Training. Keeping it Simple!
Now that the diet is all sorted out – which is basically going to make or break me – it’s about time I sit down and look into the proper training needed to build this body on a budget.
Now over the years I’ve looked into loads of new training regimes online and also listened to people in the gym and on the forums go on about certain workouts working wonders, and giving them bigger biceps or shit like that. In almost all cases I have found when you really dig deep into it and research what they are saying – instead of just being a sheep and following the advice without having a moment to reflect on it – the miracle new weight training regime turns out to be a lot of crap.
Often, this 'new exercise routine' has you doing things we all know, like bench press, at a certain angle while perched on a sit up ball and stirring a cup of tea with your toe! Absolute nonsense in my opinion, and yeah I don’t doubt for a minute that this exercise will hit the muscle fibres on your chest in a different way, but unless your 1% body fat and a fitness model or pro bodybuilder then you are wasting your time with it. Just my opinion.
I’m looking to find a basic regime that is going to pack on as much muscle as possible while bulking and let me keep these gains while cutting fat from my body. All I would say is please don’t fall for the hype that companies and 'gurus' will try and sell you, and just properly research the stuff to make your own mind up, and if it checks out then great, but in most cases I think you will struggle to find verifiable evidence supporting it. With that all said and done let me stop going off on a rant and let you know what I’ve decided to go with in order to hit that stage in the best shape of my life.
Firstly as I said before I’m going on a nice lean bulk at around 3000 calories a day so I want to be hitting my muscles hard and very heavy, in order to tear down those muscle fibres, and let them grow week on week. As with any truly progressive muscle building training I will be looking to better my reps or weights each week, as that will tell me I’m growing.
I’m going to go back to basics with this, and will be doing the workouts I was addicted to in my twenties – which is as simple as hitting a body part a day and hitting it hard. I will be looking to do about 4-6 exercises for each muscle and 3-4 sets with each exercise with the weight starting high and tapering down once I start struggling to reach the minimum 6 reps but always aiming for that 12 reps. So, as an example, for bench press I would be doing 4 sets, and say I’m starting at 150kg and banging out 10 reps on this, then I wouldn’t strip any weight off as I should be hitting at least 6 reps on my next set. I then hit 7 reps on set 2 so again I would leave the 150kg on the bar and go for the 6 reps on set 3. Its only then on set 4 I would be looking to strip 10-20 kg off the bar and then your reps should hit the 8-10 reps on this final set. Again if you struggle and hit 6 or below on any set even if set 1 then drop that weight and bash it out again.
You are looking to be nice and slow with a good form on these reps, as to really hit these muscle fibres hard and force them to grow and maybe a wee 30-40 second break between sets. For me, this sort of training should destroy my muscle fibres and help me progress at a good steady rate as long as my diet's adequate too.
Now, with this type of training you need to track your workouts, so that you don’t forget what you did last time. A pen and paper is fine, but I use an app on my phone as its lot easier and less time consuming. There are loads of free apps out there for you to do this with so give them a try – they are totally worth it.
The workout week is going to look pretty much like this for me, Monday is Back Day, Tuesday is Chest, Wednesday is Shoulders and Abs, Thursday is Biceps and Triceps and Friday is Legs.
Now, I have given each of these a day but please don’t make the mistake I made for years – if you miss say a Tuesday then you let it all go to shit! Instead, use these days as guides to when you want to train that body part but if you miss it, then just do that workout you missed next – don’t be anal like I was and each body part had to be done on a certain day or not at all as it’s too easy to get lazy that way, and I’m sure as hell not giving myself the chance to make the same mistake again!
Next is going to be working out what’s the best routine for me while on a cut. Should be an easy decision for me, as I dabbled a bit with HIT (not HIIT, although the principles are similar) weight training a year or so ago and absolutely loved it. An online trainer told me about it and when I looked into it, it was basically the Dorian Yates style of training. This means four sets on each exercise again, but starting off mid-to-high with the weight, then tapering UP!
So again, let’s use bench press as it’s nice and easy to picture in your head. First set would be set up at about 75% of what your idea of your max lifting weight is for a 'normal' set, and you want to be hitting no more than say 12 reps on that. If you’re doing more than 12 reps, then up the weight as you're starting too low.
For set 2, you would bang on say another 20kg on the bar and your likely to hit around eight reps before you fail. Then on the third set you're adding 20kg, and maybe hitting six reps before burning out so you can keep the weight the same and finish your last set – or for good measure bang on another 10kg and force another three reps out at that.
You should be doing all this while only having around 20-30 seconds in between sets – or just the time to put the extra plates on. When lifting the weight in this regime you’re looking for explosive power on the lift and a slow gradual negative – to really hit those muscles hard and make sure they are maxed out.
Training like this, your heart rate will be kept high and you'll sweating like a pig, which means your almost turning this workout into a cardio session without going near that poxy treadmill, and you will continue to burn the calories when you've long finished the gym that day – perhaps the greatest benefit of HIT training!
As far as my workout days, I will be mixing it up a little and maybe combining some muscle groups, but I will decide on that nearer the time. One thing is for sure, will be switching my exercises up in order to keep my body guessing. For instance, instead of barbell bench press, I will be doing dumbbell bench press and so on, to hit the muscles in a slightly different way each time. Doing this also helps to keep the central nervous system from burning out when you're already under the stresses of dieting and working and generally being a bodybuilder and a father in full-time employment!
It’s as simple as going slow, long and heavy on my bulk, and explosive, short and even heavier on my cut. This training, along with the diet I have set out, (I’m hoping) will earn me a top 3 finish on that stage in May. Watch this space.
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