Friday 30th November 2012
Tired spin legs as usual! Still a good session nonetheless, felt good to do some flat bench again.
Bench 76kg x5, 87.5kg x5, 100kg x13+3+3RP
Squat 100kg x5, 115kg x5, 130kg x13 followed up with 100kg x12
Close-Grip Bench 60kg x5, 72.5kg x19+6+4RP
‘T’ Bar Rows 60kg x10, 70kg x5, then 40kg x10
Reverse Grip Curls 20kg x5, 25kg x10+6+4RP
Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle #4
You’re not drinking enough water
Sounds daft I know, but it is probably the biggest reason most people are failing to gain weight. Water makes up around 60% of our bodies and lean muscle itself is around 70%. We can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water – It is second only to oxygen as being essential for life.
Research has shown that even a small decrease in hydration can lead to a significant drop in strength. If your hydration drops by 3-4% it can lead to a decrease in strength of 10-20%!! Not only that but it also plays a significant part in injury prevention – Lifting weights or resistance training at high intensity for long periods of time puts enormous strain on the joints and connective tissues. Being well hydrated helps to lubricate these joints and provides a protective layer or cushion around them, reducing the chance of injury. Dehydration can also lead to muscle catabolism (wastage), which is definitely worth avoiding!
Drinking a lot of water will also make you healthier and help to flush waste products from your body. When you are healthy you recover and grow faster, not to mention reducing sickness which will only impede your training.
Finally, drinking plenty of water helps to speed digestion and move nutrients around the body more efficiently. It helps you to store carbohydrates as muscle glycogen giving you more energy in your workouts. Building muscle also requires a high protein diet, however protein cannot straightaway be absorbed by the bodies cells, it needs to be broken down into its component amino acids, to do this you need guess what? Water.
How much water should you drink? I personally aim for a gallon a day! I don’t often get there but even if I don’t, I at least end up with the same or more than the ‘recommended guide’ as follows:
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply by the following – If you’re training 3 times a week use 0.6, 4 times a week 0.7, 5 times or more 0.8 – this will tell you how many fluid ounces to consume a day. For example 190lb multiplied by 0.6 = 114 fluid ounces or around 3.5 litres.
Avoid drinking large amounts in one go, this is the only time that excessive water drinking can be bad for you – See water intoxication – Instead aim to drink 1-2 glasses with every meal, sip throughout the day and especially when training or when you’re perspiring.
Tuesday 27th November 2012
Slight alteration to yesterdays layout – I’m going to do Seated Press and Sumo Deadlifts for now and return to the conventional lifts once I’ve lessened my Hyperlordosis (hopefully!).
Seated Press 43.5kg x5, 50kg x5, 57.5kg x9+2+1
Sumo Deadlift 107.5kg x5, 125kg x5, 140kg x7 – followed up with 107.5kg x10. Form a bit ugly on the heavier sets so going to drop the weight and focus on technique.
Bicep Curls 22.5kg x5, 27.5kg x12+5+5
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 75kg x5, 90kg x12
DC training and 5/3/1 – A change of plans
Well after two full cycles, my shoulders have taken a battering already and rotator cuff is sore as hell (probably from the chest/shoulder/tricep combo every other session). It is also moving away from my goal, which is strength based. Although I’m a stickler for not changing your program unnecessarily, if it hurts, stop doing it!
Is it worth continuing through the pain (and probably making it worse!) when I’m not feeling fully comitted? Nope! As I’ve stressed before, a program is as effective as your commitment to it. If you are not motivated by it, you won’t put in the effort, nor reap the benefits. I have enjoyed the rest-pause training and the variation of lifts, but there are definite things that aren’t for me! I think this program is better suited for ‘enhanced lifters’ if you know what I mean!
I have decided to change to Wendlers 5/3/1 with the rest-pause training as detailed in his second edition of 5/3/1. This way I can still progress with my strength training on my main lifts and continue with the rest-pause training.
Wendler looking ‘Hench’
I will be doing the following:
Press 5 – RP last set
Deadlift 5s, then 65% max reps
Pull-ups warm-up set, RP set
Straight curls 50% x5, 60% RP
SLDL 50% x5, 60% RP
Bench 5 – RP last set
Squat 5, then 65% max reps
CG Bench 50%x5, 60% RP
‘T’ Rows 6-9, 9-12
RG bar curls 50%x5, 60% RP
Press 3 – RP last set
Deadlift 3s, then 70% max
Straight curls 50%x5, 70% RP
SLDL 50%x5, 70% max
Bench 3 – RP
Squat 3, then 70% max
CG Bench 50% x5, 70% max
Lever Row 50%, 70% RP
RG Bar Curls 50×5, 70 max
Press 5/3/1 as normal, then 75% RP
Deadlift 5/3/1, then 75% max
Chins (palms facing)
Straight curls 65%x5, 80% max
SLDL 65%x5, 80% max
Bench 5/3/1 as normal, then 75% RP
Squat 5/3/1, then 75% max
CG Bench 65%x5, 80% max
Cable Row 6-9, 9-12
RG Bar Curls 65%x5, 80% max
I’ll also be doing pass-throughs every day to help shoulder mobility and still working on loosening up my hip flexors!
Sunday 25th November 2012
Cable Curls (level 6) x 14+6+5
Reverse Cable Curls (5) x12
Seated Calf Raise 110kg x10 – Was supposed to do these on the Smith machine today, but the step is too rounded and my feet were slipping too much.
Stiff-Legged-Deadlift 60kg x13+6+6 – Still having postural issues with my deadlifts
Leg Press 200kg x7, 160kg x20 – Really focused on trying to keep good form. Any heavier and my bum would come off the seat and I tended to bounce out of the bottom position.
Ab-sling knee raises – 10 knees to right, 10 to left, 10 straight knees-to-elbows
Again, felt like I needed to do something with upper body so did some ‘V’ pulldown to chest (10) x12+5+4
Friday 23rd November 2012
Shoulders feeling a bit battered lately, but I’ve been a bit lapse with mobility work lately so probably to blame!
DB Bench Press 37.5kg x10+3+2RP
Press 55kg x9+3+2RP
Weighted Dips 15kg x15+5+3RP
‘V’ Grip Pulldown to Chest (10) x10+5+3
Rack Pull 120kg x12 – Not too happy with form here, definitely got some lean-back at the top, so didn’t take the weight any higher.
Lever Deadlift 300kg x1 – Felt like just seeing how heavy I could go on this, Going to try 320kg next time!
Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle #3
Your not training your legs as hard as the rest of your body
Our ability to increase muscle is a direct result of our ability to increase our natural anabolic hormone levels. You’ve heard of these before – Growth Hormone, Testosterone, IGF-1 to name a few – You’ve heard of these probably because you’ve heard of steroids. Steroids are just natural chemicals our bodies produce, the reason bodybuilders get so freakishly huge is they take far more of these hormones than their bodies can develop for themselves. You however, can increase your bodies natural levels of these hormones by the right training and nutrition. As our bodies operate on a ‘supply and demand’ basis, to boost these hormones you must train as intensely as possible and recruit as many muscle fibers as you can during training.
Now some basic anatomy! Our legs make up almost two thirds of our entire muscle mass! (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals and Calves) So by training your legs as intensely as your upper body (or more), you target far more muscle fibers and so force your endocrine (hormone release) system to release all these anabolic goodies into your system. As these hormones are not just isolated to build muscle in your lower body, they also help increase size on your chest, back, shoulders, arms .. in fact, your whole body!
The Squat (In particular the Barbell Back Squat) has long been proven to be the ultimate in mass gaining exercises. It’s estimated to involve hundreds of muscles, acting as prime movers or stabilisers in the upper and lower body. The squat recruits so many muscle fibers, it releases more GH (Growth Hormone) than any other exercise – period. More GH, more muscle.
The Deadlift is number two as far as I’m concerned in the mass building arsenal. It is the ultimate strength exercise – What is more satisfying that bending down and picking up some seriously heavy weight off the ground? Again, as the squat, to deadlift requires your whole body to work ,so encourages the hormones to be released as mentioned previously.
The reason we don’t see everyone doing these exercises? (Squat & Deadlift) Mainly because they’re so hard – Most people would rather push 250kg on a leg press for 10 reps, than do 100kg back squat for 10 reps. Somehow they think this is a more impressive feat as more weight is being used. Anyone who has done a nice heavy rock bottom squat knows damn well that it is far harder (thus requires more strength) to drive up out of the bottom of a squat, than to slide a sledge a few inches along it’s track, whatever the weight involved. Either that or they don’t know how to squat or deadlift correctly so choose not to do them instead of finding out or being shown.
It’s a no brainer – Increase your strength on Squats and Deadlifts and you will grow. Stop taking the easy option and start working your legs!
Tuesday 20th November 2012
EZ Curl 30kg x15+4+3RP
DB Hammers 12.5kg x10
Leg Press Toe Press 110kg x10
Good Mornings 35kg x20+9+7RP
Hack Squat 120kg x6, 103.5kg x20
Had some time to waste so threw in:
‘V’ pulldown to chest (level 10) x10+4+3RP
Dips (unweighted) x20x13 (60s rest)
DC Training and thoughts so far ..
The DC workout split is as follows:
Day 1 – Chect, Shoulders, Triceps, Back Width, Back thickness
Day 2 – Biceps, Forearms, Calves, Hamstrings, Quadriceps
I will be doing this split in a A/B fashion, training 3 times a week so every 2 weeks, I’ll do 3 of each session.
The idea is to pick your top 3 (or most effective) exercise for each bodypart and rotate through them over the sessions, thus giving 6 different workouts, but still adhering to the split above. Once you can no longer increase the weight/reps on a given exercise – change it out for a new one, then return to it again at the next plateau.
Rep numbers vary by exercise and their speed is generally a controlled eccentric or negative (lowering) followed by an explosive concentric (or 2-0-0). Most exercises are rest-paused with the exception of back thickness and quads (Calves are done as a 10 second negative, 20 second hold at full stretch and then explosive concentric or 10-20-0). After 3 rest pause sets, the exercise is followed up with a static hold of up to a minute, then extreme stretching of the worked muscle.
I took my intial measurements at the start which are:
Chest – 43″, Bicep (flexed) – 15″, Quad – 23.5″, Calf – 15″, Abdomen – 35″, and Hips 41″
After the 3 month period I’ll measure again to see what difference, if any, DC training has made.
So far after a week, I’m enjoying the change of workout and different exercises this type of split has bought. The rest-pause sets are harder than traditional strength training, but I like the change in intensity. I’m struggling with the static holds at the moment – after a rest pause set, I’m only managing to hold for maybe 20 seconds or more – The same goes for the extreme stretching! I’m hoping I’ll be able to improve on this as the sessions go on.
Sunday 18th November 2012
Incline Bench 90kg x8+2+2RP
Smith Behind-Neck Press 30kg x10+5+4RP
Reverse-Grip Bench 90kg x8+4+3RP
Wide-Grip Pulldowns (level 9) x12+5+4RP
Deadlift 140kg x6, 120kg x9
Tuesday 13th November 2012 – Start of DC Training
Well after sleeping on it, and the fact I still have DOM’s from Sunday’s Hack Squat’s! I decided to go ahead with DC Training again. I’m going to give it a good 3 months this time to see how much difference it makes to my current stats/strength. I’ll take my measurements later today and add to this post and then again after the three month trial period. Lowered the weight slightly as DC training requires a more controlled eccentric (lowering) phase and explosive concentric (lifting) than traditional strength training.
Decline Bench 100kg x11+3+2 RP – Shouldn’t have gone for a third on the last set! I had to set it on the pins and squeeze out from under the bar! (removed that from the video!) – I only managed about 15 secs of the static hold afterwards, forgot about how hard it is!
Seated DB Press 27.5kg x8+2+2 RP – Again only 15 sec hold, will keep it at that for now untill I get accustomed to it and increase when possible.
Close Grip Bench 90kg x8+2+2 RP – Arms are toast after the last two sets! could barely push the 90kg!
Chins x9+4+3 RP
Machine Lever Row 80kg x 11 – No rest pause on back thickness exercises, just one straight set for safety – I’m not sure this is always the case especially where chest is supported as this one is. I’ll read up more on this I think.
I had some time afterwards to take some more pictures for my book and noticed someone had left 200kg on the Lever Deadlift Machine so I went and gave it a go – smashed 10 reps so decided to increase to 240kg and it still felt OK for an easy 5, so then finished the set with 260kg x2 reps! As I said before a definite ego machine! I love it!
Increase The Intensity and Blast Through Plateau’s With Rest-Pause Training
Not for the faint hearted, rest-pause training can help you through sticking points or simply offer something to break through boredom!
The basic principle is to extend the number of reps you perform with a given weight by taking very small breaks between sets.
There are a few different ways to use this technique, Mike Mahler for example talks of using singles with close to your one rep max and taking around 10-15 secs between reps. This way you can do 6 or more reps with what is normally your 1 rep max. Dante Trudel AKA Doggcrapp or DC, advocates higher reps for a single set (although different rep ranges for each bodypart) and then two rest-pause sets afterwards (approx 30s rest between sets).
However they’re done, they are brutal and only to be attempted if your headstrong about your training. Don’t bother with any isometric training for them, you can’t really increase the weight on a lat raise in the same way you can a military press for example, so won’t get anywhere near the benfit of this type of training.
I personally tried DC training some time ago, but at the time I didn’t feel I was giving it enough effort, so changed to something else. However I do prefer his take on RP (rest-pause) training. For example, on an incline bench press you would be aiming for 11-15RP – Which would look something like a set of 8, 10-15 breaths (approx 30 secs), another 3 reps, 10-15 breaths and finally, another 2 reps – Totalling 13 reps RP. In DC training this is then followed up by a static hold in a mid-point of the given lift to further stress the muscle, then extreme stretching (another long discussion on this one, so not going into it!). If you have the willpower, this is a great way to train to increase both strength and mass, you are aiming to add weight to the bar every workout. If you fall in the lower end of the reps (in this case 11), you would just try to increase reps, if you get higher into the range go for the weight increase.
Sunday 11th November 2012
Upped frequency press-ups to 18 yesterday (chins still at 7). Despite a late finish at work last night, had a good session today. Keeping the rest-pause for now – I’m enjoying the change. I started a little lighter today on the incline bench, think I’ll do the same on the decline bench and overhead press over the next few sessions. I wasn’t entirely happy with the amount of reps (or technique) on the press last workout as I started too high on the weight. Ah well, you live and learn eh?
Incline Bench 90kg x8+3+2, then 62.5kg x12
Face Pulls (10) x17x17 – (Did these either side of Bench Press)
Kroc Rows 45kg x18
DB Flyes 15kg x15x9 (60s rest) – Right shoulder started feeling a little sore so stopped at two sets.
‘V’ Grip pulldown to chest (11) x10+4+3
Hack Squat 102.5kg x20 – These are starting to become a real test of willpower! I’m wondering how long I’ll be able to keep adding weight? I guess I’ll find out!
Hench Training ebook update
Well, back in August I thought I’d finished it. Since then however, after several of my peers and friends have read it and given feedback, I’ve written a whole new section on the main lifts and added some important technique guidelines. I’ve also been trying out some ideas for a cover design alongside this. Unfortunately the book had to take a back seat due to many other things going on, but I’m pleased to say it has now been fully updated. I’m currently in the process of adding the all important photo’s to the newly added section and then it truly will be finished and out for editing.
Friday 9th November 2012
Finally back online after the move! Busy old week, been increasing my training volume again as I’ve been keeping it simple lately. Did my core & stretch stretch on Tuesday night, I’m doing frequency chins & push-ups on my non-training days (currently sitting at 6 sets of 18 press-ups & 7 chins), previously I’d been forcing the reps out on these so I’m really trying hard to only do reps that feel easy. Once they start to feel like they’re slowing down or requiring more strength I stop the set. Double Spin last night so feeling it in the legs today as usual!
Press 73.5kg x6+1+1 – Decided to start doing some rest-pause training lately as feeling bored of the 3 sets with long rest that strength training usually calls for, and I’ve always enjoyed doing it in the past. I think I’ll take a re-set however, next press session – the two rest pause lifts were killers!
Had 1 minute rest then did 16 reps with 20kg DB’s
Weighted chins 23.75kg x5+2+2, then ‘V’ grip pulldown to chest 17 reps at level 10
Weighted dips 25kg x12+6+4, then unweighted x16
Romanian deadlifts as warm-up, up to 140kg x4
Lever deadlift (plate loaded) 160kg x10 – still feeling easy (compared to 160kg bar!) – going to go for 180kg next session
Tuesday 6th November 2012
Back to training after a hectic week! Bringing the frequency method back for press-ups and going to hang my rings in my new garage so I can do chins as well.
Decline Bench 121kg x4x4x6 – felt strong on these, kept the reps at 4 as no-one to spot me and I didn’t want to get stuck under the bar! I’m going to keep the increases to 1kg and see how far I can get before returning to flat.
Machine Preacher Curl 17.5kgx14, 15kg x12
Pendlay Row 65kg x10x10x10 – jumped 5kg from last session, will keep it to 2.5kg from here to keep the technique right, it’s too easy to start using hips.
Squat 147.5kg x4x4x5 – struggled with these today, I had been in the gym too long and overdone the warm-up so just didn’t have it in me by the time I got to these! Grr! I’ll repeat the weight next week and see how it feels!
Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle #2
You’re not increasing weight or repetitions
Otherwise known as the progressive overload principle, which is basically; Strength and all other components of fitness increase if the training becomes more demanding.
It is commonly explained by the ancient Greek story of Milo (You’ve probably heard this before!), who lifted a calf every day and so, as it grew, he was eventually lifting a fully grown bull. This however, is actually referring to linear periodisation, which is followed by most serious athletes, and the majority of lifters will benefit greatly from it initially – (simply increasing the weight on the bar, by small increments, every workout) – but, to continue making progress past these initial gains, some further variation is necessary. For progressive overload to continue past hitting plateaus in linear periodisation we can look at increasing repetitions.
This does not imply doing sets of 30 reps on a given exercise, but, instead when a weight increase is no longer possible due to current strength limits, reduce the weight used and perform more repetitions than previously lifted with that lowered weight. For example you’ve benched 100kg for 6 reps previously and been adding 1kg to the bar each workout. At 110kg you stall and can’t get more than 1 rep. Drop back to 100kg and aim to beat the 6 reps you lifted at the time. If you then hit 8 reps, you have clearly increased your strength, with this increase you should then have built some muscle alongside it (as long as you’ve been eating enough! – see reason 1). You would then continue with normal 1kg increases as before, only this time you have a set rep record to beat every time you workout. On top of this you can monitor your progress and improve every session!
Thursday 1st November 2012
Another late finish at work last night (1am) so feeling it a bit today. Just did the main lifts and got out. Usual Thursday double spin this evening .. I’ll sleep well tonight!
Still no broadband for at least a week so no video – I’ll try and get another article or two up, but it’s a pain writing on my phone!
Incline Bench 90kg x5x5x9, then 60kg x15 (face pulls (10) x15x15 in between sets)
Seated Machine Row 80kg x12x10, then ‘V’ grip pulldown to chest (10) x12
Hack Squat 100kg x20