If at first you don’t succeed…

…drop the weight 20lbs and do the last 10 reps anyway! >_<

Yup, I had my first squat failure today (right side of video above), but it wasn’t a total loss. I got 5 reps at 155lbs (video to follow) in and could tell right away this might be that magic number that makes me have to repeat it a few times before I can move up. After a break for the hubby to do his set, I tried to really pump myself up for the 2nd set with a couple quick slaps on my cheeks. Coming back up from the hole had me leaning quite left, however, and I re-racked the bar rather than finish that set (left side of video above). Could I have gone on and finished the other 4 reps right then? I think so, but I also know I’ve tweaked my back to the point of needing days of steroids on little things such as installing cedar shingles on the porch wall of our tiny house (if you’d seen the install, you’d understand how that happened) and when picking up a 3lb lobster from the floor incorrectly. Yes, you read that right.

A 3lb lobster sent me to the emergency room when I was 20 years old having (stupidly) swept my right leg back (aka poor body mechanics) to pick it up off the floor after I’d let him and his pals out of their shipping box at the restaurant where I worked in the back office. I felt a burning twinge in my back immediately, had trouble getting back up, spent the rest of the day scooting myself around the office in a rolling chair, and decided I could just take some ibuprofen and a hot bath when I got home later that day and I’d be fine. Instead, I had to hobble up a sloped parking garage to street level and cross another parking lot to my car using an umbrella as a cane, and I’m pretty sure I screamed louder than the DART train that was passing by as I forced myself into my Corolla’s low-to-the-ground seat. I’m also sure the ER nurses thought I was totally FOS (honestly, as an ER nurse myself now, I’d probably raise an eyebrow at my story, too lol), but that was my second encounter with the NSAID wonder drug Toradol, and in 20 minutes all was right with the world again. I spent a couple days on steroids just to be safe, and it was like it never happened.

That was 16 years and about 40lbs of body weight ago, however. Yes, I’m much stronger now than I was back then (i.e. I can lift way more weight), but I’m still 16 years older and way less bendy. My last back spasm that resulted in a visit to my own ER where I work (namely because I tried to work my shift anyway and nearly got stuck trying to stand up from a chair) was only about a year ago, and seeing as how I’m the primary money maker in our household… yeah, I can’t afford to be laid up. I actually didn’t feel bad during the lifts beyond them feeling heavy, but when I got to the bottom of that second rep of the 2nd set my brain just said, “NOPE!” Thankfully our custom squat rack has “oh shit” bars that are pretty high, so I just set the bar down and scooted out from under it. It was bound to happen eventually, and I’m much happier having had it happen at a relatively low weight than when I’m squatting more than my body weight. I wasn’t going to quit right there, however, so I did two full sets of 5 reps at 135lbs just to get back on the horse, as they say. Even then I could tell my right sciatic nerve was pissed off and not wanting to let me get below parallel in the bottom of the squat, so I didn’t push it beyond that. I got the reps, and that’s what counts for me.

Here’s the full set of 155lb squats. See the 4th one where I didn’t drop below parallel with my butt? That’s how I knew something was off:


Now, the post-fail analysis says there could be many factors that played a part in this event. My list of suspects includes in no particular order:

  1. The fact I usually lift after working all night instead of waking up and lifting first thing in the morning, meaning I’m well warmed up already usually
  2. Drinking a heavy protein shake before the workout instead of after, which I only did because I didn’t want to lift on an empty stomach after sleeping all night
  3. Doing one of my HIIT routines the night before that had me moving in some odd angles, potentially straining or irritating muscles and nerves
  4. Particularly hot and humid weather affecting my joints and breathing
  5. Deficient protein intake (or fat, or carbs, etc)
  6. Not taking real 100% rest days between lifting days
  7. Poor sleep quality/amount over the last few days
  8. The psychological factor of squatting over 150lbs for the first time ever (??)

I’d say that there is no one specific reason I couldn’t finish the full 3 x 5 today, and I’m also willing to bet some or all of the aforementioned possibilities could have played their part. Oddly, my bench press and dead lifts progressed on target (increased the bench by 5lbs and the dead by 10lbs as planned), but then again the squat just uses more muscle groups than the latter lifts. In fact, the hubby and I had that very conversation – about why the squat comes first in the meet of the three lifts – while we were warming up, and we both agreed it takes the most out of you than the others. Perhaps my subconscious took that to heart when my right sciatic nerve starting poking me in the rear, leaving my right butt cheek and hip to feel heavy, for lack of a better way of describing the sensation, compared to the left side. I really had to work through that first set, which I’m actually happy about, but I also know enough to quit while I’m ahead. I could have tried to grind out the remaining reps at the 155lbs, but I also knew not to run the risk of a real failure – one while coming up from the hole with no truly safe way to bail – at what was otherwise a new personal record lift. Even the two complete sets at 135lbs were tough, with my right hip feeling too tight to consistently squat below parallel with each rep as I usually do.

Nope, today was just not my day for squats, and I can definitely take the hint my body was trying to drop. As such, I’m taking a full two days off from any kind of workout (though I may walk some laps around the nurse’s station at work the next 3 nights just to keep from getting stiff), and Monday morning after work I’ll try to hit the 155lb squat again. I might even change up the reps to triples as I’d planned to today after that wobbly 6th rep had me rethinking my usual plan. Even if it takes me two+ sessions to conquer the weight, I will complete the full 15 reps in one session of 155lbs by the end of next week. Maybe that means ditching my #FortyDayFablete Challenge completely in favor of true rest days between lifting; I don’t yet know. Either way, though, I’m smart enough to listen to my body and let it dictate when I need to back off and when maybe I can just push through to complete a new goal. All I know is I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve got to take good care of myself to keep taking good care of my family.

And on that note, have a great weekend!

>>(:::) Meg (:::)<<

P.S. Here’s my two redemption sets at 135lbs. Even here I had to work hard, and again I’m not dipping below parallel in every rep. Glad I stopped when I did!

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