First Cycle Reflection
My first real cycle in the gym has been an eye-opening experience for me. Before I began this program, my workout structure was largely uninformed and, to be honest, somewhat ineffective. While I was getting slightly stronger, my gains were not at all proportional to the amount of time I was spending working out. Once I began this cycle with my new gym partner, however, I immediately began to feel noticeably stronger almost on a week to week basis, and after the first 4-6 weeks I began to see real results in both how I looked and the amount of weight that I was able to lift. As I discussed in a previous post, the weekly structure of the cycle was as follows:
- 3 weeks
- 3 sets of 12 reps (each exercise)
- 3 weeks
- 4 sets of 8 reps (each exercise)
- 3 weeks
- 4 sets of 10,8,6,5 reps (each exercise)
- 3 weeks
- 5 sets of 5 reps (each exercise)
- 3 weeks
- 5 sets of 8,6,5,3,2 reps (each exercise)
- 1 week
- Easy lifting
- 1 week
- Testing one-rep maxes
This program allowed me to gradually build my comfort level in the gym; familiarizing myself with the proper movements for the first few weeks of high-rep, low-weight lifting, after which I would be able to progressively overload my body to achieve effective muscular hypertrophy.
Learning Outcome Reflection
- Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
- Weighlifting is certainly a new challenge for me, and, as I discussed above, many new skills have been developed throughout the process (such as spotting, gym etiquette, and the knowledge of how to execute a number of lifts.
- Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experience
- One of the most important parts of a successful workout program is maintaining consistency, and I have been able to do so in a way that demonstrated both commitment and perseverance to this CAS experience.
At the beginning of August, my bench press one-rep max was 215 lbs. After 4 months of work, I am proud to announce that I have added 30 lbs to my max for a new total of 245 lbs. I must admit, however, that my lift was not completely clean, and I received a lift off the bar before I began my rep (although this would not have greatly impacted my actual ability to complete the lift, it did make it easier for me to move the bar into position). Furthermore, I believe that my spotter’s hands may have made contact with the bar, and while I do still consider 245 to be my max, I acknowledge that the lift was not perfectly done (and thus, one of my goals is to bench 245 with no spot and no lift-off the bar).
The improvement that I am most excited about is that of my deadlift. When I began the process, I was able to lift only 275 pounds. Above is a video of me lifting it eight times in a row. Now, my one-rep max is 335. Improving my max by 60 lbs over the course of four months is something that I might have considered impossible at the beginning of the process, but through hard work, I have been able to achieve it. In fact, my gym partner and I were slightly disappointed with the lift at the end of the session, because I had hoped to lift 345, but the bar just wasn’t moving for me at that weight after already lifting 335. Regardless, I am proud of the improvement that I have shown in the deadlift and I look forward to breaking 350.
The squat has always been an interesting lift for me. I’ve never felt completely comfortable with it and prior to shooting for my max I had been combatting a minor groin strain for the past few weeks, so naturally, I was a bit nervous. Although my groin pain gradually built throughout the session, I pushed on (which, in hindsight, was not a good idea), and luckily made it through the full day without a severe injury. This was extremely stupid of me, and in the future, I will not take the risk again. Despite this, I am happy with my new 350 lbs max that came of the session (but in the future, I would like to be able to go much deeper in my squats) and I look forward to working to enhance my form and squat with a greater range of motion.
I have a number of highly ambitious goals for the remainder of the year and for my next cycle at the gym. Firstly, I want to be able to lift my current maxes without a spot (getting my 245 lbs. bench without a lift off the bar or a spot afterward, and my squat with a full ATG range of motion (breaking parallel and going as low as my range of motion will allow me to). Another major goal for me is getting into the “1000 pound club” (meaning all three of my lifts: bench, squat, and deadlift, would total over 1000 lbs). Currently, the total for my three lifts is 930 lbs, up from 790 lbs at the beginning of the cycle. However, I know that these last 70 pounds will be significantly harder than the first 140, and I will have to work doubly hard to reach this goal. Essentially, an ideal split would be 15-20 lbs added to my bench and 25-30 lbs to my squat and deadlift, but I would accept an entry into the club with any breakdown between the three lifts.