T Nation

Swoletron's Road to Swoledom

I’ve been lurking T-Nation for years, and I just recently started blogging my lifting logs. I figured it’d be good to get it up on T-Nation in case anyone wants to chime in to comment about what the hell I’m doing.

Stats:
Sex: Male
Age: 25 (‘89)
Height: 5’ 4"
Weight: 150-160 (Haven’t checked in a while, and I don’t really care what that number is)

Lifts:
Squat (box): 335
Front Squat: 205
Military Press: 155
Bench Press: 225
Deadlift: 385 (for a double)

I love to squat. I mean, like a lot. I’ll squat for volume twice a week and once a week I’ll squat heavy. I end up having a “leg day” every other workout. I’m also short as hell and I have long arms, so deadlifting is one of my specialties. Benching has never been a strength of mine despite having a thick chest for my size (probably because of my arm length) and I dream of having a big ol’ strict military press.

Volume Squatting

Another great day for squatting. I made some mass amounts of pasta and beef earlier today, so I’m ready to throw back more of that after my squatting session. Things are starting to get a bit easier at 180 (I had surgery recently and said I’d be able to bounce back and then some…) so I’m thinking next cycle I’ll try pyramiding with 185.

Today I modified my deficit deadlift warmup sets. I decided I’d stick another plate on the ground for elevation, so I think I’m sitting at around a 3" deficit. Not totally sure why, but I can pull pretty explosively from this much of a deficit. I’d be willing to say more explosively than flat off the ground. I probably need someone to watch me to explain my body position so I can get used to it when going from flat ground.

The squatting sets were solid. I decided I’d throw in my bicep work between every set instead of doing it all at the end. This let me get in 10 sets with a medium load, but I often found that I was gassed from squatting instead of my arms burning too much. It made the curls difficult even though the load was light.

By the end of the workout I was getting in some more forearm work. I snuck in some reverse EZ bar curls and some reverse cable curls. Had a solid pump in my forearms before leaving the gym. Here’s to hoping that they grow.

Conventional Deadlifts

  • 2 x 5 @ 135
  • 1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 1.5" Deficit

  • 1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 3" Deficit

  • 2 x 3 @ 225

Back Squats

  • 2 x 3 @ 135
  • 1 x 10 @ 135
  • 1 x 10 @ 165
  • 8 x 10 @ 180
  • 1 x 10 @ 165
  • 2 x 10 @ 135

Straight Bar Curls

  • 10 x 8 @ 50 (Did these after most squat sets)

Front Squats

  • 1 x 3 @ 135
  • 2 x 3 @ 155

Reverse EZ Bar Curls

  • 4 x 6 @ 50 Superset with reverse cable curls.

Reverse One Hand Cable Curls

  • 4 x 8 @ 12.5

Ab Wheel Rollouts

  • 3 x 8 @ Bodyweight

Weighted Situps

  • 3 x 8 @ 6 KG


Chest and Back Variation B

Crushed another chest and back workout tonightâ?¦ and I think I forgot to mix in caffeine to my pre-workout. Woops! Really enjoying the experimentation I allow myself in the fourth phase of every cycle I do.

I started my incline sets by ramping with triples. Instead of doing two sets of triples at a given weight, I stuck to just a single set. This reduced volume would hopefully keep some power in the tank for me to top out and it worked. I hit 205 on incline and probably could have done 210. Was pretty stoked to hit 205 without having a spotter come over for the confidence boost.

For tonightâ??s experimentation, I tried to focus on back movements. I upped my dumbbell rows by 5 lbs but dropped my reps by 2 per set. I actually felt like this was a much better approach than trying to hit sets of 10, so I might try this next cycle. My back was on fire after my 4 sets of 8, but it felt great. I wanted to get one more compound movement in so I did some overhand barbell rows to light up my mid-upper back. The rest of the back workout tonight was cable variations. The stars must have aligned because one of my gym girlfriends was working out near me for a good few sets. That was motivation enough.

Pic from tonight is what I do when I discover I have a lot of eggs that will go bad in a couple weeks… Boil up a storm. I always forget about boiling eggs until this situation comes up. Looks like I’ll have lots to snack on for the next few days.

Incline Bench
2 x 5 @ Bar
2 x 3 @ 135
1 x 3 @ 155
1 x 3 @ 165
1 x 3 @ 175
1 x 3 @ 185
1 x 1 @ 195
1 x 1 @ 205

Flat Dumbbell Press
1 x 5 @ 70
3 x 6 @ 80
4 x 8 @ 55 Superset these with the rows.

Dumbbell Rows
4 x 8 @ 80

Barbell Rows (Overhand)
3 x 6 @ 135

Seated Close Grip Cable Rows
1 x 6 @ 42.5
4 x 6 @ 50

Cable Handle Rows (Overhand)
2 x 8 @ 42.5

Cable Handle Rows (Underhand)
2 x 8 @ 42.5

Cable Flyes
3 x 14 @ 22.5

Stairmaster 13 minutes Medium Pace

Legs (Box Squat Spec) and Biceps

I’m not sure what it was tonight, but immediately following my box squats, I had an insane burst of energy. I mean crazy. Usually squatting leaves me pretty gassed (and don’t get me wrong, I was feeling it!) but as soon as I started super setting with biceps I felt all kinds of pumped up.

So, tonight started off with box squats. Last week was my max attempt (and that didn’t go so hot), so today was my phase 4 experimentation day. I decided I wanted to stick to box squats but play with the rep scheme. I had sort of entertained the idea before that I might stick to triples, so I wanted to ramp up with triples and see where my comfort was. It looks like by the time I hit 285 I start to feel a bit sloppy under the bar, which is why I only went for two reps. Really interesting to note that on every single rep tonight, as soon as I got the bar going, I was able to pop it at the top. Usually around 285 I’m sort of just able to get it to the top, but tonight even at 295 for a single the bar popped.

So as I mentioned, I started super setting biceps with my front squats and stiff leg deadlifts. I’m not sure what it was, but after a couple sets of biceps I had a second wind or something. I started cranking out a few extra reps and really squeezing my biceps a the peak of every contraction. It felt great. So great that tonight’s pic is a little flexing selfie.

Box Squats
4 x 3 @ 135
2 x 3 @ 225
2 x 3 @ 245
2 x 3 @ 265
1 x 2 @ 285
1 x 1 @ 295

Front Squats
1 x 3 @ 135 Dumbbell curls between these sets.
1 x 3 @ 155
1 x 2 @ 175
1 x 1 @ 195
4 x 5 @ 135

Dumbbell Curls
3 x 8 @ 35

Stiff Leg Deadlifts
1 x 5 @ 135 Hammer curls between these sets.
3 x 3 @ 155

Hammer Curls
2 x 10 @ 35
2 x 8 @ 35

Cable Curls
2 x 8 @ 15

Reverse Cable Curls
2 x 8 @ 15

Rope Cable Curls
2 x 8 @ 30


Shoulders and Triceps Variation B

So to start off, tonight was another failed max attempt in my shoulder workout for military press. Not a complete failure though… I did learn that my sticking point has shifted from off my chest to in front of my eyes. I’ll have to look up or ask around for what muscle group I should be targeting for that.

Learning from my recent max attempts, I stuck to triples when activating my shoulders, except instead of my two-sets-per-weight (to get some volume in) I cut it down to one. Legitimate ramping for my shoulders. I was able to hit a plate per side for two reps pretty easily, which was nice. I figured the jump from there (135) to 160 (which would beat my previous PR by 5 lbs) was a bit too big, so I wanted to go 150 then 160. I loaded up the par and managed to get 150 up. It felt hard, but I didn’t get stuck, which was nice. I knew 160 was going to get hard, but I hadn’t exhausted my shoulders like I usually do, so I felt like I could give it a whirl. On both attempts, when I picked the bar up onto my shelf, I could tell it was going to be borderline impossible. I always try to get it from my shelf to moving as fast as possible (i.e. I don’t walk the bar out, hang around for a few minutes, and then try to press it up). So from my shelf, I was actually able to get the bar up to eye level before getting â??pinnedâ?? there. I was pretty let down, but I did nail an easy triple (almost 4 reps) at 135 afterward as I rage-quit.

The rest of the workout was basically half-assed, unfortunately. Tonight was one of those nights where I had a few familiar faces talking with me, so after 10-20 minutes gets killed from that in the whole workout, it’s hard to focus (and I don’t want to be in the gym until 11 since I work early and write these stupid logs after I lift). Anyway, I hit some tris and didn’t too too much shoulder accessory work. Well, not much compared to my usual shoulder assult.

That’s the last real training session in phase 4 for me. Tomorrow is volume squatting to finish off the whole cycle (I don’t call that training since Iâ??m not really strength training there) and then the next cycle will begin right after! Probably changing squats and military press to triples (from 531-ish rep scheme and 5Ã?5, respectively).

Standing Military Press
2 x 5 @ Bar
2 x 3 @ 65
2 x 3 @ 95
1 x 3 @ 115
1 x 2 @ 135
1 x 1 @ 150
2 x 0 @ 160 - Two failed attempts at 160… Stuck at eye level.
1 x 3 @ 135

Barbell Shrugs
3 x 8 @ 135 - Super sets of the lateral dumbbell raises between all these sets
2 x 8 @ 225

Lateral Dumbbell Raises
4 x 6 @ 25

Standing Military Press
4 x 6 @ 85 - Special sets. Didn’t go below eye level. After each rep held for one additional second at eye level.

Rope Cable Pulldown
1 x 12 @ 22.5
1 x 12 @ 25
2 x 16 @ 27.5
1 x 10 @ 30

1H Cable Pulldowns
3 x 8 @ 15

2H Constant-Tension Cable Underhand Pulldown
3 x 10 @ 30 - Like normal ones but with my elbows extended outfront so top/bottom of ROM has tension.

Stairmaster
5 minutes Quick Pace (just wanted to GTFO)

5th post = bodyweight military press. Life ain’t fair!


@panzerfaust: Thanks for stopping in! I always hear people talking about overhead pressing crazy weights, and then I realize they’re push pressing, or not even going from their shelf to full extension… My goal is to do a really strict military press, and do it with a whole bunch of weight. When I was a lot heavier, I was military pressing a bit less weight (135) but for 5x5. If I would have stuck another 5 lbs on the bar I couldn’t do it once (go figure, right?). Now my max is higher, but I still can’t get near that 5x5. Personally, I’d love to get back to 5x5 @ 135 and then get my 1RM up to around 165. Orrrrr more if that’s possible.

Volume Squatting

Tonight was the final workout of phase four, and the final workout of this entire cycle. It was eventful and felt solid right up until the end… Because I think I accidentally did an extra set of 10 at 180 lbs in my squatting session. Can’t complain I guess? I’ll dedicate my success tonight to the epic sushi lunch I had today.

Started out the workout with deficit deadlifts like usual. Again, the 3" deficit felt insanely explosive. Still haven’t figured it out, but it’s a bigger ROM and a faster pull, so I’ll stick with it. I moved into my back squats and decided I’d get the straight bar curls in there between sets again. Last time this worked well for getting in more bicep volume, so I felt like it’d be good to do again. Everything was going swimmingly until… Rant:

On my volume squatting days, I’m usually at a rack for a long time. I’m doing over 100 back squats and I’m not doing it for speed. People see me so frequently at the racks that some of the regulars call me “squat man”. So there’s the background. Tonight I’m squatting and a guy comes up to the rack beside me and starts setting up.

Cool, we always need more people squatting instead of doing curls. I do a set and he walks away for a bit. Buddy comes back with his girlfriend a little while later. They’re still trying to get the rack set up the way they want, so I go to unrack the bar to walk it out. Guess what? Buddy’s girlfriend decides that to warm up for her deadlifts, she’s going to start halfway between our racks instead of at their rack.

That means she’s now just placed the bar on the ground directly behind me (as I’m walking out the bar) and then proceeds to do some half-assed-terrible-form deadlifts with the bar. I (somehow) control my fury, re-rack the bar, and try to get acknowledgement from someone else in the gym at how absurd this is. Nobody was nearby though except these clowns.

Before I get a chance to lay down the law, the girlfriend leaves to go to another rack at the other side of the gym. Now, I personally don’t think it takes an expert weight lifter to figure out that you shouldn’t try to lift weights directly behind another person. This girl and her boyfriend had a combined intelligence less than a bowl of mashed potatoes. Someone could have gotten really hurt.

Anyway, I think that’s what triggered the accidental extra set in my squatting session tonight. I lost track right after that because I had a powerful rage set where I cranked out 6 reps before I realized I was even squatting. My following front squat sets were disastrous (only hit singles at 155) and then felt a bit noxious so I didn’t bother with core.

A new cycle starts tomorrow, so I’m excited to try out some new rep schemes.

Conventional Deadlifts
2 x 5 @ 135 Warming up the legs
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 1.5" Deficit
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 3" Deficit
2 x 3 @ 225

Back Squats
2 x 3 @ 135 Extensive hamstring and hip stretching in between most sets.
1 x 10 @ 135
1 x 10 @ 165
8 x 10 @ 180 ** Might have done an extra set in here…
1 x 10 @ 165
2 x 10 @ 135

Straight Bar Curls
10 x 10 @ 50 Did these after most squat sets.

Front Squats
1 x 3 @ 135 Superset with reverse EZ bar curls
2 x 1 @ 155 ** Somehow could only do singles…

Reverse EZ Bar Curls
3 x 8 @ 50

Skipped core… Noxious.

Chest and Back Variation A

Figured I’d start this post off with a little throw back picture. This is me about ~6 years ago when I used to think I was strong. I had probably just started squatting, but all I knew how to do was curl and dumbbell press. Chest and Bi’s. I’d love to go back in the past and tell myself to stop being a little bitch. I’d say “If you start squatting properly right now, you won’t be a bitch by the time you graduate university”. Oh well, I’m a little late to the party I guess, and lot’s of room for getting swole.

Tonight I took some learnings from my last cycle and started this one off on right foot. I ramped up a bit quicker for bench and then once I hit a weight I felt good at for triples, I stayed there for a few sets. This meant that instead of doing 3Ã?195, 3Ã?205, 2Ã?215, I ended up doing 3Ã?195 and then 4x3x205. That’s 12 sets over 200 lbs compared to just 5 before. Smart. Besides, it’s a great mental exercise to have a heavy (and I say heavy because for me, more than 200 lbs on bench is heavy) load on my chest several times in the same workout.

I went on to do dumbbell press and like an idiot, thought I’d go 5 lbs heavier. I didn’t quite listen to my body and was short a few reps on the following sets. Oh well, lesson learned. For some punishment, I decided I’d hit 50 reps for my super wide grip chinups. My chest was pretty torched at this point, so I figured my back needed it.

I finished up the workout with some barbell rows and then some 10Ã?10 benching with cable pulldowns supersetted in. At the end of this whole workout, my chest was incredibly tight, and I felt great. I even had a chance to chat with my squatting mentor/rolemodel/man-crush for a bit. He’s got the best outlook on lifting I’ve ever heard from anyone, and he’s the strongest person I’ve met. He’s not even a huge dude, so he’s legitimately strongest person I’ve met not even considering pound for pound. Hoping to see more of him around.

Bench Press
2 x 8 @ Bar
2 x 3 @ 135
1 x 3 @ 155
1 x 3 @ 175
1 x 3 @ 195
4 x 3 @ 205

Incline Dumbbell Press
1 x 10 @ 70
1 x 7 @ 70 ** First set of 10 blew it for me.
1 x 8 @ 65

(Super) Wide Grip Pullups
5 x 6 @ Bodyweight
4 x 5 @ Bodyweight

Overhand Barbell Rows
3 x 6 @ 135

Underhand Barbell Rows
3 x 8 @ 135

Bench Press
10 x 10 @ 105 3 sets super wide, 3 sets wide, 3 sets medium, 1 set narrow. Superset with cable pulldowns.

Close Grip DD Handle Cable Pulldowns
3 x 6 @ 130

Stepper Mill
5 minutes Fast Pace (Yeah, 5 minutes. I’m a bitch. Whatever)

Some interesting stuff going on in here. Ah yes if we could all go back in time and stop our younger selves from stuffing around with chest n biceps lol.

Man from that pic you def have squatters legs lol. Pics are good too, esp food ones as although they make me hungry they also give me diff meal ideas.

@Lift and Eat: Thanks for stopping in, man. For not having any idea what I was doing, I used to manage to stay pretty lean and have a decent size chest/arms… But the reality is I was still a little bitch, and there’s nothing I can do to fix how I was :stuck_out_tongue: Thanks for the leg compliment. I’m still punishing myself for starting squatting so late in my lifting career, so I hammer legs every other day.

Legs (Deadlift Spec) and Biceps

Tonight didn’t go totally as planned, but I’m glad it went the way it did. The leg workout I wanted to do involved sets of 5 for deadlifts, some leg press, some lunges, and then some hamstring blasting at the end, but things took an interesting turn.

Started my deadlift sets right on target. I had limbered up a bit tonight before I got to the gym, so I was good to go. Even for 5 reps at 305, the weight felt super light. At my top working set of deadlifts, I wanted to hit 350 for 5 reps, but that’s not exactly what happened. I belted up for that top set, because even around 3 reps at/over 350 I feel like any tweak in my back could through my workouts off for a while. So with the belt on, my second rep the bar got a bit caught on my iPod cable. Biggest rookie mistake. The next rep, I squeezed so hard at the top that I thought I might have let one rip, and since I was working out beside two girls I kind of shamefully just stopped my set. So the first two things I learned from that are that once I’m actually loosened up, I don’t need to wear a belt when I deadlift. It actually felt like it got in the way. The next thing is that I’m probably doing the whole belly-into-the-belt thing right.

So after deadlifts, the plan was to leg press like usual. However, I was thinking back to last night when I was talking to Sam (the guy I mentioned who’s frigging awesome at every lift). He was saying he doesn’t workout to get big legs and he’s not working out to have a really high squat number. He trains so that he can have the best squat technique that he can. And you know what? That translates into a squat that’s a couple hundred pounds more than mine. He’s clearly onto something. I decided I’d try working on some things he mentioned:

  • Wider stance on the box. When I used to get more face time with him, I was squatting pretty wide onto the box. I narrowed it over time to mix things up.
  • Switch up squatting techniques. Using a box that’s a bit higher? That’s now a different movement.
  • Pay attention to how you’re lining up to the box. None of this tap your ass on the edge business.
  • If you feel that crushing sensation, practice walking the loaded bar out and breathing under it. If you can squat it down, hold it there and try breathing deeply on the box.

So the majority of my workout was spent loading up a bar and doing that last point: walking it out, taking slow deep breathes, squatting down to the box, and continuing with the deep breathes. I have found in the past that right around 300-315 lbs is where I get that crushing feeling. Now I didn’t get up that high tonight, but from 225 up to 265, the only thing that got worse was the feeling in my wrists. The load felt the same. I’m hoping to take this a bit further next time around and hopefully make my way up to that 300-315 neighbourhood and practice holding the bar on my body.

Conventional Deadlifts
2 x 5 @ 135
2 x 3 @ 225
1 x 5 @ 265
1 x 5 @ 305
1 x 3 @ 350 ** Aborted early due to headphone snag and potential fart.

Mid-Box Squat
4 x 5 @ 135
2 x 2 @ 225 5 seconds at top, 5 seconds at bottom
2 x 2 @ 245 5 seconds at top, 5 seconds at bottom
2 x 2 @ 265 5 seconds at top, 5 seconds at bottom

Straight Bar Curls
5 x 10 @ 60

Walking Lunges
1 x 6 @ 100 Superset with reverse curls.
2 x 6 @ 90

Reverse EZ Bar Curls
3 x 8 @ 50

Seated Hamstring Curls
3 x 8 @ 100

Stairmaster
10 Minutes Medium Pace


Volume Squatting

Tonight was leg domination. Squatting for volume like a bauss. For a while, these workouts were becoming tough and grueling but now they’re just fun punishment sessions. Got going with the sets of 10 at 185 tonight.

Warmed up with my deficit deadlifts like usual. Part way through last cycle, I started using a 3" deficit, so tonight was no different. Still sticking to the explosive pulls at 225 where I’m elevated from 3" off the ground. This couples with a couple triples at 135 are a great way to test my body to see if I need to get a few more stretches in before squatting hard. For the first volume squatting session in this cycle, I was really hoping to start up with 185 in my pyramid. I was hitting 21750 for volume previously, so I manipulated the pyramid to hit that same amount of volume (only counting sets of 10) but bump from 180 to 185. The result? A killer squatting session that didn’t feel any more difficult than before. From here, I can start to adjust the edges of the pyramid to increase the total volume.
I tried doing biceps between each squatting set again, and the results were good. Still feeling more gassed from squatting compared to getting my arms burnt out from curls. Hard to tell yet if this is sufficient or a waste of time. I’m hoping the added volume without destroying my arms will be a sneaky way to pack some size on. We’ll see though. I’ll keep monitoring it.

My front squatting was even decent tonight. Last volume squatting session I mentioned that I think I did an extra set. Tonight, I must not have… I felt totally solid (aside from being gassed from squatting almost 22 thousand pounds) and hit my triples like I wanted to. I finished up with some core without the ab wheel like usual. Lame. I should buy my own so I always know where it is.

Conventional Deadlifts
2 x 5 @ 135 Warming up the legs
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 1.5" Deficit
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 3" Deficit
2 x 3 @ 225

Back Squats
2 x 3 @ 135 Extensive hamstring and hip stretching in between most sets.
1 x 10 @ 135
2 x 10 @ 165
6 x 10 @ 185
2 x 10 @ 165
2 x 10 @ 135

Straight Bar Curls
12 x 10 @ 50 Did these after most squat sets.

Front Squats
1 x 3 @ 135 Superset with reverse EZ bar curls
2 x 3 @ 155

Reverse EZ Bar Curls
4 x 6 @ 50

Weighted Situps
3 x 12 @ 13.3

Chest and Back Variation B

Tonight was a solid chest workout with my main lift being incline bench. I started 5x5 work and it felt great. Took learnings from my fourth phase last cycle and started 4x8 for rows. I even got to casually observe one of the hottest girls at my gym lifting tonight. Totally not creepy.

I started off my chest workout by doing a couple triples on incline bench. I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to end up for my working sets for 5x5, but I figured 175 would be decent. I did two sets at this weight and realized I might have overshot it. I dropped 5 lbs and was able to finish it off. I think next phase I’ll keep it at 170 the whole way through.

After my incline chest workout and my flat dumbbells, I moved onto heavy dumbbell rows. As I mentioned, I took learnings from last time around and decided to go with 4x8 at a slightly heavier weight. I was flooding the ground with sweat, but my arms weren’t fried from trying to do a few too many reps at once.

The rest of the workout came together nicely. I finished up with some barbell rows and some TBar rows. I was able to get a really good squeeze on my overhand barbell rows and the TBars, so I was happy with that. I can already tell my chest and back are going to be hurtin’ tomorrow night, and I’m pumped for that.

Incline Bench
1 x 5 @ Bar
1 x 3 @ 135
1 x 3 @ 155
1 x 3 @ 170
2 x 5 @ 175 ** A bit too heavy for 5x5 right now
3 x 5 @ 170
1 x 3 @ 195

Flat Dumbbell Press
1 x 10 @ 70
1 x 9 @ 70
1 x 8 @ 70

Dumbbell Rows
5 x 8 @ 80

Cable Flyes
1 x 20 @ 22.5
1 x 15 @ 22.5
1 x 10 @ 22.5

Barbell Rows (Overhand)
2 x 8 @ 135

Barbell Rows (Underhand)
2 x 8 @ 155

Chest Supported T-Bar Row (Wide + Close)
2 x (6 + 6) @ 70

Stairmaster
10 minutes Medium Pace

Was the random chair pic a test to make sure people are actually reading the log or am I missing something??

Stopping a deadlift set because you had to fart reminds of one of the last times I lifted at my high school weight room. Football kid was squatting and it looked semi difficult, then he racks the weight and just leaves. Comes back ten minutes later and learned he shit himself. Me gusta squats.

My missing shoulder workout… Thanks @Mod Phoenix for saving this one from oblivion for me. This was actually before my last squatting workout.

Shoulders and Triceps Variation A

Tonight’s goal was to light my shoulders and triceps up. Despite being a little bit too opportunistic on my first working set, I feel like I has a solid session. Even trained some of my military press weaknesses.

After warming up with some arnold presses, my shoulders were good to go. I ramped up a couple sets with the dumbbells until I got to my first working set for seated dumbbell press. As I mentioned, I feel like I was a bit too opportunistic here. My target is 3x5 at the prescribed weight, but personally, if I can consistently hit 3x8, I’m going to bump the weight up (5lbs on a dumbbell from 65 to 70 is a big jump). So when I had got 7 reps up I figured, shit, this could be the first time I nail 3x8. So I went for it. The result? The following two sets were lackluster in terms of number of reps. Lesson learned though.

I decided that instead of doing normal skull crushers, I’d take this phase to vary the angle I sit at to get more time under tension ofr my triceps. I put the bench at a bit of an incline and tried to fry my triceps this way. Not so great though. I’m a bit too short to use the bench this way. I think for the rest of this cycle I’ll just try doing a french press for my triceps instead.

From there, I went on to train the military press, but specifically where my weak point is. Directly in front of my eyes. Every set started off by getting the bar off my chest to in front of my eyes, and then doing the subsequent reps from this location. The goal is to get used to pushing through this spot.

The next big change is that I moved up where I do close grip bench press. Notice how I haven’t mentioned any cable work for my triceps yet? After I mentioned it previously, I figured it’s silly that I’m not getting this compound movement in sooner. So that’s just what I did. Operation frycep-my-triceps complete. I followed this up with all of my cable work.

Seated Dumbbell Press
1 x 5 @ 45 Warmup with some arnold pressing with light weight before this
1 x 5 @ 55
1 x 8 @ 65 ** Might have went a bit too hard on this (judging by third set)
1 x 6 @ 65
1 x 5 @ 65

Incline Skull Crushers
3 x 12 @ 50

Standing Military Press
1 x 10 @ bar Superset with bent over rear delt dumbbell flyes
2 x (3 + 2) @ 65 5 second hold in front of eyes full reps after
2 x (3 + 2) @ 85
2 x 3 @ 105

Bent Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Flyes
2 x 6 @ 25
3 x 6 @ 20

Close Grip Bench
1 x 3 @ 135
2 x 3 @ 155

Rope Pulldowns
1 x 20 @ 22.5 Superset with rear delt cables
1 x 16 @ 25
1 x 13 @ 27.5

Bent Over Rear Delt Cables
3 x 8 @ 12.5

2 Hand Cable Pressdowns (Overhand)
1 x 16 @ 42.5 Superset over and under
1 x 12 @ 37.5
1 x 10 @ 37.5

Constant Tension 2 Hand Cable Pulldowns (Underhand)
1 x 8 @ 32.5
1 x 8 @ 27.5
1 x 8 @ 32.5

Angled Cable Rows
3 x 12 @ 60 Twisted my grip so that I could pull with my shoulders and upper back

Stairmaster
10 minutes Medium Pace

@Lift and Eat: Good question. Yes, I’m glad you’re paying attention! Haha, but seriously, I mix my squatting between your standard ass-to-the-grass squats and box squats. When I go for a ton of volume at low-medium weight, I go as low as possible without a box. When I’m going heavy I’ll usually squat down to a box that’s an inch or two below parallel. I’ve never had someone stronger than me question me for it, only people that seem to think they know what they are talking about (the ones that do the barely-bent-my-knees-at-225 type of squat). So, what’s the reason? I feel infinitely more comfortable squatting heavy onto a box. That’s just how it is for me.

So the cool thing about having a chair setup against the wall like that is it lets me practice squatting onto a box (albeit a bit higher than the box I’d use at the gym). I can pretend I’ve just unracked the bar and stepped back to the box, so my hamstrings are flush against the chair and my face is basically against the wall… and then I sit down. My face and chest don’t change distance from the wall, so I can practice keeping my posture the way I expect it when I squat. From there, I just repeat standing and snapping my hips forward. Unique way for me to warmup before box squatting at the gym.

@Ass Banana: That’s wicked. I have yet to shit myself doing anything at the gym, and I’d like to keep it that way. On two occasions I’ve finished warming up for squats, gone to do one ramping set, and then split my briefs. I find squatting commando in your shorts is just far too much freedom, so I’ve had to leave a few minutes into a workout as a result.

Legs (Box Squat Spec) and Biceps

Tonight I decided I’d take some advice from my local gym hero Sam and really work on my form for squatting. It was a nice spin on leg day, and I think it’s going to lead to breaking through some plateaus and added comfort when it comes to squatting heavy. My legs were in for a treat tonight.

I started my workout off with box squats, kind of like normal. I stretched my hips and my legs out before and during my initial warm up sets at 135. Once I was ready to go for 225, I added about 3 inches onto the box. Why? Well, tonight (and hopefully more workouts after this) was going to be all about form and practice. When I volume squat, I squat free and as low as my body allows. When I box squat, I’m usually on a box that’s below parallel. I know that when I go to measure my max box squat, I want it on that low box. So the trick here is that I’m acknowledging that by adding inches to the box, it’s already a different exercise. If you’ve followed along, last session with a box I was doing sets up to 265. Tonight, I started my working sets at 265 and got up to 315.

There was a very interesting takeaway from tonight. When I had talked to Sam last, I was saying that my legs and I guess the rest of my body starts to get a crushing sensation at around 300 lbs. Tonight, at 315, it didn’t. I was able to sit down onto this higher box with 315 lbs on my back and stand back up without any problem. Three inches apparently makes an enormous difference (c’mon, you’d kill for an extra 3 inches, don’t lie). I’m hoping that after mixing in this kind of training and making my form better that I’ll be able to slowly start pulling the added plates out and reduce the box elevation once again. When I do that, I’m hoping that my squat will remain above where it last was.

After box squatting tonight, my legs were fired up. I went onto do stiff leg deadlifts but my lower back started to nag me. Not a good feeling, so I’ll probably sleep on some ice. It didn’t seem to bother me when I was front squatting though. I just stuck to a few triples and a couple doubles tonight. The stair master at the end actually had my legs burning up after that whole workout. It’s a love hate relationship.

Box Squats
4 x 3 @ 135 There’s hamstring, quad, and hip stretching throughout these sets. Every single rep is done explosively (enough to hear the bar/plats clack).
2 x 3 @ 225 This and the following sets have 3" added to the box (to make it about 1/2" above parallel)
2 x 3 @ 265
1 x 3 @ 285
1 x 3 @ 295
1 x 3 @ 315
1 x 2 @ 315 Every set from here on is 5 seconds held at top, 5 seconds on box.
1 x 3 @ 225
1 x 3 @ 225 Elevated 1.5" off of box
1 x 3 @ 225 No box elevation

Stiff Leg Deadlifts
1 x 6 @ 135 Dumbbell curls between these sets.
1 x 6 @ 155
1 x 6 @ 155 **Lower back started to nag for some reason. Not pushing that.

Dumbbell Curls
4 x 5 @ 40

Front Squats
2 x 3 @ 135 Hammer curls between these sets.
2 x 3 @ 155
2 x 2 @ 175

Hammer Curls
4 x 6 @ 40

Seated Hamstring Curl
3 x 8 @ 100

Reverse Curls
3 x 8 @ 50 Superset with spider curls

Close Grip Spider Curls
3 x 6 @ 50

Stairmaster
10 Minutes Medium Pace

[quote]Swoletron wrote:

So the cool thing about having a chair setup against the wall like that is it lets me practice squatting onto a box (albeit a bit higher than the box I’d use at the gym). I can pretend I’ve just unracked the bar and stepped back to the box, so my hamstrings are flush against the chair and my face is basically against the wall… and then I sit down. My face and chest don’t change distance from the wall, so I can practice keeping my posture the way I expect it when I squat. From there, I just repeat standing and snapping my hips forward. Unique way for me to warmup before box squatting at the gym.

[/quote]

Hmmm that’s an interesting idea, so as well as warming up you’re basically ingraining the movement pattern so it becomes more automatic. I’ve heard of people doing this as warm ups with light weights but not as a separate bodywt movement like this, I like it :slight_smile:

@Lift and Eat: When I warm up to squat, I usually have to have a plate on either side. Not because I’m big-and-strong-and-oh-so-tough, but it ends up being a hip/hamstring tightness thing. I rely on the weight to kind of push me into that spot. It’s not great really, but if I keep doing some triples or something at that weight and then stretch hard in between, it’s usually enough that I can squat down deep into position without any weight on my back. It just helps to get that initial stretch.

The chair is slightly different than warming up for flexibility. As you said, it’s all about the movement pattern. My face starts about an inch from the wall, so when I squat down, I better still have my face about an inch from the wall (either that or I somehow fell back on the chair, or put my head through drywall). Helps me practice posture and pushing my knees out instead of tipping forward.

Shoulders and Triceps Variation B

Tonight was the first session switching back to triples for my military press. I was able to hit my prescribed reps that I set out to accomplish. I then proceeded to destroy my triceps and now my arms feel like jello. Awesome.

Started the workout off by ramping for my military press. I set out to do 130 for 8 sets of 3. This is a 5 lbs increment over what I was doing for 5x5 and is net -5lbs of total volume (so essentially the exact same amount of volume). Kind of cool how that worked out. About 4 sets in I thought I was going to start hitting doubles, but I had a second wind and crushed all the remaining sets. I followed that up with some shrugs, and then went back to focusing on military press from eye level. For anyone following along, this is the sticking point for me, so I want to train through it.

I decided I’d move up my close grip bench sooner in my workout (i.e. the first tricep exercise). My excuse has always been that my chest starts to dominate, but the reality is, it’s a big-ass compound movement I should get in sooner to capitalize on. So that’s exactly what I did. I followed that up with some cable work for my triceps, and they’re pooched right now. The constant tension underhand pulldowns scorch my triceps. I’m pretty sure I impressed a total of one girl tonight, so I’ll take it. That’s about one more than usual.

Tonight’s picture is all the meat I just ordered. $90 for 10 kg of chicken and beef. I’ve had the grain-fed chicken before and it’s amazing. This will be my first time trying this place’s ground beef out, but I have high expectations based on the chicken.

Standing Military Press
2 x 8 @ Bar
2 x 3 @ 65
2 x 3 @ 95
1 x 3 @ 115
8 x 3 @ 130

Snatch Grip Barbell Shrugs
3 x 8 @ 135 Super sets of the lateral dumbbell raises between all these sets

Barbell Shrugs
2 x 8 @ 225

Lateral Dumbbell Raises
5 x 6 @ 25

Standing Military Press
2 x 3 @ 65 From eye level. 3 second hold at top and bottom of ROM. Superset with upright plate rows.
2 x 3 @ 85
2 x 3 @ 105

Upright Plate Rows
5 x 6 @ 35

Close Grip Benchpress
1 x 5 @ 135
3 x 3 @ 155
1 x 5 @ 135

2H Overhead Rope Extension
3 x 12 @ 25 Superset with overhand cable pushdowns.

2H Overhand Cable Pushdown
3 x 12 @ 37.5

Rope Pulldowns
3 x 10 @ 25 Superset with underhand cable pulldowns.

2H Constant-Tension Cable Underhand Pulldown
3 x 10 @ 30 Like normal ones but with my elbows extended outfront so top/bottom of ROM has tension.

Stairmaster
10 minutes Medium Pace

Volume Squatting

Tonight was another epic squatting session. This is probably my favourite workout because it absolutely destroys me. I leave the gym and my shirt feels like I just soaked it in a tub of hot water for a day. My legs are usually completely mangled and I feel great.
Started the session off with my deficit deadlifts to warm up. Those went up pretty easily. Based on my results from my last volume squatting workout, I was hoping to adjust the pyramid a bit to account for another set at 185 (bumped up from 165). The best part is this small increment means I didn’t notice any difference in my workout. It was still demanding as hell, but nothing seemed different compared to last time. The total volume for sets of 10 is up to 21950 lbs, so I’m pretty stoked about that.

I’ve also taken to doing bicep curls between every single 10x10 set which is going really well. I hadn’t been doing any sort of barbell curl for a really long time (just stuck to dumbbells) so I’m regaining some strength on that without even really focusing on it. I’m hoping that after a few more months of doing this (i.e. half a year) I’ll notice some measurable gains on my arms. Although, that might just come from the increased eating that’ll be coming up.

When I was front squatting tonight, I opted to just stay at 135. I was totally in the groove with sitting in the hole holding the weight on my shoulders, so I decided to take advantage of that. I did some isometric holds at the bottom, and since my legs were pretty gassed noticed it was actually pretty demanding to front squat even that much. It seemed like a good trade off: Less weight, more posture practice.

Conventional Deadlifts
2 x 5 @ 135 Warming up the legs
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 1.5" Deficit
1 x 3 @ 225

Conventional Deadlifts - 3" Deficit
2 x 3 @ 225

Back Squats
2 x 3 @ 135 Extensive hamstring and hip stretching in between most sets.
1 x 10 @ 135
2 x 10 @ 165
7 x 10 @ 185
1 x 10 @ 165
2 x 10 @ 135

Straight Bar Curls
12 x 8 @ 60 Did these after most squat sets.

Front Squats
3 x 3 @ 135 3 second isometric hold at bottom. Superset with reverse EZ bar curls.

Reverse EZ Bar Curls
4 x 8 @ 50

Ab Wheel
3 x 8 @ Bodyweight

Weighted Situps
3 x 8 @ 13.3

Chest and Back Variation A

Tonight was a killer workout. Going into the gym on a Friday night is awesome… especially when you don’t have plans lined up the following day. There’s so much less artificial stress that I put on myself when I don’t think about having to wake up early. Killed my chest workout tonight and couldn’t be happier.

I started off my workout just like the last session for this in phase 1. I decided to ramp a bit quicker so some of the weights I ramped with were a bit higher. I need to keep experimenting with that to find the optimal weights and it largely depends on how I feel on a given day too. I decided that I was going to try and improve over last time, which was topping out at 4 sets of triples at 205. Starting at 210 felt like a big commitment, especially if it wasn’t going to go as planned, so I tried 205 first. Easy. So that meant I could line up 210. After my second set at 210, my chest felt great, but I could tell by my wrists, my shoulders, and my triceps that nailing another triple at 210 would be a real stretch. I dropped the last set back to 205 and nailed that.
The back portion of my workout was pretty solid too. I figured I should probably set some targets for pullups like I did in the past (not sure why I stopped) so I have that set at 50 reps over sets of 5 and 6. I’ve said in the past that I’m not a huge fan of doing more than 6 or so reps in a set for pullups. I go super wide on them and after 6 or so it places stress on odd parts of my body that I’m not totally down with.

My final 10x10 set of bench was right on track today. Usually my chest is just on fire about half way through, but for whatever reason, my chest and triceps survived the whole thing without feeling like they were going to ignite. I was stoked about that. If I can pull that off for the next couple of phased I might consider bumping up the weight on that. For what it’s worth, I’m hoping that extra volume is going to have an impact on the size of my chest, especially with the wider grip. I usually bench super narrow (my football friend had taught me from day one that if I want a big bench, I better bench with my triceps and lats). So it’s a nice change to grab wide and fry my chest.

Bench Press
2 x 8 @ Bar
2 x 3 @ 135
1 x 3 @ 165
1 x 3 @ 185
1 x 3 @ 195
1 x 3 @ 205
2 x 3 @ 210
1 x 3 @ 205

Incline Dumbbell Press
3 x 10 @ 65

(Super) Wide Grip Pullups
5 x 6 @ Bodyweight
4 x 5 @ Bodyweight

Overhand Barbell Rows
2 x 8 @ 135

Underhand Barbell Rows
2 x 6 @ 155

Bench Press
10 x 10 @ 105 3 sets super wide, 3 sets wide, 3 sets medium, 1 set narrow. Superset with cable pulldowns.

Close Grip DD Handle Cable Pulldowns
1 x 6 @ 130
1 x 6 @ 135
1 x 6 @ 140

Cable Handle Rows
4 x 8 @ 42.5

Stair Master
10 minutes @ Medium Pace