Since 2016, I’ve been doing the same workout on my birthday each year, which you can see here.
I originally designed it to be a fun test of strength and speed, and a benchmark of whether or not I was getting ‘fitter’ each year.
Well, this is the first year since age 37 that all of my numbers actually went in the opposite direction, and I am still going to make the case that I am fitter today than I was on December 3rd, last year, or any previous year of my life.
First: a workout performed on any given day is a snapshot. Without context of what is happening on that day, or in the days surrounding it, much meaning is lost.
I knew this workout was coming up, of course, and so when I made the decision to embark on a 40 day metabolism reset a few weeks ago, I expected that I would not be able to lift more weight on December 3rd of 2020 than I did on December 3rd of 2019.
And that’s exactly what happened.
You’ll notice that my weight is 14.4 pounds less today than it was last year. Most of that weight was lost in fat, just perhaps 2 pounds or so in muscle. (I’ve been measuring.) I feel fantastic at this weight. I was carrying around ten pounds of fat that I did not need. Also, I look ridiculously good in the mirror, and, my family has noticed.
To get there, as part of this 40-day program I mentioned, I partook in a 5 day fast, and then ten days of a very low calorie diet, eating very little sugar, and doing a lot of yoga and meditation, without lifting weights (at first).
So, I really backed off of my training and eating.
Sometimes, you need to take a few steps backwards in order to go forwards.
Over the next few weeks, I’m adding back in much more food and exercise.
My entire body is rebuilding itself. I will slowly add more muscle while improving my stability, breathing capacity, and flexibility.
For today, yes, I am a little bit ‘weaker’ than I was last December. But that won’t last long.
On top of all that, some other factors include that I was very sore this morning from a dead-lifting circuit on Tuesday, and I have a slight cold.
I went into the garage this morning with the intention of doing this workout no matter what, as best I could, but not with the expectation of, or stupid attachment to, blowing away last year’s numbers.
If I could, I would. But once I got under the bar, I knew where I was at. As you can see in the notes, I didn’t even really try to press it hard with multiple attempts on the max lifts.
What would have been the point?
This brings me to perhaps the most important point when it comes to strength training: mindset.
In previous years, I mentally invested a lot of time and energy, inside of my head, whether for better or worse, into ‘beating’ my old numbers.
I prepped myself mentally to do so for months prior to December, and I trained myself up for it.
I did none of that this year. I let it go.
It was not the right time for me to press hard. To do otherwise would have been foolish, and probably would have gotten myself injured.
I walked out of the garage feeling good about myself, not badly. And I ended each big lift on a failed rep – I NEVER do that. I always back down the weights after a failed rep, which doesn’t happen often, and then lift one more rep to success, so as not to end on a ‘failure’.
But today’s birthday workout was is no way a failure.
It was a physical and mental check in with myself.
In either 3 or 6 months, I’ll do it again with more intensity.
In 12 months, watch out. I’ll be dangerous at 42.
Posts about this workout from previous years are here: