One month with no squats and I actually thought I would walk in to my sets of 8 and go 150. My new max, as of the last time I squatted, is 200, so that’s reasonable right?
That just shows how much I still have to learn. A full month — Nov 10 to Dec 10 — without squatting is not a small matter.
Three warmup sets with just the bar and I added 50, like I always do, and was stunned at how hard 8 at 95 pounds was. Didn’t I do 30+ in a row at 95 just a few weeks ago — for FUN? A set there and I added 20. 115 pounds. It was shockingly hard. I can’t put my finger on whether it was that it felt heavy, or whether it was hard cardio-wise, because I was breathing like I’d been for a sprint, but either way it was incredibly humbling. Putting on my hoodie that morning I’d found the champagne cork from the bottle I’d opened to celebrate my 200lb squat the very last time I squatted, and here I was grinding through 115 pounds???
“You’ve got to forget about the numbers,” Ben said, as usual reading my mind — or my crestfallen face. He had warned me before I left it would take time to come back from being off. But hearing that and feeling it are very different. I glared at the rinky weights on the bar. “How much should I do for my actual sets?” I asked. “Maybe that,” he said. I couldn’t. My pride wouldn’t let me. I can squat 200 pounds, dammit, and although that attitude isn’t going to get me anywhere, I was mad at my body for betraying me, and wanted to overcome it. “I can do a little more,” I said. Seeing how stubborn I was prepared to be, Ben shrugged. “Add 2 1/2s,” he said. That was almost as bad as nothing, but I did what he said.
I laboriously made my way through three sets, having to sit down to catch my breath after three. This was mortifying. Susan came in to find me on a box, head in my hands, breathing heavy. I was glad my friend was there to support me — it’s not been a good week — but embarrassed for her to look at the bar and look at me. She’d made great strides while I was gone and I’m thrilled for her, but I hated for her to see me looking weak. But having her there for my last set helped, knowing she wanted me to make it.
I feel like I could write a novel in the time it takes to do a set 0f 8. I like threes. Fives I can deal with. Eight takes an eternity. My mind wanders, I think about other stuff, I get discouraged halfway through that I’m only halfway done. My new battle will be that this training phase is all about high reps. For now, my lovely big max numbers are meaningless. We’re working on building muscle, so reps it is. And as hard as it will be, I will do my best to forget about the numbers. (But only for now.)