What I've learned after a year of consistent training.
This should probably be in my journal, but I feel that a lot of people can benefit from my experience. My goals have changed. I have put on a lot of weight, but I want to focus on being as fit and as strong as I can in the weight range of 180-190.
First and foremost, what did I learn?
People overcomplicate things.
It isn't easy to consistently progress. In my case, most plateaus resulted from the fear of pushing myself, but I haven't had a bad plateau I couldn't bust through.
It doesn't matter what program somebody follows as long as it isn't drastically different from the norm. Splits work, upper/lowers work, fullbody works, 5/3/1 works, and westside works. IT ALL WORKS! We just need to make sure we're operating at a volume and intensity level that our bodies can adequately recover from.
What does matter is picking a program that an individual feels that they can stick to and feel confident that they will gain on while maintaining a consistent diet that allows them to progress in terms of weight or reps.
I've made great progress over the past year of training. I began at a weight of 155 hovering around 15% BF and reached a high weight of 189 at 15% BF. Currently, I'm sitting at 183 at around 12%. I did this using a variety of programs, but the one thing that remained consistent was my food intake. I can't remember my exact starting numbers because my book seems to have gone missing, but from memory they were somewhere around here:
Bench - 135
Squats - 185
Deadlifts - 200
Bench - 260
Squats - 360
Deadlift - 435
Admittedly, the starting numbers could have been higher if I had known about intensity and pushing myself, but at the time they were incredibly difficult. After tearing my sacrotuberous ligament, all three lifts have gone down, but it's still an amazing achievement for a year of training.
Here are the favorite programs I utilized with excellent results in order from most favorite to least favorite --don't get me wrong, I love them all and they all are excellent!
4 Day Split - I really liked this one because I was in and out rather quickly and the previous working sets didn't affect the next bodypart worked that day. I started out using a blood and guts type programming method, but eventually it progressed into 2 sets of 10-12 reps at moderate intensity and one max effort set in the 4-8 rep range. I gained quite a bit of strength and size on this. In fact, my decline bench went from 205x9 to 230x8 with a gain of 4 lbs. It's a rather linear program where my major compounds don't exhaust muscles to be worked later.
Decline Bench - 3 sets
Incline DB Bench - 3 sets
Flat Flyes - 3 sets
Hammer Strength Flat Chest Press - 3 sets
Preacher Curls - 3 sets
Seated DB Curls - 2 sets
Hammer Curls - 2 sets
Rack Pulls - 3 sets
Pullups - 3 sets
DB Row - 3 sets
Cable Row - 3 sets
Pullovers - 3 sets
Face-Pulls - 3 sets
DB Press - 3 sets
Wide Grip Cable Upright Row - 3 sets
Rear Delt - 3 sets
Laterals - 2 sets
Tricep Dips - 3 sets
Overhead Triceps Extension - 3 sets
Pushdowns - 3 sets
5/3/1 What is there to say about 5/3/1 besides the fact that it rocks? There is NO guesswork. Create the template in excel, pick your accessory exercises, rotate them occasionally, or even just use the 5/3/1 for your compounds. It is an excellent program that is well thought out. Strength went up tremendously on this and I felt like I looked harder. Not to mention chicks dig chucks. I won't post the workout though since it is purchased material.
Upper/Lower I love the upper/lowers, but they get a little lengthy for me because I always try to fit too much into them. I categorize Joe Defranco's Westside, and other Westside variants in here as well as the traditional upper/lower. It's good in the sense that the muscle doesn't feel overworked and I get to hit it twice a week at lower intensity, which creates a limitation as to the amount my lift suffers from previous exercises. Here is a good template I plan to use within the next few months.
Lower - Hamstring Dominant
DB Incline Press
Chest Supported Row
Lower - Quad Dominant