New Squat PR

I am sure you are beyond thrilled that I have managed to hit a new PR with squats! So  let me just tell you how long this has been in the making and a tiny bit of what has gone into this.

Fall/Winter 2011-2012

As part of my goal to improve my lean body mass, I used the program Anabolic Again Cluster Cycles and increase squats to 6 reps at 130 pounds for an estimated 1 rep max of 156 pounds. At the same time, increase other lifts including deadlift to 6 reps at 167 for an estimated 1 rep max of 200 pounds. But here is the kicker. Due to a deadlift related injury, I quit both deadlifts and squats, both very important lifts in order to take time to heal and learn better form.

Naomi RULES Squats!

Naomi and Al cranking out squats in Cluster Cycles workout

Anabolic Again is a serious program designed to help you achieve new levels of strength. I had thought I would repeat it again a year later but I was still not there with the form. The next time I do this program, I will likely cut it to 6 weeks and stick to lifts I have mastered. That is saying a mouthful! Perfect form is of the utmost importance when doing this level of volume and pushing to the limits.

April 2012

Placed in Venus Index Open Level 2 Contest. I got quite ripped for this contest and maintained strength very well. I was able to perform 5 pullups at 137 pounds body weight. But I was still nursing a slightly injured lower back.


Summer 2012

I took a job with a toxic boss and contracted a serious virus which kept me from doing anything at all for 2 months.

November 2012

Seriously? The flu? Yup! I lost 10 pounds in 1 week while counting calories in an effort to make it to the kitchen and force feed myself 200 calories a day. That sounds really insane but apparently it is possible to suffer total loss of appetite and further, not eat anyway. And you can bet that 10 pounds was mostly lean body mass because I wasn’t sporting a lot of extra body fat.

Me, After the Evil Vile Virile Virus

Me, After the Evil Vile Virile Virus

January 2013

Somewhat demoralized, I had a DEXA done that showed me as having 20% body fat. I’d like to be a bit leaner but the good news is I came through some serious health setbacks still very lean and now I’d learned that all stresses in life add up. Toxic jobs and people, too little sleep, too much on the plate all matters.

June 2013

My daughter underwent surgery to get rid of an infection that had somehow gotten deep under her skin where antibiotics could not get at it. What a scary summer we had. And this spawned my summer focus.

Home after surgery

Home after surgery

Summer 2013

Gym is not the end-all-be-all in life. Yes, it’s lovely to be strong and fit but that can wait. The summer was spent watching my daughter closely to make sure she returned to full health and deep cleaning and decluttering the house. If there was any way the infection came from dirt, we were just not going to live like that. And the hospital stay made me realize she does not handle clutter well so I underwent a house transformation where we moved from Nearly Becoming Hoarders to Closer to Minimalist and shifted our values. I would like to find the courage to share more of what all went on during this transformative time. Scary, personal stuff!

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Early Fall 2013

Lots of focus on training others and little focus on self.

Family Fitness Class

Family Fitness Class

Fall-Winter 2013

Holy cow! It’s time to take care of me again! Incredible study of form and posture have me finally willing to do heavy deadlifts and squats again and get the form fixed. Doing these lifts without pain and seeing them improve is huge for confidence. No longer is there a sense of urgency with no contests on the horizon. The need to see these lifts improve is purely part of my plan to increase lean body mass. Whether this will come to fruition or not remains to be seen but the lifts are, at last, improving.

Here is a video of a few lifts including my first excellent from injury free deadlifts.

And that brings us up to the present.

January 2014

A new PR in squats of 135 for multiple single reps. Sure, the old estimated 1 rep max was much higher two years ago, but theory and doing are two different animals. And on the heels of that PR, a lot of study of the Gohkale method helped me understand knee tracking and foot position so using the so-called “kidney bean shaped foot”, I was able to do multiple reps of singles of 145, passing my body weight for the first time ever plus sets of 3 at 135 pounds, also a PR. And further, I have overcome the fear of having the big plates on the bar.

I’ve also been making steady progress in glute bridges and hip thrusts, which are both currently easily over 350 plates with solid form. Nice!


January 2014 Maintenance Photo

January 2014 Maintenance Photo 17% body fat

Moving forward

I expect to increase how much I can lift slowly by not overdoing squats but by also taking the time at least once or twice a week to do a proper warmup at an off-peak gym time and really focusing on the foot and knee placement.  I will be adding in backoff sets. I’ve never done these with squats before but I have with hip thrusts and it is amazing how a weight that seems heavy during the warmup seems ridiculously light after the maximum weight is achieved.

I will do my best to prepare for these days but understand that due to variations with CNS on any given day, the actual best may not always be a record and, in fact, I may not be able to achieve my own bests on a consistent basis. And this is fine and to be expected. Progress does not have to be linear.

Here are some progress photos over my entire transformation.

Back Transformation to Date

Back Transformation to Date

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