I purchased some new adjustable dumbbells for my gym. I did not need dumbbells but certain exercises just feel better using a dumbbell. Not having a lot of room in my gym the Powerblock Sport EXP look to be a good fit. The dumbbells are adjustable from 5 lbs to 90 lbs. It’s super easy to adjust in 10 pound increments. Increasing the weight by 5 pounds is a bit trickier but still fairly easy.
The Powerblocks need way less space and are cheaper than buying individual dumbbells. It was a no brainer for me not to get these. I will do a video review once I have had a chance to use them more. I have already had people ask me to let them know what I think about them.
So far I have used them for split squats as it allows for a lower center of gravity and is easier to keep your balance compared to a barbell. I also used them for bicep curls as it gives a better range of motion then a barbell. You can also do curls as a unilateral exercise. Cables allow for a more uniform application of stress to the muscle however I do think using dumbbells provides a different stimulus. It feels more rewarding doing curls with dumbbells versus cables.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison
So things have not gone they way I have wanted them to but I am not giving up. I hurt my back just over a month ago putting the seats back in our van. I could barely walk for several days and was in a lot of pain. Looking back I have always been dealing with some kind of low back / glute pain and I have tried many different things to fix the issue but it always seems to be there waiting to act up.
I use to think it was just part of the process. Now I realize I needed to focus on getting this resolved once and for all. I reached out to Leo King to see if he had any physical therapist connected with his gym? He advised that he did not but recommended I try Dr. Darren Yick which is who he sees when he has problems. He also a said Darren was who Bryce Krawczyk was seeing when he was dealing with some back issues leading up to competing in Worlds last year in Calgary.
Dr. Darren Yick quickly identified what my issue was, very tight sartorius muscles, and was able to help with losing them up. He has given me some foam rolling to help with making and keep it healthy.
Foam Rollling the Sartorius Muscle - YouTube
I go back and see him on Thursday which is good because I still have some back pain. This could be possibly related to something else or I just need more work on this muscle.
I have also just had a meeting with my coach Alberto Nunez and am hoping to move to reporting in to him every couple of weeks as we start the initial fat loss phase. The goal is to drop some weight (to 195 lbs) and then take a few months break maintaining this weight before starting official prep at the end of the year. Nutrition and training program is in hand and I start training again on Monday.
I am hoping losing some weight and having my muscles be more defined will provide some additional motivation. Not to mention my clothes barely fit me and my lifting belt can’t expand any further.
I just bought a 2006 Honda VTX 1300C and am so excited! I use to bike in my early 20’s. I raced motocross in the open class, riding a Honda CR 500. I also had a Honda 750 Supersport for the street. Every spring I would see all the bikes hit the road and I would get bike fever but could never justify the expense until this year.
So one week into training and things didn’t go as planned. I started out wanting to train all five week days. Monday started out good with a push training session. I went light as I wanted to ensure I did not over do it. Despite taking it easy I was pretty sore the next day. I decided modify my training and do Push on Monday, Pull on Wednesday and Legs on Friday.
Wednesday came and I was even more sore. I had signed up for a Powerlifting Forum with The Strength Guys on January 27th. Powerlifting is not my focus right now but I thought I could learn to lift better and get some motivation. Tuesday they emailed me asking to get some Pre-Analysis video for the 27th. They wanted each lift from two different perspectives.
Knowing I did not have the room in my gym for that I made arrangements to go down to King Fitness on Saturday. Leo King the owner was going to help me out. So with that in mind I thought okay I will train Pull on Thursday and will count the video analysis of the big three as Legs.
Thursday I was out with the flu so I ended up just going in on Saturday and at least getting the video taken. Not perfect by any means but it’s a start. I have included the footage that we got on Saturday. Hoping to get some solid advice from the forum on the 27th!
So here we are the beginning of a new year. Looking back, 2018 was a decent year and I am very grateful for the many blessings in my life. That said the end of the year kind of went off plan as far as continuing to make progress in the gym. In fact I have not trained in the last 3 months.
Life got very stressful at the end of September. I find it difficult if not impossible to train when I get really stressed out. Many people find training to be their therapy or stress relief. I wish that was the case for me but so far it does not seem to work that way.
The good news is my wife Chris and I went on our first ever cruise to the Caribbean the end of November. This really helped to reduce my stress. Things are slowly getting better and I want to get back in the gym in 2019.
It’s hard to lay out a road map when the way forward is unclear. For now I will simply start by taking a step in the right direction and hope that I can continue. The goal is to still hopefully get on stage in May of 2020 but the path to get there is uncertain at this point. I can’t wait until all the stars align to begin. Ultimately I lift weights to look good and feel good. I can do that without ever getting on the stage so I might as well get back to it.
Ultimately I just want to get back to a place were I love training again. Right now I don’t feel like that. I see this giant mountain in front of me (getting on stage in 2020). Part of me wants to stand on top but another part is questioning is it worth the sacrifice? Good thing is I don’t have to answer that at the moment, I just need to get back into the gym on a regular bases.
Dieting Information has gotten a lot better since I started my fitness journey over 6 years ago. That said there is still a lot bad information out there. As an example I came across a supplement retailers website that was promoting expert contest prep advice.
CONTEST PREP DIETING PLAN
Foods to Avoid
Protein – High-fat meats like beef, and pork, you need protein from your meat, not FAT, to have a tight, hard muscle defining physique.
Carbohydrates – All sugar, Refined grains, Fruit (typically is eliminated 8 weeks before contest due to sugar content)
Fats – Any food that is made from hydrogenated oil. No dairy (except whey protein powder)
To me seeing this old school bodybuilding “nutrition advice” still being propagated is pretty sad. Telling people they can’t eat beef or pork, fruit, dairy and sugar of any kind if they want to get stage lean is bullshit. Sorry there is no other way of saying it.
SCIENCE BASED INFORMATION
I have worked with two of the top natural bodybuilding coaches for two contest preps. I was never told to avoid any of the foods listed above and I got pretty lean. The key was focusing on hitting my macros of protein, carbs and fats everyday.
Now my goal is not to bash but to help educated people that there is a better scientific based way to lose weight. Getting people stage lean is an extreme. If people can get that lean by not avoiding the foods listed above then anyone can lose weight by not following such rigid diets.
I am not a nutritional expert but I have worked with and follow many people who are. If you want to learn a better healthier and more sustainable way to lose weight I can certainly help answer any general questions you may have. My goal is to help you do your homework. For more in depth questions I can point you to online information from the experts or recommend coaches who can provide one on one advice.
I am going to wrap this post up by putting in a video from my first contest coach Dr. Layne Norton who has been trying to help people learn about nutrition for over a decade. Here he explains how another fitness “expert” is also promoting bullshit and explains why it’s incorrect.
One year ago I started working with Alberto Nunez of 3D Muscle Journey. I told him that for most of my time lifting weights I had dieted. I felt like I was more of a professional dieter than a bodybuilder and I had never felt “big”. Weighing 203 lbs at the time I had spent most of 2017 dieting.
I thought I needed to stay fairly lean in my off season and not get to fat. My stage weight was 180 lbs in 2014 so I was currently sitting at 23 lbs over. I was thinking I needed to get down to 190 to 195 and then start a lean gaining phase up to 200 to 205. At that point I would diet back down again thus staying fairly lean all the time. This seems to be a very prevalent mind set in natural bodybuilding these days.
Much to my suprise Alberto suggested I stop dieting and eat at slightly over maintenance calories and lift weights. Every three months I would check in and update Alberto with progress pictures and he would say, “let’s keep going”. So here we are one year later at 220 lbs and I can honestly say for the first time in my life I actually feel “big”. The above picture was taken on a company field trip last week and I think it captures that feeling.
Doing the math I have gained 17 lbs in 12 months which averages out to 1.41 lbs a month or .33 lbs per week. Now some of that weight has definitely been fat but the rate of gain has been less than 1% of my starting body weight per month which should translate into muscle gain while keeping fat gain at a reasonable level.
Below are front and back comparison pictures from August of last year to today. For 21 lbs difference I do not see anything major that stands out. Yes a bit fatter but muscle wise about the same. Seeing the scale move up without noticeable fat gain is a win. Very eager to see a comparison when I diet back down to 199 lbs. Then hopefully I will see the fruits of my labor.
The game plan is to keep going until the end of the year and then start dieting down in the new year to see if any progress has been made. I am thrilled with how this last year has gone and I am enjoying the journey. Thank you Alberto for your guidance and wisdom of encouraging me to not be afraid of adding some weight to the scale and just focusing on performance in the gym. I finally feel big thanks to you my friend!
Information overload is defined as “exposure to or provision of too much information or data.” In my younger days, before the internet, the only way you got information on bodybuilding was from buying bodybuilding magazines. Every month I would get my copy of Musclemag and read it cover to cover.
Information today on bodybuilding has exploded due to the internet. The first challenge is sorting the good info from the bad. A good rule of thumb is that if they are trying to sell you some secret formula supplement or training program its bad. You know the ones where they discovered something that will give you all the gains.
I think I have done a pretty decent job of finding good evidence based information on natural bodybuilding. I have compiled a list to help people get that information. Even though this reduces the amount of information out there it’s still an overload of information.
Social Media Overload
There are research reviews, Podcasts, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, Facebook groups, books, and seminars. People spend so much time keeping up on all of this information. This makes sense if this is your career but if your just trying to figure out the best approach for you it might be a bit much?
Do you think people spend to much time focusing on the minor details instead of ensuring they are mastering the basics? Is there such a thing as too much information? If you are working with a coach does being exposed to all these other sources of information help or hurt you?
I guess ultimately we all need to feed our passion in a way that works for us. I know there are pro natural bodybuilders that just do their thing. They don’t use social media or stay up on all the latest research. I also know that there are many amateurs that devour any and all information. As long as what you are doing works for you then all is good. If it’s not you might want to re-evaluate your approach.
More and more research is showing that volume is a key driver for hypertrophy. Increasing volume can be done by adding weight to the bar, adding reps, or adding sets. Traditionally I would keep the sets the same and try and complete 3 sets or 6 to 8 reps of a given exercise. Once I could complete 3 sets of 8 reps I would increase the resistance.
Recently I have been dealing with hip shift in my squat as well as some lower back pain. So trying to continue to increase the resistance or add additional reps was not an option. The challenge then was how do I still make progress and not make things worse?
I decided to modify my training and do something I have never done before. Instead of trying to add weight or reps from the previous training session I decided to add sets. Week one – 3 sets of 6 reps, week two – 4 sets of 6 reps, week three – 5 sets of 6 reps. The fourth week I do a deload of 2 sets of 6 reps. The resistance used stays the same for all 4 weeks.
After this 4 weeks block I increase the weight and start the next block back at 3 sets. The exception would be if I was not able to complete the number of reps for all five sets of week three. If that happens I keep the weight the same for the next 4 week block.
Adding weight to the bar or more reps from one training session to the next becomes harder the more advanced you get. This also can cause a breakdown in form causing injury. Keeping the resistance and reps the same I am able focus on getting better quality reps. I also get more practice performing the exercise. This has allowed me to heal up and fix my hip shift while still being able to make progress.
So far I am really liking this new training format and will continue to train in this manner. It’s a much faster way to increase volume. As an example bench pressing 225 for 3 sets of 6 at RPE 8 = 4,050 lbs. Increasing this to 3 sets of 8 = 5,400 lbs an increase of 1,350 lbs of volume.
Now let’s look at adding additional sets using the same weight and reps. Week 1 – 225 x 3 x 6 at RPE 8 = 4,050 lbs. At week 3 – 225 x 5 x 6 = 6,750 lbs I have double the increase in volume compared to doing 3 sets of 8. So far I have found adding an additional set each week to be much easier and a quicker way to increase volume.
The key is to ensure I am able to recover from the volume. I think cycling the volume will allow for reducing fatigue and ensuring recovery long term. I may also need to increase the number of sets for some muscle groups and decrease for others. Right now I am using this strategy for all exercises as a baseline.
Brad Schoenfeld will be publishing a new study shortly that covers this and Eric Helms has just published a post called “Muscle Group Specialization Cycles: Why and How – Part 1” with Part 2 outlining what these cycles look like so I will most likely do a follow up post as I continue to tweak things.