I’ve been very busy and have a big announcement to make. I’m working hard on an e-book that I feel will benefit a lot of my readers. It’s an e-book on building muscle and strength. The book is going to cover major training variables you need to know about becoming big and strong. I’m going to cover nutrition for bulking up as well. I feel this will be an excellent resource for individuals looking to gain mass. I’m really excited to release this and I feel it’ll help a lot of people.
Training is still going excellent. I’ve still getting stronger on a number of lifts even though I’m still losing weight. I’m down 30 lbs now. I feel awesome, I have tons of energy, and I’m literally never hungry.
I won’t be putting my training log on this week as I’m super busy. I’ve posted a video of overhead pin presses from my training today though. It’s become one of my favourite shoulder exercises.
My hip was bothering me earlier in the week, so I skipped out on rack deadlifts this week. That really sucked, because they’re arguably my favourite exercise. I set a PR on box squats this week though, and they felt great on my hips. I’m also starting to push hard on the bulgarian split squats. I maxed out on a set of 5 reps with 85 pound dumbbells in each hand. They were incredibly tough and my quads are still feeling the effects. I’ll try and get a video up of them next week.
Now I’d like to introduce you to protein fluff. I got the idea for this from Martin Berkhan, who got it from someone else I believe. The link to the original article is here. I’ve been eating it literally everyday and it has a ridiculous effect on satiety. Clocking in at 220 calories, this treat is unparalleled in satiety. It tastes like flavoured whipped cream. Honestly, you have to try it. Oh yea, it takes less than 5 minutes to make too.
Here is what you will need to make protein fluff: an electric mixer or standing mixer. Casein protein, I’ve only tried ON’s Casein and it’s awesome. 1/3 of a cup of skim milk. 150 grams of berries (strawberries and blueberries work the best). A mixing bowl or large measuring cup.
Try this recipe. Let me know in the comments section how you like it!
I know I’ve been slacking a bit on my blog but there is good reason. I’m busy with writing something that I feel will help a lot of my readers who are interested in gaining mass. I’m also working a couple of other things too. I’ll keep updating my blog, but they will be a little shorter than usual for the next few weeks.
I want to discuss goals. I’m talking about fitness related goals here. Maybe your goal is to increase your muscle mass, or decrease your fat mass, or increase your power. One thing that you MUST remember is that you can’t have 3 goals at the same time. The body can’t adapt to gaining muscle, losing fat and running 20k per day. You need to pick one main goal, such as fat loss and do everything in your power to achieve that one goal. If you choose to be a jack of all trades (like the training protocol of cross fit) you will be mediocre at best in all the goals you have set for yourself.
Another goal I find a lot of people try to accomplish is gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time. This isn’t possible in a natural human being, it defies our physiology. In order to gain lean mass caloric intake must exceed caloric expenditure. Meaning if muscle gain is our goal, we need to be eating more calories than we ware using in a day. So if an individuals resting metabolic rate is 2000, they should try and eat somewhere between 2300-2500 calories per day to gain weight. Now if fat loss is your goal, you want caloric expenditure to exceed caloric intake. So taking the same individual above, they would need to consume maybe 1800 calories per day to lose fat mass.
Unless you can convince me that you can somehow eat 1800 and 2300 calories in a day, then I will ask you what drugs you are smoking. Chemically enhanced individuals and people who are new to training CAN lose fat and gain lean mass at the same time. The latter will only be able to do it for a short period of time, after that they will be like everyone else.
So find ONE goal and do everything you can to achieve that one goal. Otherwise you will be going nowhere fast.
My training is going excellent lately. I’m down to 213 from 240 and my strength is pretty much on par with where I was at 240. I haven’t gone crazy heavy on back squats or regular deadlifts. However, the rack deads I’m doing are only a couple inches above my regular deadlift, so I don’t think I have lost much if any strength on them.
My chin strength is down, I’m lifting similar external weight to when I was 240, so you can subtract quite a bit of weight from when I was lifting at 240. Dips on the other hand are going up. I killed Dips this week, so I’m happy about that body weight exercise. My pressing strength has seemed to stay constant, so that’s also a positive.
I’ve started doing bulgarian split squats. I’ll probably get a vid up next week. Bruno has inspired me to try and get 305, his video is ridiculous:
I got a ways to go, but I like that goal. Anyways, here we go:
Stiff Arm Pulldowns
Rack Deads 610×3
WG Pullups 45×6, 30×7, 20×7
Unilateral Corner Rows bar+105×10, 90×8, 75×12
Push Press 245×4, 230×5
Dips 125×5, 135×4
Floor Bench 245×3, 225×5, 205×7
These were all paired with upper back movements; TRX scarecrows, TRX T raises, and rear delt raises.
BB Curls: go a plate per side for reps
Preacher EZ Curls (3×20+10) (25,15)
DB Hammer (with burnouts at the end) 35, 30, 30
Incline CGBP 135, 175, 185, 205
Decline CGBP 205, 215, 225, 235
Flat Pin CGBP 235, 240, 245
Squats 335 for a bunch of doubles
Hip Thrusts 425×7, 405×8, 365×8
The bulgarian split squats were hard, but I still wasn’t even close to failure. I think I may go for 100’s next time. I got a long way to go before I get 300, but I’ll get there. For some reason my OH Pin Press was complete crap. I auto-regulated it though and I adjusted. However, my smithe RGBP was killer this week. I went up by 5 total pounds and got 5 more reps… Bizarre.
I’ve talked on the subject of why I think traditional sit-ups and crunches are not healthy for our backs. You can read more about that here. I would like to go into the reasoning as to why athletes, especially should not be including sit-up, crunches, and the like into their programming.
In a nutshell, repeated flexion of the lumbar spine is dangerous. So by doing these exercises, athletes are increasing their chances of injury in the gym. Loading a flexed lumbar spine will also teach the athlete to generate power using faulty movement patterns. Doing sit-ups and/or crunches, focuses mainly on the rectus abdominus (RA) and so ignorse three other important ‘anterior core’ muscles. The internal oblique (IO), external oblique (EO) and transverse abdominus(TvA) are not trained optimally in lumbar flexion exercises.
The reason everyone goes ga-ga over the RA is because it’s the muscle that everyone is after. Who says it’s THE most important muscle of the core to develop as part of a core training program though? Stuart McGill (2006) states there is no such thing as a muscle that is the best stabilizer of the back (Kavcic et al, 2004b). The most important stabilizers continually change as the task changes.
Another gem from Ultimate Back Fitness: “For many athletes, training strength and power in the torso, does not require the rectus to be challenged throughout the flexion/extension range of motion – but integration of the rectus with the other abdominal muscles is paramount. Instead train short-range stiffness to optimize energy storage and recover potential, particularly in throwers, punchers, kickers and explosive athletes.”
Training the rectus in flexion/extensions would be exercises like sit-ups or crunches. Here is a great video of Stuart McGill going over recommended core exercises:
Another interesting tidbit: training the core optimally is abdominal bracing. I’ve gone over adbominal bracing in this post. A good friend of mine was asking me the other day about people who appear to have a beer gut, yet are lean with a visible 6-pack. Charlie Weingroff talked about this in his awesome DVD Training=Rehab Rehab=Training. Some high level athletes will use bracing on all exercises, so all their exercises are training the “core”. Powerlifters also tend to have big stomachs because they brace like crazy during the big three (squat, deadlift, and bench). Is this a coincidence? Probably not.
Proper breathing patterns for athletes is also important. Basically, any sport where your body is moving in space and the power is being generated by the inidividual (and not a car engine… Read my discontent for race car driving) will require efficient breathing patterns to perform optimally.
Core stability training can enhance breathing patterns by teaching individuals how to breathe while co-contracting their core. Constant co-contraction of the core musculature ensures good spine stability. This in turn protects our spine when we are breathing hard and ensures we aren’t compromising our spine stability. Since exercises like sit-ups and crunches don’t activate the anterior core (besides the RA) they are not a good way of challenging the core in terms of breathing.
Let’s examine energy leaks. It’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s when energy is being transferred from one area to another, and along the chain, energy is lost. For instance if you are running, you are generating force between your hips and shoulders. Your hips and shoulders are constantly flexing and extending. It may be necessary to create superstiffness (bracing) in your core to maximize the amount of energy that will crossover between these two segments (shoulders and hips).
In order to create this superstiffness, you need to develop the ability to brace your core. Again, sit-ups and crunches and all that crap will not develop the ability to create superstiffness. Check this post for examples of exercises that will help you create superstiffness.
Another interesting myth that I read about is that a specific injury can only be attributed to an “event.” Now this is aimed at lower back injuries, but can be applied all over the body as well. In order for an injury to occur the load must exceed the tolerance for failure. McGill (2006) says that more commonly, injury during occupational and athletic endeavors involves cumulative trauma from repetitive subfailure loads. This means, you could performing all sorts of lumbar flexion exercises in the gym, and then go out on the playing field and blow your back out. Yet the reason you screwed up your back was because of what you have been doing in the gym for years.
McGill, S., (2007) Function Anatomy of the Lumbar Spine. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation.
McGill, S., (2006) Helpful facts: Anatomy, Injury Mechanisms and Effective Training. Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.
Training is excellent. Diet is good. I lost 4lbs last week, which is waaaaaaay to fast for me. So I had to add some calories back in. We’ll see where I sit tomorrow in terms of fat loss. Monday is my weekly measurement taking day, where I take my bodyweight, skinfolds and girth measurements.
I was doing the whole volume thing. I just wasn’t into it. The program I was doing had me doing a ridiculous amount of sets. It’s not that the program wasn’t fun, it was that it was taking far too long to finish. I also didn’t like training with loads ~ 80% of my max because at my experience level, I feel that I would lose strength. So I’m back to my reverse pyramid training. I increased the overall volume, by increasing the frequency and exercises.
A few friends and I massacred Denny’s today. I decided that it would be a good idea to try eating the sampler and the lumberjack slam. The sampler is about a dozen onion rings, 3 chicken fingers and 4 deep fried cheese sticks. The Lumberjack Slam is 2 toasts, 2 pancakes, ham, hashbrowns, 2 eggs, 2 sausages and 2 pieces of bacon. I will NOT be doing that again, it wasn’t enjoyable at all.
Here is what I did this week (I’ll just put the numbers for my max set, cause I don’t have my log book right now):
Day One: Stiff Arm Pulldowns
Rack Deadlifts – 600×5
Wide Grip Chins – BW+45×5
One Armed Corner Rows – Worked up to around 115×8
Day Two: Push Press – 245×4 (last two reps sucked)