Strength Quest #1

I have never been particularly muscular or strong. I have been obese and I have been scrawny but I have never really done well with gaining muscle.

So that has been my main focus for these last few months and in all honesty, it’s sucked! Royally.

When I started around mid September 2017, I was around 73kg, with an ok level of strength and decent physical condition. I had just come off of a moderately aggressive 8 week fat loss plan.

So it has now been 11 months and I am currently around 10kg heavier and maybe an inch bigger on the waist.My measurements haven’t changed much which raises the question where that extra 13.7% bodyweight is sitting on me.

I like to think some of it has gone on as muscle. Compared to that photo, my arms and shoulder definitely look thicker although also not quite as lean so the added size could be more body fat as well as muscle.

Also that orange tank top is tighter on me across the top so I like to think something has gone on to my chest and back too.

The hardest thing to get your head around is the fact that muscle building and increasing strength can take a hell of a lot longer than fat loss and improving overall fitness.

Add to that that you need to find the right training plan and exercise selection for your body – depending on your lagging body parts (hello, shoulders!), recovery times, and time available.

11 months in and I am still playing around with mine. After some time you know what your best bang for your buck exercises are. I am still working mine out.

Current Training Plan

I am trialling a 5 day split – “standard” programme for 4 days and one additional specialisation workout to hit a specific body part.

For me that means starting with shoulders.

I am coming into the 3rd week of this plan now and so far I am enjoying it. The workouts are challenging, go by quickly, hit every muscle group and including warm up I am still done in under an hour.

I am using a push-pull split:

Pull Workout 1 – Usually Tuesdays

  1. Wide Grip Pull Ups – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  2. Rack Lifts – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  3. Single Arm Dumbbell Row – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  4. Lying Leg Curl – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  5. Dumbbell Drag Curls – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  6. Ab Wheel – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  7. Cross Body Hammer Curls – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest
  8. Low Incline Garhammer Raises – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest

Push Workout 1 – Usually Wednesdays

  1. Barbell Bench Press – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  2. Barbell Push Press – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  3. Barbell Squats – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  4. Seated Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  5. Tricep Dips – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  6. Hanging Alternating Leg Raise – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  7. Top Half Lateral Raise – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest
  8. Plank Ball Taps – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest

Pull Workout 2 – Usually Fridays

  1. Neutral Grip Pull Ups – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  2. Sumo Dead Lifts – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  3. Chest Support Dumbbell Row – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  4. Back Extensions – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  5. Dumbbell Incline Hammer Curls – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  6. Decline Crunch – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  7. Rope Face Pulls – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest
  8. Dead Bugs – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest

Push Workout 2 – Usually Saturdays

  1. Strict Military Press – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  2. Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 6, 120 seconds rest
  3. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  4. Low Incline Chest Flyes – 2 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12, 90 seconds rest
  5. PJR Pullover – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  6. Decline Oblique Crunch – 3 x 8-10, 60 seconds rest
  7. Rope Overhead Tricep Extension – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest
  8. Paloff Press – 2 x 12-15, 45 seconds rest

Specialisation Workout – Shoulders – Usually Mondays

Starting the week off!

  1. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4 x 6, 90 seconds rest
  2. Shoulders Giant Set
    • Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 2 x 20, 30 seconds rest
    • Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise – 2 x 20, 30 seconds rest
    • Plate Front Raise – 2 x 20, 30 seconds rest
    • Dumbbell Upright Row – 2 x 20, 60 seconds rest then back to the top
  3. Dumbbell 6 Way Raise – 2 x 12-15, 60 seconds rest
  4. Seated Overhead Partial Press – 4 x 8, 60 seconds rest

So there we have it.

My current training split. I need to set up a better training log so I can add my progress easily and keep track better.

Going to see this through for at least another 4 weeks before changing it up and hopefully have boulder shoulders by the end of it!

One More Thing…

I teach a lot of classes. Monday nights I teach a HIIT class (Les Mills GRIT), and Sunday mornings I teach GRIT again and a 45 minute Bodypump class.

I cover classes now and then too so my activity levels are high and I often need to manage my nutrition and training accordingly.

Which brings me on to my next topic:

Nutrition

Yeah I have sucked badly at this.

I am getting protein and I am getting plenty of fruit and vegetables but I am not really happy with nutrition at the minute.

I am winging it daily. I track calories and macros on MyFitnessPal and I am on 3300 calories a day. But the day to day make-up of those calories and how many grams of carbs, protein and fats I get varies wildly.

So my next mission is to actually pull it back in and give myself a much more structured eating plan. The results will flow much more easily from there!

So yeah. That is where we are with my current fitness plan. Better workout tracker coming up.