No such luck. After 2 failed attempts to complete Week 4 Column 3, I was still falling 10 short on the last set. With others catching up fast, I had to admit defeat, swallow my pride, and drop down to column 2 or be stuck there for another week.
This was much better. I was finally making progress again, and the last set of each day was still tough, but achievable. Once I battled through the last set on day 3 with triceps pumped and pecs a-burnin' (the last 5 or so were just... NASTY!) it was time for an exhaustion test to determine which column to start on for Week 5.
I was ready for this, dammit. All the hard work on week 4 should mean that I'd be racing away, right? Must be good for at least 15 more this time round, surely? Right? Riiiiiiiight?
Wrong. After leaving a completely blank rest day in between, I managed a measly 40. That's only five more than I could do at the start. FIVE? FIVE?? Nooooooooo! You're kidding me! All that work just for an extra FIVE??
Well, it's not so bad, I guess. It still puts me right on the cusp between columns 2 and 3 for week 5, so my self-satisfied feelgood factor (and my fragile masculine ego) isn't completely crushed.
I'd been eyeing up week 5 for a long time, in much the same way as people who walk to the North Pole like to keep an eye on polar bears that are hovering just out of range. It looked hard. Even the programme itself says, at the end:
Week 5 was a tough one, and if you've made it this far, you're getting close to reaching your goal.
Well, having tackled Week 5, Day 1, Column 2 last night, I can confidently say, without a shadow of a doubt - it's brutal!. I could feel the lactic acid kicking into my triceps and pecs earlier and earlier with each set. I needed 35 on the last set to call it complete, and by 25 I was shaking, grimacing, grunting, howling and getting slower and slower. I just about did it, but by God it was close. I took solace in the words of Tim Ferris in The 4Hr Body when describing his preferred strength training regime (one set to complete failure):
To Failure doesn't mean giving up at your first moderately-hard rep. It means pushing like there's a gun to your head.
According to Tim, it's the last rep that makes all the difference - that last rep that you can't complete no matter how hard you push, THAT's the one that triggers your body's muscle growth response. Every rep leading up to that should just be considered a warmup for it.
Kind of makes sense. But my GOD it hurts! :)
I also noticed a couple of things that I need to keep an eye on:
- My right wrist has been getting more and more painful as the training goes on
- As I tire, my dominant right shoulder tries to compensate for the weaker left side, and I end up leaning over to the left with my right shoulder higher. I should probably do some work to correct that imbalance
I must say, though, that it's having a noticeable effect on my body composition. Having lost so much weight in January (12Kg in 2 weeks) when I got Giardia in Nepal, and my body started to digest its own muscle (see before and after shots - check out the left upper arm skinniness!) it's great to have some definition back again. I have pecs again! And Lise's verdict ?
(with a coy grin)
Yeah, it hasn't gone unnoticed...