Training in London

Training in London

It’s been a while since I blogged about my current training approach (the last time was in Paris in March, blimey!) , so I thought it was time for an update.

No news generally means good news; training is plodding along. I have lost a little bit of strength since I started living nomadically, but it’s starting to come back. I managed to maintain my strength – and even get a little bit stronger in squats and bench – during the first six months of my travels, but it took a hit when I was travelling over December, January and February.

I then managed to get back into a normal training routine in Paris, but lost it once again in Morocco, when I was dealing with the creepiest gym owner on the planet, an extremely hot lifting environment, and the effects of Ramadan.

Since I arrived back in London in early June, I’ve been training consistently. My gym isn’t the best in the world, but it has two squat racks and I’m allowed to deadlift, which is more than I can say for most commercial gyms I’ve visited in the past 12 months. I can’t film my lifts in there (well, I probably could, but I’d feel like a right knob doing so) hence the only workout I’ve filmed was at Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club last Thursday with my old training partner.

When I arrived in London, I set myself up on an eight-week periodisation cycle. Seeing as I’m heading off to Barcelona on Monday, this week is my “peak week”.  My training has looked like this:

80kg x 5 x 5 sets
85kg x 5 x 5 sets
90kg x 3 x 5 sets
90kg x 5 x 5 sets (I missed reps the previous week, so I simply repeated it)
95kg x 5 x 5 sets
97.5kg x 2 x 3 sets (forgot my wrist straps and generally felt like rubbish)
97.5kg x 5 x 3 sets (I failed my last rep, which was surprising considering I haven’t failed a squat in two years, because my lower back started cramping)
This week: 100kg x 3 x 4 sets (I would have loved to do more reps but I just wasn’t feeling it after hurting myself last week)

My typical squat accessory work:
High bar squats with one-second pause above parallel on the way up: 65-70kg x 5-8 x 3 sets
Good mornings: 50-60kg x 10-12 x 3 sets
Paused leg extensions: 50kg x 12 x 3 sets
Eccentric-focused lying leg curls: 35kg x 12 x 3 sets
Single leg hip thrusts: 12 x 3 sets (per side)

Squats have generally felt fine up until last week. I didn’t squat anything above 80kg in Morocco, so it’s been good to have some heavier weights on my back again.

Increasing my squat strength has carried over nicely to my deadlifts, and I’ve also noticed a big physical change in my hamstrings and glutes. I am not quite hitting 105kg for five like I was in Croatia, but I think I could get there with one more training cycle.


37.5kg x 8 x 5 sets
40kg x 8 x 5 sets
42.5kg x 8 x 5 sets
45kg x 5 x 5 sets
47.5kg x 5 x 5 sets
50kg x 4 x 5 sets
52.5kg x 3 x 4 sets
This week: 55kg x 3 x 4 sets (goal)

My typical bench accessory work:
Neutral grip dumbbell press: 18kg x 10-12 x 3 sets
Flat or incline DB flyes: 10kg x 15 x 3 sets
Lying dumbbell tricep extensions: 8kg x 12 x 3 sets
Tricep pushdowns: 25kg x 12 x 3 sets

My bench press is as terrible as ever. I do feel stronger in terms of reps, but I doubt my one rep max has improved much since I last tested it.

90kg x 5 x 5 sets
95kg x 5 x 5 sets
100kg x 5 x 5 sets
100kg x 5 x 5 sets (repeated a week because I was training with Em!)
105kg x 5 x 5 sets
110kg x 5, 3 x 4 sets
115kg x 2 x 5 sets (training at 10pm was not a good idea)
120kg x 3 x 4 sets
This week: 125kg x 3 x 3 sets (goal)

My typical deadlift accessory work:
Straight-legged barbell deadlifts: 70-75kg x 10-12 x 3 sets
Pendlay rows: 40kg x 8-10 x 4 sets
Lat pulldowns: 45kg x 10-12 x 3 sets
Single arm DB row: 20kg x 12 x 3 sets (per side)
Glute-ham raises: 10-12 x 4 sets
Glute marches: 20 x 3 sets
Dumbbell bicep curls: 10kg x 15 x 3 sets

My main goal for deadlifts is to not terrify everyone in the gym. Haha. I can’t make it through a workout without someone telling me that I’m impressive, while I just want to cringe in the corner over how weak I feel!

120kg deadlifts

I must admit that I’ve been slacking on my deadlift accessory work (and I didn’t deadlift at all for three months of this year so far), so I think I could get my deadlift strength back pretty easily if I started doing more rack/block pulls, timed reps and paused reps.

I’m hesitant to call this an overhead day, as I don’t overhead press with a barbell anymore. There’s no real reason for this other than that I can never be bothered waiting for a rack to open up. On this day, I do a seated or standing dumbbell press, another couple of pressing variations (incline dumbbell press, Arnold press, Smith machine press, etc), some delt isolation work (upright rows with a rope, front raises with a plate, dumbbell lat raises, etc) and some rear delt work (face pulls, bent over flyes, etc).

Twice a week, I also throw in one or two ab exercises – something from my list here.

I miss you, log.

I miss you, log.

The future
Due to travelling, I will take the next two weeks off training. I will resume my next periodisation cycle when I return to Paris in late August. I should be able to keep up with my training from here on out, as it looks like I’ll be splitting my time more evenly between Paris and London. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I may even consider signing up for another competition soon!

The only problem is that I don’t want to compete in powerlifting unless I know for sure I can beat my old maxes (120kg squat, 58.5kg bench and 140kg deadlift), and I don’t quite feel like I’m there yet. I’d love to do another strongwoman comp but, even though I have access to gyms where I can train semi-properly, I haven’t even touched an implement since my last competition. I would need to give myself at least four to six weeks to fit in some events training sessions before my next comp, which would be perfectly doable during my next trip to London. So watch this space!

I’ll be back later in the week with a sneak peek into my average daily eats.

How has your training been going lately? Any recent PRs?

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