Where Strength and Size are the only goals

Archive for September, 2012

Sunday 30th September 2012

I’ve had to change my training days around a bit to fit in with work etc, so today I just did a few lifts to fill in a gap and will do my planned session on Tuesday. Revisited the hack squat today and it felt much better so I tried a widowmaker to see how it felt (usually do them on leg press, but it’s getting to a stage where it feels uncomfortable due to my knees/thighs driving into my body at the bottom, and the abdominal pressure is causing a little niggle where I broke my rib last year). Well, the DOM’s kicked in almost straight away! and at the stage of writing this approx 3 hours after session, my quads are killing me! Oh dear .. and I’ve got a Spin class to teach tomorrow at 7am – that’s going to be fun!

Press 70kg x5x5x6 – went for the 7 but it wasn’t going to happen so didn’t over do it!

Face pulls (level 8) x15x15 – I’ve really got to find out what the weight measurements are! however the way I see it, as long as I increase reps/level used then it’s an improvement whatever the weight is!

Weighted dips 21.25kg x12x10x7x6 – hit the same weight as last time, but less rest (around 60s)

Hack squat 90kg (80kg on machine and I’ve been told sled is worth 10kg so I’m going with it for now!) x20

Friday 28th September 2012

A tough session this morning, legs and lower back are sore from yesterdays 2 hours of Spin 😦 Making more effort to stretch hip flexors as I’m sure they’re getting tighter every class! Deadlift form seems to have gone all over the place lately so I’m going to take a big re-set next session and really try and get my glutes/hammies working more on the pull. I’m definitely ‘squatting’ the weight up with my quads rather than pulling it. Ah well, Technique first and all that – the hip flexors are not helping!

Press 67.5kg x5x5x7 – definitely getting the hang of the new wrist position, felt stronger today than last session.

Extended chin set – 8,4,4,2 and 7,4,4,3

Weighted dips 21.25kg x12x9x7x6

Romanian Deadlift 135kg x5x5 – not going for max reps on these, just trying to get a good stretch and use posterior chain more to lift.

Deadlift 147.5kg x4 – put the bar down after 4 as I’m really not happy with how I’m pulling at the moment, going to drop to 120kg next session and focus on nailing it!

Are your calves Hench enough?

According to bodybuilding standards, the calves should be the same width as the arms. Are yours? Do you give them the same amount of training? probably not! As they tend to remain hidden most of the time it is easy to forget them, but who remembers when Arnold steps out of the car in the movie ‘Twins’? .. Before you’d seen any more you knew this guy was going to be Hench! Having powerful looking calves makes a statement, whereas nothing looks less Hench than skinny little ankles and calves poking out of shorts!

The calves are notoriously hard to develop, most people hit them with a ton of volume to little or no avail. Yet again, it seems little to no results don’t seem to count for anything and people keep on plugging away .. Well, I can certainly advocate the Doggcrapp method, I’ve used it myself and it works. If you want to bring your calves up to standard try these out once to twice a week at the end of a session.

Single set of calf raises 12-15 reps (on a leg press, standing smith machine calf raise or any variation that gives a full stretch at the bottom. Aim for a 10-20 second negative (lowering) and a 10-20 second hold in the full stretched bottom position, then explode as quickly as possible back to the top. Be prepared to have your pain threshold tested!!

Tuesday 25th September 2012

Legs a little sore from yesterdays 7am Spin class – eurgh! Far too early to be doing that sort of thing! Ah well, it puts money in the bank.

Bench 112.5kg x5x5x6 – Still keeping the reps more controlled, no bounce off chest. It’s definitely harder out of the bottom, but I’m feeling stronger for it.

DB Hammers 17.5kg x15x11 – these are getting sloppy, too much swing so I’m going to swap out for a different curl variation next session.

Yates row 95kg x10x9x7

Squat 135kg x5x5x10 – took an early re-set on these due to my legs being sore from spin and I’ve been going too low and losing tension in the bottom so again working on technique. Filmed from the side today to check depth as it’s hard to tell from previous angle. Looks like I’m shooting the hips back a little at the bottom so going to work on that.

Got another class tonight – core and stretch so going to hammer my abs as much as I can whilst teaching and use the stretch element to get at my hip flexors!

Sunday 23rd September 2012

More focus on technique again today, also tried out the Hack Squat machine today, but after a few warm up sets jacked it in. I really don’t like the feel of this particular one, was an odd position and could feel too much pressure on my knees. Maybe I’m using it wrong but I can’t see how! Warmed up with 3 rounds of  inc bench, chins, rev crunches on incline bench and pullthroughs as usual.

Inc Bench 92.5kg x5x5x7 – kept it tight with no bouncing off chest, butt came off bench on last rep though, probably should have left it at 6 instead!

Kroc rows 40kg x20

DB flyes 17.5kg x11x8x5x4

Cable pullover (10) x12x9x7x5

45 degree leg press 260kg x20 – really trying hard to keep my butt down, getting harder to do as the weight goes up!

Why I love Doggcrapp .. !

Well at least that’s his internet nickname! It is also known as DC Training to most –  Dante Trudel has trained many bodybuilders and has a distinct knack for getting people into the 300lb category. His methods are extreme and sometimes controversial, but they work! Now I’m not saying I want to be 300lb, or a bodybuilder, but his basic principles can be applied to anyone – genetic potential and steroids aside, if you want to be the biggest you can naturally be, his methodology still stands. Here are just two of his excerpts:

“Training is all about adaptation. In simple terms you lift a weight and your muscle has one of 2 choices, either tear completely under the load (which is incredibly rare and what we don’t want) or the muscle lifts the weight and protects itself by remodeling and getting bigger to protect itself against the load (next time). If the weight gets heavier, the muscle has to again remodel and get bigger again to handle it. You can superset, superslow, giant set, pre exhaust all day long but the infinite adaption is load—meaning heavier and heavier weights is the only infinite thing you can do in your training. Intensity is finite. Volume is finite (or infinite if you want to do 9000 sets per bodypart)…everything else is finite. The Load is infinite and heavier and heavier weights used (I DON’T GIVE A CRAP WHAT SOME BUCK 58 POUND WRITER FROM FLEX MAGAZINE SAYS) will make the biggest bodybuilder (add high protein, glutamine and drugs to the mix and you have one large person).”

“No matter what the method someone uses to gain super strength gains-it’s imperative they do so. Again if you put someone out on a deserted island with 135LBS of weights he can superset, giant set, high rep, superslow etc etc squats, deadlifts and benches to his hearts delight…the sad story is his gains will quickly come to a halt because his limiting factor is the amount of strength he will gain. He has 135LBS to work with. You take that same guy on a deserted island and give him squats deadlifts, and benches and an unlimited weight supply that he constantly pushes, in 5 years I’ll show you a big Gilligan” – Dante Trudel

Notice I haven’t mentioned his actual programming, (I’ve tried it myself and it’s savage) I just wanted to illustrate the idea that it doesn’t matter what the programming is, it’s the progression that counts. If you want to be stronger, you need to need to add weight/reps every workout and give your body a reason to be! Whether you want to be a powerlifter, a bodybuilder or just a beast, the general principle remains. Get stronger to get bigger!

Thursday 20th September 2012

More technique work on my lifts – tried out a new grip on my overhead press today. As opposed to holding the bar in a ‘rack’ position (i.e. after the catch in a clean or a front squat), tried Johnny Pain’s version where the wrists are locked. After several warm-up sets, I knew this was a much more difficult way of pressing so had to take a re-set from the last time I pressed. Started with 65kg to see how it went and it certainly feels like more shoulder work is being done! More work on my deadlift as well, really trying to pull more with my hamstrings and glutes and less with my quads as before. Again, even though I’ve taken a re-set, the bar still feels really heavy so I know I must be getting it right!

As always, warming up before my session with chins, pull-throughs and hanging knee raises. I’ve also started to log my conditioning work as a friend asked me if I did any as it wasn’t on my blog! At the moment I’m teaching a lot of fitness classes so these are my workouts!

Press 65kg x5x5x6 – with new wrists locked grip and keeping upper body tight as possible at the bottom of the lift. No more bouncing off the collarbone!

Extended chin set – 7,3,3,3 and 6,3,3,2

Weighted dips 21kg x12x9x7x6

Romanian deadlift 132.5kg x5x5 – these are really starting to tax my grip after the chins, so sticking with them! they also really help me to focus on my glutes/hams when deadlifting

Deadlift 145kg x7 – Although I’ve taken a re-set, my form is improving and so these feel harder than before as I’m using the long-ignored muscles I’m supposed to!

Got 2 hours of spin to teach tonight so going to have to give the hip flexors some serious stretching later!


Something different .. ?

When was the last time you tried something different in your workout? A friend and mentor of mine wrote this article for T-nation last year where he suggests using a sandbag to break through plateau’s, improve grip and core strength, stabilise shoulders and as an absolutely killer conditioning tool!

A worthy read for anyone looking to get stronger, I would also recommend his book, hence advertising it on my site! Here Matt not only gives clear and concise instruction and programming, but also how to make your own sandbags at a fraction of the price! For a more specific guide he has also co-written a guide for MMA & combat sports.

To be truly Hench, it is not only about what you can do in the gym, but also how you can apply it to everyday life. What is the use of being big and strong if it’s only in a gym with a barbell/dumbbell? If your walking past someone struggling to lift something and they see this big guy walk past so ask you for help, do you want to be able to just heave it up with apparent ease to demonstrate your Henchness, or try and help, but struggle to hold it? Give a sandbag workout a try and be prepared to ache in places your not used to! You can get Matt’s books here.

On the book subject, ‘hench’ is now completely finished, and I’m now taking steps to get it published. I’ll keep you updated 😉


Tuesday 18th September 2012

After watching some of my videos back, I’m really trying to hone in on my technique in order to get maximum benefit from each particular lift. Took a re-set on my Bench Press as I’ve definitely been ‘bouncing’ it off my chest . Started doing Yates rows again, so trying to get a feel for them in my Lats as opposed to a kind of power shrug that most do! I was watching some clips of Dorian Yates training yesterday, although I agree he’s a beast! I’m not going to start bodybuilding or anything. His philosophies on intensity however are inspiring, I like the fact that he only does one working set of each lift, but at maximum intensity (for bodybuilding purposes he usually throws in some partner assisted negatives on the end or some partials as well).

Bench 110kg x5x5x6

DB Hammer curls 17.5kg x14x11

Yates row 90kg x10x8x8

Squat 152.5kg x3x2x5 – Bar slipped a little on second set so just racked it as it felt unstable!

Build a bigger back with Yates rows

You wouldn’t believe how much mis-information there is on this! Just a simple search on google will give you thousands of differing opinions on whether it is a good or bad movement, some will claim it’s no good at all! I would say take a look at Dorian Yates and ask yourself, does this man look like he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a big back? I really like this lift, it feels like it’s really hitting the lats hard performed properly, and unlike standard barbell rows or Pendlay rows, there is far less stress on the lower back. The biggest problem most have is executing the lift properly. Dorian used to use an underhand grip, but as the weights used were getting huge, he ended up doing the inevitable and injuring his bicep tendon and now uses a narrow overhand grip instead. The main two mistakes most people make are flaring out the elbows, and pausing at the top of the movement. This is a power movement and should be treated so. Use the heaviest weight you can and keep the body still! For a more in depth definition here’s the man himself.