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Day 11: Shoulders

After three good days in the gym, my body was just not ready to go for this workout.  Each weight felt like it had ten pounds added onto it.  I was fighting everything but that’s how it goes in the gym on some days.  The important thing is to get in there, spend some time, and rep out every set that you can.  It’s not going to be easy, and you’ll constantly be thinking about quitting, but getting through to the end is a small accomplishment that can fill you with pride.  Knowing your one workout closer to achieving your vision is what keeps you going.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes on the stair climber.
  • Static stretching to loosen up shoulders

Workout:

  • Shoulder Press / Arnold Press Superset – Warm up by climbing to max weight 3 sets. 4 sets at 60lbs/25lbs with reps of 5/10
  • Military Press / Chin Ups Superset – 4 Sets at 95lbs/ as many chin ups as you can get
  • Cable Lateral Raises 3 Angles Consecutive – 7.5lbs for 10 at each angle
  • Lateral Raises Front and Side –  3 sets at 15lbs.  10 Reps front, 10 reps side
  • Shoulder shrugs 45’s for 20

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 10: Leg Day

After two good workouts in as many days, I’m excited to walk into the gym, which is a strange feeling on leg day.  My goal for the day was to focus on form.  Form is something I’ll admit to struggling with in regards to my leg workouts.  It’s easy to focus on form and dial it in when the weight is comfortable.  But once you get into heavier and heavier weight and you start to push yourself, form starts to deteriorate.

Using squats as an example, since this is a compound movement that has a variety of different mechanics to it, as you get into heavier weight, if one of the mechanics goes, then it causes a chain reaction.  If your knees track in because the weights to heavy, your back and hips will try and compensate which throws them out of alignment as well.  This is why squats are one of the hardest exercises to perfect.  Making a conscious effort to watch your form can lead to lifting more weight, making weight progression quicker, and limiting chance of injury.

In this workout session, I focused attention on my breathing as I did my exercises.  It is a common misconception that you should be breathing as you go through the motions of workout, but this is a myth.  For exercises like the squat, you should be taking in a big breath at the top and use the air inside you as a stabilizer of sorts.  You can get the most drive when you are holding your breath.  Taking in a breath at the top then hitting the squat and then exhaling at the top adds to the mechanics of the lift.  Adding breathing helps slow down the lift and gives you time to focus on each squat, you don’t want to rush through the lift because chances are you’re not focusing on the stretch and contraction of the muscle.  You don’t just want reps, you want good reps.

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5 to get the blood flowing
  • Lower body stretch, shoulder mobility stretch to ensure arm can get behind bar comfortably for squat

Workout:

  • Squats (pyramid up and down):  95 for 12, 135 for 8 for 3 sets, 155 for 6, 155 for 6, 175 for 4, 175 for 3, 195 for 1, 155 for 6, 135 for 8
  • Leg Press: 360 for 6 for 4 sets
  • Quad Extension (drop sets) 60 for 10 then drop to 40 and go till failure.  4 sets
  • Hamstring curls: 50 for 8 for 3 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

Post-workout:

  • Foam Roll to help with recovery
  • Quick leg stretch to aid in recovery

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”

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”

 

 

Day 7: Rest Day

For me personally, I don’t follow a set schedule when it comes to my rest days.  I listen to my body.  When my body is telling me “your sore today kid, I need a break,” well then it’s time to take a break.  Not resting when you need to can lead to major injuries, or even worse, you just going to the gym to go through the motions and minimize gains.  This is not to say that on a rest day you should sit in your room and watch Netflix all day, because there are things you can be doing to get you ready to get back in the gym.  It’s a rest day, not an unproductive day.  One of those things is stretching.

Stretching is a fantastic activity to do on a rest day.  The day prior I had done legs, so I woke up tight and stiff, and not in a good way.  So, what do I do on my day of rest? Lots and lots of stretching.  You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym to stretch, just lying in front of the TV and spending 15-30 minutes trying to loosen up those tense muscles groups goes a long way.  There are lots of great videos out there on stretching routines, and I have included a good short one that I use right here.  After a rest day, you don’t want to walk into the gym feeling tired and fatigued.  Listen to your body, I cannot stress this enough.  If your body needs two or three days after a workout, then so be it.  As you work out more and more, your body adapts in its recovery time.  This is why so many people hurt themselves when they start working.  They try and jump back to a level they were once at, or they try going for 7 days straight and BOOM, injured and off for three months.  I’m telling yah folks, If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen this, I’d be homeless but I could make a payphone call to tell you about it.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 6: Legs – Getting Under the Bar

“I can’t wait to go to the gym and work legs today” – No one ever

I’ve been told that legs make up around half of the body.  I’m not a doctor, or good at math, so I’m not sure if this is exactly true or not.  What I can tell you is the truth is that I DON’T LIKE LEG DAY.  Squats are my least favourite exercise, and if they weren’t such an effective compound movement, I would never do that exercise again.

When I first started working out, I had one of those hour-long fitness consultations with a trainer and he asked me to do a body squat (no weights) so he could coach my form.  I couldn’t even do one.  I was embarrassed, I felt like everyone in the personal training section was judging me.  For a couple months after that I never touched my legs in the gym.  I figured that just avoiding my weaknesses was fine.  But once you start working out for a while you get hungry for growth.  You want to push yourself, you want to grow, and I mean both mentally and physically.

So, after a couple months I finally got under the bar, tried a squat with no weight and made a fool of myself.  I couldn’t get to depth and was doing those quarter squats that you see newbies doing, and I couldn’t get my left shoulder behind the bar so I was squatting on an angle.  Long story short, I dropped the bar in the rack, it made a huge noise, and everyone looked at me.  Just because I the will to do a squat, doesn’t mean I was going to be able to do one.  I wasn’t prepared, and I learned the body and mind must work in unison.

This might have deterred me from squatting a couple months prior, but at the time it got me angry.  I did my homework.  I used youtube to learn proper form, how to build a strong foundation, and learned how to make progression.  I read fitness blogs on leg workouts for beginners.  I watch people in the gym to see what their form was like.  And every week I kept getting under the bar, and every week I got better.  I could squat the bar, then 10’s, then 25’s, then 35’s then 45’s, but then I trailed off.  I got comfortable with the exercise, but with that comfort came complacency.  I thought it was good enough that I got to a level where I could throw a 45 on each side and get down to depth for 10.  But it’s been almost three years now and I’ve been squatting within the same 50lbs range for years.  I realize I had lost all hunger and drive for growth, and I was fine being in the same place today as I was yesterday.

When I set this goal to bench 225, it came from the idea that I need to start pushing myself harder in the gym and bring it every single time I walk in.  Although I haven’t set a goal for my lower body, i’m bringing a stronger mentality with me when I get under the bar.  The mentality to push harder every day and through this, the physical and mental growth that I’m craving will come.

Warmup:

  • 5-minute stair climb
  • Foam Roll my legs.  Acting confident as I roll, as I’m pretending to know what I’m doing.

Workout:

  • Squats (pyramid up and down) – 95 for 10, 115 for 10, 135 for 10 x 3 sets, 155 for 5, 175 for 3, 135 for 8
  • Leg Press (pyramid up and down) – 90 for 15, 180 for 10, 270 for 8, 360 for 4, 180 for 6
  • Walking Lunges / Band Sidesteps (superset)– 50lbs for 10 steps each leg, Light band for 10 steps each leg
  • Quad Extensions (one leg at a time)(pyramid up and down) 40 for 12, 50 for 8, 60 for 4, 50 for 5, 40 for 9
  • Hamstring curls (one leg at a time) 50 for 10 reps x 3 sets
  • Seated Calf Raised – 70 for 10 reps x 3 sets

At the end of the lift, my legs were dead and it was a good lift.  Doing a little stretching can save you from walking like a penguin for the next three days.  Foam rolling is always helpful to loosen up those muscle fibers and gain back some of that mobility you’re sure to be craving.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 5: Shoulders

Today I hit shoulders.  It was one of those workouts where I was dead tired and just wanted to get in and get out.  When you feel like you have no energy, shoulders is a good muscle group to go to because they are smaller and can be activated with lighter weights if done properly.

Today I followed another Youtube idol and his shoulder workout.  His name is Bounty Tank and I don’t know what it is about it but I love his videos.  This workout was all about the basic shoulder movements.  Shoulders is a muscle group for myself where drop sets and supersets burn the muscle and gives me a great pump.

For the shoulder press in this workout, I did them seated which I find more comfortable.  I have a history of shoulder dislocations so having more stability in the lift helps a guy like me.  For the shoulder press I got up to 65’s today for 5 reps which was solid.  I added a superset after shoulder press with 25’s till burnout.  But for the rest I followed along to what Bounty Tank was doing in his video.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 4: Biceps

Today was gun day.  Every now and then I like to focus a day on the guns and see what kind of pump I can get out of them.  There’s nothing quite like the euphoric of seeing a bicep vein for the first time.

For this workout, instead of freestyling it like I normally would, I followed a routine from one of my go to Youtube idols.  Phil Heath is a 5 x Mr. Olympia and he’s not shy about putting his routines up on the tube.  This workout is great for anyone looking to get a nice arm pump in before heading to the beach or to a shirtless party.  For this workout, I didn’t even count reps really, more or less just went to failure.  Follow the workout that Phil outlines and note what weight you get up to with your low rep sets.  The max I got up to in the workout was 35’s with the rep range of 4-6.  With arms, you don’t need to lift heavy which is a common mistake.  Pick a weight that is comfortable and focus on the stretch and contraction.  Better form means a better pump.

Johnny,

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

The Importance of Vision and Goals

Today I want to touch on something that one of my greatest idols always talks about, and that is the importance of a vision and goal.

“Why do you want to work out, what is your goal.  The most important thing is that you have a vision, that you have a goal.  Because without that vision and without that goal, you’re just drifting around and you’re never going to end up anywhere.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

These couple sentences are stuck in my head (often hearing them in Arnolds voice).  A vision sets the tone for how you will live your life.  It makes you accountable.  Are you habits and the way you live your life bringing you closer to your vision, or are they pushing you away from it?  When it comes to your body, it needs three things to make a vison a reality.  Weightlifting, cardio and nutrition is all it needs.  So often were caught up in the impossibility of life’s challenges, that we forget to break down these challenges into attainable wins that will bring us closer to our vision.

Here’s an analogy for you.  If you were told you could get a billion dollars, and all you had to do for it was to go outside and lift a rock, chances are you would be excited, yet probably skeptical.  You start asking questions, “well how much does the rock weigh” you ask.  If a voice answers back that the rock weighs one ton, chances are you would become depressed because it’s impossible to lift that much weight, and it’s not realistic, and you wouldn’t even try to attempt to move it.  But if a voice answers back that the rock weighs five pounds, you get excited because you know you can do that, because it is an easily achievable task.  But what if you applied your outlook for the five-pound rock to the one ton rock.  Five pounds is manageable, if you just chip away at the one ton rock, five pounds at a time, eventually your gonna move the whole thing.

Our visions and goals are things that need to be chipped away at.  If the vision is strong enough and you stay accountable to that vision, take it one day at a time and you will eventually get there.  My vision with my fitness is to become a lean and strong athlete.  I have set SMART goals for my vision.  I wrote them down on paper and I have a mental image in my head of how I want to look and feel.  Every day before I crawl into bed at night I’m doing an accountability check.  Am I closer today than I was yesterday?  Did I do enough today with the time I had? What am I going to do tomorrow to be closer tomorrow than I was today?

Have a clear vision, and chip away at it, one step at a time.

Johnny,

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”