Following on from last post, I weighed in at 83.6kg the night before I was due to travel down to Aldershot but I had been water loading so was confident I’d make weight in the morning. Skipped breakfast, loaded the car with food & drink ready to rehydrate and refuel then hit the road nice and early. It’s a long old drive from Pembrokeshire and weigh-in was 10am-11:30am and I wanted to get in as early as possible so I could eat up!
Typically, my car radiator blew on the way .. perfect .. limped the last 30 miles using all the water I had in the car and heaters on full blast to cool engine, but still ended up missing the morning weigh-in by 10 minutes! Just what I needed. Used the scales they had there to see where I was and was looking at around 82.3. Couldn’t take the risk of having even a quick dioralyte as they weren’t the official scales and I may have gone over. Gutted … Had to wait till the 3pm weigh-in instead, feeling totally dried out and knackered from the hot drive down in the sun and watching the rest of the team fuel up around me. That’ll test your resolve when you are starving and thirsty as hell and having to watch your mates drinking plenty and stuffing burgers etc down their face 😔
Weighed in at 81.2kg by 3pm and spent the rest of the day eating and drinking and trying to regain as much lost water as I could knowing that my performance in the morning was dependent on it. Got a reasonably decent night sleep as was staying with family and was back ready in the morning. Didn’t feel too bad at the time, but warm-ups were feeling heavy and I knew I would have to really push myself to hit my targets.
Squatting opened well for me, hit a comfortable 190kg followed with a 210kg which went up easy so then went for a comp PB of 227.5kg (500lbs) – Didn’t go so well, knee gave way a little at the bottom so the spotters had to step in. That failed lift left me with just a 210kg squat. The judging was quite harsh and several lifters bombed out on depth so by the time bench came around, I dropped my opener down to 140kg. I’m confident I can hit that on a bad day and got that on the board happily. 150kg didn’t want to go up on my 2nd lift and on third lift my shoulder gave way on one side and the bar hit the spotters hand so I was red lighted even though I managed to lock it out (looking back at the video I can see why as not only was the bar travelling unevenly, he looked like he helped me, but when I was on the bench I didn’t feel like it!). My bench is always the first to get hit when I drop weight, especially with limited time to rehydrate again so I knew it was going to be a struggle. Ah well, on to deadlifts, dropped my opener to 180kg as again, I’m confident with that weight, easy lift on 2nd with a 190kg but centre ref had a quick word about bar ‘dropping too quickly’ and then a reasonably easy 200kg at third attempt as by that time it was all I needed to win my category and no point in shooting for a crazy PR.
So, not an amazing total by far, but it was enough on the day to take a European title and after the day I’d had beforehand, I was over the moon to have made it through and not been ‘bombed out’ of the competition at the squats – Plus the trophies were awesome 😉
Following that, I took a little time off and just enjoyed being ‘off-season’ as it seems like it’s been a long time and I’ve been nursing a few injuries for too long. Typically over the next few months I came down with a few illnesses and worst still, my knee gave way on the stairs as I’ve been suffering with patellar tendonitis for a while and sprained the inflamed tendon – yowch! Couldn’t walk for almost 3 days and training was out of the question for a while. My shoulder has also played up ever since, I think I’m getting too old for this lark! Ha ha
Now the last two months I’ve been rebuilding lost strength and trying to rehab my injuries. I have got back to all previous lifts equipped now, but my raw game has taken a big hit not only from the injuries, but the fact I’ve been focusing all my training on equipped lifting and feel my technique has come apart a little when unequipped as it’s a completely different way of lifting.
So now we’re into December and for now I’m really pushing to get my raw lifts back to where I was before I started competing. I’ll try and get some equipped lifting in once a month with the Pembs Powerlifters as I still plan on competing equipped but otherwise all training will be raw.
Life back on track, knee/shoulder calming right down with the focus on rehab and raw lifting and I’ll be posting up on here regularly again – Also, good news, I’ve met a graphic designer who will be looking at my book ‘Hench – A Straightforward Guide to Size and Strength’ as it’s still in Microsoft Word format and then will get it published and hopefully will finally get it out there! For now, back to the Christmas shopping, the joys of parenthood and work, work, work 😉
My first meet!
What a day! To carry on from last post I got up on the Friday morning and weighed in at 83.1kg only 0.6kg over what I need to be on Saturday. No water at all allowed today, only enough to wet my lips when need be! I ate very little over the day and kept it to protein only and BCAA’s and by the evening I was weighing in at 82kg so just where I needed to be. It wasn’t too bad, I was a little irritable and felt really tired by the evening so just tried to relax and not think about how thirsty I was!
Saturday morning stepped on scales to find I had dropped to 81.1kg so treated myself to some scrambled eggs and a coffee which took me back up to just under 82kg with 3 hours till weigh-in. Travelled up to Swansea then for weighing and recorded at 81.5kg so nice and happy and ready to feed up and hydrate.
Immediately after weigh-in I took a sachet of Dioralyte and filled a shaker with electrolyte drink which I kept drinking throughout the day (managed to get around 4 litres in total) and about 2 litres of water. Then hit Greggs for a breakfast baguette 😉
Spent the rest of the day just eating and drinking and preparing myself mentally for Saturdays meet, then one more Dioralyte in the evening.
Got up Sunday and had a cooked breakfast and another litre of electrolytes and relaxed for a bit before heading off to the meet.
Arrived at the hall met up with my coach and the other lifters and headed to the warm-up room pretty much straight away as at 82.5kg I would be in the first flight. Warmed up with my squats up to a couple of singles 160kg which was feeling nice and smooth and opened with 175kg which felt heavy but manageable and submitted my next attempt at 185kg, hit that (just!) with a close call from the judges as my knee just started to drift in a little and the spotters moved in but I got it up anyway and got 3 white lights so happy with that! Went for broke on my 3rd attempt with 192.5kg but something didn’t feel right on the way down, not sure if it was in my head as I had different knee wraps for this attempt as I had been sharing them with a teammate, or just wasn’t ready for it, and failed the lift. Never mind, happy with 185kg so next the bench press ..
There was a half hour break so had a quick protein shake and a handful of jelly sweets to keep sugar levels up and started to warm up for bench. Was feeling really good about this, bar was moving smoothly and shoulder (for once) was behaving and I had no pain at all. I was pretty much learning to lift on command in the warm-up room, I’ve done pause bench in training, but actually waiting for someone to call ‘press’ when in the bottom position, and ‘rack’ before racking it up, was totally different, however I was determined not to get red lighted for missing commands as a few other lifters ahead of me had been doing. Opened with 130kg, and had no problems making the lift so went up to 135kg for 2nd attempt. Bit of a grinder but again, went up and more importantly, no red lights! I was happy with 135kg as a total so just to push myself tried a 140kg but failed to get it. Another half hour and on to deadlifts.
Surprisingly, warming up for deadlifts I felt really strong and confident. I have always considered deadlifts to be my weakest lift but today they were feeling good and I was hoping to get a PR. Opened with a 180kg, easy lockout so went up to 190kg. A little tougher and only 5kg away from my previous 1RM, but again locked out no problem so decided to go for it and attempt 200kg a new PR. My coach then advised me to hitch up my singlet legs and talc my thighs as he could see it was slowing the bar down on lockout, did it and then got my 200kg to bring my total to 520kg.
Happy to have made 7 of 9 lifts and achieving the lifts I wanted I sat down to watch the rest of the competition and award ceremony. I hadn’t been looking at the board so had no idea where I had placed, but I had come to test myself and was quite happy to have made it through and got a good total so when I was called forward as the winner in my category I was over the moon!
To top it off I received an invite the next morning to compete at the WPF World Championships in France in November to represent Great Britain so I think it’s safe to say a successful first meet!
8 weeks now to prep for the World’s! Yikes!!
On a side note, the BPO doesn’t have a RAW (unequipped) category for lifters so even though I got through the UK’s raw, I will be suiting up for the world’s otherwise I’ll stand little chance of keeping up!
3 days to go! Dropping the water intake as of yesterday (only 1 gallon), today only half a gallon allowed – already struggling, feel thirsty as hell!
Yesterday I weighed at 84.2kg, weighed in this morning at 83.5kg so on track to make weight at the moment. Most important thing now is to ensure I have everything I need to rehydrate after weigh-in (24 hours). Also need to decide my opening lifts, at this stage I am looking at my most recent max sessions and using that as I will be confident I can lift it so that will mean a 172.5kg squat, 135kg bench and 180kg deadlift. I’ll see how these feel and increase from there.
Also I will spending the next couple of days foam rolling and performing mobility work, and just generally trying to relax and recouperate and be ready mentally for a great day! 😉
A very good friend of mine, workmate and my original inspiration when I started training has recently published this: The Skinny Guys Guide To Building Muscle by Pete Stables. I couldn’t recommend this more to anyone looking to gain muscle, skinny or not! He also runs a site http://www.southpawpower.com and has been my go-to-guy when it comes to nutrition as far back as I can remember. For less than the price of a take-out, you will have all the knowledge you need to start packing on lean muscle and gaining strength, what are you still reading this for? click on the link! 🙂
I’m back! Sorry it’s been so long, had so much going on recently and I have been in hospital with a kidney stone – If you’ve had one, then you know how painful it is! If you haven’t, then hopefully you won’t find out 😉
Needless to say, after that setback my strength has taken a drop so I’m currently working back to previous lifts. A bit disappointing and I’ve had to swallow my ego and try to forget what I ‘could’ lift, and focus on just getting strong as I did before.
You will also notice a few changes around the site over the next few weeks as I haven’t taken the time to update in ages! I will also be looking to get ‘Hench – A Straightforward Guide To Size And Strength’ published and out there ASAP. This has taken a back seat for far too long. Watch this space for further details…
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!
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.
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.
After double Spin tonight, got home to face this! Chilli over rice with Nacho’s .. The picture doesn’t do it justice, it was huge! After a valiant effort, food won this round, I couldn’t quite eat all of it – left a few mouthfuls of rice .. What a perfect post workout feast, thanks love!!
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 😉
Well maybe not quite at the end of the month! (today), I have finished all alterations to my ebook now and taken a few photo’s – I am determined to get these done so will take some more tomorrow whilst training and get the rest done within a few days. Then get the publishing part done and it’s out there!
Interestingly after my posts this week on strengthening my abs, JP has posted an article on his site not too long ago with a few his favourite ab strengthening exercises, you can read it here. May well re-visit one or two tomorrow ..
Another shot of the gym!
Feeling a little sore in the glutes/hams today so obviously needed the extra work as I only did a few sets of unweighted GHR’s yesterday. Going to keep up with these as part of my warm-up every session from now and I’ve also decided to perform Romanian deadlifts in place of standard deadlifts for the next 8-12 weeks to further strengthen my posterior chain.
Again working on loosening lower back and hip flexors on my non-workout days and as my elbow/shoulder pain has virtually gone now, I’ll be bringing my frequency sets back after tomorrows session and see if it flares up again.
So a nice few days off have done me good, been doing a bit of stretching and some foam rolling and got a fair bit of reading done. More importantly, I’ve bought myself a tripod so I can take the pictures necessary to illustrate ‘Hench’ and get it out there! Going to start these this week, so hopefully will meet my own deadline of the end of the month. (hopefully!)
Most of the reading I’ve done has been into Lordosis/Anterior Pelvic Tilt as although I know I don’t have a bad case of it, I definitely lock out my deadlifts with my lower back NOT my hamstrings/glutes and my posture could do with a little work! (as could just about anyones nowadays!) – A great article with regard to this (and Posterior Tilt) is on T-Nation Force Couples I would suggest giving it a read even if you don’t suffer from either!
The great Louie Simmons swears by posterior chain strengthening and with so many records/lifters associated with his name, you’d be stupid not to pay at least a little heed! From now on I will be doing this and some abdominal strengthening every training day. I should hope that within a few weeks I should notice some improvements (especially with my deadlift form).
Going to do some more reading into APT and try and get hold of the Westside Methods again, it’s been a long time since I read it! Also keep up with the stretching and mobility on my rest days – DeFranco’s Agile 8 and Simple 6 are great for me, click on the links to find out more.
Been getting some great feedback regarding ‘Hench’ eBook, got a few pointers to address and still need to get those illustrations done! But hoping to have it out there by the end of the month. (Figure if I give myself a date I’m going to push harder to get it finished!)
I got my planned 8 sets of 20 frequency press-ups in today, going to shoot for 6 sets of 23 starting tomorrow. The whole point is to stay as fresh as possible so as not to effect strength training, so I’ll see how they feel. There’s a chapter in my book dedicated to this if your wondering what I’m on about!
There’s a local park just around the corner so I’m thinking about maybe throwing a few ‘ladder’ chin-up sets. Is it inappropriate for a big bald guy to be banging out chin-ups in a kiddies park? (If no-ones around of course!)
Happy anniversary Em! – 6 years today 🙂
Got in 7 sets of frequency press-ups today (20 reps), going to up it to 8 tomorrow, then bring the reps up. Still not found anywhere to squeeze in chin-ups yet and after Fridays session (20kg weighted chins) definitely need to start somehow! I was up to 30kg just a few weeks ago (before the big move) so they’ve taken a big hit 😦
This is what my wife prepped for me when I got back from the gym! What a ledge! 2 steaks, caramelised onion, stilton and mustard – Oh yes!!!
Finally finished writing my training book! It is a comprehensive guide to getting ‘Hench’ – In it I’ve detailed how I put the program together, why it works, nutritional guidelines, how to make it personalised to your own goals, exercise instruction and an FAQ section which should cover all bases. I’m just in the final stages of proof reading with several trainers/coaches I’ve known over the years – Then I just need to add photo’s of exercises (need to get these taken ASAP!) and then it’ll be out there. Watch this space!
Having just moved home, I have been struggling to find a gym with so much as a Squat rack! It seems the majority of gyms are not interested in what actually works for people or what is safe – More so, they fill up with machines and cardio equipment, giving people the easy option of sitting down to exercise and no choice even if they did want to broaden their horizons!
Anyway, I don’t want to start rambling on about the flaws in the industry, this is meant to document my journey – I will no doubt start writing posts about that in the near future as sometimes I just can’t help but go off on one! However I’ll keep these seperate and mainly blog here with my training.
So I have managed to find a gym with a rack, it is a local CrossFit with limited opening hours, but I can’t complain – It’s close to home and has what I need.
As currently there is only one open gym session I can attend, I will be doing one or two Met-Con’s a week, chins/dips/push-ups whenever I can, and one big strength session on the open gym day. Once I have settled in, found a job, bought some equipment, etc, etc, I can train exactly as I wish, but for now that will be the template.