Welcome to Project Swole 2.0! This swell new layout goes right along with my new goals for Project Swole. I am still in love with powerlifting and strongman training, but I have found vacant spot in my heart for martial arts and conditioning.
The Old Goals
Previously in my training career, it was all about size. I trained like a bodybuilder, in the 8-12 rep range, 5 workouts per week, keeping myself lean, with medium weight. Progress was acceptable. My muscles got slightly puffy and I looked OK naked. The downside was that I looked big when I was pumped up after a workout, but much smaller half a day later when the pump was gone. I wasn’t very strong either. My lifestyle was that of diet logs, egg whites, bodybuilding forums, and posing. This left something to be desired.
Next I Decided to Take Up Powerlifting
I learned the ‘secrets’ of The Westside Barbell Club and followed the writings of Louie Simmons, Christian Thibideau, and Dave Tate. My diet became much more liberal, my reps dropped down to 1-5, training frequency to 3-4 workouts a week with heavy weight, and my exercise scheme moved to a max effort, dynamic effort protocol. The results were good. I maintained my pumped up bodybuilding appearance full-time as my muscles became dense and strong. On the downside, my tendons and joints hurt at times, my cardiovascular health went out the window, and I bulked up to about 210-220 lbs. Over time I realized that 190-200 was the upper limit of a comfortable body weight for me.
On the upside, my efforts to learn all the best exercises really paid off:
- bench press – with chains, boards, max effort, dynamic effort, floor-press, wide grip, narrow grip, etc…
- deadlift – off blocks, off racks, half-rep, quarter-rep, with chains, bands, stiff-leg, max and dynamic effort
- squat – back squat, front squat, jump squat, half squat, box squat, one-leg squat…
- overhead press – seated, standing, behind head, in front of head – this is a key exercise to overall strength!
- rows – barbell, dumbbell, t-bar, etc… “Big back, big bench” – a powerlifting mantra
- abs – heavy crunches, weighted situps, rotations – your abs are at the core of every movement you make
- curls, flys, leg extensions, cardio, calves, forearms – directly training these things is a waste of time and energy that could be better directed towards powerlifting (this is not one of the powerlifting beliefs that I necessarily support)
The next phase of my lifting career saw me try to embrace olympic lifting and functional training in combination with powerlifting. I started training 2-3 times per week with full body workouts, and added an extra workout or two per week with olympic lifting complexes. This resulted in my staying strong, my cardiovascular system got healthy, my tendons and joints stayed strong, and my muscles stayed strong as I kept the powerlifting aspects as part of each workout. The downside is that I got bored. Each workout consisted of bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press, abs, and calves. On a bad day, I would push through the workout and it would take me over 60-75 minutes to get everything done. I limited myself to the most effective exercises only, and rarely tried anything new. For some folks who only care to lift weights, this IS the best form of training. For me, I still needed something else.
Enter Mixed Martial Arts
MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo, Judo, Karate, Kenpo, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do… call it what you want, martial arts are great. Of course I learned and practiced by watching Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme in my teens and early twenties. Chuck Norris is the man, Bruce Lee is the king, we all know these things. But what could I learn by myself? I had always wanted to take martial arts classes, but had never had the time or resources to get involved. Recently I discovered a Thai Kickboxing class at my local Toykeo Joe’s karate school. Finally I could get in shape with serious conditioning, learn a martial art, possibly get involved with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu down the line… exercise was finally looking fun again.
I still hunger for powerlifting and olympic complexes, for strength and conditioning. On the other hand, I refuse to give up my newfound love for martial arts training. Thus my plan is as follows:
- Thai kickboxing 2-3 nights a week for 1 hour.
- Max effort (1-5 reps) bench, dead, squat, overhead press, once every other week.
- 20 rep bench, dead, squat, overhead press, try to get one workout in per month.
- If possible squeeze in one Olympic complex once every two weeks.
- If possible squeeze in one bodybuilding style workout once a month.
- Eat heartily: high protein, moderate everything else, lots of water.
- Proper supplementation: vitamins, 5-HTP, melatonin, amino acids, Bone Boost, and anything else that I think can contribute to proper over-all health, recovery from workouts, provide energy, and isn’t too expensive.
- Watch strongman and martial arts competitions for inspiration.
Join me in my quest to kick some ass, have emergency strength, stay healthy, and look good naked! Project Swole is a place where we can discuss these matters at length; where we can teach each other and learn from our mistakes. Motivate yourself to get Swole!