T Nation

Quest to Stength and Mass


So I am new here and I've decided to make a log and keep track of my progress. I am 18 years old and I have 2-3 years of lifting experience. I am not quite certain, because I have been on and off due to injuries, combat training or school. Since I had a low back injury which prevented me from training kickboxing a couple of months later I just started lifting and for now I do not miss the combat training. In the future I may return to it, but for now I only lift.

Let's get to the training. Today I did an arm workout. Arms are my most favored place to add mass in.

Dips superset with overhead triceps extensions (on a machine)
5x4-6x10 (meaning 5 sets of 4-6 reps with 10 kg added weight) + 5x6-8x20

Chin ups superset with seated dumbbell curls
3x4x5 + 3x16x10 (10 kg dumbbell in each hand)

It may seem a little but as I said I have been on and off and I've recently started training again and I am getting back in lifting shape. :smiley:

My chinups feel a lot weaker compared to my dips. I will focus more on pulling exercises in the next couple of workouts.

BTW I do not follow a specific program. I do a couple of full body workouts and an arm hypertrophy workout.


Any reason for this? What are your goals? What are your current lifts?

I think you'd spend your time in the gym more efficiently if you were following some sort of structured program.


Well, that is true, but I am not a fan of training splits. Full body programs consist mostly of the same compound movements and I am bored on the second week, searching for a new program. With time I have found that I get the best result and I am most motivated when I just wing it and figure out what to do that day 30 minutes before the workout. Don't get me wrong it has nothing to do with muscle confusion. :smiley:

Edit: My goals are to gain strength and some "functional" mass. :smiley: My max lifts are:
Deadlift : 1x130 kg
Squat: 5x120 kg (never tested 1RM)
Bench press: 1x95 kg
Overhead press: 1x60 kg

I did not mention them earlier, because the majority of the lifts were before I got injured and had to stop training.


Full-body training today. It was very hot today so I did not need to do a long warm up most of my muscles were loosened up already.
I started with the deadlift, which is one of my weakest lifts and worked on my technique and speed during the warm up sets.
Warm ups until 100kg. Then:
1x1x140 (personal record)

2x3x100 (focusing on speed)

When I was lifting 140 kg something interesting happened. The first rep was easy I felt like the weight was 100 kg. I tried to do a second rep, but I could even move the bar from the ground. Weird.. :smiley:

Next I did a standing overhead press. I worked on my technique and did not put on much weight.

Next I did a bodyweight circuit.
Squat-Dips-Pull ups-push ups-inverted rows
First circuit was 8 reps each, second was 6 and the third was 4.

After that I did an exercise on the cable machine for my posterior shoulder. I finished with Dirty 30s on a calf machine. (10 reps with fingers pointing straight , 10 with fingers pointing outwards and 10 with fingers pointing in)

I do not remember the weights and it does not matter it was on a machine. :smiley:


Forgot to log my training yesterday. I warmed up without the foam roller for the first time in weeks. I am surprised that it does not make a big difference.

I started with squats and pull ups (superset)
Warm up sets until 80 kg.
4x5x60 (squat) + 4x5x5 (pull ups)

I am not doing something right with the pull ups, I cant get more than 5 reps with 5 kg weight, unlike my dips where I do 10 reps with 10 kg weight easily. I've decided that I will go back to regular pull ups until my technique is perfect and I can do more reps.

Next I did a bench press and dumbbell row(dumbbell in each hand) superset.
5x8x40 (BP) + 5x10x14 (for each hand)

I could not go more that 40 kg on the bench press, because I felt the worst pain during the warm up and I decided not to risk it. :smiley:

I did shrugs after that with a 12 kg dumbbell in each hand. I noticed that my shoulders have a big difference in size and flexibility. (maybe that is the reason that I had pain during the bench press, the left one is too weak)

Finished the workout with face pulls and some core work. To be honest I had way more expectations about the workout, but the shoulder thing ruined it all.


Did an arm hypertrophy workout today, but it got spontaneously changed.

I did a quick warm up (think it was a mistake :D) and stretched out the pecs. I did a couple of sets of dips, pull ups and chin ups. The real workout started with weighted dips superset with overhead triceps extension.
dips + overhead triceps extension (both with 2 second holds)
3x6x5 + 3x8x15
1x6x10 + 1x8x15
1x5x10 + 1x8x15

Today I have not eaten a lot of carbs and my schedule was pretty busy so I was pretty exhausted when I entered the gym. Basically, the first exercise was where I spent half of my energy. When I tried doing chin ups with NO weight I barely did 3. Because of that I decided to do a low cable row, because it targets the biceps a lot and I do barbell rows crooked so this was a chance to even my back out a little. The exercise felt great, I felt the pump equally in both sides of my back and my biceps got pumped up. What is with all the hate towards machines? They could be useful sometimes. :smiley:
Low cable row

Incline Dumbbell Curl
1x8x8 (for each hand)

Next I did shrugs with dumbbells, because when I do them my shoulders feel great.
3x12x12 kg

Decided to hit my obliques indirectly. :smiley:
One arm dumbbell shoulder press (woah that is a long name ;D )
3x12x12 (each hand)

This felt great on my obliques, I will do it more often.

Last I did back extensions with a 15 kg weight.

Low reps, low sets, but I was gased out,exhausted and starting to get hungry. :smiley:

Shit, school is starting and after a summer vacation I am exhausted, but I guess that is because I have been sleeping a little these days.


Had a great training session today, which is surprising, because I had only eaten once before training. I warmed up and I was feeling lazy but when I started it went away. :smiley:


Barbell overhead press

Dips and Cable Row superset
1x8x5 + 1x10x40
2x8x5 + 2x10x45

Biceps curls

After this I had almost no energy but did some posterior shoulder and abs work.


Sup. :smiley:
Today I did only upper body training, because my legs are sore. I warmed up and I wanted to wake up, because I had a nap before, so I did some explosive dumbbell push press.

Dumbbell push press
2x5x10 (for each hand)

30 pull ups
I do not remember the sets exactly, but I focused on form and the negative part of the movement.

Next I did a chest/back superset.
Dumbbell Bench press + Chest Supported Rows
1x5x14 + 1x5x14
3x6x20 + 3x8x20

Cable row


I was not feeling in today. I am thinking of starting a current routine, because I school is starting and I will not have the same freedom. Everything has to be planned. :smiley: If I start, I think it will be 5/3/1.


I have decided to start Brandon Lily's Cube Method. I had a deadlift workout, which was not full, because I had a minor injury and decided to live to fight another day. Today I trained the bench press. I warmed up my shoulders very carefully, because I've had problems before. I found out how to bench without shoulder pain. So:

Bench press

The goal was 3 sets of 12 reps, but I have not benched for a while. Next I did the close grip bench press which I found out was a major weak point for me. The goal was 6 reps for 2 sets with 65 kg. I only did 2 with 60 kg, I could not do more... So I only left 50 kg on the bar.
2x4x50 (still was very weak, will work on it!)

Bench press with a pause.

So I am sure my bench will explode by the end of the cycle. I have never worked with pause and when I strengthen my close grip bench press it will be a big advantage.

Pull ups
Felt very weak here. :smiley:

I have to become better I can do 10 dips without a sweat, but my pull ups have become very weak.

Shoulder Raises
3x12x6 (each hand)

Lat pull down
I think this exercise helps you a lot when you know how to do a pull up. I will be doing it often.

Triceps pushdown

It was a great workout. Short, intense and fun.


Bodybuilding day. Felt very weak today, although I had a solid breakfast. I warmed up and started with Barbell overhead press.

Lat pulldown

Close-grip Bench press


Seated Rows

Standing Calf Raises
I did max reps with 2 second hold up and 2 second hold down, so I did not count the reps but I did 3 reps. Usually when I train I have eaten at least twice. I do not know what happened today, but I had no energy. Yesterday I helped with a lot of labor work my grandparents, maybe I have not recovered from it. :smiley:


Deadlift day today. Warmed up was pretty decent and felt good going into lifting.


Deadlift from blocks

Deadlift from deficit

These felt very good, maybe a little bit light. The problem was that I had barely any energy left. Next I had to do snatch grip deadlift, but I was too tired and only did one set do see how it feels.

Dips (I really wanted to do dips, I have no idea why :smiley: )

Chest-supported row
1x10x14 (each hand)

Reverse Lunges
2x10x6 (6 kg dumbbell in each hand)

After that I did abs and that was pretty much it I tried doing pull ups but I only did 3-4...

Something really interesting happens sometime. When I do pull ups on the fat bar I easily get 6-8, while when doing them on a regular bar I barely get 5. Maybe I can't activate my lats properly and when doing them on the fat bar I use more of my arms.


Bench press day today. Warmed up really good with a pre-bench circuit from Joe DeFranco. It is really a game changer. :smiley:

Bench press Heavy

It did not feel really heavy my max is 95 kilograms, but that was almost a year ago and before injuries. So I used 85 kilograms for my max and that is why the weight is not that much. Building it slowly.

Close-grip bench press

Last time I barely did 2 reps with 65, but it was all because of the technique. After I fixed it up today there were no problems, except for the difference in strength in the left and right triceps.

Bench press with pause

Pull ups

Lateral Raises
3x12x6 (each arm)

Lat pull down

Triceps pushdown

Felt great today, although I had no energy through out the day.


What was in the DeFranco pre-bench circuit?

I've been doing dumbbell Scarecrows, face-pulls on the TRX-style handles, and 1 arm kettlebell presses, with the kettlebell held bottoms up. Like 3 sets of 12 or so reps each, circuit style. I try to mix in some different moves, or variations of the same moves every couple of weeks. Gotta take care of those shoulders!


Here is a link to the circuit. For me it was really a game changer I could not bench before it. I also added some chest supported rows and face pulls. Face pulls have become a part of my warm up, regardless of the exercise selection.


Today I mixed up the weak parts day and squat day.

Warmed up poorly, I was feeling tired, but put an emphasis on stretching out the hip flexors and piriformis.


Squat with pause at parallel

The squat was my favorite movement a couple of months ago and I was always progressing on it. Lately, I have not been feeling in the same way. Maybe it is due to the decrease in my mobility (I stopped doing kickboxing and regularly stretching).

Romanian deadlift

Overhead press

Cable row
I read an article on the site that you should be doing this with a wider grip. I tried it for 2 sets and I was feeling it mostly in my lats, instead of my mid back as usual.
I then did 2 more sets with normal grip.
1x10x40 (wider grip)
2x10x40 (normal grip)

Incline Biceps Curls
3x10x10 (each hand)

I mixed up the two days, because I will not be able to work out the following 2 days. Next I have deadlift, which has turned into my favorite lift.


Finally trained again. My gym membership had expired and I had a lot of exams and a driving test. After the exam I finally had time to hit the gym.

I was feeling really tired, but I thought that like always my energy will come after I warm up. It did not happen for some reason.

Deadlift day (rep)

I was not feeling very good here. (was not feeling the stretch the weight felt very light I think, I had the feeling my form was crooked, otherwise I would have done 3x12)

Deadlift from deficit

These felt like the real thing. I think I did not warm up very good and my CNS woke up late. :smiley:

Pull ups with slow negatives

dumbbell shrugs
3x10x12 (each arm)

Face pulls

Next, I decided to try a core circuit, because I have not been training them enough lately.
Tempo Incline Push-Up x 10
Mountain Climber x 10
Push-Up Position Hip Extension x 10
Plank 20 seconds
(I will be doing it more often)

That was all. Not a great workout, but still managed to move some weights.


I almost did not go to the gym today. I had to run 600 meter in school for the PE class. Felt I was going to die after it. Maybe I should start doing sprints and jogging? :smiley: I went home with the idea that I would rest today, but after eating some grapes and drinking water I restored my glycogen storage and I was ready to go. The only downside was that the gym was closing in and hour and thirty minutes. Challenge accepted.

I warmed up pretty fast, because I was still warm from the running. Did some warm up shoulder circuits.

Bench press explosive
8x3x55 (easy)

Close grip bench press
2x5x60 (not so easy :smiley: )

Bench press with pause
2x8x50 (easy and felt pretty good)

Next I did directly lat pulldowns. I am to weak for the pull up.

Shoulder raises
3x10x4 (each arm)

Very light weight, I know. :smiley:

Dumbbell row
3x10x10 (each arm)

Triceps extensions

The workout was very quick and intense, I should try doing all my workouts in 40-50 minutes.


Weak point training today. I was really excited for this work out, but when the time came I had no energy. (school)

I warmed up, but I think that if I do not get sweaty on the warm up, the workout is not good 9/10 times. Today was one of these. :smiley:

Overhead Press

Technique was not looking good, but since I started the Cube method I have been overhead pressing way less. I mean I am still getting stronger, but I am not practising the movement.

Cable row


I was going to put weight, but bodyweight dips were not feeling good.

Dumbbell row
2x6x14 (each arm)

Chin ups

I realised that when I use a closer grip I activate the lats way more and these were easier.

Triceps extensions

Not a great workout, but still made it through. :smiley:


After school today again and it was a valuable workout. I say valuable, because I was feeling really down (it is the end of the week) and did a dynamic warm up. I felt great, which made my workout great. I had a heavy deadlift today, but I did not do the assistance exercises. Instead, I did a barbell complex, so I can remember what being without oxygen feels like. I needed that, because tomorrow or the day after I will spar a little bit with some friends.
I did a dynamic warm up and felt fresh instantly. I started with deadlifts.
The working sets were really explosive. They did feel a little heavy, but I was beltless and without wraps. (not that I use them anyway :D)

So after this I did the following barbell complex.
Romanian deadlift
Barbell row
Power clean
Front squat
Push press
Back squat
Good morning

I did it for 6 reps on the first set, 5 on the second and so on until I reached 1. I did it with 30 kg. It was hard, I should find a day to do it. I really want to progress on it and if I do it will add a lot more volume to my workouts.


Lazy sunday... :smiley:
Bench press rep day
Started off with the DeFranco circuit.

Bench press

Close grip bench press

It felt very hard again. I think it is because I am starting off with heavy weight. Next time, I will start with the bar and build up.

Pause Bench press

This is getting harder, but that is how it should be.

Chin ups
2x5 daaayuuuuum

Shoulder raises
2x12x6 (each hand)

lat pull down

Triceps push down

Technique on the bench is getting more solid. But, now I understand why you need to focus when working out. A little distraction on the ceiling ruined my technique. (My shoulder blades were not tucked in :smiley: )
By the way the lat pull downs are definitely helping the first chin up set was easy.


Squat explosive day. I had limited time, because the gym was closing at 9. I was there at 8;25. :smiley: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Quick dynamic warm up (as it will be from now on)


Olympic or Front Squat (this is supposed to be a high bar squat, but I do it high bar anyway)

Squat with pause at parallel (this was hard)

Chest supported row
3x10x12 (each hand)

I had no time to do lunges, another row variation , romanian deadlift, so I did a barbell complex instead. The problem was that it was almost closing time and I only did a set of 6 and a set of 5. It is something.

Romanian deadlift
Barbell row
Power clean
Front squat
Push press
Back squat
Good morning (this one is the hardest and I do it the very slow, I should find an alternative, because I have heard that they are not very good for the spine. Strange thing is that I feel good when doing it)

I did it with 30 kg again.
1x6 each
1x5 each

Good, intense, short workout. The sad thing is that if I know the gym is not closing in 30 minutes, I do not push myself like I did today. :smiley: