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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Upper Body Intensity Day

30 March 2013

Doing the two intensity days in a row is a bad idea. I felt slow and tired this morning, despite getting some 9 hours of sleep as opposed to the 6-7 I normally get.

Bench press 275x3 (2-sec pause), 295x3, 325x3 - the weight went up, but it wasn't easy. Definitely too heavy for a triple with 325.

For the bench press (both days), my warmup generally goes:

bar x a bunch - 135x8 - 185x5 - 225x3 - 275x3 (all paused for 2-3 seconds except the bar-only reps)

Seated low cable row 2 sets x 8 (moderate weight), 1 set x 8, 2 sets x 6 (heavy)

Push press 205 lbs. x 4 sets x 2 (also very easy)

Pullups / chinups 5x5

Light DB flyes x 1 set x as many as possible

Seated DB curls supersetted with DB skullcrushers 3 sets x 8 / 12 on the skullcrushers

Reverse curl 3 x 10

EZ bar curls, right 3 x 10-12

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lower Body Intensity

29 March 2013

Paused squat 135x8 - 185x5 - 225x3 - 265x3 - 285x3 - 305x3x2 sets - 315x3

Regular squat 365x3, 435x3

Speed deadlifts - 10 singles on the minute w. 275 lbs., very fast

Back raises, weighted 3 sets x 10

Incline ab board situps, weighted 3 sets x 12

Glute-ham raise, 2 x 8

Back hypers, 2 x 6

KB swing, 2 x 10

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Upper Body Volume

26 March 2013

Bench press 295 lbs. x 3 sets x 5 - didn't exactly fly up but they were comfortable sets. Will move to 300 for my volume days starting next week.

Seated cable row 5 x 8-10 reps

Standing military press 145 lbs. x 3 x 5 - this was extremely easy, felt like 95 on the bar

Pullups/chinups 5x5

Dips, BW x 3 x 10-12

EZ bar curl 5 x 8

DB skullcrushers, very light 3 x 10-12

Seated DB curl 3 x 8

Weighed myself yesterday - BW 211 lbs. This is where I want to be (210-215), so OK with that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Training - Lower Body Volume

25 March 2013

Paused squat 245 lbs. x 5 x 5 - this thrashed my lower back for some reason, like I had 100lbs. more on the bar.

Romanian deadlift 175 lbs. x 3 sets x 6 - I still can't get over how tough this exercise is.

Paused leg press 4p x 10, 5p x 2 sets x 10

Incline ab board situps 3 x 20

Abductor/adductor machine 1 x 20 each

Leg extension 2 x 10, heavy

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Training - Upper Body Intensity

23 March 2013

Bench press - warmup, then 275 x 3, 295 x 3, 320 x 3 - still feels solid, even on the heavy set I feel like I have one rep in the tank

Bench press with SlingShot 340 x 3, 350 x 3 - got some surprising soreness in the biceps from this

Seated pulley rows 4 sets x 6-8

Chest-supported row 1 x 8 (did this while waiting for the seated row machine to clear)

Push press 200 lbs. 4 sets x 2 - felt light and explosive

Thick-bar pullups 5x5

EZ bar curls 5 sets x 8

DB skullcrushers, light 3 x 8-12

Friday, March 22, 2013

Training - Lower Body Intensity Day

21 March 2013

Speed squat - doubles on the minute, 8 sets total with 155 lbs. I found out I don't have speed out of the bottom of the squat, even with an empty bar. Lots to improve on here.

Deadlift: 315x3, 365x3, 385x3, 395x3

Felt like I could go for 405x3, but didn't want to push it. When it comes to deadlifts, anything over 1 rep is a struggle once I get over 225 lbs.

Back raises 3 x 10, weighted

Back hypers 2 x 5

Incline ab board situps 1 x 20 unweighted, 3 x 8 weighted

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Training - Upper Body Volume

19 March 2013

Bench press 295 lbs. x 3 sets x 5

Seated chest-supported rows 4 sets x 8

Standing OH military press 140 lbs. x 3 x 5

Pullups x 3 x 5

Dips (bodyweight) x 3 x 10

Seated DB curls x 4 x 8

Monday, March 18, 2013

Training - Lower Body Volume

18 March 2013

Warmup leg extensions 2 x 10 reps, adductor machine 1 x 20

Paused squat 235 lbs. x 5 x 5

Romanian DL 155 lbs. x 3 x 8 reps

Ab board situps 3 x 20 reps

Leg press with pause 4p x 10, 5p x 2 x 10 reps

Leg extension, heavy 2 x 10 reps

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Upper Body Intensity Day

16 March 2013

Bench press - warmup, 275x3 - 295x3 - 315x3

Bench press with SlingShot - 335x3, 340x3

Seated pulley row 4 sets x 6-8

Push press - warmup, then 195 lbs. x 4 sets x 2

Pullups 2 x 5

Tricep pushdowns 2 x 12

Seated bicep DB curl 3 x 8

Seated barbell half-curl 3 x 8

Reverse curl 3 x 6

Friday, March 15, 2013

Training - Intensity Lower

14 March 2013

Paused back squat: bar - 135x8 - 185x5 - 225x3 - 255x3 - 275x3 - 295x3

Regular squat 315x3 - 335x3 - 365x3 - 425x3 - felt OK, but I should have skipped the reg squats

Ab board situps 3 sets unweighted, 2 sets weighted

Speed deadlifts (singles on the minute) - 10

Back raises 3 x 10 (last 2 sets had some reps w. light weight)

Hypers 2 x 5

Leg extensions 3 x 10

Training - Volume Upper

12 March 2013

Bench press 290 lbs. x 3 sets x 5 - felt fine

Seated pulley row 4 sets x 6-8

DB flyes - as many as possible with a light weight

Standing OH press 135 lbs. x 3 sets x 5 - third set was actually sort of hard

Pullups 3 x 5

Dips 3 x 10 (BW only)

Chinups 2 x 5

Barbell curls 4 sets x 8

DB skullcrushers (light) 2 x 12

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trying Out a New Training Template, Texas Method Split

After some reading on Texas Method training, I think I'll give it a shot. I have made some progress on the bench press using the Doug Young bench press template and very good progress on the back squat using a simple 5x5/3x5 progression, working up to 485x5 for a few sets and hitting a 515 lbs. single. My stalled and pathetic deadlift went from 455x1 to 495x1 using the Brad Gillingham DL program.

The Texas Method 4-day split seems like a natural extension of these training programs: it alternates volume days (reps) and intensity days (heavy, but still reps), allows me to squat twice a week while not neglecting the deadlift and to (seriously) incorporate the standing overhead press, which I have neglected over the past year. The original version of TM called for squatting 3 days per week and had a "light day", which seems unnecessary to me.

I generally don't see the need to squat more than once per week. However, I have recently scaled my squat weights down significantly in an effort to address some mobility and discomfort issues I'm experiencing and 95% of my training now consists of light paused squats. So two days will be fine, since the weights are light (e.g. paused squats for 275 lbs. x 5, or around 55% of 1RM). Sometimes I'll add a few heavier sets of regular squats, but the bread and butter of my leg training will be paused stuff.

A recent article by 800-lb. squatter Sam Byrd has also got me rethinking my approach to the back squat. This top-level powerlifter spends 10-18 weeks doing preparatory training ("base-building")  during which he never goes over 500 for sets and does most of his work with 420 lbs. Reading this made me wonder about the purpose of my death-sets in the 400-480 range, seeing how I squat about 60% of what he does :) So I'll be pushing the paused squats as the main squat variety for multiple sets of 5 and try to get as strong as possible at them; right now 280-300 feels like too much, and I'd like to hit a 405-lb. paused squat this year.

Overall the template should look something like this:

Week 1

Day 1 - upper body volume day
Bench press 3 sets x 5 - use a close-ish grip and try to up the weight 5 lbs. each week
Standing OH press 3 sets x 5 - strict, try to up by 5 each week
Row - cable low pulley row, 3 sets x 6-8 (alternate with BP)
Weighted dips - 3 sets x 10, add weight once this feels easy but don't push it
Pullups - unweighted to avoid tendinitis (alternate with OHP)
Arm work - BB curls and skullcrushers

Day 2 - lower body volume day
Start with light extensions and abductor/adductor machines
Paused squat 5x5, progress to 3x5 as weight gets heavier - try to up weight 5 lbs. per week
Romanian DL - 3 sets x 5-8 - up weight when possible, but focus on strictness of movement
Leg press with pause at bottom, 3-4 sets of 10
Leg extensions 2-3 sets x 10, heavy
Situps on ab board

Day 3 - upper body intensity day
Bench press - work up to a heavy (not top) triple, try to increase 5 lbs. per week
Bench press w. SlingShot - add 5-10 lbs. and do triple, repeat for 2-3 sets
Push press 4 sets x 2 - suck at these, I've never push pressed more than I could strict press :(
Barbell rows 3 x 5, try to keep strict and don't overdo the weight
Arm work - DB curls and pushdowns

Day 4 - lower body intensity day
Squat heavy - work up to a top triple, no more than 10 reps at 80% or more of max
Deadlift speed - 10 singles on the minute with a light weight, focus on fast pull with good form
Back raises 3 x 10
Hypers or glute-ham raises to finish
Situps on ab board

Week 2

All same except for:

Day 4 - lower body intensity day
Deadlift heavy - to a top double, then 2 sets x 5 light back-off
Squat speed - 6-8 doubles with light weight, focus on bouncing out of the hole, progress to 10x2

Back raises 3 x 10
Hypers or glute-ham raises to finish
Situps on ab board

Speed lifts are progressed only when every rep in the 10 sets moves with maximum explosion.

On volume days, the weight is kept the same across the sets of 5.

I will start out light and try to gain momentum for a steady increase. The above split will increase my squatting volume and reduce my bench pressing volume (presently 4 sets of 6, twice per week).

Training - Legs

11 March 2013

Pre-exhaust leg ext 2 x 12, abductor/adductor 1 x 20 each, light

Pause squats 135x5 - 185x5 - 225x5 x 4 sets - 235x5

Regular squats 315x5

Heels-elevated squats AMAP with 135 lbs.

Romanian DL 2 x 8 w. 135 lbs., 1 x 8 w. 155

Leg press with pause at bottom 4 p x 10, 5 p x 10, x 8

Leg extension, heavy 2 x 10

Incline board situps 1 x 20 unweighted, 2 x 10 weighted

Adductor/abductor machine 1 x 20 each, heavy

Friday, March 8, 2013

Training - Bench Press

7 March 2013

Did bench presses and SlingShot bench presses.

Bench press, regular: 290 lbs. x 3 sets x 6, 1 set x 4

Bench press with SS: 315x5 335x3

One-arm DB rows 4 sets x 6

DB curls, seated on bench, 4 sets x 8

DB skullcrushers 2 x 10, rope pushdowns 1 set x 12

Reverse curls 2 x 8

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Training - Pull

6 March 2013

Deadlifting went OK today considering I did squats yesterday.

Stiff-leg DL: 115x10 - 225x5 - 275x3 - 315x3 - 365x5

Romanian DL 3 sets x 8

Incline ab board situps, 1 x 20 BW, 3 x 10 weighted

Back hyperextensions 3 x 10

Leg press w. pause at bottom: 4 plates x 10, 5p x 2 x 10

Abductor/adductor machines 1 set x 20 each

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Training - Legs

5 March 2013

Still doing rehab squats. Focused on quads today, as I'll be deadlifting tomorrow and wanted to spare the posterior chain somewhat.

Pause squats 135x5 - 185x3 - 225x3 - 245x3 - 275x3 - 295x3 (added belt on last set)

The first three sets were done with small plates under my heels, keeping the upper body completely vertical. Something like the incline squat mentioned here. Definitely something to keep doing, but I won't be going over 135 lbs. on this exercise in the future, as it does strain the knees quite a bit.

Leg extension 3 x 12, heavy

Hack squat (1 plate each side) 3 sets. I don't get how some people can use significant weight on this exercise, one plate per side kicks my ass worse than 400-lb. close-stance squats. Whatever.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Training - Bench Press

5 March 2013

Bench press: 290 lbs. x 3 sets x 6, 1 set x 5

Seated pulley row 3 sets x 6

DB flyes 1 set x AMAP (somewhere around 20)

Standing military press 185x4, 155x6, 135x8

Pullups 3 x 5

Seated two-DB curls 3 x 10

Rope pushdowns 3 x 10-12

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Training - Deadlift

2 March 2013

Deadlift from below knee:

135x10 - 225x5 - 315x2 - 385x1 - 415x1 - 435x1 - 455x1 - 475x1 (PR)

Last cycle I peaked out at 455 or 460, so this was pretty good.

Incline board situps, 1 x 20 unweighted, 2 x 10 weighted

Back hypers 3 x 10

Glute-ham raise 3 x 5

HammerStrength shrug 4 x 8-12

Romanian deadlift 135 x 3 x 8

Reverse curl 3 x 10

Friday, March 1, 2013

Training - Bench Press, Raw and GearWhore Style

1 March 2013

After much reading of reviews and deliberating, I broke down and bought a SlingShot from Mark Bell's online store. I never saw the point in "geared" bench pressing since I don't compete, but I read a lot of really positive reviews from raw bench pressers who recommend it for overload training.

I've been toying with the idea ever since I've started bench pressing twice a week. When the weights got heavy in my last training cycle, I began to experience some pectoral pain and I'm terrified of a pec tear. So I got one two days ago and today was my first workout with it.

Bench press (no SS): warmup, then 290 lbs. x 4 sets x 6

Bench press, with SS: 225x6, 305x5, 325x4. These were nice and controlled, close-grip presses.

While there is definitely a learning curve with this thing, it felt nice and natural even on the first set. The SlingShot locks your arms in the correct biomechanical groove, forces you to tuck your elbows into your sides and grip the bar close, thus delivering cruel and unusual punishment to your triceps. I'd rate the device 10/10.

While it definitely gives you a considerable boost at the bottom (from the chest), it's not a ridiculous amount of boost, and the upper half of the movement is 100% shoulders and triceps. I can definitely bench press 325 lbs. for a top set of 4 even without the SlingShot, but not after hitting all those sets and reps beforehand. So I'd say the 10% overload estimate is pretty spot on. I've decided to use it after my regular sets are done, as overload for 1-2 heavy sets of 5, maybe once a week. Hopefully this will allow me to keep pressing twice a week while reducing the strain on my pectorals and shoulders. The ultimate goal is still 405x1, no SlingShot.

Chest-supported rows 4 sets x 6-10

Dips 1 x 9 unweighted, 1 x 8 + 10 lbs., 1 x 6 +25 lbs.

Pullups 3 sets x 5

DB incline bench curls 3 x AMAP

Seated half-curls with barbell 3 sets x AMAP