Day 16 - Sick Day
I am obliterated. Everything has shut down. To drive home how crazy this circuit is, today's post is brought to you by the inner thoughts of Tayler.
Enter Tayler G
I have just completed my first week of a 3 week “execution” phase. This was the beginning of a 12 week, hypertrophy oriented, training program. I am competing in my first physique competition in early May. Following my workout, I start talking to Ben and Dan. Ben is the strength and conditioning coach for the swimming and diving teams, as well as the preceptor for my practicum class. Essentially, I am his intern. Dan is the director of strength and conditioning, as well as a former professor of mine.
I’m not sure what sparked the conversation, but I remember Dan telling me “you have got to put on size, man”. Following this statement, he said that I needed to do “the Husker”. I was brought back to the previous semester, in Dan’s class, where he told us that “the Husker” is an insane training plan used in the off season by the University of Nebraska’s football team. He informed me that during his experience with the husker, he was able to add about 20 lbs of muscle in 3 weeks. This sounded promising, so in my own ignorance, I agreed.
After agreeing to the challenge, Dan repeated the following phrase “Dude you’re going to die. This is going to be awesome”. After receiving this reassurance, I was confident that the Husker would be awesome, and that it would result in my demise.
2/21 Not my day to die
I show up to the weight room, ready for my impending doom, only to get the news that today was my “power day” and that tomorrow’s workout would result in death. Believe it or not, I was actually upset because I was so excited to attack this deathly awesome workout.
The first exercise on this day is the overhead squat. I have very poor shoulder mobility, so I was quickly humbled by this workout. However, the rest of the workout was not too difficult. With that being said, the program does include variations of the Olympic lifts. I do not have much experience with Olympic lifting, but I was excited to start doing them. Olympic weightlifters typically have amazingly developed backs, and I consider my back to be underdeveloped.
2/22 Trial Run
After viewing the husker in its entirety the day before, I was not very intimidated. Three sets of 10, that can’t be too difficult, could it? Before starting, I ask Dan to take me through the process of using the poundage chart. The poundage chart is your reference to decide what weight you will use on the exercises. He told me to take a very conservative estimate of my 1RM squat. I decided to start with 300lbs as my starting point (≈50lbs less than my actual 1RM).
I should start by mentioning that I did not follow protocol exactly due to a misunderstanding. I gave myself a full 80 seconds between sets. The actual demands of the Husker is a minute and 20 seconds to complete both the set as well as the rest before the next set. This means if it takes me 30 seconds to complete a set of ten, I have 50 seconds rest before my next set. Keep this in mind as you read this post. So, because I gave myself extra rest and I used a conservative 1RM I got through the squats without much struggle. Next exercise is the RDL. Let me tell you, if you want to add size and strength to a particular area, incorporating a barbell is the way to go. I was reminded of this on this exercise. The pump in my lower back was pretty sick after my last set. The third exercise is a Barbell Step up. This leads me to my second flaw in executing the husker. Instead of interpreting 3x10 as three sets of ten total reps (5 each leg), I saw 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg. I asked Dan what weight would be appropriate, and after considering my final squat set, he suggested 125, 135, and 145 as my weights for the step up. I cannot describe how hard I tried to convince myself to keep the weight at 135 for my third set; however, Dan’s words resonated with me. If he thinks I should be able to do it, then I need to suck it up and do it. I completed my last set at 145, and it was at this point that I had seen the puddle of sweat on the ground. I hadn’t sweat like this from weight training in quite some time. It was also at this point that I was convinced all the blood in my body decided to migrate to my lower back. Bench press was next. This was exciting because it meant I could lie down. Again, I chose a conservative estimate of my 1 rep max. Bench was not terribly difficult, but I still could not seem to slow down my rate of perspiration or my heart rate. Next was lat pull downs. When training for size it is important to take momentum out of the equation, and isolate the single targeted muscle. On my last set of lat pull downs, I started swinging and using momentum to help me complete the movement. I wrote “cheat” on my paper as a reminder to reduce the weight for the next exposure. Next exercise was push press. This seemed like a cruel joke. Why was this overhead power movement placed at the end of this monster of a workout? Then I remembered this is the Husker. It doesn’t play by the rules. After the push press is when my body started to feel normal again. The last three exercises are seated rows, cable triceps ext, and barbell curls. I recorded my numbers, drank some protein, and went home to shower. Exposure 1 complete.
2/24 Dan joins me in battle
My hamstrings are obliterated. Every other muscle in my body was sore, but they could not compare to the pain in my hammies.
Even though this was a planned off day, I need to include it because it is the true start to my Husker experience. After reading a bodybuilder’s blog depicting his experience with the Husker, Irondan texted me that “he was missing it (the husker)”.
I had just finished watching the Lord of the Rings the fellowship of the ring, so my reply was that he was welcome to join me in battle. I had no idea how this would play out, but I was excited for the opportunity to train with the director of strength & conditioning.
2/25 This is AWESOME!
I arrive at Danimal’s office where he is diligently typing on his computer. He tells me that he “superbeasted” the Husker. Superbeast is the program Dan created to allow paperless, and effortless, programming for the Florida State strength coaches to use for their teams. He also informed me that he did not feel right calling it the Husker and that we shall call it Ragnarok. Ragnarok, to my understanding, is a series of apocalyptic events in Norse mythology. Seems fitting. After seeing the “Day 1” sheet print out, I was more pumped than Dee Brown’s Reeboks in the 91 dunk contest. I mean I’m just a student, but here I am about to train with the Director of Strength & Conditioning. This is AWESOME!
This would have been my third day into Ragnarok, but it makes more sense to start fresh and consider the first two training sessions as “feel out” days. Day 1 and 3 are lighter, lower volume, “power” days. We are allotted longer rest periods, lower reps, and lighter weight. There are two exercises where repetitions are performed to failure, which is fun, but for the most part, this workout is not too tough. I decided to put a barbell on my back for walking lunges to add some intensity. For the past 4 weeks, I had done 400 bodyweight lunges per week, so doing 3x5 bodyweight lunges, just seemed weak.
2/26 And so it begins…
I arrive at the weight room, and see no sign of Dan. I decide to text him. It is at this point I realized how fitting the term Ragnarok is for this program. My text simply said “you Ragnarok?” Not a second after I send the text, Danimal comes bursting through the double doors like a starved lion being let out of his cage straight into a butcher shop. He proceeds to tell me that he is going at this lift all wrong. When I asked why he replied “I AM WAY TOO HYPED FOR THIS!!!”
I was excited, but not nearly as pumped as he was. This was so cool to see. We throw on the Rap Strength Training Playlist on Pandora, hit some warm up sets, and get to work. Squats were fun. RDL’s brought on the crippling lower back pump again, but we managed. It was when we got to step ups that I realized how wrong I did them the time before. Not only did I do double the amount of work, I was stepping completely off with both feet. This makes it much more challenging than if you leave a foot on the step, complete your reps, and then switch. I remember asking Dan if he had heard of a recovery technique I had read in the book Serious Strength Training. The recovery technique was to flex a muscle that you are not currently working between sets. So, if you are doing squats, RDLs, and step ups, like us, if you maximally contract your chest, for example, for a few seconds, it would aid in the recovery of your working muscles (legs, lower back). I think his reply was something along the lines of “you’re talking too much”.
Bench press was next. To my surprise Dan, failed to get all ten reps on his second and third set. How could this be? He is much stronger than me. Dan had told me that day before that he was going to use the weights that I use throughout. My response was really? My weights won’t even be slightly challenging for you. To that, he said that the sheer volume and low rest is what will get him.
He was right. The next exercise was lat pull downs. I am still learning how to efficiently pull with my back, not my arms, so I am pretty limited with the weight that I can use on most pulling exercises. Dan on the other hand was destroying these sets. The weight stack was shaking with every pull. It was impressive to watch.
After watching Dan’s first set of push press I expressed that I thought I did this exercise wrong the first go around because I used a lot more leg drive. Dan replied that was all he had. After the second set, Dan tells me he has to use the restroom. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Part of me wanted to wait for him to do the last set, but when the timer got back around, and he wasn’t back, I decided to finish it out.
The next exercise, the seated row, is where I started losing it mentally. I ended up doing 4 sets because the weight on my first set was off by ten pounds. For some reason, I could not correctly add 45 + 25. Somehow, I was getting 80lbs, not 70. When I finished with rows, I went to triceps pushdown. This exercise uses a weight stack, so I did not have to worry about simple addition. After finishing my last set, Dan returns and tells me that he puked for the first time in his life from training. I told him that was awesome and that I was honored to be a part of this experience. The last exercise was barbell rows. Here is where we find another mental lapse caused by Ragnarok. Dan did a set of curls with 15 lbs loaded on one side and 7.5 lbs on the other. I was glad to see that his math skills were failing him as well.
I want to conclude with the take home quote of this workout. We were finishing up with some shoulder care exercises and Dan says to me “I don’t even want to drink post”. At the time, what he said made perfect sense, but seconds later Dan says wait that’s not what I meant. What he meant to say was that he was so exhausted that he did not want to drink his post workout recovery drink.
The 30 minute nap I had later did not even put a dent into how tired I was. Tired and hungry would be the two words I would use to describe myself the rest of the day.
2/28 Superhero Sunday
Danimal and I have decided on Superhero Sundays, so he came ready in a Batman tee, while I disguised myself as a the long haired, powerlifting, Captain America.
This was our second power day. Nothing crazy, except the look Dan gave me when I told him I was going to load the rear foot elevated split squats.
2/29 Syrup & Peanut Butter
Dan invited me to be a guest speaker with him for an undergraduate exercise science class. We decided that we would lift when the class was finished. I could tell that Dan’s mind was somewhere else. While he was stressing out over our battle with Ragnarok, I was anxious for the speech I was about to give. I’ve spoken in front of people before, but this was a much bigger audience than I was used to.
Before the lift, Dan told me that he adjusted his weight on the squat and bench and that his one goal today was to finish. Great idea. I needed him not only for motivation, but to help me with simple addition as the workout progressed. We also decided to add seated calf raises as a final exercise.
Danimal made it through the workout in its entirety while rocking a crazy high heart rate. The calf raises at the end were more tough than I thought they would be. Squeezing the calf at the top resulted in an immediate cramp. Take note, if you decide to attempt Ragnarok, exercise calf raises with extreme caution.
Following the lift is when things got weird. While drinking my post workout recovery shake, I got a strong scent of maple syrup. I didn’t think much of it other than how awesome it smelled. I hadn’t had any syrup that day, so I figured maybe someone close by was eating pancakes. Then, I smelled it again as I was driving home. Ok I know it wasn’t somebody near me tearing through a short stack, and because I hadn’t had any sort of maple syrup foods in my vehicle, I was convinced my brain was playing tricks on me. I believe it was leading me to sugar. Most of you probably know that during intense resistance training, your body uses stored glycogen for energy, so it would make sense that after a Ragnarok session that my body give its best attempt to get me to refill my glycogen stores by reminding me of the sweet smell of syrup.
While leaving my job as a graduate assistant, I was reminded of two things. The first came from my stomach, signaling that it was time to eat. Not shortly after came a reminder from my brain that I had a jar of peanut butter in my backpack. While it may seem unusual that I would have PB in my backpack, let me remind you of my early morning presentation. I knew I needed sufficient calories before going into Ragnarok, so I brought protein powder, a banana, and PB to snack on before the lift. Ok, back to me being hungry. After twisting off the lid, the intoxicating aroma of peanut butter was indescribable. You know how your brain makes water seem to taste awesome and refreshing after doing yard work or any other activity where you are sweating for a prolonged period of time? Imagine that same thing happening with peanut butter. Oh my goodness. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I texted Dan about it, and we agreed that peanut butter is an absolute necessity when tackling Ragnarok. We are also putting together a list of “symptoms” that make up a Ragnarok flu if you will.
3/3/16 Theacrine struggle is real
Being an intern with the swimming and diving teams at FSU, I get the privilege of opening the weight room. This means that 4 days out of the week I am up at 4:30am. Because I am also a student, it is tough to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. However, I was able to get 8.5 hours of sleep the night before. I should be fresh and ready to go right? WRONG. Ragnarok seems to have some effect on sleeping patterns.
I arrive at Dan’s office and tell him that I just don’t have it in me today. We had split the cost of a 5 gram bag of a stimulant called Theacrine. Theacrine, like caffeine, stimulates the release of dopamine, but it does not have an effect on adenosine receptors in the brain. This is awesome because over time the brain produces more adenosine receptors, and therefore more caffeine is needed to elicit the same results. However, since Theacrine does not play on these receptors, theoretically there is no need for an increased intake.
Dan is so excited to lift. Apparently, he witnessed one of the strength and conditioning coaches destroy his sets of squats yesterday, and that sparked Dan’s eagerness to get back into the gym. I, on the other hand, am struggling. I take some Theacrine and we hit the weights. I think I caught some of Dan’s excitement because after the warm up sets I was ready to go.
Because I was so beat, I was excited to hear the news that on these light power days, we are supposed to go even lighter than what we had done previously. I’m hopeful that a good night sleep will prepare me for tomorrow.
I think the Theacrine just kicked in. Really strange feeling, but I seemed to get an energy surge out of no where. Why couldn’t this have happened four hours earlier?
3/4/16 Unexpected symptom of Ragnarok
I have number 2'd three times today and it is only 10 o'clock. I don’t know how or why but it seems that Ragnarok literally scared it out of me. I got solid rest and ate well, but my guts were twisted. I think this should be added to the list of Ragnarok flu symptoms.
Ok sorry. Back to the training. After the second set of squats, Dan went awole and decided to go heavier than he had originally planned. This was awesome.
RDLs were next, and where I usually get a crippling back pump, today was different. I felt like the weights needed more rest between sets.
Step ups weren’t too difficult, but bench press was different. I managed to complete all sets, but I had to fight. Lat pull downs felt really good. Usually, I can pull the bar all the way to my chest 5 or 6 times and the rest are pulled below my chin. However, today I was able to pull 7 plus reps all the way to my chest. I’m still not crushing it like Dan, but I’m getting better and that’s a good feeling.
During push press was when Ragnarok took its claim on our ability to do math. You have to experience this phenomenon to believe it.
We added forty pounds to the calf raises as well as the addition of toe curling at the end of the movement. If you haven’t done this, please try it, it’s effective.
Following the lift, I had a basketball jones. Against my better judgment, I decided to play. I ended up playing for about an hour and a half.
Later on in the day I ate the biggest omelet of my life. 3 eggs, a cup of egg whites, 1 oz of mozzarella cheese, and 10 oz of ground beef.
So far the Ragnarok flu has caused:
1) Disruption of basic math skills
2) Increased appetite- especially for peanut butter
3) Increased need for sleep
4) Pre-lift GI Distress
3/6/16 Against conventional wisdom
I am back in Canton, Ga for my spring break week. This means I have to Ragnarok on my own. One of my aunt’s has a membership to anytime fitness, and she told me that it would not be a problem to get me in for a training session.
I had to ask Dan for the program, and he sent me the weights that we used for day 3 on the first week. If you remember, we decided to reduce the weight. However, I was feeling good, so against conventional wisdom, I decided to stick with the weights listed. I also weighted the RFEs again.
The session was not difficult. I beat my pushup total by 6 and my inverted row by 7. However, the trouble was in doing it by myself. I am worried about how I am going to get through tomorrow by myself.
More to come...
Thought of the Day:
Milk is a flavor of chocolate and chocolate is a flavor of milk.