Training diary: November 2022

I officially wrapped up my first official post-injury block of training (hype!) about a week and a half ago. Last week I tested my (Olympic) lifts. Overall, I’m really happy with how my training’s been going and I want to document each block of it here. So that’s what I’m doing. Ideally these posts would include videos from my training. Maybe future ones will??? I’m still trying to figure out if I want to get back on IG (or YouTube, I guess) in that public of a way. Much to consider.

Training

Duration: Four weeks
Frequency: Three days a week
Format: 1:1 personal coaching (exception: Week 4 was in a group setting)
Focus: Technique, mechanics, body awareness
Starting total: 94kg (42kg snatch, 52kg clean and jerk)
Ending total: 107kg (50kg snatch, 57kg clean and jerk)

Here’s a basic overview of what I did in training last month:

Day 1Day 2Day 3
Week 1Power snatch
Snatch pulls
Snatch balances
Front squats
Power clean + jerk
Clean pulls
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats
Snatches
C&Js
Snatch balances
Front squats
Week 2Power snatch
Snatch pulls
Snatch balances
Front squats
Power clean + jerk
Clean pulls
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats
Snatches
C&Js
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats
Week 3Power snatch
Snatch pulls
Snatch balances
Front squats
Power clean + jerk
Clean pulls
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats
Snatches
C&Js
Snatch balances
Front squats
Week 4Power snatch
Snatch pulls
Snatch balances
Front squats
Power clean + jerk
Clean pulls
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats
Snatches
C&Js
Jerks (from rack)
Back squats

I really liked the way this program was designed: A ton of repetition in movements, rep scheme, and weight. In past programs (with other coaches at other gyms), only the movements stayed consistent. Rep schemes and weights changed from week to week. I always felt frustrated and discouraged by this because I could never keep up. It just takes me longer to learn things. This program differed in that the rep scheme and the weights remained the same throughout the entire four weeks, too. Everything staying consistent for the entire block allowed me to really get a feel for each movement at specific weights, which helped me improve my technique, my mechanics, and my body awareness, which in turn helped me gain confidence.

Another thing I really liked about this block: The coach I spent the last several months working with 1:1 ran this block of training in a way that prepared me for moving from a 1:1 setting to a class setting. Mostly this meant I was responsible for pacing the session: taking myself through the warmup, changing my own weights, etc. As an autistic, change is often extremely distressing for me, especially when it involves changes to the social or sensory environment (or both). I’ve been anxious about the transition from 1:1 to a group setting, because I knew that both the sensory and the social environment would change: I would begin working with the head barbell coach in a group setting, and I’d be training at a different time of day, which meant a whole new group of people and a whole different vibe at the gym. My coach knew I was anxious about all of these impending changes so she helped me prepare for them, which was an extremely autistic-friendly and all-around kind thing to do. (Also, the last week of this block, I lifted with the class, to help prepare me for the transition.)

Beginning Week 2, I stayed after most days—and came in on days I don’t normally train—and added in:

  • Posterior chain work: barbell glute bridges, single leg RDLs, lunges. I tried—and failed—to add in reverse hypers. Even with no plates on, my legs weren’t strong enough to get the damn thing up, and also I wasn’t coordinated (or patient) enough to loop my feet into the footpads. Better luck later.
  • Core work: hollow body holds, dead bugs, assorted types of planks, assorted GHD work.
  • Upper body work: dead hangs from the rig (with a focus on properly setting/engaging my lats), handstand holds (against the wall), ring rows.
  • Strongman-ish stuff: yoke carries, farmers carries, D-ball carries (D-balls are kind of like very heavy medicine balls (100+ pounds)).
  • Conditioning: rowing, C2 bike, fan bike.

None of these extras were specifically programmed *for* me—I just worked in with a couple of people and their programming, and scaled as necessary to reduce the risk of fucking up my shoulder or fatiguing my body to the point of negatively affecting my actual training. 

Nutrition

Nothing fancy or extra special. Mostly more of the same—most days I ate the same food at the same time, prepared the same way. Some nights, when I was particularly low on time or energy, I ordered pizza. Or picked up a Chipotle bowl. Or ate a random assortment of snacks instead of a “proper” dinner.

One thing I did differently this block: I supplemented with creatine and a protein shake literally every day. I didn’t time these in any special way, I just made sure I had a scoop of creatine and a scoop of casein (with a scoop of Genepro thrown in (I’m trying to use up the last of what I have)) every single day. None of these supplements are new to me. I just haven’t ever been very consistent with them. I decided to be consistent with them during this block because I struggle to (1) eat enough food each day, and (2) gain muscle and strength (these things are not unrelated), and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add them to the mix. Did they work/help? Probably. My total went up 13 kilos over the course of four weeks. How much of that is due to improved technique and how much of it is due to an increase in strength (and how much is an increase in strength associated with these supplements)? Who’s to say.

Sleep

Overall, pretty damn good. Most nights I slept most of the night (at least 7 hours), which is a huge improvement for me, a chronic insomniac. I feel like I finally have my sleep under control. I’ll write more about this in a separate post.

Mobility

Lol. I did really good with mobility earlier this year when it was all I could do. Since I’ve been back in the gym and training training, I’ve slacked off with this. I know that I need to prioritize this. It’s just so goddamn boring!!!!!

Knee

No problems or pain—finally!!! I haven’t had to wear sleeves or wraps, not even during my heavy sets. I’m super happy about this, and super proud of myself for being so patient for so long and putting in all of the work that I did to get to where I am now.

For nearly a year, I couldn’t go up or down stairs without pain in my knee. I couldn’t sit down or stand up without pain in my knee. I couldn’t jump or lunge or even do a bodyweight/air squat without pain in my knee. I’m thrilled to finally be consistently pain-free, and squatting and lunging and jumping without any issues.

Shoulder

Same as above. No problems or pain—finally!!! I spent nearly a year unable to lift a barbell overhead. For most of that time, I couldn’t even reach my arm across my body or above my head without intense pain. Now I’m snatching and jerking and handstand holding and pressing overhead. Go little rockstar.

I spent seven and a half months going to physical therapy two times a week to unfuck my shoulder injuries, and I’m so damn happy to be where I am, and proud of myself for getting myself here. And to make sure I stay here? On the advice of my physical therapist, I use the exercises from my final PT home program as a warmup each training day.

Pelvic floor

I absolutely mean to brag when I say: I didn’t pee my pants at all during this block of training. Not even during my heavy sets, or on Test Day. This is another huge accomplishment for me. I spent an entire year in physical therapy to address multiple pelvic floor-related issues. That year was so, so slow and so, so frustrating. I’m happy to be on the other side of it—and hoping that my pelvic floor holds as the weights continue to get heavier.

Changes this block

  • Added in the Burgener barbell warmup for both lifts.
  • Widened my starting stance in the jerk.
  • Widened my grip in the clean.
  • Widened (slightly) my (very narrow) squat stance.

Improvements this block

  • Consistently staying tight and controlled in the bottom of the squat.
  • Consistently driving my knees out and chest up in the ascent of the squat.
  • Consistently standing up the snatch without rotating my shoulders.
  • Consistently keeping my chest over the bar in the pull (both lifts).
  • Learning to stay tight in my hips in the jerk and the catch of the snatch.
  • Not needing a spot on squats the last two weeks of the block.
  • Jumping out instead of back in the catch (both lifts).
  • Getting a hollow body hold!!! It’s only for a few seconds at a time, but still! I’ve NEVER been able to do this before.
  • Developing body awareness, especially re: my hip positioning in the setup, knowing when I hit parallel in a squat, and my shoulder positioning in the pull.
  • Confidence.

Areas to keep improving

  • Posterior chain strength.
  • Posterior chain mind/muscle connection.
  • Upper body strength and stability.
  • Core strength.
  • Shoulder positioning in the pull (both lifts).
  • Tight hips in the jerk and the catch of the snatch.
  • Body awareness.
  • Confidence.

What’s next

Another four-week block, which already started. I’ll test again a few days before Christmas. More kilos on the bar would be cool. Improved technique, mechanics, and body awareness would be cooler.

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