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Samul's Training and Nutrition Log


#244

@MarkKO can probably give you a tip or two, but in the meantime, I’d like to ask a couple of questions regarding your technique.

I know you’re more of a physique guy so just putting you into a position where you can produce the most power isn’t really the be all - end all of things. Getting you into a position that allows for maximal stress on the intended muscle is.

Firstly, why are you not going all the way down? Do you have a shoulder issue or do you lose tension on the muscle?

Meadows style incline press (or spoto press) include stopping 1-2" before you’d hit your chest, but you’re stopping way higher than that, what’s the reasoning?

You also have a bit wide grip, and a rather small arch, which raises the question; do presses bother your shoulders? Also the amount of flaring you do seems like it could feel bad, with a bit narrower grip and a bigger arch (or even just better shoulder positioning, which really is what I’m after with the arch, your shoulders could be in a better position) you’d probably be going lower as well

Lastly, does that foot positioning feel solid? Do you feel you’re supported by your legs? I know I said that the goal should be to stress the target muscles (namely that chest) as much as possible, but you can’t do that without a solid base; engage your legs. I like to have them really under me and closer together as it helps create total-body tension for me. Play around with it and find what feels comfortable for you. Just remember that they shouldn’t be idle.


#245

@danteism I’ll reply without quoting the individual parts because my phone is giving me a hard time trying to select text.

Re: coming down

Actually, I realized I could have been going further down only after watching the video. The feeling I had was that the barbell was close to hitting the safeties on the way down, so it felt like it was down enough. I could feel a stretch but nothing too crazy that prevented me from going further down. So I’ll try and go further down next time.

Re: grip width and arch

I find that a wider grip helps me feel my chest more. As for the arch I don’t know man, it feels to me that I do have quite an arch during the set but again then I go and watch the video and it doesn’t look like that the least.

What should I think about when arching? I usually just try and focus on retracting the scapulae.

Re: foot positioning

Again, I’m not sure. The barbell version of this movement is something I really never felt comfortable with and it always felt “shaky.” If you notice in the video, on some reps I can’t even keep a proper bar path! What do you suggest when it comes to feet? Keeping them closer?


#246

Usually hitting the reply button and then painting the text you want to quote (with the reply box open) helps

Setting the safeties lower would be a brilliant way to fix that issue. With a proper arch you can also get the effect of your sternum being higher than the safeties during the set, and if you fail, just undone the arch and it’ll sink under the safeties.

If it feels safe as well it’s probably better to keep it wide then. I do know guys that pretty much bench with a snatch grip and it works for them, but as a narrower grip guy myself I can’t help but ask

Retracting and depressing the scapulae (so “shoulders back and down”) goes a long way for shoulder positioning, but when you arch you must bend your back as well. I feel that the easiest way to do that is to get your shoulders right and then, as you hold the barbell (still racked of course) start bringing your hips closer to your shoulders. (Which you keep in place, naturally. Otherwise it would just be the most embarrassing way to exit a bench ever) by doing that you naturally raise your sternum and create an arch. Just make sure you don’t lose your shoulder positioning as you do this. I like to flex pretty much my entire upper body as I’m setting up so when I’m ready it’s really a solid setup.

As you do what I described above you probably naturally move your feet under your hips when viewed from the side. I like to have them even more “up” - so closer to my shoulders, around where my low back is. Now that may be a bit extreme, but even having them around the same line with your hips is better than having them dangle around. Having a lot of tension through the lower body will create a lot more stable environment to press in, so flexing your quads, trying to extend your leg against the ground and squeezing the bench with your thighs can be beneficial strategies, as long as they don’t result in you being in a position where your hips are two feet up in the air or you are compromised in some other way.

I don’t know if you’ve read about the exercises I’ve found helpful and tried to explain in my log but this is exactly why I much prefer showing people in person what to do; I suck at explaining things


#247

I found your explanation very clear instead! Thank you as always.

I’ll try and put these things into practice next week when I repeat this workout but a question I gotta ask… Do you think I’ve been wasting my time benching like this at all? Honestly, it pisses me off knowing that I have to practice a movement because that means less time spent using that movement to grow.


#248

Wasn’t this your first time in a rather long time?

One session on a lighter week means nothing really. If you benched like this back in the day, well, it sure wasn’t optimal, but it’s still better than nothing.

Regarding having to practice a new movement, it doesn’t really take that long to be proficient enough to reap the benefits of an exercise, at least in most cases.

View it like you would view education; sure you can work some part-time job with minimum wage with very little training, but if you put in time and effort and get a degree you’ll have a much bigger paycheck.


#249

Yes it was. Up until now I have only benched with dbs and on Incline for one year for this very reason.

I guess what bugs me is that I have this workout only once per week so I’ll have to wait 7 days to really try to perfect this.


#250

That’s where warm-ups really come into play; make them perfect. You may not get it just right the next session but it won’t take long if you really put thought into it.

You could also ask Paul if you can practice benching with even just the bar after another session that involves shoulders/triceps.


#251

Since @danteism tagged me I’ll offer what I can, but bear in mind I’m a powerlifter so my limited expertise is limited to powerlifting benching.

First, touch your chest. If you want to do Spoto presses, by all means do them but they have a specific purpose, and as far as I’m aware it isn’t making your chest grow. I understand that Paul is a big fan of guillotine presses in the Smith machine for chest development.

Second, move your grip in. You’ll hit your chest plenty and your shoulders will thank you. I’d recommend wherever you place your hands for pushups.

Third, get tight. Your hips are shimmying all over the place. Start off by digging your heels into the ground like you’re squatting. This should push you along the bench. If it doesn’t, dig harder. Then pull your shoulderblades back and down, and squeeze your lats. That’s the only arch you really need to worry about for your purposes. You’ll still be sliding down the bench, so dig your traps hard into the bench. All pressure should be through your heels and traps. Think heels to traps. Squeeze your glutes to keep your butt down. All this will work with any press where you’re lying or sitting. It’s just a safety and efficiency thing.

If you were a powerlifter there are some other things I’d want to see, but they’re pretty specific to PL so there’s probably little point in adding shit for you to think about that won’t necessarily benefit you.


#252

Yesterday’s session (still in break in week, still staying away from failure on any sets, with maybe the last three reps of each set being relatively hard).

  1. Barbell curl warm up, 2 rounds of 21’s
  2. Incline db curl, 1 set + rest pause (twice)
  3. Rope pushdown warm up, 3 sets of 12-15
  4. Lying db extension 2 sets of 10-12
  5. Leg curl warm up, 3 sets of 8-10
  6. Barbell squat warm up, 3 sets of 12
    7a. Smith machine calf raise
    7b. Rope crunches

So, this is the first time I squatted in 3 weeks. And even before that, I hadn’t been putting much effort in the squats for a month at least.

I just don’t feel motivated to work on my squat. And at the same time, I feel so weak and bad about my current strength level.

This summer I did a 6 week program from Dan John based around 10 rep squats and I pushed really hard three times per week. I was ultimately able to do 107 kg x 10 reps on my fifth set.

A few weeks later I got up to a single (or triple, can’t quite remember) with 127 kg.

Now granted, I have been cutting for months on end and haven’t squatted seriously meanwhile, and on top of that I’m not eating a whole lot of food just yet (we’re talking shy of 2k calories for this week), but let me tell you that even 62 kg felt bad for 12 reps. My legs were burning and I felt weak as fuck.

So for one, I don’t like to squat much at the moment and I want my upper body to grow more than anything else. On the other hand though, I feel so weak and almost disgusted watching myself in the mirror squatting a grand total of one plate. That’s a fraction of what I used to be able to do!

So I think I’ll just suck it up and add weight progressively and grind it. It’s a necessary evil: I won’t allow myself to be weak anymore.
How long do you guys think it’ll take me to get back to my previous level of strength?


#253

That depends entirely on how fast you’re able to regain the lost strength, which can vary quite a lot from one individual to another.

You’re down 45 kilos on squats (comparing the old set of 10 to the more recent set of 12 here).

Assuming that you’re squatting once a week:

Some dude may be able to throw on 10 kilos a week and be back to where he was in 5 weeks, but that would require not only pretty good genetics but also a lot of food. (For recovery and leverage; fat and water)

Average guys will probably be able to add five kilos per week at first and 2.5kgs later on. (If you added five kgs per week until you’re back at where you were it’d take 9 weeks, with 2.5kgs per week it’d take 18 weeks, in reality the answer is most likely something in between)

Say you were able to add 5kgs per week for six weeks. You’re up to 92kgs and have 15kgs to go. If you’re able to add 2.5kgs each week from there it’ll take you another six weeks to get back to where you were. That would come to a grand total of 12 weeks.

But in reality it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just work hard and push the numbers up. Eventually you’ll surpass your old records.


#254

Those sound like very sensible numbers indeed, but let’s also take into consideration that 62 kg probably isn’t the max I can do. Being week one, I didn’t push the sets too much and despite feeling horribly, the reps were decently smooth.

If I really wanted it, I could probably do 82 kg x 12 and I’ll prove that to myself next week.

Now that I think about it though, Paul wants me to alternate between back and front squats each week (the other leg day I’m doing 20-rep leg presses instead), but I’ll ask him whether I can stick to the back squat because I really want to work back up on that.


#255

It’d only take you five weeks at the rate of 5kgs/week to get back if you could do that. (Or 10 weeks if you added 5kgs every other week with front squats in the program on the remaining weeks)

That being said, a 20kg jump is kinda unnecessary. Instead of that you could do two ten kilo jumps and probably have more control over the 82 kilos and whatever comes after that.

You can always ask, but remember that everything that is in the program is there for a reason; doing front squats every other week will not only build quad strength and size but it’ll also make it possible to progress on both front and back squats for longer before you begin to stall on them


#256

No question on that, but my quads are still getting hit because I do leg extensions and leg presses the other day.

I see what you mean about being able to progress for longer on both lifts, but here I feel it might kind of be a newbie gains thing, seeing how much strength I lost. Meaning that there’s so much I can gain that maybe working the squat more frequently would help.

Anyway I showed Paul my bench videos and he didn’t comment on the arch. What he did say tho, is that my grip is too wide and my elbows too flared. That’s too bad, because that elbow and shoulder positioning is the one I naturally assume and doesn’t feel weird to me.

To correct that, he told me to press with the dumbbells facing each other when I do db press, since on the other day where I work chest I press with dbs instead of with a Bb. So that should help me learn the proper movement.


#257

Hey mate, congratulations on the result you achieved. It is evident that you put some hard work in.

From what you have written, I thought it would be useful to share with you that I have BDD and have previously really struggled with anxiety and general guilt whenever I have missed a training session or eaten outside my planned macros. With a lot of help from my wife, I am coming through the other side of that and it feels good. What I would say echoes the comments you have already had from other posters. One day (even two days) of looser eating isn’t going to undo weeks of hard work, but just be sure that it is two days and not an excuse to binge for a prolonged period. Missing a session happens - hell you have a life and things to do that get in the way of making it to the gym occasionally. Again, not a big deal if you step back and see it is always about the bigger picture.

You’re clearly working hard. You’ve dialled it in and in theory are primed to grow. I’ll watch with interest and see how you progress, but it’s looking good.


#258

Thank you for the post! Yeah I believe I might have some form of body dysmorphia but I have personal convictions of having a slight OCD too so they might be linked. Haven’t gotten checked by a professional honestly though.

Regardless of those two days of overeating, I generally tend to stress a lot about my physique, even in trivial details, and I believe that since I’m working with a coach that trait of myself is being exacerbated. I have a reality check because I need to send pics each week, and knowing that I only have got eight weeks left to work with him is making me anxious about not messing up the slightest because I fear not getting the most out of this period.


#259

Three thoughts / topics that I wanted to cover:

Food measures

In my eating plan, Paul has given me measurements for cooked meat and potatoes, which is confusing me a bit because I was used to weighing stuff raw up until then.

I adapted nevertheless, but now I’m having a doubt. On my post workout meal, I’m due to eat 8 oz potato (cooked). Now, that wouldn’t be a problem. I just weight the potatoes once I cooked them and top when there’s 8 oz in my plate.

However, I’ve been cooking them in the microwave recently, which actually reduces their weight. But since they are drier, 8 oz of them might actually end up having more calories (less water weight relatively) than if I had boiled them. Am I right?

Now this might be just trivial, but could I have actually been eating more potatoes than due having cooked them in the microwave? Does boiling them actually increase their weight so I’d eat less if I boiled them?

Calves and abs

So I asked Paul whether I could add abs and calves because I want to develop those muscles and he said yes, although he doesn’t program work for those muscles. He told me I can work them virtually every workout.

Now, if you were me, how would you go about this?

I work out 4 days a week, two days it’s chest back shoulders, and two days it’s biceps triceps legs. When it comes to abs, the only movement I actually like to do and makes me want to train them is the kneeling or standing cable crunch. I’m thinking 2-3 heavy sets. But on which days? If I were to work them only twice per week, that to me sounds a bit like a low frequency for abs. But otherwise I’d have to work them two days in a row.

For calves that’s the same, only difference being that there are no favorite exercises. I can do smith machine standing calf raises, seated machine calf raises, or leg press calf raises. What is your go to protocol for this muscle group?

Calf stretch

Lastly, I always read that the calves benefit being stretched on every rep and holding the position for a few seconds. I don’t know why tho, but I can’t really feel a stretch in the muscle when I leg the weight elongate the muscle on the negative. I could hold that position for 10 minutes.

When I actually do the rep, I feel an intense contraction in the muscle, but I don’t feel any stretch at the bottom. If I try and force it, I just feel my tibialis anterior contracting. If I try and static stretch them between sets or even when they’re cold though, I definitely do feel a stretch.

How come? Has this ever happened to any of you?


#260

Ah almost forgot…

@danteism @MarkKO
Today I did dumbbell bench presses following Paul’s prescription of having the dbs face each other to better learn to tuck my elbows in.

I was VERY pissed off when I watched the video, because to me it looks like my elbows are almost as flared as usual, but while I was doing this it felt to me as if they were properly positioned. Also, it’s even more difficult for me to keep a proper arch when doing bench with dumbbells. Idk how to do that honestly. I try but…

Anyway sorry for the background music, but apparently YouTube didn’t like the original one from the gym as it removed the video a few seconda after I uploaded it, so I had to cover that up somehow.

How’s this look to you guys?


#261

Your elbows do look like they were nearly as flared as they were Sith barbells. Are you uncomfortable with bringing the weight lower on your body? The bar can and should touch your body under the nipple line if it gets your elbows in a better position.

Arching with DB Press is harder than with barbells just because you have to stabilize the weights/hold them on your chest as you are setting up. When using DBs, however, you can make do with less of an arch as long as you still have good shoulder positioning. Because the weights are not coming in contact with your body you won’t gain that much put of the arch, apart from a stronger angle to press from, but you are already pressing in that angle with a barbell so from a physique standpoint it can even be beneficial to arch a bit less. Of course such small difference can be neglected if there truly even is a difference. But it’s something you can tell to yourself to feel better.

One thing I’ve noticed to help is having a very slight incline to press from with the DBs. I don’t know if it’s the slightly reduced amount you have to travel backward as you fall onto the bench or what, but it’s just so much more comfortable to set up with. It also makes it easier for me to get into a good position to press from overall.


#262

Honestly the matter is that while doing it, it really feels to me like I have my elbows close to my sides and that I’m positioned properly. I felt it all in my delts and triceps and not much in my chest as well. The only instance where I can tuck my elbows in is when doing very close grip bench pressing (but after having taken the videos of db presses, I wouldn’t bet money on it anymore).

I don’t know, it really pisses me off because even noobs get this right and yet I can’t even position myself properly for a bench press.


#263

Honestly, it’s quite rare to see a proper bench setup in a commercial gym

Regarding pressing, try pressing the dumbbells slightly towards each other while contracting your pecs. They don’t have to touch if it feels unnatural. With a barbell, try to “crush the bar”. That means trying to touch your fists together while you are pressing. Of course they cannot move as you’re gripping the bar, but the intention of doing that makes your chest contract better. (Just like pulling the bar apart makes your triceps more active) Some people like to try bending the bar in addition to crushing it, it’s up to you.