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Display Name Post: Sam Ritchie's (Extra Heavy) MMS Log        (Topic#38034)
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
08-06-22 08:54 AM - Post#920963    

I'm currently on day 10 of my first-ever round of MMS... but let me backfill this log for posterity and context.

I'm 35 years old and have had many athletic phases. From 10 to 22 I competed in flatwater sprint kayaking at the international level, always as a smaller guy (bodyweight under 165) with a very strong upper body and legs so weak that I would cramp doing lunges with 10# dumbbells.

I moved to NYC after graduating college and was horrified to find out how tough it was to exercise in a city. I receded into the weight room and took on the GOMAD diet and 20 rep squat program for something like 8 weeks, working my way from no leg strength up to 265 for 20 at a bodyweight in the mid 170s.

Since then the big phases have been

- ultra distance canoe racing (, 265 miles)
- CrossFit for an intense year in 2012, with an excellent coach that had been one of the top hammer throw athletes in the country back in her heyday
- ultramarathon trail running, racking up maybe 8 100 mile finishes (and a 200 miler!), some pretty fast.

My running body is maybe 155 without any real effort at weight loss, and I sit at 162# when the volume is lower. I've hung on to pretty solid strength over the years with periodic returns to a regular low-rep weight routine.


So why MMS, and why now?

My wife delivered our twin boy and girl this past May, taking any long runs off the table and nuking stretches of sleep longer than 2 hours. I spent a month answering "how are you?" with the usual "oh, you know, it's so hard, sleep sucks," before realizing how boring this was. Wouldn't it be more fun to say, "The twins are awesome, and I'm hitting PRs left and right, packing on muscle and the strongest I've ever been in my life!"?

The kids were sleeping a touch better in mid-June, so I started lifting again in the very early morning, first with a basic 5x5 program, and then plucking workouts from Jocko Willink's "Discipline Equals Freedom" book, along with some "BUDS Prep" sessions from a Stew Smith ( program I had completed back in college.

The Jocko workouts got me back into the high rep squats game, with simple workouts like

- 6 sets of max backsquats at bodyweight, 6 sets max front squat at 1/2 bodyweight,
- 8 sets back, 3 front
- 8 sets front, 3 back

These were HARD, but I was hitting numbers in the high 20s on backsquat for the first few sets, and eventually 150 total reps at bodyweight.

This was all great but I didn't have a structure or longer term plan. I started digging around my library, reading Dan John articles, and re-discovered MMS, with the scary-yet-TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE goal of the 50 rep set at bodyweight.

I read the book and decided to go all in. I had done a month already of high rep squats work, so I decided to start the program on week 3, skipping the "warm up" weeks at the beginning of the program. Maybe dumb, but I figured I could add two more weeks onto the end if it turned out that I had the courage to continue eating at a high level for six weeks (my biggest fear!)

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-06-22 09:48 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 5, 7.27 (day 1)
08-06-22 09:17 AM - Post#920964    

Bodyweight 167

BP: 2-3-5x3 @ 195
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 2-3-5x3@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 65#, 3 rounds of 5@each
Squat: 95x30, 115x30, 135x30


I had no idea how to calibrate the complex; for background, my overhead press has always been my weakest lift, so I decided to go pretty light. I also didn't realize at this point that the complexes are meant to be HARD, so I dogged it a bit.

In the past I've never been able to get a set of 5 presses beyond 120, even when benching in the mid 200s. Lack of overhead flexibility from the old paddling days. THAT SAID... I started playing the violin a year ago, and in late May decided that I was sick of how hard tight shoulders were making it to play well. I've been going HARD on shoulder flexibility for the last month and my shoulder blades can finally slot together. Spoiler alert, this makes a huge difference on presses.

I didn't go too turbo on bench press.

I was calibrated better on the squats from the past month, and decided that I would go a level UP and get the full 30 reps at 135.

These are full depth squats, in flat shoes. I have and love lifting shoes, but have been squatting without them at these high rep sets to make it harder on myself. I get the sense that this would be a bad idea if I were going for a 1 rep max, but I don't feel any stress on my feet, and my flexibility is good enough that I can hang at full depth for a long time.


Obviously this is the hard part! I basically ate constantly for the next three days. PBJ, chicken, veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt, berries, fresh fruit (not much of this), and six eggs and toast each AM. I'll add more detail here when I catch up on these posts.

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-06-22 09:18 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 6 7.30
08-06-22 09:23 AM - Post#920965    

Bodyweight 172.6

BP: 2-3-10@205, 2x2-3-5@210
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 3x2-3-5@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 100#, 3 rounds of 5@each
Squat: 95x10, 115x10, 135x50


I've been eating my mind out for a few days now, with nice results at the scale. I realized that the complexes are supposed to be heavier and bumped the weight up, still cautious as you can see but getting better.

I added a bigger jump in bench press too to try and find where I should be sitting.

I was proud of the squats here, with a full set of 50. All of the longer conditioning workouts I had been doing are helping me not redline too hard on the higher reps. I can't remember exactly but I think I made it to 30 and then finished out in sets of 5 with some breathing in between ("resting" with the bar on my back of course).

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-06-22 09:23 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 7, 8.2
08-06-22 09:33 AM - Post#920966    

Bodyweight 175.1

BP: 2@185, 2@225, 2@255, failed at 275, 1@262.5, 5@225
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 2x2-3-5@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 3 rounds of 5@each: 105, 110, 115
Squat: 95x10, 115x10, 135x10, 185x10, 3x5@205


Phew, eating remains tough but I've kept at it.

I haven't done much benching in years; my lifetime high was 5x5@265 back in college, with a max just shy of 300. I was happy to be able to dial in a probable max at this point, and I'm setting my double weight at 260 for the purposes of the next few workouts.

The complexes were aerobically tough, BUT I didn't feel the usual mobility limitations overhead. INTERESTING! I'll keep bumping this up and see what happens. I love the little tests that show up in this program, sloshing between squats and complexes / bench.

I forgot to note it in the last log entry, but I have been following the squat prescriptions for bigger kids, up at 185-205. This isn't a decision I've fully made, or one that I don't have some fear about... I have been feeling solid at strength endurance, but the program gets HARD and I haven't ever knocked out a set of 50 reps at bodyweight! Everything at the higher weight class has been doable so far, so I've been deferring the decision. The next workout is the crux. Do I attempt 50 at 185 or 205??

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-06-22 09:33 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 8, 8.5
08-06-22 09:47 AM - Post#920967    

Bodyweight 175.4

BP: warmup then 5x2@240
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 2x2-3-5@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 5 rounds of 2@each: 115, 125, 132.5, 140, 145
Squat: 95x10, 135x5, 185x3, 31/19@205


Bodyweight increase is slowing down a bit... I have been keeping up my eating, but maybe not at the insane levels of the first few days? I am constantly full and eating every two hours, but maybe I need to up my game. I did hit 180.5 two nights ago, a lifetime high!

The complex was the big shocker for me. I have never pressed 135, I don't think, or if I have it was desperate. Today, thanks to strength and the new shoulder flexibility, I didn't feel technically different at 145 then at 115... and the 145 presses felt really good, tough in the way that they are SUPPOSED to feel. I am still processing this self-image adjustment. Once I lock in this change I will no longer be able to complain that "my overhead sucks", and will have to buckle down and lift harder.

I got a good night of sleep, the twins actually slept through, and I decided to be brave and see what happens at the bigger weight. I got maybe 10 reps in before starting solid breathing between reps of a breath or two, and then increased to 3-4 breaths above 20 reps. I put the bar down at 31 because my lower back was starting to get really fatigued, just in the rest position at the top.

The cues that have been really helpful for conserving energy have been a huge solid breath and shrug up at the top of the rep to create tension, and then lifting my toes to double check that I'm centered on the way down. I was proud that all of these reps were full depth.

Bench press felt good and doable. This is a more familiar motion from "the old days"... but it is still great to feel strong and get that big bump.

I tried to go up to my 32kg kettlebell for the one arm presses, but it's a bridge too far and I don't have anything in between. I could probably manage a negative here by getting the bell up with two hands.

Weight gain is slowing down, so I'm going to redouble my efforts here. I cooked a bunch of chicken and steak, and have been dutifully popping fish oil and drinking my protein scoops. I feel STRONG! And bigger. My running shorts are very tight (don't worry, I'm not running now :)

Oh, also, as I was sweating over going up in weight classes I was gratified to find this Q&A from Dan, noting that he's almost never had anyone ask about going up in weight. Weirdly this pushed me into doing it.

I'm close to the category boundary so it's not THAT brave. Hey, let me have my confidence booster!!

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-06-22 09:48 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Dan John
Total Posts: 12194
08-06-22 01:55 PM - Post#920975    

These are some good numbers, reports, and results. This is impressive!
Daniel John
Just handing down what I was handed down...

Make a Difference.
Live. Love. Laugh.
Balance work, rest, play and pray (enjoy beauty and solitude)
Sleep soundly. Drink Water. Eat veggies and protein. Walk.
Wear your seat belt. Don’t smoke. Floss your teeth.
Put weights overhead. Pick weights off the floor. Carry weights.
Reread great books. Say thank you

Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 9, 8.8
08-08-22 10:04 AM - Post#921016    

Bodyweight 176.4

BP: warmup then 5x3@240
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 2x2-3-5@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 3 rounds of 2@each: 145
Squat: 95x10, 135x10, 185x10, 205x5, 205x20


I've settled in on some nutritional staples like 6 eggs and toast with cheese, PBJ, roast chicken etc, and I'm using those as the bones of my eating and fitting in cottage cheese, fruits and vegetables and other incidental items around the mains. I can't say I'll miss eating like this when I hit the end of the program but I'm trying not to think of it as a big deal and just shovel in the food.

I tried a can of refried beans yesterday to get some calories, and that is NOT a winning strategy in a marriage.

The babies slept through the night last night!

Workout Notes

The bench press felt tough on each third rep but doable. Shockingly, I had never realized back when I was benching a ton in college how important it was to squeeze my shoulder blades together before unracking the bar. Probably because of the mess of knots under each blade from my paddling career.

Obviously it's a superpower and makes it easy to recharge at the top of a hard rep before descending again. Triples complete!

I still can't press the 32kg kettlebell but I gave it a go then dropped back to my old faithful 24kg.

The complexes felt good at 145 for everything and HARD for the presses. Still, I had good form, just a slow bar ascent on the second rep.

The squats feel solid still. I took a video of the set of 20 at 205. I can't figure out how to embed it but here's the link:

I haven't filmed myself in a long time and this was revealing. Some things I noticed:

  • excuse the shorts, I told my wife these were essential to max out squat performance and now I'm committed.

  • I thought I was keeping my wrists flat but I see that my left wrist has caved in.

  • My hips are coming up before my chest, which would explain why I'm feeling this extra pressure on my lower back at high reps.

  • I thought I was going down farther than I'm seeing here. I can hang out in a deep squat but I bet I'm at the edge of butt wink territory here...

Would love any other tips or corrections. I did some reps at 135 after watching the video and focused on leading up with my chest out of the bottom of the rep. Or maybe what I'm doing is fine and I shouldn't mess with it.

Edited by Sam Ritchie on 08-08-22 10:05 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
Sam Ritchie
Total Posts: 7
Workout 10, 8.11 - GOT IT!
08-11-22 10:57 AM - Post#921107    

Bodyweight 178.2

BP: warmup then 2x2-3-5@240
Bat wing: 24kg in one hand, 16kg in the other, 3 sets with each combo
Press: 2x2-3-5@24kg KB per hand
Bird dog: 3x6 reps, slow
Complex: 5 rounds of 2@each: 145
Squat: 95x10, 135x5, 185x10, 205x50


I got the big set! MAN, that was a tough one. More on that in a moment.

The eating part of this program has felt a lot tougher the past the past few days. I am staying on the path but it's a slog. I'm holding the line until the end, but I found myself letting the chaos of the twins' schedule get in the way of eating, probably on purpose a bit. But I'm still slowly climbing up in weight, so something's sticking.

OH, I watched a strict press technique video that made the very sensible point that you want your hands close enought that your forearms are vertical in the racked position. I had always set up in the clean position. I tried this new position on my "rest day", whoops, and got a 165 pound press, a PR and a bodyweight press at my bodyweight BEFORE starting this program. That doesn't quite count :)

I'm not flexible enough overhead yet and this was a wakeup call to really prioritize the dislocates, which I've done each day since.

Workout Notes

Bench press was hard on the 5 rep set, but felt similar to the 3 rep set last time. I made sure to take a slight rest in the locked out position after reps 2 and 3 in anticipation and this turned out fine.

I still can't one arm press the bigger bell, so stuck with my 24kg. The babies woke up at this point so I brought the bell upstairs and bottle fed the babies between sets.

Complexes were hard but doable with the technique focus on presses of tight butt and head pushed through as early as possible. On the first set I tried to adjust my hands closer, then farther apart for the back squat... NOT a good plan, I think, since it breaks the flow so much.

For the back squats, I tried to absorb my technique points from last time. I stayed centered over my feet and focused on a slight lead with my chest out of the hole (knowing that this would cancel the butt movement vs actually causing me to lead).

On my warmups I brought my hands out an inch or so on each side to take some pressure off of my wrist... but for the big set decided NOT to do this and focused on squeezing my shoulderblades together tightly before racking. I AM SO GLAD I DID THIS.

I engaged in some serious self negotiation. Just get to 30 then re-evaluate. The first 20 reps went about like the previous workout. Then singles with a breath or two up to 27... at this point my lower back was feeling good, thanks to the technique tips. I REALLY focused on getting my hips forward during the "rest", and the bar sunk quite deep into the rack position.

at 31 my back was good, and I wasn't in aerobic distress, so I imagined the shame of writing that in this report and knocked out reps to 35. Well, at that point I had to get to 40. Now my forearms were falling asleep and I had to be quite precise about each rest. At 40 I renegotiated. I could just FINISH this thing out and not wonder anymore... my technique got a little sloppy since I could see the finish and felt an urge to rush reps. I kept it in check; I knew if I slipped deeper into the rack position I might have to quit, so stayed tight there and just dealt with my tingling forearms.

Good full depth the whole way, I'm proud to say... and I got a full dose, racking after 50 and lying down in solid, lovely aerobic distress.

The full set took ~4 minutes!

I'm happy I boosted up to Heavy MMS! I feel a MILD temptation to go up another weight class... but this is probably not helpful for the goals of this program.
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