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Dave's journey of Herculean proportions!

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I'm going to be posting all of my routines, weight progress, and eating in here, straight out of my notebook every day or so. I've done 2 days so far after about 2 years off. Each set is the weight x reps format. My goal is to be doing 5 sets of each exercise to failure between 4 and 6 reps. After stretching and warming up, of course Since this is my first week back, I'm just doing 5 sets to failure with steady increase hoping to find a weight that gets me to fail between 4 and 6.


**EDIT** The weights are all in pounds!! I should have mentioned this originally!


4/27/10 Shoulders

Seated Military Press 30x15/40x13/50x12/80x7/80x6

Push Press 85x8/90x5/90x5/90x5/90x4

Side Laterals 10x15/20x8/20x8/20x6/20x8

Upright Rows 45x10/50x9/55x7/60x6/65x5

*Should have done Heavy Upright Rows, but was starting to get sore and someone else wanted the bar

Crunches 5 sets of 25

Notes: The seated military should have been a clean and press, but the bar I wanted was in use and I wanted to get right into it, and the machine gave a better and safer test drive of where I'm at. Side laterals are my least favorite thing ever, I could barely go all the way with those 20s, might use 15s next week to get the form right. I was never good at those 2 years ago either. Tips?


4/28/10 LEGS

Squats 90x12/95x10/115x8/125x8/135x7

Half Squats 145x8/155x6/155x6

*Should have Lunges here, but my legs were KILLING ME

Straightleg Deadlifts 45x8/65x10/85x10/115x8/125x6

Hacksquat Calf Raises 60x10/90x12/110x10/120x10/130x9

Reverse (Rollback) Crunches 3 sets of 25/14/10 My abs were still KILLING Me from the day before.


4/2910 - I was supposed to have back this day, but my whole body was still severely sore from jumping back into a serious lifting routine after 2 years off. I made sure to have a decent amount of protein, and today I feel much better. Going to do back today. Here's my plan for the rest of the week:



Pullups - 50

Close grip Pullups - 5sets to fail

Bent over Rows - 5sets to fail

T-Bar Rows - 5sets to fail

Deadlifts - 5sets to fail

Decline Bench Crunches 5sets/25




Flat bench, Dumbbell Flys, Incline bench, Incline flys, Pullovers all 5sets to fail

Upright chair leglifts - 5x25



Barbell curls, Incline Bench DB Curls, Lying Tricep extensions, Close grip presses, Wrist curls all 5sets to failure. Oblique decline bench crunches 5x25



45 minutes to 1 hour of running or biking (if it's nice out!)


I'm going to change y plan every 2 weeks, sometimes just the exercises and the order they're in, doing Interval training rather than distance cardio, adding in supersets instead of powerlifts, all sorts of things to keep my body guessing. I don't have any goals set in stone right now, just want to trim up for summer while also building some serious strength. Will post results of my back day later tonigHt!

Edited by xpangaeax
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OK, so I did back the other night like I said and came out with this:


Lat pulldown 100x10/100x10/100x8/100x10/100x9*

V-Bar Latpull 70x10/80x9/90x3/80x5

Bent Over Row 65x10/75x8/80x6/80x8/85x10**

Deadlift 95x10/115x10/135x10/145x7/155x7


* I skipped pullups because I can't do more than a couple at a time, so I did the latpull to start building those muscles up

** I was noticing that I was rounding my back while doing these, so I was trying real hard to keep my back straight, and getting all screwed up. Any tips on this?

-Also, I can't seem to find a T-Bar machine at my gym which is a total bummer.


I took a day off again because I was working the night shift, and Sunday hit the Chest.


Flat Bench 20x12/40x10/50x4/50x2 *

Flat Flys 15x10/20x6/20x6/20x7/25x4

Inc. Bench 30x8/40x5/40x5/40x6/40x6

Inc. Flys 10x10/15x7/15x7/15x6/15x6

Pullovers 10x8/10x10/15x8


* WTF? 50 POUNDS. I knew my chest was weak but that's straight embarassing! Lots of work to do there ,for sure. My chest has been KILLING me since then, too. Which is good, of course.

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OK, so, I had to skip some days here and there in my last 6 day cycle, and it ended up taking almost 2 weeks to complete. I was SO SORE, my chest is actually still a little, from over a week before. I really must have torn it up! I'm ready to get back into it today with Shoulders and some Interval running. Hopefully I can finish the lifts in 40 minutes or so and then have a good 20 minutes for running. I don't want to be spending more than an hour (between warmup and cooldown) so it's as intense as possible. Will post the results when I get home later!

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Clean + Press 65x10/85x3/75x5/(5/(5)*

Dumbbell Side Laterals 15x10/20x8/7/6/6

Push Press 95x4/5/5/4/4

Upright Row 55x8/65x5/5/5/5

Heavy Upright Row 85x5/5/5/6/95x4

Crunches 25/25/15**

* - (#) means I kind of cheated on the last rep here

** - I know, I know, should be 5 sets of 25 but I was doing the Ab-X machine today and those are crazy...wahhh


I did all that in 50 minutes, then did interval running, alternating 1 minute at 4mph with 7-8-9-9-8-7 9mph. I feel great! Brown rice protein shake down, hopping in the shower then having a big bowl of quinoa with kale and roasted red peppers!

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Cool that you're working on a consistent log, training til failure and admitting that you cheated on a last rep...I like it!


Welcome to the community too.


PS, big bowl of quinoa with kale and roasted red peppers sounds amazing right now!


All the best.



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I haven't had quinoa in months and every time I eat it I think "I should be eating this stuff every day!" Meal was delicious. Posting my leg day in a few, had to skip the back today because I'm borderline vegetable status (you are what you eat? ) due to soreness. Tomorrow is another day...

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  • 1 month later...

I suck at this! I did some sporatic lifting over the last month with no log for whatever reason. My plan was to do more cardio, but it turns out that I still hate cardio and thus just skipped the gym most days. Yesterday I decided to just go ahead and lift again. My lifts actually went UP in the time off!



Clean and Press 75x9/85x5/85x5/85x5/85x5 *

Arnold Press 25x9/30x7/30x6/30x5

3 Way Triset 25x10/25x10 **

Dumbbell Shrugs 60x10/70x7/75x4 ***


* At the end of each set I would hold the bar up as long as I could, then force out one more with cheating principles

** Simple, 10 front raises, 10 side laterals, 10 bent over laterals all in succession

*** I can't grip dumbbells this heavy! Next workout is going to have some serious forearm training in it!

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Yesterday, I woke up and right away rode my bike for an hour and 20 minutes down the bike path on the river here. Later in the day it was time for some BACK


Assist Pull Ups (-120) 8/7/6/6 *

Dumbbell Bent Over Row (one side at a time) 40x10/50x8/60x6/60x6/60x6

Deadlift 185x6/195x6/205x5/205x4/205x4

YES! My deadlift went up 50 lbs. from a month ago (though my record shows that I did 7 reps at 155, which means I was probably at around 175-85 for 4-6 reps. Either way, an increase in deadlifiting makes me feel like a kid getting exactly what he wanted for his birthday.


* I SUCK at pull ups. I can't do even one. I did lat pulls last time and assist pull ups yesterday to try and work the muscles up to the strength needed. Does anyone have any tips on this?


Today is going to be an arm day, results later. It feels GREAT to be back in the swing of things!

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I don't really have any advice, but I do hope you don't get too bummed out about your pull-ups not improving as fast as you want. It's actually pretty common for most people to see Herculean improvements in lifts like deadlifts and squats, and very little improvement at all in things like pull-ups. Pull-ups are hard! Way hard!

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Agreed with Adena, pull-ups can take LOTS of practice to get stronger on. When I was at my heaviest and strongest, I struggled to get a single decent pull-up or chin-up. Once I devoted the bulk of my upper back work to them for a good 3 months, things improved drastically (it didn't hurt that I'd gotten my weight down about 25 lbs. at that point, either!)


Basically, I started with pulldowns first for a while, going heavy (where I could only get anywhere from 3-6 reps max on a few sets), and incorporated band-assisted pull-ups (those counterbalanced pull-up/dip stations never felt right to me, so I avoided them like the plague). I'd take one of those rubber cables with handles, thread it through the power rack so I could put my knees in, and it would assist maybe 20-30 lbs. at bottom but give almost no assistance at the top where most people are naturally stronger. Low rep pulldowns and higher-rep assisted pull ups were a great starting point, then I'd work to increase the poundage on the heavy pulldowns and up the reps on those assisted ones (eventually, working to use smaller bands to offer barely any assistance), and eventually I moved on to being able to hit a few low-rep sets of bodyweight pull-ups. What moved it up then was that I started adding in weighted singles, doubles and triples once I could do at least 4-5 bodyweight pull-ups (and back then, I was doing all sets with feet on the ground between reps, not free-hanging). I always find that if I start with weighted pull-ups and then change to bodyweight after a few singles, EVERY set feels light and easy, so that's how I always like to do them now.


Also, if you haven't already done so, consider changing up your grips until you find what's most comfortable for you. For pulldowns, I only like ultra-wide grip, anything else feels awkward to me. But, for pull-ups, I prefer either the parallel grip handles, chin angled handles or a narrower overhand grip. Some positions will be stronger than others for me, so I recommend starting with whatever your strongest position is first, worry about bringing up the weaker pulling positions once you've built a solid pull-up base and go from there. And one final point I found that made a LOT of difference - don't treat pull-ups as if they've got to always be picture-perfect from-the-hang on every set. If you have to use a bit of assistance with a slight kick off the floor to get moving on a rep or two, DO IT, don't just cut the set short. If you're trying a heavy single and need to kick up a bit when the first strict attempt fails, DO IT. I've always found that if I couldn't do it strict, it was better to cheat it a bit than to just give up and say that it didn't work, and it helps a LOT because you won't get that same mental drain of thinking that the workout failed.


Finally, there's always the old "greasing the groove" method of getting better with pull-ups. If you have access to be able to put a bar somewhere you'll have access to it for hours each day, do one every time you walk past the bar (those Iron Gym ones that fit over almost andy door frame are particularly handy for this). Do it twice per week, set a goal of maybe 20 or so singles per day (even if you have to use a bit of a cheat here and there), and each day, add a few more reps to the total count (maybe 22 the next session, then 25, etc.) For some people, this seems to work well, just practicing over and over again with lots of breaks until they find the groove and learn the technique that will get things in line. Sometimes it isn't easy trying to figure it out by simply working pull-ups into your regular routine when you're on a schedule to get in and out of the gym fast, so it's a great way to practice at home or wherever and just keep hammering out rep after rep until you've got it down.


Pull-ups were always my nemesis, but like overhead pressing, I found that the best way to get stronger at it is to just keep forcing yourself to do it week after week, eventually your body will give in and start cooperating

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