T Nation

Jake's Road to Bodybuilding

Since I’m so frequently either reading training labs, forums or the occasional awesome article and rarely post, I figure this should “keep me accountable” to progress too. If no one follows then that’s cool too, since it means I have my training weights stored somewhere other then my blackberry “saved messages” folder.

Current stats-
194 morning weight. 5ft 10". Been 20 for nearly 2 months now.

No proper cuts just eating cleaner/smarter till ~230 or so.
Specifically bring up arms a lot and focus on rear delts and calfs enough for growth.

Tried to attach a picture of where I am now for reference.

Let’s try again…

Today was back-

Pull-ups - Wide-grip BW x 12, +5kg/11lb x10 mid-grip, +13/29lb x6.5 shoulder width.

BOR/Yates Row- 120kg/264lb x 10, 130kg/286lb x 10, 140kg/308lb x 10.5 PR – noticed today warming up in 1-3 rep range with weights very close to working weights seems to work well here –

T-Bar rows- 4 plates x 12, 4.5 plates x 12, 5 plates x10 – started to have grip issues with this many reps at this weight, may start to use straps –

My rear delt work-
90 degree R. Delt raise - 12.5x12, 13.5x12, 14.5x9.5.

Extra biceps work-
Preacher DB - 12.5x8, 12.5x12, 13.5x9, 14.5x9, 15.5x7 – still finding these much less natural using left arm, adding 3 forced reps on left side and working on form to improve –

A good 1 1/2 hours today. Good session.

I’m bothering to convert into pounds mainly for ease of comparison when looking at other logs. Also want to be able to say I can do “2 plates etc.” in America or Europe, ha.

Leg day (quad focus)

Squat - 110kg/220lb x 9 - 121kg/266lb x 9 - 130kg/286lb x 7 PR at this depth (top set is the video)

Front Squat - 70kg/154lb x 10 - 80kg/176lb x 10 - 91kg/200lb x 6 big PR at this depth (shoved the extra kilo on just to hit 200lbs on them)

Walking Barbell Lunges (reps per leg) - 35kg/77lb x 10 - 40kg/88lb x 10 - 50kg/110lb x 5

Legs were fried ! 9 sets all very tough…

Calf work

Calf raise using dip belt for weight - 45kg/99lb x 8 then x12 then x15

Single Leg DB Calf Raise (per leg) - 5kg/1lb x 8 - 10.5kg/23lb x 8 - 12.5/28lb x 8
Immediately after: BW calf raise x 24

Front calf (tibia?) - high rep band contraction things x12 x 15 x 24

Ab work

Dragon Flag x 12 Crunch x 10 x 12 x 14 x 16 x 6

Anyone have suggestions for adequate bodybuilding work for calfs on limited equipment? I can cover everything and hit it just how I want (for now) in my lil’ gym but calfs are a real struggle.

And if anyone wants to chime in on suggestions for good finisher <10 minute of ab exercises for training them 3/4 times a week, I’d appreciate it, don’t really know much about training them for bodybuilding besides Franco Columbo did 1000? crunches a day? ha

Good session today, happy. Sorry for the terrible quality video, my webcam fails.

Shoulders & Traps today - be prepared for an immense display of shoulder strength :wink: -

Standing Press - 46kg/101lb x 8 - 51kg/112lb x 8 - 56kg/123lb x 5

Seated DB Laterals - 12kg/27lb x 9 x 10 x 11 x 14 - up weight next time -

DB Front Raise - 12kg/27lb x 8 x 9 x 10 x 9

BB Shrugs - 141kg/310lb x 12 - 151kg/332lb x 12 - 171kg/376lb x 8 PR

Power Shrugs - 110kg/242lb x 10 - 120kg/264lb x 10 PR - 132kg/290lb x 7 PR - lowering as if trying to do a hang clean then acccelerating and contracting powerfully whilst shrugging as high as possible -

Rear Delt Raise - 12kg/27lb x 12 - 13lb/29lb x 12 - 14kg/31lb x 9

Feel like I should do more pressing work for shoulders but then a good amount on chest day and some on arms day as it is… either way I’m not sure about 2/3 of my shoulder workout being raises, even if I am giving every set 100%.

I need to eat to gain weight again, been hovering around 194 for too long.

Arm Day ! (kg/lbs)

Cheat BB Curl - 50/110 x 11 - 55/121 x10 - 60/132 x 9 PR (top set is the video) – as you’ll be able to see on the top set the form is very loose hence cheat curls, the contraction and pump is ridicilious for only 3 sets in though and I get 0 low back or wrist pain curling this way –

Dips (supersetted with above) - BW +6/13 x 10 - +10/22 x 8 - 15/33 x 4 --in video bout 20 seconds after BB curls. –

Preacher DB curls (per side) - 13/29 x 10 - 14/31 x 10 - 15/33 x 10 PR + 2 forced on left to bring it up --up weight next time–

CGBP (supersetted with above) - 70/154 x 9 - 75/165 x8 - 80/176 x 7 PR

Hammer Curl- 16/36 x 12 - 18/40 x 11 - 20/44 x 8 PR --love these as a finisher, this combo of arm exercises allows me to hit them hard without really losing on the weights on any exercise–

DB Skullcrushers (supersetted with above) - 13/29 x 12 - 14/31 x 12 - 16/36 x 7 PR

Overall an amazing arm session and yet again I find dips at the start don’t take away from the rest of my tricep lifts at all, which is nice. Think I’m close to nailing “best possible” arm session with the equipment I have.

Hamstring Day (KG/LBS)

Deadlift - clean grip 141/310 x 6 - mixed 153/337 x 6 - 170/374 x 2 – Terrible performance on these today, was shooting for 170 x 6 followed by at least 2/3 at 180 but it wasn’t to be–

Stiff-legged Deads- 100/220 x 11 - 110 x did 1 and knew things weren’t right… wanted to work up to 130/140kg top set on these…

Good Mornings - 50/110 x 15 - 60/132 x 12 - 80/176 x 6

Felt majorly run down before I even started today, trained late at night and thought I’d be okay after lots of carbs through the day but my every day training caught up on me as it tends to on deadlift day and it was a bit of a none session.

Next week shooting for 170 x 6 EASY and 180x2/3 at least, going up to top set of 140kg stiff-legged and good mornings should hit a PR at 80 and possibly do a set at 85/90…

I’m just glad to have not torn a bicep or rotator cuff, both felt on the brink in this <1hr session…

Chest Day (KG/LBS)

Bench Press - 76/167 x 9 (1st set PR) - 81/178 x 8 - 88/194 x 6 --VIDEO: big PR up from last weeks 87 x 5–

Pin Press - 70/154 x 12 - 76/167 x 8 (right pec pain stopped the set early) - 80/176 x 7 --match PR on top set even with abnormal pain, next week I will try 82 or so for top set and get same/more reps–

– Very interestingly these have helped my off the chest strength in benching immensely even though I’m starting them quite a way off my chest! Which iirc is what CT said they do –

Incline Flyes- 20.2/44 x 12, 21.2/47 x 12, 22.2/49 x 8 – match PR on top set, volume PR and will smash this next week–

Burning chest to say the least but it already felt dead just after benching!! Which is a first.

Extra Tri Work- DB Extensions- 14.2/31 x 12, 15.2/33 x 5 – bad performance! triceps dead!–

Ab work- Dragon Flags x 12, 13, 8. Crunch x 10, 12 – abs somehow already fried–

To me this session just goes to show you can still hit PRs even when you are run down, my tris/shoulders/chest were definitely not 100% today but still a big bench PR. Interesting. If I hit PRs in back tomorrow I may have deduced to never take days off, besides possibly before deadlifting.

Pull-Ups - BW x 13 - +5/11 x 10 - straps - +13/29 x 7 PR

– ROM is both not locking out at bottom and not squeezing bis at top. Trying to pull when I feel a stretch in my lats. I think I’m going a little too loose on these, partly due to grip not being the best. If anyone can suggest best form when trying to target lats then let me know… I’m thinking of just doing all sets or all weighted sets using straps to improve feel and go from there. Almost definitely.–

BOR (Yates Style) - 120/264 x 12 (set 1 PR) - 130/286 x 11 (set 2 PR) - 145/319 x 8 PR

– felt decently strong on these considering my back hurt before I even started training today…–

T-Bar Rows (without v-handle…) - 4 plates x 14 (set 1 PR) - 4.5 plates x 12 - straps - 5 plates +5/11 x 8 PR

– Wish I had a V-Handle in my home gym… + grip was terrible today so straps helped a lot for PR in top set–

Rear Delt Raises - 12.2/27 x 12 - 13.2/29 x 12 - 14.2/31 x 8 - 12.2/27 x 18

Preacher DB Curl - 13.2/29 x 12 - 14.2/31 x 12 - 15.2/33 x 6 - 12.2/27 x 10

– Last two exercises supersetted as quick as possible, not really any significant PRs on either just decent volume–

Decent back day overall, can’t say I ended up with a huge lat pump though, just general deadness.

The logs are nice and active. What with the time difference when I post my logs at night always page 3 by the time I check due to all you Americans posting them later :slight_smile:


Squats - 110/242 x 10 (+1 rep set PR) - 120/264 x 10 (+1 rep set PR)- 130/286 x 10 PR (+3 reps) - 141/310 x 6 HUGE PR (previously highest 1rm below para was 140x1. lol)

Front Squat- 75/165 x 10 (set 1 PR) - 85/187 x 10 (set 2 PR) - 100/220 x 4 PR

Walking BB Lunges- 35 x 11 per leg - 40 x 6 per leg.

Calf Raises using dip belt- +45/99 x 10 x 12 x 13 -Real focus on contraction at top-

One-Legged DB Calf Raise- 5/11 x 10 x 9 - can’t use much weight at all on these when focusing on proper contraction-

Tibia Calf Band - x15 x 20 x 52 (kind of useless now I’m used to the resistance)
Dragonflag x 12 x 13 x 10 Crunch x 13

ALL IN ALL a great leg day! Squats went very well and I’ve really got the hang of going below para and pumping the reps which feels great for hitting reps. This technique is easier for me on back squats then front but I’m getting there on front gradually… they currently still feel a bit like they are from a dead start though. Was a bit overambitious with the 100kg front squat but still good PRs.

Intensity is brilliant which is why I like training with my trusty power rack and space to do lunges… but lose out a bit on extensions/curls and calfs I’d get in a standard gym…

Close to weighing 200 at the end of days now… should do once I up my diet slightly.

Shoulders & Traps ! (I like these sessions… makes me feel like a bodybuilder and everything)


Standing Press - 46/101 x 9 (+1 rep set PR) - 51/112 x 9 (+1 rep set PR) - 56/123 x 6 (+1 rep PR)

  • Only way I feel these good in my shoulders is not looking out, the progression is so inconsistant/slow that I’m thinking of changing to push press. Seated DB when I’m back in a commercial gym–

Arnold Press DB - 20.2/44 x 10 - 21.2/47 x 8 - Never done these before so obviously the weights were light. I can only go up to around 66 pound DBs on DB high-incline press top set anyway…-

Seated Laterals (feet up) - 12.2/27 x 10 (+2 set 1 PR) - 13.2/29 x 10 PR - 14.2/31 x 8.5 PR - these hit the spot more today, still wish I could do more for side delts with what I have…-

Front Raise - 12.2/27 x 9 - 12.2/27 x 10.5

SHRUGS - 142/312 x 12 (set 1 PR) - 152/334 x 12 (set 2 PR) - 171/376 x 12 PR - 185/407 x9 BIG PR

Power Shrugs - 110 x 11 (set 1 PR, farted bad, damn greek yoghurt) - 120 x 11 (set 2 PR) - 132 x 9 PR -focusing on good contraction/ROM-

R.Delt Raise - 12.2 x 13 (set 1 PR) - 13.2 x 13 (set 2 PR) - 14.2 x 10 PR

Happy with the shrugs- finally much more (with straps) then I can deadlift (without straps)! My puny hands struggled today even with straps as you can see. My hands were never built to handle heavy weights. The positive is 6.25" wrists = my arms looking bigger though…

Now my vast audience has probably been wondering- just what is in Jake’s gym bag? Well here you go guys…

Top left - Thick ass awesome belt with the best buckle ever <3. Below- thick ass straps <3 next to- chalk on right- decent wrist wraps below- ok dip belt


BB Cheat Curl - 50/110 x 12 (+1 rep set PR) - 55/121 x 10 - 60/132 x 9.5 (PR is 9…)

Dips (supersetted with above) - BW + 6/13 x 10 - BW + 10/22 x 9 (+1 rep set PR) - BW + 15/33 x 2 (good rom, bad performance though)

Preacher DB Curl (per side) - 13.2/29 x 12 (+2 rep set PR) - 14.2/31 x 12 (+2 rep set PR) - 15.2/33 x 10 match PR

CGBP (supersetted with above) - 70/154 x 10 (+1 rep set PR) - 75/165 x 9 (+1 rep set PR) - 80/176 x 5 (-2 from last week) - will smash this next week. hoping for 80x10-

Hammer Curl (per side) - 16.2/36 x 13 (+1 rep set PR) - 18.2/40 x 12 (+1 rep set PR) - 20.2/44 x 8 match PR

DB Tricep Extensions (supersetted with above) - 14.2/31 x 12 - 15.2/33 x 12 - 16.2/36 x 9 (+2 rep PR & volume PR)

Didn’t exactly smash PRs to bits this session but triceps felt worn out from the beginning and BB curls felt seriously hard this week. I think I will adjust to the little extra bi work on back day & tri work on chest day though. Especially if I eat more. So I will leave it and smash probably every PR in this session next week.

Hamstring/Deadlift Day (trying straps for the first time on them)

Deadlifts - clean grip 141/300 x 3 -straps- 151/332 x 3 w/o belt - 161/354 x 3 belted & straps - 171 x F - 171/376 x 1 w/o belt. Sumo - 110 x 1

Absolutely terrible performance on deadlifts today, everything up to the 161 set felt good but I just can’t get the hang of deadlifting with straps or nailing the breathing leading up to it when I have to play around wrapping the straps all whilst having a really tight belt. I made the decision I wanted to switch from mixed-grip to clean grip with straps because I’m bodybuilding and believe that once I have it down, it will help me consistently increase my deadlift after a long period of stagnation with 400~ top sets, HOWEVER, I just can’t get the damn hang of having any speed/power off the floor when using straps. No idea why. For my mental sanity I am thinking of doing rack pulls one week, deadlifts next from now on. This might help.

SLDL- 90 x 12 - 100 x 10 - 110 x 10 - 120 x 5 - Don’t think there’s any PRs here but getting back into them, want to get 140 x reps consistently soon. wayyyyy better then standard deads for hamstrings and not killing my CNS… obv

GMs- 60 x 15 - 70 x 8/9 - Really fried myself with failing so badly at my deadlifts and called it a day here, there are better days to come from my hamstring training and my GMs should fly up to like 100kg+ fairly quickly

ALL IN ALL - Crap day today! Have left bicep/tendon pain as well as deep left shoulder pain. Benching tomorrow but may have to cut short if it really bothers this, don’t want it turning into a full on injury.

WHY IS IT… that regardless of how bad my deadlift session goes, even if I think my CNS is pretty fried, the next day I am hitting bench PRs consistantly? It seems that without trying I’ve created a “bench & squat spec” bodybuilding program, for me at least.


Bench Press - 76/167 x 10 (+1 rep set PR) - 82/180 x 8 (+1kg set PR) - 91/200 x 5 HUGE PR

Pin Press - 70/154 x 12 - 73/160 x 10 - 80/176 x 9 PR - 85/187 x 5 GOOD PR

Power Fly - High incline 20.2s/44s x 13 (+1 rep set PR) - Mid Incline 21.2s/47s x 13 (+1 rep set PR) - Low Incline 22.2s/49s +2 rep weight PR

DB Lying Tricep Extensions (SS w/below) - 14.2/31 x 12, 15.2/33 x 12, 16.2/37 x 8 (PR is 9)

Dragon Flag- x 12 x 13 x 9.5. Crunch- x 15 x 8

Great bench PR today, made it 91/200 POUNDS just for you American folks, hit 4 and the 4th was hard, however I always just think “TECHNIQUE” at this stage and am always able to force one more out, didn’t even use the safetys my confidence was so high today. On my pin presses second set loading error, weight should have been 76. GOOD PRS AND BEST ‘FEEL’ of any chest training ever. Even got good tricep burn and pump from extensions, right arm measured just under 15.75 after the session…


Forgot to attach the video of my top set- getting the hang of it not being too crap quality now so might actually be worth watching…

When both CT AND Dorian Yates claim the key to a big back is a good contraction, you have to at least try it. Today I swallowed my pride and “matured” into trying to actually specifically target my lats during my back session and I could feel a huge difference. Felt so much more like it was doing to actually build my lats, rather then just… strengthen my tendons? Or something… I believe I’m going to train back like this from here on in, though I’m not sure about traps yet.


Pull-ups (arms don’t lock out at the bottom however contract back as hard as possible at top) -
BW x 7 - BW x 8 - BW x 7 - BW x 5 NOW THIS IS SWALLOWING EGO! “thinking I got +15/33x7 last session lol” Going to work these up till I get 3 sets of 10 then slowly start adding weight again sticking to the same form.

Yates Row (stretch reflex at bottom but good contraction at top and not a ‘jerk’ movement) -
120/264 x 10 - 130/286 x 5 AGAIN swallowing pride, but it shouldn’t be long till 3 plates with great form, which will look much more impressive then with sloppy form anyway if I’m going for ego…

T-Bar Row (decent eccentric and as good contraction as I can get without using a V-handle) -
4 plates x 12 - 4 plates + 10/22 x 10 - 5 plates x 10 - 5 plates + 10/22 x 5
DROP SETZ - 4 plates + 10/22 x 2/3 - 3 plates x 7ish - 2 plates x 3ish

Pullovers (using 20kg/44lb plate) x 10 - x 12 - x 12
Band Straight-arm Pulldowns x 13

Preacher DB Curl (full eccentric, good contraction) - 13.2 x 12/29 - 14.2/31 x 8 - 14.2/31 x 8

R. Delt Raise (strict form) - 12.2/27 x 12 - 13.2/29 x 8 - 13.2/29 x 6

Despite not setting any PRs I most likely sparked more growth by far from training this way and intend to stick with it, the training weights are still decent and far ahead of my pressing, so there’s really no downsides. I WILL HAVE TEH LATZ SOON ENUF


Squat - 120/264 x 8 - 130/286 x 10 - 141/310 x 5 (-1 from last week) TOP SET IS THE VIDEO.

Front Squat - 80/176 x 10 - 90/198 x 10 - 100/220 x 5 PR (+1 rep PR, first 2 sets 5k “setPRs”)

Walking BB Lunges - 40/88 x 8 per side - 45/99 x 4 per side.

Ghetto Leg Extensions - 20/44 x 12 - 26/57 x 12 - 30kg/66 x 10

Messed up my back squats a little by going too low on reps first set and not quite nailing the form before first set… should smash these next week. Front squats OK, just working on best depth… BB lunges, felt metabolically fatigued here and not very strong. Hard after 6 heavy squat sets… the leg extensions felt decent contraction wise considering its on a terrible bench attachment. NEED TO WORK ON THIS SETUP THOUGH! As I’ve decided I should be looking to get a decent pump in the target muscles every session and atm my quads session is a little too unfocused.


Standing Press-
46/101 x 10 (+1 rep set PR) - 51/112 x 10 (+1 rep set PR)- 56/123 x 7 (+1 rep PR) - 60/132 x 4 PR

Ghetto Arnold Press-
19.4/43s - x 10 - 20.4/49s x 7

Seated Lateral Raise -
11.6/26 x 11 (set PR) - 12.6/28 x 10 - 13.6/30 x 9 HALF REP PR

Front Raise -
11.6/27 x 10 (set PR) - 13.6/30 x 6 PR - Waylander can use 100lb on these. I always think this when I do them. FML so bad.

BB Shrugs-
167/367 x 10 (set 1 PR) - 175/385 x 10 (set 2 PR) - 185/407 x 12 +3 REP PR ON THE VIDEO ^^^^

Power Shrug (starts as hang clean, but with straight arms/hard trap contraction at top instead)-
110 x 12 (+1 rep set PR) - 125 x 10 (set 2 PR) - 135 x 4 -last week was 132x9…-

R.Delt Strict Raise- 11.6 x 13 - 12.6 x 7

So yeah I re-weighed the DBS/COLLARS and it turns out what I thought was 2.2kg of bar weight is 1.6kg, what I’ve wrote this session is now correct… Looks like I’m going to have to gain 600 grams of strength to match my “PRs” from above- damn it.

AS THE VIDEO MAY SHOW I believe I have somwhat maxed out my bar with what weights I have available (quite the mixture), at this stage doing certain sessions at pay-as-you-go gym might have to be the best option, want to hit shrug PRs afterall. Bars only rated to 180kg, don’t know if I’d want to even buy more plates…

Happy with military PR and shrugs… rest is very meh


Cheat Barbell Curls
54/119 x 8 - 58/128 x 8 - 62/136 x 6 PR

BW x 6 - 6/13 x 8 - 10/22 x 8 - 15/33 x 2??

Preacher DB Curls
12.6/28 x 10 - 13.6/30 x 10 - 15.6/34 x 6 PR

70/140 x 10 - 75/165 x 10 - 80/176 x 8 PR

DB Hammers Curls
17.6/39 x 10 - 18.6/41 x 10 - 19.6/43 x 7

Lying DB Skulls
13.6/30 x 10 - 14.6/32 x 10 - 15.6/34 x 10 PR - 16.6/37 x 6 PR

-Cheat BBs offer good weight progression
-Preachers hit the spot
-CGBP = favourite triceps movement. Feels awesome, especially if I lock out each rep.
-Lying DBs don’t hurt elbows/tendons when done with head off bench and very slight stretch behind head (so not really skulls). Done this way I expect good progression.

-Cheat BBs give me bad forearm pain and WAY too much forearm pump, which basically pre-exhausts them for the rest of my arm session, far from ideal
-Doing cheat BBs first seems to be killing my dip performance, think I might start the tri exercises first & also exchange cheat BBs.
-Hammer curls is further accentuating my forearm dominance when it comes to growth/pump. For this reason alone I should probably drop them and isolate more/do alternate DB curls.

Going to do pro’s/con’s every day- it seems to help sort things :slight_smile:


Trained at the local hardcore gym today, much to my surprise there was someone else in the “legs room” (rare) and he was deadlifting!! I worked in with him, turned out he was from London, so it doesn’t count towards the upper body/lower body work percentage in my town… which is dire.

Deadlift (double overhand grip)
140/308 x 5 (easy as hell but no grip on these bars) - STRAPS ON - 160/352 x 6 easy - 180/396 x 4 (recent PR, PR for double overhand, 2 off all time mixed grip PR)

100/220 x 10 - 110/242 x 10 - 120/264 x 10 - 140/308 x 4 PR (I think…)

60/132 x 10 - 80/176 x 10 - 100/220 x 5 PR

Lying Hamstring Curls
20/44 x 10 - 30/66 x 8

Standing Calf Raise (weight = “settings” which go up to 30 iirc)
10 x 8, 11 x 8, 12 x 7

Leg Press Calf Raise (first time ever tried)
100/220 x 10 - 130/286 x 10 - 150/330 x 10 - 180/396 x 6

-Getting used to deadlifting with straps, feel like I’m going to be able to work up to 500+ for reps relatively quickly if I stick with them this way for months. Yey. Also means I can hit arms heavy day before and it doesn’t matter too much…
-Stiff-legged felt good today, can’t remember if the top set is an all time PR but it just might be. Next weeks set = 120kg, 130kg, 140kg.
-Everything else felt decent, big GM PR. They have to be assisting my squats these.

-Still didn’t feel a huge hamstring or calf pump but felt good in general I guess…

Picture update-

Morning weight - 196.5/197

Since there isn’t a back picture I figured I’d give it my best shot (not shot on my SLR/great lighting just quickie in room with webcam)… IMO its ahead of my front but my fat distribution = bad in love handle area and average in belly area so if I lost a little bodyfat this would most likely look a whole lot better. Started some morning cardio- planning to do 20 minutes semi-fasted (multi, fish oils, 1 scoop whey) 4x a week whilst eating to gain (rice + oats 80% of carbs)… it is what it is