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
You're on a great path. Keep it up in 2012.
Great progress. Hope your injury heals quick and you get back to lifting soon!
Defintely some good info.. Almost enough to sticky in the beginner's section. Seeing numbers like you have, certainly should motivate people to live for consistency in training; not a set program per say, but in the self-desire to hit that level, look back, and continue to excel forward.
One other thing I want to highlight here in my journal is that not much is needed to grow. Granted, everybody is different, the natural lifter doesn't need to continually smash their muscles into oblivion in hopes of eliciting that sought after myofibrilar hypertrophy. Lee Haney said it best, "Stimulate, don't annihilate."
I made my best progress utilizing Joe Defranco's westside for skinny bastards, which is essentially an upper/lower split that relies on mixing maximum and dynamic effort days with lower volume and higher frequency. It was fantastic, at least for me. However, seeing as how I am now an intermediate lifter, I don't feel satisfied after that particular program anymore, so I'm currently brewing up a program so sinister and so effective based on what's worked for me that I thought I would share what I have so far.
It's an upper/lower in that utilizes primarily compound lifts, but with more volume and different exercises. It utilizes a push/pull format that works antagonistic muscle groups, and after the trial run today I am THOROUGHLY satisfied minus a few tweaks I need to make.
What makes this program different though? Well, I'll tell ya. Each muscle will still be worked appropriately on my upper days, but each upper day will have a particular focus. For instance, monday will focus on chest and back, and fridays will focus on shoulders/arms.
Here is what I'm up to. Sets and reps are based on how I feel. I'm still messing around with the order of exercises, but today felt GREAT. I haven't had a workout this rewarding in a long time. I'm sticking with this one.
Oh, one other things. I'm not going to failure on anything other than pullups. I tried going to failure every time on an upper/lower and it didn't work out too well.
Upper 1 - Chest/Back Emphasis
Lower - Focusing on Posterior Chain
Upper - Shoulder Girdle Emphasis
Standing Strict Military Press
Shrugs or Facepulls
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