2012 marks 14.5 years of weight lifting for me.  When I first started training, I remember shadowing trainers at the gym to learn about the in’s and out’s of the weight room.  My first mentor stuck in my hands ASCM’s certification textbook, a copy of Tudor Bompa’s Periodization, and his book Serious Strength Training.  That was in mid 1998.  Years later when I finally grasped the concepts of what Mr. Bompa was saying in his book, my own physique really took off.

I spent most of my 20s as a professional dancer.  I naturally hold most of my weight in my legs.  But dancing made it more pronounced.

(Took the above pic today – 12/7/2011.  My leg work these days are mostly high volume and lighter to moderate weights, I’ll explain that in another post!)

I always lacked upper body strength and for a long time sucked monkey ballz at push ups and pull ups.  However as I realized how much strength training could IMPROVE my dancing, I started really seriously training heavy for the upper body, and I slowly began to fill out in size and shape.

Fast forward to now.

After years of training, years of doing every kind of periodized program under the sun.  Years of different lifting techniques, etc etc, I found that keeping a simple basic premise to be the best solution for really putting on the size I wanted.  And as I became more and more serious about stepping on a stage and allowing every inch and contour of my body to be judged by total strangers, balancing out my physique has become even more crucial, and more of an art.  But over the years, one practice has always remained the same.  To build the body, to put on size, you’ve got to lift heavy, you’ve got to keep reps btw 6-12, you’ve got to work over various amounts of volume, and having some power training in the program design is also VERY important as well.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a more simplified approach with the above statements as my driving force behind the why’s/what’s/how’s of each of my workouts.  But for the next couple of weeks, I really want to put some new stressors on my body and see how it responds as far as improving the size and shape of various areas that I want to build up.

So I developed a little plan for myself to crush my back in the gym!  I love lifting heavy, I love challenges, and really I just love the monster pump I feel in the bellies of those fabulous balloons of mine.  No not my boobs!  My muscles damn it.  It’s the best feeling in the world!  But anyways so today I kicked it up a notch by wanting to include some mixed sets of straight reps, followed by a set or two of negatives, and then the final set performed as a drop set starting with the heaviest weight usually performed for 6 reps – drop the weight – complete to failure (usually about 6-8 reps), then drop for one more completed to failure (usually about 4-6 reps).  For me failure means that last rep is a challenge to perform, my form is still spot on, and really I can’t do one more without it all going to shit.  You may say within one rep short of complete failure, as I never get to the point of ABSOLUTE failure.  I don’t use spotters or any of that, so I’m even more of a stickler of making sure I use the appropriate weight for what I’m doing and to avoid unnecessary injury.

So without further ado, here is what I did today in z gym!

**This training cycle I threw calves into my workout as I want to bring them up a bit more.  Since my focus is on growth in specific areas right now, I’m doing a split routine most training days except for one when it’s strictly Olympic lifts and total body power training.  Today’s split is Back/Bi’s/Calves.**

I begin my workouts with about 3-5 mins of low intensity cardio (like a walk on the treadmill or pedaling on the bike) just to raise body/tissue temperature, then I follow with foam rolling for the muscle groups that I’ll be focusing on, then some dynamic stretching for those same groups to move through full ranges of motion prior to training.

After all of that, now the fun begins!

Narrow Reverse Grip Lat Pull Down

(I do a lot of wide grip pulls and pull ups, so it was high time to switch angles up a bit.)

Set Up:  2 Warm Up Sets (about 6 reps) – 4 Working Sets –  2-3 mins rest btw sets

1st set normal 8r to failure (as described above)

2nd and 3rd set Negatives 6-8r to failure (tempo is 4/0/2/0)

4th Set drop (6r – 8r- 10r no rest go straight one after the other) – I like to start with a weight I can max out with 6 reps and strip from there.  I AIM to hit 8 reps in the next immediate set but it’s a challenge, and I almost NEVER hit a full 10 unless I go super light and by that time I have a tear rolling down my cheek, lol.  I also tend to take a long break between this set of the exercise and the exercise that I do after just because it really taxes the body and I want as full a recovery I can get.

**Hit 105# on my pull today.  Could have gone heavier, but shoulder was a little tight today and I’m mindful of it.  But no worries, got my $115 deep tissue massage booked to get it kinked out.  For that price, that shit better be good!  I hear the MT is amazing though.**

Wide Grip T Bar Row
Set Up: 1-2 Warm Up Sets (about 6 reps), 3 Working Sets – 2-3 mins rest btw sets
1st Normal 8r,

2nd  Negative 6-8r

3rd Drop (6, 8, 10)

Rope Lat Push Down (Body Slightly Parallel to the floor/Torso slightly angled forward but back totally straight – for me allows a greater stretch through the lats and a greater range of motion for the exercise.  I have hella long arms).

Set Up: 1 Warm Up, 3 Working Sets, 2-3 mins rest btw sets

1st Normal 8r

2nd  Negative 6-8r

3rd Drop (6, 8, 10)

Standing Calf Raise BB

Set Up: 2 Warm Up, 4 working sets, 3-4 mins rest (I worked legs yesterday for high volume and they were a bit taxed.  My calves were ok, but I tend to burn out pretty quickly when I go heavy.  So I give them more rest so I can actually fully complete the subsequent sets).

1st set 6 reps

2nd set 8r

3rd set 10r

4th set 12 reps

**Stripping weight with each set**

Cambered Bar Cable Bicep Curl (Since Biceps are assistor muscles to the lats and come into play whenever you work back, I only do a minimal number of sets for them by this point, they’re already pretty taxed)

Set Up: 1 warm up, 2 Working sets performed to failure, about 2 mins rest btw sets

1st set 6 reps

2nd set 8  reps

Seated Calf Raise

1 warm up, 2 sets, about 2-3 mins rest

1st set 6 reps

2nd set 8 reps

After I hit up some more foam rolling on the muscle groups worked, then followed up with static stretching.  I’ll be following this set up on my Back/Bi/Calves day for the next few weeks…  Let’s see how I develop.

**I know some might attempt this workout, however keep in mind, it’s more of an advanced program, so I wouldn’t jump into this type of training if you’re just starting out.  I normally cycle into a workout like this after a few weeks of “adaptive” type of training which tends to be higher reps, lighter weights, minimal rest.  That kind of workout is more based on muscular endurance, stabilization, coordination, and is the cornerstone of adaption for levels of advanced lifting.  I follow that kind of workout for a few weeks before moving into a BASIC lifting program, and then go on to advanced set ups from there.  So train smart folks!**

 

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