T Nation

Get Stronger, Look Better


#1

After spinning my wheels for too long, I’m finally starting a training log.

Background

  • age: 33
  • height: 6’1"
  • weight: 176 lbs
  • body fat %: scale says 14 - 14.5% but who knows for sure
  • training age: I’ve been training inconsistently for years. I’ve been stronger in the past, but inconsistency and lack of direction have left me weaker.
  • goals: get stronger, look better, improve posture, maintain mobility

Training

I’m currently able to make the gym 3 days a week (sometimes 2 depending on work and family commitments). I just started a push/pull split after futzing around with full body routines for a while. Full body routines are prescribed as best medicine for someone at my level, but I’ve been stuck in place for too long. I think a push/pull split will let me get in enough volume to elicit a training response while allowing more time for recovery. I think there’s more margin for error compared to a fully body split.

For squats and presses, the plan is to work up to a top set in the 5 - 8 range, then follow up with sets of 5 at 80 - 85% of the top set weight. I’ll adjust the number of down sets based on the lift and how I’m progressing. Based on experience, I tend to need more volume on upper body presses than on squats. When I hit 8 reps on my top set, I’ll increase the weight.

For deadlifts, I’m going to shoot for 10 total reps at the same weight. I’ve been liking 3 sets at 5, 3, and 2 reps lately. Sometimes I’ll go for more reps on the last set. After deadlifts, I’ll do RDLs or back extensions for higher reps. I’ll follow this up with pull-up ladders, then some seated cable rows.

Each day, I’ll probably add in some unplanned direct arm and ab work, which I may or may not record.

Overall structure will look like this - press 1 / pull / press 2 / pull / repeat

Press Day 1

  • Squat - work up to top set followed by sets of 5 at lower weight
  • Press - work up to top set followed by sets of 5 at lower weight
  • DB bench press - 4-5x10

Press Day 2

  • Squat - work up to top set followed by sets of 5 at lower weight
  • Bench Press - work up to top set followed by sets of 5 at lower weight
  • One-arm standing db pres - 4-5x10

Pull Day

  • Deadlift - 3 sets at 5, 3, 2 reps
  • RDL or back extensions - 2-3x10
  • Pull-up ladders. I’ll do the occasional AMRAP set to measure progress.
  • 4-5x10 seated cable rows
  • Something for rear delts - face pulls, rear delt raises, etc.

I’m going to give this 4-6 weeks before considering adjustments.

Some recent lifts to give an idea of where I’m “starting” from. Weights are in pounds, not kilos (don’t laugh).

  • squat: 165x8
  • incline bench press: 115x7
  • deadlift: 195x5, 3, 4
  • 7 neutral grip pull-ups

#2

5-JAN-2018

A couple notes on formatting. Lift are recorded as weightxrepsxsets. Assume 1 set if there’s nothing listed.

I’m including an estimated 1RM derived from my top set. I understand this won’t be accurate since I will have accumulated some fatigue by the time I hit my top set. I’m more interested in making sure this number trends up over time.

Work sets are in bold for my main lifts. I consider anything above 70% of my estimated 1RM a work set.

The goal is to progress while doing as few sets as possible. Not sure if I did enough volume today. If I don’t feel stronger on my next push workout, I’ll add more sets.

Squat

I probably could have done another rep or 2 on my top set, but this was my first time squatting 175 in a while so wanted to take it easy. I’ll push it harder next time around.

45x10
95x5
135x5
145x5
160x5
175x5 (est. 1RM 197)
145x5
145x5

OHP

I had some pain behind my right shoulder afterwards. This has been happening more frequently lately. My gut tells me this is the result of my desk job, spending all day using a mouse (right handed) and keyboard. I’m going to try the banded dynamic warm up I saw on the front page before pressing next time.

45x5
55x5
65x5
75x7 (est. 1RM 90)
60x5
60x5
60x5

Flat DB Bench Press

40x6x5

Push-ups

2 slow tempo sets to failure

Standing cable crunch

50x9x3


#3

6-JAN-2018

In general, I don’t want to train on back-to-back days on this template. But, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back into the gym until Tuesday if I didn’t hit it today, so here we are.

Deadlift

My lower back was a little tight after squatting yesterday, so I got in my 10 reps over 5 sets instead of 3. I’m thinking of doing something like 5x2 one workout, 3x3 the next, then 5, 3, 2. Next workout I’d repeat with 5x2 with an additional 10 pounds.

135x5
135x5
155x3
175x2
195x1
205x2
205x2
205x2
205x2
205x2

RDL

85x10x2

Pull-up ladders

30s between rungs, 60s between ladders. Lats were definitely fatigued from deadlifts. Had some of the same shoulder (not quite) pain at the bottom of each rep. I’m thinking about doing a row variation for my primary upper body pull to see if that helps.

BWx1,2,3
BWx1,2,3
BWx1,2,3

Seated Cable Rows (wide grip attachment)

75x10x5

Face Pulls

15x10x3

Cable Curls

20x6
25x6
30x10,4,4,4 (rest-pause)


#4

9-JAN-2018

Squat

Lower back and hips felt beat up today. I think I went too heavy or did too much volume last squat session. The 5th rep at 165 was a struggle, so I stopped increasing the weight there. I may tweak what I’m doing with my squats a bit. Maybe not push my top set for AMRAP. Instead, I could stop a few reps early, knock the weight down and push that lower set for AMRAP. Another option would be to switch to something less demanding (like lunges) after the top set. I"ll experiment and see what works.

45x10
95x5
125x5
145x5
155x5
165x5 (est. 1RM 186)
155x5
145x5

Spoto Press

Right shoulder been bugging me, so I did some Spoto presses to work on tightness and scapular retraction. I stayed well short of failure. Worked well; shoulder feels fine.

45x10
95x4
95x4
95x4
95x4
95x4

Bench Press

105x8

Standing One-arm DB Shoulder Press

30x8x3

Plate-loaded Shoulder Press Machine

110x12

Standing Cable Crunch

42.5x10
50x10x2

Tricep Push-down (Rope)

20x12
25x10
30x6
25x6
20x8


#5

11-JAN-2018

I’m either back squatting or deadlifting every workout. I’m not sure my lower back is fully recovering. I think I may switch to a different leg exercise after my top set of squats - lunges or leg press.

Deadlift

None of my sets really felt good until the last one… still dialing in the mechanics I guess.

135x4x2
155x2
175x2
195x1
205x3
205x3
205x3

45 Degree Back Extension

Did these holding a 25 lb DB in each hand. I think I prefer RDLs.

25x9x2

Pull-up Ladders

30s between rungs, 60s between ladders. Neutral grip for 1st and 3rd ladders. Pronated grip for 2nd.

BWx1,2,3
BWx1,2,3
BWx1,2,3

Spoto Press

I did these between ladders. Doing them as “rehab” - light weight, staying away from failure, focusing on scapular retraction and staying tight.

45x10
95x4x4

Seated Cable Row (narrow grip attachment)

Narrow grip attachment is much easier than wide grip, so I up’d the weight.

90x10x3
75x12

Cable Curl

20x8
25x6
30x12,4,4,4 (rest-pause)

Standing Cable Crunch

50x10
50x8
50x8


#6

14-JAN-2018 - Push

Going to the gym for a pull day tomorrow, so I opted for front squats instead of back squats to spare my lower back.

Front Squat

Haven’t done these in months, but they felt fine. Did some hip mobility drills beforehand, which felts great. At one point, I did 135 for 3 reps. I remember getting some low back pain during front squats in the past, but focused on bracing, which helped a lot.

45x5
65x5
85x5
95x5
105x5
115x4 (est. 1RM 125)
95x5
95x5

Incline Bench Press

I did shoulder dislocates, band pull-aparts, rotator cuff stuff before first warm-up set, and the nagging shoulder irritation I’ve been dealing with wasn’t an issue.

45x10
75x5
95x5
105x5
115x6 (est. 1RM 135
95x5x3

Lateral Raise Machine

40x12
45x8
45x8


#7

15-JAN-2018 - Pull

Deadlift

Welp, f’d up my back on my second work set of deadlifts. Right in the middle of the lift I tweaked my lower back. I’ve done this in the past, but always on the eccentric. First set flew up. I was focused on my bracing and extending my chest. I let it all go to shit on the second set, I guess. I’m thinking light squats on my next push day (Wednesday) or leg press if the squats bug my back. Then, light good mornings on my next pull day (Friday) instead of deadlifts. Reevaluate after that.

135x5
135x5
155x3
175x2
195x1
205x5 (est. 1RM 231)
205x1

Pull-ups (Neutral Grip)

Did an AMRAP set to test progression. Pretty happy with 8 reps.

BWx2
BWx2
BWx8
BWx4
BWx4

Cable Rows (Narrow Grip)

Lower back started bugging me after a few sets, so I called it quits.

90x10
90x10
90x8

My back has gotten worse and worse since getting home from the gym. Hoping ibuprofen and ice will provide some relief.


#8

17-JAN-2018 Push

Back is still messed up, but better than yesterday. I didn’t want to load the spine, so this workout looks a bit different.

Bulgarian Split Squat

35x10x3

Leg Press

230x10x3

Incline Bench Press

Thinking of following 5/3/1 + FSL for some lifts. Tried this today with a 120 TM.

80x5
90x5
100x10 (est. 1RM 133)
80x5x5

Tricep Push-down (Rope)

25x8
30x6
35x14,4,4 (rest-pause)


#9

19-JAN-2018 Pull

My back is feeling much better. I no longer feel like I’m being jabbed by hot pokers when flex or rotate my lumbar region.

Trying Greg Nuckols’ linear periodization model, laid out here…

Deadlift

I expected 10 - 12 reps at 165, but came up short. Could be due to lingering back issues or the fact that I’m not used to deadlifting for more than 5 reps.

135x5
135x5
165x8 (est. 1RM 205)
155x8

Pull-ups

I read Lee Boyce’s article on pull-ups and tried to incorporate the technique he outlined. Primary take-away was depress shoulders to initiate the lift. Took some getting used to, but I felt the movement in my upper middle back and not just in my “wings” like I normally do. Right shoulder is bugging me a bit though.

1,2,3 (pronated)
1,2,3 (neutral)
1,2,3 (pronated)

Plate-loaded chest-supported row

45x10x4

Cable curl (straight bar)

15x8
20x6
25x15,4,4 (rest-pause)

Standing cable crunch

42.5x10x3


#10

20-JAN-2018

Today wasn’t great. The gym was hot an crowded, which threw me off my game. Plus, my lower back was still sore from deadlifts yesterday

Incline bench press

I tried the linear periodization rep scheme from the post above. Shoulder started bothering me after my first set.

100x10 (est. 1RM 133)
95x10
90x8

Front squat

These didn’t feel good at all. Guessing because my trunk was still fatigued from deadlifts yesterday.

95x3x5

Standing db shoulder press

25x10
25x8 (I think I didn’t rest long enough after my first set)
25x10
25x12

Leg Press

I didn’t feel like I got enough work in on legs, so I did a couple quick sets.

180x15
180x15

Push-ups

BWx10
BWx9
BWx8


#11

Been a while. After seeing my rep maxes stay about the same for a month+, I decided to give tactical barbell a shot. I picked front squat, incline bench press, seated cable rows and deadlift for my first block. I only made it 3 weeks before I gave in and retested my maxes. Front squat went from 135x3 to 145x4. Incline bench press went from 115x7 to 125x7. Deadlift stayed about the same 215x3. I think my issue with full body programs before was that I would take each set too close to failure, and I wouldn’t fully recovery between workouts. Turns out, I really like percentage based training.

For my next block, I think I’m going to swap out front squats for back squats. My knees were bothering me with the front squats, which I assume is due to excessive forward knee travel compared to back squats. Also thinking of swapping deadlifts for RDLs.