Back on Track After Vacation

I haven’t gone into hibernation even though winter is knocking pretty hard on the door. In fact, I just arrived from a week in Venice and Florence. Nice with some hot weather before things gets dull, dark and rather cold up in the north. Nice with some break from the gym even though sightseeing like this easily turns in to a long-lasting cardio session. The feet were pretty beaten up when I got home, but that’s the joy of a cultural expedition in foreign countries…..

I went in to the gym yesterday and took up where I left before going on vacation. Ideally, I should take it somewhat easy as I just had arrived and as the volume can be somewhat challenging when you are doing supersets, but I ignored that and went straight in to business. I’ve started to train on empty stomach and just drink my peri-workout drink which consists of hypotonic energy drink together with BCAA. I increased that BCAA to 20g just to see if I could tweak the soreness and recovery a bit and boy was that a game changer. Normally I would struggle a lot with soreness in my legs after such a workout. The weights were doable; only 140 and 120kg combined in superset with 4 and 6 reps respectively. After the session I still felt great (ignoring the fact I have caught a minor cold) and when I woke up today I felt really OK. You may say this is coincident, but I have tried every trick in the book in order to avoid crazy soreness after vacation. This is what I can call a game changer!

Reduced soreness equals shorter recovery time which leads to increased training frequency or the possibility to increase workload more rapidly. You want some inflammatory response, but if you are able to slot in one extra session per week, I believe that is a good thing. I believe it all depends what you fuel your muscles during the workout. In the past I’ve ignored that completely and focused more on pre- and post workout. Now I cut back on pre-workout nutrition and try to get in to the gym with an empty stomach. The reason being I want to use as little blood for digestive purposes during the session and this is where simple sugars, BCAA and loads of water comes in to play. It pass the system quite fast, and is rapidly absorbed. The benefit for simple sugars during workout is highly underrated and the same can be said about leucine to jump-start protein synthesis. When all these biochemical processes are set into action during your workout it has a great impact on both soreness and reduced recovery time.

The next good thing about this is that you don’t have to rush your post workout meal as you’ve already flushed a great deal of nutrition through your system. I normally wait 1 hour or so before having a meal, not a shake! Taking the BCAA like this more or less can remove the need for protein shake completely if your basic nutrition is good and provide enough protein.

The “Strama Effect” on Udinese

Udinese got its third consecutive home victory by beating a struggling Parma side 4-2. This was the fifth match of the season and despite having faced tough opponents in the opening, Udinese is well placed on third with 12 points. It started well for Antonio Di Natale as he did 2 goals against his former team Empoli in the season premiere. Then 3 tough matches were coming up; First a 0-2 loss at Juventus Stadium, then we secured a 1-0 victory (Danilo) at Friuli against a struggling Napoli team before we headed to Rome and secured another 1-0 victory (Thereau) against Lazio.

The quality of the games was not the best, both sides struggling with poor passes and lack of creativity up front. The difference was that Udinese finally could secure a win on a relatively poor day at work, which was totally absent under Guidolin’s regime. Is this the so called “Strama effect” we are witness to?

Andrea Stramaccioni (Strama) was appointed to new Udinese coach as Guidolin retired into the dark corners at Friuli as a director to oversee the club portfolio to Udinese. His assistant team was allowed to stay until their contract expired and Strama was allowed to bring in his own team. One of the notable signings was former Inter player, Dejan Stankovic. My first impression was that this could be a very smart signing, mostly due to Strama’s experience with young players. Also, this is a coach for the future and he will be given time in Udinese to develop further and thus sticking around for a while. I am a firm believer in consistency and patient in a clubs coaching team, even in struggling times!

Nobody expects too much of Strama in the début season. The squad remains almost the same; the only difference is that Pereyra left to Juventus and Basta to Lazio. We signed some young prospects and got a few back from loan. The good thing is that the squad remained intact and you may argue that Udinese would have to make new signings in order to improve from last season’s poor performance. I don’t believe in that for two main reasons;

  1. There is still quality within the team in order to fight for a top 7 position.
  2. Udinese is in no financial position to purchase top rated established players in order to justify a previous poor season.

So why have Strama managed to guide Udinese to a third position after 5 matches? Of course there are some teams that have performed below expectation, but in the end of the day it doesn’t matter. You have to win your matches regardless others’ performance! Below I have listed some old tweets, mainly from pre-season that can explain some of the success so far.

The pre-season creates basis foundation with respect to strength and conditioning. Previous season it may seem that we have not been fit and we have been struggling with minor injuries. The things go hand in hand. If your fitness level is good, then you are less likely to contract minor injuries, muscle soreness, etc. It also allows you to start the season with oxygen capacity needed to last 90+ minutes. This has been the case so far. Udinese has been able to run for 90+ minutes and thus been able to maintain solid defensive work throughout the entire match. This is probably the most notable change from previous season.

The two posts here are related to the midfield. Previously the defensive contribution in the midfield came from Allan. In that respect he was more or less like a lonely rider in the midfield and it was easy to flank us on both sides. Strama has adopted a “flat 3” in the midfield where Allan is the anchor and Badu and Guilherme are helping him. Guilherme is a new signing and I was somewhat worried that he would turn out like Willians, but luckily he is more or less a copy of Inler. With a flat 3 doing all the grunt work in the midfield, we can allow ourselves to have 3 on top with either 2 strikers and a playmaker or with 2 offensive midfielders with a lone striker. So far both works!

It is a fact that it can be a challenge to have a co-striker with Di Natale. Muriel has so far not worked well with him as they are too similar. The new guy in town is Cyril Thereau. He is a typical target man that is able to maintain possession and either pass to a better placed player or to challenge and create opportunities on his own. Inside the box he is lethal mostly due to his technical skill with the ball. If you go on YouTube and search for his goal you can see that in most cases he is placing the ball in the far corner. The goal against Parma was a typical Thereau goal!

Another notable player that has made a huge impact on regaining possession and mess up the game plan to the opponent is Kone. He is more like Pinzi, but with better technique. He is the person who connects the midfield with the attack and has so far made a huge contribution in Udinese’s decent performance.

The tactical approach has changed a little and the formation varies from 3-5-2-1 to 4-3-1-2. The only thing that remains the same is the flat 3 structure on the midfield, which has proven crucial in order to balance the team in the defensive play. There is also more play through the middle in the latter formation as the former wing backs drop deep down in the pitch. To be it looks like Strama will use a 3 back line when Heurtaux, Danilo and Domizzi are fully fit. If one of them is out, he will drop to regular 4 back line, putting Piris in a left back position and Widmer as right back.

With all respect to what Guidolin achieved with Udinese it is clear that we can say that there is to some degree a “Strama effect” in Udinese. This is achieved both on the training ground and last not least but least through a more strict formation with the flat 3 in the middle. The squad seems fit and we don’t have to read in the official training reports that some players had to carry out alternative training. I am not saying that we won’t have injured players later on or form will drop, but I know that poor fitness level when you start the campaign will always follow you throughout the season. You will never be able to regain lost terrain and the unintended consequences could be that the coach start rotating players more often and swapping between different formation in order to make a quick fix to the table position.

The first goal will be to reach 40 points, as it always has been, and so far we are on the right track in order to achieve that well before the season ends next year. Being a little ambitious, I would say we should try to aim for a top 7 position.

Forza Udinese!

WOD: Week 39 – Deload!!

Didn’t really need a deload week, but I guess it was no harm to take it now as the next weeks will be tough. I didn’t cut back on the cardio though, and the Tabata interval on Wednesday was a killer and I was somewhat worried that I might had ruined my deadlift session the following day. Luckily there was some juice left in the tank to do a triple and sets of five. I didn’t do squats that day and for the working sets I did partials, meaning I would only lift up to my knees and then go down again. The pull from the floor is my weakest link in deadlift as once I get passed the knees I have no problems mostly due to my grip strength.

Both Friday and Saturday were easy and for my cardio I decided to do some rowing. It was OK, but I think I will stick to walking or interval running instead. Sunday I was full of energy for some reason and did 60 minutes on the treadmill. 55 minutes went like a charm, but really hit the wall in the last 5!

Squat: 4S-4R @ 120kg
Inside and Outside of tighs in cablecross: 4S-12R @ 75%
Standing Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 40 – 80 – 80 – 100kg

NG Bench Press
: 3S-4R @ 105kg
Cable Flyes: 3S-10R @ 85%
Single triceps pushdown + Single triceps OH-extension: 4S-10R @ To Failure (supersets)

Cardio: 4 minutes Tabata intervall training (8 cycles of 20s sprint and 10s walk)

Deadlift: 1S-3R @ 220kg | 5S-5R @ 170kg (partials)
Rows: 5S-8R @ 40 – 60 – 80 – 80kg (done in smith machine)
Standing Calf Raise: 4S-15R @ 40 – 70 – 70 – 70kg
Cardio: 30 minutes on rowing machine

Bench Press: 4S-4R @ 100kg
Dumbbell flyes: 3S-10R
Hammer Curl: 4S-10R @ 85%
Bicep Curl (ez): 4S-8R @ 85%
Biceps Curl (barbel): 3S-10R @ 85%
Cardio: 30 minutes incline walk

Military Press: 6S-10R @ 70kg
Bent Over Lateral Raise: 3S-10R @ 15kg + 3S-8R @ 10kg (supersets)
Cable Front Lateral Raise: 3S-10R @ 90%
Front Lateral Raise: 3S-8R @ 15kg

Cardio: 60 minutes of incline (12%) walk (4,5km/h)

WOD: Summary of Week 38

Last week before I take a deload and continue with the next block. Pretty decent work week and did 5 sessions in the gym and a couple of cardio session outdoor and on my treadmill. The separate shoulder session I have in the end of the week is really paying off and I do recommend that to anyone that may have issues with the shoulders or upper back.

For the next 4 week I will mainly focus on supersets in my main lifts. This will be the final stage of the volume training before I start ramping up the weights somewhat and reduce the number of reps. The narrow grip bench press day will be changed to a speed day with sets of 3s and this is mainly to reduce stress on my elbows. Deadlift will live its own life and squatting on that day will stay light and I may change over to box squats instead.

Squat: 5S-8R @ 125kg
Leg Extension: 4S-10R @ 90%
Leg Curl: 4S-10R @ 90%
Standing Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 40 – 80 – 110 – 110kg

NG Bench Press
: 5S-5R @ 105kg
Incline Chest Press: 3S-8R @ 70kg
Bent Over Dumbbell Flyes: 3S-10R @ 10 – 10 – 12,5 – 12,5kg
Rear Delt Flyes: 3S-10R @ 85%
Cable Front Lateral Raise: 3S-10R @ 85%
OH-Press: 4S-8R @ 40 – 50 – 60 – 65kg

Squat: 2S-5R @ 125kg
Deadlift: 1S-3R @ 210kg | 5S-3R @ 170kg (speed)
Rows: 5S-8R @ 40 – 80 – 100 – 60kg (done in smith machine)
NG Reverse Grip Pulldown: 3S-8R @ 80%
Side Lat Pulldown: 4S-10R @ 85%

Bench Press: 8S-8R @ 105kg
Cable Cross: 3S-10R
Hammer Curl: 4S-10R @ 85%
Rope Biceps Curl: 4S-8R @ 85%

Seated Lateral Raise: 4S-10R @ 9 – 9 – 12,5 – 12,5kg
Bent Over Lateral Raise: 3S-10R @ 12,5kg + 3S-8R @ 9kg (supersets)
Cable Front Lateral Raise: 3S-10R @ 90%
Front Lateral Raise: 3S-8R @ 15kg + 3S-8R @ 12,5kg + 3S-8R @ 9kg (supersets)
Seated High Bar Rows: 3S-10R @ 90%
Shrugs: 2S-12R @ 25kg

Christmas in the Gym!

Sometimes you get “Christmas” in the gym, meaning that you can more or less lift anything without much effort and maintain perfect form. I’ve been fortunate to have two “Christmas” in a row now. It started on Sunday when I had a bench press day. As I am doing volume, I am keeping the weight at 100kg and try to grind 8 reps over 8 sets. Normally fatigue kicks in and I have to go down to 90kg for the last few sets. On Sunday I did all the 8 sets with no issues at all. It was like I could bench for an eternity! The same can be said with the accessory work, but it was the bench press that made my day in the gym

I had “Christmas” yesterday as well during squatting. It wasn’t really a heavy day as I am doing sets of 8s, but the 125kg felt like nothing. I know 125kg isn’t a lot, but the feeling you get when the weight feels like nothing is amazing. The accessory work was the same, but I have to admit that standing calf raise was somewhat shaky…..

There are two ways to utilize “Christmas” in the gym; most people will go nuts and add tons of weight and push themselves beyond limits and thus suffer injuries in the long run. A more conservative way of doing it would be to push yourself towards heavy triples or doubles. The one I prefer is to actually stick to the plan and “memorize” the workout as the day I could lift Mount Everest! I know it seems way too conservative and many of you would argue that I should test my limits as “Christmas” may not turn up for a while. My response to that would be that I will never let “Christmas” bring ego in to my session! It may be “Christmas” for my mind and muscles, but it sure isn’t for the joints!

Nevertheless, the feeling is amazing!

WOD: Summary of Week 37

A minor change this week as I missed on day due to the blood pressure analysis. It was nice with one extra day of rest though and on Sunday I had a really good chest and arm day. The bench press went like a charm and I am ready to increase with 5 kg for the next week. I will drop down a few sets. Deadlifting went fine, but I need to keep the squatting to a minimum as the volume is pretty high. Once the volume go down, I can increase the squats on this day.

Squat: 6S-8R @ 125kg | 3S-3R @ 100kg full deep squat with pause at bottom
Leg Extension: 4S-10R @ 90%
Leg Curl: 4S-10R @ 90%
Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 30 – 50 – 60 – 80
Side Bends: 4S-10R @ 25 – 30 – 35 – 35

NG Bench Press
: 5S-5R @ 100kg | 3S-5R @ 70kg (speed)
OH-Press: 3S-5R @ 40 – 50 – 60kg
Rear Delt Flyes: 3S-10R @ 75%
Triceps Pushdown 3S-10R @ 80% + Triceps Overhead Extension: 3S-10R @ 80% (supersets)

Squat: 3S-5R @ 125kg
Deadlift: 1S-3R @ 202kg | 6S-3R @ 160kg (speed)
Rows: 4S-8R @ 40 – 60 – 80 – 90kg (done in smith machine)
Standing Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 70%

Bench Press: 8S-8R @ 100kg
Cable Cross: 3S-10R
Hammer Curl: 4S-10R @ 85%
Rope Biceps Curl: 4S-8R @ 85%

Time to Check the Blood!

This week will be a little different as I have been to the doctor to check the blood. For some reason the blood pressure was a little higher than I have had previously, so I got this apparatus to check the blood pressure over 24 hours. The blood analysis is a standard blood work, but where they also include trace minerals, vitamins and cholesterol breakdown. This is to check whether I get enough through the current diet or if a need to add some supplementation. The only vitamin and mineral supplementation I take now is Vitamin C and Magnesium.

A blood analysis is something I recommend everyone to do now and then. Some people say you should only visit the doctor when you “feel” bad, but I use the doctor to get a confirmation that my diet and training is OK and that there isn’t anything on the brink of becoming an issue. I got a remark on my diet that I probably should increase the fat percentage. I am more or less doing a 50/30/20 split between carbs, protein and fats, but I might go up to 25 and reduce the carbs.

I got the “routine question” if I was on any steroids, and the answer was of course NO!

WOD: Summary of Week 36

Heavy week as I did 5 workouts. Should probably have kept it to 4, but as I got a tricky start on Monday with a smashing headache during squatting I decided to go heavy at the end of the week. The Monday was basically squat and leave. The weights were easy and I have finally adjusted to a 8 rep regime. I have also found out that the reason for the headache was a peanut/sugar cookie I used to take prior to going to gym. The reason was to get some fat and simple sugar before doing heavy work, but as it turned out this was something that made thing worse.

The rest of the week was pretty good when I stopped taking this peanut cookie. Bench press improved as I did 2 more sets on 100kg prior to last week, but I will have to reduce the volume as my elbow started to hurt when I dropped to 90kg for the final 3 sets. The Saturday has become my favourite day as I focus on shoulders and middle back. The seated wide grip rows is an exercise I started this week and it is one of the better exercises to isolate the middle back by pulling the bar toward the chest and squeezing and holding the shoulder blades together for a few seconds.

The diet is good, but I will reduce the kcal somewhat as I feel I am getting a bit too much right now.

Squat: 6S-8R @ 120kg

NG Bench Press
: 5S-5R @ 100kg | 3S-5R @ 70kg (speed)
OH-Press: 3S-5R @ 40 – 50 – 60kg
Rear Delt Flyes: 3S-10R @ 75%
Triceps Pushdown 3S-10R @ 80% + Triceps Overhead Extension: 3S-10R @ 80% (supersets)

Squat: 3S-5R @ 120kg
Deadlift: 1S-3R @ 192,5kg | 8S-3R @ 142,5kg (speed)
Rows: 4S-8R @ 40 – 60 – 80 – 90kg (done in smith machine)
Standing Calf Raise: 4S-10R @ 70%

Bench Press: 5S-8R @100kg | 3S-8R @ 90kg
Cable Cross: 4S-10R
Hammer Curl: 4S-10R @ 85%
Biceps Curl: 4S-8R @ 30 – 40 – 50 – 60kg

Seated Lateral Raise: 4S-10R
Bent Over Lateral Raise : 3S-8R
Seated Wide Grip Rows: 4S-8R
Lat Pulldown: 3S-8R
Side Lat Pulldown: 3S-8R
Shrugs: 4S-10R @ 25 – 30 – 35 – 35

WOD: Summary of Week 35

Nice to start the journey of chasing numbers again! I spend the last week to figure out my starting weights for the 8 reps cycle. By doing this it makes it easier to go adjust back to the old regime without getting too sore.

The first period will be high on volume with low intensity. I will do many sets, usually around 7-8 working sets and I will bump up the weights slowly over the nest month. No need to get to crazy when ramping up weights as form and volume is the key.

The week was a little different as I had trained in the weekend, but next week will be normal. Compared to previous months I will take rests when I feel the need for it. This meaning I might do 4 days in a row with one day rest before starting up again. As long as my diet is good and I get good sleep during the night, there is no need to back off in the start. Having said that, it is better to use deloads now and then where you reduce the overall tonnage, but still carry out a workout

OFF due to training in the weekend

NG Bench Press
: 5S-8R @ 90kg
OH-Press: 3S-10R @ 60kg
Rear Delt Flyes: 3S-10R @ 75%
Triceps Extension 3S-10R @ 80%

Squat: 3S-5R @ 120kg
Deadlift: 1S-3R @ 180kg | 8S-3R @ 130kg (speed)
Rows: 3S-8R @ 40 – 60 – 80kg (done in smith machine)
Close Grip Pulldown: 3S-8R @ 85%
Good Morning: 3S-8R @ 20 – 30 – 30kg

Bench Press: 3S-8R @100kg | 4S-8R @ 90kg
WG Bench Press: 3S-5R @ 70kg
Hammer Curl: 3S-10R @ 80%
Biceps Curl: 4S-8R @ 30 – 40 – 50 – 60kg

Cable Side Lateral Raise: 3S-10R
Seated Lateral Raise: 4S-10R
Bent Over Lateral Raise : 3S-10R
Lat Pulldown: 3S-10R
DB OH Pull: 3S-8R @ 30 – 35 – 40kg
Shrugs: 3S-10R

Planning the Next Powerlifting Cycle

As I am continuing down the path of a very simplified bodybuilding split, I have started to plan the next real cycles of strength training. I will definently keep some of the exercises as accessory work throughout the week, but the main emphasise will be on squat/leg work. I will squat and bench twice and deadlift once. 1 day will be dedicated to accessory and mobility work where shoulders and back will be the main target. The cycle will be split in two with a pre-phase focusing on volume and sets of 8s will be the target. Deadlift will have its own setup where I will hit a topset for 2 reps and do several sets of triples at a lower weight. In order to avoid inflammation in my forehands, I will use straps on the triples only.

Not sure how long the pre-phase will last, but I will slowly ramp up the weights until I go down to 5 reps. This will start the intense phase where I will ramp up quite fast and switch over to triples and doubles where I also utilize dropsets in the same way as I will in deadlift. As I am squatting and benching twice I will have one “heavy” day and one “light” day. For the bench press the light day will be kept to narrow grip bench press and incline bench press.

How long this cycle will last I am not sure of, but I will definently use deload more often so I can squeeze in more weeks. The simplified setup will more or less look like this for the pre-phase:

Heavy Squats: 5-8 sets of 8 reps
Lex Extension: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Curl: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Calf Raise: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Side Bends: 3 sets of 10 reps

Narrow Grip Bench Press: 3-5 sets of 5 reps
Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
Military Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
Rear Delt: 3 sets of 10 reps (I will use different exercises here that target rear delt)
Triceps Extension: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Dips or Overhead Triceps Extension: 3 sets of 8 reps


Light Squat: 3-5 sets of 5 reps
Deadlift: Topsets for 2 reps | Dropset at 8 sets of 3 reps
RDL: 3 sets of 8 reps
Bent Over Rows (smith machine): 3 sets of 8 reps
Narrow Grip Pulldown: 3 sets of 8 reps
Good Morning: 3 sets of 8 reps
Calf Raise: 4 sets of 8-10 reps

Bench Press: 5-8 sets of 8 reps
Wide Grip Bench Press: 3-5 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps:
Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps
Biceps Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps

Side Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 8 reps
Bent Over Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 8 reps
Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 8 reps
Back Flyes: 3 sets of 8 reps
Shrugs: 4 sets of 10 reps with 3 seconds hold


So, this is it. Very simple and as you can see I am focusing more on back and shoulder with respect to accessory work simply because this is an area I need to strengthen.

Peri-Workout Nutrition

There are several articles that covers pre- and post-workout nutrition, but little is done on nutrition during the workout. I assume people would think that the most important is what you do prior to the workout and right after and this is true to some extent. The pre-workout in general consists of simple carbs and a little fat to avoid going into hypo during the workout. Post-workout people get really busy trying to get down proteins and carbs (if they’re bulking). What happens in between differs alot, all from pure water to complex shakes with protein, carbs and electrolytes.

For myself I have kept it quite simple with respect to what I drink during workout. Usually it is water with some electrolytes in it, all depending on the intensity of the workout. This has worked pretty well, as I don’t really like having my gut filled with water during the workout. As you might now I am currently in off-season so the intensity is pretty high. This means high reps going in to failure in most cases. To compensate I have had to change the peri-workout nutrition and this is mainly to provide enough energy during the workout and more importantly, reduce recovery time after workout.

I still work out at the same time (usually around 5pm) and my last meal before going to gym is around 3pm. I take a shake that consists of 60g of protein and 90g of oatmeal and sometimes I might have a meal that is high in carbs. 30 minutes before I take a flapjacks and drink some water. During my workout I bring my 2l bottle that is filled with water and consists of an electrolyte that can either be Vitargo or Maxim. Lately I have used Maxim as it seems it doesn’t sit around in my gut as long as Vitargo. Together with the electrolytes, I add BCAA, Creatine and sometimes Beta-Alanine. You might think why I add the creatine here and not prior to the workout, and the main reason is that I respond to the creatine when taken during workout rather than before. Then you might say the response is due to the carbs, but I have recently introduced creatine as a part of the drink I take during the workout and there is a huge difference. You should try it out. The Beta-Alanine is (as I’ve mentioned earlier) to eliminate lactic-acid and helps me with the f***ing cramps I get when intensity is very high. The BCAA I take as a simple protein source as I have stopped taking protein as a post-workout drink. Now I will wait 30min to 1 hour and then have a meal. I feel that protein shake take up so much space and prolongs the time when I can eat my next meal, so I’ve decided to skip it.

The drink you have during workout should really reflect the type of workout you are doing. If it is low intensity or the workout doesn’t last long, there is little need to add anything at all. One thing I do like with the flapjacks or taking a biscuit that consists of fat and sugar is the fact I don’t go hypo and it seems I take more advantages of the carbs during the whole workout. There are many PWO’s out there that is made to hit your head rather than your muscles, and that’s the “charm” of marketing.

Below I’ve posted a picture of the lovely Nalgene bottle I am using (finally found one that is large enough) and also the specs of the Maxim sports drink I am using. The only thing I have to say about sports drink is that you don’t want to pay alot for it and it should consist of electrolytes together with some simple sugars

The Nalgene Bottle

The Nalgene Bottle

Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink

Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink

Startup After Vacation

Hello everyone!

Been a while since I made a post now, all because I arrived back from the Seychelles on Monday after a well deserved 2 weeks vacation. It was fantastic and I will write a post about that later as a part of my travel reviews.

I guess you know I am currently doing a bodybuilding split, just to have a change from the powerlifting and also cut some fat. I am not sure how long I will do this split, but the results in the mirror will definently be a guiding factor. I started off easy yesterday with shoulders & arms with the following setup:

Lateral Raise
Military Press
Rear Delt Flyes
Upright Rows

Biceps & Triceps
Hammer Dumbbell Curl
Cable Curl
Biceps Curl
Cable Pushdown
Overhead Triceps Extension

It went really well and the vacation has definently made its impact on recovery!

Today was legs and I was somewhat concern as my legs really suffered from the flight (25 hours). My calves even cramped up yesterday! I used the following split at medium intensity today:

Leg Extension
Bulgarian Squat
Leg Curl
Side Kick
Calf Raise
Side Bends
Ab Crunch

The squat was the guiding factor towards my knees and it felt really good even after pre-exhausting them through the isolation moves. For the squat I ramped up to a 100kg with sets of 8s.

The diet is pretty good, but I have cut back on the calories and will ramp up gradually towards 3500. It should be noted that I lost 2kg during the two weeks of vacation!

My First “Bodybuilding” Week Completed

You already know that I have entered “off season” as I wrote a post regarding my little change from strength training to bodybuilding. This is just going to be a brief change before starting chasing numbers again. The initial setup was a 5 days per week, but I might have to reduce that to 4 for recovery reasons only. This post is to evaluate the exercises I have done this week. I didn’t experiment with supersets, forced reps, negative, etc., but I did a few dropsets. The purpose was to get a feel of how many exercises to do per session and evaluate effectiveness before I go on a 2 weeks vacation. This is the first time I am making a bodybuilding split so I needed to adjust alot.

Monday – Shoulders & Arms
The main reason for doing arms and shoulders on a Monday, and not legs, is that my arms will (indirectly) being hit on both chest and back day after the rest day. So it is just for recovery purposes I do that. Starting with shoulders is a smart thing to do in order to actually have some juice in the arms to do the movements. Besides I am doing the military press that requires your arms to be fully operational. The setup was OK, but I think I will pay more attention to the rear delts and traps. The military press I will take at the end of shoulder work. I am alternating triceps and biceps every week and this week was biceps. Nothing much to say about the biceps, but I will probably modify the cable curl next time. The dumbbel preacher curl was more like an isolated hammer curl. Triceps workout was OK, nothing much to say other than overhead triceps extension is an amazing exercise! The session was finished with good’old dips!

Tuesday – Quads
Initially I split the quads and hamstring, but I see know that I will probably combine them on the same day. Starting off with leg extension really helps get the blood flowing. I then did leg press, but this one I will skip as I have done that one previously and to be hones, I don’t really like it. There are other movements that are more effective in my opinion. The new exercise is Bulgarian Squats that I picked up from John Meadows. It’s basically like lunges, but waaaay more harder. This exercise literally put my legs on fire! Doing squats after that exercise was a real challenge and I could only ramp up to 100kg for 10 reps. I finished the session with some side bends. For the future I will add on side-kick as I need to work the inner thighs, the gracilis and adductor magnus to be exact. I didn’t do calves, but I will have to do them more often, even on non-leg days!

Thursday – Chest
Having one day dedicated to chest is not unusual, but using isolation movements is definently something new. When you have done powerlift benching for some time, the technique enables you to make use of your upper back in a greater extent, rather that the pecs. It that sense, bench press can in fact be less effective than other movements. I did the same approach here as with legs; started off with an isolation movement to get the blood flowing. Flyes is something I’ve done before, both in machine with dumbbells. This time I did it with dumbbells. Then I did incline bench press. The trick here is to find the inclination right so you hit the upper chest without going too far so you mainly hit the front delts. I was surpriced how little inclination you actually needed to hit the upper chest! After that I did some sets with standard bench press. Nothing fancy but I did them way faster than normally and by lying flat on the bench. This to reduce the involvement of the back. Then I was supposed to do dumbbell presses, but decided to go for a standing cable cross movement as I have never done that before. Besides, I figured I had done enough pressing movements for that session. I finshed the day by doing some ab work.

Friday – Back
To get the blood flowing, I started with some lat pushdown. It’s a great way to warm up the lats, but also hit the 2 teres muscles. I then did a few sets of narrow and reversed grip pulldown. I have not that before, something I could easily feel on my lats. I then moved on to an important compound movements, bent-over rows. I am alternating this with pendlay rows. Close grip seated rows is one of my favourites and the key is to pull as low as possible and squeeze your shoulder blades together with completing the pull. I re-introduced the kroc rows again! Just have to do them, besides it is a great way to maintain my grip strength when I am not doing heavy deadlifts. The session was completed by doing some sets with deadlifts. The reason for doing deadlifts now, is that I have pre-exhausted the back and only need light weights (around 150kg). I also start the deadlift from the top, not dead on the floor. Reason for that is that I get a better movement when I am doing touch and go from the ground. The only thing I want to change is to introduce back raise in the start. Moreover, I will actually use back raise in every session!

Well, that was week one. It is a completely different world and the upside is that I don’t have to worry about numbers. It is all about staying in the pain-zone!

Week 1 of Bodybuilding

Week 1 of Bodybuilding

My Way of Food Planning

Sometimes one can easily be fascinated by apps, web tools and other programs that supposedly makes your life easier. When it comes to food planning and tracking your nutrition there are several ways of doing that. I have previously been playing around with both VidaOne and Mylog, but decided some weeks ago to go back to where it all started; my excel spreadsheet.

I started some years ago listing my most used food products with their basic nutritional values (kcal, carb, protein, fats) in a spreadsheet, in order to better monitor my daily intake. Over the years I have added more products to the list and as per today this has evolved to a quite comprehensive list. To better utilize the information put in, I decided to use it both as a log and a tool to plan my meals throughout the day/weeks. This has been more important over the last years as I prep more of of my meals in advance. The other day I discovered a few new commands in excel, ‘vlookup’ and ‘iferror’. I am not going to dwell too much on them, but together with a dropdown menu it makes the spreadsheet quite fancy. Basically I have one column where the cells are a dropdown meny listing all the food products. The next column I enter the weight and then the vlookup command fill automatically in the other columns.

Below I have illustrated the basis of the template. The food products are in Norwegian, but I guess you get the idea behind it. The picture below show the “databank”. It is where I put in new products with the nutritional values. It’s from here the vlookup command comes in to great use.

Food Databank

Food Databank

To make the spreadsheet effective as a food planner, you need to figure out what your daily requirements are with respect to kcal, carbs, protein and fats. Since it is normal to express this as a percentage split based on kcal intake, I made an own sheet where I have 5 blocks to compare percentages from 2000 kcal/day to 4000 kcal/day. In order to figure out the kcal/energy requirement per day, I have written a post covering that in theory section of the blog. I have used the Mifflin equation in order to assess the energy requirement and added a factor 1,6 to compensate for extra energy required due to training. The blue line illustrates the split from percentages to actually grams. Currently I am on a 50-30-20 split at 3500 kcal. The number (29-2014) illustrates the week this year I started. I have also made corresponding blocks to illustrate grams/kg bodyweight.

Daily Requirement

Daily Requirement

In order to compare various food products when making a plan, I have one sheet where all products are listed and you just enter the amount. Then the green table will calculate respectively and the rows under are illustrating the requirement and how much is left to meet the requirement. There is also a grey box to add on products that are not in the “database” in order to compare with the products I have and also see the impact on the overall Grand Total. As you can see I strive to keep my protein within a certain range. I don’t want to go over 2,5 g/kg BW and not under 1 g/kg BW. When increasing the kcal I have to reduce the percentage of protein and increase the carbs and fats. As I am not leaning out (and probably never will) I keep my carb quite high.

Food Comparison & Planning

Food Comparison & Planning

There are two ways people normally track food; The first track what they have eaten and the latter track what they are going to eat. This is a big difference. The idea is to make a plan of what to eat, then you use this plan to do the grocery shopping and prep the meal accordingly. The picture below you can see one example of meal plan I use. I have made a combination of foods that more or less meet the requirements. I am not going all crazy in order to be exact on target, but this plan illustrates I am more or less spot on. The colouring in the first column just illustrates typical meals, the peri- and post-workout is included. The Type is a dropdown and then the other cells are automatically filled in.

Food Planning

Food Plan

Below is another example of a plan that I use. Some items are changed and the peri- and post-workout meals are left out. This is a non-training day. I don’t compensate by eating other things to add up for the workout meals. Some people say you should, but in my experience I haven’t noticed any difference. In this picture you can also see the sheets. I have some plans and there is today and yesterday’s log in it as well. I don’t really need the log as long as I stick to the plan.

Food Plan Non-Training Day

Food Plan Non-Training Day

Well, this is my little way of keeping track of my diet and more importantly, having a tool to plan my diet and shopping list. There is always a little room for slack in the plan, but for 90% of the time this is how it should be.

Changing the Workout from Strength to Bodybuilding!

It’s always nice with some changes and as I have done a very long cycle of strength training it was time for some rest and changes in the training regimen. People say there are many great ways to bulk, but in my opinion it is all about higher rep range and targeting the muscle differently. By targeting the muscle differently you will have to approach your training in the same way bodybuilders do with increased amount of exercises. For a powerlifter, that means you accessory work will be your main focus. You can still add on meat by doing the big 4s, but the overall buildup of fatigue by only doing heavy compound movements will not be beneficial in the long run. Having said that, it is still a good choice in the preparatory phases of a long strength training cycle.

I have effectively used “giant set” regime with only the major compound movements, but the length of the cycle will be an issue when fatigue builds up. This time I will go back to basic and do a simple bodybuilding routine for some months. I will use these months to add some meat while staying lean, and also fine-tune some technique. In the past I have had good experience by doing high reps prior to the preparatory phases as the muscle can better cope with higher weights when having a lower rep-range rather than starting straight at sets of 8.

I’ve enclosed a simple list below to illustrate the training split. As I am not chasing numbers I just add the numbers of sets and reps. Also I have a 2 week split where I alternative both intensity and focus area. Monday is probably the day where this is best illustrated where I in the first week focus on biceps and do triceps heavier the following week. I am also changing the shoulder routine by mainly focusing on military press the second week by doing 10 sets with little break in between.

The reason I split my quads and hams is due to both time management and fatigue. Normally when I have focused on the quads I have little left in the tank to do the hamstrings effectively, so in order to give bother the same attention, I split them up. I might combine them every now and then, but then I will reduce the amount of exercises. I have also good experience with doing hamstring work prior to back where I have been deadlifting.

You might wonder why I don’t do the major lifts such as squat, deadlift and bench press first on the training days. The main reason is that I have found out I take longer time to warm up. This might sound strange, but even when I am doing a powerlift cycle I will start by doing some accessory work prior to warming up with the base lift. Another important factory is that I want to pre-exhaust the muscle before doing the heavier compound movements as I don’t want to use heavy weights. In my opinion I get more out of the compound movement when I have pre-exhausted the muscle. This is of course not something you will do in a strength training cycle!

In other words the main difference name between this bulking/bodybuilding cycle and a strength training cycle can be phrased like this;

You let the weights work the muscles, not the muscles work the weights!

Basically I am just focusing on the amount of sets/reps to do and also rest time between sets where it is dramatically reduced to 60 – 90 seconds.

You also may ask why I am not doing supersets. I have applied them in the training regimen before, but in my experience they are just stressful, especially if doing swapping between 2 exercises. I do love dropsets and apply them on a regular basis, even in the strength training cycles.

Well, this is it. Cardio is applied as well and is done in the evening. As far as dieting, I will not do any drastically changes. This is not leaning out so there carb intake will stay in the same range.

Bodybuilding Training Split

Bodybuilding Training Split

WOD: Summary of Week 28 and Getting Ready for Bulking Period!

My final week carried out and it is time to adjust numbers and start over again. I will start on a typical building routine as it is summer and I want to do something different for a while before continue on the path of strength. My inflammation in the hands are still there, but getting better and I have found out that it is the heavy military presses that is causing this happen. This meaning I will leave them out as a base lift in my next cycle and only do them as accessory work on shoulder days, but with lower weights and higher reps.

I only did heavy squat and bench with a topset of 2×2 @ 175 and 2×2 137,5kg respectively. I skipped deadlift as I failed the 245kg attempt and the military press were kept on low weights due to the inflammation. One of the things I will have to change is the percentage I ramp from week to week. Due to fatigue and higher probability of getting inflammation I will start on a lower start weight and ramping up faster, keeping my peaking cycle only at 7 weeks. My preparatory phase will then last somewhat longer with lower weights and higher reps for 4-5 weeks. I have already made the template for the next cycle and I think it will be a great one as I am only focusing on the big 3s.

WOD: Summary of Week 27 (Inflammation!!)

Really close to end this peak cycle and have started to stall. The bench is still going up, mostly due to my improved technique. The same can be said with squatting and I will not restart the squat, but continue on with doubles untill form starts to break down. Deadlift I will have to stop I have received a minor inflammation in my arms, mostly due to deadlift but also the military press contributed to that. Happy with the 237,5 kg pull on a really bad day in general. The military press is more going over to a push press now, meaning it is time to stop. I managed to choose the wrong numbers in the bench meaning I will stop one week earlier than expected, but I will press until form breaks down. As you can see, the accessory work is reduced.

I will do another week and then

Bench press: 2×2 @ 137,5kg topset (5 sets of warm-up)
NG bench: 2×2 @ 117,5kg
Incl. bench: 2×2 @ 100kg

Squat: 2×2 @ 175kg topset
Calf Raise: 5×5

Deadlift: 1×@ 237,5kg | Dropset: 3×3 @ 175kg
Power Shrugs: 4×5 @ 165kg

Military press: 2×2 @ 105kg (5 sets of warm-up) | Dropset: 3×3 @ 70kg
Barbell curl: 5×5 @ 40 – 50– 55 – 60kg

WOD: Summary of Week 26

Time to drop the accessory work as the weights are increasing. The deload made wonders to the bench and squat, but I am stalling on the military press. I only managed one pull at 237,5kg for deadlift, but that day was pretty shitty so I am not too concerned about the 250kg pull in a few weeks time. I’ve also taken up cardio and I am running 3-4 times per week for 30-45 minutes. It really helps to remove soreness from the muscles and I assume it is related to increased bloodflow.

Squat: 2×3 @ 170kg topset
Standing Calf Raise: 5×5

Bench press: 2×3 @ 132,5kg topset (5 sets of warm-up)
NG bench: 2×3 @ 112,5kg
Incl. bench: 2×3 @ 95kg
Overhead Triceps Extension: 5×8 @ 90% intensity

Deadlift: 1×@ 225kg | Dropset: 3×3 @ 175kg
Power Shrugs: 4×5 @ 170kg

Military press: 2×3 @ 100kg (5 sets of warm-up) | Dropset: 3×3 @ 70kg
Front raise: 4×8 @ 20 – 25 – 30 – 35kg (using reversed grip)
Barbell curl: 5×5 @ 40 – 50– 55 – 60kg

Good Strength Training & Powerlifting Programs

I guess most people have seen posts on forums where the threads are related to training programs. They will then ask for a simple spread sheet in order to plunge in their numbers. The problem with these spread sheets is that it distracts the “athlete” from making realistic approaches to the training. Most programs are set up in a way for you to enter your current 5RM or 3RM and based on this it will make an estimate as to what your 1RM will be. The program will be tuned in over a period of time to increase your projected 1RM. For most people the challenge will be that the program itself will end up like a dream scenario, rather than a realistic approach to increase strength based on your current situation.

Nevertheless, if applied in a conservative way, where you plunge in numbers that you know for a fact you can manage, it can be a helpful tool to set up a decent program over a period of time. The use of spread sheet I regard as useful tool for novice athletes that are familiar with linear periodization and only plans 7-12 weeks at a time. When you enter intermediate to advance stages of your training, you will more rely on a a good diary/notebook, where your planning is either based on meet schedules throughout a year, or of a more seasonal perspective if you do not compete. Cycles will then last longer and consists of micro-cycles where you have more attention to one aspect rather than just increasing your big 3. By giving attention to weakness areas, your basis, of fundament, to increase performances in one lift will be improved and when you go in to a peaking cycle prior to a meet, you have laid down some groundwork that will give you better chance to get a new PR. An example would be to emphasize the lockout part of the bench press, by doing rack lockouts at heavier weights and incorporate some triceps accessory work in your training regiment.

What I have seen as a common advantage of many of programs out there is the training split over the week and breakdown of exercises. This can be a challenge for most people and especially the amount of training days seems to be an achilles heel. There are in fact better 3 days split that 4 in my opinion. By doing workouts over 3 days gives you 1 day of extra recovery! This is something you will have to “feel” yourself and most times you may start off with a 4-days split and thus when the workload increase you will cut down to 3 days in order to make room for more recovery.

Below I have made available some of the better programs related to strength and powerlifting. By better, I mean the breakdown of excercises and the way the cycles are set up. Regardless what program you choose, you will come to a point where you stall and need to do some adjustment to your training regiment.  I would advise you to read my post related to how you design a workout program. You can easily incorporate some of the fundamentals in these programs in your training. For instance I am more or less doing a hybrid between Ed Coand 10 week split and Coan & Phillipi deadlift workout. To me that has been a good way of doing some minor changes in order to facilitate increase in strength. I guess some of you will ask where the template for Westside is, but Westside is more a training philosophy rather than a fixed program. It incorporate the same movements as most other strength programs, but has its own tweak as well with respect to intensity.

Here are the programs I can recommend for most people who have not entered the advance stages. I do not mean that people who compete will not use similar setup, it is more related to how they cycle through the year and also their focus on accessory work.

Starting Strength – A real good strength training program by Mark Rippetoe. This is not a typical powerlifting program, but does the job with respect to increase strength
Bill Starr & Glenn Pendlay 5×5 – A well known program that focus purely on strength by adopting a 5×5 regime in a loading phase and covert to 3×3 in a more intense phase.
Wendler’s 5/3/1 – Designed by Jim Wendler and focus on microcycles where you will hit PRs in end of each cycle. Very motivational and proven program for most people
The Juggernaut Method – Includes volume in the program and is adjusted based on performance in the end of each cycle. A good program to use when Wendler’s 5/3/1 is getting boring
The Texas Method – A heavy strength training program for intermediate lifters entering advance stages. 3 days split with non-linear periodization alternating bench- and military press
Sheiko - One of the most intense programs where volume is  the key. Normally I would not recommend this one, but the periodization can be useful to incorporate in your training regiment.
Ed Coan 10 Week Program –  A really good powerlifting program for intermediates. Good periodization and choice of accessory work. Can be hard towards the end so start off light!

Specialization program:
Smolov Squat Program – Problems with increasing your squat? This is the best squat routine out there, nuff said!
Ryan Kennelly Bench Program – A bench press program that is designed by Ryan Kennelly. This can be combined with a general strength training routine where you replace your bench with this one.
Coan & Phillipi Deadlift Routine – A deadlift program that can be combined with a general strength training routine. I do recommend this one if you struggle with deadlifts.


WOD: Summary of Week 25

First week after deload is always exciting! I’ve changed the week by starting on Sundays with bench press and do squats on the Mondays, but I started off with squat this time . I will probably change the military press and deadlift as well as it seems I have more “energy” towards the end of the week for some reason. I wrote in the previous post my superb squatting session in my garage and the rest of the week was great as well. The only struggle was the deadlift. For some reason 225kg was a challenge today, but I guess the main reason was the warm up phase that took too much energy. I did 6 sets for 5s and 3s, which is a little stupid considering having 3 back off sets with 3 reps at 187,5kg. Back in my garage on Friday the military press was a walk in the park. I’ve reduced the amount of assistant exercises and my food intake increased slowly over the time.

Only 3 more weeks left before end of the cycle and a well deserved vacation will be taken at a location far away from home!

Squat: 2×3 @ 165kg topset | 1× @ 180kg (5 sets of warm-up)
Standing Calf Raise: 5×5

Bench press: 2×3 @ 127,5kg topset (5 sets of warm-up)
NG bench: 2×3 @ 107,5kg
Incl. bench: 2×3 @ 90kg
Overhead Triceps Extension: 5×8 @ 90% intensity

Deadlift: 2×@ 225kg | Dropset: 3×3 @ 187,5kg
Power Shrugs: 4×5 @ 155kg

Military press: 2×3 @ 100kg (5 sets of warm-up) | Dropset: 3×3 @ 70kg
Lat raise: 5×8 @ 6 – 8 – 10 – 12,5 – 15
Front raise: 4×8 @ 20 – 25 – 30 – 35kg (using reversed grip)
Barbell curl: 5×5 @ 35 – 40 – 45 – 50 – 55kg