It was once said that “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” This is also true for lifting. With age comes more stress, responsibilities, crappy recovery and nagging injuries. In order to succeed we need to be smarter about how we train. This log is meant to capture my weight lifting journey.
I am currently in a weight loss phase so I need something with good muscle stimulus but without so much volume that I am unable to recover. I’m using a 3 x full body routine focusing on the squat and push/pull basics. I am also utilizing single clusters auto regulating both volume and intensity. Lets get started.
For this routine I’ll be squatting 3 times a week and doing a push and pull variant in each workout. I currently alternate the following workouts
– Shoulder Press
– Pendlay Rows
For each exercise, using 1-3 reps I work up to my heaviest non grinding weight for the day. Then I hit as many singles as I can until the weight begins to slow. Since I’m hitting weights over 85% we are getting full (or close too) 100% muscle activation and it becomes a game of just fatiguing at this intensity. I’ll stay away from grinding out reps as this will impede my recovery. So far I’m able to get out of the gym in 30-45 minutes.
The days after Halloween means everyone brings in their candy into the office, just perfect… After waking up surrounded by chocolate wrappers I knew something went terribly wrong. The calorie deficit today isn’t going to happen and I owe it to some jerk they call “Reese” and his dirty butter cups. Life happens, the struggle is real.
Today I did the following:
Squats (275) followed by 8 singles
Shoulder Press (115) followed by 8 singles
Chins (body weight + 25) followed by 12 singles
One thing I noticed today is rather than a set rest time (like using Myo reps) if i just rest long enough that I’m “ready” I noticed much higher quality reps. I’m ok with this because you don’t experience the activation decay with lighter weights. Either way the rest needed seems just slightly higher than 15 seconds.
Monday I shift back to maintenance calories for the next two weeks (3rd and 4th weeks of this training block). I’m really enjoying over laying the MATADOR approach with a training block. In other words… weeks 1-2 will be at deficit calories while weeks 3-4 are at maintenance. Since I started this nonsense I’m down 25ish pounds. Maybe 5-10 more to go. Then its bulk time.
Yeah, if I’d known when I was 18 what I know now…
Looks like adding slightly more rest and waiting until you are “ready” when doing heavy singles is working nicely.
Squat - worked up to 275 then did 12 singles
Incline Bench - worked up to 135 then did 12 singles
Pendlay Rows - worked up to 160 then did 12 singles
From last time big increase in reps I could perform and a slight increase in weight on the rows. Also noticed that around rep 6 or 7 the weight became really light. I didn’t increase when I probably could have but this might be something I’d like to exploit. Also I think I’m getting over this stupid bug.
I can sense fatigue is starting to catch up. Since I’m applying concentrated loading I’m ok with carrying a little fatigue across these three weeks of training. Two more workouts to go (Wed and Fri) then I’ll deload for 5-7 days. Anything longer tends to make me sluggish when I return to the gym. When I get back I want to continue with another strength block but swap out squats for deadlifts and use variations of my current upper body movements.
Woke up feeling kinda yuck but went to the gym anyway and found when I got under the bar I was right as rain and actually increased some weights
Squat: 285 (+10) then singles until I started to fatigue
Over Head Press: 125 (+10) then singles until I started to fatigue
Wide Grip Pull-ups: BW + 27.5 (+2.5) then singles until I started to fatigue
Observations / Notes:
- How you feel is indeed a lie, performance tells you when to push or call it
- Let the bar tell you when its time to go heavier (it will start to feel a little light)
- Each single gives you the opportunity for perfect form and execution
- The only time the weight should ever grind is usually your last set
Ugh… pretty sore from yesterday’s workout. Simple but not easy… one more workout (Friday) then its deload time. I am pretty sure I’m going to do another strength block utilizing clusters again. Maybe something like this.
There is a lack of assistance exercises but I really don’t feel they are necessary and more applicable to a hypertrophy block.
Didn’t want to go to the gym today. Went anyway.
Squat 295 (+10) then singles until bar slowed
Pendlay Rows 160 then singles until bar slowed
Incline Bench 135 then singles until bar slowed
Observations / Notes:
- 315 squat for a working weight is within striking distance
- deload time, 5-7 days should be about right
Strength Block Reflection:
Overall this block went well. Doing clusters over the standard 4-6 rep range seemed to really help with recovery as I didn’t feel trashed all the time. I enjoyed the 3 times a week practice on squats and the singles really helped me to dial in technique. The autoregulation of volume and intensity seemed to prevent alot of overreaching but there is still some fatigue that needs to go away. My hips, shoulders and elbow seem to be holding up ok and for some weird reason seem to like the frequency of squatting. A reminder to myself is that its better to do slightly less weight than have your form waver on heavier squats as I get tired. That is all.
Deload Day 1
Feeling pretty good. In prior deloads, Mondays are usually rough. A little sore from the accumulation of fatigue but not that much. I’m pretty sure that a full week off isn’t going to be needed. Missing just 1 - 2 works is probably plenty.
Deload Day 2 (technically this is deload day 4 since I lifted on Friday)
Fatigue is dissipating quickly. Elbow tendinitis is bugging me a little. In my next block I think I’m going to add some rehab exercises at the end of the workout. Tricep extensions seem to help nicely.
Deload Day 5
During the first few days of the deload I just felt worn out. However as they passed I noticed an increase blood supply to the muscles worked during the block (especially in the legs, back and shoulders). Some folks like to hit the gym doing lighter volumes / intensities however for me I need the mental break. Friday will be the start of my next strength block.
Deload Day 6
Woke up feeling great. I’m ready to train. I’ll hit the gym tomorrow morning. Also going back into a calorie deficit again. Weeks 3 and 4 of this block will be at maintenance. Lets do this. Looking to do a MWF full body routine alternating between the following workouts. Each exercise will be taken to a non grinding heavy single then I’ll pound out as many singles until the weight begins to slow. I thought about switching between deadlifts and squats but I like the frequent practice of either squats or deadlifts (I did squats last block).
Standing Shoulder Press
First day back in the gym.
Deadlifts: 315 then singles until bar speed slowed
Standing Shoulder Press: 115 then singles until bar slowed
Pull Ups: BW + 25 then singles until I couldn’t do anymore
Deload time was about right. Will start pushing a little more during next workout. Starting to feel my shoulder and elbow heal. Not hurting is a nice feeling.
Diet starts again today (doing the OMAD + MATADOR thing 2 weeks on 2 weeks off).
Deadlifts: 315 then singles
Dips: BW + 35 then singles
Pendlay Rows: 155 then singles
Currently at maintenance calories so I’m not entirely surprised that I’m not able to increase weight every week.
Deadlifts: 315 then singles until baked
Shoulder Press: 115 then singles baked
Wide Grip Chins: BW + 25 then singles until backed
Still dealing with snapping hips. Added hip strengthening movements to the end of my workout.
Hip Abduction: 4-6 reps then singles until baked (10 seconds rest between reps)
Hip Adduction: same as above
Hip Flexors: same as above
Really stressful day last night and didn’t eat much. Woke feeling not recovered from my last workout but went to the gym this morning anyway. I plan on eating like a beast when I get off work
Deadlifts: 315 then singles until baked
Dips: BW + 45 then singles until baked
Pendlay Rows: 155 then singles until baked
Hip Assistance exercises (abduction adduction and hip flexion): 4-6 then singles till baked
Hips seem to like the direct assistance movements. I am tired.
So I tweaked by back about a week ago deadlifting. I didn’t notice but the collar had slipped and the plates moved about 6" without me noticing. The pull felt really weird then later that day my back was really bothering me. I basically took a week off which was about a week from my scheduled deload. I noticed a few things. First, I was really surprised at how much clustering heavy singles can take out of you (soreness sorta reveals itself during the deload). Secondly movement really helps with healing. I’ve been doing McKenzie daily and added a heating pad just before bed. Third there is no way in hell I’m going to keep cutting while there is sugar coated confections everywhere I look. I’ll go back to cutting at the start of the year. Also when I go back to the gym it makes sense to just go ahead and construct another block. Honestly, I don’t know if I want to go back to a higher rep strategy for a while. I enjoy the minimalist approach and like to keep my workouts as short as possible. I noticed that if you hit a single compound movement for singles again and again it doesn’t leave alot in the tank for much of anything else. Yes the volume is lower than other routines but I consider the volume you “do” get to consist of many more effective reps. It seems you can easily used a strength oriented routine for hypertrophy as well as long as you stay away from grinding your reps. Each rep should feel heavy and smooth. You start grinding… you are done. I can feel the iron calling me home and will probably hit the gym tomorrow.