Meditations, Musings & Muscular Contractions

Logging another workout for the purpose of bolstering my already positive mental state, because I’m down to 79.4kg & my lifts are still holding on.

Pec Deck: 120kg for 9
Crossbody Pec Deck: 85kg for 8, 100kg for 9
Reverse Pec Deck: 60kg for 10, 85kg for 10
Nautilus OHP: 57kg for 7, 72kg for 8, 50kg for 9 (super slow)

I might actually throw out cross-body pec deck for practicality reasons. I’m under 80kg & because of advantageous physics, (which I don’t actually understand), I can do 100kg on this with one arm. I’ve really gotta brace & I’m not sure about the future of all this bracing with my future strength levels. I’ll keep it in while cutting though because I’d just rather not make any changes right now. Besides, I’ll be finished cutting in a few weeks surely - as I always said I’d stop if the hunger got too hard, energy dropped too much or if my performance tanked. It’s neat that I’ve got as ripped as I have while avoiding this.

Dumbbell Incline Skullcrushers (SS):16kg for 8, 18kg for 8, 14kg for 9
Cable Lateral Raises (SS): 5kg for 6, 7.5kg for 6, 5kg for 11

Cable laterals are on 30 seconds rest to bring that final set’s reps down.

V-bar Pushdowns (SS): 30kg for 9, 37.5kg for 9, 30kg for 9
Machine Preacher Curls (SS): 50kg for 6, 60kg for 8, 50kg for 8
Hammer-grip Machine Preacher Curls (SS): 50kg for 7, 45kg for 7

More of the same. For some reason every time I do preacher curls I look at my biceps & think to myself how they can’t get any bigger right now because the raw materials aren’t there. Weird thought to have on this specific exercise but it’s probably due to it being the number one movement where I can watch the muscle contract as I train it.

Widish Grip Pulldowns: 100kg for 8, 110kg for 8, 90kg for 8
Lying Leg Curls (SS): 70kg 9, 60kg 9
Seated Chest Supported Row (SS): 75kg for 6, 90kg for 8, 75kg for 8

I think I’m mentally ready to go down to two sets of pulldowns finally, (getting over the irrational fear of not doing enough volume). Not now, but once the cut ends. I’ll go slow & just destroy my lats with a couple of sets. But I don’t want to do it now because that’s like admitting defeat to being able to do 110kg for 8 reps - which is important as I cut because it signals muscle retention in the clearest of terms. When I’m in a surplus, I won’t be worried about maintaining muscle since I’ll be gaining it, so I can change to a different variant with lighter weight without that annoyance of changing exercises because you’re afraid of acknowledging or even being exposed to the possibility of getting weaker, so you sub in a variant before it can happen.

Hack Squat: 80kg for 7, 100kg for 8, 80kg for 10
Weighted Decline Crunch (SS): 20kg for 7
Calf raises (SS): 100kg 9 (different machine)

Hacks are tough now I’m so much lighter. Strength holding on by a thread. But it’s still there.

Looking forward to the next gaining phase. I’m gonna dive a little bit deeper into this slower rep, lower volume higher intensity thing. Right now I do my top set of pec deck, & all my pulldowns, regular 1 up 1 down, & I’d like to look at slowing it down to 2/2 & just killing the muscle, possibly with fewer sets. Really devote myself to bodybuilding further. I’m much more engaged in this than back in the mid 2010s when everybody was doing fucking powerlifting stuff even though jacked was the original goal.

Alright, I’m done cutting for now. I’ve achieved a pretty sweet level of leanness but it’s getting difficult dealing with the hunger component. I’m glad to have finished this cut in the high single digits & without my strength levels dropping, & despite my hunger, I never felt like garbage RE energy levels. Now time to begin anew - with some small training adjustments. I’m delving deeper into lower volumes with slower tempo reps combined with high exertion.

Underhand Pulldowns: 100kg for 6, 90kg for 8
Lying Leg Curls: 70kg 10, 60kg 10

Now doing pulldowns with the 2/2 tempo. So, 100kg sounds heavy, being 6 reps, but this set took just over 24 seconds, (compared to my regular tempo set of 8 which takes about 16 seconds). Actual PR on lying leg curls, (I had a big cheat meal last night so the calories were powering me today), getting 10 reps with both weights for the first time.

Seated Chest Supported Row: 75kg for 6, 90kg for 8, 75kg for 8
Hack Squat: 80kg for 7, 100kg for 9, 85kg for 8

Rows went fine, but hack squats went very fine, getting two & a half plates, i.e. 100kg, for a top set of 9 reps. Can’t wait to progress further on these. I want 3 plates a side with my glutes touching my ankles.

Calf Raise: 100kg 9
Weighted Decline Crunch: 20kg for 7
Hip Adduction: 35kg for 12, 45kg for 12

Yes, hip adduction is new. I thought my legs were a little skinny on the inner side with all that fat off my body, so these are corrective. Plus, I think they will make any leg compound feel better in that they will further stress the desired weak link, (i.e. quads), by having one additional surrounding muscle being much stronger & not even close to being a weak point or interfering.

Anyway, this was on my lunch break. On weekend days I’ll stay in the gym longer & do a hip hinge & shrugs too.

First chest, shoulders & arms day with the calories back up. Everything was pretty constant. Big lesson is that calories don’t dictate performance, they just influence it.

Pec Deck: 105kg 7, 100kg 8, 95kg 8
Reverse Pec Deck: 60kg 10, 85kg 9
Star Trak OHP: 50kg 7, 60kg 6, 45kg 9 (SS)
Machine Preacher Curl: 50kg 6, 60kg 8, 50kg 8
Machine Preacher Hammer Curl: 50kg 7, 45kg 7
Dumbbell Incline Skullcrusher: 14kg 8, 18kg 9, 14kg 9
Cable Lateral: 5kg 6, 7.5kg 5, 5kg 8
V-bar Pushdown: 30kg 9, 37.5kg 9, 30kg 9

Later that day I did chest, shoulders & arms on my lunch break, I returned to the gym after work for a little more, & to kill an hour before going to an after-work thing, (going home would have given me about 20 minutes at home before needing to leave again). I touched a barbell for the first time in a little while. I did good mornings, & also barbell shrugs. First time doing good mornings, I kept it conservative, did a set with the bar, then 40kg, then 60kg, for 10. I then went to 65kg for 10, then 70kg for 10.

I found it a bit jarring, almost like it wasn’t even a muscle building exercise, (I know this seems insane to say), because it was a tremendous stretch at the bottom, of course, but then at the top just no tension on anything. But today my hams have some decent soreness. I want to get good on these & build a lot of unbuilt muscle in my hams, glutes & lower back basically.

Also did shrugs with 100kg for two sets of 5, (two seconds up two seconds down form). I might buy straps because I might be needing them based on this performance.

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The chest, arms & shoulders day with good mornings & shrugs in the evening was Thursday, & today is Saturday. Despite the lack of muscular sensation on good mornings, (apart from the bottom position which was significant contraction), my hams are very sore. In fact, more sore today than on Friday, (no lifting on Friday). Lower back is barely sore. Glutes are not sore at all, I suspect ATG hack squats have conditioned them well enough so I’ll have to actually get competent on good mornings before it’s a sufficient stimulus to do much to my glutes.

Anyway, I returned to the gym today for some back training, & hack squats. I had planned on today being my ‘back & legs’ typical workout, (pulldowns, leg curls, rows, hack squats, calves & abs), but my hamstrings were still sore to the point where I felt it would be counter-productive. I hadn’t planned good mornings, only leg curls, but upon my first warmup set of leg curls using 40% of my work set weight, they were just not firing well, & so I did a set of 10 to get some nice bloodflow, then terminated the exercise. I might have a quick Sunday gym session for good mornings & leg curls, undecided.

Underhand Lat Pulldowns: 100kg 7, 90kg 8

Managed to add a whole rep on these with slow rep speed, (2/2 up/down), on both the top set & backoff set, & really looking forward to doing these again & trying for 8.

Hack Squats: 80kg 7, 105kg 7, 85kg 9
Chest Supported Rows: 75kg 6, 90kg 8, 75kg 9

PR weight on hack squats, going from 100kg to 105kg & hitting a top set of 7 before backoff set with 85kg for 9. Chest supported rows, PR on the backoff set, adding a rep & going from 8 to 9 reps.

Hip Adduction: 90lb 12
Calf Raises: 124kg 11
Shrugs: 100kg 5, 5

Hip adduction done on a Cybex machine in this gym. My adductors were sore for 3 days after last time so hopefully this time around is a little easier. All-time PR on calf raises, going from 10 to 11 reps with this weight, very pleased. Finished with shrugs - on my way home from the gym I bought straps so I can go hard on these. I tried grip training in 2019 with static holds, & it sucked because after getting a little better I immediately stalled out, but I think I know why. I’m extremely susceptible to over-reaching on grip work. Not sure why but my max recoverable volume on AMRAP grip holds is just very low. I think single set training is the go-to on these as previously I was doing 3 sets & just stalled out hard.

It’s now Sunday & my hams are still very sore from the good mornings on Thursday. I’ll leave it another day or two before doing them again on the same day as my next workout probably, (chest, delts & arms). Anyway, it’s incredible the DOMS I got considering the tension curve on the exercise being so strong at one end & minimal at the other, but high tension in the lengthened position really does seem to matter a lot. Anyway, short ramble post incoming.

I have straps now & I’m looking forward to progressing on shrugs. I’m also looking forward to experimenting with pushdowns with a rope but using a very particular form, as I’ll soon explain. Straight bar & V bar both feel a bit awkward on my wrists, (V bar is better but it’s a bit finicky), & while rope is very comfortable on my wrists, I feel like it’s less stimulative on a set-to-set basis, because it’s so hard to spread the rope out that the set is terminated once you can no longer achieve getting the muscle short in that particularly difficult position when there’s still plenty of juice left in the muscle in the mid & lengthened position. I’m therefore going to do my sets with spreading the rope for a few reps & then performing more reps with the handles pressed together. Call it a mechanical dropset if you will. It seems arbitrary - why is it enough to go to failure on these other movements, but rope pushdowns require a mechanical dropset? Intuition. That’s it. The physical discomfort of pushing a muscle to failure is very unpronounced on rope pushdowns for me compared to using a bar, or doing any other exercise. I could almost hold a conversation while doing rope pushdowns to failure. Spreading the rope on early reps & pressing the handles together I think will keep it as stimulative as bar pushdowns while also being more comfortable on my wrists too.

A few workouts to log here. I did my chest, shoulders & arms day on Tuesday, & then did good mornings, shrugs & leg curls in the evening. On Thursday I did my back & legs workout, (not including hamstrings), & today on Saturday, I did chest, shoulders & arms, & also good mornings, ham curls & shrugs afterwards, same session since it’s a weekend day. I won’t bother logging the previous chest, shoulders & arms workout. I’ll log the back & legs session & todays chest, shoulders & arms + good mornings, shrugs & ham curls workout.

Underhand Lat Pulldowns: 100kg 8, 90kg 8

Glad to have added another rep on my top set here! Feeling like I’m building up some really good momentum. 100kg for 8 with two seconds up & down is nothing to scoff at.

Hack Squats: 80kg 7, 105kg 8, 90kg 8
Chest Supported Rows: 75kg 6, 90kg 8, 80kg 8

Managed to improve performance on hack squats, very nice top set with 105kg for 8. Increased weight on rows backoff set, going up to 80kg for 8 here.

Hip Adduction: 50kg 20
Calf Raises: 100kg 10
Shrugs: 100kg 6, 6

Much to say here. First time doing adduction was 45kg for 12, second time I used a different machine. Third time I’m back on the machine I used first time, & I add 5kg to go to 50kg… And get 20 reps. Crazy increase. Alt calf raise machine, finally hitting 10 reps with this weight on this particular machine. Shrugs now with straps, added a rep on both sets.

Pec Deck: 105kg 9, 100kg 8, 95kg 8
Reverse Pec Deck: 60kg 10, 85kg 7

Fricking awesome, added a rep to my top set on pec deck again, (using 2/2 tempo as well). Reverse pec deck feeling a bit weaker but that happens every now & then due to little shifts resulting in worse leverages in my form so I’m not worried.

Nautilus OHP: 57kg 7, 77kg 7, 50kg 9 (SS)
Dumbbell Incline Skullcrusher: 14kg 8, 18kg 9, 14kg 8

Little PR on OHP machine, very nice. Dumbbell skullcrusher holding as is for now.

Cable Lateral: 5kg 6, 7.5kg 7, 5kg 10
Rope Pushdown: 20kg 10, 25kg 5/7, 22.5kg 5/7

Cable laterals feeling strong. Rope pushdowns too. 5/7 means first 5 reps I spread the rope & last 7 reps I kept my hands together. Potentially quite excited about this one, could turn out to be very productive.

Machine Preacher Curl: 50kg 6, 60kg 8, 50kg 8
Machine Preacher Hammer Curl: 50kg 8, 45kg 7

Sick PR on the hammer curl, hitting 50kg for 8 reps at last. Hell yeah.

Good Morning: 60kg 10, 70kg 10, 77.5kg 12
Shrug: 100kg 8, 8
Lying Leg Curl: 70kg 8, 60kg 8

Ok, added 2.5kg on good mornings, (last time was 75kg for 10), as I didn’t wanna be too ambitious but ended up getting 12 reps, nice. Shrugs, solid PR with the straps. Lying leg curl - last time I was fatigued from good mornings I got 7 reps & today is 8, so I’ll take it!

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Another couple of workouts under my belt.

Underhand Lat Pulldowns: 100kg 9, 90kg 8

Feel very lucky to have added a rep once again on my lat pulldowns, with 2 seconds each direction. Getting significantly stronger on a lat pulldown through pure muscular contraction seems like an almost 1:1 to building a thicker upper body.

Hack Squats: 80kg 7, 110kg 8, 95kg 8

Big deal, increased top set weight to 110kg & managed to hit 8 reps, exceptional.

Chest Supported Rows: 75kg 6, 90kg 8, 80kg 8
Hip Adduction: 55kg for 25
Calf Raises: 100kg for 10
Decline Situps for 8

First time doing adduction was 45kg for 12. Third time I do 50kg for 20 reps. Today, fourth time, I do 55kg for 25 reps. Crazy increase. These were some dormant muscles for sure. 60kg next time obviously. They seem to like high reps. Or maybe they’d like sets of 10 just the same but my adductors are nearly untrained so they’re responding well. Changing my ab movement slightly, instead of holding a plate to my forehead I’ve now got straight arms arms extended overhead, (overhead when my torso is vertical, so they’re way behind me at the bottom of a situp applying resistance). When I add weight, I’m sure 5kg will feel like 20kg.

Pec Deck: 110kg 8, 100kg 8, 95kg 8
Reverse Pec Deck: 60kg 10, 80kg 8

I would call it a PR, going from 105kg for 9 to 110kg for 8. Good stuff, very good stuff.

Startrak OHP: 50kg 7, 60kg 8, 45kg 8 (SS)
Dumbbell Incline Skullcrusher: 14kg 8, 18kg 10, 14kg 8

Good day on both of these.

Cable Lateral: 5kg 6, 7.5kg 7, 5kg 10
Rope Pushdown: 22.5kg 9, 25kg 5/8, 22.5kg 5/8

Increased performance on rope pushdowns, adding a rep to top set with the handles together. & backoff set also.

Machine Preacher Curl: 50kg 6, 60kg 8, 50kg 8
Machine Preacher Hammer Curl: 50kg 8, 45kg 7

This was all during lunch. I returned to the gym at 5PM to bust out some hamstring training & shrugs. I’d do it all at once but I’m busy with work. On the weekend I don’t need to break it up.

Good Morning: 60kg 10, 70kg 10, 80kg 14
Shrug: 105kg 8, 8
Lying Leg Curl: 70kg 8, 60kg 8

So increased good mornings by 2.5kg & added two reps, big win. Added 5kg on shrugs & kept the reps at 8, another big win.