Jan 25-29

Monday, Jan 25
DB Bench 5×5@85lbs
BB Row 5×5@100lbs
Climbing (top-rope): 5.7, 9, 8, 9+, 9, 9, 9, 8, 7(x4)
-Knee to wrist curl ups: 34
-Mountain Climbers: 60
-One arm one leg plank: 5×10”

Wednesday, Jan 27
Squats 5×5@110
Angled Press 5×5@75
Deadlift 1×5@175 (warmup: 135, 155)
-Knee to wrist curl ups: 36
-Mountain Climbers: 64
-One arm one leg plank: 1×10”, 2×15”, 1×10”

Friday, Jan 29
DB Bench 5×5@90
BB Row 5×5@105
Running: 2.25miles at 6mph, .25 at 3mph, .75@6mph.
Climbing: Traverse 1′, 5.9, 7, 9+, 9, 8, 10, 9+, 10+, 10, 9+, 9, 8, 7

Saturday and Sunday my legs were beat from running and climbing, and my hands were questionable, so I just ate well and rested instead of climbing again.

On Wednesday, I actually did my first two sets of squats 115, but then realized I should stick with the prescribed progression instead of rushing things, and lowered to 110 for the remaining 3 sets.

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Week 1

I’m through week 1 of the new routine, and feel pretty great. This semester I am underemployed (teaching only two courses), so I have tons of time and absolutely no excuses for not keeping this all up. I’ve reset my numbers, and posting them here is an exercise in modesty: parts of me hurts to be lifting so much less than I have in the past, but that part of me isn’t my BODY, which DEFINITELY hurts when I push myself to lift what I want. So, it’s better this way, once I swallow my pride and focus on the process itself.

Tuesday 1/19/16 – B
Squats 5×5 at 95lbs
Angled Press 5×5 at 70 (bar + 25)
Deadlift 1×5 (with warmup) 155
-Knee to wrist curl ups: 15 per side
-Mountain Climbers (with alternating twist): 48 total
-One arm one leg plank: 3×10” per side

Thursday 1/21/16 – A
DB Bench 5×5 at 80lbs
BB Row 5×5 at 95
Rock Climbing: 5.7, 4×5.9, two rounds of traversing for a total of 3 minutes)
-Knee to wrist curl ups: 18 per side
-Mountain Climbers (with alternating twist): 52 total
-One arm one leg plank: 4×10” per side

Friday 1/22/16 – Climb Only
Rock Climbing for an hour – I got a late start on Friday. I climbed mostly 5.9, a few 5.10s, and I completed a 5.10d that is perfect for me to progress on. It’s loaded with slopers and pinches which are weak spots for me, the balance is tricky but doable, and contact strength is super important; I have had a hard time finding enjoyable climbs that push me in all of these areas lately, mostly just running through crimpfests.

Saturday 1/23/16 – B
Squat 5×5 at 105lbs
Angled Press 5×5 at 72.5
Deadlift 1×5 (with warmup) 165
-Knee to wrist curl ups: 16 per side
-Mountain Climbers (with alternating twist): 56 total
-One arm one leg plank: 4×10” per side
-Hollow Body – I didn’t measure this one; I’m still at the point where there is a lot of changing position and I wasn’t sure how to account for that.

Today is a rest day (I might throw in some yoga, but nothing intense), then I’ll repeat bench/row/climb day on Monday.

This is essentially stronglifts, but I cut out squats on bench day so that I could climb instead, and I’ve introduced a fourth day on which I only climb. I’ll always climb on Friday ($5 guest pass night, so a friend joins me), so if Friday is supposed to be B, I shunt B to Saturday and climb on Friday. (This might change when the weather is nice, as I will probably just climb outdoors whenever appropriate, rather than strictly gym climbing on Fridays.) Normally, I’ll train M-W-F-Sa (or Su), but this week I had just gotten back into town from the holidays and so started on Tuesday. Basically:

M: A
W: B
F: A
Sa or Su: Climb Only
M: B
W: A
F: Climb Only
Sa: B

I think it’s a pretty good balance, and so far there haven’t been recovery problems. I feel sore, but I’m not in pain. Actually, I feel pretty darn good. I’ll keep at this, and when I no longer have doms from squats and climbing, I’ll introduce running on my climb only day, and perhaps on off-days/after A. I’ll figure that out if it becomes feasible to add it in.

I’ve also been clean with my diet, allowing for one cheat on Fridays: my climbing partner and I have a couple of beers and have some food; I compensate by going light on the calories prior to climbing, and then end up cheating to end up pretty close to maintenance (though, probably, a bit over). My goal right now is to lose some fat (I’m probably around 15%bf), and then just very slowly build muscle over a long period of time. The fat loss should improve my climbing, hopefully helping me get into 5.11 again, and then I can focus on getting stronger in order to progress through 11. I think my lifting numbers are low enough now that I will be able to steadily increase weight while I cut, and then I’ll probably be bumping against my limits when it comes time to increase calories.

A note about how I do mountain climbers: My sets basically consist of “microsets” of what I end up counting as four reps. I get into a high plank position, bring one knee to the alternate elbow, set it back, bring the other knee to the alternate elbow, set it back, then twist my body so that I am targeting my obliques, bring one knee to the alternate elbow, set it back, twist the other way, bring the other knee to the alternate elbow, set it back. That’s 4 reps, but what I consider to be one “microset,” and that’s why my total number of reps for mountain climbers are always a multiple of four.

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I never understood the phrase “swallow your pride.” It strikes me that the only things we should swallow are things that are somehow good for us, you know, things that nourish, or medicate, or even just taste nice. But pride – at least whenever someone tells you to swallow it – is considered to be something detrimental. Why would I swallow something bad for me? Shouldn’t I expel it?

Whatever; everyone knows what swallowing your pride means.

My pride is not a pill I can swallow once and call it a day. My pride is a multi-course meal, and I need time between each serving before I can possibly put down any more. I’ve needed time and reprieve in order to swallow my pride, but I think it’s nearly (finally) time for dessert.

My pride lead me to continue bench pressing long after I knew it was painful and likely bad for me. My pride lead me to continue doing clean and press even after I was clearly injured (stupidity might have played a role, too…). My pride has lead me to think I know better than the pros, and could design my own balanced routine. My pride has lead me to skimp on recovery time. My pride has lead me to love, and lose, and love, and lose again, to write papers I now deem to be crap, to spend money beyond my means… but these last things aren’t what this blog is about.

Slowly I’ve swallowed my pride. No more barbell bench press. No more olympic lifts. No more coming up with my own routines, calling them balanced, working myself to imbalance and fatigue, and calling it quits.

I’m resetting. I need routine. I need recovery. I need balance. I need to avoid injury.

Still, it’s somewhat difficult: I’ve never found a routine that perfectly blends climbing and lifting like I would like. But, that doesn’t mean I should just wing it.

I’m doing, more or less, stronglifts, and climbing. I’ve had to swallow my pride and accept that I do not have as strong a strength foundation as I think, and I have decided to lower weight drastically and essentially start from scratch. I’m cutting squats a bit so that I can still rock climb without injuring my legs; I’m doing dumbbell bench instead of barbell and angled press instead of shoulder press to correct imbalances between my left and right pecs and shoulders, and to avoid the pain that comes with those bilateral movements. I’m starting deadlifts and squats liiiiiiiiight.

I’ll update as I fall into routine. The timing is right, I have little else to focus on right now, and I’m finally accepting of where I am at in terms of fitness.

I know I “restart” often, but this time is different in a number of ways, and we’ll see the difference when I prove I can stick to it.

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A tough week

It has been a long, long week. I teach four sections of introduction level philosophy courses and this past week was the last week of classes. I now have 60 papers to grade, tomorrow I receive 40 exams, and another 40 on Thursday.

I’ve been working on a writing sample for applications to PhD programs. The first deadline is the fifteenth, so a lot of my free time this past week has gone into that.

To top it off, a very good friend of mine came to visit, which made me very short on time. Many days I just did not have the time, energy, or resources to get to the gym. Nevertheless, I consider this week to be a success in terms of exercise.

On Monday I lifted and climbed:

Two sets of bb bench to warm up, followed by 5 sets of 8 plate loaded wide chest press.
Two sets of dips to failure.
Burn sets of cable crossovers to pump out.
Burn sets of tricep cable pushdowns to pump out.

I made progress on all my lifts, increasing either weight or reps while maintaining form.

In terms of climbing, I consistently flash 5.10, but until yesterday I hadn’t pushed myself.
On Tuesday my friend came to town, and I skipped my usual run. Fortunately for me, she is my old climbing partner, so on Wednesday I used a guest pass on her at my gym.

Two sets of bb bench to warm up, followed by 3 heavy sets of floor presses.
Two sets of eight on dumbbell incline as accessory work.
Burn sets of low to high cable flies to failure to pump out.

Again, I made progress on all lifts. (Also: I alternate between this workout and the one from Monday.)

Climbing: 5.10 is my comfort zone, and I didn’t leave it on Wednesday. Due to all my past injuries, I’m hesitant to push myself. My friend, however, climbed a number of routes at her limit – some she flashed, others took multiple falls to complete, and others she failed.

I was entertaining on Thursday, and worked a solid 13 hours on Friday before promptly passing out.

Saturday, however, was a very, very good day. I repeated my workout from Monday, again making progress on all lifts.
I then decided – motivated by my friend – that I can’t just stagnate in terms of climbing. If I can flash 5.10, I should be able to climb higher grades. I decided to push myself slowly, and climb consciously, deliberately, carefully, and efficiently. I climbed some 5.10d routes, and nearly finished a 5.11a before taking a hint from my then exhausted hands and calling it a day. Next time I’ll try that 11a again, and I have my eye on an 11b that I think better suits my strengths. Once I can consistently climb 11, I’ll stay there until I can consistently flash 11; dominating at one grade before moving to the next is a good way to avoid injury and develop the various facets of climbing – technique, strength, mentation.

Finally, after what has felt like forever (not to mention 9 hours today) I have finished my writing sample. I am very self-critical of my work in general, but I am proud of this document. As a reward, I went for my first run in a week. Prior to my time away from running this past week, I had only managed to run 2.5 miles at 6mph (10min/mile). Today I did the same distance, but upped the pace to 6.5mph (~9:14min/mile).

Feels good, man.

This week I have a ton of grading ahead of me, but nothing that requires 8+ hours of undivided attention. Tomorrow, I’ll be back on schedule; an occasional easy week can help you to recover and improve your performance, but – by and large – consistent effort is how progress is made.

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Giving it another go

I’m going to try to actually update this blog somewhat often. I’ve abandoned most forms of social media, and think that now I’ll actually be able to motivate myself to do this.

So, here is where I am at now, since last updating:

-I have taken some time to heal from past injuries (neck/upper back). I am now doing mobility and flexibility work nearly every day, and I am noticing a marked decrease in pain. This has allowed me to get back to climbing and lifting, though I have modified both .

-I’ve begun running. Running has always been difficult for me; I get bored, my heart rate gets too high, I bought into a lot of the “cardio kills your gains” mentality. I’m now running three times a week, and I’m at 2.5 miles at a time after about a month. I still don’t particularly enjoy it during, but I really enjoy the feeling afterwards – I feel more clear. This is also a good way to exercise on days when I neither climb nor lift; lifting and climbing are too intense to do every day without upsetting my injuries, and running seems to be pretty kind to my neck.

-I’m now climbing three times a week. I primarily gym climb, as I don’t have much experience leading outdoors and don’t know any climbers with more experience than myself regarding outdoor lead climbing. Plus, it’s winter. Right now I’m firmly at 5.10, and trying to transition to 5.11 (where I was for a brief time prior to injuring myself). I no longer boulder, since it can be very painful and dangerous relative to my past injuries.

-I’ve been lifting three times a week, usually immediately before climbing. I know running is not a substitute for squats, and climbing – while it can be somewhat quad intensive (single leg squats for days) – tends to neglect hamstrings. Nevertheless, with climbing and running I find that I just can’t do much else with my legs. Climbing also beats the heck out of my back, so my lifting consists primarily of Chest and other muscles neglected by climbing and running. I’ve cut back on weight from where I used to be, focusing on form and quality of reps. I’ve also finally faced the fact: Bench hurts my neck, and any given rep can result in months and months of pain.

-Lastly, over time I’ve gotten to the point where I am pretty content with my body. I am not trying to lose fat or gain muscle, per say; I am content to maintain, with potential small shifts in composition over time. My focus is now on performance, especially regarding climbing and running, and on making small improvements in the weight room. I feel a lot better about exercise and diet from this new perspective. I considered including my body weight/composition, but I actually would rather not attach my optimism at this time to those numbers.

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Back at it

I’ve finished giving a recent tendon injury enough time to finally start climbing again (about 4 months). With my schedule, I’ll only have time to climb on weekends, and only time to hit the gym twice – for about an hour – during the week. So, here is what I’m thinking.

Yin/Restorative Yoga  – 30 minutes
Meditation – 10 minutes

Squats 3×5-8
Superset: Inverted Rows 3×8-12 and Bench Press 3×5-8
Superset: Pull-Ups 3×5-8 and Angled Press 3×5-8
Rest-Pause (Burn Set): Standing Calf Raises 30 reps
SuperSet: BB Biceps Curls 2×10-12 and Tricep Pushdown 2×10-12

Hex Deadlifts 3×3-5
Superset: Incline Bench 3×5-8 and Lat Pulldowns 3×5-8
Superset: Dips 3×8-12 and Upright Row 3×5-8
Rest-Pause (Burn Set): Sitting Calf Raises 30 reps
Superset: DB Hammer Curls 2×10-12 and Close Grip Bench 2×10-12

Volume climbing (for this month, anyway)
Warm-Up Bouldering
Climb routes below my limit with a focus on techniques and form
Traverse to work on anaerobic endurance and to practice resting
The goal is to log many routes/problems per session.

Of course, climbing days are going to need to ramp up while my hand gets back into it. But, once I am logging a respectable volume, I will keep up volume training for about a month, then keep the weekdays constant and change the focus for climbing on weekends.

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Lifting for Climbing

I have mostly followed the wisdom of others when it comes to lifting for climbing. Most recently, my routine has consisted of climbing 2-4/week and lifting 2-3/week with a focus on antagonistic muscles.

I am currently visiting New Jersey (family and friends), however, and cannot climb more than once or twice a week – and then only on weekends. Thus, I must focus on weight training, and make due with movements that will benefit climbing in addition to my antagonistic training. I still lift chest, to avoid imbalance (but also because I enjoy bench). I am lifting lower body only for maintenance, as legs are seldom the limiting factor in climbing. The major departure from my climbing-centric routine (which I cannot wait to return to) is the reintroduction of pulling muscles – climbing primarily works back and forearms, and since my climbing hours have been cut I must here reintroduce weight training.

I have thus developed the following routine:

Monday: Chest/Triceps/(Quads)
2×5-8 Bench Press
2×6-10 Wide Grip Incline Press
2×6-10 Wide Grip Decline Press
2×6-10 Angled Press (Shoulder Safe “Press” Alternative)
3×6-10 DB Flies
Superset: 3×6-10 Close Grip Bench Press/3×5 1-arm Triceps Rope Pushdown
3×5 Leg Extension

Tuesday: Forearms/Core/(Calves)
3×5-8 Barbell Finger Curls
3×6-10 DB Wrist Curls
3×6-10 DB Reverse Wrist Curls
2×6-10 Pronator Rotation
2×6-10 Supinator Rotation
3xFailure Front Levers
3xFailure “Giant Set” Dead Hangs (Crimp/Half Crimp/Open)
2x5x10” second one-arm one-leg planks (each side)
2×15” Hammer Fist Planks (each side)
2×8-12 Bird-Dogs (each side)
3×6-10 Calf Raises

Wednesday: Back/Biceps/(Hamstrings)
3×5-8 Weighted Pull-ups
2×6-10 Pull-Downs
3×5-8 Bent Over Rows
3×15+ 1-arm DB Rows
2×6 Curls “Giant Set”: Reverse Curls, Hammer Curls, Biceps Curls
Superset: 3×5 Glute Ham Raises/3×6-10 Back Extension

Thursday: Chest/Triceps/(Quads)
As Monday

I haven’t figured out Friday yet – it will probably consist of either rest, or a full body/bodyweight “recovery” day (pull-ups, push-ups, dips, planks, lunges, etc). I will be climbing every Saturday, or Sunday, or both, so Friday will likely vary based on how much I will be climbing and when.

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