The Strength Files #1

New blog, new project.

I have been steadily into fitness for just about 10 years now. There or thereabouts.

After spending my entire childhood being morbidly obese, it’s been a drastic lifestyle change that I am infinitely better off as a result of.

The thing is that up to now, I have almost always focussed entirely on reducing my size and losing fat rather than ever really focussing on adding size and strength.

There have been a few half-assed attempts here and there but I get size/weight-phobic and stop too soon.

If you have a history of being overweight, watching the scales creep back up again can be terrifying.

But I think I have gotten past that now.

I have been on a very gradual gaining phase since September last year.

I have put on a grand total of 7kg in something like 9 months. 

The idea behind doing it this gradually is so that I can try to make sure as much of it is lean muscle rather than fat, but eating in a calorie surplus does mean some fat gain is probably inevitable.

I have programme-hopped a few times, and tried a few different exercises until I settled on something that was simple enough but challenging, suited my body and mechanics and developed the areas I wanted to work on.

2 weeks into my current programme and so far it is going fine.

A few other things I had to factor in:

  • My quads are disproportionately big so I am not doing much (or any) direct quad work as part of my own training until I go back into a fat loss phase.
  • My classes volume – 2 hours  back to back on Saturdays, 2 and a half hours back to back to back on Sundays and a double HIIT (morning and evening) on Mondays – meaning that I need to be cautious of overdoing it in terms of total exercise volume.
  • Workout time – including warming up and mobility, I want to be getting in and out of the gym in an hour max and ideally a bit less.
  • I am not factoring in stretching time because that I tend to do separately – at least when I remember to anyway.
  • My sleep patterns are all over the place – very early starts alternating with some late nights and a few afternoon naps meaning that I need to really try to maximise sleep quality.
  • My shoulder strength SUCKS so that is one of my main focuses.

So after a few different programmes, experimentation with exercises and rep ranges, I ended up settling on the following programme.

  • 4 day split – push and pull workouts
  • Pull workouts basically being back, biceps, deadlifts, abs
  • Push workouts basically being chest, shoulders, triceps, obliques
  • 1 x heavy pull, 1 x hypertrophy push, 1 x hypertrophy pull, 1 x heavy push

Heavy Pull

  1. Wide overhand pull ups – 5 x 5 – 2 minutes rest
  2. Rack lifts – 4 x 6 – 90 seconds rest
  3. Barbell underhand bent over row – 4 x 6 – 90 seconds rest
  4. Barbell rollout – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest
  5. Back extensions – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest
  6. Standing alternating dumbbell bicep curls – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest
  7. Incline dumbbell hammer curls – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest

Hypertrophy Push

  1. Barbell chest press – 3, 1 x 8-10, 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  2. Seated DB shoulder press – 3, 1 x 8-10, 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  3. Chest flye machine – 3 x 10-12 – 60 seconds rest
  4. Shoulder tri-set (lat raise, rear delt raise, front raise) – 3 x 10-12 (each exercise) – 60 seconds rest
  5. Narrow DB floor press – 3 x 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  6. Rope overhead tricep extension – 3 x 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  7. Paloff press – 3 x 12-15 – 30 seconds rest (between each side)
  8. DB incline side bends – 3 x 12-15 – 30 seconds rest (between each side)

Hypertrophy Pull

  1. Neutral grip chin ups – 4 x 6 – 90 seconds rest
  2. Barbell deadlifts – 3,1 x 8-10, 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  3. Overhand wide rack chins – 3,1 x 8-10, 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  4. Narrow grip seated row – 3 x 10-12 – 60 seconds rest
  5. Wide grip lat pulldown – 3 x 10-12 – 60 seconds rest
  6. High cable bicep curls – 3 x 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  7. Cross body hammer curls – 3 x 12-15 – 60 seconds rest
  8. Decline crunches – 3 x 12-15 – 45 seconds rest
  9. Garhammer raises – 3 x 12-15 – 45 seconds rest

Heavy Push

  1. Barbell military press – 5 x 5 – 2 minutes rest
  2. Barbell bench press – 4 x 6 – 90 seconds rest
  3. Standing hip hug press – 4 x 6 – 90 seconds rest
  4. Tricep dips – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest
  5. PJR pull over – 3 x 8-10 – 60 seconds rest
  6. Kettlebell get ups – 3 x 8-10 each side – 60 seconds rest
  7. Cable woodchop – 3 x 8-10 each side – 60 seconds rest

So at the minute my week is looking like this:

So aside from my own training and classes, the following targets:

  • 30 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes of GMB elements daily – probably the best mobility and movement control programme I have ever done.
  • 12,000 steps a day everyday. Not just averaging across the week, but at least 12k steps a day.
  • Calories on average 3,000 per day. A little bit higher on Saturday because of the double whammy of my own training and 2 hours of classes and a little bit lighter on Thursdays as I am a lot less active but more or less averaging 3k per day.

It’s a lot to take on aside from my normal workload and trying to get into a couple of other ventures so I need to put an accountability system in place – which will most likely be pissing off my Instagram followers by spamming their feeds.

That’s always a treat.

But meh. It’s my account, I do what I want with it.

Measurements first thing on Tuesday morning and consistent progress tracking starts now.