build muscle

Training Plan: Dec-Jan 7th 2012

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I thought I’d let everyone know what I’m doing for my training over the next month.  Initially I planned on moving straight into another 16 weeks of the Jugg Method but I found out yesterday the gym I train at is going to have a push/pull meet on January 7th.  Since I left a lot on the platform during my deadlift at the last competition I’m going do the push/pull meet and skip the push portion.  My right wrist has been bothering me the last month or two and the last week and a half has been the worst of it so far.  I think it’s a combo of some tendonitis and an imbalance between flexor/extensor sleep in my wrist.  To take care of this I’m doing a “No Push December”.  I’m cutting out all pressing to give my wrists a break and bring my back size and strength up to par.  Here is what my training template is looking like for the next 5 weeks.

Monday- Horizontal Pull/Tricep Ext/Unilateral Carry
Tuesday- Squat/Posterior Chain/Abs/Biceps
Thursday- Vertical Pull/Shoulders/Abs
Friday- Deadlift/Single Leg/Bilateral Carry/Abs

Here is what yesterday and todays training sessions ended up being.

Monday-
Barbell Row- 135# x 5 x 10
Dumbbell Row- 80# x 3 x 5
Dumbbell Tricep Extension- 25# x 3 x 10
Face Pulls- 60# x 12, 70# x 12, 12
Suitcase Carry- 65# x 20 yards x 2 trips

Tuesday-
Squat- 200# x 5 x 6
Deadstop RDL- 135 x 8, 185 x 8, 8, 8
Barbell Rollout- 3 x 10
Reverse BB Curl- 75 x 8, 8, 8

The squat and deadlift I have planned numbers I’m going to use but the Monday and Thursday workouts will be more by feel. I’m aiming for a 460# deadlift in January so I have to work on what I suck at. Namely that’s lower body and posterior chain strength so I’m going to hit those like a madman. I’ll let you know in January how it went.

Bench Rattle

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Serge Nubret

Power or speed training is a very overlooked aspect of most Average Joes in the gym today.  They’ll turn up their nose at the thought of dynamic or speed work on the premise that they aren’t athletes or powerlifters.  They’re only looking to get HUGE so who cares about how fast you move the bar.  I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t been using some sort of periodic dynamic training then your training could be lagging behind.

Muscle Fiber & Nervous System Primer
For those of you who don’t know there are three types of muscle fiber and each have distinctly different characteristics.

Type 1- Slow Twitch: These are endurance muscle fibers. They are built to run on the aerobic system and to contract slowly and repeatedly.

Type 2a- Intermediate: These fibers aren’t purely slow twitch and they’re not purely fast twitch (discussed later) either. They can run on multiple energy systems and will take on the properties of the muscle fiber that it is trained as. So if you do a ton of endurance training they can become more like type 1 fibers. If your training is very fast and explosive they will become more like the type 2b fibers.

Type 2b- Fast Twitch: These fibers have very poor endurance but pack all the power. They won’t contract repeatedly but they do contract quickly with very high force.

Fiber type is important because the type 1 fibers don’t respond to hypertrophy well but the type 2 fibers do which is where your growth potential is at.

The nervous system is what relays the signal from the brain to the muscles in order to make the contract. Where many people will mess up their next training session up is to do to may warm up sets and move to dang slow! The body will only activate and use as many muscle fibers as it needs to complete the task at hand. If all the muscles of your hand fired at 100% every time you moved you would snap all your pens and destroy your keyboard! Here are a couple principles that will help you understand how the nervous system works:

#1- The nervous system fires muscle fibers starting from smallest to biggest (Type 1 then Type 2).

#2- The nervous system only has access to fibers that have been previously fired.

So, in order to hit those high power/high threshold fibers all the available type 1 fibers must be fired maximally. If your type 1 fibers are tired and fatigued then your nervous system won’t be able to recruit the type 2 fibers optimally.

In summary, type 2 fibers are where most of your growth and strength potential are at and those fibers can’t be recruited unless the type 1 fibers can fire maximally.

What does power have to do with it?

Power (for our purposes anyway) is the ability to produce maximal force in the shortest amount of time possible.  This can be judged by speed of the weight as it moves relative to the amount of weight used (as a percentage of your 1 rep max).  High power output = high type 2 fiber recruitment.  Usually when people think of power training they visualize things like the olympic lifts, box jumps, or other plyometrics.  While these certainly all develop power they aren’t appropriate for the average guy in the gym so how to we integrate power training for them?  We focus on the intention of speed.

This article is going to focus specifically on the bench press.  If you are still benching pressing down to your neck with a flat back and flared eblows you need to get with the program and start at the very least tucking your elbows some to keep your shoulders safe.  Remember that part of getting those big type 2 fibers to fire is to be able to produce enough force to require they’re involvement which means STRENGTH development.  If you have been benching the same numbers for months or years then I’m guessing your chest development has probably stopped as well.

So what is a Bench Rattle and what does it have to do with chest development?

Think of it as speed benching for beginners.  These will be integrated into your warm up sets so that when  you head into your heavier sets your nervous system is primed up and ready to rock.  The Bench Rattle is simply trying to move the bar so fast that the plates rattle together when you hit the top.  Leave the clips or locks off the bar for warm up sets in order to actually get a “rattle”.

First we abbreviate your warm ups to prevent unnecessary fatigue.  So if the goal is to work up to a 200 pound work set or 5 reps your warm up will look like this.

Bar x 5
105 x 3
125 x 3
175 x 1
200 x 5 (work set)

Now instead of going through the motions during the warm up we focus on speed of the movement. As soon as there is weight on the bar you should be attempting to make it rattle on each rep. During your first sets the bar is going to move fairly fast. As the weight goes up your bar speed may slow down but the intention of speed should always be there. A purposefully slow contraction will prevent the big type 2 fibers from firing like they should. If you are using a false grip I highly recommend you switch to a full grip and start squeezing the bar as hard as possible during the movement. This will keep the bar more stable but it also helps fire up the nervous system via a phenomenon know as Irradiation.

NASA KS Regionals- November 19th

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The competition is coming up fast and I’m excited to see how this short training cycle and the Jugg Method I used over the summer will bring up my total.  I don’t have any plans right now as to what my openers or anything will be but all my lifts are definitely up.  After the meet is over I might post up the training cycle I’m using to peak for the meet.  At the last meet I lifted in the 220 weight class (weighed in at 215) but I’m going to try and get down to the 181 weight class.  I’m setting at 198 as of this morning as I still have plenty of fat to lose.  Here is how my training and diet are currently set up.

Training:
Monday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Lift
Tuesday- PM Lift
Wednesday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Recovery/Restoration
Thursday- PM Lift
Friday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Lift
Saturday- Recovery/Restoration
Saturday- OFF

I’ll add more cardio I go. The Recovery/Restoration could be anything from sled dragging, body weight training, or just some more cardio and stretching. I’m training the hell out of my abs and lower back both around my cardio as well as during my training sessions since that’s a major weakness for me.

Diet:
I’m using a Modified Warrior Diet along with some Creatine Monohydrate.  I’ll only train in the mornings if I have to and if that does happen I’ll backload 99% of my carbs so that I don’t wreck my hormone levels during the day.

Intensification 3s- Military Press

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Military Press-
120 x 1
130 x 1
140 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

FG DS DB Row-
95 x 12, 8

Defranco Shoulder Tri-Set-
25# Lateral/Clean & Press, 35# Plate Front Raise x 10, 10, 8

Pull Ups-
BW x 36

Pause Wide Grip Machine Row-
120 x 15

Used just a touch of leg drive on my last 5 sets of military press. Kept my feet flat on the floor but got a little knee drive. Progressed in either weight or reps on all my other exercises too so I’m happy. Looking forward to some squats later today!

Accumulation 3s- Bench

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Bench Press-
185 x 7 sets x 3 reps

Gittleson Shrug-
55 x 8, 8, 8

Tate Press
30 x 8
35 x 8, 8

Flat DB Bench-
55 x 12, 12

Face Pull-
50 x 10
60 x 10, 10

Good day. I’m day 1 of going caffeine free for a bit in order to get my fat loss back on track. I realized that I’ve become a little to dependent on my coffee and other stims throughout the day and I don’t like it. Aside from just the general drag that I’ve had my fat loss has ground to screeching halt. I’m pretty sure that my adrenals are really sensitive stims so I’m knocking them out for awhile. I’ll still have a little decaf coffee every now and then but in general my only “caffeine” source will be some green tea that’s not brewed very strong. I have a video of my last two sets on bench that I’ll get posted up later.

Accumulation 3s- Squat

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Box Jump-
36 inch box x 3 sets x 2 jumps

Squat-
225 x 7 sets x 3

BB Reverse Lunge- (clean grip)
95 x 5/leg
105 x 5/leg
115 x 5/leg

BB Hip Thrust- (bench supported)
135 x 3 sets x 3

EZ Bar Curl-
115 x 2, 2, 2, 2, 6

I’m going to be working the hip thrusts and try to get damn strong at those. It was a great glute/hamstring exercise that put zero pressure on my lower back. Didn’t get any video but I’ll try to get some benching and deadlifting later this week. Off to the gym for some sled dragging and cardio!

Training Update

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Don’t have the details in front of me but I hit all my reps on bench and deads last week.  My back, however, wasn’t really agreeing with the deads.  I was sore then I helped move my grandmother in-law move on Saturday and I was crazy stiff all weekend. Got into the chiropractor Monday and got it put back in but I’m not going to be squatting or deadlifting this week.  The military pressing went great Monday night (hit 140 for 8 reps) then did some machine work for back then some random stuff for shoulders.  I attempted to squat yesterday but I was still feeling my back a bit so I called it am just taking it easy.  I’ll be sled dragging today and Friday and possibly Saturday in order to make up for it.  I will be benching tomorrow and hopefully get some video. I’ll also have some updated pictures and measurements to post Saturday morning.

Accumulation 5- Bench

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One STRONG mofo

Bench Press- Paused last rep on first 5 sets
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5 (paused all reps)

Incline CG Pin Press-
135 x 8
155 x 8, 8

FG DB Row-
85 x 10
100 x 8 (deadstop each rep)

Felt slow today. I took my time and warmed up but the drive to bench just wasn’t there. I am looking forward to some deadlifting tomorrow though. My grip is definitely improving too. Last time I did fat grip dumbbell rows 85 pounds felt like 1000. Today I breezed right through that one so I went for the big jump.

Accumulation 5- Squat

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Squat-
210 x 5 x 6 sets

RDL-
185 x 5 (no belt)
185 x 5 (no belt)
225 x 6 (added belt)

Slider Leg Curls-
BW x 10 x 2 sets

Hanging Leg Raise-
BW x 7 reps total

Foam Roll/Stretch

I tried some bicep exercises but my wrists have been bugging me a bit so I skipped it. I’m going to start training my grip a couple times per week so my wrists should feel much better in a week or two.

Deloading, Nutrition, and Gym Improv

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Alright so it’s deload week for me. I hate taking them but after last week I needed a little break. My numbers are all moving up from cycle to cycle so I’m not going to mess with a good thing. Yesterday I took completely off and later today I’m going to head out and drag the sled for a bit and maybe carry my sandbag around the yard a couple times.

EDIT: Decided to just haul around the sandbag and do some grip work.  There is a large difference between a 135 pound sandbag and a 180 pound sandbag.

Since my activity levels have dropped for the week I’m lowering my calories and carbs along with it. As much as I want to move more towards a very slow recomp/lean mass gaining cycle I need to get my ass lean ASAP. I’ve been frustrated the past couple weeks thinking that I wasn’t making progress but after looking at some pictures my legs and arms are definitely getting leaner so I’m going to stick with what I was doing which wasn’t anything special. I was lifting in the AM and then back-loading all my carbs at night. Outside of my last meal it is all just protein, fat, and veggies.

Now, since I can’t afford a Prowler or sled and the gym I work at doesn’t have one then I’ve had to improvise with my clients. I also found an incredibly cheap alternative to buying something like a TRX.

Gym Improv #1- Decline Bench Prowler
If your gym has carpet or at least a surface that lets a bench slide fairly easy then you can sub out the prowler or sled with a decline bench. I found it works best to use the lowest setting on the bench. If you don’t care about having two different “handle” heights to push on then you can use a regular flat bench. To add resistance just throw some plates on the bench and push away.

Not the exact straps I have but the same fastener.

Gym Improv #2- Ratchet Strap TRX
All I did for these was purchase a pair of 6′ long (should got longer but oh well, live and learn) ratchet straps and 4 spring clips. Since the gym already has several pair of cable handles I didn’t bother attempting to make a pair. The straps I bought weren’t the traditional ratchets however, they are just a spring clip so that all I have to do is push the clip to adjust it. All you have to do is put the spring clips through either the loops sewn into the ends or through the metal loops of the hooks that are already on the straps. That’s it. Throw a handle on each one and you are ready to go.

I’ll get some video of both of these in action over the next couple of days.