Day 38: Push Day

Warmup:

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

Workout:

  • Dumbbell Press: 50 for 15, 60 for 12, 70 for 9, 70 for 8, 80 for 4, 80 for 3, 70 for 6
  • Inclined Press (Drop set): 50’s for 6 then drop to 35’s for 10.  Three sets of this
  • Inclined Fly’s superset with dumbbell shrugs: 30’s for 8 reps then 50’s for 15
  • Military Press: 45 for 12, 65 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Fly Machine: 115 for 8 for 2 sets, 130 for 8 for 2 sets (focus on squeezing contraction)
  • Chest Press Machine: 40 for 8 reps for 3 sets. One arm at a time.  (slow this right down)
  • 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: 40 for 8 then superset to 12.5’s for 10
  • Dips: 3 sets of 10

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Community Gets You Through Tough Times

The date is December 23rd, 2017.  It has been almost three months since I left my job and new work has yet to find me.  When I left my job, I was ignorant to the affects that it would have on me being out of work for the first time in eight years.

Work for me was a time filler, when you’re doing 40-60 hours a week it gives you a daily activity and sense of purpose.  I had many co-workers that were friendly and engaging, and this gave me a sense of community and a social atmosphere to be around every day.  The problem was, that this job wasn’t pushing me like I wanted it too.  I was too comfortable, and it wasn’t preparing me for where I wanted to go, and what I want to be.

When I left, there was this giant void in my life.  I lost the daily social interaction and sense of purpose when I got up in the morning.  After a month of apply for jobs and not even hearing back, I was frustrated, anxious and depressed at where I was in life.  I had to figure out what make me tick, and what things can I be doing on my own to help with this period.  I turned to fitness and blogging as an outlet, and I couldn’t be happier that I did.

When I first started blogging, I thought it was all about the likes and followers, but there was only one problem.  I wasn’t getting any of either.  This is when I started to engage with the community around me on WordPress.  I started to read the content that others were producing and I learned a few lessons.

  • I’m not the only one struggling, and listening to the struggles and stories of others can put your life into perspective and motivate you. You see what others are doing daily to make their lives better, and that pushed me.
  • WordPress is a communal site. If you think people are going to flock to your blog because write a few paragraphs, you are sadly mistaken.  Engaging with others and being a member of the community of positivity and encouragement is as important as your content.  Be the voice you want to hear when someone talks about your work.
  • The online community is a place to be open and honest. In real life, I find myself living according to the expectations of others, but on my blog, I am myself.  If I am having a shit day I can say so, and I know the community of WordPress can relate and give me the boost I need.  I don’t need to exaggerate the lifting stats for you, just be honest and humble with every view and comment I get.

In closing, the communal effort of WordPress bloggers has gotten me through a tough low in my life.  I put my head down, put on my blinders and spent weeks asking myself where do I want to be, who do I want to be, and what am I right now.  I am still figuring out the answers to these questions but I didn’t do it on my own.  Taking in the experiences of communal bloggers has given me new perspective on life, and that is something that money cannot buy.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

 

via Daily Prompt: Communal

Day 28: Leg Day

“The legs feed the wolf”

This is a quote I heard the other day when I was watching the movie miracle on TV.  In the movie, it is used to explain how team USA is going to need to out skate their opponents to win.  They are the tool that makes everything become possible.  To relate this quote to my fitness journey, legs are foundational, if you take care of them, they will take care of you, and make your goals possible.

When you look at leg exercises, the majority of them are compound movements.  When you are doing these, you are also working out secondary muscle groups that get activated to deal with the weight and maintain form.  These movements scorch calories and give you a cardio workout even though you may not notice this.  Cardio is thought to be the best for breaking a sweat and fat loss, but I challenge you to do a set of squats then follow this up with lunges to see if you’re not breaking a sweat.  Legs for me is one of the best forms of short burst cardio that also builds strength.  A good little trick is to slow down your reps and do pause reps.  If I am doing 10 squats in a set, I don’t rush through to get the ten then re-rack the weight.  I’ll try and have the weight on my body for 45 seconds to a minute.  For those ten reps, I’ll do them slow to increase the time the muscles are under tension, which is great cardio and builds strength.

Another advantage of working legs is the effect that it can have on your hormones.  Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when it comes to building muscle.  Two leg workouts specifically are great for boosting testosterone levels.  Heavy squats, and heavy deadlifts are known to increase and regulate testosterone levels.  Since I’m no doctor I don’t want to give advice on this topic when it comes to hormones and science and such, but I am good at research, so I have linked some great sources for information that pertains to testosterone production and working out your legs.  The legs are the largest muscle group in the body, so don’t ignore them.  Take care of them, and they will take care of you.

Johnny’s Must Reads:

https://www.quora.com/Does-training-legs-increase-testosterone-levels

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/mens-health/6-ways-to-increase-testosterone-with-exercise

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/workout/testosterone-boosting-leg-day-workout

Warmup:

  • Stair Climber for 5
  • Lower body static stretch
  • Shoulder stretch

Workout:

  • Squats: 135 for 12 for 3 sets, 155 for 8, 175 for 8, 185 for 5 for 2 sets, 205 for 2, 225 for 1, 135 for 6
  • Leg Press: 180 for 15, 270 for 10, 360 for 8, 450 for 5 for 3 sets, 180 for 12
  • Lunges: 50 pound barbell walking for 15 steps each leg. 3 sets
  • Quad Extention machine: 50 for 10 each leg for 6 sets (Rest every 2 sets)
  • Calf Raises: 70 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Calf Raise Machine: 115 for 8 for 3 sets.
  • Hip abduction machine: 145 for 15 for 3 sets
  • Hamstring Curls (one leg): 50 for 12 for 3 sets

Post Workout:

  • Jump rope for 5 minutes

 

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 27: Push Day

We’re back at it for push day.  Gotta admit I was sore af when I woke up, and this continued all day.  My back was aching in a good way and I felt like an 80-year-old man at times.  This is a sign of that good work.  Being sore is nothing to be bummed out about.  It’s all about perspective and how you look at it.  You can look at it from the negative, in that you’re slower, in pain, and miserable but this outlook doesn’t advance you in any way.  I prefer to look at it from the positive, in that I am in a better position today than I was yesterday.  My body aching is just growth masked by discomfort.  Nobody has gotten to where they want to be without a little discomfort.

When I walk into the gym sore, this is where warmup and stretching become important in my humble opinion.  Getting your blood flowing and stretching those tight muscles will loosen you up.  There have been days when I walk into the gym stiff as a board, but I’ll dedicate 20 minutes to warmup and stretching.  The result is that I am still a little sore, but I’ve pushed my body on the right path with recovery, and my workout will be much better.

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5
  • Stretch of shoulder using bands
  • Band and static stretches for back

Workout:

  • Bench-press: 95 for 12, 135 for 10 for 2 sets, 155 for 5 for 2 sets, 165 for 3, 135 for 10
  • Incline Press: 60 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Incline Fly’s: 25 for 10 for 3 sets (focus on stretch and contraction)
  • Chest Press (Individual arm): 40 for 10 for 4 sets
  • Chest Press (Both arms): 100 for 10, 115 for 6, 100 for 10
  • Triceps extension superset with triceps kickback: 25 for 15 then superset to 12.5 for 10. 3 Sets
  • Overhead Triceps Cable Extensions: 25 for 12 for 4 sets
  • Rope Triceps Extensions: 30 for 10, 40 for 8, 40 for 5, 30 for 7, 30 for 6
  • Narrow Benchpress: 70 for 8 for 3 sets

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

 

Day 26: Pull Day

We’re here to get it today with this pull day.  I’m excited to get started on this new workout split.  It will be a challenge and something my body isn’t used to but that’s why I’m excited.  I want to keep challenging myself in the gym because that’s what leads to growth.

To have success with this I am going to need to buckle down on the diet.  When doing a regimen like this, recovery time is going to be tight.  My macros must get dialed in and make sure I am getting the grams of protein that I need for recovery.

Warmup:

  • Stair climb for 5 minutes
  • Shoulder and back stretch with bands

Workout:

  • Deadlifts: 135 for 12 for 2 sets, 185 for 10, 225 for 8 for 3 sets, 245 for 6, 255 for 6, 275 for 3, 295 for 2, 225 for 6
  • Lat Pulldown: 100 for 15, 115 for 10, 130 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Lat Pull Machine (one arm at a time): 50 for 15, 60 for 12, 70 for 10, 80 for 6 for 3 sets
  • Chin Ups: 8 for 3 sets
  • V Bar Row: 45 for 15, 90 for 12, 115 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Dumbbell Row: 60 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Seated Curls: 25 for 10, 30 for 8, 35 for 4 for 2 sets
  • Concentration Curl Dropset: 25 for 10 then drop to 15 for 10. 3 sets per arm
  • V Bar Seated Cable Pull: 60 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Hammer Curl: 30 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Reverse Grip Curls (ez-curl bar): 30 for 12 for 3 sets
  • Curl Line: 30 for 4, 25 for 6, 20 for 6, 15 for 8, 12.5 for 5

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 22: Legs – Sounds of the Gym

So, I walked into the gym today, ready to smash some legs.  I followed the same routine as I always do.  Pack my bag in my room listening to some music, get my protein shake for after the gym, get my pre-workout for before, and then head out the door to kill it.  When I walked into the gym it hit me, I’ve just made a grave mistake, or so I thought.  When I walk out the door, I normally throw my headphones in my bag so I have them for the gym, but on this day, I was thrown off by a phone call from a friend.  I took my headphones out to answer and forgot to bring them with me to the gym.

This was the first time in about a year I went to the gym to workout with no music.  I thought that this workout was going to suck because I didn’t have my beats to pump me up, and push me through the workout.  I hit the stair-climber like I always do, and proceeded to warm up.  While I was warming up I started to notice the sounds of the gym which I never noticed before.  It was a calming background noise that combines all that was going on around me.

There is the banging of the weights, the sound iron makes when it bounces off iron.  This sound holds a special place for lifters, and it is a nostalgic sound that motivates you just by hearing it.  CT Fletcher says there ain’t nothing better than a pair or 45 pound plates slapping together.  In the gym today, you could hear the loud thud from heavy deadlifts, and the clinking from re-racking the bar when squatting.  These sounds represent the respect and power it takes to lift these weights.

The conversations in the gym were drowned out by the sound of the weights.  Voices blurred together and became a constant murmur.  Individual conversations formed a collective from a zoned-out state.  I could narrow in to try and eavesdrop on a conversation, but I choose to stay withdrawn, and let the voices in the gym drown out the thoughts in my head.

I listen to music to pump me up or as background noise.  I was ignoring how great a place the gym can be to just unplug and take in what’s around you.  Over the past few months I’ve been making an effort to be mindful of what I’m thinking about.  When I am in the gym I try and keep my focus on the task at hand.  I need to get better at paying attention to the here and now, and let my mind wander less.  Forgetting my headphones might become a common occurrence because of the calming nature of the sounds of the gym.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes stair climber
  • Lower body stretch
  • Lower body foam roll

Workout:

  • Squats (pyramid up and down):  95 for 12, 135 for 8 for 3 sets, 155 for 8, 175 for 8, 185 for 6, 195 for 3, 205 for 2, 225 for 1 for 2 sets, 135 for 8
  • Leg Press: 360 for 6 for 3 sets (normal), 180 for 15 for 3 sets (narrow legs)
  • Quad Extension (drop sets) 60 for 10 then drop to 40 and go till failure.  4 sets
  • Calf Raises (plate machine): 70 for 10 for 4 sets
  • Walking Lunges: 50lbs barbell on back, walk for 10 sets each leg, turn around then walk back
  • Hip Abductor machine: 175 for 12 reps

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

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 20: Were Back for Back Day

We were back at it again with another back day, and boy was I excited to walk into the gym.  I had taken three days off to heal a sore neck which was starting to feel much better.  This time to let my neck heal also gave my body three days to heal as well.  I walked into the gym feeling strong and rested.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to give it 100 in the gym today because I didn’t want to aggravate the injury, but it was a sign I was headed in the right direction and was ready to get back at it and get a sweat going.

I always start with back day because I like to think of myself as different from all the other gym rats.  Monday signals the start of the work week, and the workout week.  Monday’s have been decreed as International Chest Day at every gym across the globe.  Since I like being unique and don’t like waiting 45 minutes for a bench, I do back on Monday and chest on Tuesday (normally).  This simple observation on bench wait times has changed my life and lead to tremendous gains that would have otherwise been missed.

The workouts I’m going to be doing will be changing soon.  I have been following the bro split for the past couple months.  For those who don’t know, the bro split is when you do chest one day, then back, then arms, then legs, then shoulders and you repeat this. This is great for foundation building and getting back into it, but it is easy to plateau and hurts your gains over the long haul.  In my workouts, next week, I will be switching to a different style of workout.  I will be switching to a pull day, a push day and leg day.  This split works multiple muscle groups per workout, but gives less time off for each muscle group, which is better for gaining strength and will better serve me in achieving my goal.  Muscles will be activated more often, and not left to sit for 7 days after they are done their workout for the week.

Warmup:

  • 8-minute stair climber to get the blood flowing
  • 5-minutes stretching to get shoulders loose

Workout:

  • Lat pulls 100 for 15, 115 for 10 for 4 sets
  • Lat pull narrow reverse grip 100 for 10 for 3 sets
  • Chin Ups: 8 for 3 sets
  • Aussie Pull Ups: 15 for 3 sets
  • T-Bar Row: 90 for 15 for 2 sets, 135 for 6, 115 for 6 for 2 sets
  • Seated Cable Row: 45 for 20, 50 for 15, 60 for 8, 70 for 8 for 2 sets
  • Dumbbell Shrugs: 60 for 15 for 3 sets

Take Away From Workout:  By the end of my back days I am noticing that my grip strength is shot.  Now this is normal for intense workouts, but I am noticing that when I am doing my lifts that my grip isn’t the strongest, and I’m cradling the weight when I should be gripping it hard.  I narrowed this down to my forearm strength.  Moving forward, to avoid injury and not plateau with my back days and deadlifts, I will need to work on my forearms to build their strength up.  It’s funny how these secondary muscle groups can affect your bigger lifts in such a large way.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 19: Rest Day – Changes Moving Forward

When I started blogging I jumped right into it, bought the domain, set up the theme quick and didn’t even think through what I wanted to write about or the strategy I was going to use.  It was just something that interested me as a young marketer who needed to become comfortable writing content.  I knew I wanted to focus on something fitness related, but the form that this would come in was still a mystery to me.  With so much emphasis today being placed on video in regards to filming workouts and body transitions, I felt like the written word is something that is being forgotten about in the fitness realm.  The written word is a story just like a video, but ingested in a different way.

After a month of blogging, I’m ready to build on what I have been doing and have no interest in abandoning it anytime soon.  While the blog is great for sharing detailed posts about what I have been doing in my workouts, there are still aspects of my daily life that aren’t being touched on, which play an important part of my fitness goal.  I’m mainly referring to cardio and diet here.

They say that to achieve the body you desire, 90% of the work is done in the kitchen, and 10% is done in the gym.  This means that I have only been reporting on 10% of my day-to-day activity.  This provides me with an exciting problem.  How do I want to showcase my diet and cardio that I am doing outside the gym?  The answer that I have come up with involves branching out from blogging to social media.  Instagram is a visually engaging channel which is great for showcasing diet.  The diet that I am on is always changing depending on my fitness goals and how my body is feeling.  Currently my diet emphasizes proteins and fats with fewer carbohydrates.  I have been trying to time my carbohydrates to ingest them prior to or after a workout, which is harder than it seems.

I will be posting what I am eating daily on my Instagram to hopefully be a positive example to show what meal prepping is like and how to easily make healthy meals at home without spending a ton of money.  My philosophy on eating clean is that if you are feeling good, and feeling like your moving in the direction, then you are on the right path.  I don’t count calorie intake or ratio of protein/fats/carbs just because of the sheer time it takes to do, and the reality is that counting is guessing most of the time.  Your body is a natural counter, and you just need to listen to what it is telling you, and that’s how you mold your diet to best fit your body.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 17-18: Rest Day Thoughts

After getting back at if for only three days I made the call to hold off for a couple of days to not aggravate my neck strain.  This is a weird strain that doesn’t seem to be recovering.  Normally with injuries they tend to start feeling better each day but with my neck it’s just been getting stiffer.  I’m not sure if I am sleeping on it wrong or what the heck is wrong, but it’s just one that I feel I needed to make a call and take a few days off.  I’ve talked before about knowing your body and what you can and can’t work through, and this is one where I felt it will pay off more in the long run if I take a couple of days now.  It’s better to shut myself down for a few days to let the ice and heat do their work.

What makes this injury frustrating is because I have no idea how I hurt my neck.  It was one that crept up on me and before I knew it, it was a problem.  With hurting yourself in the gym, you can normally narrow down an injury into one of two scenarios.  Scenario one is when you feel a pop or tear on a movement.  Easy and plain as day to point out, and easier to understand what you need to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The second scenario is when you have an injury creep up on you and the source or cause isn’t always known.  One of the most common examples of this I can think of are lower back injuries.  People will complain of hurting their lower back because they feel strain or discomfort in their day-to-day activities.  This pain isn’t necessarily from a certain activity or movement.  Time off helps but doesn’t necessarily heal.  They don’t ever fix the root problem because they don’t know if it was done in the gym, as a part their lifestyle, or even as a repercussion of diet, etc.  This is why that lingering lower back injury is so common in our society.

With my neck, I felt a little discomfort and stiffness coming on for a few weeks.  I attributed it to my body getting used to me getting after it in the gym.  I tried to hold on to good form and can’t recall a set I did in the past few weeks where I strayed from form badly enough to cause an injury.  Looking back, I did climb up in weight for the deadlift quickly and this could have been an attributing factor.  I was trying to get back into the old weight range and might have overdone it.  Holding that weight puts strain on the neck and upper-back.  When I get back at it, I must focus on lifting less due to ego, and watching the position of neck and truly leading with my eyes.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”