Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ego Over Matter: Fitness Goals and Challenges for 2009

For the record, I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions. In fact, my only resolution I make every year is that I make no resolutions. However, that does not mean that I don’t believe in looking at goals I’d like to set and make an effort to achieve them. In this manner, I decided it was time to make Ego Over Matter a regular column again, and to that effect, I have decided to do something I have not done for many years… reinvigorate my quest for 300/400/500.

Now, for those not familiar with these numbers, they are as follows. The idea is that a genetically typical individual, after many years of effort and work, could reasonably be expected to master a personal best power lifting style Bench Press of 300 pounds, a personal best power lifting style squat of 400 pounds, and a personal best power lifting style deadlift of 500 pounds. This was a goal of mine many years ago, and I can honestly say I got about 75% of the way to the goal, but ultimately had to stop due to injuries and other life priorities. Since I made the commitment back in September to join a gym and become a frequent participant, I have now decided that I want to get back into the groove of someday achieving those magical digits.

Every goal has to start somewhere, and every goal, no matter how lofty, has to be broken up into smaller goals. What’s more, those smaller goals have their own daily goals that need to be set as well. Thus, I’m starting out with setting a macro goal, that of being able to do the classic 3/4/5. My more immediate goals are to get back into the groove of lifting towards that purpose, and to condition my body to allow me to start reaching those lifts. Those will require conditioning of ligaments and tendons, and that conditioning will have to take place along with raising the maximum lifts. It also means I’ll have to start lifting heavier weight for fewer reps, something I have not done in quite some time. Thus my first goal is to work through a rigorous strength and conditioning routine, one that will last approximately 12 weeks. The first 4 weeks will be focused on hypertrophy (raw muscle building, emphasis on higher reps and relatively light weights). The second 4 weeks will be focusing on Strength and power, with an increase in total weight lifted and a decrease in repetitions. The third period, for three weeks, I will work towards peaking, with an emphasis on low reps and heavy weight. Finally, one to two weeks where I will not lift at all, but spend the time doing “Active rest” (cycling, swimming, running, etc.). From there, I will start the cycle again.

Every time I embark on a new fitness approach, I have to remind myself that there are of course limitations I have to deal with, and those limitations may slow or even ultimately stop my progress. The things that must be worked into this equation are:

I have an ankle that was broken when I was a teenager (sometime in 1986).
I had a deep laceration to my wrist in 1995 that cut into my bone.
I had a compression fracture to my L5 vertebrae at the junction point between L4 and L5 happen in 1996.
I suffered a tuberosity fracture to my left arm in 2002

While I am hoping that none of these will sideline my progress too much, they are structural irregularities that I have to account for as I train. What’s more, I’ve also been feeling odd twinges in my elbows the past several weeks (and the right elbow has been somewhat dodgy since well before August).

So my goal is to make each Monday my “Accountability day” and to report the good, bad and just plain icky of all that went the week before. Notes will be kept, calories will be counted (and in some cases go well beyond needed maintenance) and I hope real progress will be made. Still, I have no illusions that this process will get me where I want to be in just 12 weeks. It won’t get me there in 12 months. It’s possible it may not get me there in 5 years. Still, I know if I put the effort in and keep track of what I do, I’ll get closer than I am now :).

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