My Training History
If anyone's curious about my take on a few topics such as deloading and routine programming, it's in that link. I'm too lazy to repost it here lol.
And thanks a lot Anuj and HIThopper for the kind words.
Just read the deloading phase section.NICE.:biggthumpup:
EDIT *Just read it again VERY NICE.:)
Thanks brotha! I actually have another one written entitled, "Working Class Hero". Guess what it's about? :D Gaining strength and mass WHILE working 60 hours a week WHILE having a lot of mouths to feed WHILE being drug free.. If you fall into one of those three things, it's a good read. :D
Hmmm thats all 3 right here!!! Work has slowed of late so that is a good thing LOL
I've read your intro bit. Interesting read. I will read the rest later... stupid work things I should actually work while I'm here. lol
I just read the rest. Awesome write up.
Mind if I copy and paste is over here for you? :D
Sorry couldn't wait for permission.
My Training History
I had some pretty bad habits since joining the Marine Corps back in 1999. Most notably, I never really worked legs, and never deadlifted in favor of different rowing variations. I had two theories back then. One was that I didn’t want to work my legs since I was always running and hiking every day being in the infantry. Being a non commissioned officer, if I was to fall out of a hike, I didn’t think the excuse of doing squats the day before would fly lol. The second reason was what I’m sure 90% of trainees think in the back of their minds: Girls pay more attention to the guns than quads!
So what happens when you don’t focus very much on the squat and deadlift? Well, all my lifts hit a plateau. So did my weight gain. I’ve always had some good genetics, and weight gains for me would come in bunches. I’d have three pounds gained in one week, check the scales a few weeks after that and be five pounds heavier, which was always followed by a long dry spell before magically gaining again. Mind you, I’m talking about after I got back from Iraq weighing a very unnatural and undernourished 160 lbs, so the gains were almost entirely muscle.
Back then, it wasn’t unheard of to have my spotter pick up the heavy dumbbells and hand them to me to rest on my knees before a hardcore incline set. A lot of my lifts suffered because of my weak links. Most notably among my muscle groups was my back days. My lower chain couldn’t handle the weight my upper body could pull. Barbell rows, T-bar rows, ect. I’d have to continuously lower the weight in favor of dropping my upper body lower to the ground.
Here is a piece of my journal I found back in the beginning of 2005.
1.Squats: 225 x 6, 275 x 6, 275 x 6
2.Front Leg Extensions: Used the stack for 3 sets of 6
3.Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 225 x 6, 275 x 6, 275 x 6
1.Flat Bench Press: 315 X 6, 335 X 5, 335 X 4
2.Incline Barbell: 275 X 5, 275 X 5, 275 X 5
3.Decline Barbell: 275 X 5, 275 X 5
4.Weighted Dips: 45 X 8
If you cannot see a major discrepancy between upper and lower, then you’re lost in the sauce LOL.
That’s the point when I really started reading the forums. I came in thinking I was the bomb benching 365 x 1 staying 100% natural when many others were struggling with 315 lbs mid cycle! However, I had a dark secret: My squatting sucks and deadlifting was almost non existent. First time I tried deadlifting, I was able to get 315 x 8 if I remember correctly. So I wasn’t in terrible shape, but knew that if I TRULY wanted that barrel chest and 20 inch arms, I’d have to seriously address those deficiencies.
Where to go from here? Well, I started doing some heavy reading. One article I remember more than most was from Brawn called, “Squatting for Big Arms”. I thought it was bullshit until I really thought about the MESSAGE it was trying to convey:
Big full body lifts = Big full body growth response!
I came to the ultimate conclusion that I needed a program that was completely modeled around the squat and deadlift. I chose the 5 x 5 which was a three times a week, full body workout program. The programs themselves were modeled by Bill Starr. To me it just made sense to invest some serious time into squatting three times a week to bring it up. Of course NOW I’d never hang with that, but back then it was perfect.
So, I remained on Bill Starr’s 5 x 5. My first full run through was a big success. I still have my old journal for that as well. Here’s the totals:
Week Four: Max 5x5, 1x5
Olympic squats: 245 (5x5), 275 (5x5 pyramid)
Deadlifts: 345 (5x5)
Week Eight: Max 3x3, 1x3
Olympic squats: 290 (3x3), 315 (1x3 pyramid)
Deadlifts: 440 (1x3)
Upon completion of the program, I continued addressing my weak points with an upper/lower setup. After that, I went back to the dual factor 5x5 and ran back to back volume phases which saw my A2G squat go up to 315 x 6 butt sitting on calves. From then on, I was in the zone. I had developed such a liking for squats and deadlifts that I spent the next year conjugate training. Shortly thereafter I’ve found my way to working with ironaddict trying to continue increasing my lifts while cutting down the fat.
All of which brings me to today. I have seen an incredible amount of carry-over to all my lifts. All my plateaus were shattered. I increased my muscle mass substantially, my old favorite bench pressing went from 365 x 1 to 405 x 1 no problem. My ass to the grass squatting hit an all time high of 440 lbs, and 530 lbs deadlifting raw (belted only). And remember me mentioning the “Squatting for Big Arms” article? Well, in my case I added another 1 ¾” to my arms bringing them a shade under 20”.
So where am I now?
My number one goals are STRENGTH and CONDITIONING. Dave Tate has said, "Get in shape to train, don't train to get in shape." There was plenty of times over the years where I'd have to lay down on a bench between sets because I was winded. Other times I'd need 3 minutes between sets which is fucking pathetic.
Problem has since been solved, bigtime. Nowadays, I drag my sled twice a week for conditioning on my off days. Training days I've incorpertated around 10-15 minutes of warmups before training. As detailed in elitefts's basic training manual, I'll do a circuit on upper body days consisting of gluteham raises or reverse hypers, pushups, rows, and abs. I started off with just one run through, but now I can do 3 run throughs with fairly heavy weight without it affecting anything other than increasing my PR's. Along with all that, I've really been watching my stop watch between every set and keep STRICT rest periods. Using an upper day as an example, I could start with bench press w/ 2-3 minutes rest, then as my day progresses, the rest drops because to me, only the bench matters. By the end, I'd be doing some high rep band pressdowns w/ 20 seconds rest.
Training: I've had great success with moderate volume 4 day routines with a decent amount of overlapping for pure muscle mass, and a lot of it. However, the best routine is usually the hardest unfortunately lol. IA's 5x5 was perhaps the very best routine I've ever done for strength AND mass. I think one of my pics w/ the grey wife beater was towards the end of that program. I've been doing Westside for the longest time since then.
Eventually though, as much as I love 4 day routines, I simply cannot continue on them in my predicament. I'm working upwards of 60+ hours a week on top of a family. So for the past few months I've been strength training THREE days a week max, and of course sled dragging in between. I'm only human lol, and I need my sleep. Still, I've been continuing to increase my strength bigtime with ONLY three days per week, and fairly low volume each day. That said, four exercises could take me almost an hour hauling ass because I have a great strength foundation.
So currently, it's only 3 days training in a gym, 1-2 days sled dragging per week. Dieting wise, I do very well with carbs in moderation. I'm using redpoint's cutting diet because I love the way they lay the carbs out. The beauty of that diet is that I use it consistantly even though I'm not even cutting lol. I just put the calories at 3,500 case closed.
My Outlook on Training
I'm not the biggest, nor the strongest here by any means lol. But I can say that after 10 years of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I know a lot more now than a few years ago. I've read many books that I absolutely recommend (Practical Programming, Serious Strength Training, Elitefts books, ect). With that said, here's something I wrote a while ago that I'd like to share.
Designing a routine is a system of checks and balances.
If you do more of one thing, you need less of another. Make sense? Well, to the thousands of neophytes out there reading Flex Magazine, common sense gets replaced with spinning their wheels doing Ronnie Coleman's Back Routine. "Well, look what it did for him, right?"
Growth happens OUTSIDE the gym. That means get in, get the hell out, and put more time in at the dinner table and catching z's than suffering through a backbreaking amount of work in the gym. Training in the gym should be very tough, but if you find yourself suffering through or not completing your "pretty lookin' routine", then you're not going to make any measurable progress, period.
Lets look at something like the 5x5, made popular by guys like Bill Starr. It's a wonderful full body program. You'll also notice it has squatting three times a week (I recommend only two) and deadlifting in between. But, it HAS a system of checks and balances worked in. That means you're taking your KNOWN 1x5 RM and 5x5 RM and programming it into the final weeks of the program, then deducting from that in rather large increments back to week one (reverse planning). So what does that mean? It means the first two weeks are relatively easy and you're just getting used to the demands of the program, and teaching your body to tolerate the workload.
So what about split training? It DOES indeed deliver results, as with anything under the sun. There is no right or wrong when it comes to training. People have become very narrow minded lately, and I partially blame the HST "guru's" for that. Their argument stems from "only working a muscle every seven days." I'd agree with that, but what about the overlapping involved? Oops.. So if a trainee does "chest day" on Monday, then "arms day" on Thursday, would their chest get a lot of work in if they incorperated weighted dips, closegrip bench, or reverse grip? Absolutely, thereby working the muscles twice in a week. Or "legs day" on Tuesday, then "back day" on Friday in which Friday's session kicks off with some heavy deadlifting. Yep, legs get worked. Want more legs? Do some elevated deadlifts off a platform. Understand that most natty's need frequency to keep protein synthesis elevated for a longer period of time. But what about the guys squatting 500 lbs? Would it be feasable squatting every other day? Well, that depends. Technically, could they do a planned progression leading up to a 5-10 rep max? Perhaps, but now we're getting into individual recovery where some could, some couldn't. That simple.
The simplest solution is often obtained by choosing the path of least resistance IME. If someone is stuck in the mindset for years that they need to isolate their upper, lower, inner, and outer chest to grow and have an "effective" workout, and you tell them there's no such thing, would that automatically change their line of thinking? Highly doubtful.
Training with Ironaddict changed my views on many of things I took for granted. I think if anyone else was to educate me on some things, I'd think they were blowing smoke up my ass. I was fortunate enough to spend a year with him picking his brain. One of my favorite routines he came up with was only 3 days per week. Since I've been "free ballin'" now for the past year, I've been having a lot of success not only with myself, but with many people spread over a few other forums I've personally helped.
Taking a page from Jim Wendler's book, "Three Days Per Week", either you believe you can make tremendous gains in mass and strength with only three days per week or you don't. There's no magic cure for that. Instead of picking a laundry list of all the most popular exercises that you feel the need to do, try to pick 3-4 exercises that you feel you need the most per day. Remember what I said, growth happens outside the gym. Still not convinced about only 3 days? Check out all of Dante's guys DC training lol. Same three days per week, slightly different split, same frequency of once every five days -- And those guys are last I checked fairly XXL.
The split can be found everywhere on this forum that Ironaddict has posted time and again. Along with that, I'd like to post a few examples of "checks and balances" which ties everything together.
Monday: A) Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Wednesday: B) Back/Biceps/Legs
Friday: C) Repeat Monday w/ NEW exercises
Monday: D) Repeat Wednesday w/ NEW exercises
Wednesday: A) Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Friday: B) Back/Biceps/Legs
Then from there obviously you'd repeat workout C on Monday, D on Wednesday, and so forth.
The most important aspect of this programming is to be PROGRESSIVE meaning you need to increase something every workout to beat the last. As Dante once said,"Volume is finite, Load is infinite."
So why only pick three to a max of four exercises per day? Simple, it's to protect you from yourself! It literally forces you to pick ONLY the ones that are the best for YOU. Now, I'm not talking about everything being 3 sets either. If the exercise selection is low, guess what your check and balances will be? More sets x reps = volume. Along with that, throw a few wrenches into your workout to make it a bit more refreshing and increase the difficulty of the exercise. For example, I much prefer doing isolations with a longer tempo (increased TUT) and waay shorter rest periods. Another influence from IA.
In my experience, sometimes if you increase the difficulty of an exercise, the better results to be had. What I mean is that there's so much to do beyond a vanilla 3 x 10. Depending on YOUR recovery, there's lots of subtle, but effective tweeks you could do. If you're used to a workman's approach to deadlifts perpetually doing a few sets of 3-5 reps, try something radically different. Put them last in your workout. I've had killer results doing that knowing in my head it's "one and done" before I get to go home for the day. Another great great range is to do a max set of 3-5 reps, rest 5 minutes, take off some weight and do a max set of 8-10 reps. Personally my favorite approach made popular by DC and ironaddict.
DB Bench - 5 x 6-10
Incline Flyes - 3 x 10 (3-0-3 tempo)
Barbell Skullcrushers - 4 x 10 (90 seconds rest between sets)
Banded Upright Rows - 4 x 12-15 (45-60 seconds rest between sets)
^ The checks and balances here could be interchanging between a flat press and an inclined press for your pecs instead of trying to lump both together. For triceps you could have an isolation one workout, then a press such as weighted dips the other. Same concept with shoulder iso's one workout, then a press the other.
Deadlifts - 3 x 5 (pyramid to top set) or something like a max triple, rest 5 minutes, then a backoff set of 8-12 reps.
Leg Press - 2 x 20
Weighted Pullups - 5 x 5
DB Curls - 3 x 15
^ The checks and balances here are the interchangable squats and deadlifts. That means if you do deadlifts, then you do a leg press. And if you do barbell squatting, then you could do a barbell or cable row. See how managable that is? Typically after a maximal effort and draining exercise like squats or deadlifts, you're pretty tired, one would hope. So it's much more feasable to do something not as mentally and physically draining.
So to sum up, if you're not honest with yourself, 9/10 you're going to go overboard with this stuff. Most bodybuilders today are so obsessive compulsive that they'll change their routine to "beautify" it on paper so many times that three days later it's completely different. Then by the time they get to the gym, they're dragging ass after 2/3 of it. So, by keeping it simple (acronym KISS), and limiting the OCD inside you to 3 to a max of 4 exercises per day, you'll be doing yourself a great service. You'll be mentally fresher, more motivated than ever, and as long as you save most of the work for the dinner table, you'll at least be headed in the right direction!
One thing that really helped me is to think outside the box when it comes to deloading. A deload week where you cut either the volume, frequency, or both is just ONE way of doing things.
Another program I've done extremely well on is DC training. My first and second blast saw some gains, but not as much as I should've. I think the biggest reason for my shortcomings with that program was my line of thinking: 6 weeks until deload. I wish it were that simple to where your body has a built in alarm clock that buzzes in exactly "week X".
I think what would help a lot of lifters is to think for themselves lol. How many lifters would extend their blast and continue making gains simply taking a single day off lol which is about all they needed, NOT a full week. I think that if you're training M, W, F, you could really extend your blast another couple of weeks by simply listening to your body and taking that Friday off which gives you Th, F, S, Su off. Something that simple could've really gone a long way with my training. Eventually, my subsequent blasts I was a bit more experienced and capable of going against my sexy looking spreadsheet and take that day lol.
That's the problem with those dual factor articles that spread like wildfire around the forums a couple of years ago. Certainly a breach of fresh air, and a hundred times more beneficial than just going on a week's vacation (unless overtrained). Unless it's a specific type of programming that uses volume and intensity cycling, I've found that planning deloads too far in advanced is very "hit or miss" and about as unspecific as guessing the supercompensation wave.
Finally, what's worked best for me is something IA turned me on quite a while ago lol. I usually work between a hypertrophy and strength phase. Hypertrophy phase for me was typically medium volume with more of a 4 day split with tons of overlapping given my strength and recovery. After 4-5 weeks, I'm about topped off and needing that deload. But, instead of taking a "deload week" as defined as the volume slash, blah, blah, blah, I instead went straight to the strength phase which was always modelled after westside. The difference being that the strength phase was lower volume (a lot lower in some cases), and the supplemental and accessory work was typically without a long eccentric which kept DOMS almost non-existant. So what I found was happening with my body was the volume phase certainly overreached me, then when I transitioned to my strength phases, it served the dual purpose, and deloaded me completely, all the while increasing my overall strength. So by the time I hit my next hypertrophy phase, I was stronger, fully deloaded, and more mentally fresh. I see IA talk about that a lot here.
Dual Factor Programming - I've always found it necessary in my training.
First there's a lot of differences between "overreaching" and "overtraining", so don't lump them together. Oftentimes, the less experienced don't know when to stop, nor the difference between feeling "a little run down" vs. completely burnt out.
There's 3 effects of training stress:
The first two will of course lead to a light reduction in your training capabilities which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The third one is when the lifter is too late. So, when you schedule random deloads far in advance without taking into account your recovery abilities, demands of the program, diet, sleep, stress, ect what you're doing is one of three things. One, you could just get lucky and guess right. Two, you deload well before adaption takes place from your training which makes everything you done up to that point pretty worthless. Three, by the time you deload on that magical week you slated in, it could be too late. If it IS too late (ie. overtraining vs. overreaching), then your deload would probably be more than one week OFF for sure (ie. you've officially fucked yourself). But remember, this applies more towards high intermediats and advanced lifters because novices can supercompensate faster thus never accumulating fatigue.
Back when I was a beginner, I always felt fully recovered by the next session. Practical Programming suggests beginners can supercompensate within 48-72 hours, which is on point with my experience. So a deload slated in, say, every 5 weeks just gives their joints and brains a break. When I started to gain more experience, I never felt the same rate of recovery. High intermediates and advanced lifters are ALWAYS going to have a small measure of fatigue from session to session. If you're just lifting to lift, and not working hard enough, then you're not going to accumulate enough fatigue for adaptation to occur. Sandblaster has stated on numerous occasions, rightfully so, that most people just don't work hard enough.
So we come full circle: Signs of overreaching
Overreaching is the cummulative effects from weeks of workouts, which totally depends on a lot of variables such as absolute load, volume, ect. "Typically, a short term decrease in performance, feelings of fatigue, depressed mood, pain, sleep disturbances, and other miscellaneous effects." - Practical Programming
Intermediate and advanced trainees have experience to know their bodies. It's certainly not rocket science I'm talking about here neither. My experience has always been a lack of motivation, feeling a bit of a body ache, and loss of sleep/appetitie. Slightly being the operative word. By far and away different from overtraining, when you're literally pushing so hard, so fast, and so long that you simply couldn't walk into the gym and register any type of measurable performance compared to weeks' past.
So what are the signs of overtraining?
"Severely compromised performance, disrupted sleep, increased chronic pain, abnormal mood swings, abnormal heart rate, ect. - Practical Programming So now, for more experienced trainees, they would have deloaded WHEN NEEDED long before these final symptoms come about."
So what's worked best for me is to play it by ear, not setting in stone every 4 or 5 or 8 weeks. I understand that some days I'm just not there and I can live with that. If on that fourth week of your programming you're starting to feel run down, loss of motivation and appetite, trouble falling asleep, the weights feel heavier than usual, well guess what? Use your brain and run a deload week. Personally I prefer keeping everything heavy while dropping the volume down, but again, I don't PLAN it. What if during the deload week I feel a little sick on a training day? Guess what, take it off because you're deloading anyways. Deloading is about recovery anyways, not PR's lol. For DC training, if on week 5 I start to feel gassed on Wednesday, guess what? Even through it's not scheduled on some high speed spreadsheet, you bet your ass I'm going to take that Friday off, then pick back up on Monday. That' 4 days of rest right there, and can be the difference between a 6 week blast, or a 7 week one.
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