T Nation

The Long Game - a Log


#1

Hi guys,

I’m just getting back into my fitness after a prolonged break. It’s amazing the difference one feels after doing even just a little exercise, mentally as well as in the body. I’m very much looking forward to getting back into shape.

My Mum sent me a web article about gut health and its link to mental health. I was interested as someone who has had trouble with his mental health in the past - in fact, I have a mental health disorder. I had an episode of psychosis this summer, and it might have been related to the food poisoning I got at a SubWay restaurant after I had the chicken there. Puke.

I got into lifting in a big way at university. I was a slave to the 1RM, this was all I really cared about.

This time I want fitness to serve me, rather than the other way round. I got into lifting in a big way when I was at university, but I was quite conceited in my approach. I was all about my 1RM. It lead to some very long workouts as I found the best way to squeeze out a 1RM was to build up to it with lots of sets. But now I want a much more holistic approach. I’ve noticed that an old gym buddy of mine had some good results when pursuing the ‘Hercules’ workout scheme. I think the biggest benefit of that was that it had a lot of variation built in. I guess it keeps him interested. If it works, that’s the most important thing.

My body has been through cycles. I’m 29 now so I’ve been working out (in spells) since I was about 16. I would be very interested if anyone on here has any advice about longevity and dedication to working out. My longest spell of working out must have been about 9 months. I remember one spell in my mid 20s where I managed to stick to it for about 6 months and I thought I was about 2 months away from getting into PR territory.

So my goals are really to acquire an all-round health of mind and body, and to develop some sort of routine which I can stick to. It would be really cool if I could be hitting PBs in a year’s time. At my buffest I was about 75kg and pulling a 200kg+ deadlift, so not far off triple bodyweight.

I really feel like I should include a joke in here or something to thank you guys for reading up to this point.

5’8.5"
29 yo
13st 11lb (current)
PRs (quite old!)
Squat 145kg
Deadlift 220kg
Bench 120kg

By the way, the username should be ‘foodonlybodybuilding’ - there is a typo in my username! I am on Instagram as foodonlybodybuilding. It’s a bit ironic, because I’m not a bodybuilder, I train more like a powerlifter.

Anyway, cheers guys.


#2

I’ve done a couple of workouts.

I’m going easy. I developed a nasty cold sore on the lip after doing some running one day. I’m just being extra careful. I have had glandular fever so I chose to take some days off to make sure that my system wasn’t being overloaded. I have put on a couple of pounds in that time. When I don’t exercise I lose control of my diet. Does anyone else find this?

I feel much better for the working out though. At the moment my rotation looks like this
Day 1 - Bent over rows and press-ups
Day 2 - Jogging
Day 3 - Clean and press

With some stretches too. I love the clean and press. I think it’s the closest thing to a complete exercise - it works out every muscle in the body.

As I said in my first post, I’m just looking for ways to keep the working out interesting, so I do it each day and get to near my potential.

TFR


#3

In for your log man. Looks like good stuff.

I like your choices of lifts…mind explaining that a bit? I’m just curious.

Why pushups over bench press, or maybe even an overhead press? And the (barbell?) rows over BW rows or chinups? Why no squats or deadlifts? Why the choice of jogging the second day instead of doing a different lift?

No judgement haha just wondering how you made your choices!


#4

Thanks, dude.

My lifts are limited at the minute because I don’t have access to all the equipment. For example I don’t have the spotters to rest the barbell on, or a bench. But my aim is to hit as many muscle groups as possible and do a mix of types of exercise for the greatest benefit.

However, I do own a bench. I have relocated recently… I am looking forward to the day I can get re-united with all my weights again. I have a little over 200kgs of weights which is more than enough. And I’ve got a lovely cold old arts studio here which has plenty of space. So thinking of installing a power rack. This all said, I’m just looking at the upper limits for the standard barbells. It’s 120kg for the barbell I’ve got at the moment. I have done 200kg deadlifts + on that, lol. I’m a little more concerned for my safety these days.

So I might join a gym. I’ve had a little look at the gyms around me. I’d like an old school one.

I will be doing squats and deadlifts soon. Great exercises. I pine for the days where I was working out lots and was in prime form. Haha.

I’m trying to work in a bit of cardio-vascular in addition to the weight lifting. And I’m doing a bit of stretching too - I want an all round fitness.

TYFR


#5

Thought I would just update us with what I’ve done over the past few days.

19th November - 1st set - 25 BORs, 15 pressups w/ pause. 2nd set 21 BORs, 12 pressups w/pause

20th November - Run - 2 lengths of drive. Front plank x 2

21st November - Run. 2 lengths of drive, Clean & Press x 17 set 1 x12 set 2, squats x15, overhead squats x 10

22nd November - Left plank x 1, Right plank x 1, 20 pressups w/ pause, 16 pressups with pause, BOR X 33, BOR X 26.

BOR = Bent Over Row

Felt a lovely sort of tiredness overcome me after exercising the transverse plane this afternoon. And felt a nice ache in the thighs after doing quite a lot yesterday with the lower body.

It’s so good to be back doing proper exercise. That’s four days in a row. It’s a small start, but the longest journeys start with a single step. I’ve done a good balance of exercises. What to do tomorrow? I think keep going is the answer. I fancy I might work the grip with some plate pinches, and might go out on the bike. It’s nice that as you get older you learn alternate exercises - of course it’s alright doing deadlift, squat and bench, but it’s nice to have some tricks up your sleeve so you can keep making changes and make incremental gains.

My motivation is high at the moment. Got to keep this going.


#6

Another update

23rd November - Run - 2 lengths. Deadlifts - 2 sets, Plate pinches - 3 sets
24th November - Run - 4 lengths. Clean & Press - 24 reps, 17 reps, Front and back planks * 2
25th November - Pressups - 20, 17. BOR - 40, 27. Squats 25, 25.

Woke up today thinking I would perhaps have a quiet day, but I wasn’t aching too hard, so I opted to do a fairly whole-body style workout. I can feel that my body really wants to workout at the minute. The intensity I did my BORs with today was mad.

Watched a YT video with Mike Israetel and a protege. They were talking about MEV and MRV - Minimum Effective Volume and Maximum Recoverable Volume. It’s a neat concept, actually. Your MEV being the minimum volume you need to provide a stimulus for your muscles to grow and your MRV being the limit of training too hard. I feel as though I’m somewhere between the two limits right now. I’m happy doing a moderate volume in exchange for being able to workout every day without too much soreness. In the past I would always go to the limit of my lifting capacity and then take 2 to 3 days off. Alright if you want to see where your 1RM is, but not great for volume. This is how I wanted to train back then.

I expect I may approach my lifting a little differently this time. I’m happy to train while sore, in order to get a higher volume in each week. I feel good about my training already, and I’m hoping I can make fast progress.

I’m still very interested in my 1RMs, but that’s all for the future. I can go on a different exercise ‘mesocycle’ when I can test out my strength in the future - just learnt about this terminology recently.

More at https://academy.sportlyzer.com/wiki/mesocycle/

It’s amazing how one can come out with a different philosophy to the exact same pursuit. The only thing that has changed is that some years have passed.

I first started training at about the age of 16. I’m 29 now, and out of those 13 years that have passed, I’ve probably been working out for only 6 or 7 of those years. I’ve had a serious medical problem that won’t go away, but it can be managed. It would reset me and send me back to square 1 or further back. It’ a mental health issue. It’s not depression or anything like that, it’s a form of schizophrenia. So, there we go. But I need to make the most of my opportunity now to get on a good footing. We also have a history of heart disease in the family, so I need to get to a decent level with my cardio-vascular health so I don’t have that to worry about too!

Things to think about, but I love this pursuit. It really makes me happy when I have worked out. I’m sure others can share their experience that working out is a great way to find health, happiness and discipline in one’s life.


#7

26th November - Run - 4 lengths. Deadlift - 2 sets. Chinups - 9 reps total. Dips - 14 total. Plate pinches * 3.
27th November - Squat 40kg * 14, * 10, 35kg * 12. Clean and press - 30kg * 16. Shrugs.

I’ve just had a power rack delivered and a 235kg weight set. I feel relieved to have them finally as it wasn’t a small outlay. The main thing is I can now do squats to failure without worrying about the consequences as I’ll have the safety bars inside the rack. Had a fiddle with them this morning and found the perfect height for them I think four or maybe five holes up. One touches down if one squats really deep, but one can get to parallel without touching no problems. I tend to squat pretty deep.

I’ve been working on my flexibility, particularly stretching my posterior chain, and that’s helped my squat in particular.

What else can I say, I’m a happy bunny. That’s a solid 9 days of working out in a row. Don’t feel tired, just want to keep going and seeing if I can get myself hard again. I think the new paradigm of working out on sore muscles is working, at least for the moment.


#8

28th November - break
29th November - Run - 4 lengths. Deadlift 60kg 20, 70kg20. Pressups - 22, 17. BOR - 40kg *20, *20, planks
30th November - Squat 50kg *14, *12. Chins - 7 total Dips - 12 total
1st December - break
2nd December - Run - 4 lengths. Deadlift 80kg * 20, 90kg *12. Clean and press - 30kg *20, *16. Shrugs and plate pinches.

I’m doing two working sets rather than the standard 3, at the moment. But my general aim is to maximise the volume over the course of a week. The regime is basically

Day 1 - deadlift
Day 2 - squat
Day 3 - break

for the lower body and a rotation of the upper body involving the clean and press one day, pressups and BORs the next and chins and dips the other.

Sometimes I will be exercising a similar muscle grouping to the previous day, but the next time the exercise comes up in the program it will be after a rest day, so approximately a 48hr rest. If you’re chasing personal bests you might want more like a 72hr rest or even more, but that’s not my goal at the moment. My goal is to get back into fitness as quickly as possible.

It seems to be working. I have been disappointed that my weight hasn’t been going down at all, even though I have made changes to the diet, but I take it as a sign that I might have been making some muscular gains.

I have to say I’m getting quite enamoured with working in the ~20 rep range. I actually notice getting a bit out of breath towards the end of the set. This sort of slightly cardio-vascular stress can only be good for me. I think I’ve mentioned that there is a history of heart disease in the family. And one seems to get more endorphins at the end of the workout too, so it’s win-win!

Maybe I will carry on in the same vein for December. Perhaps in January I could attempt some heavier lifting. All I’ve got to do is keep my head screwed on, and not injure myself or overtrain.

A good sign is looking forward to your next workout. I’m very much doing that at the moment. And sometimes I do a couple of workouts in a day too, Arnold style.

Lifting’s great. Everyone should do it. Lol.


#9

Wasn’t sure if I wanted to workout today, but I’m glad that I did.

The thing is I should be hitting season’s bests at will. I’m defining the season as being any time since I started lifting again back on the 19th of November. I got a season’s best today, on the deadlift. And one on the squat a couple days ago.

3rd December - Squat - 50kg * 19 (SB), *12, *12. Pressups - 18,14,11 BORs- 45kg *17, *15, *15
4th December - Break
5th December - Deadlift - 90kg * 16, *12 (SB). Chins - 9 total. Dips - 17 total.(SB).

I’m really digging the endorphins one gets from doing the higher rep range. When one is finished, one feels good. It’s something I might get hooked on. It’s the name of the game really - after all I called this blog The Long Game for a reason - I want to workout in a way that I don’t get tired of lifting, so I can get that consistency that is conducive to good health. I’m never going to be a bodybuilder and probably won’t ever compete at a powerlifting meet, but I do want to look and feel good.

I’ve made some changes to my diet which I hope will make a difference. Crisps and ice cream are out, walnuts and high-protein yoghurt are in. Green tea is also in. I’ve been measuring and I may have lost about a 1/4 inch round the waistline. I love how this all is a great process which takes time. It’s really good for my mental health to have a target to aim for. I’m not setting goals at the moment, apart from persistence. So long as I train I know I’ll get healthier.

The power rack came to my aid on the 3rd of December - I tried for a 20th rep in the squat but failed.


#10

6th December - Squat - 50kg * 24.

So a little break, going to visit my parents over the weekend. Not much exercise done apart from a bit of bowling, a long walk and some dumbbell work. Glad to be back home now to re-establish my relationship with The Iron. So today’s workout was

11 December 2018 - Deadlift - 90kg * 19 (SB), BOR - 45kg * 14, Bench press - 45kg * 15.

Hooray, I’m back on the bench press again. I was able to bring my bench up from my parents’. Bench pressing felt slightly awkward - obviously I’ve unlearnt it as it has been such a time since I’ve done it.

I am wondering about doing this split:

Squat
Squat
Rest
Deadlift
Deadlift
Rest
Repeat

Instead of

Deadlift
Squat
Rest
Deadlift
Squat
Rest
.

It might not be such a good idea - but it’s a thought. The program at the moment is still trying to maximise the amount of frequency for each bodypart over the course of a week so hopefully nothing goes longer than 48 hours without being hit. I have to say as I have before that I’m feeling great on this regime. After a workout you have about 30 minutes to an hour of feeling worn out, but in a good way, with the endorphins going through the blood. And the fact that my heart was pumping on my 19th rep on my working set on the deadlift can only be a good thing. I wonder if anyone has any recommendations on what rep ranges to workout - I guess pretty soon I should add in some lower rep work to keep my body adapting.

I’m tempted to put a pic of me on here to break up all the text a bit. I guess I will if anyone shows an interest in it. It’s gone rather quiet on here.


#11

12 December - Squat - 65kg * 15. Chins - 11 total (SB). Dips - 20 total (SB).

I was pleased with the performance today. I exceeded the 20 reps I’m working around last time out in the squat, so added some weight today. I was debating on whether to go an extra 10kg to 60kg or up to 70kg and ended up going down the middle to 65kg. I was surprised by getting 15 repetitions in (I failed on the 16th).

Watching the occasional bit of Omar Isuf on YouTube. He’s a good commentator, lifter and humourist. Omar Isuf.

Was pleased and again a bit surprised to get the season’s best in the chins and dips as I’d worked out in the transverse plane the day before. I think it shows that our bodies are designed to be used every day. I remember I hit my prime when I was working as an outdoor instructor - the opposite happened to what I thought would happen. I thought I would go weak doing loads of undemanding outdoor work, but I got into the best condition I’ve ever been in.

I’ll go and do my second workout of the day, some planks. My general philosophy is to do the big lower body stuff first and do the assistance exercises later. Tomorrow’s a rest day, but I almost don’t want to take it.


#12

Decided to do some running - 1400 metres’ worth. And some planks to work on the core. I’ve got a long way to go if I want to get into the shape I have been in in the past. I need to lose about 4 inches on the waistline and that’s not going to happen without doing any cardio.


#13

Hi there
Can I make a suggestion to make the log a bit more readable (is that a word).

You could write it like:

  1. december
    Squat: 65*15
    Chins: 11 total reps (SB?)
    Dips: 20 total reps (SB?)

I would do the split you are doing and not the new one.

This is mostly done in the kitchen :slight_smile:

Good luck with your lifting mate.


#14

Thanks for your input and moral support! I will try and make the blog a bit more readable.

Today’s effort

Deadlift - 90kg * 21
Clean & Press - 40kg * 9.

Today felt like quite a grind. I had been looking forward to doing the deadlifts - hoping I might hit as many as 24 reps on this, but 21 was still a season’s best. It’s now time to jack the weight up again. I bumped the weight up by 10kg on the clean and press and just about squeezed out 9 reps. So, as the current program is to stick to the weight until you’re doing 20 reps, I could be on this weight a while!

It was just one of those workouts where you feel you can’t quite give it your 100%. I perhaps gave about 95%. I suppose that there are going to be workouts like this, and I will just have to accept them as par for the course. After all, the body isn’t a machine.


#15

Hey man.
Interesting log you’ve got here, The idea of 20 reps on deadlift terrifies me lol

One thing I regret is not having any good pre lifting photos(phone cameras don’t last lol) so even if you don’t want to put them on your log, I’d recommend keeping some.


#16

Yeah I got some side-on snaps. I’ve got a pot-belly, I really store fat around my navel. The best thing to do would be to see if I can find that selfie stick and do a shirtless video to give an idea of how I look from different angles.

Actually my friend from the FoodOnlyBodybuilding crew (FOB) took some good resolution photos when I was similarly out of shape a little while back.

Onto the lifting…

16th December 18 -
Squat - 130kg *1
Bench press - 100kg * 1, 102.5kg * 0.5 (fail)
Bent over row - 45kg *24.

So yeah - I thought today might be a good day to do an old school 1RM style workout, like I used to do. I was surprised by my strength in the squat - I was visualising being able to do 120kg, but I got 130kg up and it really surprised me. It just goes to show that you can gain strength even working around the 20 rep range as I have been since the 19th of November.

When I put my last squat session numbers into a 1 rep-max calculator at 1RM, it predicts a 1RM of 97.5kg which is dwarfed by today’s effort of 130kg. I think this shows that I’m good at activating the nervous system and perhaps that I have quite a density of fast-twitch muscle fibres.

I’m quite excited to see what I can achieve, hopefully build some strength and add some muscle to the frame. I guess the bodyfat will go down eventually if I continue to eat sensibly.

Mind you, this workout did take a long time - 2 1/4 hours to be precise. I know. Lots of sets, lots of singles, with a big time gapping between them at the ‘business end’. I won’t make this my normal workout. But it’s good to have a mixture of workouts to resort to, to keep it fresh.

So that’s 4 weeks of working out pretty solidly. So just a reminder my old PBs are

Squat - 145kg
Deadlift - 220kg
Bench - 120kg

And now my ‘season’s bests’ are

Squat - 130kg
Deadlift - TBC
Bench - 100kg

I guess I will try my deadlift 1RM next time (Tuesday). I’m doing a day on, a day off at the moment.


#17

So deadlift day today. I had a specific number in mind for a single - and that is what I got.

18th Dec 18 -
Deadlift - 180kg * 1, 185kg * 0.5 (fail)
Chins - 7 reps total
Dips - 20 reps total (SB)
Run - ~1100m

The fail on 185kg wasn’t close. I didn’t fancy trying 182.5kg after failing. I find with pure strength work, once you fail, that’s it for the day really. I used to know my body really well and know what I was capable of each workout. It’s not quite so at the moment since it’s only a month that I’ve been back lifting, and the first time trying 1 rep maxes.

Really pleased with the season’s record on the dips. Making nice progress here. My chins were abysmal today but I knew that was going to be the case, because of having maxed out the deadlift. There is quite a crossover between the lifts, so when you exhaust one you affect the other. I’m still keeping the bigger compound lift the first one in any day’s program such as the deadlift before the chinup or the squat before the plank just so I can get the biggest bang out of my buck.

I think that’s part of the skill of making a decent split - knowing how to manage the different lifts and exercises. I love the art of trying to hit the muscles of the whole body equally and having ‘on days’ where the going is good and the muscle group is well rested, while enduring ‘off days’ where the muscle group is exhausted and can’t perform at its best. I guess it is a science and an art.

So I’m 75kg off my best theoretical total for the powerlifting lifts. My goal is to get back to creaming these as soon as possible. I think I was talking about it at the start. I didn’t know how long it would take, of course I couldn’t, but I thought roughly that 6 months of lifting would be enough time to get back to my personal bests. I now reckon I can do it in shorter time than that. It’s extraordinary where I am now, with my physical shape taken into account from 1 month ago, and with the fact that I’m not taking any supplements or anything. I’m really happy with this as a lifestyle choice.

Anyone want to make a sportsman’s bet on how long it takes me to get back to a PB total? So my total at the moment is 410kg. Best is 485kg. Or we could say a race to a 500kg total, or 510kg (+100). Or approximately halfway (1000lb) (455kg). I used to like a good bet. All for fun, of course.


#18

20th December 18
Squat - 65kg *19 (SB)
Clean & Press - 40kg * 9.
Short jog

A shorter workout today.

I smashed the squat season’s best by 4 reps, but made no improvement in the clean & press. However, I did the movement a bit differently, experimenting with doing the clean from hip height instead of the floor, which I think made the lift considerably harder. I could really feel the pain in the front of the deltoids.

I tried to go for a run about after the resistance training but the legs were creamed after the squatting so I only managed a couple lengths.


#19

22nd December 18

Deadlift - 110kg * 14
BOR - 52.5kg * 13
Bench press - 45kg * 24 (SB)

Hooray, the shortest day has come and gone in the northern hemisphere. I’m quite a numbers guy so like to keep track of these things. Anyway, more importantly, it’s not long till we celebrate the birth of our saviour! Season’s greetings to all.

So smashed the bench press best by 9 reps. But it’s not so surprising that I did this because the previous time at this weight was the first time benching. I’d been doing pressups before that.

I’m slowly chipping away at my waist circumference. I lost 1.3cm in the last month. It’s now 36 3/4 " = 93.3cm. It’s not as important to me as being strong is, but everyone wants to look good, hey.

I’m quite happy with how my training program is working out. I’m making good progress at the moment, so I don’t intend to change it. I’ve got my working weights all set. I just work with them till I get more than 20 reps in a set, and then I jump up the weight by about 20%. I then see how many reps I can do, and that becomes my next target to beat.

The day on, day off pattern seems to be working too.


#20

Hey man,

The lifting looks great. Awesome progress, keep it up!

I’m going to make a suggestion. Your training is kinda all over the place. Maybe that’s not the right way to describe it, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a progression model in place. Maxing out, or doing max reps, is ok every once in a while, but keep in mind that this is simply testing, not training. There is a difference between the two, and one of them provides continual progress and improvement, and the other fails to really do anything but show where you’re at on that specific day.

I really would suggest a 5/3/1 template.

Your second post in the log said you were doing this:

Day 1: Rows & Pushups
Day 2: Jogging
Day 3: Clean & Press

Then it changed to:

Day 1: Deadlift
Day 2: Squat
Day 3: Rest

then doing upper body with the clean & press, rows & pushups, and chinups & dips.

I think a good approach would be this:

(two options, based on if you want 3 or 4 days a week)

Day 1: Squat & Clean (Power Clean if you prefer)
Day 2: Bench
Day 3: Deadlift & Front Squat
Day 4: Press (Overhead)

or

Day 1: Squat & Bench
Day 2: Deadlift and (Power) Clean
Day 3: Front Squat & Press

Since you seem to enjoy working out often, you could do the 4 days a week, and just do the 3 days a week if you have a busy week or something.

First off, are you aware of what 5/3/1 is?

If no, read this:

It explains how to use the system.

You don’t by any means need to do this. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, fantastic, and keep it up. I just think this is a very good, very proven system of progression, that allows for some flexibility with the scheduling, and very easy strength gains. Not easy as in there’s no work, but easy to figure out. For at least a little while, you can expect to add 10 pounds to your squat a month. That’s potentially 120 pounds in a year! Obviously, this doesn’t happen for most, but the point is you can set goals and have a fairly accurate idea of when you’ll reach them.

If you want to be flexible, read this:

Do that ^^ for the lower body, and this for the upper body:

You can do this anywhere from 2-3 times daily, to just before each workout. I tend to do it 3-7 times a week. So this ranges from before my workouts to every day. It’s up to you. It’s pretty much all you need to keep your body mobile and feeling good though.

Jim Wendler, the creator of 5/3/1, and a very smart man as far as training goes, recommends doing easy conditioning 3-5 days a week, and hard conditioning 2-3 times a week.

Easy conditioning would be just a simpe walk, or bike ride, or swimming if you have any experience with that. If not, then it’s not going to be very “easy” for you. I think it’s good to set aside time each day and just go for a 30-60 minute long walk. It’s very restorative, and peaceful. You could also switch this up with a bike ride every now and then. Just relax. Don’t make an effort to make sure you sweat or breath hard, just let your body move well and comfortably. This will help very well with recovery from your workouts, as well as increase your longevity as you age.

Hard conditioning is what’s going to help burn fat, get you “in shape”, and protect you from the heart problems your family has dealt with. Read this:

Some things in there, such as using the Prowler, jump rope, or weighted vest obviously require access to those pieces of equipment. But a jump rope is cheap and easy to find. Others, such as hill sprints and running stairs are usually fairly easy to find. Normal (flat) sprints will do as well. These are all things you can, and should, do. You should by all means should be trying to get strong, but if you’re not interested in being a competitive powerlifter, never let yourself become a slob who loses his breath at the slightest activity. Conditioning is very important.

Side note:

This is called a hang clean, or clean from the hang. The hang just refers to holding it somewhere between your lower thighs and hips, rather than the floor.

Anyway, this is all just info for you. Doing one of the two templates I listed above, with some assitance work (pushups, chinups, rows, lunges, etc.), some easy and hard conditioning, and the right mobility work will most likely result in the results you’re looking for.