The first serious workout after a vacation is always a mix of enthusiasm and caution.  You want to test things out, see how they feel, but you also have all this extra energy and when you get loosened up, you feel ready to go heavier.

I had been experiencing insomnia ever since I returned.  For 2 nights in a row I couldn’t sleep at night, only in the early hours of the morning; like I would sleep from 6 am til 11 am.  Not acceptable.  I didn’t indulge the coffee habit though, I wanted to finish off a good offcycle.  But by Day 2 I needed a normal sleep, and I needed to be productive at work.  So I bought some Melatonin, 10 mg.  It worked wonders!

Friday morning was my first normal morning in a while, feeling refreshed and solid.  But my sternum felt sore.  Many years ago I sprained the cartilage on my sternum, and only in the past 5 or 6 years did I feel confident in my chest’s ability to press weight again.  But I recognized the signs of soreness.  I think I have been rolling my shoulders back too much lately – I do it to practice form for my rear delt exercises, but I am overdoing it, and it is stretching my sternum out too much too often.

The pain wasn’t bad, just a warning signal.  It’s funny, I have gotten stung going too far in either direction – throw my shoulders back too much and I sprained my sternum.  I started rolling my shoulders forward too often, and years later I sprain the front of my shoulder from overuse.  I start learning to “pack” my shoulders again and I start to feel it in my sternum again…  it is a fine line to walk.

But I otherwise felt fine, took an anti-inflammatory and went to work.  I left work early, came home, had some food, rested up, and prepped for a workout with Leslie.  I wanted to blow this workout away, I was hungry for it.  I took my first scoop of PWO in weeks (hour before the workout), and my first caffeine boost in like 10 days.  The effect was great!  By the time the workout started I was both full of energy and super-upbeat.

I think cycling off caffeine every few months is a great idea.  You might have to adjust the specifics for yourself, but when you feel like your usual caffeine boost isn’t doing it for you any more, don’t up the dosage, just go off caffeine for a week or two, then start back on at a low dosage.  The first few days off caffeine are painful, but in my opinion it’s better than continuing to up the amounts until you are a coffee maniac.  I am going to get back on the cycle by only taking caffeine before workouts, then I might work my way up to one cup of coffee a day even on offdays, do that for a few months, then drop it for a few weeks.  Make the caffeine serve you, you don’t serve the caffeine.

On to the workout!  Upper Body Day, we did some contract renewal, then some chest and back.

Warmup on the elliptical

DB chest press:  warmup, 140×10, 150×8, x10

nice half-smile, jackass

nice half-smile, jackass

Cable Flys:  80×12, 100×12, 120×12

Leslie likes this photo!

Leslie likes this photo!

Band-assisted Widegrip Pullups:  10, 8, 6

the lopside at the bottom of the movement shows off my shoulder sprain

the lopside at the bottom of the movement shows off my shoulder sprain

T-bar Row:  115×15, 140×12, 165×10, x10

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we use the v-bar grip on the bar

we use the v-bar grip on the bar

Widegrip Pulldowns:  200×12, 220×12, 240×12

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cooldown:  a minute on the battle ropes

notes:  I had energy for days!  We were tentative with the weights to see how my sternum felt, but each time Leslie asked me if I wanted to go heavier, I said hell yes!  I know I am capable of more with the chest press, but Leslie promised we could break out the 80 lb dumbbells next time, so I got those 100s in my sights!  Gunnin for that #1 spot!

I much prefer doing flys with the dumbbells over the cables, but this was safer on my sternum, so we chose this route.  It felt pretty good towards the end, so it was the right choice.

My pullups were ok, I think I might have to try doing them more often just for practice.  Not necessarily even a full set, I just need to “grease the groove” a little bit, as Pavel Tsatsouline would say.  It’s a way of encouraging neural adaptation through repetition.

http://www.leanandmuscular.org/greasing-the-groove.php

Now, I don’t think I have the schedule or the facilities to be doing assisted pullups a half dozen times, during a half dozen different breaks over my day, over a half dozen days of the week.  That would be only possible if I could do a regular pullup, hahaha.  My concession is that I will try to throw in a few pullups somewhere each time I show up at the gym.  Cross your fingers!

Overall, a great workout!  I always love upperbody day, but it feels like I smashed this one, so mission accomplished!

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