Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Getting Shit Done

Okay, so you wanna get those gains huh... That’s fair, we all want those gains.  Wanna look tough, strong, dare I say… manly.  I get you boy. But ain’t nothing gonna make you look like a strong son of a bitch without actually being a strong son of a bitch.

You get me?
 … Let’s do this.

First thing is first; ditch the damn machines as much as humanly possible.  They look flashy as hell and it is nice to look down and see “hell yeah 100 lbs. leg extension” But ain’t nothing doing.  The hell good is a 100 lbs. extension?  Seriously… how is that going to be of any use to you what so ever? Also, machines isolate, which sounds grand, but what we need to do is get you to be actually strong all over, not just look strong.  Feel me?

So, we have to look at what exercises are going to make you strong.  That is simple: Compound Lifts. You need to focus on five very basic moves, and master them.
These are: Squat, Deadlift, Press, Row,  and Overhead Press.
All of these have one thing in common, they all make use of multiple muscle groups during the action.

For example:  Overhead Press.  You use many areas of the upper body to get that son of a bitch up there. No doubt.  Anterior and Lateral Deltoid, Clavicle Pec, Traps, Triceps. So, in that one move you are engaging four distinct muscle groups.  You’re not going to be able to push a lot up at first, but with time you’ll get it up there. 

Me? I’m aiming to eventually be capable of putting my own body weight above my head.  That’s called a target. Something definite that I can work towards, you have to have these, else, you will falter, and slow your progress.  Or worse, stall.  (gasp)

So when we are doing these moves we want focus on proper form, not weight, that comes with time. The basic moves, as I’ve stated, rope in multiple groups and thereby add to your overall strength. Which will, of course, result in physical changes… also known as GAINS!!!!

                So, strength training, and I say training with a very definite emphasis, is what we are talking about.  I don't workout, I train with the deliberate goal of getting strong.  I really don't care how it I am looking I care, primarily, about performance. My theory is; if you are strong, you’ll look strong.

So here is what I do
Session A:
Bench – 5x5
Squat – 5x5
Row – 5x5
You’ll note that the two upper body workouts are a pushing and a pulling combo, this is on purpose.  I used to do, Squat, bench, and then row; but I found I was gassing out on the row because I moved a lot of weight right before on the bench so I was losing out.  Once I made the move to squat in the middle I was having a better go at the Row.
Session B:
Squat – 5x5
Overhead Press – 5x5
Deadlift – 1x5
This is mainly a lower body session.  The volume does not look terribly high on this but remember that your lower body is able to carry more load that your upper body, so your weight is going to be higher.  You’ll note that I have squatting in both sessions, again by design.  Squatting is one of those moves that really affects the whole body if done properly.  It feels weird at first but over time you feel your stability improve over all of the other movements because of it.
You’ll see that there are zero isolation moves. This because you hit a little bit of everything on each of the Sessions.  If you want to add in touch up moves (curls, tri pulldowns... etc.) you can, but you don’t have to.
Now, you see that there is not a whole lot of reps in here. 25 reps max per movement.  You are going to be adding progressive weight to the bar over time, so what you are aiming for is a weight in the 60 – 70 % of what you think you can max at.  Don’t ask me about that, I’ve not gone for a one rep max, don’t care to.  I need to know I can move this weight.

Weight Loads:
Starting off I would begin with something I knew I could handle.  3 sets of 5 reps building up to what would be my “working weight” for that session.  I felt zero compunction about it looking light to start.
When I set up for bench I started with one rep of 5 at just the bar (45lbs.) the I would add a ten to each side (+20lbs.) one more set of five reps, then two more tens (+20lbs again). So, now in my warm up I had gone from 45lbs. to 85lbs. Not bad. Now I was going to go to my working weight. I honestly didn’t know what I would be working at so I guessed (not perfect).  I pulled the tens off and tossed on two 35lbs plates, so my working weight was at 115 lbs. I went ahead and did my 5x5 and felt that, yes, I could have done more. So the next time I went for the bench I upped the weight to two 45lbs plates, bringing me to 135lbs.  That felt right.  I was able to finish, but it was challenging.

The next thing we need to talk about is progression.  This is by no means a fast process. At all. Once I’d taken a week to figure out my working loads I was ready to get after it though. The following week I stayed right at the working loads I had established the week before, for now I was zeroed in.  The week after that though is when I would begin adding weight to the bar.  Not a lot. 5lbs. that is all, two 2.5lbs, one on each side. I know that doesn’t sound like much but it adds up fast. Really fast.
So week one was officially the week after baseline week. Bench at 135lbs. again, challenging but doable. Week two saw me add 5lbs. so now my lift was at 140lbs. still challenging, but doable.  Week three saw another 5lbs.. 145lbs now, week four +5lbs. more, now 150. So, over the course of a month I had added 15lbs to my base line load. Not bad.
“But wait,” I hear you mumble, “that can’t go on forever.” You are 100% correct, it can’t. About week seven I missed a rep, just could not get the bar back up.  That was a failure. It showed me where my limit was.  So, I repeated that weight the following week (week 8), I was able to finish all of the reps that time. So week nine saw another +5lbs. made through no issues. Week ten, another fail. I was now in my strength range. I repeated the week nine weight the next session and was able to finish again.  Week eleven, same weight as week 9, week 12, +5lbs and completed all of the reps. So now, in the course of twelve weeks I’d added +50lbs to my bench.  Not bad at all.

As of late, I am now floating my working weight between 225lbs to 240lbs.  Benn there for about a month and a half. I have good weeks and bad weeks, but the important thing is, it's forward progress.

So that is the long and short of the weight lifting ideas that I have been playing over the last year or so. Lift heavy, lift slow and focus on the compound movements. This will generate muscle growth which will in turn elevate your base metabolic rate. Combine that with a sensible eating plan and you will get those gains.

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