Day 34: Pull Day

Warmup:

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

Workout:

  • 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: 10 for 3 sets
  • V Bar Row: 45 for 15, 90 for 12, 115 for 8 for 3 sets
  • V Bar Seated Cable Pull: 40 for 15, 50 for 15, 60 for 10, 70 for 6, 80 for 6 for 2 sets
  • Dumbbell Row (dropset): 70 for 8, drop to 40 for 8 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
  • Hammer Curl: 30 for 10 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 (regular curl, hammer curl, bottom half curl, full curl, full curl)

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 14: Back Day – Confidence

I walked into the gym feeling confident, which for me is huge.  After my rest day, my body had recovered well and I was feeling strong.  For a lifter looking to make some gains, confidence is huge.  It gives you that extra boost you need to push yourself through obstacles, challenges and setbacks to achieve what you have set out to achieve.  But the reality is that for all things in life, confidence is huge.  There have been stages in my life where my self-confidence is real low, and this affects you outside the gym, but since this is a fitness blog, I’ll stick to talking on confidence within the sanctuary of iron.

There was a time in my life where I was a bigger guy, and I’m not talking about muscle.  During the college days, I skipped the freshmen fifteen and put on the freshmen thirty.  I was considered overweight, had no confidence in my body, and just kept to myself most of the time.  My lowest point was when I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 210 pounds (for reference I’m 160 now).  The feeling I had in that moment of just wanting to break down and cry and hating everything about my body is something I won’t forget.  I would try to go to the gym to workout but that’s where I saw what having no self-confidence can do to you at the gym.

During the periods when I had no confidence in myself, I felt like everyone was watching me.  I thought everyone was looking at me and thinking “he’ so weak for his weight” or “man he’s out of shape.”  I was afraid to work out around other people for fear of judgement, and these were people I didn’t even know.  I would show up to the gym and leave within thirty minutes because I would get anxiety from thinking everyone was watching me in the mirrors.  It kept me from the gym for weeks at a time and it was a tough cycle that kept going for months.

What changed things around for me was when I got a job working nightshift.  I would work out before I went in at midnight, or after work when I got off at 3am depending on the shifts I had.  At this time, the gym is a ghost town, just me and the weights.  This is where I built a foundation of muscle and confidence in my lifting.  I could practice form with low weight without the fear of embarrassing myself around others.  I gained a little strength and saw a little change in my body and the effect that had was astounding.

Eventually I started working out during the day and even thou my confidence was still low, I put my headphones in, put my head down and focused on the work at hand.  This grinding mentality is something that stuck with, and it’s all thanks to the gym.  I had to realize that every guy in that gym started somewhere too, and that through consistency, I could make positive changes, but only if I stuck with it.

Now, it’s easy for me to spot someone at the gym who has no confidence in themselves.  They try to do workouts but don’t know how.  They try to lift weights they think they can lift, but they can’t do it.  They show up and leave shortly after, and when they leave they have a look of defeat on their face.  This is why encouragement in the gym is something that we need more of.  If I ever see someone struggling, or fail on a lift and I can see they are struggling with confidence, a pat on the back can go a long way.  Telling them “you’ll get it next time” or “keep at it, it will come” can make a huge difference for that person.  How do I know? Because I’ve been where they are.  I had guy’s show me technique when I was struggling, I’ve had guys motivate me by encouragement.  Guys I didn’t even know, but they encouraged me instead of judging me, and that little nudge they gave me pushed me through the tough times.

At the end of the day, the only person you’re competing with at the gym is the one you see in the mirror.  So, if you’re reading this, next time you’re in the gym I challenge you to drop the ego and judgement and create a positive community that other can feed off of.

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5 minutes
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Shoulder stretches

Workout:

  • Deadlifts (pyramid up and down): 135 for 12, 155 for 12, 185 for 10 for 3 sets, 205 for 10, 225 for 6 for 2 sets, 245 for 4 for 2 sets, 265 for 2, 285 for 1 for 2 sets, 155 for 6, 135 for 10
  • Lat Pull Down: 115 for 10 for 2 sets, 130 for 6 for 2 sets
  • V Bar Pull Down:  115 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Lat Pull Machine (drop sets to 40 after till failure): 50 for 12, 60 for 8, 70 for 8, 80 for 4 for 3 sets
  • Bent over row (barbell) 65 for 15, 85 for 12, 105 for 8, 125 for 4, 105 for 6, 85 for 10, 65 for 10
  • Aussie Pullups: 15, 15, 15, 15
  • Lower Back Extension Machine: 205 for 12 for 4 sets
  • Superman: 3 sets of 10
  • Shoulder shrugs: 45’s for 15, 55’s for 12 for 3 sets

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 8: Back Day – Deadlifts

Want to get stronger? Do deadlifts, it’s that easy

This lift works out so many different muscle groups.  Hamstrings, hips, abs, lower back, upper back, biceps etc.  To often people are intimidated by the deadlift so they stay away from it.  It’s hard work, and as far as dangerous gym movements go, this one is up there.  There are plenty of horror stories to go around of people throwing out their back because of deadlifts.  But the reality is these injuries can be boiled down to one or two mistakes.  The first being form, the second being too much weight.

Mistake 1 – Form.  When deadlifting, form is of the utmost importance.  I cannot stress enough how proper form affects this lift.  When I started deadlifting I wouldn’t go about 135lbs until I knew my form was solid.  This lift is mechanical in that there are so many different moving parts and they must all be in sync to avoid injury.  There are so many great resources both written and visual that break this lift down into its different stages and components.  This is one of those workouts where you can cheat form and still get the weight up, but it only takes one bad lift to change your lift.  In my second-year lifting, I went for a 225lbs pull which at the time should have been easy for me, but I cheated my form and wasn’t paying attention to the mechanics.  The result was what felt like my spine breaking in two.  It took 4 months to fully recover from that injury physically, but mentally I have not forgotten the lessons I learned from that lift.  Take your time to learn the proper way to lift the weight, then slowly progress to heavier weight.

Mistake 2 – Weight.  It’s tough when your deadlifting to want to throw on more weight that you can handle and try to impress those around you.  Even on those lifts where you get the weight up but sacrifice form, there something about this lift that makes you want to try to throw on one more plate and see if you can get it up.  That’s the beauty and curse of the deadlift.  Hitting new PR’s are proud moment, but these moments can come at the expense of your health.  Deadlift progression should be slow and methodical.  In the gym community, “ego-lifting” is a common occurrence, and it is something that is frowned upon and should be avoided at all costs.  If your trying to impress the bodybuilders and the boys lifting 4-5 plates a side, or even the girls at the gym, trust me, they will be more impressed with form than weight.  The reality of the gym is that you’ll never get laughed at for lifting the proper weight for you, you’ll be respected.  But you will be laughed at for lifting a heavier weight than you can handle and flailing it around and have no respect for form.  It’s sad but true.  Drop the ego, and lift smarter to achieve your goals.

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5 minutes
  • Foam Roll lower body and static leg stretching.

Workout:

  • Deadlifts (pyramid up and down): 135 for 12, 155 for 12, 185 for 10 for 3 sets, 205 for 5, 225 for 5 for 2 sets, 245 for 4 for 2 sets, 265 for 1, 155 for 6, 135 for 10
  • Lat Pull Down: 115 for 10 for 2 sets, 130 for 6 for 2 sets
  • V Bar Pull Down:  115 for 8 for 3 sets
  • Lat Pull Machine (drop sets to 40 after till failure): 50 for 12, 60 for 8, 70 for 8, 80 for 4 for 3 sets
  • Bent over row (barbell) 65 for 15, 85 for 12, 105 for 8, 125 for 4, 105 for 6, 85 for 10, 65 for 10
  • Aussie Pullups: 15, 15, 12, 12
  • Chin ups (till failure): 8,8,6
  • Shoulder shrugs: 45’s for 15, 55’s for 12 for 3 sets

At this point my back is feeling it, and my grip strength has all but disappeared, all signs of a good lift.

Post-Workout:

  • Massage chair for 15 minutes 🙂

 

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”