Insider Training (Part II) – A Brief Update

Hey, guys!

First off, an apology: I have been in Chicago this past week, attending the annual Society for Neuroscience conference. I had been planning to have a full post ready ahead of time to publish this past weekend, but alas, I have failed you all and brought great dishonor to the site. The shame… Oh, the shame.

I just made it back to Philly this afternoon, so I’ll get back to it, but I figured—seeing as I wrapped up my first cycle of the strength block I laid out in this article before I left for the conference and am moving into the next cycle starting tomorrow (I took most of this week off to rest and recoup as I attended the conference)—that this would be a good time to log my progress here and discuss a few things I’m going to adjust when I get back to it tomorrow.

Up ‘Till Now

I’ll save the actual training log dump for the very end of this post, as it’s a big list, but I’m happy to say that I think this block went really well. I made slow and steady progress, and while I was ready for a break when I finished this past Friday (I believe my last deload was about 9 weeks ago), as far as I can recall, I only missed one rep throughout the 15 workouts of the 3 week block (it was on a bench day), which is exactly where I wanted to be (pushing hard, but staying short of failure).

For the most part, I think everything is going quite smoothly at this point.

One significant change I made in the past three weeks was the addition of a lifting belt in my training. Funnily enough, I tweaked my right quad on the day I began practicing with the belt (I’m not blaming the belt here), but luckily, it seemed to be a pretty minor problem, and I think the quad is more or less up to snuff now.

As for the belt itself, it’s still early, and I’m still trying to get comfortable using it, but I feel like having it there to provide tactile feedback and support as I inhale has (unsurprisingly) improved my ability to maintain a rigid torso while squatting and deadlifting, which feels to have translated to an increase in performance on those lifts.

What Comes Next

Given that this training cycle went so well, I am not inclined to make many changes before repeating the cycle over the next 3 weeks. In fact, there are only two changes I intend to make. The first is pretty standard—adding a slight increment to the total training volume I will complete throughout the next cycle. Since I’m keeping the target set/rep schemes the same throughout, this means a slight increase in the weights I will be using compared to the weights I used the first time around.

Like I mentioned above, the goal here is to keep the work challenging while avoiding hitting the point of failure (or at least hitting it often), so these increments will be very small—probably not much more than 5 pounds for bench days and 10 pounds for squat and deadlift days (e.g. I might move my working weight for 4 sets of 6 high-bar back squats from the 315 lbs I used last cycle up to 325 lbs or so).

The other notable change I have decided to make is to try making the last set of the main work each day a “plus,” or “AMRAP” (as many reps as possible), set. For instance, say I am scheduled to do 4 sets of 5 with 260 lbs for the main bench press work on a given day. I will complete 3 sets of 5 as usual, but on the last set, I will complete as many reps as I can without failing (hopefully getting at least 6 or 7, in this example).

This is a pretty subtle tweak, and it may seem pretty trivial, but it’s just my way of giving myself the chance to push a bit harder on the days that I’m feeling good without going totally wild with it. On real good days, I’ll probably also make the last set of my second lift an AMRAP set as well.

After this coming 3 week cycle, I’ll move into 3 weeks of peaking. I’ll write more about my plan for this training phase down the road, but in short, this will consist of moving to practicing heavy triples and working down to doing heavy singles as I get closer to the December meet.

 

Wrap Up

As always, thanks for reading, everyone! I apologize for failing to get a proper article out this past week, there was just a lot going on between travelling, attending the neuroscience conference, and visiting with family.

That being said, I’m back in Philly for the time being, so stay tuned for more soon. Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, etc. if you have thoughts or questions about my training or your own, and please, if you like what I’m doing here, spread the word!    

Appendix (The Log)

9/28/15

A1) High-bar Backsquat – 4 x 6 @ 315 lbs

A2) Band Face Pulls x 135

B1) High-bar Backsquat w/ Concentric Pause – 3 x 6 @ 285 lbs

C1) Barbell Hip Thrust – 10 x 135 lbs; 10 x 225 lbs; 10 x 225 lbs  

 

9/29/15

A1) Bench Press – 4 x 5 @ 250 lbs

A2) Band Pull-apart x 75; Seated Reverse Dumbbell Flyes 15 x 25 lbs; 14 x 25 lbs

B1) Close Grip Bench – 3 x 5 @ 215 lbs

B2) Dumbbell Rows – 14 x 95 lbs; 14 x 95 lbs; 16 x 95 lbs

C1) Bodyweight Dips – 12; 8; 8

C2) Tate Press – 14 x 30 lbs; 13 x 30 lbs; 10 x 25 lbs  

 

9/30/15

A1) Conventional Deadlift – 3 x 4 @ 425 lbs

A2) Band Face Pull x 120

B1) Sumo Deadlift – 2 x 4 @425 lbs

15-Minute Free-for-all – Circuit of [DB Curls/DB Lateral Raises/Machine Chest Flyes/Triceps Pushdowns] x 3  

 

10/2/15

A1) High-bar Squat 4 x 5 @ 325 lbs

A2) Face Pulls w/ Rope Attachment – 22 x 47.5 lbs; 19 x 47.5 lbs; 18 x 47.5 lbs

B1) High-bar Squat w/ Pause @ Bottom – 3 x 5 @ 295

*Note: I skipped the planned assistance work on this day, as I was rushing to get to class on time. On the bright side, I was pretty satisfied that I managed to complete all of my squat work on this day with shorter-than-normal rest intervals between sets.  

 

10/3/15

A1) Bench Press – 4 x 265 lbs; 4 x 270 lbs; 4 x 270 lbs

A2) Seated Reverse DB Flyes – 16 x 25 lbs; 14 x 30 lbs; 14 x 30 lbs

B1) Bench Press w/ Sling Shot – 3 x 4 @ 295 lbs

B2) Barbell Row – 3 x 10 @ 205 lbs

C1) Seated DB Overhead Press – 14 x 50 lbs; 10 x 55 lbs; 8 x 55 lbs

C2) Lying (on ground) DB Triceps Extension – 15 x 30 lbs; 12 x 30 lbs; 10 x 30 lbs

C3) DB Curls – 20 x 30 lbs; 16 x 25 lbs; 14 x 25 lbs  

First set trying out my new @elitefts belt for squats today. I’ve never really actually used a belt before, but I thought it might help me work on my breathing technique. Did 5 sets of 4 with 350#. I started off with some lighter sets to try to practice using the belt, focusing on creating 360 degrees of pressure like @chadwesleysmith advocates. Breathing was feeling pretty good, but I still felt out of my groove for the first few sets (this is the first one in the video) just because I was getting distracted by the feeling of the belt being there. Any pro tips on learning one’s way around a lifting belt are appreciated! Ended up tweaking my right quad on the last set just as things were starting to feel more smooth 😥 Pretty frustrating, but it feels mild enough that I think I’ll be able to manage it without much of a setback. #elitefts #powerlifting #belt #noob #squats #squatssquatssquats #legs #legday #squatday #bodybuilding #powerbuilding #fitness #igfitness #instafit #fitfam #gym #glutes #quadsquad #quads #strengthtraining #strength #stronger #liftinglife #gymrat A video posted by Luke Mitchell (@theloveoflifting) on

 

10/5/15

A1) Low-bar Squat – 5 x 4 @ 350 lbs

B1) Weighted Back Extensions – 2 x 10 @ 70 lbs

B2) Bodyweight Bulgarian Split-squats – 2 x 15

*Note: I was dismayed when I tweaked my right quad on the last rep of the last set of squats, but it seemed to be a fairly minor strain, and I ended up being able to work around it with a little bit of caution and some care to keep the blood moving in the leg over the next few days.

This was also the first day I tried using my shiny new belt, and while it definitely felt awkward throughout, I was beginning to appreciate its effect by the last couple sets.

 

10/6/15

A1) Close Grip Bench Press – 4 x 6 @ 215 lbs

A2) Band Pull-apart x 40; Seated Reverse DB Flyes – 15 x 30 lbs; 16 x 30 lbs

B1) Spoto Press – 3 x 6 @ 215 lbs

B2) Dumbbell Rows – 14 x 100 lbs; 11 x 100 lbs; 10 x 100 lbs

C1) Bodyweight Dips – 9; 8; 7

C2) Tate Press – 12 x 30 lbs; 10 x 30 lbs; 8 x 25 lbs

C3) DB Curls – 16 x 30 lbs; 16 x 25 lbs

 

10/7/15

A1) Sumo Deadlift – 4 x 6 @ 405 lbs

B1) Conventional Deadlift w/ Concentric Pause – 3 x 6 @ 365 lbs

15-Minute Free-for-all – Circuit of [Dips/DB Curls/Rope Triceps Pushdown/DB Lateral Raise] x 3

*Note: This was my second day using the shiny new belt (I just used it on the sumo work), but it already felt much less awkward overall. I feel confident that I’ll be hitting pretty decent PRs in at least the deadlift and squat come December.

 

10/9/15

A1) High-bar Squat – 4 x 6 @ 315 lbs

A2) Band Pull-apart x 120

B1) High-bar Squat w/ Concentric Pause – 3 x 6 @ 290 lbs (+2 reps without pauses on the last set for a set of 8)

C1) Hip Thrust – 12 x 225 lbs; 11 x 225 lbs; 10 x 225 lbs

*Note: I admittedly had a moderately crappy hangover on this day, as I had attended a research award ceremony and partook in the festivities the previous night. While I don’t want to act like it’s at all a good idea to let this happen when you are serious about your training, I just wanted to point out that it’s not totally the end of the world to hit a hiccup here and there, even if it’s something that was very much under your control (emphasis on the “here or there” part; I’m not saying to make a habit of allowing yourself to be in shitty shape to lift). As unpleasant as it was to get through all of the work on this day, it was mentally satisfying to do so, and the next few probably felt a bit easier because of it.

 

10/10/15

A1) Bench Press – 4 x 5 @ 255 lbs

A2) Seated Reverse DB Flyes – 20 x 25 lbs; 16 x 30 lbs; 15 x 30 lbs

B1) Close Grip Bench – 5 x 215 lbs; 5 x 225 lbs; 5 x 225 lbs

B2) Barbell Row – 10 x 225 lbs; 10 x 225 lbs; 8 x 225 lbs; 7 x 225 lbs

C1) Seated DB Overhead Press – 12 x 55 lbs; 10 x 55 lbs; 10 x 55 lbs

C2) Lying (on bench) DB Triceps Extensions – 11 x 30 lbs; 10 x 25 lbs; 10 x 25 lbs

C3) DB Curls – 16 x 30 lbs; 15 x 30 lbs; 13 x 30 lbs

 

10/11/15

A1) High-bar Squat 4 x 5 @ 330 lbs

B1) High-bar Squat w/ Pause @ Bottom – 3 x 5 @ 305 lbs

C1) Face Pull w/ Rope – 30 x 47.5 lbs; 25 x 52.5 lbs; 18 x 52.5 lbs; 16 x 52.5 lbs

C2) Weighted Back Extensions – 3 x 10 @ 70 lbs

 

10/12/15

A1) Bench Press – 4 x 265 lbs; 4 x 270 lbs; 4 x 275 lbs

A2) Band pull-apart x 90 (performed between sets of bench work)

B1) Bench Press w/ Sling Shot – 4 x 305 lbs; 4 x 305 lbs; 4 x 295 lbs

B2) Dumbbell Row – 17 x 100 lbs; 14 x 100 lbs

C1) Bodyweight Dips – 10; 9; 7

C2) Tate Press – 11 x 30 lbs; 9 x 30 lbs; 7 x 30 lbs

C3) Face Pull w/ Rope – 20 x 47.5 lbs; 20 x 47.5 lbs; 15 x 47.5 lbs

 

10/13/15

A1) Conventional Deadlift – 4 x 5 @ 405

A2) Band Face Pull x 110

B1) Sumo Deadlift – 5 x 405 lbs; 5 x 425 lbs; 5 x 425 lbs

C1) Bodyweight Dips – 15; 12; 11; 10

C2) Face Pull w/ Rope – 21 x 52.5 lbs; 16 x 52.5 lbs; 15 x 42.5 lbs; 14 x 42.5 lbs

 

10/15/15

A1) Low-bar Squat – 5 x 4 @ 360 lbs (+ 1 set of 3 paused reps @ 315 to end)

A2) Face Pull w/ Rope – 4 x 25 @ 52.5 lbs

B1) Bodyweight Back Extensions – 2 x 25

 

10/16/15

A1) Close Grip Bench Press – 4 x 6 @ 230 lbs

A2) Band Pull-apart x 90

B1) Spoto Press – 3 x 6 @ 225 lbs

B2) Face Pull w/ Rope – 25 x 52.5 lbs; 15 x 57.5 lbs; 15 x 57.5 lbs

 

 

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