Fitness and everything else

Birthday Back Squats

For the past several years, I’ve been doing challenges for my birthday when it comes up. Normally, I’d do the burpee pull-ups times my age since while the typical birthday burpees from Crossfit suck, I wanted to challenge myself. This year, I decided to mix it up and do something entirely different.

I have been having the goal of age times body weight for my birthday squats for a while. I thought it was more likely than anything that I would chicken out on it before doing it, but I can proudly say that I didn’t.

It took me two attempts to actually do them, though. Yesterday around rep 15 or so in my knee was having a slight pull in it, and it occurred for two reps in a row. I aborted at that time since I figured I was doing something wrong. They felt good, but I would but still guess my knee wasn’t quite lining up or something. I felt I could have finished it, but I probably shouldn’t risk injury. I fucked up knee wouldn’t be much fun. I did the 15ish reps at 186 which was my body weight that morning with ease.

I decided to give it another shot today and dammit my weight was up a pound, so I had to round up to 187 pounds. It’s nice to have the fractional plates! Not so delightful that I gained a pound overnight, too much crappy food and booze yesterday. I only had five hours of sleep on top of that, but I felt surprisingly good this morning.

The back squats themselves actually felt great today. They probably felt even better than yesterday’s attempt. They were constant and solid reps with only one slightly sloppy one. Molly said she didn’t even notice it. I was bouncing out of the hole and got ever so slightly forward on that one rep in the middle.

From the start, I considered each rep to be I would for a heavy single. With that many reps, I knew from experience that they would destroy my body just from doing my twenty rep squats. Forty-six is over twice as many reps, so I didn’t know how shaky I would get.

Let me just put it this way. I have never felt my legs get so shaky while lifting. Towards the end, I didn’t even know if I could settle the shakiness enough to get another rep. I managed to do that, though.

Mentally, it was the hardest workout I think I’ve done. My brain knew my body was more than capable of finishing it out, but my legs were screaming at me to stop and take a break. The burn was real.

I did complete my 46 reps and as bad as I wanted to, I never racked the bar until I was finished with my back squats. It wasn’t easy, but it’s done. It took me about five minutes and thirty seconds give or take a few according to my watch. My heart rate peaked at 176, but there was no rest in it at all. I thought my heart and lungs were going to explode toward the end simultaneously. Even when I was trying to control my breath and set up, I was still supporting the 187 pounds and keeping my legs and core engaged.

After that last rep, I reracked my bar as fast as I could and proceeded to automatically collapse to the floor. It seemed like forever that I laid there, but in reality it was only a minute or two. When I first went to stand up, my legs noped the shit out of that right away.

My knees didn’t twinge one bit today, so I was a little more aggressive with the speed today. Even better than my knees not bothering me is I didn’t feel even the slightest give in my back, and Molly who was watching said it didn’t give in any way. I asked her to call me out if she saw things go south.

I wanted to do this challenge last year, but I wasn’t really in a good place with endurance squatting to do it them, so I think I smartly passed on it. I’m certainly happy I did it this year. I thought to me, it was a very rewarding challenge and I would have been okay with it even if I failed. I pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Maybe if I continue to do well with my strength over the next year, I can go for 225 next July.

I highly recommend this birthday challenge if you’re a decent squatter. Definitely don’t do it if you’re newer to weighted squats or have knee issues or something like that. I thought it was a brutal but rewarding challenge. You can always lower the weight too, like I did. The original version I saw was to squat 315 x your age, but I’m absolutely in no place to do that.