Power Workout – Week 3 Chest and Triceps

/ Posted 01.18.2012

I started my third week in my Power Cycle this week. On Monday, I hit chest, triceps and calves. Basically, the Power Cycle allows me to slowly build up my strength by doing multiple sets (3) of two basic exercises with gradually increasing poundages. The first week, I did sets of 5 reps, the second week sets of 4 reps and this week I did sets of 3 reps. Next week, I will go back to 5 reps but use the weight I used on the second week and not the first. This way, I will finish off the cycle with more weight than I used in the beginning.

For my chest workout, I am doing two basic exercises – barbell bench press and incline dumbbell press. I finish off with 2-3 sets of a shaping exercise, flat dumbbell flyes. My barbell bench press is probably my weakest exercise of all the movements I do. I need to really build up the development and strength of my triceps muscles because I think this is the cause of my lack of strength in the bench press.

After dieting so many months last year, my strength went down further than I anticipated. To begin the power cycle two weeks ago, I started with only 225 pounds on the bench press for 5 reps. Last week, I did 235 pounds for 4 reps and this week, I was up to 245 pounds for sets of 3 reps.

My training partner Maks is super psyched about our training this year and he wants to make some great progress. Maks is only 22 years old and his goal is to get both bigger and stronger. Of course, at 22 years old, he doesn’t have to worry about aching joints, bad lower backs or declining testosterone levels. However, he is struggling with a hyper fast metabolism that won’t allow him to put on any weight. I remember those days.

Maks is closing in on 190 pounds and he wants to get up to 200 pounds and over this year. He’s using Optimum Nutrition’s Pro Complex Gainer to supplement his diet and help him gain weight. I, on the other hand, am hovering around 200 pounds and just trying to stay lean as I add muscle mass and strength. Maks would give anything to be 200 pounds. I could get to 220 pounds just by having a bad weekend. Different ages, different goals, different strategies.

I went up to 245 pounds on the bench press today for an easy 3 reps. On the third and final set, Maks talked me into using 255 pounds and that went up pretty easy too. I know it seems like ridiculously light weight but it felt good to finally start adding some strength after being so lean last year. Maks did 255 easily and he is building up his strength again after taking a few weeks off for the holidays.

Incline dumbbell presses were the second exercise we did. I’m much stronger on the dumbbell inclines than I am on the barbell flat bench. I did the 90’s in week one and the 100’s last week. This week, I started with the 110’s for an easy 4 reps. I felt like I could have gotten a couple more reps but I played it conservative and saved my strength by only doing four reps.

We finished our chest workout off with 3 sets of flat dumbbell flyes. If you’ve seen my training video Real Muscle (available on the Home Gym Warehouse), you know that I do flyes with my legs off the floor to really isolate the chest muscles. I’m pretty strong on flyes also. I did the 65 pound dumbbells on week one, the 70’s on week two and I used the 75’s this week for 3 sets of 7 reps. This gave me a good pump in the chest to finish the workout. The lower reps on the bench press and dumbbell incline press didn’t allow me to really get a good pump.

For triceps, we are sticking with the two mass-builders during the Power Cycle, close-grip bench press and dips. I did 185 for 3 sets of 5 reps on week 1 with the close-grip bench press. Last week, I went up to 195 for 4 reps and that was pretty easy. Today, I did 205 pounds for 3 reps for the first two sets and then went up to 215 pounds for 3 reps on the last set, thanks to Maks pushing me to use a heavier weight to finish off.

Dips was the second movement for triceps. I went up to a 45 pound plate for extra resistance today and did two sets of 4 reps and then only made 3 reps on the last set. My goal is to lock out on the top of the exercise to activate the medial head of the muscle (the belly of the triceps) and then lower really slowly until my upper arms are parallel to the floor before pushing hard back to the top.

Our last triceps exercise was lying tricep extensions (aka “skull crushers”). I started with 100 pounds for an easy 10 reps and then finished with two sets of 8 reps with 120 pounds. The lying tricep extensions work the long head of the muscle and the higher reps helped to pump more blood into the triceps.

Finally, Maks and I finished off the workout with calves. We started with Seated Calf Raises for the important soleus muscle of the calves. Since the soleus muscle is mostly red muscle fibers, we did high reps on this exercise. I started with 90 pounds for 20 reps on the first set, 140 pounds for 15 reps on the second set, and finished with 200 pounds for 8 and 7 reps, respectively, on the third and fourth sets.

I included 20 minutes of cardio on the treadmill, setting the speed at 3.2 mph and the incline at 8.5, for a fast walk. I’m still doing at least three days a week of cardio in the off season to stay lean (and off set the occasional binging of chocolate chip cookies that seems to occur several times a week). I weighed 202 at the end of the workout and looked pretty pumped and full when it was all over. Good training session today!

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Off Season Power Training

/ Posted 01.13.2012

The Off Season has officially started! After taking it easy for the month of December by first taking a couple of weeks off followed by another couple of weeks of light, pumping workouts, I am now on the quest to making progress for the New Year. My assignment, if I choose to accept it (loved “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” btw), is to increase my muscle mass while staying lean at the young age of 48 years old and maintaining my completely Natural status (no steroids, growth hormones, insulin or pro hormones).

My game plan is to alternate cycles of Power Training (to increase my strength on the basic exercises) with High-Intensity Training. I am anxious to again implement the HRT Training Program that I used last spring. HRT stands for Hell Raiser Training and it was designed by Tom Fuller. Tom originally came up with the idea of HRT as a means of increasing the pump in the muscles during the workout. It involves 8 traditional repetitions followed by 4 forced negatives with the help of your training partner. I used the HRT Training Program for a few months last spring when I was dieting for my Ironman Magazine photo shoot and I loved it. I’m psyched about giving it another go in the off season when I am eating more calories and carbs. I figure the additional carbs and nutrients will add up to an even greater muscle pump!

Before I jump into the HRT Training, however, I wanted to spend some quality training time increasing my strength. After dieting for a full 11 months in 2011, my strength was really neglected and I felt pretty weak in some exercises. Now that I’m recovered from all that intense training and caloric restriction from last year and I’ve added some weight, I want to build up my strength again by employing a Power Cycle.

My Power Cycle Training involves using the same weight for three sets on the basic exercises. The basic strategy looks like this:

Week 1 – 3 sets of 5 reps

Week 2 – 3 sets of 4 reps

Week 3 – 3 sets of 3 reps

Week 4 – 3 sets of 5 reps (using the weight used in Week 2)

Week 5 – 3 sets of 4 reps (using the weight used in Week 3)

Week 6 – 3 set of 3 reps (using the heaviest weight of the cycle)

I am choosing two basic exercises for each major muscle group and maybe adding a third shaping exercise done for more reps, depending on the size of the muscle. For example, when I train chest, I am doing Barbell Bench Presses first using the above cycle. Than, for my second movement, I am doing Incline DB Press with repetitions ranging from 6, 5, 4, 6, 5, 4 and finishing with 3 sets of Flyes for 8 reps.

Today, I trained back and biceps at the awesome Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa, Florida. If you are ever in the Tampa area, you owe it to yourself to check out this gym and get a workout in. It’s definitely one of the BEST Gyms I’ve ever trained at in my long career. This is the second week of the Power Cycle so I was doing 3 sets of 4 reps with the first basic movement (Barbell Rows) and 3 sets of 5 reps on the second exercise (Seated Cable Rows). I finished back with Hyper-Extensions for the lower back before moving onto biceps. For biceps, I only did two sets of 5 reps on Incline Curls followed by two sets of 4 reps on Barbell Curls.

I was sipping a Speed Stack from American Bodybuilding to get some energy going before we started training. I started the workout off with two sets of 10-15 reps on Close-Grip Pulldowns to warm up the lats. The Close-Grip Pulldown is a great exercise for targeting the lower lats but doing it with a light weight also helps to pump blood into the rear delts, biceps as well as the back. It’s very important to warm-up before training heavy with any bodypart.

After the Close-Grip Pulldowns, my training partner Max and I did some Wide-Grip Chins for the upper lats. It’s the best exercise for developing the coveted V-shape of the back. Using only our bodyweight, we did 2 sets of 9 reps each set to pump up the lats even more.

Our first basic exercise for the Power Sets was Barbell Rows. I feel that this exercise is the number one mass builder for adding thickness and size to the back. I prefer doing them old school style with the back parallel to the floor and grabbing the bar with a wide grip. This helps develop thickness in the outer lats as well as more width right through the center of the lats.

After warming up with 135 and 185 pounds over two sets, Max and I loaded up the bar to 235 pounds and did 3 sets of 4 reps. I’m positive I could have done more reps with this weight but the whole objective of the Power Cycle is to slowly build up your strength by using gradually increasing resistance over a six week period.

After the Barbell Rows, I was feeling pretty big and pumped. For our second basic movement, Max and I went with Seated Cable Rows. We did T-Bar Rows last week for our second exercise but I thought Seated Cable Rows (using a close-grip) would be a good substitute. I did one warm-up set using 220 pounds and then did three sets of 5 reps using the full stack (260 pounds). This weight felt pretty easy so I increased it by 10 pounds on the last set, making it 270 pounds.

To finish off back, we did 3 sets of Hyper-Extensions on the flat Hyperextension machine. I did 20 reps on the first set using just my bodyweight and followed that up with two more sets holding a 45 pound plate to my chest. I was able to do 15 reps using the extra weight followed by a drop set with only my bodyweight for 8 more additional repetitions.

For biceps, I kept the sets much lower because this a very small muscle group. I began with Incline Curls on a very high incline. I warmed up with the 40 pound dumbbells for 10 easy reps. Then, I did two sets of 5 reps using the 50 pound dumbbells. This was a challenging but very achievable weight for this exercise.

My next basic exercise was, of course, the Standing Barbell Curl. Last week on week one of the Power Cycle, I used 105 pounds for 3 sets of 5 reps. Today, I went up only 10 pounds to use 115 pounds for two sets of 4 reps. Again, I could have gone much heavier but the point of the cycle is to slowly increase my strength by doing multiple sets of gradually increasing resistance.

I finished my workout off with two sets of Hammer Curls. I like doing the Hammer Curls alternating arms and curling the dumbbell across my torso, aiming for the opposite shoulder. I feel it more in the brachialis muscle doing the exercise in this fashion. I used the 55 pound dumbbells for two sets of 5 reps.

Things are looking good this early in the training year. My weight is at about 200 pounds first thing in the morning before breakfast (actually 198 pounds) and my bodyfat is less than 10%. I want to stay lean and keep eating quality food with my macros at about 250 grams of protein, 300-350 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fats. Stay tuned for more updates!


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Start the New Year off right!

/ Posted 01.03.2012

As we welcome in 2012, it’s common to look forward to a brand new year and the opportunities that await us. This is the time to set new goals, new resolutions and plan for the future. I love the idea of setting goals. That’s what helps define your desires and puts a time limit on them. This forces us to work harder in order to bring our goals into reality.

The secret to realizing a big goal or resolution is to work toward that goal EVERY DAY! This is where most of us fail to ever realize our goals. It’s exciting to look at the final destination but it’s the small, daily steps that lead to that finish line. Although the big goal might look very appealing, the work that must be done every day is often routine, boring and mundane. This is what separates the people who realize their goals from those who are ultimately disappointed.

When you set up your BIG goal, be sure to write out exactly what you are going to need to do every day, every week and every month in order to realistically achieve your dream. In Bodybuilding and Fitness, these goals can range from winning a contest to achieving a certain condition with your physique.

If you want to change your physique, you will need a game plan with both your training and nutrition program. Begin with the end in mind and write out exactly what you want your physique to look like at the finish line (the date you want to achieve your goal). You might need to bring your calves up an inch and a half to bring them in proportion with your thighs, you may need to get your waist down to 32 inches to rid your physique of all your subcutaneous bodyfat and create the ultimate V-taper. Maybe you want to bring your bench press up 50 pounds or increase your arms by 2 inches.

When you know what the final goal will look like, break down where you want to be each month in order to achieve your finished look. It’s going to take months of work to reach your final destination and each succeeding month should bring you closer to your big goal. By knowing where you need to be each month, you will be more motivated to do the work you need to do each day and each week.

If you really want to be successful, take the time to map out your strategy to achieve success. Winning doesn’t happen by accident. Plan to reach your individual goal and keep yourself accountable by doing what needs to be done each day and each week to make it happen. Good Luck to all of you in 2012 and here’s to your SUCCESS!!

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