Friday, June 28, 2013

5 months to Super Hero

Five months from now I will turn 30. It didn’t really hit me till I turned 29 cause when your 28 you still feel like you are in your 20s primed up ready to go and conquer the world.

I can't really stop getting older but I do have the strength and time right now to do something about my fitness and health. I can't really afford to Who knows, maybe my 60+ year old version will thank me later.

I know fitness is a long term process but for now I would also like to focus on a short term goal. In 5 months I would like to have a stronger version of me, maybe not super hero status, but a better me =).

I have looked into several strength/hypertrophy training programs and basically most common themes are as follows:

  • Plan for a ramp up and overreaching phase followed by a deload week
  • Deload week is usually recommended after 4-5 weeks of pushing yourself to the limit. Some of the veterans in the fitness industry really put an emphasis on this, I think it would be a good idea to heed their advice.
  • Going all out on full body routine can lead to burn out so switching it up to upper/lower split before it happens helps. Once your body starts getting acclimated to upper/lower, it’s time to push yourself once more with full body workouts and the cycle repeats.
  • Performing a lift on different rep ranges(heavy, medium, light) is a must to maximize strength and hypertrophy. You can plan for this on one single workout, one microcycle(one week), or separate each on a different phase(think months).
  • Take care of your joints. It is alright to switch up barbell to dumbbells from time to time once you start noticing join pains. Also, having gymnastic rings helps when doing daily chins and pushups to allow your wrist to rotate and avoid unnecessary stress.

The Plan

First 2 months I’ll be focusing on increasing strength followed by 3-4 weeks focusing on endurance and followed by 4-8 weeks focusing on strength and size. The end goal is to have a good base strength, low body fat and some size on my 30th birthday. This plan is actually from Max Muscle Plan, lame title but actually a good read with science to back it up. Here we go!

Core exercise- deadlifts, squats, bench, weighted chin ups, pendlay rows and overhead press (maybe weighted dips also).

Microcycle Block 1 - Full body routine
Week 1 - Work up to 3 sets of 4-5 rep max on core exercise(Currently here!)
Week 2 - Work up to 3 sets of 2-3 rep max on main lifts
Week 3 - 3 working sets of 5RM, 3RM, and 1M
Week 4 - deload week, light weights, use dumbbell etc

Microcycle Block 2 - Split into upper/lower workouts
To be continued (I’ll make another post when I’m about to start on this phase).

I’ll also be doing sprints 2-3 times a week to keep my conditioning up and also do some good old fashion running around the park when I can. As far as diet goes, I have a pretty good feel now on how much protein, carbs, fat I need on training and non training days. Basically eat enough and don’t eat crap. It’s ok to enjoy life of course but don’t make almost every meal a re-feed/cheat meal.

Here is my starting pic, I can’t wait to revisit this photo 5 months from now and compare how awesome I am them =)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Week 3: Daily push ups, chin ups and laterals.

Push ups, chin ups, and dumbbell lateral raises. That is what I have been doing daily (almost!) for 2 weeks now on top of following the StrongLifts/Starting Strength program. I started with a certain count then I kept adding 1 more rep for each day e.g. 25 chins for day 1, 26 chins for day 2 etc etc. 2 more weeks to go!

Running Total(6/4/2013)

575- chin ups/ring pull ups/parallel grip pull up
894- decline push ups, ring push ups
1007 - lateral raises

I have missed a couple of days so I will try to make up for the days to get a total of 28 days of training. Also I messed up my count on some days so it's not all symmetrical. Apparently I can't do math even with the assistance of a calculator.

I am following Chad Waterbury’s High Frequency Training. The premise is this, if you want to focus ion a specific body part to grow, one thing you won’t do is train it less. If we would pause and observe the world, high frequency training is everywhere. Mountain climbers and mechanics have their forearms, boxers have their shoulders, soccer players have their calves, sprinters have their glutes, swimmers have their lats, skaters have their quads etc etc.

But of course, simply doing more isn't just the answer. Joint health, exercise selection, starting volume, periodization and many others will have to be considered such as following a program and this is where I used Chad's HFT.

Couple thoughts on HFT

  • Instead of picking focusing on 3 body parts, I should have chosen 2 as recommended. I guess that’s why they call it hindsight.
  • For joint health and extra points for coolness, I bought gymnastic rings to use for the push ups and chin ups. The wrist pain that I was having from doing daily push ups after the first week have been lessened to the point that I don’t even notice them anymore. Also using rings on pull ups there is less stress on my wrist as I can freely rotate them.
  • Stretching the wrist, shoulders, forearms and chest everyday seems to be mandatory or else I’ll feel like shit.
  • Currently at week 3 and my arms are … I can’t even describe. They’re hurting during the first few reps but I just push through it and it seems the pain goes away after a set or two.
  • Most of my lifts on my main workout has stalled except deadlift. Actually my last OHP workout is chugging along nicely after my deload. Bench, Pendlay Row and Squat are still in the same range.
  • I had to up my calories as there are times I feel I am out of energy. I also noticed that I tend to take more naps and go to bed early. Push ups, chin ups and lateral raises might not sound too much but do it everyday and add one rep each everyday on top of your main workout and it’s going to be a bitch. Plus, who doesn't like more ice cream and pizza?


One could say that I would have been more productive if I just focus on lifting and getting those numbers up by getting more rests .... BUT ... that would have been true if my only goal was to get those numbers up. If you haven't read my last post on goals, please read it. 

The important thing is be honest with yourself and set goals accordingly. Beginners, like me, tend ti get hung up on either pure strength or "functional" training that they lose sight of what their goals are. Most people just want to look awesome and also do awesome stuff with their new self. I wanted to incorporate more bodyweight training. I have always been interested in ring training. Next up will be focusing on hand stand push ups, but let's take one step at a time.

I'm travelling next week, so I’m not sure how the 4th week of HFT will go. I can either stop at 3 weeks then restart after 2 weeks or continue this program while staying at a Hotel.  I want to bring my gymnastic rings but we will see =). Next post will be the results on this little experiment of mine and what strength/hypertrophy program I am looking at after following a linear strength periodization. Thanks for reading!