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Day 30: Push Day

I took some time off from writing during the holidays but I’m back at it in the new year.  I fell behind on posting my workouts so I will have to pump out some content, no pun intended.  The style of the blog might be changing as I start to add new forms and styles of content.  2018 will be a big year for us all.  I will bench 225 by the end of year, and you reach your goals too.  Let all get it.

Warmup:

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

Workout:

  • Dumbbell-Press: 60 for 20, 70 for 10 for 2 sets, 70 for 8, 70 for 6
  • 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 Bench-Press: 70 for 8 for 3 sets

Finisher:

  • Skipping for 5 minutes

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

 

Holidays and Comfort

Many people I have been talking to and the blog posts I’ve been reading, have mentioned that they just aren’t active during the holiday season.  With friends, family, booze, food and shopping all becoming distractions this time of year, it is easy to push the gym and physical activity down to the bottom of the list of things to do.

For myself, being from Canada, we have been getting blasted with some severely cold weather.  It has been a challenge for me to stay in the gym putting in the work but I’ve been doing it.  I would love to be curled up by the fire at home all snug and cozy, but I have a goal and only putting in work will get me there.

As I am progressing through this journey I am being more and more confident in how you need to be able to say no to the things that make you comfortable.  Sitting at home and watching a movie with a drink in my hand would make me feel comfortable.  Running outside for 45 minutes in -15-degree weather is not comfortable.  Eating turkey with gravy and finishing a bottle of wine would make me feel comfortable.  Spending 2 hours working legs on Christmas eve is not comfortable.  With this being said, at the end of the day, I can tell myself before I got to bed that I am closer today than I was yesterday.

There is a time to feel cozy and comfortable.  But this doesn’t always propel you towards your goal.  Moderation is key, so is making yourself feel comfortable being uncomfortable.  I still curl up next to the fire and let myself drift off to sleep all snug and cozy, but only after I’ve accomplished what I needed to for the day.

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

via Daily Prompt: Cozy

Day 29: Pull Day – Milestone Reached

Today I hit a new 1 rep max on the deadlift.  I pulled 315 for one.  It wasn’t very clean and took some time to get up, but at the end of it, I got it done.  315 is three plates on each side.  It is a heavy deadlift and is often thought of as the divider between the boys and men.  When your deadlifting, with most average people, you can pull your body weight plus a little extra.  This is why it is common to see people pulling 150-250 in the gym.  This is the natural strength range for most people even when working out.  But to get to pulling 300+, it’s like asking what’s the difference between $100,000 and a million dollars.  There is a ton more work that needs to be put in.  You need to have a strong foundation with no weaknesses.  A strong core, hamstrings, back, grip strength and impeccable mechanics are needed.  This was a huge milestone in my journey and one that I was proud to have reached.  Here’s to starting the journey to four plates

Warmup:

  • Stair climber for 5
  • Lower body static stretch

Workout:

  • Deadlifts: 135 for 10 for 2 sets, 185 for 10, 225 for 8 for 3 sets, 245 for 4, 255 for 4, 275 for 3, 295 for 2, 315 for 1
  • Lat Pulldown: 100 for 15, 115 for 10, 130 for 8 for 3 sets, 145 for 3
  • Lat Pull Machine (one arm at a time): 50 for 15, 60 for 12, 70 for 10, 80 for 6 for 3 sets
  • V Bar Row: 45 for 15, 90 for 15 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
  • V Bar Seated Cable Pull: 60 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
  • Lower Back Extension Machine: 220 for 15 for 4 sets

Johnny

Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”

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 24: Arms

When I work arms, the most important set for me is the last one.  This is when I pick a workout at I know will burn my arms and make them feel like they’re falling off.  I like doing a curl line as my finisher because it can be done with light weight and it’s about getting the reps in to complete the burn.  This type of finisher works your bicep and forearms to give you that last pump before you walk out of the gym.  If you’re doing this at the end of a workout, remember to try and stick with your form.  Swinging to get the weight up won’t get you the arms you want, so if need be, lower the weight or pause to make the reps solid.

Warmup:

  • 5 minutes on stair climber
  • Shoulder stretches

Workout:

  • Close grip chin-up and close grip dumbbell floor press superset: Chin ups till failure then superset with 40’s for 8 reps. 3 sets
  • EZ-Bar Curl and decline skull crusher superset: 60 easy curl bar for curl till failure then drop to 40 for skull crushers till failure. 3 sets
  • Rope Hammer Curl and Rope triceps pushdown superset: Dropset with weights on rope curls then superset with 40 for pushdown till failure. 3 sets
  • Inclined Curls: 22.5’s for 15, 25’s for 10, 30’s for 6, 35’s for 4
  • Hammer Curls: 25’s for 12, 30’s for 8, 35’s for 4
  • Concentration curls: 25’s till failure (slow and feel contraction)
  • Curl Machine: 85 for 5 then drop to 30 and hit each arm individually
  • Concentration Curl Machine: 40 for 8, slow and focus on stretch and contraction
  • Curl Line: 30’s regular curl for 8, 25’s hammer curls for 8, 20 half curl for 8, 15 reverse curls (forearm) for 8.  Repeat 3 times

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”