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Squats and the sandbag

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Today, I’m expecting delivery of canvas sea bag, which I expect will be a better bag than what I’m currently using for bag to hold the double-bagged freezer bags of sand. Still, the sandbag is becoming more popular with me for strength training. It’s fun somehow to wrestle with it and playing with it gives a very strong whole body workout sensation. The last two morning I’ve done sets of squats with it. Yesterday I did one set of 10 and another of 15. This morning, I did a set of 10, then one of 15 and a finisher set of 20. The great thing about the set of 20 was it was done fast, I pushed myself to knock out rep after rep without ever taking a small break to breathe at the top. The last 2 reps were done with shaky legs and what felt like pure will, no matter how much my butt, hamstrings and quads were shaking, I would power up through.

That last set with the 20 reps is a sign of large improvement. When I first figured out how I could use the sawhorses, and straps to let me do barbell back squats, well, I’ll be honest and admit that my starting weights were pathetic. My first set of 20 rep squats was a paltry 60 lbs. And it was not easily done. I began pausing and breathing after just 5 reps. My heart was pounding pretty good by the end. Although one good thing I can say about that set and all the sets I’ve done since with the barbell and sawhorses is that they are nearly rockbottom squats. I fit just about perfectly under the bar with the height of the sawhorses. So when I drop and do each rep, the ends of the bar have to touch the sawhorses. Every rep is deep and below parallel. They are full range. Since that pathetic start, I’ve been bumping up the weight 5 or 10 lbs at a time.

Now I’ve built enough deep squatting strength that I can do 20 unbroken reps of a sandbag with ~85 lbs in it. So I’m going to add another 10 lbs to the sandbag and work on getting to some morning where I can get that bag up on a shoulder and squat 95 lbs in 20 unbroken reps. And so on, and so on.

And now that I’ve done some more serious squatting, by that I mean being strict with form and depth, I can say that squatting is a very primal and powerful feeling. Having the weight pushing down the whole length of the body, going down to the bottom and then standing up with it, it’s primal. So’s the sandbag. The sandbag doesn’t have a convenient hold to it like the barbell. It’s a bit of work to wrestle it up onto a shoulder, but I’m getting stronger and better at it.

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Weighed in at 154.8 lbs this morning, the most I’ve weighed since I weighed in at around 155 late December before the flu knocked me down to around 152.

flu?

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I woke up about 4:30 this morning and have since found myself with a slight tickle and cough, little bit of tickle in the nose too and general sense of blah. There’s supposed to be a lot of flu going around right now and I’ve heard that one of the strains circulating wasn’t in this season’s vaccine. If it is that flu strain I’ve caught, I’ll hope that the vaccine will provide me some boost in immunity against it so it doesn’t lay me out.

It’s disappointing some because I went to bed last night feeling good after a strong workout where I squatted, did some farmer’s walks, and chin ups with isometric holds at various angles. It felt energizing almost, a bit of satisfaction at having done the work to improve strength. And even if it meant some chance that I might wake up a bit sore in places from that workout today, I wouldn’t have minded it.

I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow morning and make a decision then on whether or not to deadlift. It will be a little frustrating if I have to cancel any scheduled workouts. It’s been a small source of rejuvenation for my mood that I can feel myself getting stronger and can see the difference in how my body looks again. Although the legs are still very skinny, but I think now that I’m smarter and more knowledgeable, I will be able to make my legs grow some more. One big part of that, I believe, will be doing plenty of deep and effective squatting, along with the work I’m doing to improve the function of my glutes. Increasing the muscle mass in my legs seems particularly more important in view of how a Danish study found a link between lack of muscle in the thighs and heart attack risk. It occurs in both women and men, so that’s another good reason for women to squat and deadlift. Being strong as you get older not only helps protect you against falls and frailty, but also can help protect the heart and metabolism.

Yuck, as I took a break from working on this, I began to feel the first bits of fever. All I can do now is hope that it doesn’t last too long and I get back to full health soon. Also getting the first sensation of just wanting to crawl into a bed, pull the covers over me and go to sleep. I like to sleep when I get sick, that seems to do more than anything else on helping me recover. Sleep seems to be my body’s way of shutting down things so the immune system can get to work.