T Nation

Shoulders, Forearms and Calves Specialization Results

STATS: 173.5, 5’9, 9% BF

GOALS (listed in descending priority):

  1. Increase my military press (and related lifts) by 20 lbs. FAILED
  2. Gain 1 lb of lean mass without gaining any fat or losing fat. UNKNOWN
  3. Increase forearm size by .25 in FAILED
  4. Increase calf size by .25 in SUCCESS
  5. Increase shoulder size by .25 in FAILED

LONG TERM GOALS: stay below 10% BF while gaining 4-10 lbs of mass a year. Going for a classic symmetric bodybuilder but more “power” look (bigger forearms, triceps, mid-back, smaller lat-spread, quad and bicep size than typical BB). Eventually get an elite total (at either/both 181 or 198 weight class). No interest in bodybuilding comps.

Done 10/30 - 12/16 = 48 days = 7 weeks

Split and exercises:
Push Press. work up to 2rm, 3rm, 1rm, 2rm, 3rm, 1rm, 1rm
(changed to high incline bench press mid-way through)
Farmers Walk:
Leg Press Calves 10, 12, 8, 11, 14, 8, 8 reps

Dumbbell Military Press.
Cable Forearm exercise stack x AMAP
Donkey Calf-raise AMAP

Leaning Lateral Raise
Pinwheel Curls
Pinwheels + Fat Gripz
Standing Calf Raise

Rear raises then lateral raises, up and hold at top, then just up.
Sitting Calf Raise
Forearm complex

Lower DE: Sumo DL with chains, Pause Squat, Deficit deadlift w chains, box squat with chains.
Reverse Wrist Curls
Good Mornings, Bottom-up Squats from pins, Wide stance Seated Good mornings. Squats from pins. work up to 3-5 RM

Barbell Curl
Reverse Wrist Curls

Glute Ham Raises
Decline Situps
Thib PullDown
Wrist Curls

Military Press. work up to: 4 3 2 3 2 1 1 RM
Static holds
Leg press calves

Incline Press same as MP
Preacher Reverse Curl
Preacher Reverse Curl+FG
Standing Calf Raise

Lateral Raise
Kpipe Curls
Donkey Calf-raise

Rear Cable Raise
wrist roller
sitting calf-raise

Lower ME: Squats, Deficit deadlifts with chains, pause squats, pin pulls, squats, reverse band deadlifts
Cable Wrist Curls (if not dead)

Pullups work up to 3-5 RM
cable wrist curls

Yates row from pins
Decline Situps:
Reverse Cable Wrist Curls

Top Half from pins cluster sets (btwn 6 and 11 reps)
Siff Lunges
Plate Pinch Grip

Bradford Press
Leg Press Calves
Hammer Curls
Hammer Curls + FG

dead stop extensions with chains
Leg Press Calves
one-arm cable rev c

tricep complex: one-dumbbell extensions, tates
Standing Calves
forearm complex

I used undulating periodization, so they varied. I’ll spare you the details. But for most exercises everything was between 3 and 6 sets of 3 to 10 reps.
One day had high (10-20 reps) for calves. wrist curls and reverse wrist curls also had 12-20 reps per set.

Leangains 16/8 protocol.

Monday: low carbs, medium fat (workout other)
Tuesday: low carbs, low fat (off)
Wednesday: medium carbs, medium fat (workout specialization)
Thursday: low carbs, high fat (workout other)
Friday: medium carbs, medium fat (often low since I would often drink friday nights, so I cut calories at dinner to limit fat gain) (workout specialization)
Saturday: low carbs, medium fat (off)
Sunday: high carbs, medium fat (workout specialization)

For example, a typical Monday is:
1-3 workout: 3 scoops mag10, 2 scoops anaconda. then post-wo 50g whey.
4: steak and veggies
6:30 greek yoghurt and protein powder
about 80g fat, 250g protein, trace carbs

Wednesday is:
12-2 workout: 2 Surge workout fuel, 25g dextrose, 3 MAG-10, 1 Anaconda. then post-wo 50g whey
3: sweet potato and egg whites
7: lamb and veggies
about 50g fat, 250g protein, 140g carbs

As per suggestions here, midway through I upped my carbs (by about 100g) on priority days and lowered fat on other days.
I also upped protein (by about 100g) on prority days as well. I’ve been getting close to 400g on some days.
I think it did help as my calf size shot up after that change.

All data sufficiently smoothed (as in, reflections of real trends, not subject to variation in food in stomach, regular fluctuations in performance, etc.)

I put a * next to changes that appear significant

Top 1/2 military: 175 x 7 to 195 x 6 RP (2 pauses) *
Military: 160 x 3 to 165 x 3/180 x 1

size: 45.55 to 45.375

Pinch grip: 130 x 3 to 135 x 3
Hammer Curl: 50s x 7 to 70s x 6 *
Preacer Reverse Curl: 70 x 9 to 80 x 7
Wrist Curl: 100 x 18 to 100 x 20

LUnf: 11.75 to 11.625
RUnf: 11.5 to 11.5
LFl: 11.875 to 12
RFl: 11.875 to 11.875

Siff Lunges: 60s x 10 to 80s x 8,
Seated cr: 110 x 10 to 170 x8 *
Leg Press cr: 630 x 8 to 710 x 8 *
Donkey Calf Raise: 225 x 17 to 270 x 21 *

R: 15 to 15.3 *
L: 15.375 to 15.62 *5

Dead stop extensions w chains: 80 x 5 to 110x3
One-arm extensions: 85 x 7 to 100 x 5
Bulgarian Split Squat: 115 x 4 to 120 x 2
Weighted Chinups: 100 x 4 to 115 x 3 *
Squat: 285 x 1 to 285 x 1

RQ: 22 to 21.7 *
LQ: 22.5 to 22.4
Ass: 37.3 to 36.75 *

Body Composition:
Weight: 173.6 to 173.4

Above bellybutton: 30.5 to 30.3

Below Belly button: 30.4 to 31.1 *

upper belly: 31.0 to 30.7 *

The strategy of just ramping up to a RM on military press didn’t seem to be effective. Probably should have used some sort of progression protocol.

The clusters seemed to work well though. So maybe I just needed more volume at the higher rep ranges.

Calves were good.
Perhaps just didn’t have enough volume for shoulders? Not sure why they lagged (or even lost muscle)
Not sure also why forearms didn’t gain anything. It’s not due to lack of food, as the calves were clearly fed enough.
I had a similar problem with my last specialization (Squats, lats and forearms, see: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/hub/TheBlade#myForums/thread/4900263/ ), which otherwise was far more successful

I seemed to have lost mass in my lower body, although there was no change in the weight I put.
One positive scenario is that I lost fat in my lower body, as my body turned there to burn fat as my waist is already fairly defined. This would mean I gained mass in turn.
I really cannot say with certainty which scenario occurred. The second is plausible considering I didn’t lose any strength but the drop in the measurements is considerable.

Body composition data is in general inconclusive, considering one waist measure went up, one went down.

With my next specialization, Deadlifts and Triceps, I think I’ll use more of a reliable progression for deadlifts. Probably conjugate method on sunday, 5/3/1 on wednesday for rack pulls, and just DE on friday

Both specializations I didn’t gain weight, so I can afford to up protein and carbs on priority days even further without fearing fat gain.

I’ll also consider intensity techniques (Rest-pause and such) for triceps and forearms.

Would appreciate any and all advice

Wow, waaaay over thinking things here.

You just need to add more bodyweight (more than 4 point to whatever decimal points lbs per year lol) and increase lifts all over…no analysing the minutiae

I intend to gain strictly muscle mass. I think 4-10 lbs per year is the estimate most people give as to how much mass a non-beginner lifter can gain in a year. And 1lb for 7 weeks seems like a decent short-term goal for that.

I am trying to increase my lifts all around, specializing in one major one each time. This time it increased, but not by as much as I’d like, so I’m trying to figure out why.

Oh, I know there’s an ongoing debate about whether one should bulk big and cut big or stay lean and slowly gain muscle. Seems like no one’s right and it’s more whether the goal is to get a pro card in bodybuilding or to just look good year-round. I’m in the latter category, to clear things up, and I don’t really want this to be another thread on that topic.

Even so, if it’s the power look you’re after, you definitely need to loosen up on your diet and eat more. Progression on the lifts should be smooth and pretty linear at this point (big jumps), and if not, it’s a pretty clear sign diet is not adequate. At best, you are barely recomping right now.

Your measurements are far too strict/detailed, and to be honest, are probably throwing you off. e.g. THREE measurements on belly? The stomach contracts and expands all the time…not a good indicator of fat gain/loss unless in larger amounts over longer periods of time. Even then, when I gain, my stomach always increases further in relation to other areas and remains that way till much leaner. Callipers are better at measuring, but still, not to be taken THAT religiously/meticulously (maybe, unless aiming for fat loss).

About the bulk/cut thing (not gonna go into it much), most pro’s still have a range though; they don’t stick to the same % bodyfat. So whether you want to slow gain, or quick gain, both methods require some fat gain. Typically, I’d say the range is somewhere between 8 and 12%. Some go a little higher…

Well, we can agree I should be eating more in general, as I aimed to gain a lb but lost 0.2 lbs. But we won’t agree on how much and like I said I don’t want to get into that whole “you need to get fat to gain muscle” debate.

But putting that aside:

  1. Why, on the measurements, did I gain size in my calves but not my shoulders and forearms? I’m clearly feeding the former enough, so there must be an issue with the training with the latter?
  2. Why didn’t my military press go up as much as I’d like (that should be possible without weight gain, since powerlifters have to get stronger while staying in a weight class all the time)?

Oh, and regarding measurements, I averaged the data, so the natural fluctuations in stomach expansion are smoothed over, as in the data reflects trends anyway. I’m (trying) not to get too worked up about week-to-week changes there, but data over a 7 week period should definitely point to a trend of belly increase/decrease and hence fat gain/loss.

  1. For what you’re feeding yourself, you’re doing too many exercises/work to overcompensate from (this is clear by your lack of bodyweight increase, and the lack of significant strength gains). For calves, they can take quit a “beating”, so the work you gave them was easier to rebound from. Other than that, maybe you just found a better volume/frequency for them vs the other body parts. The partioning obviously favoured the calves (could be a usage thing - on your feet often etc).

Forearms take quit a bit of muscle gain all over to show an increase in girth. Think of it this way; ones like Poliquin states that you need to gain AT LEAST 15lbs in bodyweight as an intermediate lifter to increase your upper arm measurement by an inch. The upper arms are far easier to gain size on than forearms (especially for average Joe). You didn’t gain ANY weight so it’s not surprising forearms didn’t go up. Especially in as little as 7 weeks.

  1. You have it slightly backwards - should work on strength/muscle/weight first, THEN work on relative strength or whatever. Gain muscle, milk the neurological adaptations, gain more muscle, periodically trim the fat. Most do it that way around. If you don’t, you may risk being weak forever :slight_smile:

I can’t explain why, but my stomach measurements were always way off (it increased faster than everywhere else leading me to believe I was gaining more fat than I was…the measurements went straight back down on a diet). Callipers were far more accurate and steady.

BTW - 12% bodyfat is NOT fat, it’s very impressive on someone who’s built plenty muscle and is considered to be lean by the vast majority. Staying the same leaness level (bad) is different from having an upper “fatness” level that you stop gaining at.

  1. Too many exercises for what? The shoulders? What would you drop? Bradfords and dumbbell military maybe?

Why would calves increase in girth preferentially over the rest of the body, but not forearms, when subjected to more stimulation? If it’s possible for calves, certainly it is for forearms. In which case, perhaps there’s a better exercise selection, set/rep protocol, etc.?

That’s sort of the point of specialization, from what I’ve read, that you are able to increase the size of one (lagging or otherwise a group that you want relatively bigger) muscle group relative to others. For instance, TC had an article where he specialized in upper arms and increased their size while keeping everything else the same. I think Romaniello said you can cut the Poliquin estimates by about half with specialization.

  1. I’m not sure what you mean. Strength is always somewhat relative, to a degree. For instance, powerlifters focus on the big 3, and so bodybuilders will still have them beat on some things like barbell curls and such.

To give you some more context, I have done the bulk-cut thing most of the time. In 2011 got up to 192 or so (at 12-13% I’d say), was lifting 325-300-485, then when I dropped to (what to me is) aesthetically acceptable body fat levels (I estimate 9%…visible abs at rest, visible veins in shoulders and arms), my strength dropped like a rock (to 285-280-400), despite all precautions taken (protein, bcaas, heavy lifting). This has happened before, and so I checked out the leangains protocol (check out the site, the guy stays at 6% year-round. in general it’s a big trend these days. I think the people in the nutrition forum follow it more, whereas the people here seem to do the big-bulk-cut thing). Hence this new strategy. It seemed to work fine the first specialization phase I tried (see http://tnation.T-Nation.com/hub/TheBlade#myForums/thread/4900263/ ), where I gained muscle where I specialized (except, incidentally, forearms, again), and seems to work for a lot of people in general.

Also, if I were to do the bulk-cut thing now, I’d rather move within 6-9% (what exactly is the point of this if I’m not satisfied with what I see in the mirror most of the year (the case with 12%)?)

I take 3 caliper readings. They’re not very useful. My body fat is too low/calipers too imprecise for the belly site. The thigh site has huge variability (goes like 7 to 16 to 11 mm).