Trudging onwards towards glory.
I have immersed myself in the world of technology and have got one of those snazzy iphone things so I can do more frequent and far better blog articles. It has not been bought solely for playing angry birds on – honest.
As way of an example here’s a picture of me at the London Olympics. See if you can spot me. Hint – I’m sat next to a pirate.
We ( the pirate and I) went to go see the finals for the men’s 95kg weightlifting class at the excel arena down in Ol’ London town. The whole day was an incredible experience and was capped off with Ilya Ilyin breaking about 4 World and 5 Olympic records. Which I think deserves another picture.
He was amazing and certainly helped to drive home the message of this year’s Olympic Games of ” Inspire a Generation.”
I was inspired to put down the pie I was stuffing into my fat face and get back into the gym for some serious deadlift action. We (Rhod and I – not the pirate. He doesn’t lift weights only mainbraces and cutlasses.) have just finished a de-load week. Rhod took the week off and just rested. I took the week off and just ate crap, which is a seriously underrated method of recovery. Pies are the future of sport science and you heard it here first.
The routine we are currently following is a full body variation of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and I can’t think of any reason to stop doing it any time in the foreseeable future. It is an excellent routine to get bigger and stronger on. The secret of 5/3/1 is that you are consistently lifting weights that are around 75-95% of your maximum which is more than enough load to force your body to become stronger on but not too much to tip you into the black chasm of overtraining. As you add tiny (another little secret to getting stronger – slowly add incey-wincey amounts of weight to the bar over months and months of lifting. That way what you are doing is increasing your 75-95% strength which in turn bumps up your 1 rep max. Patience young Jedi is the key here.) little weights to your big four lifts; squat, overhead press, deadlift and tricep kickbacks, your body has plenty of time to adapt by becoming ridiculously Hench. BTW tricep kickbacks are not a valid exercise in my gym and anyone found doing them are cast immediately into the newly installed scorpion pit.
De-loading is a vital part of following a 5/3/1 routine and it’s the hardest part to get your head around, at least it was for me. Basically you train for 3 weeks and then you take a week off. Simple.
The thing is when you love to lift (as I do), and your training is going well (as it tends to do when you own your own gym and can have fresh Protein Rat poured into cut-crystal goblets by exotic dusky maidens.), then the last thing you want to do is take a week off when everything is going so swimmingly.
But take a week off you must. And for these 3 excellent reasons:
- Overtraining is a foul and vile demon from the seventh circle of hell made from misery, the tears of powerlifters, the rust from broken dumbells and the scabs from the shins of Satan himself. Like all good demons, the overtraining one (I think he’s called Nigel.), is insidious and you won’t feel his cold and clammy embrace until it’s way too late. All those times when you were grinding miserable workout after miserable workout you weren’t soldiering on indomitably, as you imagined, you were in fact just pushing yourself further and further into the swamp of eternal despondency that is overtraining. Now, the market is awash with all manner of supplemental crap that promises Super Mega Turbo Charged Recovery and Performance. Everything seems to be packed full with caffeine, glutamine, taurine, beta-alinine and many other things ending in “ine”. But let me whisper a little truth into your sweat stained and grubby ear – Not training at all is the best way to recover from training. Train like a maniac for 3 weeks and the rest for a week. Let all those aches, niggles, twinges, knots, joint issues and inflamed tendons disappear as if by magic and save a fortune in fish oil capsules as well. Do you think your going to shrink and become puny in a week? Really?
- Hard and rugged weight-hefting gives you calluses. Not just the hard, jagged ones on your hands that can be used to exfoliate the tanned buttocks of Brazilian beach volleyball players (I’m available. Call me.) and take the grain off a piece of 2×4 but the ones that take place in the muscles themselves. You know how it is, you do that first workout back after a lay off and now it hurts to move any part of you. It hurts to brush your teeth. It hurts to scratch your arse. It hurts to breathe. It even hurts when people look at you funny as it takes you 5 minutes and a lot of swearing to get yourself in or out off your car. Your muscle calluses have worn off, you have become unconditioned to hard n’ heavy weight-slinging. Getting bigger, faster, stronger is a relatively simple formula: 1) Tear a muscle to pieces with hard n’ heavy weight-humping. 2) Feed muscle. 3) Rest muscle. 4) Repeat. The problem is that in slavishly repeating points 1-3 is that you have to work harder and harder to cause any damage to your, now, bullet proof muscles. You could always add more weight to the bar, train for longer and start to add advanced training protocols like drop sets, negatives, wave loading and the such like. OR you could take a week off, catch up on your daytime TV watching, become unconditioned to killer workouts from Hell and embrace the feeling of not being unable to walk after doing 3 sets of squats. Not 30 sets of squats that have to be performed with added plyometrics and a 10 second negative while simultaneously being set on fire and being flogged with a rubber hose pipe. Just 3 sets of regular squats. What happens when you are really, really sore from a workout is that your body has to work harder to recover itself. Which means you adapt sooner. Which means you become awesomer faster.
- Enthusiasm. This is something that is not talked about very often. Maybe it is presumed that we should all be brimming with enthusiasm at all times. That our keenness to explode into the gym and rip the place apart could not be blunted by horse tranquilisers and handcuffs. I don’t know about you but sometimes it’s all I can do to look at a barbell. With the kids on summer-break, the shitty weather, the regular crushing stress of running a business and being 112 years old with a lot of mileage on the clock there are times when I am less then enthused to train. However that week off from grinding my joints into paste is more then enough time in which to re-ignite the fire in my belly. I normally start to get twitchy after not training for 3 days so after a week I’m drooling and foaming at the mouth. Although that could be because I’ve spent too long thinking about the tanned buttocks of the Brazilian volleyball team.
So there you go 3 excellent reasons to not train that much. All you have to do now is really make it count when you do.
This is what we did today:
S/S bar squats – 3 sets of 10 reps with 70kg. Harder then it sounds as we go ass-to-grass deep and the S/S bar plays havoc with your core. Every week we will add a rep until we hit 15 then we will go back down to 10 reps and chuck a bit of weight on the bar. Repeat.
Fat bar bench press – 3 sets of 10 reps with 90kg. The first set felt gruesome but the others were ok. If we can get the 3 sets of 10 reps then we have to go heavier next time.
Deadlifts – These are done 5/3/1 style. We have chosen 177.5kg to be our “100%” and so this week do 3 sets of 5 reps at 65, 75 and 85% of that weight. Therefore we did 5 x 115kg, 5 x 130kg and 5 x 150kg. It felt pretty good and looked, well, see for yourself . . .
After that we did:
Pull ups – 3 sets of 5 reps with an added 2.5kg. 2.5kg is a pointless amount of weight to add to your pull ups but allow me to explain. On our last cycle for pull ups, dips and press ups we were doing 3 sets of each with as many reps as we could grind out. For a change, on this cycle, we thought we would start adding some weight. The rules are; start light and add a little bit of extra weight IF you can get the 3 sets of 5 reps. As we will be doing pull ups, dips and press ups 3 times a week it’s not going to take long before this becomes interesting.
Dips – 3 sets of 5 reps with an added 2.5kg. As above.
Press ups – A much underrated exercise is the press up. Today we both got into a press up position (on hands and toes with your back flat and abs tight) and took it in turns to do a ladder of press ups. So Rhod did 1 then I did 1. Rhod did 2 then I did 2. Etc until collapsing in a heap. This didn’t take long and the hardest thing was waiting in a fully braced, top part of a press up position while your partner did their reps. Abs of fire!
Curls and Overhead extensions done with this bar –
For 3 sets of pain.