sure, it’s a matter of focus we’re discussing here
My bad, i read it wrong.
Take a look at “5/3/1 building the monolith” or Brian alsruhes “Dark Horse” program. Both are excellent options in terms of maximal strength and help you maintain or build upon existing muscle. And there is enough conditioning that if you follow it, it can keep you pretty damn lean.
Do you know where I can find it? I did a quick search but only a video popped up, and I can’t watch it right now.
There’s only the youtube video, which is pretty extensive so you can for sure have the program written out, but you’ll want to dedicate some time to watching it.
Not sure if you got the smith rows thing figured out cause I’m a skimmer, but having done them a total of one time I like to consider myself an expert on such matters. Try them underhand with like two fingers wider than shoulder width grip next time, and at the top of the movement pull your elbows together. Worked like a charm that one time.
I sent the video to my coach and he told me that I need to focus on pulling with the elbows and keeping them at an angle such that my forearms are perpendicular to the floor at the top of the movement.
Tonight I’ll do them and see if I can pull it off.
So here’s my first session of week three
Bench 74,5 kg x 5, 67 x 7
Incline 42 kg x 17, 12, 10 = 39 total (350 method)
Pulldown 55 x 14,10
Smith row 42 x 9, 47 x 7
Db ohp 24 x 6, 22 x 6
Couple of things. First set on the bench had shitty form. I screwed up the set up and lost the strictness in my technique on the last reps, allowing elbows to flare a bit. Second set was solid.
On the Incline, Paul told me to get my hands out wider and this time I could actually feel my chest so that’s great.
Rows were meh. I was indeed able to concentrate on the back by really feeling my elbows travel past me, and on the warm up sets I actually used my hands like hooks (gripping the bar very loosely and without my thumb, make no mistake this is more of a false grip than just a thumbless one) but after some reps my wrists started to hurt like hell.
Every rep on the working sets was uncomfortable on my wrists and I probably ended up pulling more with my hands as a result. I don’t know how to fix this. Maybe I should use actual hooks?
Last bit of thought is going to be about training intensity. Sometimes I question if I’m actually pushing a set to failure and I second guess what I just did because I felt that maybe, just maybe I could’ve gotten half a rep more and I faked myself out a bit. This program is based around brining most sets to failure and in some smaller exercises even beyond so I need to get my intensity right.
In order to get a reality check for that, I filmed myself while doing a set of lat pull down. Sorry for the shitty angle. I chose this exercise on purpose because here failure isn’t as black and white as it is on, say, a press, where I can tell I’m done because I fail to lock out the rep.
So this isn’t a form check per se. I can feel my lats really well on this exercise and most sets feel solid. The question I want to ask you guys here is: do I actually look like I’m struggling enough? Does this look like a set brought to failure? I discussed the issue of effort with @flipcollar some time ago and ever since I couldn’t get off my mind the fact that I need to train as hard as I can because I’m only fooling myself if I cut the effort short.
Here’s the video, you guys tell me what it looks like.
That looked like a pretty good set to me. You can tell your back is working hard, and the last few reps I could see you pulling through your sticking point, which is a good thing.
I personally like to move faster on the concentric portion of my lifts. Slow eccentrics have value, but slow, controlled concentric is not something I like. When you’re trying to pull through the last few reps of a set like this, it helps to make sure you pull hard through the ‘easy’, first portion of the movement. Get some speed so that you can pull through the sticking point and complete more reps.
Another technique you can use to make sure you really pushed yourself is do reps until you can only do partials. I’m not saying you HAVE to take all your sets to failure. I wouldn’t advocate that. But on lat pull downs, you could keep doing reps until you can’t keep pulling the bar all the way down to your chest. Maybe knock out 5-6 more half reps to further exhaust the muscles involved. Otherwise, the muscles that are getting you through the first half of the movement don’t really reach the level of fatigue that the muscles that get you through the lower portion do. Just a way to work a little harder I use this technique on a few lifts that lend themselves to it, like lateral raises. I can’t remember who I got it from… it was either Meadows or CT. I think Meadows, but I learned it a long time ago, so I"m not positive.
So all that being said, this is just lat pulldowns. It’s an assistance exercise in my book, and while it’s a good one for building a strong back, I think rows and pull ups are better for really pushing yourself to failure. For some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a whole lot out of pulldowns. I’ve always preferred pull ups.
I find on some exercises I can concentrate a little bit better on the muscle I’m trying to work if going slower on the concentric. With lat pulldowns I think I tend to rely a bit too much on momentum if I pull too explosively, but I’ll give it a try for the last reps.
That’s exactly what Paul currently has me doing with delt raises! Both with rear and laterals, he instructed me to do one low effort warm up set, followed by three sets of 12-15 to failure and then partials once I can’t complete one more rep.
He told me to do partials “until I can’t move my arms” but honestly I’m struggling to get to that point. Granted, I get to a point where I can only complete half rep, but after some partials the pain becomes unbearable and I don’t know if you can actually get to failure when only swinging the dbs a couple of inches.
Paul has currently me doing lat pulldowns twice a week, on both back days, whereas the other exercise is smith machine rows one day and Rack pulls the other. I did do chin ups for two months while cutting but they currently aren’t in my program.
Nevertheless, I feel I can push my lats to do more work with pull downs to failure than with chins, because the latter is just more uncomfortable and it’s harder for me to concentrate when it gets hard.
I’m also having some problems with rows, both with mmc and because I’m getting wrist pain from them. I mentioned that in my last post and in one of the latest before that. Do you have any advice to offer for this issue?
You definitely can if you’re actually contracting the side delts
Regarding wrist pain in rows, your wrists are most likely out of alignment, try to get them in line with your lower arm
I found this really helped me with rows
out of curiousity, (I can’t tell from the video) do you wrap your thumb around the bar when doing lat pulldowns or do you have it on top? I find I get a better mmc with my back when I use a ‘thumbless’ grip on these, and I’ve heard others say the same thing.
I skimmed and didn’t see where you mentioned the wrist pain. can you describe it? what type of rows are causing the pain? (bb, db, or cable? or all?) Is it on the back, front, thumb side or pinky side? shooting pain? any information like that is useful. Is it happening throughout the movement, or just at a particular joint angle? both wrists?
It was with the Bent over smith machine row and started happening yesterday after me consciously trying to only focus on pulling with my elbows and gripping the bar in such a way that my hands were effectively acting like hooks. This was done to get the least arm involvement possible as I have troubles to feel them in my back. I’ll quote the post where I talked about the pain. Just a couple of posts before you can find a video of me doing those BEFORE I started to try and focus on pulling with elbows (so I wasn’t feeling them in my back).
Thumbless grip—on pretty much every back exercise. On lat pulldowns I get a tremendous back pump already from the very first warmup set.
thanks for the info.
so, the obvious answer is, if you’re gripping it in such a way that it hurts your wrists, don’t do that. Injury prevention should come first, so definitely find a grip that doesn’t cause wrist pain. It just sounds like you did something that didn’t work for you.
You said you’re working with Paul Carter, what is that like? Does he give you individual attention/ respond to specific questions like what you’re asking here? Or does he just email you a program and you do it? If it’s the latter, I’d find another coach. If it’s the former, I don’t really understand why you’re asking the internet the questions you’re asking in your log here. They seem like the sorts of things I would be talking over with my coach.
Paul and I do weekly check ins to assess progress, and I can email him whenever I need to ask him anything. A big part of getting this lean was the motivation he gave me to push myself during the hard times in our conversations so there’s definitely more than just emailing a program.
That being said, I already bother him with a ton of questions so this is what I’ve been doing: when I have a major one I ask him. I try not to contact him too often during the week and ask him all the questions on Sunday during the check ins. He gives me an answer and I start to implement that. For example, I wasn’t sure about my bench form and he fixed it in literally two sentences when I asked him and sent him a video.
If however, during the week I encounter a small or minor issue, I usually enjoy discussing it with you guys here. I try and find a fix by experimenting and following your advice, and if I don’t manage to fix it by the end of the week, I ask Paul. That way I don’t have to bother him for every detail like grip. For example I didn’t manage to fix my problem with rows last week and he gave me some cues. I tried to implement them and now this wrist issue has arisen. So I’ll ask him when we get in touch this weekend.
Bb 21’s x 22.5 kg x 2 rounds
Incline db curl 10 kg x 8,3,2 (Double Rest pause)
Rope pushdown 25 kg x 20, 20 kg x 20, 17
Db skulls 8 kg x 9, 7 kg x 7
Leg curl 25 kg
Squat 72 kg x 12, 77 kg x 12, 12
Decided to film a couple of sets for the heck of it
A bit uncomfortable this time as the Incline was putting some stretch on my pecs and delts to which are a tad sore from yesterday’s workout
And my delicious post workout meal
(more details on what the thing on the right is in the Food Porn Thread. But basically it’s veggies, very very tasty veggies)
yesterday’s chest/back/delts session
(weights in kgs)
Flat db press 26 x 13, 12
Incline cable fly 15 x 11, 8
Lat pulldown 55 x 15, 13
Rack pull 132 x 4, 122 x 9
Db ohp 22 x 9, 8
Rear raises 3 sets + partials
Calves on leg press a couple of sets
every set to failure except for rack pulls as per the program. now things are starting to make more sense as we get finish week 3. the program is focused on breaking rep pr’s and now i have goals to work towards.
i hit the high end of the rep range with db presses so next time i’ll be increasing by 2 kgs and stay at that weight until i can do the same reps as i did with this one. won’t be increasing weight on cable flys because i need to hit 12 reps on both sets. pulldowns are going up 2 kgs, sand so is the ohp.
now i’ve been having troubles figuring out the rack pulls. the program states, “below the knee rack pull,” but the lowest setting my rack allows has safeties right around my knee level, so the bar ends up being a tad higher.
i tried to work around this by putting a stack of plates in front of the bar and standing on top of it, but even with three plates the bar ends up being at around knee level and putting more plates on the stack seems like it might make this a bit dangerous. i’ll discuss with with paul this weekend but in the meanwhile i filmed a set using this set up. how’s this look?
Today’s session. Arms and legs
Db Hammer curl 10 kg x 14, 12, 10, 10
Cable Preacher curl 20 x 16, 25 x12, 13, 11
Rope pushdown 25 x 21, 20, 15
Pjr pullover 14 x 18, 18 x 13
Leg Extension 60 x 14, 70 x 12, 10
Leg press 140 x 20, 20
I get a tremendous mmc and pump with Hammer curls doing them Paul Carter style. I start with the db resting on my legs instead of resting by my sides. Every reps starts from a dead stop and the dumbbells on my thighs.
On Cable Preacher curls I don’t get as strong a biceps contraction though. Here’s a vid of my fourth set from today’s workout
Watching this it kinda looks to me as if I might not be initiating the movement with my biceps so I might have to look into that.
Legs are always a mind game in this workout. I get to the end and I’m thinking, “oh man I can’t do it, I’m not training legs,” and that’s double true because 20-rep leg presses suck so bad. Every set of let extension I kept telling myself, “that’s it I’m fucking done let’s go home,” then I would do the next set. After that I walked to the leg press any my inner bitch was like, “you’re skipping that cmon let’s go home and eat,” and that thing would go on while I loaded the plates.
Every warm up set I told myself, “you aren’t actually going to go through that,” but I just didn’t listen and kept going.
Long story short, I trained legs.
Week 4 session 1
Bench 74.5 kg x 7, 67 kg x 9
Incline 42 kg x 21, 13, 12 = 46 total reps (350 method)
Lat pulldown 60 kg x 14, 9
Cable row 75 kg x 8, 12
Ohp 24 kg x 5, 22 kg x 7
Laterals around 15 reps + partials 3 sets
Calves and tibia raises in between 3 sets
@flipcollar so yesterday I had Paul Carter watch my lat pulldown video to judge my intensity and effort during sets and this was his response.
This was a big disappointment for me because I genuinely thought I’d been training hard enough but apparently I need to take it up a notch.
This session I was as aggressive as possible with my sets and really asked myself, “are you physically capable of doing one more rep?” each time I thought I had gotten to failure. I ended up getting more reps than last time but I think that I might have cheated a bit more on a couple of exercises (namely the lat pulldown and row).
But I tried and be as explosive as possible which at least gave me feedback on my actual levels of fatigue, because if I’m trying to accelerate the weight as much as possible on every rep it becomes clear once I’m fatiguing because the reps slow down significantly.
Anyway, here’s what my first set of laterals looked like. I have been instructed to get between 12-15 reps to failure and then do partials until “I can’t move my arms.”
The issue with lateral raises is that pain gets me before muscle fatigue actually makes it impossible to complete more reps, so I usually give up mentally first. This time I tried to give it all.
Had to lower the weight on subsequent sets (this was already the heaviest I could handle), but I really got a good mmc with my delts on these, so at least I know I worked the right muscle. But the question remains, did I work hard enough?
that’s a good way to put it. Your mind tells you to pull hard, and you think you’re going to, and then you hit that wall and it doesn’t happen, lol.
I’ll try to remember to film a set next time I’m at the gym, I’ll post it on my instagram so you can see it. That’ll at least give you an idea of how I personally interpret intensity on the lift.