Project Swole

Archive for May, 2007

Update: A Bad Week

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

I have taken much time off. In fact it has been a solid week and a half since I have set foot in the weight room. Friday, May 18, just when I was starting to feel strong and alive, I had just about the worst workout of my life. All my weights were down 10% or more, and I couldn’t get out of my own way. Then I struggled through a muddled weekend; made it through some kind of depression/funk on Monday and Tuesday; battled a fever and a really sore body, upset stomache, and headache on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; Friday I took off to recover but ended up in a day-long fight with the girlfriend; and finally I struggled through a long weekend of project work and yard work. At least some exercise was had from yard work.

Today I am feeling tired from only sleeping for 4 hours last night, but I will lift w8 today after work. At least if I can get in there and grind out a maintenance session, maybe I can get my body to hold on to the last bits of remaining muscle tissue.

On a positive note, I scored a rusty old standard olympic bar over the weekend and I’m going to try to hunt down some cheap plates. Slowly I am adding to my home gym arsenal… eventually I might actually be able to get a workout in with all this stuff. =)

I shall be more dilligent with updating this blog, for much knowledge must be distributed.

Back in Action: A Reflection on Intensity and Recovery

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Awww jeah… I’m starting to feel normal again. I can jump again, my grip strength is coming back, I can lift washing machines and driers again… weight training is good. Of course I still only weigh about 185 and I’m still pretty much weak compared to my previous peaks, but it’s coming back. So why is everything falling into place for me during my fourth week on Project Swole, even though I took it pretty easy for the first three weeks? There are three reasons that I can think of, and I want to explain each of them just briefly. The main reason for my quick recovery is muscle memory, which is assisted by my straight up intensity in the weight room, and I have helped everything along by starting slowly and working up to the higher weights and volume.

Muscle Memory

Since I have been weight training seriously since about 1995, my body remembers how to lift. My muscle fibers and neurons remember how to optimize themselves for power, strength, and performance. The rumor is that for the general athlete, you will lose strength in a quarter of the time that it took to gain it; and it will take twice as long as it took to lose it, to get it back. This basically means that you cut in half the time it takes to get back to your optimal performance level after a short layoff or injury.


If you go into the weight room and train like a Sally, you will make about as much progress as a snail on fly paper. The general rule of thumb should be to treat the weights like you would your worst enemy. Those weights’ entire purpose for existence is to stop YOU from moving them. The weights don’t want to move, but if you don’t move them, the world will surely come to an end. This is how you must set your mind before each set. Just remember not to confuse intensity with forced reps, negatives, or overtraining with either too many training sessions or too many exercises. Training smart is the key to making progress.

To help build my intensity, I take a bit of inspiration from two of my favorite lifting songs, which I repeat to myself just before each max effort or heavy work set.

Mudvayne once said: “Dig!! Bury me! Underneath! Everything that I am!!”

Corey Taylor of Slipknot once said: “Get this or die! Get this or die!! Get this or DIE!!!”

I also snag a bit of psych from the great Ronnie Coleman who once said: “Yeah Buddy!! Light Weight!! Light Weight!!”

Easing into It

Whether you are just starting an exercise program, coming back from a layoff, or coming back from an injury, a HUGE facet of getting in shape again is to take it easy for the first 2-4 weeks. Don’t attempt any max efforts, don’t hit up forced reps and negatives on each exercise (actually don’t do this anyway), and don’t start lifting 5-6 workout sessions a week. All you will accomplish is to make yourself so sore that you can’t move around in everyday life. This week’s workouts have been really intense, and I have been paying for it since yesterday. Fortunately I am not too sore today, so I’ll be able to function in the weight room tonight when I try to pull (deadlift) a Project Swole PR.

If you do hit the iron too hard and end up with extreme soreness, you can do some of the following to assist in recovery:

  • Use a foam roller to massage and stimulate your muscle fibers.
  • Deep tissue massage to force blood into your injured tissue and release adhesions.
  • Alternating hot and cold showers.
  • Warm up your body and participate in vigorous stretching.
  • Find some weights, springs, bands, or use isometrics to do some exercises for the sore muscle groups with like 20% of your usual work weight, for 20 or so reps.
  • Don’t forget to eat and sleep properly.

With these tips and tricks, anyone can ease into a new workout program, or come back from an injury or layoff. Always remember to make it fun and be intense, but also remember not to mistake overtraining or unnecessary forced reps, for intense work sets. Lift w8 everyday.

Workout 7

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Wednesday 5/16

Current Weight: 186 lbs
Current Bodyfat: N/A

Diet: 3 pieces of loaded pizza was the highlight of my day. I also enjoyed a coffee Coolatta, ham/egg/cheese muffin, protein bar, trail mix, chicken and rice, and a PB&J sandwich.

Supplements: NO-Xplode, and X-Tend pre-workout, 1 serving of Gatorade during the workout, 1 serving of Biotest Surge post-workout. Also, I do take a multi-vitamin like every single day.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells, and light power cleans.

1a – Bench Press – 135 x 20, 185 x 7, 225 x 5, 245 x 1, 245 x 1
1b – Standing Calf Raise – 240 x 12, 260 x 10, 280 x 10, 300 x 8
2a – Barbell Lunge – 135 x 10, 185 x 7, 205 x 4, 205 x 4
2b – Chest Press Machine – 210 x 3
3a – Pre-Made Bar EZ Skulls – 90 x 8, 110 x 4 Close Grip Press x 8, 110 x 4 Close Grip Press x 8
3b – Dumbell Curls – 50 x 8, 50 x 7
4 – Side Raises – 20 x 16

Conclusion: My bench press is pathetic. I have repped 275 before, like 3 years ago. I feel like 275 is far, far from my grasp. Lunges were pretty good, but I need to work on my stability. 110 seems very light for skulls, but I’m sure it will increase pretty quick. Overall this was a good lift, but I haven’t been sleeping well so I was exhausted by the end of the workout. Better luck on Friday.

My weight is up to 186! Now I must draw the line between bulking and just eating enough to keep getting bigger and stronger without getting fat. I no longer wish to bulk up anymore, so I will stay off that side of the line, although I won’t stress too much if I get just a little soft for a while.

Workout 6

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Monday 5/14

Current Weight: N/A
Current Bodyfat: N/A

Diet: Ideally I would start a diet log and start keeping track of the number of calories I eat everyday. I think perhaps I have conditioned myself to not get too fat over the last couple months and now I don’t eat enough. Why else would I weigh like a buck eighty?

Supplements: NO-Xplode, X-Tend, and one Balance Gold bar pre-workout, 1 serving of Gatorade during the workout, 1 serving of Biotest Surge post-workout. This will be my normal supplement regimen until I decide to go ultra-hardcore balls-to-the-wall for a month or so.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells, and light power cleans.

1a – Pronated Bent Over Row – 135 x 10, 185 x 5, 225 x 5, 245 x 2 + 205 x 6
1b – Fly Machine – (120 x 10) x 3
2 – Squat – 135 x 10, 225 x 7, 315 x 3, 315 x 3
3 – Pause Squat – 225 x 4
4 – Deadlift/Hang Clean/Push Press Olympic Complex – 135 x 5, 155 x 5, 175 x 4, 185 x 1
5a – Standing Overhead Press – 135 x 5, 135 x 3
5b – Dumbbell Curls – 50 x 10, 50 x 7

Conclusion: My bent over rows continue to improve even though my grip strength leaves something to be desired. The tragedy of the day was squatting. 315 x 5 used to be a warm-up set for me and I really struggled to complete the THIRD rep. Something must be done. I believe I have identified the weakness as powering out of the hole. Basically I am coming up WAY too slow and I think I need to work on my lower back strength and my hip drive. The olympic complex continues to improve as I managed to get a single rep with a push press at 185. The goal is 200 x 1. Once I got to standing shoulder presses though, I was completely spent.

Workout 5

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Wednesday 5/09

Current Weight: N/A
Current Bodyfat: N/A

Diet: Eating a little more these days. An extra protein bar or ham/egg/cheese sandwhich gets thrown in where appropriate.

Supplements: NO-Xplode, X-Tend, and one Balance Gold bar pre-workout, 1 serving of Gatorade during the workout, 1 serving of Biotest Surge post-workout.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells.

1a – Sumo Deadlifts – 135 x 10, 225 x 7, 315 x 5, 405 x 5, 435 x 1
1b – Reverse Fly Machine – (100 x 7) x 3
2a – Incline Bench – 135 x 7, 185 x 5, 195 x 3, 195 x 2
2b – Standing Calf Raise Machine – 160 x 15, 240 x 12, 260 x 10, 280 x 6
3a – Close Grip Floor Rack Lockout – 135 x 7, 225 x 5, 245 x 1, 225 x 4
3b – Alternating Dumbbell (DB) Curls – 45 x 7, 50 x 7, 50 x 9
4a – DB Side Raise – 25 x 10, 25 x 8
4b – DB Side Bends – 60 x 10, 70 x 10

Conclusion: I am OK with sumo deadlifts, although I have identified the lockout as a weak point. In order to combat this I will do some of the following: rack pulls from the knees, rack-pull shrugs, heavier hang cleans, good mornings. My chest is both really weak and really small. I need to start hitting a heavy ass chest exercise every workout, 3 times per week. A 225 incline press should not be too hard to achieve as long as my triceps and shoulders continue to get stronger. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be a chest and biceps guy, but in my efforts to attain a 315 bench, I feel that I need to accelerate my chest and triceps training for a month or so.

Workout 4

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Monday 5/07

Current Weight: 184.4 lbs
Current Bodyfat: I need to find a way to measure this.

Diet: Protein bars, ham/egg/cheese on english muffin, lots of coffee, tuna, beef jerky, and grilled chicken wraps at McDs. Not a weight loss diet by any means, right now I am just eating to grow, but not to get fat.

Supplements: Diet Monster energy drink and one balance bar pre-workout, 1 serving of Gatorade during the workout, 1 serving of Biotest Surge post-workout.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells.

1a – Pronated Bent Over Barbell Rows – 135 x 10, 185 x 7, 215 x 5, (235 x 3 + 185 x 7)
1b – Standing Calf Raises – 160 x 15, 260 x 12, 320 x 10
2 – Deadlift/Hang Clean/Push Press olympic complex – 135 x 5, 155 x 5, 175 x 3, 185 x 1
3a – Weighted Pull-Ups with weight hanging from a belt- 0 x 7, 25 x 5, 45 x 4, (45 x 3 + 0 x 5)
3b – Weighted Decline Abs with dumbbell on chest – 40 x 12, 60 x 1
4 – Barbell Lunges – 135 x 7, 185 x 6

Conclusion: Bent over rows were OK, although 235 x 5 would have been ideal. The Olympic complexes are coming up to speed again, although I would like to be able to feel comfortable with 185 x 2. Pull-ups are WAY off especially considering I used to use 55 x 5 at a bodyweight of 195. Finally, there was some discomfort in my right knee while lunging, but I don’t know why. This happens on occasion with both lunges and squats, but never on deads. I think it might be a bit of quadricep weakness and while I don’t want to admit it, there might be some wear and tear around my kneecap. Now I will go knock on wood.

Workout 3

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Thursday 5/03

Diet: High protein, moderate carb, low fat, plenty of liquids.
Supplements: coffee pre-workout, 1 serving of Gatorade during the workout, 1 serving of Biotest Surge post-workout.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells.

1 – Legal Wide-Grip Flat Barbell Bench Press – 135 x 20, 185 x 7, 215 x 5, 225 x 3, (235 x 1 + 185 x 5)
2 – Standard Deadlifts – 135 x 7, 225 x 7, 315 x 7, 405 x 4, 425 x 2
3 – EZ Skull Crushers (per side) – 25 x 7, 40 x 3, (40 x 3 + Close Grip x 12)
4 – Standing Military Press – 135 x 3, 135 x 2

Conclusion: I was tired today and I didn’t accomplish much in the way of giant sets. I think some abs, calves, and biceps were touched upon in this workout, but I didn’t write anything down, nor do I recall the weights used. Literally every exercise in this workout felt like torture. Besides the 425 x 2 on deads, I have nothing to be happy about right now. There was nearly a week between this workout and the previous workout, so I evaluated my motivation level and my environment, and will be making changes to insure that I actually get to the gym when I am supposed to from now on.

Workout 2

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Friday 4/27

Diet: eating a bit more protein, but not all that strict. I am probably eating about 1800-2000 calories per day. In all reality, I should keep a food log for about a week so I can get back into the swing of intuitive calorie consumption. More on this topic later…

Supplements: a bit of NO-Xplode pre-workout, Gatorade during the workout, Biotest Surge post-workout.

5 minutes of warming up with dumbbells, barbells.

1a – Pronated Bench Over Barbell Row – 135 x 10, 185 x 7, 205 x 6, 225 x 3
1b – Fly Machine – 3 sets, weight not recorded
2 – Barbell Squats – 135 x 15, 225 x 7, 275 x 5, 295 x 5
3 – Deadlift/Hang Clean/Push Press complex – 135 x 7, 155 x 5, 165 x 3
4a – 1 Leg Seated Calf Raise – 45 x 15, 55 x 10, 60 x 8
4b – Lying Crunches – 10 x 15, 25 x 8, 25 x 10
4c – Dumbbell Curls – 45 x 10, 50 x 10

Conclusion: Still feeling weak and slow, although I think the Olympic complexes will bring my power and speed back around. By bench press is atrocious now. For some reason I’ve never been a big bencher, but 225 x 3? Squats felt pretty good, but I wasn’t comfortable getting under 315 this workout. Next squat workout I will hit a mandatory 315 x 5.

So, I’m really close to getting back to my standard first work set for the big exercises. I usually use these sets to gauge my strength, soreness, recovery, and injury status for the day. These standards are a 225 bent over row x 5, a 225 bench press x 5, a 315 squat x 5, a 405 deadlift x 5, and a 135 standing military x 5. Within the next month, this will all fall into place.

I am a slacker.

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Today begins week 3 of Project Swole and I have identified three main weaknesses in my plan:

1) I do not have my priorities in order; I have only lifted at the gym 3 times and at home once, since I started Project Swole. Between children, errands, running a business, fixing the house, and the rest of life; I sometimes have a hard time getting everything done in time. Lifting must precede!

2) My lifestyle is still off. I am unable to sleep well every night due to children and a girlfriend. This is not always all bad, but it still throws off my sleep patterns.

3) I am not eating enough protein during the day. Oh I eat pretty well but not the way I used to. Must eat more meat!

Now that I have identified my weaknesses, I must put a plan into action to make sure that I pick up the pace of my exercise habits. The new plan is going to be Mon/Weds/Fri either at lunch or right after work. The workout plan itself will be something like this:

Day 1: Back, Squats, A clean & press complex, Tris, Abs, Calves

Day 2: Chest, Deads, Shoulders, Bis, Abs, Calves

Day 3: Repeat

I will be starting at a higher rep range (7 ish) for now, and eventually work up to 1-3 rep maxes. If I stick to this plan, I will be sitting swole 3 months from now. More to come…