Chained Down

Chained Down
Breaking through the Chains

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Training, Family, and Food.

Well I haven't posted in a while because my past week was extremely busy.  The week consisted of a lot of studying, training, and preparation for my family's weekend visit.  Prioritizing sucks, but it is a necessity in the busy world in which we live.  I had to miss a day of training and set aside some friend time, computer time, and other things for the week.  I wanted to make sure that I got all of the studying done I needed for that week and the upcoming week.  I also had to clean my apartment so that my family could spend the weekend in a livable environment.
Since I have not posted in a while, I will first update some of my training.  Last week I ate pretty low calorie and low carb because I knew that I would be loading up on the weekend with my family!  Therefore, I was lacking in energy and strength.  However, I was still able to have some pretty decent workouts.  Last Monday I was able to get 12 deep ass reps with 455 on squat and also 8 reps on deadlift with 415.  I was very pleased with my deadlift because, due to some lower back pain, I had not deadlifted in about 3 weeks.  Last Thursday I had a pretty crappy workout because I was so tired.  But, I hit 365 for one after all my sets on bench press.  I didn't go all out, but I did it pretty easy... I estimate it is about 90% of my max.  Friday, my family came into town and I had a pretty good workout with my little brother and then treated him to some Smoothie King!  We did back together... after doing about 40 pullups I hit One Arm Rows with 150 pounds for 18 on each arm.  We also did some bent over rows, V-bar pulldowns, and some curls at the end.  I was far more impressed with my brother than myself.  When we started lifting I had to assist him on every pull-up almost.  Friday he did 10 on his first set pretty easily without any assistance.  He also did 55 pounds on one arm rows and matched my 18s.  Then, he out repped me on pulldowns with the weight he was using!  He is getting pretty strong.
After working out Friday, I continued to have a fantastic weekend with my family.  We did a lot of bonding, eating, and playing with the Ripster.  I ate so much!  Friday night I had a Gyro and sweet potato fries at Volta; Saturday morning I had 3 Oat Pancakes and a biscuit at BBB's; I ate animal crackers all day, had a footlong sub, and then ate some chicken pad thai that night!  I finished the night with a Sonic Oreo blast... mmm I love playing fat boy! Sunday I ate Abners grilled chicken.  Oh how I wish I had some more of those cookies that almost resemble zoo animals :)

I ended my fantastic weekend with my family and said my sad goodbyes.  Family is awesome.  I love them so much.  A strong family can help you get through anything.  I am so thankful.  We fight like wild dogs, but in the end we are the best of friends.  Also, the fighting can be a great form of entertainment.  I was fortunate enough to witness my little bro and sis exchange some powerful punches to the face!  It was  awesome!  My mother's wrath following was not so awesome. 

After they left, I had another pretty decent workout.  I did standing military with perfect form, no leg movement at all.  I finished with 195 for 1 pretty easily; again, I estimate that to be about 90%.  I then followed that with some barbell shrugs.  My last set I did a rest-pause set with 475 pounds.  I did 9 reps, waited 15 seconds, and then did 7 more.  After the shrugs, I did some seated dumbbell presses. My last set I did 90 pound dumbells for another rest-pause set.  I hit 10 reps, rested 15 seconds, and then did 3 more reps.  I finished the day with some light machine side laterals, light high pulls, and a high-rep set of dips.  All in all I was pleased.
Great weekend... now on to a night of studying for my first test of the semester.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

PR All Day, Every Day

The past couple of weeks have been some weeks of achievement for myself.  After experiencing a few small, but challenging, injuries, I have been able to set some personal records (PRs) in the gym.  Over the past couple of weeks I have been pushing throught some nagging injuries.  Last week I considered taking a few of my training days off because they hurt so badly.  My lower back, upper back, and shoulder have all been causing some problems.  I am in no way degrading taking days off or even deloading for a week (lowering the weights, volume, and effort significantly for a week).  However, I had not planned to incorporate these types of days and I felt that I could just suck it up.  I guess my intuition was right, or atleast I hope. 
I think this post is a good follow-up for my previous post because it demonstrates all of the advice that I provided could really work.  I have made significant jumps in both my squat and my bench press.   Last week on Thursday I set a PR on bench.  I did 340 pounds seven times.  I did not foresee myself hitting that number at all.  I thought maybe I would get 3 or 4 reps, but not 7.  Today, I continued to set a PR in squat.  I hit 500 pounds for 7 reps going very deep (I think depth should be emphasized more).  On both sets I felt that I had a few more left in the tank, but decided to hold up at 7 for some odd reason.  I also did standing military with 205 pounds for 4 reps Sunday.  500 is still off of the 540 that Jim Wendler hit for 7 in a youtube video: 

Nevertheless, for me, I feel that I hit a pretty good number and I am consistently going up in weight.  I think it is time for me to lay out my program, so that others can get a feel for what I do.  Remember, a program should be set up on an individual basis.  What I do will probably not work for everyone.  But, here it is:
Thursday- this is a bench day for me.  I begin with bench press using Wendler’s 5/3/1 periodization method, then I do an exercise to work on my strength off the chest, then an exercise to work on my lockout, then a push-up variation for speed, then some elbow rehabilitation work consisting of high repetition tricep work, and I finish with some ab work.
Friday-  I usually begin with deadlifts, but because of my lower back problems I may move deadlifts to squat day to allow for more recovery days.  I follow with an Upper Back exercise, a variation of back rows hitting the horizontal plane, two variations of  back exercises hitting the vertical plane, some dumbell pullovers, shrugs, high rep biceps work, and then finish with some abs.
Saturday is an off day
Sunday- I begin with standing military press using 5/3/1, standing military for higher reps, incline dumbell presses, side laterals, narrow upright rows, rear delt work, and finish with more abs
Monday- I do some additional arm work and some cardio
Tuesday- I do some stretching, I do squats using 5/3/1,  I do some lunges or hack squats, some lower back work, calves, heavy barbell shrugs, maybe some forearm work, then finally some grip work and abs. 
Wednesday is another off day for me.
Jim Wendler may not agree with the amount of volume I do, but I am trying to work all that out and reduce it some.  I will probably deload after 3 more weeks.  Hopefully, I continue to make gains and set PRs. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Some Thoughts About Progress, Consistency, and Training Partners

Alot of people get discouraged about progress in the gym and consistency.  I know that I certainly do.  It seems as though no matter how hard you try and work, you never seem to get your lifts any higher.  When they do go up, the max lift may only go up 5 or 10 pounds.  This does not seem like a very substantial improvement.

At this time in my senior year my max in bench press was only about 275 pounds and my max in squats was only about 405 pounds.  I am not so sure about my deadlift max because I never did many deadlifts until this school year, but I believe it was right around 405 pounds... maybe less.  These lifts never seemed to increase.

My roommate, Shane Anderson, is also very big into lifting weights.  His max in bench was around 300, in squat it was around 350, and in deadlift it was around 465.

Currently, two years later, my bench press max is around 375.  My squat is in the mid 500's and my deadlift is around 515 pounds.  Shane's max in bench press is around 365 pounds.  His squat is around 445 pounds and he has deadlifted about 545 pounds.  In exactly two years, maybe less, my bench has gone up 100 pounds, my squat has gone up almost 150 pounds, and my deadlift has gone up about 100 pounds.  In this same amount of time Shane's bench has gone up around 65 pounds, his squat has gone up around 100 pounds, and his deadlift around 80 pounds.

If you look at these improvements in the prospective of the course of two years, our max lifts have gone up drastically.  Even though it seems as though it takes a long time the improvement is really quite drastic.

Shane has always kept the same routine and no matter what he stays very consistent in his workouts.  He always workouts, never missing many of his workouts, and always trains very hard.  I was always switching up my routines, until I finally found what I feel is best for me this past year.  Me and Shane have very different training styles.  But, no matter how we train, we always consistently train hard and train on a consistent basis.  I believe that is the key.  No matter how you train, train hard and train consistently... never give up on yourself.  Everyone trains different because everyone is very different.

But, no matter how you train always remember to train hard and train consistently.  It may seem as though progress comes slow, but if you train hard and train on a consistent basis the progress will come.  Even if your goal is not to be stronger, these keys will allow you to progress in any goal that you may have.  And it seems as though progress comes very slow, but look at it over long periods of time.  Even if you increase your max 5 pounds a months, that 5 pounds turns into 120 pounds in two years!  That rate of improvement is awesome!  Something that has helped me and is very useful in progression is a book by Jim Wendler called 5/3/1.  I recommend this book for anyone trying to get stronger.  No matter what you do, do what you enjoy and do what you feel you can do consistently week in and week out.

Also, training partners can be very key to progress.  I have new training partners now ranging from my friends Shane, Harrison Daly, and Troy Maninino to my younger brother, Joe.  But, all of these partners are very helpful in motivation and staying consistent.  I have also had great partners in years past including the Power B gym, the Salters brothers, and my boy Jared Blue.  Training partners are not essential (many times I lift alone), but they can certainly be helpful.  This is especially true when starting out.  I hope everyone meets their goals and remembers these tips.  I also want to apologize if any of my previous posts offended anyone.  My goal in this blog is not to offend others, but to just provide good tips and make the reading enjoyable.  Best of wishes.