Tag Archive: constant tension


8/27 Extra Shoulders

 

OK, this would be my third shoulder workout this week.  But in some ways, I was starving for some activity and it felt like forever.  I decided that instead of a heavy pushing day, this would be a pump-oriented, shoulder-health type of workout.  I went back to a John Meadows Pump workout I knew was sure to burn me out, and threw in an Arm finisher at the end.

 

Machine Press (hammergrip, 60 second rest, flex hard for 1 second at peak contraction)

50 x 12

70 x 12

90 x 12

90 x 10

90 x 10

90 x 9

notes:  good to get the shoulders warmed up

Superset Minor Chest Dips & Incline Rear Delt DB Flys  (60 sec rest b/w supersets)

10 dips / 10s x 20

10 dips / 10s x 20

10 dips / 10s x 20

10 dips / 10s x 20

notes:  these feel light and no big deal, but I know from past experience that this lays the groundwork for later devastation.  It all has to happen in order for max effect.  Please be aware that a “minor chest dip” means your arms stay straight and you just sink down into your scapulae, then flex up just using your chest muscles.

Flat DB Hex Press & Band Pull-Aparts (60 sec rest b/w supersets, flex pull-aparts for 1 second at peak contraction, keep constant tension on pull-aparts)

50s x 10 / 10 pulls

50s x 10 / 10 pulls

50s x 10 / 10 pulls

50s x 10 / 10 pulls

notes:  it’s at right about this time where the burning sensation starts to kick in.  I am groaning by the end of the pull-aparts, and that 60 second rest burns so bad, I can’t just let my arms hang down, I have to hold on to something and stretch my shoulders out.

Superset 6-Way & Over and Backs (60 sec rest, keep constant tension if you can!)

10s x 10 / 11… 4

10s x 7.5 / 9… 11

10s x 10 / 7… 9… 4

notes:  It is at this point where the burning in my shoulders is so bad, I am fighting failure.  The weights are nothing, but I can’t do 10 6-ways and 20 over and backs to save my life!  I kept failing and needing a second to take the tension off, and most of the time I had to stop because I needed that 60 seconds because my shoulders felt so weak.  But then about 5 seconds into my break, the burning would replace the weakness and I needed to stretch.  I almost needed to start the next set again just to make the burning go away.  You don;t need much weight to kill your shoulders, because this trashed me.

 

After taking 5 minutes to recompose myself, I went on to do my Arm Finisher:  3 bicep exercises for 5 reps each, then dropset the same 3 exercises again, then 3 tricep exercises 5 reps each then dropset the same 3 tricep exercises.  Then go RIGHT back to biceps again, ad nauseum.  Basically a neverending arm gauntlet for 5 rounds.  Zero rest.

Arm Gauntlet:  Twisting Curls/Hammer Curls/Pinwheel Curls, drop weight, repeat —> DB Skullcrushers, 2-Hand Extension, Pronated Kickbacks, drop weight, repeat

30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 —> 25s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 25s x 5 / 20s x 5 / 40 x 5 / 20s x 5 —>

30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 —> 25s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 25s x 5 / 20s x 5 / 40 x 5 / 20s x 5 —>

30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 —> 25s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 25s x 5 / 20s x 5 / 40 x 5 / 20s x 5 —>

30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 —> 25s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 25s x 5 / 20s x 5 / 40 x 5 / 20s x 5 —>

30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 30s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 / 25s x 5 —> 25s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 25s x 5 / 20s x 5 / 55 x 5 / 20s x 5 —> END

 

notes: whew!  The shoulder workout pounded my delts into dough.  You could make pizza out of my muscles, and this arm workout put the crust on that pizza.  Again, zero rest, constant repping.  Light weight sure, but by the end, that’s not noticeable.  My triceps could maybe have handled a little more, but in the interest of expediency, these were the dumbbells I could hoard to myself in a busy gym, and even then by the 5th round this guy was making sad faces at me so I let him have my 40 lb and used the 55 lb for the dropset extensions.

I like doing pronated kickbacks because I get a better contraction in my triceps over regular kickbacks.  Everyone is different, this is just what works for me.

post-workout:  20 min LISS elliptical, 70% resistance, 9/10 incline

 

Cycle 2 Week 2 Chest

 

 

Bench Press and Assistance

Superset Bench Press and Over & Backs or mid row machine  (60s rest)

75 x 5 / O&Bs x 8

90 x 5 / OB8

110 x 5 / OB8

130 x 3 / Row 140 x 5

150 x 3 / 140 x 5

165 x 10 / 140 x 5

notes:  Gym was SUPER busy!  Had to wait 5 min for a Bench, but I was patient.

 

Machine Chest Press (45s rest)

150 x 8

160 x 8

170 x 8

180 x 7

notes:  feeling good, tossed in an extra set

 

Smith Machine Incline Press  (45s rest, constant tension reps)

2 plates x 6

2 plates x 8

2 plates x 8

2 plates and 2 dimes x 8

notes:  reps went up, tossed in an extra set

 

Twist Press  (30s rest)

50s x 10

50s x 10

55s x 10

55s x 7

notes:  My old friend is back, the twist press!  Dropped the rest down, tossed in another set.

 

Behind the Back Side Cable Raise (no rest, back and forth arm to arm)

15 x 12/12

20 x 12/12

20 x 12/12

Face Pulls (45s rest)

30 x 30

40 x 30

50 x 30

notes:  Brought the reps WAY up, and dropped the weight.  Felt good!

Cage Press (45s rest, explosive reps)

95 x 5

95 x 5

95 x 5

95 x 5

notes:  had to wait 5 min for it, but finally, a decent powercage!  Did real cage presses, and threw in some overhead shrugs at the end of every set just for fun, finish the traps off.

post-workout – 15 min cardio

Cycle 2 Week 1 Legs

Finally got around to legs!

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. –Henry Rollins

It was a heavy day.  I didn’t know if I could make it to the gym.  Life was weighing me down.  People run in and out of your life, some days they’re heavies, some days they’re lightweights.  Some days all your little problems weigh a ton, some days you never notice they’re there.  Some days you have all the support in the world, and some days you stand alone.  Your own little world is constantly in flux, and every piece of your castle weighs different amounts on different days.  It is frustrating.  You can’t rely on it.

Part of the trick of this 5/3/1 program is you are always pushing the weight up up up.  You have to trust in the math that this new, heavier weight, these new higher reps are within your grasp.  Some days the weights feel too light, and you have to trust that the warmups are correct, that the AMRAP set is right where it should be, and you need to be patient.  And some days you don’t feel ready for a heavy set, you feel unworthy, beat down, unenthusiastic.  Those days you need to trust the math even more than ever.

Not that I haven’t done 220 before, I have done it many times.  But the world was weighing me down today.  I didn’t feel ready.  I did NOT want to go to the gym.  I wanted to wrestle heavy feelings all day.  But I put my faith in the math, and that this day HAD to happen to chain together all the weeks to come, and that these sets HAD to happen, and that this weight IS the perfect weight for me.

But the walk to the gym felt heavy, I was positive every dumbbell, every plate would feel twice as heavy.  But when I got in, you know what?  Henry was right, 200 pounds is STILL 200 pounds.  Iron doesn’t change.  Even if it’s the only constant in my life right now, it IS the thing I can always rely upon.  The weight felt just like it did the week before, and the week before that.  Those squats, that feeling of being crushed under that weight and RISING BACK UP, it gave me confidence that I was still who I was, and the iron was my constant measurement.  It is my “ruler”, in so many ways 🙂

Squats and Assistance Work

Squats  (60-120s rest)

105 x 5

130 x 5

155 x 5

170 x 5

195 x 5

220 x 8

notes:  My core was going on the last set, so when I felt the abs trembling too much, I stopped the set.  Once I got through the squats, I felt confident enough to do all the assistance work too.

Prone Leg Curl (45 sec rest)

100 x 12

110 x 10

120 x 8 DROP 100 x 12 DROP 80 x 20

45 Degree Leg Press (constant tension reps, 45 sec rest)

18 plates x 8

18 plates x 8

18 plates x 8

18 plates x 8

notes:  some real grinder reps in here, major burning in my IT Bands.  Will stick at this weight for a while.

Hack Squats 1.25 ROM (30 sec rest which consists of stretching the quads; 1.25 meaning all the way down, only come up to barely parallel, drop back down, then come back all the way up, like you’re doing one and a quarter reps)

2 plates x 10

2 plates 2 quarter plates x 8

2 plates 2 quarter plates x 8 DROP 2 plates x 8 DROP 1 plate x 8

notes:  Brutal!!!  Had to put my hands on my thighs to get me through it, so will stick at this weight for a while.

BB SLDL (45 sec rest)

165 x 15

165 x 10

notes:  low back was just too burnt out, had to stop

Superset Donkey Calf Raise Machine and Dorsiflexions (45 sec rest)

200 x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10 / 50 Dorsiflexions

200 x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10 / 50 Dorsiflexions

200 x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10 / 50 Dorsiflexions

notes:  Yay machine, no grip to fail me!  yesssss, just baby cow action

post-workout  15 min elliptical

 

 

Went to the trainers after work for some Bench Press!

 

Bench Press and Assistance

Superset Bench Press and Over&Backs or Widegrip Pulldowns  (45-60s rest)

75 x 5 / O&B x 8

90 x 5 / OB 8

110 x 5 / OB 8

120 x 5 / widegrip pulldowns 140 x 5

140 x 5 / 150 x 5

155 x 10 / 160 x 5

IMG_4349

notes:  Going good!  Keep practicing that form.  A PR was not numerically possible with this weight and this rep range, so it was just a week to build confidence and form.

Decline DB Press (flex 2 seconds at the top, 45 sec rest)

65s x 8

65s x 8

65s x 8

65s x 8

 

Smith Machine Incline Press (slight incline, constant tension reps, 45 sec rest)

2 plates x 6

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

IMG_4354

notes:  Running low on time so we had to start trimming.

Superset DB RD Flys and Face Pulls (back and forth no rest one exercise to the other, hold squeeze for 2 seconds on Face Pulls)

15s x 20 / 60 x 12

15s x 20 / 60 x 12

15s x 20 / 60 x 12

IMG_4355

IMG_4360

And we were out of time so I went off for a therapeutic massage!  And that’s another day done 🙂

Cycle 1 Week 3 Legs

 

Squats and Assistance Work

Made it to the trainers after work to crush some sqwawwwwts!!

warmup cardio 5 min

Squats  (60-120s rest)

100 x 5

125 x 5

150 x 5

190 x 5

215 x 3

240 x 7

notes:  Slowly but surely, building up more strength with better form on the squats, just like the bench press.

Prone Leg Curl (45 sec rest)

75 x 12

80 x 10

85 x 8

85 x 8 DROP 60 x 8 DROP 45 x 20

notes:  hard work!! well, not really, but still work 🙂

45 Degree Leg Press (constant tension reps, 45 sec rest)

16 plates x 8

16 plates x 8

16 plates x 8

16 plates x 8

notes:  easy money!

Hack Squats 1.25 ROM (30 sec rest, meaning all the way down, only come up to barely parallel, drop back down, then come back all the way up, like you’re doing one and a quarter reps)

2 plates x 12

2 plates 2 quarter plates x 8

2 plates 2 quarter plates x 8 DROP 2 plates x 6 DROP 1 plate (regular ROM) x 20

notes:  needed my trainer to cheer me on to get through this one!  Brutal!!!

BB SLDL (45 sec rest)

165 x 15

165 x 12

notes:  low back was just too burnt out, had to stop

Superset Standing DB Calf Raise and Dorsiflexions (45 sec rest)

70s x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10 / 50 Dorsiflexions

70s x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, GRIP FAIL / 50 Dorsiflexions

70s x 10, HOLD 10, x 10, GRIP FAIL / 50 Dorsiflexions

notes:  I was so trashed by this point, haha!  My grip couldn’t hold on to the 70 lb DBs any more, and my anterior tibialis were going NUMB from the squeezes!  No joke at all, this finished me off.

Killer leg workout!

Cycle 1 Week 3 Chest

Chest and Assistance Work

Had to rush the office gym early today!  Get in get out early so I can get back to work.  Busy day!

Superset Bench Press & Over + Backs w/ Resistance Band, OR Widegrip Pulldowns  (60 sec rest or so b/w supersets)

75 x 5 / 8 O&Bs

90 x 5 / 8 OB

110 x 5 / 8 OB

135 x 5 / wide pulldowns 85 x 5

155 x 3 / 105 x 5

170 x 10 / 125 x 5

notes:  slowly building the bench press back up, with better form.  even if it makes me seem less cool to my coworkers who are benching more than me, I will get better and stronger eventually!

Decline DB Press (flex for 2 sec at the top, slight decline, 45 sec rest)

60 x 8

60 x 8

60 x 8

60 x 8

notes:  easy sets!

Smith Machine Incline Press (slight incline, constant tension reps, 45 sec rest)

bar x 5

2 plates x 6

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 5

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

notes:  tough sets!

Incline DB Rear Delt Fly (45 sec rest)

15s x 15

15s x 15

15s x 20

Face Pulls (2 second hold at peak contraction, 45 sec rest)

47.5 x 12

42.5 x 12

42.5 x 12

notes:  the 2 second hold made these really tough!  loved them!

Cage Press (smith machine, 30 sec rest)

2 quarter plates x 5

2 quarter plates x 5

2 quarter plates x 5

2 quarter plates x 5

2 quarter plates x 5

notes:  threw my head forward on each rep, and really squeezed my traps at the top.  crush them to dust!

Cycle 1 Week 2 Chest

Still keeping it light while I dial in on the aspects of my form I need: engaged lats, leg drive. But this is 531, so the weights will climb over time. Strength is built by more than one rep maxes, but by putting in lots of consistent work. I have no doubts focusing on chest and shoulders twice a week will yield the same results I got focusing on back twice a week.

Bench Press plus Assistance

Bench Press Supersetted with Over&Backs or Widegrip Pulldowns (60-120s rest, O&Bs for the first 3 sets, pulldowns for the last 3 sets)

75 x 5 / O&B x 8
95 x 5 / O&B x 8
110 x 5 / O&B x 8
125 x 3 / free cable widegrip pulldowns 115 x 5
145 x 3 / 125 x 5
160 x 10 / 135 x 5

notes: Felt relatively solid. After the second set I actually had to run off to the bathroom for 5 min (holds up two fingers). Whoops! Maybe I clenched my core TOO hard!

Decline DB Press (45 sec rest, slight decline, hold flex at top for 1 second)

60s x 8
60s x 8
60s x 8
60s x 8

notes: I didn’t want a huge decline, so I just put a quarter plate under the foot of the bench.

Incline smith Machine Press (slight incline, constant tension, 45 sec rest)

bar x 6
2 plates x 6
2 plates & 2 quarter plates x 6
2 plates & 2 quarter plates x 5
2 plates & 2 quarter plates x 5
2 plates & 2 quarter plates x 4

notes: Ran out of gas fast on these!

Cut out the pushups and went right on to shoulders.

Seated Strict DB Side Raise (45 sec rest)

10s x 10
20s x 12
20s x 12
20s x 12

Cage Press in the Smith Machine (explosive reps, squeeze traps, 45 sec rest)

bar x 5
2 nickel plates x 5
2 dime plates x 5
2 quarter plates x 5
2 quarter plates x 5
2 quarter plates x 5
2 quarter plates x 5
2 quarter plates x 5

notes: Smith Machine sucks for these! I am too tall, I couldn’t extend my arms all the way up, so the exercise was sort of a waste. I did what I could, but it was a fail to me since I could only get my arms 80% of the way up. Still threw my head forward between my arms so I could squeeze and crush my traps.

Incline Bench Rear Delt DB Fly Destroyer Set (all hang and swings, no rest)

20s x 60 DROP 10s x 30 DROP 5s x 10

notes: still tough! I had to take two breaks during the first microset, I couldn’t do 60 in a row! My rear delts were fried.

And that was it! showered and headed back to work.

Cycle 1 Week 2 Back

Got to work early and took my pre, chilled for a bit, then went to the office gym for some deadlifts! Place was busiest I had seen! I had to do my liftin in between the water fountain and the ladies changeroom, sorry ladies! Place was packed.

DL plus Back Assistance

Deadlifts (60-120s rest, conventional double overhand until last set went mixed grip, no straps)

150 x 5
190 x 5
225 x 5
265 x 3
300 x 3
340 x 5

notes: Back was starting to round on last set, so called it at 5.

Landmine Row (0 rest, back and forth arm to arm)

2 quarter plates x 8/8
2 quarter plates x 8/8
2 quarter plates x 8/8
2 quarter plates x 8/8

notes: There was no proper mount for these, so I had to jam the tip into the corner, and got a coworker to stand on the bar to keep it steady. But because I didn’t want to waste too much of his time, I dropped the weight and did 4 sets back to back with no rest. Low back getting tired by the end!

Bent Over Smith Row (explosive reps, 45 sec rest)

bar x 10
2 plates x 6
2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6
2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6
2 plates and 2 quarter plates x 6

notes: Upped the weight and worked on my form, keeping the bent over position and ramming my elbows up and driving the bar into my chest.

Incline DB Pullovers (45 sec rest, constant tension)

70 x 10
70 x 10
70 x 10
70 x 10

notes: Using a slight incline I feel these better in my lats and serratus, even though it shortens the ROM somewhat (you lose the tension in your lats much more early in the ROM).

DB Shrugs (hold each rep 3 seconds, 45 sec rest)

75s x 12
75s x 12
75s x 12
75s x 12

And then I was done! Showered and rushed back to work.

At lunch I led a coworker through a Back and Traps workout, sorta like I did! Except diff stuff, not sure if he is ready for deadlifts yet. So lots more pulldowns and rows.

Cycle 1 Week 1 Chest

I wanted a gym with a basic power rack that I could do cage presses in. The one that I knew of would most likely be crowded as hell. So I took a gamble on a well-equipped office gym on the other side of town for the company I work for. I knew they had good squat racks, I had hoped one of them would let me do the presses I wanted. Sadly, when I got there the squat racks they had were too “short” long before I could extend my arms the surface would change and not be smooth. So I had to improvise this time. Next time I will just go to the crowded commercial gym. At least this one was quiet.

Bench Press and Chest and Shoulder Assistance

Superset Bench Press with Rotator Cuff Work or Lat Pulldowns (1-2 min rest)

75 x 5 / over and backs with the band x 8
90 x 5 / O&B x 8
110 x 5 / O&B x 8
115 x 5 / widegrip pulldowns 150 x 5
135 x 5 / pulls 150 x 5
155 x 10 / pulls 150 x 5

notes: My shoulder and poor technique held me up big time when I retested my 1RM, so no shame in starting WAY too light. That is the 5/3/1 way. I focused today on my form – on properly harnessing my leg drive, keeping my whole body tense. I like to do roto work during the warmup, and pairing it with lat work on the working sets – it helps me remember to engage my back.

Decline DB press (hold flex at top for 1 second, 30-45 sec rest)

40s x 8
50s x 8
50s x 8
50s x 8

notes: hard to get the flex right without accidentally bringing it up too high over my chest and losing the pec tension. Was working on my form a lot, trying to squeeze.

Smith Machine Incline Press (constant tension reps, 45 sec rest)

120 + bar x 6
120 x 6
130 x 6
140 x 6

notes: Had to wait like 5 min while a guy did seated presses on the only smith machine.

Incline Pushups on Smith Machine (started low, moved up rungs for total of 3 micro sets each set, 45 sec rest between sets)

10/10/10
10/10/10

notes: These didn’t feel great on my shoulder, but it was a-ight.

Seated Strict DB Side Raises (approx. 30 sec rest)

10s x 10
20s x 12
20s x 12
20s x 12

notes: Each time I picked up the weights I could see veins popping in my arms! I had hit the swole portion of my workout.

Seated Military Press (30-45 sec rest)

45 x 5
65 x 5
90 x 5
100 x 5
100 x 5
100 x 5
100 x 5
100 x 5

notes: This is what I did instead of cage press. Ugh. My shoulders were TIRED. And racking it hurt like a bitch, awkwardness. Did not enjoy.

Incline Bench Rear Delt Fly (hang and swing motion, one set with drops and RPs)

25s x15 RP x15 RP x15 RP x15 DROP 15s x15 RP x10 RP x5 DROP 10s x 10

notes: complicated enough?? hang and swing if you recall means you do a regular rep, but you go heavy and only ROM it 6-8 inches. OMG these burned!!!! Just as an indicator, I was supposed to do 60 STRAIGHT hang and swing reps, but it hurt so bad I had to Rest Pause all the time. I was groaning and whining! One long rest-pause drop set of hell. Destroyer set. Finisher.

The goal since I fell so short was to do 60 straight reps, dropset to 30 more reps then dropset to 10 more reps. Instead I had to take like 5 breaks.

I was toasted and time had really gotten away on me, so I had to cut out cardio and just come home.

I had a nice swole going on in this workout! Chest was pumped a bit, arms were poppin veins. Rear Delts felt swole after that destroyer set.

Cycle 1 Week 1 Back

Hectic day! Got in my workout first thing in the morning then had to rush to get to work on time to run through a myriad of silly meetings.

I do love waking up in the morning with only a 6 AM lifting session on my mind, it gets you focused! Trainer agreed to come out and do DLs with me – her goal is to lift 3 wheels (awesome), so she needs to grind out some strength gains just like me! high rep DL day lets go!

Deadlift and Back Assistance Work

Deadlifts (conventional grip on all sets except last set, I didn’t use straps but she did, traded sets, my set was her rest)

150 x 5
190 x 5
225 x 5
255 x 5
280 x 5
320 x 7

IMG_4198

notes: Trainer did 205 for 10 reps! new PR for her. The 255 set was a mistake, loaded an extra dime plate on one side. When I did that set, it felt unbalanced, I stopped looked at my hand placing, looked fine. I did my 5 reps but they felt OFF, and I was worried I was having a bad day, until I realized the weight was unbalanced. Whew! I thought I was in big trouble.

Stopped the AMRAP set when my I couldn’t control my back any more, it was starting to “wobble” (trainer said I was starting to make snake waves with my back).

One Arm Landmine Rows (traded sets)

50 x 8/8
70 x 8/8
70 x 8/8
70 x 8/8

Bent Over Smith Machine Rows (explosive reps, traded sets)

4 plates x 6
2 plates x 8
2 plates x 8
2 plates x 8

notes: I tried 4 plates but my form was chit. I find the Smith SO awkward for these, dammit! The path my wrists take keeps making the hooks clack back against the rack, which messed me up and made me start to stand up. I had to drop the weight big time and up the reps a bit just to work on my form. I found widening my grip a bit helped a lot.

DB Pullover (constant tension, traded sets)

60 x 10
60 x 10
70 x 10
70 x 10

IMG_4212

notes: We started off going perpendicular to the bench, but then switched to deep incline bench lengthwise. Keep the arms straight, don’t bring them directly overhead or you lose the tension!

DB shrugs (traded sets, hold EACH rep for 3 seconds)

70s x 12
70s x 12
70s x 12

notes: Trainer doesn’t want big traps, so she did crossover pulldowns instead. I went conservative on the weight, pulled up and back and held it there while the trainer slowly counted to 3, full control the whole time. Could def go heavier, but I wanted to see how it felt first time.

Had to rush to work, no time for cardio! Lazy bastard! haha