8 May 2017 – 12 Aug 2017
*** Most up-to-date pic on blog homepage: https://enderedfitness.wordpress.com ***
3 months “Stay the Course”
Following a fantastic 12-day vacation to Paris/NW France, and after a 20-day workout hiatus, I finally decided to stay the course, and pursue a 3-day per week regular body split: Monday/Shoulders+Tris, Wed/Legs, Fri/Back+Pecs.
HFT For Biceps
Where are biceps, you ask? Well, following my last vid, I received more critical feedback than usual:
“Your legs look pathetic. Can’t believe you posted that.”
“You might as well quit now. Your [sic] not going to get any bigger.”
Whatever. But this time there were more comments about my arms– more specifically, my biceps(. Don’t worry– I received much more positive feedback than negative!) Now I’m pretty good at keeping criticism in perspective, but when I received a fifth remark about my arms, I decided to take a second look and guess I have to agree.
“… you said you broke through 14 inches but your arms look the same as a year ago really.”
“Great back and I see some chest development but no, I don’t see any difference in your shoulders and your biceps in fact look smaller.”
This snippet from someone who is always positive and encouraging had one line that stuck out and echoed the criticisms which made me finally reconsider:
“… it looks like your [sic] in the same boat as I am with your biceps lagging behind while the rest show some good gainz.”
I guess I have to agree. Although I was able to break the 14″ flexed goal, my arms still look pretty much the same unflexed (I don’t think smaller though). So… I’m supplementing the above 3-day split with Chad Waterbury’s “HFT for Arms” workout from his “Huge in a a Hurry” book. (I’m probably only going to do the biceps part and lay off the triceps– don’t want to interfere with delt/pec work.) Hey, I can’t deny Waterbury’s ‘Triceps Torture’ program did me well, and from feedback I received, some others who tried it also saw visible gains. One guy also wrote me that he did two cycles of HFT for Arms from the book, and saw visible gains (he sent pics- yes his gains were obvious). Let’s see what Waterbury can do for my biceps… It’s only 5 weeks plus an unload week — what do I have to lose? I’m more or less extracting the biceps portion from the HFT for Arms program, so maybe I’ll mess things up doing that. But basically I’ll be hitting the biceps with an intense exercise multiple times per week. I’ll, of course, report back.
I will also hit a random 2nd muscle group a 2nd time each week using ScottHermanFitness’ “Cheat and Recover” workout method. And finally, I’m going to do a continuous modified “Ultimate Abs” program.
I’m going to do this for 3 months and see how it goes and hopefully I’ll be in a new home by then. My goals over the 3 months are basically:
– gain 3 lbs lean muscle mass;
– add a bit more size all around;
– add visible unflexed size to my upper arms, especially biceps;
– find a #(@&$# house to buy!
My current measurements unflexed 5/7/17, taken cold after 20 days only body-weight ‘maintenance’ training:
– Upper arms: 12.5″ / Forearms: 11.4″
– Upper torso: 41.75″ / Waist: 33.0″
– Thighs: 20.75″ / Calves: 14.35″
– 151 lbs, 13.1% bf (France vacation added 3 lbs and ~0.5% bf)
Week 00 – 08 May 2017: Free-weight Tune-up
I did 3 full-body workouts this week to get back in the saddle after 20 days of no free-weight training. Day 1 toasted me, crawled up the steps when I got home, and had to stretch repeatedly the entire next day, I was so sore. Day 3 was good, but I seemed more tired than I should have been by the end of the workout. Day 5 I wasn’t feeling well but punched out the routine, nothing extra. Turns out I was coming down with a post-vacation cold, which is probably what made the workouts seem more strenuous.
Week 01 – 15 May 2017: Side-lined
More than just a cold, could not work out until Thursday. Feeling a bit better (about 80%) on Thursday I did an all-out Leg day: pyramid sets of 10 reps on 4 leg-intensive exercises, with pistol squat and seated calf press finishers. Good hit, felt good. Got my bodyfat back down below 13%. Biceps already feel fuller after week 1 of “HFT 4 Biceps”.
Weeks 02 , 03, 04 – May 22 thru Jun 10: Gainz!
Hey Everyone– sorry I haven’t been blogging. I appreciate everyone who asked if I’m ok– nice to feel missed! (I know, I know– you want pic updates…) Still doing “Stay the Course” as described above. So here you go…
End of month 1/Week 4. I’m not pumped here, and not flexing either. Lats and gunz really starting to show and people are commenting. Lots of weighted pullups, heavy Cheat & Recover cable pulldowns (see below), and various rows (T-Bar, Inverted, and Bent-over Underhand Barbells). Feels good when all the hard work and discipline starts paying off! BF% still in high 12’s, so abs are a bit shy. But I’m up to 151 lbs (not going to address BF% until I hit 158). *** What do you say– think it’s working??? ***
–> I’ve been incorporating some very effective set schemes into my routines.
1) My favorite new one is Chad Waterbury’s Reverse Ladder Iso set– Take an exercise, like Inverted Rows (I do these weighted, from rings) and for the first rep, isometrically hold in the peak contracted position for 5 seconds, then do 5 rows; next hold in the peak position for 4 seconds, followed by 4 rows, etc., down to 1 second hold/one row.
2) I’ve also been doing major ‘Cheat & Recover’ first sets. With these you majorly overload on the concentric (sloppy form acceptable), and then fight the eccentric. Here’s a Youtube vid for Cheat & Recover on biceps, by ScottHermanFitness, one of my favorites. GREAT stuff! If you try it out, let me know what you think…
ScottHermanFitness – Cheat & Recover for Biceps
Weeks 05 – Jun 12-18: Can’t help it— PR’g
Monday – A lifter friend said to me, ‘If you can’t Overhead Barbell Press your body weight, you’re weak.’ That’s when I realized, I had *never* done a strict Overhead Barbell Press! BUMMER– only able to hoist 125lbs– 25lbs short!!! So I did, and will do, overtime on shoulders for the next few weeks until I reach 150. Absolutely murdered my poor delts today.
Wednesday – KILLER leg day – One of those ‘limp from the gym/crawl up the stairs’ workouts. New Squat PR @ 245lbs. Wanted to shoot for this before upcoming deload (2 weeks away, but going to Deadlift instead of Squat next week). Amazed at gains in my leg-strength these past four weeks.
Friday – Good chest and back hit. So it’s said, ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’. I saw another lifter doing my Cheat & Recover routine on the incline chest press machine– cool! Plus I’m killing my upper back workouts. Wonder why my back is so strong and responsive, while my chest is just meh??? But I have to say, I am seeing some definite growth in the pecs– very encouraged!
Weeks 06 – Jun 19-25: Pre De-Load – More PR and some tears
My last week before a de-load week. Man, I’m killing these workouts so well, feeling and seeing the gainz, and just this week a lady friend at the gym commented that I was “filling out”! All this makes it SO hard to stick to the plan and take a de-load next week. But de-load I must. First, time for one more PR? My body weight has been hovering between 153 and 155 all week, with bf% maintaining in the high 12%s. That means over 2lbs of lean muscle added in under 2 months– I am ON COURSE!!! This is such a learning process, over time how to listen to your body, what workout strategy works best on different body parts, what nutrition model works best… Don’t ever let me give you the impression this is easy, it’s not. It is hard, hard work both inside and outside the gym.
HFT for Arms — I had a couple of friends email me saying they did not see me commenting on my biceps work in this blog. Look at that, they’re right! Well, I stuck to HFT for Arms (biceps only portion) and this week is the prescribed “Unload” week. My biceps are DEFINITELY bigger, but I need to wait until after next week’s deload to see what’s left after HFT’s constant, incredible pump. I think I may have added 1/4″ to 1/2″ on each arm. We’ll see…
Monday – Added a ‘scrape-the-rack’ as finisher to my rack-delt work, basically a seated overhead press while also pushing forward on the bar, scraping it along the rack to engage more front delts. Great burn!
Wednesday – Learned the evening before my offer on a new house was going through– I’m going to be a home-owner again soon, hopefully by 7/14/17!!! So I was feeling great the next morning, and decided if my deadlifting felt good I’d go for the PR (finally). I was a little skeptical, but something happened. I determined to put all my mind-muscle training to the task like never before, got down on the bar, closed my eyes, and just zen’d out, forgot where I was. Concentrated on sending signals down to my core and legs, and decided, one-two-three– abs get tighter than you’ve ever been — hamstrings fire!– c’mon hip flexors… feet you’re going through the floor. Suddenly, I was up! I remember thinking, “How did I get here?” Opened my eyes, shouted, ‘Yes!’, and immediately tears were streaming down my cheeks. 3 plates, 315lbs PR deadlift! Needless to say , the remainder of my leg day, I KILLED it, as my friend Siddarthan would say 😉
Friday – I don’t know, man. Another amazing pec/back workout. It’s going to be very hard de-loading next week, I feel so on fire. But we must do what we must do.
Weeks 07 & 08 – Jun 26-Jul 8: Complete Unload
Week 07 I took completely off from the gym. This old body is thanking me profusely. I only did light “apartment-ready” workouts 😉 and a day of intense manual labor (digging out my Dad’s yard for a patio). As mentioned previously, I find after 8 weeks of all-out power lifting, I need the “off” week for recovery. What’s cool about it? After a week off my muscles clearly increase in size. I’ve read about this before, how elongated “active rest” while continuing a protein-rich diet, allows a complete muscle-repair cycle thereby increasing muscle volume.
Week 08 was Reloading — I did three separate full-body workouts, all reloading/rebuilding at about 80% previous load, and using low-resistance/high-rep work for the smaller muscle groups. Feels good to be back in the saddle.
Honestly ya’ll, I cannot believe how 5 weeks of HFT for Arms (biceps only) clearly thickened and hardened my biceps– about 1/4″ on each– AND my upper arms finally met the challenge to “fill these sleeves” per my “Ultimate Arms” review vid. (14:36). I cannot believe I’m even thinking this, but now I’m on my way to 15″ arms. When I start working out again the week of July 10th, I will incorporate the entire HFT for Arms, biceps AND triceps work. Good stuff!
(pic is from 17-07-04 vid “AX1 – With what I now know, would I still recommend it?“)
Week 09 – Jul 9-Jul 15: [Na+][Cl-]
Back to fully loaded workouts, now with full-arm HFT workouts incorporated. Been going to the gym in the early afternoons instead of mornings. Full of high-schoolers and college kids. Kind of interesting to observe how a few are very focused, a few are clueless, and many are there for socializing. They show up in groups of 2 or 3 it seems. Very different from the early morning crowd who have limited time before heading off to work, and are intent on their routines.
On Tues I watched a vid by Scott Herman, whom I esteem very highly, about the need to up salt intake for better workouts ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7_-pq2JaD8 ). So on Wed, leg day, thought I’d give it a shot. Mixed a teaspoon salt into water and downed it about an hour before the workout, then mixed another into my gym water bottle with some honey. I don’t know if it was the salt, but man, I smashed through my leg routines like never before. As planned, I only did an 80% (250lbs) load on my deadlifts. I intended to take it easy, 3 sets of 5, but when 5 came too easily, I up’d it to 8 reps. Threw on another 20 lbs, and it still seemed way too easy. I’m thinking, whoa!, should I go for another 1RM? Decided not to and just take it slow, being my first full week back. But then over to the leg press, threw on the 6 plates (270lbs) figuring I’d fight for three sets of 10. But again! 12 reps came way too easily! What is going on? Could it really be the salt??? I threw on another plate (315lbs), and blasted away two more sets of 12. Same on the rest of my leg work, easily exceeding previous limits.
Friday I closed the deal on my new house, and so now I’m a home-owner again. Woo hoo!!!
Week 10 – Jul 16-Jul 22: New Home / New Gym / More Salt Please?
Monday – Started at a new gym today. Transition wasn’t too bad, pretty much able to find all the equipment I needed to pound on the old pecs, and get in my HFT Arms work. (Note: It was not easy cancelling my previous Golds Gym membership — read your fine print, people, and don’t believe it if they tell you, ‘you can cancel any time without penalty’…)
I think I’m going to like this new gym a lot. For one thing, the air conditioning is cooler, so I’m not sweating as much so didn’t have to change my t-shirt in the middle of the workout. One weird thing– the stationary bikes/treadmills are on a 2nd floor balcony overlooking the gym floor– kinda weird all these people constantly looking down on you.
Once again seemed to be able to up my pec resistance more than expected– due to the added salt again?
Wed – My first leg day (w squats) at the new gym. Once again, not going for PRs, but heaving loads I just cannot believe. Since my planned squat work was going too easily, I decided I would ladder up with 5 rep sets, adding 10 lbs each set. Went from 165 to 205 lbs, and *finally* failed at 4 reps. Then on the leg press, 315# x 12R x 3S with hardly a struggle. The rest of the workout went that way. Yes, ya’ll– I’m blaming the salt!
Thu – Friday was move-in day, so came Thu to do delts. I’m weak here, like in my bench, so was going for 3 sets of 5 reps. 120# on the standing, followed by 115# on the seated. Probably should have done 5 by 5, had the strength and energy. Was hoping to get some back work in too, but clients were ringing my phone off the hook– had to go!
Week 11 – Jul 23-Jul 29: Lying Smith Pec Squeeze -+ Ask before you touch please?
Still a little off my fitness schedule with all the work I need to do on the new home.
Lying Smith Pec Squeeze: I added this exercise to my chest workouts to hit the inner pecs. Not sure this replaces the plate squeezes, but I’ll give it a couple of weeks. Basically, get a short v-handle from the cable machine attachments. Lie on the floor head-to-toe directly under the bar of the Smith machine (feet hang outside the rack). Make sure you put the stops on the bottom in case you accidentally drop the bar. Placing the V-handle mid-way along the bar, press upwards, squeezing the pecs for 2 seconds at the top. This exercise smashes the pecs very well, but it is also triceps intensive.
I think I’m about to change up my workout routine significantly over the next few weeks. Since I’ve seen good results on my pecs using eccentric overload and on my biceps using HFT, I’m going to explore how to apply those methods to other muscle groups. Also going to try decreasing load and increasing total reps/sets for awhile. Love power lifting, but guess I have to lay that down to maximize hypertrophy.
Several times over the past couple of weeks people touched me while complementing my body. I guess this is normal, but I’ve always been weird about people touching me, especially if I’m not expecting it. Guess I just have to deal with it
Week 12 – Jul 30-Aug 5: Time for Change / “Stay the Course” finish / Results
Confession time — I’ve been doing some major dialoguing with fitness professionals about things I’ve learned, things I question, things I’m curious about. Time for Change. I’m going to say goodbye to power lifting now, and switch to a high rep / high volume routine. My dabbling over the past couple of months with Cheat & Recover, Eccentric Overload, and other metabolic workout methods have produced results for me I have not seen in the prior year and a half. So time to switch up the workout routine majorly.
–> Tues morning I weighed in at 157 lbs / 13.1% bf — could mean 4-5 lbs lean muscle mass gain over past three months! Will take an average of 5 days this week and square it off for a final determination.
–> Fri morning: Official end of “Stay the Course”. Weighed in at 155.2 lbs / 12.5%bf, which lands me right at the week’s 5-day average of 135.7 lbs lean mass. I started 3 months prior, 8 May, at 151.0 lbs / 13.1% bf, or 131.2 lbs lean mass. Meaning that in 3 months, I gained 4.5 lbs lean mass. (I know I’m going to get a hard time on this– go ahead, bring it on…) I had to re-do the math myself, ya’ll, because it seemed too good to be true. But it’s correct and honest. Again I can assert that muscle gain was mostly in my upper legs, glutes, and upper back. But no tricks here, *except* that I did up my protein intake about half way through this 3 month period.
“STAY the COURSE” WRAP-UP
INCREASED PROTEIN INTAKE
For all of my 1.5+ years prior workout experience I had been keeping to the oft-cited 1g per 1lb targeted weight of protein intake per day (so for me that was 155 to 160 g per day). At one time during AthleanX/cross-training, I up’d my overall caloric (protein/carb/fat) intake to try to gain muscle mass, but it only produced slight muscle gain compared to overall body fat gain. So I backed off. Thankfully a youtuber finally convinced me to up protein only, so I went for 1.5g per 1lb, which brought me to about 230g protein per day (2900 calories per day). But after 2 weeks I saw positive lean mass gains, so up’d it again to 2g per 1lb. That’s when I saw my body fat % start to rise significantly, so I cut back down to 1.5g per 1lb per day, and that’s where I guess I’ll stay until someone convinces me again to change. (FYI, I am a true-blue carb cycler.)
RESULTS from “STAY THE COURSE”
These were my 3-month goals, copied right from the first entry at the top of this page– ALL of them met:
– gain 3 lbs lean muscle mass (*** per Week 12 entry, gained about 4.5 lbs);
– add a bit more size all around (*** see before/after pics below);
– add visible unflexed size to my upper arms, especially biceps (*** see July 4th vid referenced in the “Week 08” entry on this page);
– find a #(@&$# house to buy! (***praise God, I’m in and typing this from there right now!!!)
I’ll save measurements for my upcoming 2-year fitness review vid coming out October 2017 (still not fully moved in and I have no idea where the tape measure is…). For now let’s just let some pics do the talking (before & after)…
— from 3 months ago “Stay the Course” start:
— a few snaps of me from this morning (screenshots from phone vid):
I’m leaving this week for a 10-day trip to the Columbia & Snake Rivers in Oregon. So this will be my usually-planned “deload” that I take every 6 to 8 weeks (although I really don’t feel like I need one right now).
So when I get back the last week of August, as already mentioned, I’m going full-bore high intensity (high volume/high frequency) training with many of the excellent metabolic workout methods I’ve picked up over the last six months: eccentric overload, Cheat & Recover sets, reverse-pyramid sets with isometric holds, occlusion, burn-out sets, &c. I have a couple of fitness buddies already ahead of me on this trail, so I’m hoping to hear from them also about what works and what doesn’t. As I’m approaching my desired weight goal of 160 lbs, I’m probably going to start re-introducing HIIT workouts into my routines in order to reduce body fat again. I’ll include more info on the subsequent wordpress blog page for anyone interested.
I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL!
–> Many of you have written and continue to write me short comments, or good, long emails. You not only compliment me on my own gains, but encourage me in my struggles, challenge me in my follies, suggest for me new routines, and ask advice from me on various fitness (and other! LOL– you know who you are) issues. But I am mostly inspired by those who update me on their own fitness treks, and let me know how in some small or big way I’ve helped along the way. You keep me coming back, and make all these online video and blog efforts more than worth it. I am humbled. I am grateful.
Let me close this blog page with this small pseudo-rant though– To all of you who have insisted and still insist a 57-year old cannot make significant, natural gains (and you are not a few)– I hope my journey has inspired YOU to start re-thinking through what you assume to know about training and nutrition. Maybe one day soon some bio-chemically thing that happens to seniors will hit me too, and all this will come to a screeching halt. You can trust me– I won’t shy away– I’ll let you know. But in the meantime, there is *nothing* special about me, promise. I always have been and still am truly a regular old, skinny-fat dude. And I am making gains. Pretty Significant Gains. And no matter what you say, I’m going to keep right on doing the same.
[Well, on second thought, maybe there IS one thing a bit different about me– I have this fierce, stubborn determination. And that, I’ve come to believe, is 90% of the game. Got you some?]
NEXT PAGE: 10: Four months “Turn It Up”