Udinese – Update on Transfers and Squad

Half-way through the summer transfer I want to give a brief update on the activities so far. Based on last season’s performance, Udinese isn’t really the hottest potato in Serie A with respect to player transfers both inbound and outbound. Nevertheless, there are always a few players going out and the hot topic for the summer was Allan. He was rumored out last season, but decided to stay. This year the saga continued with several of the Italian top clubs chasing the defensive midfielder. Napoli, whom from a historical point of view have had a good transfer relationship with Udinese, was the club that finally sealed the deal. Another speculation was Antonio Di Natale. That has been the case almost every transfer window for the last 5 years. This year it was either retirement or to have a spell abroad, where interest from both USA and Emirates had found its way to Friuli. Luckily, due to his passion for Udinese and scariness of flying, he has decided to end the career by completing one more season at the new Friuli Stadium.

The base of the Udinese squad is getting old; both Di Natale, Pinzi, Domizzi, Pasquale, Danilo, Cyril Théréau, Geijo and Karnezis have passed the 30 year mark. Despite having a “young focus” when signing players, they are often used at commercial incentive on the transfer market. Very few actually end up as a part of the base. I would pin point 3 players that helped Udinese to avoid relegation; Di Natale, Allan and Karnezis. We have lost Allan and Di Natale is pushing 38, so it is critical that something will happen during this transfer window in order to renew the base.

I will break down the positions based on the most used formation and give a rough analysis of current status and what is needed:

Manager:
Stramaccioni didn’t get his contract renewed, but as a nice gesture from Udinese he was allowed to stay out the remaining the contract period (30th of June). Stefano Colantuono got fired at Atalanta after a 5 year run at the club, which is pretty impressive. I do not know much about Colantuono other that he is a tactician that likes to spend much effort to analysis prior to matches. New faces has been brought in to the staff and person dedicated to match analysis only, is something new I have seen on the homepage at Udinese. He brings more experience to the club and hopefully he will become a new “Guidolin” at the club. Only difference is that Guidolin had a pretty good squad to work with in the first place.

Goalkeepers:
Among the clubs in Serie A, Udinese have probably the best coverage in this area. Karnezis was superb last season and with Scuffet, Romo and Meret as backup plan we are well covered in this area. Scuffet needs regular first team play at this stage of the career, and based on Romo’s performance so far in the pre-season, it is not unlikely he will be loaned out. Romo has so far surprised me and I guess the staff wants to keep him around to challenge Karnezis.

Players: Karnezis, Scuffet, Romo and Meret

Central Defence:
This was the weak link last year. Domizzi was out due to injury most the season and had a really poor performance in the few matches he featured. In his absence, Piris was used as the left centre back with a small little degree of success. Danilo was consistent throughout the season and will still be the one to rely on, together with Heurtaux (if he is not sold). Heurtaux I expect to leave, but if he stays that will be very good indeed. Molla Wague is still young had a some good matches last season. He is one we can rely on as backup. Based on a formation where we use 3 centre backs, it is crucial we strengthen the defence with a first team player and not a “hot prospect for the future”. Both Naldo, Neuton and Bubnjic are set to leave the club.

Players: Danilo, Heurtaux, Domizzi, Wague, Piris, Neuton (if he stays)

Wing Backs:
Another area with good coverage. The right side will feature Widmer, whom had an OK season last year. Left side is still up for question as Pasquale is old and below average. Gabriel Silva was out most of the season due to injuries and had a struggle to get back into the first team. Edenilson has returned from loan at Genoa and will give Widmer real challenge on the right side. Faraoni is still in the squad, but is most likely to be loaned out or even sold. Ali Adnan is a newcomer, being the first Iraqian to play in Serie A. He is 21 year old and should be able to give Pasquale and Silva a real challenge.

Players: Widmer, Pasquale, Edenilson, Gabriel Silva, Ali Adnan, Faraoni and Piris (as an alternative).

Defensive Midfield:
Last year was all about Allan. He is now sold and we either have to rely on the players we have or do some serious moves on the transfer market. As per today, Udinese is no position to buy a player like Allan and we have to focus on the development of new ones. Both Guilherme and Pinzi are the best alternatives we have today. Hallberg can be used in a deep midfield position, but I don’t see him being able to step up to even get close to Allan’s qualities. Manuel Iturra has arrived from Granada, but this looks to me like a copy of the Hassan Yebda deal we made a few seasons back so it is a huge gamble that he will the one that is able to replace Allan. Badu is more a box-to-box midfielder, but can be used in a holding position if he grows a brain over the summer. He is most likely to leave the club as well, with interests coming from England. An alternative would be to move either Heurtaux from defense or Edenilson. Edenilson can be used in a more central position and the same can be said about Faraoni.

Players: Guilherme, Pinzi, Iturra, Badu, Edenilson, Hallberg and Heurtaux (as an alternaive).

Offensive Midfield:
Another are well covered with some promising players coming up. Fernandes and Kone will still be the ones to rely on, but both Verre, Evangelista and A. Zapata are good alternatives that will bring different qualities to the attacking section of the midfield. Pinzi has featured in a more offensive role. Gaspar Íñiguez is a newcomer and can be used in the same way as Verre. Not sure if he will stay or being loaned out to Granada. The primavera team also includes some promising youngsters that could feature as a backup plan. As per today, I don’t see the need for re-enforcements, if no one leaves that is.

Players: Fernandes, Kone, Verre, Evangelista, A. Zapata, Hallberg, Íñiguez

Strikers:
Di Natale will yet again be the player we have to rely on scoring the goals. Even though we have several options, there are not many candidates to score more than 10 goals throughout the campaign. Thereau is what Floro Flores failed to be; a good companion with Di Natale. He is a player that breaks up the defense and if he gets a clear shot at the goal, he is likely to score. Aguirre had a few appearances last season and could step up to give Thereau a challenge. Stipe Perica will still be on loan from Chelsea this season, but I see him as a backup player. He is tall and can be used as a target man, but with the signing of Duvan Zapata as a part of the Allan deal, I don’t see him as a real challenger. Geijo is way over the top and I expect him to either leave or to be used as a last option. Nico Lopes is also back from loan and is a player I would love to see in the squad for the upcoming season, but he is again rumored out where Granada could be the next stop.

Players: Di Natale, Thereau, D. Zapata, Aguirre, Perica, Geijo and Nico Lopez (if he stays).

Notable Primvera Players:
Perisan (GK), Pontisso (CM/AM), Armenakas (ST)

Transfer Status:
Departures:
Allan – Napoli
Pereyra – Juventus (buyout clause activated)
Muriel – Sampdoria (buyout clause activated)
Basta – Lazio (buyout clause activated )
D. Santos – Atletico-MG
Naldo – Sporting Lisboa
Coda – Sampdoria
Nyom – Watford (was on loan at Granada)
Brkic – Carpi (loan)
Rovini – Pistoiese (loan)
Jaadi – Granada (loan)
Bibnjic – Carpi (loan)
Vydra – Watford

Arrivals:
Stefano Colantuono – Atalanta (new manager)
Ali Adnan – Çaykur Rizespor
Edenilson – Genoa (end of loan)
Verre – Perugia (end of loan)
Nico Lopez – Verona (end of loan)
Iturra – Granada
D. Zapata – Napoli (2 year loan)
Gaspar Iniguez – Argentinos

I will update this posts as new information is provided regarding activities on the transfer market. When the maket close, I will come with a new post covering table prediction and a summary of the pre-season activities for Udinese.

Summary of Week 30 – Back in the Gym!

I’ve always had some issues when going in the gym for the first time after vacation. It’s not like my body has shut down, but it feels like I need a lot more time to restart compared to others. I have tried several approaches when coming back from a longer off period and I have finally figured a way to restart properly. Basically I just cut the number of exercises during a workout, focusing on the big 3s, while I make the week look like a mini-cycle where I train the big 3s several times with different intensity.

Of course I didn’t write in my log what I actually did (BIG MISTAKE) so when I am writing this I am having troubles to remember what my workout looked like. I remember the basics though and it is not that important. Going in to next cycle I will focus on sets of 5s in the squat while ramping up in weights, Heavy double in the squat with several sets of triples in the dropset. For OH-Press I will continue with several sets of 7s and ramp slowly up over the next weeks. You may ask what about bench press, well I will probably toss it in here and there, but I am swapping the bench with OH Press as the main lift.

Monday:
Squat:  5x @ 140kg (topset)
OH Press: 5x @ 80kg (topset)
Calf Raise: Several sets for 15 reps

Tuesday:
Deadlift: 5R @ 150 – 155 – 160 – 170 | 3R @ 180 – 190 – 200kg
Barbell Shrugs: 8R @ 150 – 160 – 170 – 180kg
Rows: 5×8 @ 60 – 65 – 70 – 75 – 80 kg (coan style)

Thursday:
Squat:  3×5 @ 130kg | 3×8 @ 120kg dropset with narrows stand
OH Press: 3×5 @ 65kg
Biceps: 5×8 @ 40kg
Triceps: 5×10 @ 75%

Sunday:
Squat: 4×8 @ 120kg (narrow stand)
Incline Bench: 5×10 @ 40 – 45 – 50 – 52,5 – 55kg
Cable Flyes: 4×10
JL-Press: 4×10 @ 40 – 40 – 45 – 45kg
Reversed Biceps Curl: 4×10
Triceps Pushdown: 4×15

Summary of Week 26 & 27- Ready for Vacation!

 

A very late update on my behalf. I’ve just arrived from a well-deserved vacation in Crete (Greece). Basically it has been 2 weeks with nothing but resting and eating, something I appreciated a lot. I had a full week in week 26 and a reduced one the week I went on vacation. The high reps have gone well and I am happy with the effort putting down to increase sets over time. The technique has adjusted well due to the drop in weights and I feel I can start ramping up with weight without having an issue with balance or depth. My only concern is that I have struggled somewhat in the bench with the decent (pull part of the lift).

I also went back to using a regular barbell in the JM Press instead of the smith machine. The smith machine allowed me to more weights, but I didn’t feel it hit the triceps in the same way as the barbell. I think it is mostly to the locked range of motion the smith machine provides.

On vacation I decided I will start ramping the weights when I get in the gym again. I been working well with the 8 and 10 reps, but now it’s time to get back to sets of 5s in the squat and deadlift. In the bench and OH press I will do sets of 7 and slightly increase the weights. It allows me to not go all crazy on the lifts at the same time. I will also prioritize the OH press more and cut back on the bench. Basically I will do a 5×5 linear progression cycle for 4 week before jumping over to the good old pyramid top set with back-off sets. That I will do for a 3-4 weeks before going in to a peaking cycle. At the end I will probably be around 200kg in the squat, 105kg in the OH Press, 240kg in the deadlift and 140kg in the bench.

Monday:
Squat: 6×8 @ 120kg
Leg ext: 4×12
Calf Raise: 10R @ 40 – 80 – 110 – 140 – 160kg
NG Bench Press: 5×10 @ 90kg

Tuesday:
Bench Press: 6×10 @ 95kg
NG Bench Press: 4x10 @ 90kg
JM Press: 6×10 @ 60kg (smith machine)

Thursday:
Deadlift: 6×8 @ 140kg
Rows: 5×10 @ 65kg (coan style)
SLDL: 6×8 @90kg

Sunday:
OH Press: 6×8 @ 60kg
Incline Bench: 5×10 @ 60kg
Shoulder Work: 4×10

Monday:
Squat: 7×8 @ 120kg
Bench Press: 3x10 @ 95kg
Calf Raise: 12R @ 50 – 90 – 130kg

Tuesday:
Bench Press: 7×10 @ 95kg
NG Bench Press: 5×10 @ 90kg
JM Press: 10R @ 20 – 25 – 30 – 30 – 30 – 30kg (not using smith machine)

Thursday:
Deadlift: 7×8 @ 140kg

Summary of Week 25 – Rep Work!

First week after Korea was a tough one. Decided to start the cycle with rep work, meaning I will hit 8-10 reps in the major exercises. I will most likely cycle deadlift and rack pulls. As I haven’t been squatting for almost a month I took it a bit easy, but it was still somewhat heavy. My form has changed a lot due to the drop in bodyweight. I can now actually get under the bar and get it to the lower part of my back without having to warm up my shoulders. As you can see I am also doing multiple session in both bench and squat throughout the week. It is mainly to increase the volume. I will cut back on this when the rep range goes down and the weights increase.

Diet is good and I think I will try to push my weight down towards 100kg. That will take some time though!

Monday:
Squat: 5×8 @ 120kg
Leg ext: 4×12
Calf Raise: 5×15 (machine)
Side Bends: 5×12 @ 22,5kg

Tuesday:
Squat: 2×8 @ 120kg
Bench Press: 5×10 @ 95kg
NG Bench Press: 3×10 @ 90kg
JM Press: 5×10 @ 60kg (smith machine)
Triceps: 3×10
Flyes: 3×10
Dips: 4×10

Wednesday:
Deadlift: 5×8 @ 140kg
Rows: 5×10 @ 60kg (coan style)
SLDL: 5×8 @90kg
Biceps Curl: 5×10
Dumbbell  Preacher: 2×15

Thursday:
OH Press: 5×8 @ 60kg
Incline Bench: 4×10 @ 60kg
Spoto Press: 4×10 @ 90kg
Shoulder Work: 4×10

Saturday:
Bench Press: 5×10 @ 90kg
Flyes: 3×10
JM Press: 3×10 @ 60kg

First Goal Achieved!

Friday 12th June was a milestone! Firstly, I arrived home from South Korea and secondly I discovered that my weights had smashed the 105kg mark by a whooping 1kg. When I stepped on the scale (in the evening, NOT the morning) it showed 104.00kg!

I had set in mind to finally get down to 105kg while I was down in Korea. I only had 1 – 1,5kg to lose and it should be doable in 18 days. I also had to tweak my training program as well as they don’t have the same equipment there as in my regular gym at home. The training was a typical bodybuilding split with lots of rep work. It was nice with the change too!

My diet was more or less the same as home, but I had to rely more on protein shake this time. Half a shake prior to workout and the rest right after. I only got 3 solid meals a day and I focused heavily on my breakfast. Luckily I am a big eater in the morning and I re-introduced bacon again. The lunch varied from soup to burger without fries. Evening was chicken or steak. Due to the temperature, my hydration was way better than home and I guess I consumed around 2 litres a day. This is probably not a lot for most of you, but considering I am not a huge fan of water and probably never get over 1 litre, this was a major change for me. I will try to keep the hydration up to similar amount at home.

My weight has settled on 104 kg now and the question is, what now? Should I push towards 100kg or try to maintain it at 104 and focus on further strength increase? I had my first squat session yesterday where I did 5 sets of 8 at 120kg. To me it was brutal, but my form has never been better. When I was over 115kg I had to warm up my shoulder prior to squatting in order to get the bar down on my back. Now I slipped right under with no problems at all and I felt no tension in my elbows.

As I have dropped 14kg now, it is time to start a new cycle. Mostly due to I have to re-shape my technique. Squatting is way different now and even benching feels different. I don’t expect that much of a change in deadlift other than I’ve become f*cking weak!

Then next week I will commit to a high frequency training just to add size. I’ve fired my ego and the weights have been more or less cut in half. This meaning I will probably do multiple session of the big 4 throughout the week. Rep range will stay over 8 for all of them, even deadlift! I will also pick only 2 accessory work including bent over rows, stiff legged deadlifts, biceps, triceps and some shoulder work I tried out in Korea.

My diet will still be a low-carb and if my weight drops more, I will just let it go wherever it wants….

Update from South Korea

Haven’t posted in a while as I am in South Korea again. Since the gym doesn’t provide the same equipment that I am used to, I have to tweak things around a little. Mostly machine moves with high reps. My plan was to do some more cardio, but truth be told, that has not been my priority. I did run 4km yesterday at the track field outside the yard. I was surprised that I was actually able to run all the time with no stop. I guess the main reason being that I am not as heavy as I used to. Could clearly feel that on my feet!

As far as the gym I do a 3 days split, like last time when I was down here (at least that’s what I think I did.)

  1. Chest & arms
  2. Legs
  3. Back & shoulders

I prioritize differently each time, meaning I go heavy on the chest one time and the next session I might focus more on triceps. Legs stays the same and I try to smash them to smithereens every time. As these 2 weeks have been a massive deload, I might continue doing more reps works when I get home for the following weeks.

The diet is OK, but it is somewhat hard to stay away from carb here when I don’t have my own cooking facilities. I try my best though and I have used protein shakes more than I usually do and like. Nevertheless, it helps to some extent when the diet is what is it. I checked my weight and it is still hovering below 107kg, so that is good. I will cut down some more kJ when I get home.

Summary of Week 20 – Getting Progress!

I postponed the Monday session until Tuesday and therefore it was only 4 session this week. It was a good week, especially for deadlift. The grip has improved somewhat. I also added a second bench session as the Wednesday session was not the best and I am beginning to struggle to perform the sets of 5. Military Press has also improved as 80kg was no problem at all. Timing has been perfect as I am heading to South Korea for 2 week after next week’s session.

Tuesday
Squat: 5×5 @ 155kg (deep squats)
Paused Squats: 3×5 @ 120kg (deep squats)
Standing Calf Raise: 4x10 @ 50 – 200kg
Side Bends: 4×10

Wednesday
Bench Press: 5×5 @ 125kg
NG Bench Press: 3×5 @ 102,5kg
Dumbbell Flyes: 3×10 @ 8 – 12,5kg
JL Press: 7x @ 20 – 40 – 40 – 40 – 40
Triceps Pushdown: 6×9

Thursday
Deadlift: 7×3 @ 190kg
Seated Rows: 4×12 @ 70 – 85% intensity
Lat Pulldown: 4×8
Standing Pulldown: 4×12

Saturday:
Military Press: 5×5 @ 80kg
Bench Press: 5/3/1 @ 120 – 127,5 – 132,5kg

Protein Powder – Star Nutrition “Mix & Match”

I have written about this before, but just wanted to give a tiny updated on protein powder. Most of you already know that there are many suppliers and varieties to choose from. In the bottom line it is all just a supplement that you should only use when you get in a deficit of protein. No, the big question is, when will you be in a deficit? 99.9% of us with a proper normal diet will probably never be in a deficit of protein, but sometime it can be convenient to use a shake instead of a meal. I have reduced my protein supplement intake to a bare minimum. That meaning I probably only take 2-3 shakes per week and usually when I am pressed for time to eat.

As for suppliers there are little difference as the quality is pretty OK over the entire line. It all ends up to money per kg and of course taste. The best protein out there, in my opinion, and the one I use is SELF 100% Micro Whey. The chocolate is awesome and protein content is high (84%). Only problem is that it is somewhat expensive, 212NOK per kg. You can use a currency converter to find out how much that is in dollar or euro.

Gymgrossisten is the largest supplement supplier in Norway and their go-to brand is Star Nutrition. Star Nutrition has a variety of products and protein comes in different sizes packages and flavours. One option I have tried is the so called mix and match where you by 4 bags of 1kg. This is good if you want to try out different flavours. Star Nutrition is the cheapest powder by far where you only pay 150NOK per kg. The protein content is somewhat lower (74-76%), but that’s OK given the price. I have previously used double rich chocolate and decided to try out 3 new flavours:

  1. Cookies & Cream – Way too sweet
  2. Chocolate Mint – Thought this would be like “after eight” chocolate, but was not even close
  3. Chocolate – Weak taste of chocolate
  4. Double Rich Chocolate – OK

I found out if I combines Cookies & Cream with Chocolate Mint, the taste was somewhat OK. The chocolate was so weak that it in fact didn’t taste anything. For the future I will probably just go for the double rich chocolate even though it is not close to the SELF brand.

So, this was my little update on protein powder. It’s not a review nor a recommendation. You find the one you like with respect to price- and taste preference. On a regular basis I can say the price is something you should focus on. No need to spend the big money on supplements

mixmatch

Summary of Week 19 – Deep Squats!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a normal week and this week was great! My Monday session was very good as my deep squats has really improved mostly due to the fast I’ve dropped the weights in the first cycle. I will be ramping up with 5kg each week, as I have done in my earlier programs with great success. My bench press is lagging somewhat and I might have to  switch over to multiple sets of 3 before I get to 130kg. Another option is to grind out as much as I can with sets of 5, where I have a minimum of 5 sets. It’s old school, but it works even the poundage might stay the same for over a month.

Deadlift I will continue with triples as it helps on my hand, besides doing sets of 5 hasn’t really worked for me the last years. OH-Press is progressing slowly, but technique is improving for some reason I can’t explain.

Monday
Squat: 5×5 @ 150kg (deep squats)
Paused Squats: 3×5 @ 120kg (deep squats)
Standing Calf Raise: 2×16 @ 100 – 150kg (Had to stop as I stretched a muscle)
Leg Extension: 3×10
Side Bends: 3×10

Tuesday
Bench Press: 5×5 @ 122,5kg
NG Bench Press: 3×5 @ 102,5kg
Dumbbell Press: 4×10 @ 17,5 – 22,5 – 27,5 – 27,5kg
Chest Press: 4×10 @ 65 – 100% intensity
Dumbbell Flyes: 3×10 @ 8 – 12,5kg

Wednesday
Accessory day for arms
Biceps: dumbbell curls, barbell curl, dumbbell preacher curl, rope curls
Triceps: rope extension, OH Rope Extension, triceps pushdown

Friday
Deadlift: 10×3 @ 185kg
Power Shrugs: 5×5 @ 160 – 180 – 190 – 210 – 225kg
Seated Rows: 4×10 @ 70 – 85% intensity
Accessory Work: Rear Delts

Saturday:
Military Press: 5×5 @ 77,5kg
Front Lateral Raise: 4×10 @ 70 – 85% intensity
Side Lateral Raise: 4×10 @ 70 – 85% intensity

What Now Watford?

First things first; A big congratulation to all the Watford fans who, together with the players, secured promotion to Premier League by defeating Brighton 2-0 at Amex Stadium in Brighton. Troy Deeney allowed Watford to set its first foot in EPL after 29 minutes and Udinese “loanee”, Matej Vydra, set the other foot in the 94th minute.

In this short post I will try to give my opinion, as an Udinese fan, on what Premier League will probably look like for Watford under a regime controlled by Pozzo. Truth be told, it is actually Giampaolo Pozzo’s son, Gino Pozzo who is having a say on Watford, as he owns the club together with his father. As far as the daily operation of the club, this is controlled by Gino himself, including transfer exchange between the two clubs. In fact, let’s start with the transfer policy, which is the key behind Udinese’s success over the years.

Transfer Policy:
Buying cheap and selling expensive is in all football clubs interest. Some clubs do this better than others, and in two ways; Some clubs prioritize their own youth system and develop players through their own academy. This can be quite a gamble, but can be very effective and has been adopted with great success in Netherland, Belgium and even in Scandinavia, where resources are limited. The other way is somewhat more expensive and depends on a vast scouting network. Udinese is among one of those clubs that exploit a massive scouting network to find players in area where bigger clubs are not heavily present. Countries like Chile, Colombia, small east-European countries, Ghana, Scandinavia are important areas for the scouting network. The vast network, with its scouts, is controlled by one man, Andrea Carnevale. He is the center of all the scouting activities and will, together with Cristiano Giaretta and others, evaluate the reports and videos of players sent in. The network covers also potential loan deals between the affiliated clubs, Granada and Watford, but also others are included (Koper, Avellino, Cadiz, etc.). Once a green light has been given to enter negotiations a financial assessment will be made. This assessment includes the initial negotiation on the player with the current clubs, but more importantly, a future transfer target on the players. This is important for older players (>22) and the more expensive ones. Gabriel Torje is one (good/bad) example of an older and more expensive player.

When Pozzo purchased Watford the intention was to secure promotion to Premier League. Udinese didn’t play any role in this deal as Watford would only benefit on scouting network that was already established. To further strengthen Watford, Udinese would send out players on loan, that would normally be sent on loan anyway and they did so without compromising their own goals in Serie A. The loan deals have been fewer and this season it was only Matej Vydra that was loaned out and that for a good reason, as he did well at Watford and not so well at Udinese. When a player is sold, a percentage of this fee will go directly in to the scouting network in order to maintain the organization and cover all the costs related to scouting. A transfer in Italy can be somewhat different from Premier League. Co-ownerships are made with “hidden” envelopes where clubs place their bid on the player when the co-ownership deal is ended. Antonio Candreva is one player Udinese had for a long time in  a co-own deal before he was eventually sold. The usage of clauses and various installments are being used as well, which means there is not a big chunk of money coming in at one time. This allows a constant flux of money coming in over a period of time. Alexis Sanches is a good examples of clauses and installments being used in the transfer deal.

So how will this affect Watford? Clearly they will be less dependent on loan deals from Udinese, but I don’t expect them to go crazy on the transfer market. The system is robust and will not change with the fact Watford being in Premier League. Smart signings, shrewd housekeeping and a solid grip on the salaries will be important for Pozzo even at Watford. One key element in the system is Udinese’s former coach, Guidolin, who know is employed in a more international capacity at Udinese. I am not sure what his real job specification is, but I would assume he is to give some tactical advise to the scouting network on how to use possible new signings and more importantly, how to optimize loan deals among the affiliated clubs with respects to the qualities of the players compared to the tactical approach being used at the clubs.

Goals:
With this I don’t mean the amount of goals Watford will score during a season. I simply mean what goal is set by the management for the club. At Udinese this has been the same for a decade; Prior to the season the goal is to reach 40 points as fast as possible. Future goals will be based on how fast the club will reach that goal. My opinion on this is two-fold; Firstly, I acknowledge that Udinese is a small club with limited resources and setting a goal equal to qualification to Champions League will be unrealistic and might even jeopardize the business model. Secondly, I would like the club to take a little more risk on the transfer market in order to attract players that can compete on international level. With this, as a consequence, salaries needs to be adjusted accordingly to attract those players.

When it comes to Watford it will be all about surviving Premier League. Even though a big bunch of money through TV revenues are provided, this is not what Watford should build the club around. Salaries must be according to the revenue the club can generate on marketing, sponsorships and contribution to transfers. I think Watford could end up being a similar club to Udinese in Premier League with solid economy and smart signings in an even more chaotic transfer market. I still think 40 points will apply for Watford as well for the upcoming season. Pozzo has stated he wants to win the scudetto with Udinese sometime. BUT in order to do so you can’t, prior to the season, set a goal to reach 40 points…..Does Pozzo want to win Premier League with Watford? Of course he does!

Titanic:
The last two seasons have been terrible for Udinese. It started with Guidolin ending on 13th place the previous season in a year where he was mentally “out” of the club. You could actually see him on the sideline thinking about what he will do after the season was finally over. This also affected the players’ performance. The management decided not to do anything and explained that they will search for new manager once the future had been settled with Guidolin. In my opinion that was already settled. Stramaccioni replaced Guidolin prior to this season and so far this has not paid off at all. The performance has been terrible, if not worse, and there are no indication the trend will turn.
For some reason Gino Pozzo has a different approach as managers have come and gone at Watford. My only concern with Watford is that if the club all of sudden is facing relegation, the management decide to do nothing drastic as far as the coaching staff and manager. Sometimes simple changes in the staff will results in immediate results. Among the clubs in Serie A, Udinese is one of them that does not do drastic changes in the organization when results are trending down. Hopefully there will be a different approach at Watford when they are in the Premier League

Clubs Status
To me, the media focus heavily on calling a club either a feeder or a farmer, depending on the status. Pozzo doesn’t really work under that system. Granada, Udinese and Watford are affiliated clubs in a business model enforced by Pozzo. The status has little to do with how deals and money transaction will be made. The scouting network will exploit the market to the benefit of all clubs. The likelihood of Allan or Widmer to go to Watford is as likely for Troy Deeney to go the other way. The status of Premier League is higher than Serie A, no question asked. BUT, for Pozzo, who is a very patriotic and sentimental person, his hearth lies in Udine. It is not a question of Udinese going down the ranks, it will be more a question to Pozzo themselves if the business model will work for Watford in Premier League. If the fans of Watford will see this as a long term project where consistency will be the key to secure a healthy club in Premier League, there will be a lot of joy to come in the years to follow.

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