Gym Stuff 2017 (Bench Press)

Post 3 of 4. Previous posts: deadlift and overhead press.

The bench press might be my favorite compound lift. It was the first compound lift I started training.

Progress has been slow, but I managed to hit my 2016 goal last week (165 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body weight).


  • I think I graduated up a shirt size around the end of 2014.
  • All of 2015 looks like it was a huge waste of time. I wasn’t consistently on the same program or training schedule so that whole year just looks like it was “maintenance”. Next couple years weren’t awful. Slow but steady.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Deadlift)

Picking up where this post left off…

The deadlift is tied with the squat for my least favorite lift. It’s the lift that I’ve been training for the least amount of time and also train with the least frequency.

These days, I deadlift no more than two sets a week (as per my Greyskull LP program). I am interested in continuing to make progress on this lift but probably won’t increase frequency until I’m ready to move on from Greyskull.

Similar to my overhead press, I just hit my strength goal, today. (255 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body-weight)

Thoughts after visualizing my progress:

  • 2016 didn’t look terrible, but I can see the point at the end of the year where I injured myself deadlifting and it affected my psychologically well into 2017.

    re-enactment of my deadlift form on the day I hurt myself
  • Looks like I was really close to hitting this goal a year earlier. What helped the most between last year and this year was having a gym partner comment on my form (helping me learn to keep my back neutral)
  • 2017 by itself looks crazy. Thanks Greyskull.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Overhead Press)

Last year, I set some weightlifting goals for myself for four compound exercises: bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and squat. These days, I’m hovering right around the goal weights that I set. I thought it would be fun to break down how things are going for each lift, starting with the overhead press. This also gives me a dumb excuse to play with R more.

First, some quick background. I started casually training summer of 2013. I was weak. Between then and the end of the year, I slowly got my lifts up, but I still had a long way to go before I would even be comfortable with telling anyone my numbers.

The period between 2014 and 2016 could best be described as me having “F***arounditis”. I continued to go to the gym in the mornings but would very regularly skip days due to not waking up early enough. If I did make it, I only gave myself 20-30 minutes to get any work in. I’d have spurts of motivation from reading things on /r/fitness or /r/gainit, but never any real consistency. I did make improvements, but it was messy.

At the start of 2016, I signed up for a new gym after a move. This was the start of more consistent training and was the period where I’ve made the most progress. My consistency wasn’t perfect, but it was the best year so far. It was then that I set some strength goals, something I really should have done on my very first day. The goals motivated my consistency and it was the consistency that brought progress.

For goals, I settled on the intermediate column in this website’s list of strength standards. For example as a 150 lbs male, a one rep max of 122 lbs for overhead press would put me into the intermediate column, which is defined as being above the median strength for lifters of my same weight. Not awful and no longer “below average” so that’s good enough for me.

It took me much longer than it should have, but I hit this today (105 lbs × 7 reps at sub 150 lbs body-weight).

Here’s how my progress looked for this lift (from the last couple of years of data). Note that I use an estimated 1 rep max (using Lander’s formula) which uses a weight × reps × some coefficient formula to estimate a 1 rep max.

Some thoughts/observations from this:

  • I’m definitely embarrassed about the lack of consistency before 2016.
  • The increases in the start of 2016 are largely thanks to me half-following a 5×5 lifting program. I say half-following because I was not increasing the weight as regularly as I really should have. For this, I partly blame the gym for not having 2.5 lbs weights for increases (smallest plate they had were 5 lbs plates and full 10 lbs jumps are hard).
  • I started following the Greyskull LP program in the summer of 2017 and I HIGHLY recommend it. One problem with other programs is how discouraging it is to fail a set. Failure means that you must drop the weight and it’ll be weeks until you work back up and get a chance to set a new personal record. Greyskull fixes this by having the final set be an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set. To illustrate, if I fail a lift at 150, I must drop the weight to 135. However, if the last time I was at 135, the best I could do was 5 reps on the last set, I can now strive for 6+ reps to beat my old record. This is a GREAT design addition.
  • Top three tips I wish I could have told myself when I started
    1. Consistency above everything else. Don’t skip sessions and give yourself plenty of time to finish everything.
    2. Pick the right program and follow it as best as you can. Greyskull > 5×5.
    3. (Related to #2) If the program says to increase the weight, do it. I had many sessions where I sat at the same weight for several sessions in a row. This was a mistake because failure is part of the design of each program and the overloading is necessary.

In future posts, I’ll share the graphs of my other three lifts.

Ngoro Ngoro guitar riff transcription

I was dreading trying to figure this out, but it turned out to be pretty easy. This riff is fun because it splits a melody on top + bass on the bottom at the same time. Figuring out a comfortable fingering was the only tough part.

Played on guitar (note: wimpy  tone because it’s recorded via direct input):

For fun, I programmed an approximation of the drums into Guitar Pro and recorded the guitar and a bass guitar on top.

Dumping the childhood video game collection, pt. 4

Goodbye SNES

This one has many memories attached to it. For me, the SNES era marked the moment in time where video games became a part of my self-identity. Video games were my favorite thing in the world. There’s evidence of this in this book project we did in kindergarten:

Dumb kid was me. Favorite game at the rec. center was Captain Commando (1991). The Super Nintendo in the drawing is the same one in the first photograph of the post.

I’ll definitely be sad to be dumping my SNES and all the Super Famicom games I played on it, but I’d much rather have the freed up space. Accessibility isn’t a huge concern for me because many of these games have been re-released for newer consoles, SNES consoles and games are very easy to grab on eBay if I ever change my mind, and this was recently announced.

Favorite childhood memories or stories:

  • I pulled my first all-nighter, ever, on the Christmas of 1992 or 1993 when I received the SNES and Super Mario World as a Christmas gift. I also stopped believing in Santa because I found the receipt for the SNES in the trash can.
  • I went bonkers the first time I saw Primal Rage (1994) in arcades. After all, it was practically Mortal Kombat + claymation dinosaurs. No doubt, this game tried to piggy back off the hype of the Jurassic Park films. With that franchise having new films added to it as of 2015, I feel this game is ripe for a current-gen reboot.
  • I was a huge fan of Mortal Kombat II (1994)‘s fatalities. I purchased gaming magazines to learn the move lists and would keep hand-written notes of hidden move and fatality button combos. I purchased a Mortal Kombat game later as an adult for PS3 and it was interesting to see that the appeal didn’t age well. Having button combos easily accessible oh my smartphone took away the magic and made fatalities feel more like a chore.
  • Instead of a save mechanic, Mega Man 7 (1995) had a password system. You’d be shown a certain combination of icons on a grid at certain points of the game so that you could re-enter that combination to continue progress from that point. I kept precious hand-written notes of these password grids. For some reason, this made the game more fun for me, though I’d bet money that the Mega Man password grid system was just a cheap hack around not being able to save games in the earlier Mega Man games.

Favorite 5 games from this console:

  1. Super Mario World
  2. Super Mario RPG
  3. Mega Man 7
  4. Killer Instinct
  5. Metal Combat (seriously underrated! Light gun + mechs.)

Dumping the childhood video game collection, pt. 3

Goodbye Famicom

Games I owned that are not pictured

  • some super bootlegged 300-games-in-one cartridge I found in the Philippines that had pretty much every classic game

Favorite childhood memories or stories:

  • The pointless microphone attached to Player 2’s controller. You could yell into the microphone and it would come out of the TV. Not sure if any games utilized the microphone, but I just used it to annoy whoever was Player 1.

Favorite 5 games from this console (thank you bootleg cartridge for making this list possible):

  1. Gradius
  2. Bomberman
  3. Excitebike
  4. Balloon Fight
  5. Donkey Kong Jr.

Dumping the childhood video game collection, pt. 2

Goodbye NES

Games I used to own that are not pictured:

  • Mega Man 2
  • Mega Man 4
  • Dr. Mario
  • Werewolf

Favorite childhood memories or stories:

  •  Apparently I cried once because the button combination to slide in Mega Man 4 didn’t carry over to Super Mario Bros. and Mario couldn’t slide
  • During the 1992 presidential election, I wanted Ross Perot to win only because his name reminded me of this guy from Mega Man 4
  • For some reason, I once put scrambled eggs inside my NES and pushed the tray up and down

Favorite 3 games from this console:

  1. Dr. Mario
  2. Mega Man 4
  3. Super Mario Bros. 2