Calvert and Milo Barbell

The wisdom of @T3hPwnisher mixed with the eclectic ramblings of @LoRez make this log really fun to read.


W15D2 - [Much] Higher Stress - DL

Foam roller angel things. No weight, just let my arms stretch.

Main Work
17" Axle Rack Pulls (88%): 405# x 3 x 5 ← 405 is a PR
Press (69%): 90# x 7 x 5
17" Axle Rack Pulls: 405# x 5, 5, 4

Accessory Work
Constant Tension Press: 65# x 3 x 18

Supplemental Core Work
Roman Column: 8# x 6
H2H KB Swings: 90# x 32 (16 each hand)


  • biggest training day yet. 13 work sets, 14,895 pounds. Second biggest was 12,755. So a bit more.

  • notable deadlift PR. First time lifting 405, from any height. And then did 29 reps…

  • this is the first time a high volume day happened on the top intensity day of the cycle.

  • last two sets started wearing me down, believe it or not. Decided to skip the last rep after a rough start.

  • almost skipped the swings, but I’m glad I didn’t. Was a nice tonic after everything. (I confess I skipped them last session.)

  • interspersed this all with gardening and yard work. Lots to get done before vacation.

These constant tension presses seem to be ok aesthetically too.


I’ve noticed this before.
Personally I cant just drop into or out of the headspace required for a good lift.
Something like pushups or pullups, sure, but heavy pulling or overhead work is not something I can do casually.

Dan John talks about tension and arousal for performing different lifts and I find it true for me.

If it works for you obviously I’m not arguing against it.

To cut to the chase: that mostly comes down to lots practice and mental/emotional control.

There’s a couple things at play.

The first is a matter of logistics. It takes time for the body to recover between heavier sets. I don’t know the mechanics, except that it’s a mix of replenishing glycogen, clearing metabolites and neural effects. The heavier the set, the longer the rest needs to be to perform well.

The better you’re able to perform per set, the more benefit you’ll get out it. Many top coaches and athletes recommend longer rest times, if you can afford it.

That said, shorter rest times can help build work capacity, but at the expense of performance. Work capacity can be built in other ways. Sort of like how you can split deadlifting into: deadlift with straps + grip work, instead of letting your grip affect things.

For me, when I’m lifting something above 85%, I’ve started targeting a rest time of at least 7 minutes. That takes awhile, and I’m otherwise sitting around or idle, so I just intersperse it with other things.

With a home gym, and a home office, and, well, home maintenance stuff, it works out.

The second part is the “arousal” bit.

This is where it comes down to practice and experience.

At a hyped up level emotional arousal, I can lift more, but I don’t have as much control. Reps become sloppier and fall out of any groove. More practice in a relaxed state builds consistent motor patterns, so that they fall into place when in a more aroused state.

I played and performed piano throughout my childhood and high-school years. (Was good enough to take my life path in that direction, but chose computers.) Performances were always nerve wracking. A lot of drilling the most technically difficult parts prevented my mind/emotions from getting the best of me. Same idea.

There’s some training precedents too.

Long long ago, I used some Bulgarian-ish training ideas. One of the most essential elements is the “everyday max”. An unaroused max that you should be capable of hitting any day. Some days you’re feeling better and that number is higher, some days it’s lower, but the mental and emotional effort is minimal. It becomes a reflection of the physical performance only.

Any extra arousal does a few “bad” things. One is that it taxes your recovery capacity both physically and mental/emotionally. If both of those aren’t available by the next set – or next session – your performance becomes really inconsistent.

Another is that it can keep you from developing technical proficiency, because your body shifts more toward gross motor skills and away from finer level of control. Each set is different from the last, your setup is inconsistent, etc.

Training-wise, I also have spent a lot of time running Pavel’s Power to the People. I did the same lifts 5-7 days a week, so it just became work rather than making it an event. And he doesn’t recommend warm up sets. You go straight into the work set. So lots of practice just going straight to the work.

I think there’s a final element to this, which is that I’m doing 5s. Singles, doubles, and triples can be more demanding. On the opposite end of the spectrum, high-rep sets are demanding in a different way. 5s are just sort of a baseline level of work.

So, when I have 13 work sets that I get through while doing other things, there’s not a lot of arousal involved. Strap/wrap up, get into a good starting position, and lift. Then go back to whatever else I was doing.

I think I expounded that enough, but just wanted to point this out, because it’s notably different.

Before Saturday, I’d never lifted 405 for even a single. The first time I lifted 405 was for 6 sets of 5. (Well, 5x5 then a set of 4.)

I also did it without any warmup sets. ← this is probably the strangest thing for most people

I did a couple bird dogs, but that was it.

I said this in the broscience thread, but I’m not really sure warmups are necessary if you’re training the lift with high enough frequency. Even if the weight is heavy. I think 405x5@146 is heavy enough to validate the idea. I don’t think it’s just a matter of being lucky.


It’s a mighty impressive factor 405/146 = 2.8. Dang!


I’m on vacation until after the 4th. Was hoping to get another day of lifting in before we left, but too much stuff to do.

Food has been good so far.

Barbecue last night. Brisket, pulled pork, and a “texas twinkie”: jalapeño stuffed with cheese and brisket, then wrapped in bacon.

Leftover bbq and whole milk for breakfast. Shrimp mala soup for lunch. That was spicy. You know the Thai restaurant that everyone knows for being the spiciest? Take their hottest “Thai spicy” heat level… and double it. Took my time with that one.

Then Peking duck, lobster, and pea tips for dinner.


@T3hPwnisher’s egg and octopus meal reminded me of the best octopus I ever had.

It was in Porto, Portugal, and it was sold as either a half or whole octopus. Cooked in a wine broth with vegetables. Incredibly tender and flavorful.


Welfare check. You doin’ ok dude?

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@T3hPwnisher @throwawayfitness

Yeah, I’m all right. Back from vacation, but pretty busy with life stuff. Quick update while I’m in a meeting involving stuff I don’t understand.

School is out so summer break/camps for one kid, with the respective new-environment, new-people stress. Also readjusting to post-vacation life. Lots of volatility at home: hair trigger tantrums. We’re working on that. Some difficult parenting.

At work, I was moved to a new team (again) while I was on vacation. I’m the tech lead for the newly-formed team (which is cool), but I don’t know the technology and nobody on the team does, so just trying to sort a bunch of stuff out. Lots of onboarding and learning.

Outside of that, I’m trying out some new productivity tools and process stuff. I feel like I’m starting to get some aspects of my life more under control. I’ve been kind of just floating along for awhile. A good change.

It also means I’m doing all these small checklist items I’ve been neglecting for awhile.

So pretty time constrained, but maybe a bit mentally clearer than I’ve been for awhile.

Training. I’m going to be super-minimalist for a bit with single lift training. Press, and only the press. Probably stick with what I was doing with the Russian influenced linear progression cycles. Just drop the deadlift and all accessory work.

Maintenance is the best I actually expect from that.

I’m also going to put some time toward the baguazhang coursework. This is woo-woo, but this particular take/school is focused more on the self-mastery and mental/spiritual/esoteric side, rather than performance or fighting. Not that those can’t extend from it; it’s the same art, just a different focus.

Anyway, that will require daily work, but I probably won’t put much more than 20 minutes a day toward it for awhile.

I guess final note on diet stuff. I’m back to eating “normally” so that’s an ok mental shift. Was a little concerned about getting stuck in that hyperfocused measure/track/review cycle, but I’m past that.

When I get a chance, I’m going to look through the Jamie Lewis “stewroids” recipes and see what I want to try out. There was a huge breadth of content in that book, but these recipes are one of the most actionable takeaways.

(That was not an AI generated post, but the way it hit the main points kind of felt like it.)


W20D1 - Lower Stress

Press (65%?) - 85# x 5 x 6


  • That’s basically the gist of my workouts for the next bit. One lift.
  • I’m weaker, as expected.
    • 65% is based off a 130# 1RM
    • My fastest rep in all these sets put me at a 110# 1RM right now.
  • Most of my joints felt pretty good after the layoff. Was still having some issues with the left elbow, and some minor issues with the right knee (noticeable on subway stairs, especially.)
  • Left low back was starting to feel weird by set 3. Something to watch out for.

This is the upcoming plan. Cycle may be cut early, since this is all based off that estimated 130# 1RM.

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Still alive. Still excessively busy. Just checking in.