Strength Wednesday 12/19/12

photo –

In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

The holidays are in full swing…

I’m not even pretending to be worrying about Whole30 guidelines right now, and it feels luxuriously wonderful. I’m still eating clean at the meals I make at home, but I just got back from lunch where I ate a big ol’ lamb burger (no bun) with a side of collard greens and a pile of fries. My own order of french fries! And they were damn good.

But while I’m enjoying a few treats (ahem… bites of grain-free fruitcake based on my dad’s legendary recipe), I’m not abandoning all good sense. Meditation, kundalini yoga, running/walking, and strength training are non-negotiable. They’re on the calendar, and they’re the tent posts of normalcy in my holiday mania. (‘Cause I’m making lasagna on Friday and cookies on Saturday. Avert your eyes.)

In related news, the ever-fabulous Holly of Holly Would If She Could is doing a Whole30 in January, and I’m in. Visit her site if you want to commit, too. It’s going to be the biggest, best ever Whole30 yet.

Oh! I should also mention: I got a PR today! (I can only attribute it to the fruitcake. Clearly, there is no other explanation.)

5:00 treadmill

3 rounds:
11 air squats
11 pushups
11 rotations

static squat hold/ankle stretch
cat-cow, downward dog
quad stretch
hip & shoulder mobility


5 @ 75% of max =135#
3@ 85% of max = 150#
max reps @ 95% of max = 170# – I did 4.
I really wanted to get 5 reps, but I could feel that my core was fatigued. If I got that last one off the floor, it would not have been a Good One, so I stopped. But… 170 is more than bodyweight, so that’s fun.

Overhead Press:
5 @ 75% of max =60#
3@ 85% of max = 70#
max reps @ 95% of max = 80# – I did 4.
WOOT! In November, I eked out 3 reps at 80#. Today is the first time EVER that I pushed 80# four times. I’m pleased. I might have, on the spot, made up a “I got 4 reps at 80 pounds” dance.


My cashout was thinking about breakfast, then coming home and eating it. In fact, I think I looked like the puppy below while I ate my chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

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  • NJ Paleo says:

    Nice job on the PR today! Of course it was the fruitcake! Yes, this is the season where a lot of us are a lot more lax about what we stuff our faces with. And that’s OK for most of us. I am also planning to do Whole30 for the first time in January, and I bought the Wendler 5-3-1 book and will start that in January after I buy my big-girl barbell set (I have a crappy 110 lb set, not enough for my current deadlift capacity). Love reading how your training is going! Woo hoo!

  • You mention fabulous grain-free fruitcake, but no recipe?! Im still searching for an edible fruitcake – haven’t found one yet.

  • Amy says:

    Did you say fruitcake? Have a recipe, by chance? I LOVE fruitcake!

  • Mel says:

    Here’s the deal on the fruitcake: I have my dad’s AWESOME original recipe. It’s loaded with flour and dried fruit and vegetable shortening, and it tastes amazingly good, but it’s a poison bomb.

    I got a bee in my bonnet that I could make it with almond flour and coconut flour instead of wheat flour, and I used ghee instead of veg shortening. I kept all the sugar-laden dried fruit but cut the sugar and honey in half. It came out *pretty* good, but not perfect. It got pretty brown around the edges, and when I slice it, it crumbles. It doesn’t TASTE dry, but it’s too crumbly to cut. Grrrr. I need to tinker with it more, and that’s going to happen next year. So… if you want to give it a go, knowing it’s not perfect (nor 100% approved by me), I’d be glad to share. Lemme know what you think.

    • amanda j says:

      yes, please! I’d love the crumbly and so-not-perfect fruit cake recipe 🙂

      • Mel says:

        Ok! Here it is. If you want to experiment, when I make it again, I’m going to add another egg and reduce the baking time to 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you follow the instructions below, it will taste good, but might be crumbly and unable to be cut into slices.

        1/4 cup + 2 T coconut flour, for dredging
        1 1/2 lbs. mixed candied fruit
        1/2 lb. chopped dates
        1/2 lb. raisins
        1/4 lb. walnuts, chopped
        1/4 lb. pecans, chopped
        1 cup ghee
        1/4 cup sugar
        1/4 cup honey
        6 eggs @ room temperature
        3/4 cup almond flour
        1/4 cup + 2 T coconut flour
        1 t salt
        1 t baking powder
        1 t allspice
        1/2 t nutmeg
        1/2 t cloves
        1/4 cup orange juice

        Toss fruit and nuts with coconut flour. Set aside.

        Cream ghee and sugar until fluffy. Add honey and eggs; beat again for 2-3 minutes.

        Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and OJ to the mixing bowl at little at a time, mixing and scraping down after each addition.

        Add the fruit and nuts; mix well.

        Spoon into two greased loaf pans. Bake 3 hours at 250F.

  • Walker says:

    Congrats on the PR!! I’ve seen some other folks (myself included) hit new numbers in the past couple weeks and I’m convinced the occasional dive into a fruitcake (or for me – a sudden daily craving for whole milk lattes!?) has jarred the system somehow and primed it for improvements! (Ok, so I came up with this theory with a fellow coach as we were polishing off a bottle of wine, but there might just be something to it!)

    • Mel says:

      I like the way you think, Walker 😉

      And can I just say: I miss doing strength training with you. You were such a great partner in crime!

  • Tom R says:

    I recall the 80# fail from August. Stoked to see you are doing well. I’m actually up to knee pushups and light rowing on my right arm rehab. I could maybe do 80# but it would be 70# in the left and 10# in the right.

    • Mel says:

      It felt pretty great! I was thinking, “If I can just get one, that will be OK.” Then I got 4, which ruled.

      Congrats on working the pushups. If it’s any consolation, I’m trying to regain my pushup prowess and am also back to knee pushups because I want to do them with full range of motion before I graduate to toes. Not fun, but it feels like work, so that’s good.

      Wishing you fast rehab!

  • randb says:

    Based on monitoring your workouts for several months, I’m planning to start Wendler 5/3/1 first week of January, in addition to my normal Crossfit workouts. Worked it out with my Crossfit Gym to lift heavy during one of their class times. Exciting, especially for a dude turning 60 next month. Lost 40 lbs this year using the old fashioned methods of diet and exercise. Started whole30 in September with my Crossfit buddy. We lost weight, gained muscle, lost sinus problems, improved skin conditions, and, generally did so well with whole30 that we extended it to a whole60, which finished the day before Thanksgiving. Haven’t strayed far from whole30 with the exceptions of the occasional adult beverage, key lime pie, and ice cream. Will probably do another whole30 in January. My sinuses have never been clearer. Got another 40 lbs to lose in the new year. Prescriptions go in the trash after that. Doctor is ecstatic. Don’t wonder if you should whole30, just do it. Cheers!

    • Mel says:

      I agree 100% with your encouragement about the Whole30 — congratulations to you on all your success!

      Have fun with Wendler! The thing I really like about it is that it removes the guess work — “How much should I put on now?!” — and allows me to just keep making steady strength gains.

  • I like how you are letting yourself enjoy the holidays but still sticking to your routine!

  • Cathy M says:

    I had planned on doing a Whole 30 in January anyway (my first), so I’m in! As long as I can have chocolate chili, how bad can it be?!

    Thanks for the giggle over the puppy video. Perfect little comic relief in the middle of the workday.

  • Stompy says:

    I need to look into Wendler 5/3/1. My fave part of going to my crossfit box is before (almost) every wod we focus on lifting. Last night I back squatted 100#! Barbells still scare me, but I feel so badass afterward.