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Blog Motivation Training Workouts

What I Did on My Week Off

Most of us will treat a week off from the gym as just that: a week away, usually indulging in some bad food, and giving our joints, tendons, and ligaments a break.

I have a quote I tell almost every client:

“Don’t schedule time off. Life will do it for you.”

In other words, life will find a way to keep you away from the gym, your workouts, and anything else that has you on a productive schedule toward your physique goals. Things like family matters, injuries, sickness, natural disasters, or anything else you can imagine will surface and take their toll.

So I say train, maintain, and keep on the gain train until you either experience one of these episodes or you simply start getting burned out and desperately need a break of sorts.

How to take a break

Aside from the obvious scenario of enduring some sort of serious setback such as a sickness or injury there are some loose rules I follow when I’m in need of a break due to a muscle strain or the all-too familiar burn out we all experience.

If I’m just burned out, my body isn’t getting the pump I want in the gym, I feel flat and low on energy, my appetite has waned, and/or I’ve just lost my enthusiasm to show up to the gym I’ll take some deliberate action.

I will take one of two options. Option one, I will take around three or four days off from the gym completely. It’s not a week, which feels too long to me. It’s just enough time to start missing the gym by day four or five and regain that excitement and enthusiasm to get back to work.

Option two would be taking a week or two to downshift my training. That is to avoid taking any sets to muscular failure, reduce my volume and load a bit, and not pour on the intensity so much. I get in, get a little pump, eat a little more, and get on with my day. In other words, each workout isn’t taken as a step forward in progress, it’s seen as maintenance only. The pressure is off.

What I did on my week off

This past week I took a bit of a hybrid approach to those listed above. I started to battle a severe tightness in my shoulder which spread to my other shoulder and neck areas. My range of motion was terrible and I knew instinctively that it was something I shouldn’t fight through. It was time to take some time off.

But I wasn’t ready to take a break.

I decided to give my upper body a full week’s rest. No training from the waste up at all.

Instead I focused on lower body only for that week. In order to train more days than not I decided to split my leg training into two days working everything twice. It was broken down like this:

Monday: Quadriceps
Tuesday: Calves and hamstrings
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Quadriceps
Friday: Off
Saturday: Calves and hamstrings

Each workout looked a little like this:

Leg extension 3-4 x 20
Leg press 3 x 20
Box squat or Bulgarian split squat 3 x 12-15

Standing calf raise 3 x 10-16
Seated calf raise 3 x 10-16
Seated leg curl 3 x 10-16
Standing single leg curl (on leg extension) 3 x 10-16
Romanian deadlift with dumbbells (optional) 3 x 12

This enabled me to keep training all the while taking a break where it was needed most. Additionally, I was able to keep training most days of the week and not bury myself with a ton of volume and intensity each workout since I split my leg training up like this.

What’s next? Well, with much-needed rest my shoulder feels better and I will be posting on here soon about what split and routine I’ll go to next.

Stay tuned.

***

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Blog Training Workouts

New Split New Muscle Gains

I’ve been on my current training program for some time now. As one of the three programs I absolutely love to do and produces an appreciable amount of gains in muscle mass and strength, I think it’s time for a change.

Has the current routine stopped working? Not necessarily. It’s just a number of factors go into switching body part splits.

  1. Interest. Over time even the most routine animal (me!) can get a little tired of the same ole split after a while. I’ll be returning to it soon enough, but it’s time for a little mix-up.
  2. Patterns. As a creature of habit I’ve experienced great gains in size over the years, but over time patterns start to manifest themselves and my body starts to “catch on.” After a while it starts to feel a little like going through the motions.
  3. Recovery. Because of the inroads of patterns made and the waning interest my body starts to lag a bit on recovery. The same-ole same-ole gets to be taxing and things start to slack.
  4. Focus. A new split gives me the opportunity to shift some things around a refocus my energy in a different sequence. So instead of training back after chest, it’s now front and center.
  5. Experience. I hope by now (at 46 years old and over 30 years of training under my belt) I know what I’m doing and can detect when it’s time for a change. But I will always be a student and hungry to learn more.

New split

So what does the new split look like? I’ve written a little about it before, but here I want to flesh-out what I’m actually doing each day. Group A and B are alternated for each cycle. I usually train five days per week so this routine will rotate on different days each week.

Group A

Day 1: Chest, shoulders, triceps, abs.

Incline bench barbell press 4 x 8-16
Flat bench dumbbell press 4 x 8-16
Feet-elevated push up or flat push up 2-3 x as many as possible

Seated or standing side lateral raise 3 x 10-20
Seated dumbbell press 3 x 8-16
Rope face pull or upright row (optional) 3 x 10-20

Lying triceps barbell extension 3 x 10-16
V-bar press-down 3 x 10-16

Abs.: choose two ab exercises to be superset for three rounds.

Day 2: Calves, quads, hamstrings

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

Bulgarian split squat 3 x 10-12 each leg
Leg extension 3 x 10-16
Leg press 3 x 10-16
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 3 x 10-12
Seated leg curl 3 x 10-16

Day 3: Back, rear delts, traps, biceps, abs.

Wide-grip pull up 4 x as many reps as possible
T-bar machine row 4 x 10-16
Medium-grip pull-down 3 x 10-16

Bent-over lateral raise 3 x 10-16
Barbell shrug 3 x 10-12

Incline bench dumbbell curl 3 x 8-16
Barbell curl 3 x 8-16

Abs.: choose two ab exercises to be superset for three rounds.

Group B

Day 1: Chest, shoulders, triceps, abs.

Incline bench dumbbell press 4 x 8-16
Incline machine press 4 x 8-16
Push up 2-3 x as many as possible

Machine or one-arm cable side lateral raise 3 x 10-16
Front plate raise 3 x 8-16
Rope face pull or upright row (optional) 3 x 10-16

Overhead rope extension 3 x 10-16
Straight bar press-down 3 x 10-16

Abs.: choose two ab exercises to be superset for three rounds.

Day 2: Calves, quads, hamstrings

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

Single leg press 3 x 10-16 each leg
Leg extension 3 x 10-16
Walking lunge 3 rounds

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

Day 3: Back, rear delts, traps, biceps, abs.

Close-grip pull up 4 x as many reps as possible
Bent-over barbell row 4 x 10-16
Wide-grip pull-down 3 x 10-16

Rear delt cable lateral raise 3 x 10-16
Dumbbell shrug 3 x 10-12

Dumbbell curl 3 x 8-16
Cable curl 3 x 8-16

Abs.: choose two ab exercises to be superset for three rounds.

*Rest between sets are 60 seconds for large body parts (chest, back, quads) and 30 to 45 seconds for smaller (shoulders, arms, calves, hamstrings).

What’s different

Aside from the obvious (the split) I’m also lowering my reps a tad. Now, this isn’t groundbreaking, but it does reinforce my belief in making small, intentional changes. Since I know my body pretty well at this point there’s no need to make some monumental shift just for the heck of it. I’m from the school of “change only a few things at a time.”

We’ll see how this goes as I’ll post about my results here in the near future. I’m excited to get started on the new split as it’s rekindled my enthusiasm and I’m predicting I’ll only see great results.

Until then, happy lifting!

Categories
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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Categories
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

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 Training Workouts

High-Rep Shoulders and Arms for a Day

If you’ve read over my last entry for the shoulder and arm workout you’ll notice a few things that could potentially become problematic over time for us forty and up types. Namely the barbell lying extensions (nose breakers, skull crushers) and the lower rep shoulder stuff.

My elbows tend to get a little tender with lying triceps work where the elbow is subjected to sheer stress. That single joint action with progressively heavier weight seems to compound over time. Add this to the shoulder work (specifically overhead presses) which are subject to both a ton of back and chest work to begin with and you’ll understand why sometimes I enter the gym not wanting to punish these joints.

So, the other day I entered the gym doors with the goal of not pulverizing anything. I wanted to try to keep the weight lifted low, just for the day, and still get a great workout – not to mention try something new. I set out to accomplish this in a few ways.

Categories
Blog Training Workouts

My Current Leg Training Routine: Sore for Days

I’m a tall guy (6′ 2″) so squats have always been a challenge for me. And that also means effective leg training in general has been challenging all my lifting life. It took many years to get to the point where squats actually helped instead of hurt me (lower back, knees, hips). And on top of all that, I’ve never been one to load up the squat bar, crank out a few heavy sets, and call it a day all the while my legs grew and grew in the meantime.

Leg training is a fickle beast especially as you get older. I’m well into my forties and most of my counterparts have abandoned leg training altogether. I’m either convinced that leg training is an essential part of a program replete with fat-burning potential, overall, full-body growth in strength, and makes me feel more balanced, or I’m just nuts.

The following is a simple, but highly effective leg training program that doesn’t require plates on plates of weight, insane intensity, unlimited amounts of gym time, or unparalleled genetics. It’s a sound program that just works.