Day 21: Chest Day – Asking for Help

When I started this journey of wanting to bench 225, I knew it would be a challenge.  Mentally I am still in the zone and know I am headed in the right direction.  Physically I feel like time trying to make gains a little to quickly which is compromising my form.  One thing I have noticed is that when it comes to the bench-press, my form is sloppy when I am putting more and more weight on the bar.

I work out alone, and often don’t have a spotter or motivator with me.  This limits me when it comes to the bench press because I often stop a rep or two short of what I could do if I had a spotter.  The spotter is that mental and physical safety net.  It makes the pump so much better when you are able to go to failure on the bench and have the spotter help you get that last rep or two up even thou they claim “it was all you”.  If you are like me and workout alone, I cannot stress enough how important it is to not be afraid to ask for a spot from a random.  If your gym isn’t full of douches, chances are someone will be glad to help.

I work out at the same time most day, which means I see the regular gym crew there most nights.  It’s the same 10-30 familiar faces that I see on a day-to-day basis, which gives me some comfort when asking for a spot.  Most of these guys are stronger than me, but they see me there almost every night so they respect the grind.  When I ask for a spot, I also ask them to keep an eye on my form.  I don’t just want them to help me get the weight up, but to also let me know if my mechanics are off.

When I was benching in the previous week, I asked one of the regulars for help spotting one of my 155 benches.  I wanted some feedback on my form, and this dude being a bodybuilder, was well educated in lifting iron and more than capable to give some feedback.  He told me that I was flaring my elbows when I was coming up, and that was the only mechanical issue that he saw.  This is a common mistake in benching.  When you are bringing the bar down, you need to keep your elbows tucked in closer to your body to avoid injuring your shoulders.

So, on this chest day, I stuck with a weight that I knew I could easily handle (135), and spent a good half hour continuously doing sets with perfect form.  On each rep, I was carefully watching the mechanics of the lift, and ensuring that I didn’t flare my elbows.  Form is something that you can master at low weights, but you should make sure once you start progressing, that this form doesn’t deteriorate.

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5 to get heart going
  • Shoulder stretch

Workout:

  • Bench-press: 95 for 12, 135 for 12 for 5 sets, 135 for 10, 135 for 9, 135 for 8, 135 for 7, 135 for 6
  • Incline Press: 50 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Chest press machine: 100 for 12, 115 for 6 for 3 sets (pause reps)
  • Inclined chest press machine (one arm): 40 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Cable flys (downward): 22.5 for 15 reps (hold and squeeze in middle)
  • Cable flys (upward): 15 for 12 reps (hold and squeeze in middle)
  • One arm triceps extensions superset with triceps kickbacks: 30 for 12 then superset with 12.5 for 10. 3 sets
  • Overhead triceps extensions: 17.5 for 12 for 4 sets
  • Skull crushers: 40 for 8 for 3 sets

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

 

Day 15: Chest – Dealing with Injuries

When I woke up in the morning, I felt something every lifter fears.  The day before I had hit some heavy deadlifts and felt great when doing it.  But the morning after, I woke up feeling like I pulled or strained something.  It was a weird feeling on the right side of my neck down to my right shoulder.  Now I’m no doctor, so I can’t give official advice on lifting and injuries, but I can talk on knowing your body, and give some basic tips on what you should and shouldn’t try to work through.

Injuries and setbacks are common, don’t let people tell you otherwise.  This is why so often form is preached in the gym, because it reduces the likelihood of injuries.  A basic explanation of lifting weights is you tearing you muscle fibers apart so they can regrow stronger and bigger.  With this will come some sore days, and days you’re feeling a little stiff.  This is something you can work through.  Through stretching, better diet and staying hydrated, you can alleviate soreness and stiffness.  This is why I never let a little stiffness keep me from the gym.  Just hit the stretching area for 10 minutes and you feel like a new man.

The thing I always ask myself when I have an injury, is “can I work through this without making it worse.”  If the answer is yes, then head to the gym and keep working out.  These workouts aren’t go big or go home type workouts.  You can rehab and workout at the same time.  Rehab can still get you sweating and build muscle.  At the gym I go too, there are bodybuilders who will spend 15 minutes with a 5-pound weight solely focusing on rehabbing shoulders as a part of their workouts.  If you drop the ego, lifting for rehab and recovery can help you recover from injuries and setback quicker than rest.

If you answered no to the above question, then you still have a few options on how you can proceed.  With injuries and setbacks, you can always take a few days off to see how your body reacts to some rest.  If rest treats you well, then listen to your body and you will know when it’s time to head back to work.  Another option that you have is to work out different body parts.  There have been times where my shoulder is sore from past dislocations so I take time to focus on lower body workouts or working out on my core.  On these days, I’ll mix in some rehab and when I feel comfortable I’ll try a light workout with the body part that I was feeling was injured and go from there.

For this workout, I felt like I could continue to work out.  The strain felt light so I hit the gym for a light chest day.  I knew going in that I was going to have to concentrate on form with low weight to see how my body reacted to the strain.  About half way through the workout I felt like I was just making the strain worse so I laid off the weights and did some stretching and got in some core work.  I didn’t walk out feeling defeated because I still go a sweat going and knew I would need to avoid certain types of workouts and focus on some rehab and stretching going forward to help with this setback.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes on stair climber to get my blood flowing.
  • Upper body stretch for 10 minutes.  Focus on shoulders to get them loose, also focused on neck stretches to see if I could loosen up my neck.

Workout:

  • Bench-press (pyramid up and down): 95 for 12, 135 for 10 for 3 sets, 155 for 6, 155 for 4, 155 for 2, 135 for 8
  • Inclined Press (Drop set): 50’s for 6 then drop to 30’s for 10.  Three sets of this
  • Chest press machine: 100 for 12 reps for 4 sets
  • Fly machine: 115 for 8 for 2 sets, 130 for 6 for 2 sets (focus on squeezing contraction)

Stretch:

  • Static stretches at different angles for shoulder and neck

Core Work Circuit:

  • 15 situps, 20 Russian twists, 20 flutter kicks, 20 leg raises. 3 sets of this
  • Declined situps: 3 sets of 20
  • Oblique twist machine: 3 sets at 100 lbs

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

 

Day 9: Chest and Triceps

Time to get back at it and hit chest hard.  I had a great day training back yesterday, time to carry that positive energy into my next workout.  The length of my workouts are getting longer but my body is starting to feel stronger and I can handle the increased length of workout physically.  The main obstacle for me at the moment is mental focus.  After about an hour my mind starts to wander and I lose my focus on the lift.  Since Goodlife now has Wi-Fi (clutch!), I can throw on some motivational videos to get me back into the lift and push me through to the end.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes on stair climber to get my blood flowing.
  • Upper body stretch.  Focus on shoulders to get them loose

Workout:

  • Bench-press (pyramid up and down): 95 for 12, 135 for 10 for 3 sets, 155 for 6, 155 for 4, 165 for 2, 135 for 8
  • Inclined Press (Drop set): 65’s for 6 then drop to 40’s for 10.  Three sets of this
  • Inclined Fly’s superset with dumbbell shrugs: 30’s for 8 reps then 70’s for 10
  • Fly Machine: 115 for 8 for 2 sets, 130 for 8 for 2 sets (focus on squeezing contraction)
  • Chest Press Machine: 50 for 8 reps for 3 sets. One arm at a time.  55 for 4 reps
  • Cable fly’s: 25 till failure (not counting reps) for 3 sets
  • Triceps Pushdown (straight bar): 50 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Triceps Pushdown (rope attachment) (drop set): 40 for 8 then drop to 20 till failure for 3 sets
  • One Arm Triceps Pushdown superset with triceps kickbacks: 30 for 8 then superset to 12.5’s for 10
  • Dips: 3 sets of 6

I walked out of the gym feeling tired.  It was a good lift which makes two in a row for me following my rest day.  Life’s about rhythms.  When your feeling it in the gym, keep at it and every time you walk into the gym, get to that place mentally where you feel locked in to put in that good work.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”