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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 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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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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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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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 Training Workouts

At Home All Dumbbell Workout

At-home full body dumbbell workouts are everywhere, but many are structured for those who just want a quick “get-in-shape” program. I’ve always been a student of muscle. If I’m going to spend time training I want any routine I follow to build muscle, strength, and give me a great pump so I can walk away with a smile on my face and the sense that I really moved the needle.

Following is an all dumbbell workout that addresses everything: all body parts, compound movements, and practices efficiency of effort. That is, it doesn’t waste time and energy on useless exercises, gets straight to the point of training, and will yield the fastest and best results possible.

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Blog Training Workouts

What’s the Best Body Part Split if You’re Over 40?

If you’re like me you love training. Not “get in shape with step class” kind of training, but bodybuilding style training that puts muscle on your frame. (Nothing wrong with step class, just not my cup of tea). I love the pump from blood, I love pushing myself, and I love the discipline. But this love can, and has gotten me into trouble in the past.

Coming back before recovering, doing too much, and training too frequently are just a few of the traps that my love of training has thrown me into. I sometimes get too overzealous and end up over trained and risk injury. I’ve learned from my mistakes (which I’ll never take back) so you don’t have to.

I want to break down body part split training for us dudes over 40. Is it any different? Should some things remain the same? Are you getting all you can out of your split?

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Blog Motivation Training

Can I Get Real Physique Results After 40?

I’ll get straight to it. You can make real over 40 physique results. At (currently) 45 I am living proof. Let’s go over a few things to consider when designing, or modifying a training program so you can stay or start on the road to progression after 40.

As I always say, the first thing is to adopt the right mindset. From here on out we’ll be talking only in the realm of possibility. No, the goal isn’t to build 50 pounds of muscle or get into 2% body fat type shape. It’s to get a little better each and every day, one small step at a time in our own over 40 world.