes me sad.
Finally, I have switched to push pressing as I don’t have access to a log anymore. This is fun for something different, and I didn’t exactly leave on good terms with the log, but I’m sure I will miss it soon.
I have been mildly cycling the weights on these exercises, and working off 70 to 85 per cent of my one rep max. My periodisation cycles typically last six to 10 weeks, which is just not possible at the moment. While I am in Rome, I can do a four week cycle, and ditto when I am in Florence. However, for my travels in between, my plan is to just to hit a gym when I can, and lift as heavy as I can on the day.
When I arrive in Croatia, I should be able to follow a longer, more thoroughly planned periodisation cycle as I will be in one place for three months.
Outside of the main lifts, I am performing more accessory exercises than usual. I have cut out the usual variations of the main lifts I perform, such as paused squats, box squats, rack pulls, deficit deadlifts, strict presses, board presses, and so on. I know my strength will take a hit from doing this, but it’s okay.
Instead, I am doing more isolation-type exercises and even throwing in some machine work, which I never do. I don’t plan these exercises in advance; I just do what I feel like on the day. For example, this is the workout I did today.
Squats: 20kg x 8, 8, 40kg x 6. 60kg x 5, 80kg x 5, 88kg x 4 x 5
Good mornings: 50kg x 12 x 4
Lying leg curl: 20kg x 12 x 3
Dumbbell walking lunges: 20 x 3
Glute kickbacks: 12 x 3 (per side)
Back extensions: 12 x 3
Bodyweight split squats: 20 x 2
It’s funny how on paper it looks like I’m doing more than I was before, yet I’m in and out of the gym much faster.
Part of the reason I have modified my workout style slightly is the weather. It is very uncomfortable training in my non-air conditioned gym in 37-39 degree Celcius heat. I am usually dripping in sweat before I have lifted a single weight.
I find myself becoming very tired, very quickly. I am used to working out for around 90 minutes, but now I can’t handle more than an hour at most. The amount I rest in between sets seems to make absolutely no difference to the amount I sweat, so I just race through my workout as fast as possible. This is also ideal as it leaves me with more time to do other things, like walk through the beautiful streets of Rome and eat gelato.
I definitely feel like I get more of a “pump” training this way and it’s good to do something different after training exclusively for strength over the past two years.
I am not doing any cardio other than walking, for two reasons: one, I don’t have any running shoes, and two, it is too damn hot. I miss dancing ever so much!
From a competition standpoint, I don’t plan on entering any strongwoman competitions in the near future as it is impossible for me to practice events. But, provided I can find a gym with a better set-up for deadlifts, I don’t see why I can’t continue to train for powerlifting in the meantime.
Have you ever changed your training significantly?