Day 36: Leg Day

Legs make up roughly half the body, so don’t ignore them.  If you’re like me and are not a fan of squats, then I would like to introduce you to goblet squats.  This form of squat is great for beginners.  Don’t feel a rush to get under the bar and look to load up the plates.  Goblet squats use a dumbbell and the focus is on lighter weight and form.  Keep your back upright and core engaged and try to get to depth.  You’ll find yourself able to get more weight and perfect your form this way.  If you feel yourself failing, you can just drop the weight.  It’s easier to do this with a goblet squat than when you have a bar on your back.  This type of squat is a great stepping stone and once you feel comfortable with them, jump under the bar and try a more conventional squat form.

Warmup:

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

Workout:

  • Leg Press (legs touching in middle): 180 for 15, 270 for 10, 360 for 8 for 4 sets
  • Leg Press (normal stance) 360 for 8, 450 for 6 for 2 sets, 540 for 4 for 2 sets, 360 for 10
  • Lunges: 60 pound barbell walking for 15 steps each leg. 3 sets
  • Quad Extension machine: 50 for 10 each leg for 6 sets (Rest every 2 sets), 30 for 20 for 3 sets (resting every 2 sets)
  • Goblet Squats: 70 for 12 for 4 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

 

Post Workout:

  • Jump rope for 7 minutes

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

Day 23: Shoulders

Back at it to hit shoulders.  Was short for time so had to blast through the session nice and quick.

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 for 6 reps/ 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 55’s for 15

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 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”

 

 

 

 

Day 16: Legs

Working out chest the day prior, I knew my upper body needed a day of rest to deal with the strain.  My legs however felt fine, which meant it was their turn to do some work in the gym.

I’ve been amazed at how quickly my legs have gotten their strength back.  At the start of October I was just getting back into the rhythm of squatting and was struggling with 135 on the bar and getting down to depth while holding form.  Now I’m approaching 225 for a PR but and I’m in the 200’s for reps now.  It shows what can be achieved with persistence.  The most I’ve ever squatted was 225 some years back but now I’m about to hit that mark while feeling much better about it.  Last time I got to this mark I was a young lifter throwing weight on the bar I couldn’t handle.  I was shaky and cheated aspects of the lift, but now I feel much more confident.  My leg feel like they can handle the weight but more importantly my secondary muscles like core, and back can handle the weight as well which makes the lift much safer.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes on stairclimber to get the blood flowing
  • Static leg stretching

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, 215 for 1, 135 for 8
  • Leg Press: 360 for 6 for 4 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 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”