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Blog Training Workouts

New Leg Training Routine for My Bad Knee

My leg training has been mostly successful for the past few weeks. However, as with all things it can get a bit stale.

Always willing to change, I once again shifted gears and came up with another knee-friendly leg routine.

What’s different? I didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but I did throw in two important changes with my tweaked left knee in mind.

  • I went a bit heavier on most exercises. This lowered my rep range just slightly.
  • I included some unilateral (single limb) work.

Here we go:

Routine A (rest periods are 30-60 seconds)

Standing calf raise 3 x 10-16
Single leg seated calf raise 3 x 10-16

Bulgarian split squat 3 x 12
Leg extension 3 x 10-16
Leg press 3 x 10-20
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 12

Routine B (rest periods are 30-60 seconds)

Seated calf raise 3 x 10-16
Standing calf raise 3 x 10-16

Leg curl 3 x 10-16
Leg extension 2 x 16
Single leg press 3 x 12
Walking lunge 2 lengths
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 12

***

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Blog Training

The Most Overlooked Training Principle for Muscle Size

I’ll spare you the normal intro B.S. and get right to it. The most overlooked training principle for putting on real muscle size is rest periods between sets. Pure and simple. Maybe you or someone like you is guilty of not following this hallowed rule?

I was for the longest time. When I was younger I was more focused on lifting heavier and heavier. Of course I wanted to get stronger. Who doesn’t? But I was sacrificing more size for strength. I was well entrenched in the strength game. Who could blame me? I was young and enthusiastic to a fault.

Over the years I tried my best to increase the amounts I was lifting and not really paying too much attention to other factors.

I lifted heavy stuff, used some body English, and kept pushing, pressing, and pulling on all cylinders.

Age, pain, and gains

A funny thing happens when you get older. Your joints start having a say in your everyday activity. Knees become a little stiff, shoulders get cranky, and sciatica rears it’s freaking ugly face.

In my thirties I started to clean up my form a bit. Since I wasn’t competing in bodybuilding anymore I felt the consistent and obsessive drive to always improve to be tamed a bit. I could exhale a little and try a few new things in my training.

For a time perfect form did some good, but some of my joints were still holding a grudge. I was still reaping the euphoria of the iron bug bite, but I had to do something to continue the ride.

I went back to my roots. I once again became a student, studied like a school kid, and buried my ego. I went full-on high rep training with short and strict rest periods.

Then the gains came once again.

Get your head straight and gain some muscle

There are several factors that go into muscular size or hypertrophy. Mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress are three of the main components. I’ll go into those more into detail in a later post if you want me to, but for now let’s look at what we can do right now to better position ourselves to pack on more muscle.

The key to your training should be to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible in a given muscle group. Furthermore, you should try to fatigue those muscle groups with appropriate time under tension.

To do this you need to do two things. Increase the length of your sets and reduce the rest time between them.

I’ve broadened my rep range from the traditional 6 to 12 over to 10 to 20 reps depending on what movement I’m doing and what body part I’m training. Plus, I’ve cut rest periods down to 30-60 seconds.

So you’ll see with my current training program I’ve checked both boxes.

The results? More muscle mass, better pumps, and nicer joints. You can’t beat that. The only thing you’ll have to give up is your ego, but I believe that fades with age anyways.

***

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried this with your own training.

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Blog Training Workouts

Are Your Early Morning Workouts Even Effective?

It’s been a few years since I got up early (like 5:00 am early) to go train. I’m not foreign to it by any means, but it’s been a while to say the least.

With changing schedules and other reasons I decided to get up at 5:00 and be warmed up and ready to go at the gym by 5:30. At 45 years young I was as curious as any to see if I could still get in a decent workout with less sleep, less food in my stomach, and less blood in my extremities.

I can’t help to hearken back to my twenties when I was on some military job barely sleeping, eating like crap, and still killing it at the base gym. No matter what, I now not only have age to deal with, but, more importantly, I have mileage — 30 plus years of training to be frank. So my tires are a bit worn.

What I didn’t do

The one overall thing I didn’t want to do was to overthink anything. Early doesn’t mean that I must eat my usual breakfast, wait for it to properly digest, take supplements, and then go through my normal warm up routine as if it was 2:00 in the afternoon. If I attempted that I would be seeing 3:00 am.

Now, I wake up early anyways, and when I do I am instantly hungry. If I don’t eat within a few minutes of waking I get weak, lightheaded, and a bit cranky.

But things needed to change.

Time was a factor. I had to get home at a certain time to start the day so I couldn’t think about those details. I not only avoided overthinking, I also refused to lament on the fact that I was doing anything out of the ordinary. More on that next.

What I did

I took my usual mindset. I would get up, drink around 12 ounces of water, eat a small breakfast fig bar for some instant energy, drink 1/2 scoop of protein powder, and get after it.

As I mentioned earlier I also didn’t think too much into anything. I practiced what I like to call “sneaking in a workout.” That is, I showed up, trained like I always do without harping on the thought that I haven’t eaten or that I didn’t sleep enough. I “sneaked” my training in without really worrying too much about my circumstances.

And to top it off, I trained legs. So, there’s that…

Was it effective?

In a word, yes. The weights I used were roughly the same (basically I did what I did from my last workout without hitting my head against the wall trying to lift more weight or get more reps).

It’s a ton off your back when you don’t focus on the lack of sleep or prep and just do the dang thing. I do think that mindset had a lot to do with the workout being a success.

I also noticed two important things. One, training early was just another thing to get used to. Over time I could adapt to the new schedule and each day would prove to be more and more effective just like an afternoon workout would be.

Two, it was nice to experience training this early again. I forget how getting training under your belt early gets you into an action mindset. After a shower and my regular breakfast I liked the feeling of getting the workout out of the way and it put me into a productive mood for the rest of the day.

***

I’m writing this before lunch so I ‘m sure I’ll take a 5 minute power nap soon and hit the bed early later, but for now let me know your thoughts about this in the comments below. Are you an early trainer?

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Blog Nutrition

My Current Diet (Full Eating Plan)

I’m never one to give anyone a completely overhauled diet plan, especially when I barely know their habits, likes, or dislikes. Lifestyle can dictate a ton when it comes to fitness, health, building muscle, losing fat, and any other life-improving action.

I like to instead look at what someone is doing and give suggestions. Here, I’m going to layout my current eating habits. This is just a current snapshot of what I’m currently doing to build muscle at 45 and slightly lose some body fat and stay healthy.

It’s not perfect and may evolve over time, but it’s a good look at how I’ve tried to remain practical and realistic. No pounds and pounds of beef here or perfectly curated photos of my meals for social media, just real-world eating for us regular folk.

Amounts are approximate and I’ve also included some notes at the end to explain myself.

Meal 1 (breakfast)

1/2 cup of organic oatmeal (quick oats) mixed with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter and cinnamon

1 serving of low sugar Greek yogurt

Coffee with sugar-free creamer

Meal 2 (lunch)

Turkey sandwich with low fat cheese slices

Piece of fruit or bowl of strawberries

or

2 whole eggs and two additional egg whites with low fat cheese

2 whole wheat slices of bread with low sugar or sugar free jelly

Meal 3 (post workout)

Protein shake: 1 serving of veggie protein with greens in water

1 piece of fruit

Meal 4 (dinner)

A variety of meals. Usually fish, chicken, or lean beef with a veggie such as sweet potato, zucchini, mixed salad, and a starch such as rice or pasta.

Notes:

  • Breakfast is by far my favorite meal. I wake up hungry and go straight into making it. I also get up early on purpose so I don’t have to run out the door and do the grab n’ go. I like to make my breakfast, sit and enjoy it.
  • Midmorning (between meals 1 and 2) I may have a serving of mixed nuts to stave off hunger. This is important since I could easily cram my gullet with junk.
  • Lunch is another predictable meal like breakfast. I just choose from two options and I like it that way. Less thinking involved.
  • Post workout is about the only time I take sports supplements. Currently, I’m trying out veggie protein with greens and superfoods. I don’t get a ton of veggies in my diet yet so it’s a sneaky way of doing that.
  • Dinner has the most variety. We cook for the family, but ensure that we are getting in lean meats, low fat, and healthy carb sources. In the past I would have another predictable meal, but as a man with a family it’s nice to change this meal up. Plus, it’s a good time to bond.
  • If I’m still hungry at night (like after a hard lower body training day) I’ll snack on a bowl of low sugar cereal with skim milk), but not often.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • I drink a lot of water throughout the day.
  • I take vitamin C and vitamin D3 in the morning and a multivitamin at night just for insurance.
  • Lately, I’ve curtailed junk foods and cheat meals. Having a sweet tooth get’s me into too much trouble. Plus, my training will start to suffer for it.
  • For the most part I don’t think of food as pleasure, aside from the occasional weekend meal (take out usually).

***

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Blog Training Workouts

My Current Complete Workout (Full Program)

I’ve received several messages from those who wanted to see my current workout in full. Thanks for the messages and here you go.

First a couple of points to be made:

  • I train around five or six days per week. I usually go with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
  • Each workout is an hour or less. Any longer and I’m not keeping track of rest periods enough.
  • I’m 45 so my reps are higher these days. This has actually proven to be better for muscle mass, for me at least.
  • Rest periods are kept between 30 (for smaller groups) and 60 seconds (for larger groups). Pay very close attention to this. It’s the special sauce in how all this works.
  • I operate my training on an A and B routine. I have two workouts for each day that I rotate on a regular basis. This keeps it interesting.
  • I’m more interested in putting on muscle and reshaping my body instead of building pure strength. These workouts will still get you stronger, but that’s not the main focus.
  • Abs are trained each day except leg day. 3 or 4 sets of crunches and 3 or 4 sets of leg raises.

Group A

Day 1:

Incline bench barbell press 4 x 10-20
Flat bench dumbbell press 4 x 10-20
Feet inclined push up 3-4 x as many as possible

Cross bench dumbbell pullover 3 x 10-15

Wide-grip pull up 4 x as many as possible
T-bar row 4 x 10-20
Medium-grip pulldown 3-4 x 10-20

Day 2:

Standing dumbbell side lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Bent-over rear lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Front plate raise 3-4 x 10-20
Barbell shrug 3 x 10-15

Single arm cable pressdown 4 x 10-20
Lying triceps extension 4 x 10-20
Incline bench dumbbell curl 4 x 10-20
Barbell curl 4 x 10-20

Day 3:

Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20
Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20

Leg extension 3 x 20
Leg press 3 x 20
Walking lunge 3 lengths
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 10-15
Leg curl 3 x 10-20

Group B

Day 1:

Incline bench dumbbell press 4 x 10-20
Incline Hammer Strength press 4 x 10-20
Floor push up 3 x as many as possible

Cross bench pullover 3 x 10-15

Close-grip pull up 4 x as many as possible
Bent-over barbell row 4 x 10-20
Wide-grip pulldown 3-4 x 10-20

Day 2:

Seated side dumbbell side lateral raise 4 x 10-20
Seated dumbbell shoulder press 4 x 10-20
Cable rear lateral raise 3-4 x 10-20
Dumbbell shrug 3 x 10-20

Overhead rope triceps extension 4 x 10-20
Dumbbell lying extension 4 x 10-20
Standing dumbbell curl 4 x 10-20
Straight bar cable curl 4 x 10-20

Day 3:

Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20
Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20

Leg curl 3 x 10-20
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 10-15
Leg extension 3 x 20
Rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squat 3 x 10-20 each leg
Leg press 3 x 20

***

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Blog Training Workouts

My Current Training Split

I’ve experimented with a lot of splits over the, ahem, decades. I’ve always gone back to just about three that have given me the greatest results. Plus, as a forty-something I have to pay a little more attention to recovery.

Currently, I’m back on an old, reliable standby. I call it my golden era split since many bodybuilders from the 70’s used it. It’s not a “bro split” or anything, but it does split things up just enough for recovery and engagement.

Okay, enough talk. Here you go.

Day 1: Chest, back

Day 2: Shoulders, triceps, biceps

Day 3: Calves, quads, hams

That’s it. Pretty simple. I’m able to train everything over three days and when life gets in the way and I miss a few days it’s easy to make up the time.

I’ll do either three days in a row and then take a day off or train five days per week and just rotate the workouts whichever days they may fall.

***

What’s your favorite split?

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Blog Training Workouts

Over 40 Leg Training for More Mass

Check out this knee-friendly, over 40 leg training routine I did the other day. I will warn you, it’s tough and you will be sore, but your knees and back will thank you.

This is solely for building muscle. You will get stronger, but it’s not the main goal. For rest periods go with 30 seconds for everything except for leg press which will require around one minute. Wear a watch to track rest, don’t bring your phone, it’ll only distract you, and stay focused the entire time.

Good luck, Here we go!

Seated calf raise 4 x 10-20
Standing calf raise 4 x 10-20

Seated leg curl 3 x 10-16
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 12

Leg extension 3 x 20
Bulgarian split squat (no weight) 3 x 20 each leg
Leg press 3 x 20

***

This should only take you about 45 minutes, max. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Blog Motivation

The Simple But Tough Secret to Calming Your Mind

It doesn’t take a scientist or scholar to explain that we are inundated with information on a daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute basis. You can read countless articles stating that fact. Additionally, you can’t help but see more and more evidence mounting that it just isn’t good for us.

The 2020 quarantine didn’t help. As people stayed home across the nation they turned to rely on their screens for entertainment, work, and distraction. New routines started to form out of necessity and boredom, and some fell into destructive default behaviors. It became easier to pick up your phone or turn on a streaming service than it was to stay organized, disciplined, and productive.

We’re all guilty to an extent. As humans we seek comfort. It’s in our evolutionary DNA to eat, seek safety, and survive. If we’re not threatened, then we will sit and conserve energy for the next stressful episode. But modern living rarely presents a life or death struggle over our next meal. We’re more concerned when our wifi goes out.

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Blog Training Workouts

Simple and Quick Dumbbell Arm Workout

Someone recently wrote to me about different training techniques and touched on one I’ve known for a while now and recently revisited. If you’re at all familiar with Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson from the old Ironman Magazine days you’ll know they popularized the POF system. That is the Positions of Flexion training technique.

I remember using POF for many years during my competitive days. I liked the fact that I could organize my training pretty easily around it and I didn’t need a ton of volume to get great results. Let’s break down this oldie but goody technique and then plan out a quick, but very effective arm workout around it.

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Blog Motivation Nutrition

How People Really Lose Weight: My Observations

I won’t even begin to mention the never-ending wormhole that is the subject of which diet is best and worst. Everyone has their own opinion about the countless plans, programs, and protocols so I’m not touching that gorilla. So if you’re dug in to your tribal diet corner refusing to budge even an inch then stop reading. If you’re open-minded the by all means read on.

I like to look at things from a practical standpoint with a keen eye on what works and what doesn’t in the real world. I like to communicate with others about how they did it – how they achieved their ultimate successes. I avoid the slick marketing, pyramid schemes, and “miracle diets.” I like to read and hear about actual testimonials instead of loosely strung theories and fabricated doctrines.

Here I want to distill down a few things I see as common threads among those who are successful. Here are a few of my observations.