Building a Bigger Back – Progressive Pulls

The «back region» consist of several muscles as you can see from the 2 pictures below it is quite complex. Most people can relate to the simplified version. As a result from looking at the pictures you could question yourself if only doing some isolated lat pulldowns and bent over rows is enough to target the majority of muscles. A typical starting conversation at the gym could look like this:

Person A: “What are you training today?”
Person B: “Today its back”
Person A: “What do you do for back?”
Person B: “Back raise, lat pulldown and seated rows”

I think you get my point by comparing the conversation to the 2 pictures below. Too many times I have asked the questions hoping at least deadlift or some other heavy compound movement was included, but to my disappointment “Malibu-Ken” still believes he can build a great back with 2-3 isolations moves. If you want to build serious mass to you back you need to focus on big heavy compound movements. This applies for back probably more than any other. In order to do so effectively you can alternate 2 back sessions; one week you focus on deadlift (purpose being it is a powerlift), the other week you do a variation. If you decide 2 have to back session in a week, I advise you to cut back a bit on the volume for the alternate day and make sure you have at least 2 days between the sessions.

I have applied alternate sessions for back for several years with great success. The alternate day will change over time and I will swap in and out exercise in order to tweak things a little. Currently, I am doing rack pulls together with power shrugs. Another version would be to do SLDL (stiff legged deadlift) together with bent-over rows. By bent-over rows I mean where your back is parallel to the floor and not the type where you arch your back in a 60 degree angle and let the weights rest on your quads while you pull them up and down. That’s how weak people do barbell rows and they will always stay weak that way!

When entering an off-season and your main goal is to achieve some more mass in the back region there are several regiments you can follow. Nevertheless, the key is periodization where you ramp up weight over time and reduce reps accordingly. The off-season is also a time where you normally will lower the weights to some degree and try to get a strong as possible at a given rep range. Normally the rep target will be 5. Sets of 5s is the key to get bigger and stronger at the same time. Sets of 5s allows you to ramp up weights and thus adding more volume over time than sets of 15 would do.

Focusing on the back I came across a regiment outlined by Marty Gallagher in his book “The Purposeful Primitive” and it is called Progressive Pulls. Progressive Pulls consists of several compound pulling movements that target the back, normally 5 exercises done for 2-3 sets each and where you will cycle the rep range and ramp up the weights. A cycle could last from 6 weeks and up to as many as you want. In his example you start with doing 2-3 sets of 10 reps the first two weeks, then 2-3 sets of 8 reps and the final two weeks you do 5 reps. For advanced lifters you can reduce the rep range and end up with doing triples and even doubles in the final weeks of the cycle. The first week will always be an assessment week, where you try to figure out your initial poundage and then you add 2,5kg per week (5 kg for the deadlift). The key is to start off light enough to allow you for increase over the next weeks.

An example of exercise making up the progressive pulls could be:

  1. Power Clean
  2. High Pulls
  3. Deadlift
  4. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  5. Bent-Over Rows

A different approach that you can do as a replacement or as an alternation in a different week is:

  1. Power Clean
  2. Deadlift
  3. Rack Pulls or RDL
  4. Power Shrugs
  5. Bent-Over Rows

The last one allows you to move heavier weights due to the reduced range of motion (ROM) on some of the lifts. Normally this is something you can convert to after doing the first example for 1 or 2 cycles.

So, there you have it. Include this in your training regimen and make sure you support it with proper diet and adequate rest. I know this will be a struggle for some people, but I will revert to one of my favorite quotes:

Significant change requires significant struggle!

Back Muscles

Back Muscles

Back Muscles - Simplified

Back Muscles – Simplified

Summary of Week 15 – A Struggle and New Blood Analysis

Looks like dropping the weights and maintaining form was more difficult than I anticipated. I’ve realized I have to cut back on the amount of work done in each sessions as I am not able to do the lift with good form. Besides, as long as I can stay on the same weights while I drop in weight, there is no need to push myself in order to increase over time. Once I’ve reached my under 105kg goal, I will have to make a new plan anyway.

I also went to the doctor on the Friday to take another blood analysis. The last one was done 10th of September last year so it was about time. I expect the cholesterol to go up a little as I am pushing towards 60% on fat in my current diet.

As for training I did some heavy military presses and some back work. The next week will anyway be more or less the same as this one

 

Summary of Week 14 – Easter Training

Last week was amputated due to Easter celebration. My Monday session turned out to be funny as I put on some training pants that were too tight, meaning I didn’t get the correct depth and when I did, the pants got torn. Other than that, the week was really good, but the OH Press was a challenge mostly due to the fact I didn’t sleep well during the night.

The weight is still going down and I am balancing around 107kg. I might have to reduce the kcal to 2500 in order to get the last 2-3kg to reach my goal of 105kg. I am surprised that I haven’t noticed anything in the deadlift and pressing power.

Monday
Squat: 120×5 – 120×5 – 140×3 – 140×3 – 160×5 – 160×5
OH-Press: 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5
Accessory Work: Calf Raise, Shoulders

Tuesday
Deadlift: 140×5 – 140×5 – 160×5 – 160×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5
Bench Press: 105×8 – 105×8 – 105×8
Accessory Work: JL-Press, Barbell Curl

Wednesday
Squat: 120×5 – 140×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3
OH-Press: 70×3 – 72,5×3 – 75×3  – 77,5×3 – 80×3 – 82,5×3 – 85×3 – 95×3
Accessory Work: Calf Raise, Shoulders

 

Summary of Week 13 – Fatigue!

A normal week, but struggling with fatigue. It is obvious that I am not used to manage the current volume with the type of diet I am on so I guess it will take some weeks before everything seems “normal”. I went on the scale on Sunday and I saw 107kg for the first time in many many many years. This means I am only 2kg from the magic 105kg, but I am somewhat worried that I have dropped too fast. Not really sure what to do with the diet once I get to the weight I want to be at, but it looks like I have to increase the calorie intake to around 3500. One this is for sure and that’s my metabolism have changed a lot when removing the carbs

The training went OK, struggling a little with the balance and explosiveness in the squat. The deadlift was a nightmare this week. Upper body movements went like a charm! I skipped the Saturday session this week.

Monday
Squat: 120×5 – 120×5 – 140×3 – 140×3 – 160×4 – 160×4 – 160×4 – 160×4 – 160×4
OH-Press: 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5 – 70×5
Accessory Work: Calf Raise, Shoulders

Tuesday
Deadlift: 140×5 – 140×5 – 160×5 – 160×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5 – 180×5
Bench Press: 100×8 – 100×8 – 100×8
Accessory Work: JL-Press, Barbell Curl

Wednesday
Squat: 120×5 – 140×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3 – 160×3
OH-Press: 70×3 – 72,5×3 – 75×3  – 77,5×3 – 80×3 – 82,5×3 – 85×3 – 90×3
Accessory Work: Calf Raise, Shoulders

Friday
RDL: 120×5 – 120×5 – 120×5 – 120×5 – 120×5
Power Shrugs: 210×5 – 215×5 – 220×5 – 225×5 – 225×5
Accessory Work: JL-Press, Barbell Curl, Hammer Curl

Diet Update

A quick post to give an update on the effects of the change in diet. I started the reduced carb diet (more or less Paleo/Ketogenic) in the end of January. My bodyweight was then around 117kg and blood pressure around 140/95. The changes have been amazing. I am still keeping roughly a 3000kcal per day diet, but with increased fat (for obvious reasons). My most recent blood pressure was measured at 125/85. This was also post-workout, which normally gives higher values.

As far as the weight I am currently pushing towards 108kg! The weight is stable as opposed to when I was 117 where the weight would jump up and down. I have 3 more kg to go before I get to 105kg, which is the ultimate goal. I will probably have to increase the kcal towards 3500 as I am currently loosing weight at 3000.

The strength is not where it should be, but this is normal as I have almost lost 10kg. You need to make a little sacrifice, but hopefully I will be able to adjust at 105kg. Squat is what has suffered the most, bench and military press are still good.

I have put in a snapshot of the excel sheet showing my current plan. The food is listed in Norwegian, but the I guess you can see that the total macros are pretty OK. There are some veggies left out so I should be a little over 3000kcal. This is just one plan as I have others with different foods. The macros stay more or less the same (I even have one that includes McDonald…)

So it safe to say that this works! If you are struggling with the weight and want to reduce the fat percentage, I can highly recommend this!

Diet Plan

Diet Plan

My Finalized Program Until Summer

Since I arrived from Korea, and together with the change in diet, I have had to restart my training. Losing 8kg over the last 2 month definently makes an impact on the weights you are able to lift. So far it is only the squat that has suffered, mostly due to stability issues and lack of power in the hip-drive.

In order to restart I have made a plan that last until July. The idea is to keep a very modest weight increase over the course, but to steadily increase the volume by incorporating more sets and tweaking the reps. I have had success with this in the past where I have been off training for a while. I guess it is a bit similar to Brandon Lilly’s Cube program, but with higher volume. The plan is to prepare for June where I will cut back on the training and ramp up the weights for the big 3 lifts. I will do 2 ramping up sessions on each lift before I go back to normal. The ramping up will give me an idea where to set the weights for the next 3-4 months. The key here is to only ramp up 1 lift at the time and cut back accordingly prior to that lift. When I ramp up the squat, my previous week is planned accordingly. When I do heavy deadlift the same applies and the alternative back day with RDL and power shrug is removed.

From mid-July and going forward I will keep the rep range between 3-5 and let the weights dictate the progress. This will add more weights more rapidly than what I have now and I will peak much earlier. This is one of the draw-backs (or positive aspects) when training RAW. I don’t have an equipped period where I ramp up the weights according to what my opener at meet with equipment would be.

I still have 5kg to go until I reach 105kg and one of the main reasons why I keep the weights at a very small increase in the forthcoming period is to allow me to drop the weights without do any major changes to what the training should look like. Hopefully I have given enough float in my program to allow for this drop in weight without sacrificing the progress in training.

As you can see I am only concentrating on the main lifts, but I have cut back on bench press and focus more on military press. Accessory work has not been included, only some minor in the start but I will include over time depending on how I feel. Besides, accessory work is not that important now when the volume increases over time.

First Training Cycle

First Training Cycle

Planning for Retirement!

I know the topic seems a little off compared to what I am normally posting on my site. Nevertheless, the approach is still to some extent the same. When I started my own business and had to get more involved in the finances, I realized I had more or less been sleeping in the class when it comes to planning for retirement. Normally a percentages of you salary is put aside by your work and will be the basis for your retirement. I thought this was straight forward, but after talking to some financial institutions, I quickly understood that you can set it up in any way you want (more or less).

I made a deal with my insurance company to set up a plan for my wife and myself (my wife is employed in my company as well) and then I had a look at my saving accounts after the work I did in South Korea. One option would be to leave it there at an interested rate that is so low it would not even be qualified to be called “an investment”. My decision was to have a look at mutual funds. I have always thought about it, but then I hadn’t bothered as it seemed complicated and too risky. I guess the risk part is coming from the word “stock”, which is used in the Norwegian term. Directly translated it will be “Stock Funds”. The main reasons for choosing mutual funds were:

  1. This is a long term investment. A part of it will be for retirement and another for other activities in the future
  2. I can handle a little more risk than the normal saving, but I don’t have the competence and time frame to operate on the stock market.
  3. My company is going to make the investment, and operating in the stock market would “kill” my accountant with all the transactions.

The good thing by using the company as the main player for investing, is that I can move money in and out from the mutual funds and at the same time avoid taxation on profit. Another aspect is that I am not gambling with my “personal finance” as it is only a part of the revenue that will be used as investment.

So what funds to I choose? On my personal account I have 2 types of funds. One invests in big global companies and the other strictly on companies in Norway. The latter isn’t going too well at the moment, but this could change for the future. When it comes to funds for my company I have set up an account at Nordnet and will pick 3 different funds there to spread the risk. I will probably have one related to America and then the others will go towards certain sectors of the industry. I have to do a fair but of reading and listen to what the experts says.

I guess you can make a link to the world of weightlifting when it comes to planning. It is a marathon and every little bit you do today and tomorrow, will eventually pay off in the future.

Summary of Week 12 – Back On the Path

Finally being able to carry out a normal week. Didn’t do anything fancy this weeks as I was re-assessing the weights I am going to use the next month.

The minor change will be that I will ramp slower up with the weights and manipulate the training with increased sets or reps. I will also plan better when I am going heavy for triples and doubles, meaning I will cut back the previous week so I have more in the tank for the following heavy session.

For this week I have trained legs and military press on one day and back and bench press the other:

Squat: Multiple sets of triples at 160kg
OH Press: Multiple sets of 5 at 65kg | Multiple sets of triples pyramiding up to 90kg (different days)
Bench Press: Multiple sets of 5 at 117,5kg & Medium grip with stop at 105kg
Deadlift: Multiple sets of 3 at 185kg | Heavy singles pyramiding up to 220kg

I’ve kept accessory work to a minumum focusing on arms one day and back another day. Very simple but effective

For this week I will just increase the reps range on squat, but keeping the weights at 160kg. For bench press I might go up to 120kg and do drop sets with stop after 5-6 working sets. OH Press will increase to 70kg or throw in an extra session at 65kg instead.

Back From South Korea – Resume Normal Training!

Haven’t posted in a while as there wasn’t much to write while I was in Korea. The gym sessions were OK, but I really missed the equipment I am used to. It was great to get back in order to resume my normal training!

I hit 2 sessions this weekend just to see how much “damage” the Korea gym life had brought upon me. On Friday I did some deadlift and worked my way up 6 sets of triples at 180kg followed by 5 rest-pause on rack pulls at 220kg.

Sunday was squats and OH press. Did 3 sets of triples at 120kg followed by 3 sets of fives at 140kg. It is clearly I haven’t squatted in a while as it felt like a nightmare. Both 120 and 140kg felt like 500 with no explosiveness what so ever.

Hopefully this will change over the next weeks.

Summary of Week 08 & 09 – South Korea!

I know this is waaay to late for my regular weekly update, but I have been quite busy with the travelling to South Korea. I mentioned in a previous post that I have to change my regiment due to limitation of equipment in the gym at the hotel, so I will consider this a major deload. My nutrition will not be the same, but I will stay off the carb so nothing drastic will happen.

For simplicity sake I have just used snipping tool directly in the spreadsheet to show you my first cycle carried out in week 8. Weights are relatively low, but the ramping up will happen fast. Different from the past I have incorporated mini-deload weeks before the heavy week and I will only perform one heavy powerlift in one week. The standard programs out there will ramp up all the lifts at the same time, leaving you with a pretty heavy ending of the program. I am not saying that is wrong, but for myself I found out that if I can spread the heavy weeks out, I am able to recover better and also perform the lifts better. I’ve really seen the benefit of this when it comes to deadlifting.

As for the training in South Korea, it is OK, but I changed the sequence of training. I start with chest % arms, then legs and finish the 3rd day with back & shoulders. Normally you would exect to start with legs in order to recover for the back day, but in this case I do a lot of pulling movement and as I have more or less killed my arms on chest day I really need that day to recover.

First Week of Training

First Week of Training

 

The Bodyscan – First Impressions

I am back in South Korea (Geoje) again to follow up one of the projects. Not sure how long I will stay, but it will probably be close to 3 weeks. This means a minor change in the training regiment, well it’s fair to say it will be a major one as I am not able to perform regular squat, deadlift and most of the variations. Like I did last time, I will turn over to a typical bodybuilding split with a 3 days on – 1 day off cycle. The split is quite easy:

Day 1: Legs – Leg extension, Leg Press, Leg crunch, Sissy Squat, Seated Calf Raise, Standing Calf Raise

Day 2: Chest & Arms: Flyes, Incline Bench Press, Bench Press, Close Grip Chest Press | Triceps Pushdown, Lying Dumbbell Extension | Dumbbell Curl, Preacher Curl, Barbell Curl

Day 3: Back & Shoulders: Back Raise, Bent-Over Rows, Lat Pulldowns | Lat Raise, Shoulder Press, Front Raise, Rear Delt Flyes

I might change some of the exercises, but this will do most of the work while I am down here. I will use fairly high reps this time (10-15) and keep the weights moderate to low.

BUT, what I did today for the first time was to take a body scan. I was mostly interested in body fat percentage, but the equipment they had could determine a wide range of parameters. I am not sure how accurate it is, but I guess it can be too far off either. Besides, it can be used to see trends over time as I am probably going down again on a regular basis. I’ve enclosed a photo in the postm but to summarize the body fat percentage is 19,7, my weight is 106,8kg (something that can’t be right as I weighed 111kg on my home scale a few weeks ago, hopefully my scale is wrong). My skeletal muscle mass is 50kg, which impressed me as normal range is 31-39kg. My weight-to-hip ratio is 0,91.

There were a bunch of other parameters as well, but I got the basic covered here. Moreover, based on the test it calculated my BMR to be 2222kcal, which is a little over than what I calculated myself. Based on my training regiment I am aiming for 3000kcal a day with a macro split of 20-35-45. If I go lower on the carb, I just bump up the fat. I am closer to 15 on carbs.

The good news was my blood pressure. When I first went to the doctor 4 months ago the systolic pressure was close to 140. He gave me 3 months to bring it down before putting me on medications. In the beginning in January I got it down to 130 and when I tested myself today (and right after exercise!!!) it showed 125/85!! This is quite amazing and based on my experiment to factors have made this improvement:

First I started supplementation of L-Arginine. This alone contributed to decrease the pressure towards 132-134. I have a blood pressure apparatus at home which I use ona daily basis. Secondly I changed the diet quite drastically by removing carbs and bumping up the fat. The latter made the biggest impact and I have also started to lose weight in form of fat.

To summarize, I am on the right track. The goal is to have a stable blood pressure around 120 and my weight to be below 105kg

As far as supplementation down here in Korea, I just brought the basics; some whey and my vitamins, minerals and Omega (enclosed photo).

Result of Bodyscan

Result of

Supplements on the go...

Supplements on the go…

 

Summary of Week 07 – End of Period

Everything comes to an end and I’ve decided to restart as I don’t want to enter the phase with heavy doubles and singles. The progress has been good, but I feel I need to build some more mass and needs to cut back on the weights due to the drastic change in diet (low carb/high fat). I don’t have the same explosiveness, but hopefully that will get back. I did a post on the new training regiment and I did try that out in this week. Focusing on the big 3 and variations of it in every session I believe will be a good thing. I will most likely stick to a 5 days in a row session and do some minor conditioning on the last two days.

Week 8 will be a full week with the new setup and as I will leave for South Korea in week 9 I will use that week to polish the regiment

Monday:
Bench Press: 6S-3R @ 130kg | 3S-1R @ 130kg
Incline Smith Machine: 8R @ 30 – 60 – 70 – 70 – 70kg
Flyes: 3S-10R @ 10 – 12,5 – 12,5kg
JL Press: 5S-9R @ 55kg

Tuesday:
Squat: 2S-3R @ 160kg | 180kg x2 | 3S-3R @ 160kg
Bench Press: 3S-3R @ 120kg (pause)

Drafting A New Training Plan

Just a quick post on what I am doing right now as far planning my new cycles when I am done with my current regiment. I like to start planning a few weeks before the regiment ends, as it gives me time to adjust over the next week depending on how the progress goes. Basically I will stop the current regiment before I stall on triples and have to go over to doubles and singles. Truth be told, I’ve done singles on the deadlift, but that’s normal.

Both squatting and bench press has improved a lot, but I am lagging behind on the deadlift. I will most likely lower the intensity in the new setup and have a more strict setup as far as accessory work for the deadlift. In the start I will deadlift every week, but will switch over to every other supplemented with heavy rack pulls and stiff legged deadlift.

A minor change from the current regiment is that I have brushed the dust off excel as I want to have a stricter plan with respect to ramping up weights. The plan below is a draft, but you’ll see the basic setup.

New Plan

New Plan

Summary of Week 05 & 06 – Deload and Continue Up the Hill

I took a deload in week 05 with only 4 easy sessions. I did take a speed session with deadlift and decided that this is something I will continue with every now and then. As for the “normal” week 6, I felt a little fatigued and I guess it is mostly due to the major change in diet where I have more or less left out carbs. I guess this is a transition phase that will last some weeks before I get better. Nevetheless, it was only in squat I felt the big change and hopefully I will get back on track after some weeks.

Did try out some variations with supersets and in order to get some ab work done I introduced an exercise I used back in the 90s, ab cable pulldown. It still works!

Monday:
Squat: 5S-5R @ 170kg
Bench Press: 130kg x 5 | 140kg x 3 | 147,5kg x 1
Flyes: 2S-12R @ 10 – 12,5kg
JL Press: 5S-9R @ 40 – 50 – 50 – 50 – 50kg

Wednesday:
Deadlift: 120kg x 1 | 220kg x 1 | 220kg x 1 | 3S-1R @ 210kg
Power Shrugs: 5S-5R @ 230kg
Biceps Curl: 10R @ 20 – 25 – 30kg
Hammer Curl: 10R @ 7 – 9 – 10 – 10 – 10kg
Curl Machine: 3S-12R @ 60%

Thursday:
Bench Press: 3S-5R @ 130kg | 2S5-R @ 120kg
Incline Smith Machine: 3S-10R @ 40 – 60 – 70kg
Flyes: 3S-10R @ 10 – 10 – 12,5kg
Chest Press Machine: 3S-10R @ 40 – 55 – 65kg

Saturday:
OH-Press: 5S-3R @ 85kg
Lat Raise: (12,5 + 10) superset | (12,5 – 10 – 8) superset
Rear Delt Raise: 3S-10R @ 17,5 + 10 superset
Dumbbell Curl: 4S-10R @ 10 – 15 – 17,5 – 20kg
Barbell Curl: 4S-8R @ 40kg
Ab Cable Pulldowns: 4S-AMAP

Sunday:
Squat: 3S-3R @ 160kg
Rack Pulls: 3S-5R @ 200kg

My Own “All Day U May” Drink

I guess most of you knows Rich Piana’s brand slogan, 1DayUMay and his 5 % nutrition supplement line. His idea of the “all day u may” supplement drink is actually quite good. Not having an opinion about the ingredients in this supplement, but some supplements are OK to take during the day.

As I am at work from 8am to 4pm, I decided to make my own drink. I used to bring a whey shake, but as I more or less have stopped drinking whey during the day, I decided to replace it with something else that also keeps my hydration levels up. It’s not rocket science, but I figured to take a few simple ingredients and make a shake that I will mix in to my water bottle at work. In the evening before work I take a shaker bottle and fill it with water (0,7l) and add 10g of BCAA, 5g of L-Arginine and 5g of Beta-Alanine. You could say it is more like a AA Cocktail. I used to add one scoop of Maxim to add some simple carbs and electrolytes, but as I am cutting waaaaay back on carbs now, I leave it with only the AA.

I basically dilute it so that at the end of workday I have consumed ca. 1,5 – 2l of water. I have placed an order for L-Carnitine at IHerb and I will add 5 grams of that as well in the “cocktail”. The taste is great, mostly due to the flavor of the BCAA, and I guess some of you know how terrible the taste of single amino acids can be, so I am quite happy to mix them in with something that taste good.

Well, this was just a short post about BCAA. I know some people like to have fixed time when they take them, like first thing in the morning and as a pre- and post workout, but I reckon it is OK to provide a constant flow of BCAAs rather than toss it in now and then.

My "AllDayUMay Cocktail"

My “AllDayUMay Cocktail”

Summary of Week 04 – Entering the Plateau

Long week and I added on some more accessory work. I am getting closer to plateau in squat with respect to sets of 5 and had to drop down to 3 on the Monday due to fatigue. The Thursday session wasn’t the best as I almost bommed out my topset in squat. I concluded that I needed a deload, so this week (week 5) has been a deload

Deadlift is going well, but struggling with sore hands. I have actually purchased gloves to use on pulling accessory work.

Bench Press is great and no need to do anything there. Keep putting one more weights every week. Nevertheless, I soon have to start with triples as sets of 5 is getting somewhat taxing on my elbows.

Other than that, nutrition is great, but I have jumped up 2 kg over the last month. Now I have started my low-carb diet, so I expect the weight to drop and hopefully my strength won’t be that much affected

Monday:
Squat: 5S-3R @ 185kg
Bench Press: 130kg x 5 | 140kg x 3 | 147,5kg x 1
Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 140kg

Wednesday:
Deadlift: 195g x 5 | 215kg x 3 | 3S-1R @ 330kg
Power Shrugs: 5R @ 165 – 205 | 5S-5R @ 225kg
Rear Delt Flyes: 4S-10R @ 12,5kg
Lat Raise Machine: 3S-10R @ 30 – 40 – 50kg

Thursday:
Squat: 177,5kg x 5 | 187,5kg x 3 | 207,5kg x 1
Bench Press5S-5R @ 130kg
JL Press: 4S-8R @ 55kg
Flyes: 3S-10R @ 12,5 – 15 – 17,5kg
Leg Extension: 4S-10R @ 85%

Saturday:
SLDL: 5S-8R @ 110kg
NG Seated Rows: 3S-10R @ 85 – 95%
WG Seated Rows: 4S-10R @ 75 – 85%

Sunday:
OH-Press: 5S-5R @ 85kg | 3S-10R @ 60kg
Lat Raise: 3S-10R @ 12,5 – 15 – 17,5kg
Rear Delt Raise: 3S-10R @ 25kg topset
Hammer Curl: 3S-10R
Preacher Curl: 3S-10R @ 20kg
Rear Delt Cable: 3S-10R

Ketogenic Diet Plan

I’ve been quite good at making my meal plans and sticking to them over the last 5-6 years. This meaning, I am not going all out to count every bits of macros, but more giving me an idea where my total daily intake will be and also a roughly split between the macros. Total kJoule and Protein as so far been my key indicator and I haven’t really paid to much to Carbs, only that I fuel up prior to training in order to spike up my Insulin level. The reason you want Insulin while you train, is because it reduce muscle breakdown.

I’ve made a spreadsheet in excel that started off very simple, but now has become more like a huge database of the most common foods I eat. I’ve made a drop-down list where I can pick foods and the macros will appear with a total overview. I am not using this as a daily food tracker, but it is my main tool to set up my plans.

I’ve done some investigation and reading as of late and have become fascinated by the ketogenic approach. It is quite simple; reduce the amount of carbs (refined carbs) and bump up the fat content. I know the fat is important, but the whole idea here is to force to body to utilize the fat more as a source of energy where it normally would use carbs. The main reason to avoid the refined carbs in the first place is that it transforms to the smaller versions of LDL, which are the bad ones! LDL brings fat from the liver out in the bloodstream and HDL takes it back to the liver. In order to raise HDL you need to raise LDL, but the LDL you want is the big and fluffy ones, which comes from saturated fat.

My approach now is not fully ketogenic, but more gradually reducing the carbs over time until I reach a low 20%. Depending on how I feel, I might continue towards 10%. My protein will still be around 30%, which equals around 2g of protein per kg bodyweight with current weight. The fat will be increased over time. The reason why I don’t do the ketogenic way and drop immediately to 5% is that I want this to be the new pattern for my diet, hence I need to gradually lower in order to see how the body response with respect to training. As you can see from the spreadsheet, I am starting off with a 30-30-40 split at 3100kcals.

Nutrition Overview

 

Based on this I have made some plans in order to meet the criteria set. I am not too worried about the amount of meals, it is more important that I meet the parameters. Below you will see an example plan of what I am doing right now. This spreadsheet has become really good and if any of you want a copy of a fresh spreadsheet in order to set up a simple plan, it is just to contact me through the contact page.

Food Plan

Summary of Week 03 – Sore Hands!

Good week where I had to tweak around a bit. I am getting pretty sore in my hands from all the pulling, especially after the Monday session I felt like crap. Got some balm from my wife to smoothen things up. Using gloves is NOT an option!

Did 4 days in a row, but skipped the squat on Tuesday as I wanted to focus on the arms. The Wednesday session was really great as it was short and the SLD really hit my back well. I will jump back and forth from SLDL and RDL.

Thursday was OK, squat went well and due to some elbow issues I decided to go for a heavy topset in the bench as well.

Monday:
Deadlift: 7S-3R @ 195kg
Power Shrugs: 5R @ 160 – 200 – 210 – 210 – 210 – 210 – 210kg
NG Pulldown: 3S-8R @ 75 – 85%
Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 140 – 150 – 160 – 160kg

Tuesday:
Bench Press: 5S-5R127,5kg
Flyes: 8R @ 10 – 12,5 – 15 – 17,5kg
Hammer Curl: 8R @ 8 – 10 – 12,5 – 15kg
Barbell Curl: 10R @ 20 – 30 – 40
Triceps Pushown + Triceps OH Press: 3S-12R @ 75% intensity (supersets)

Wednesday:
SLDL: 5S-8R @ 100kg
OH Press: 5S-5R @ 87,5kg

Thursday:
Squat: 5x175kg | 3x185kg | 1x205kg
Bench Press: 127,5kg x 5 | 137,5kg x 3 | 145kg x 1
Seated Rows: 12R @ 55 – 70 – 80 – 80 – 80kg

 

Breaking Up With “Weekly” Schedule

The “normal” way of setting up a workout program is to split the sessions into weeks, where an adjustment of either weights or sets/reps will be made from one week to another. Why everything has to be based on a weekly schedules have always puzzled me, but I assume it is just an easy way to make sure you make progress over a period of time.

Most programs you will find on the internet is lasting all from 5 weeks up to 18 weeks, or in some cases until you starting stalling, like the Wendler’s 5/3/1 regiment. The previous programs I’ve made myself also last for give period of time until you need to reset and start over. As I finished the Coan & Phillipi deadlift routine I was more or less in a limbo; what shall I do now? It was then I started to go away from the traditionally weekly setups and decided to look more on a long term where weights, sets and reps should be the guiding factor of how the progress should be made. It should be noted that if you are an competitive powerlifter this will not apply since you will make a plan based on your meets and then plan your workout in according to that date. Normally on the on-season will last all from 8 to 12 weeks before the meet. The off-season will be right after your meet and up to your prep weeks start for the next meet.

I am not competing, so I don’t have to backtrack from a meet day in order to set up my regiment. Based on the programs I had done, I was still not happy with the progress over the last 2 years. I set up some key points that lead me going away from weekly schedules:

  1. In order to improve The Big 3s, I need to do them more often. Meaning, if you squat 1 time per week, that means 52 (at the most) squat sessions in year. If you squat 2 times, it is 104 sessions and if 3 times, it equals 156. Pretty obvious that doing The Big 3s only 1 time is kind of lame if you want progress.
  2. I need to have progress over time until I start stalling. If you increase the frequency of the lifts you can’t allow you the same type of progress with respect to weights as you would do in a normal 1 time per week regiment. Then you need to play around with volume and stressing your CNS by a heavy topset
  3. My focus for squat and bench press will be the same and they will be done on the same day. When I do a high volume for squats with sets of 5s, I will do a “CNS” day for my bench press where I will apply 5/3/1 with a heavy topset followed by a 3-5 dropsets of 5s. The same applies for squat.
  4. I will not have a strict setup for my deadlift and I will only deadlift every other back session. I will start off with sets of 5s until I reach a given weight. Then I will swap over to one session where I will do multiple sets of 3s. I will start with 6 sets and over 3 workouts I will increase the amount of sets with 1. When I reach 8 sets, I increase the weights with 5kg and start over. The other deadlift session will be a “CNS” session where 5/3/1 is utilized and several singles are performed across. The other back session will consist of rows and rack pulls. Sets of 5s and a small increase in sets and weights over a period of time.
  5. Military Press to be introduced and performed on the alternative back day. One session will be sets of 5 and the other a CNS just like the deadlift with multiple singles.
  1. Deload weeks will be introduced on a regular basis and rest between sessions may vary depending on how I feel.

 

Especially the rest will be a key indicator and one of the main reasons why I break up with a typical week to week pattern. Sometimes I may workout 3-4 times in a row and sometimes every other day. By keeping a good journal I can easily read through the previous sessions and make progress by tweaking around with the weights and sets. If one day is particular heavy on a certain weight, I will reduce the weights and increase the amount of sets in order to maintain the volume.

Your question will probably be: When and how do you reset?
My sets of 3s will be the given factor for when to reset. When I can’t perform 5 sets of 3 reps, I will not go down to doubles or singles (I already do that on the CNS day). Then I will cut back to sets of 5 and reduce weights. What weights to use will vary, but I will ramp up faster in order to get back to sets of 3 again. The CNS day will always be experimental, but normally the starting weight will be the same as I do on the sets of 5s day.

I have left out more or less all assistant work. I do some JL-Press and biceps curls for arms. For my shoulders I do some high reps flyes movements just to get some blood in there.

In the below image you can see a fresh image of my workout log so far.

Workout Log

Workout Log

Summary of Week 02 – Making Progress

Another great week in “paradise”!
I am quite satisfied that I can ramp up the weights from week to week and still being able to maintain the amount of sets and reps. The bench press should be a limited factor and my elbows do sometime start shouting on the dropsets. I can easily do the sets of 5 with no issues, but when I do my 5/3/1 day, they start complaining on the dropset.

I’m also suffering a bit from callus in my hand and due to this I am only deadlifting every other back day. Hopefully that will help with the situation as using straps on deadlift is not an option. It’s not because I need to improve my grip or anything, it’s just that it feels awkward when pulling with straps.

The upright rows is an exercise I am going to take out. I’ve tried it for several weeks, it gives me basically nothing compared to heavy power shrugs. Not sure what to replace it with, but I think some kind of “wings” movement. Close-grip lat pulldown is always an option…..

Monday:
Deadlift: 195kg x 5 | 210kg x 3 | 4S-1R @ 225kg
Power Shrugs: 5R @ 155 – 195 – 205 – 205 – 205 – 205 – 205kg

Wednesday:
Squat: 170kg x5 | 182,5kg x 3 | 200kg x 1
Bench Press: 5S-5R125kg
Calf Raise: 5S-10R @ 160 – 180 – 200 – 200 – 200kg
Flyes: 5S-8R @ 10 – 15 – 17,5 – 20 – 20

Friday:
OH Press: 80kg x 5 | 87,5kg x 3 | 3S-1R @ 95kg
Seated OH Press: 8R @ 60 – 70 – 80 – 85 – 95kg
Barbell Rows: 8R @ 55 – 75 – 95 – 95 – 95 – 95kg
Upright Rows: 5S-5R @ 57,5kg

Sunday:
Squat: 5S-5R @ 175kg
Bench Press: 127,5kg x 5 | 135kg x 3 | 142,5kg x 1 | 3S-5R @ 110kg (dropset)