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Ivan: Building a Better Beast


Ivan

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I know that challenges have start dates, but I've never been into putting off proactive change - why wait to make positive changes in your life?

 

My last challenge was a cut, and it went well; I dropped to 10.5% body fat while adding weight to all my lifts. However, stripping away all that fat made me realize that while I'm stronger than ever, I'm still quite weak in absolute terms, and my existing muscle isn't actually much to look at. I need to change that before dropping down to 8-9% body fat

 

I also realized that I'm running out of goals that can be realistically met in a 6 week challenge. It's time for me to put down some long term markers.

 

 

Primary strength goals

 

For me, the threshold of "strong" starts when you can press your body weight and deadlift twice your body weight. Until I can do at least one of those two things, cutting below 10.5% body fat is a waste of time. My existing lifts, for the record:

 

Press - 44/66kg (67% of target)

Deadlift - 107.5/132kg (81% of target)

 

If these are my goals, that needs to be reflected in my program. My existing deadlift programming is good. I deadlift once per week, on Mondays when I'm at my most recovered. This has resulted in excellent progress over the past two challenges, as I've averaged an additional 1.25 kg per week.

 

I've been guilty of neglecting my press, however, as I was pressing only once a week, and after weighted dips, which fatigue some of the same muscles. Now, I'll be pressing twice a week, with no other shoulder exercises done prior to pressing. I initiated this change at the end of the last challenge, and I can already feel the difference it is making.

 

In addition, I will be working in the olympic lifts on the day that I'm not pressing. I'm doing this because of my interest in olympic lifting, but it will also function as an accessory exercise for the press.

 

 

Secondary body composition goals

 

I want to, roughly, maintain my current body fat level until I meet at least one of my primary strength goals. At that stage I'll consider a further cut. In the mean time, I will work on a very relaxed maintenance diet, and won't count calories at all on weekends (although I'll still be 'guestimating' maintenance calories). If my body fat % starts to drift to far upwards, I might cut briefly to bring it back down again.

 

None of this means that I'm going to let my protein consumption drop.

 

 

Grading

 

I'm not going to worry about grading for this challenge; either I'm closer to my primary strength goals, or I'm not. Either I'm happy with the progress I'm making, or I'm not. Life doesn't actually run on letter grades.

 

And to all the other warriors starting their next challenge - good lifting!

 

 

Edit: Awesome new progress bars in sig for primary strength goals.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Yesterday was olympic day. Always a funny one, that.

 

I started with dips, and I put the weight up by another kilo. That seems to be a sustainable, if unexciting, rate of improvement right now. I'll take it.

 

I then moved on to snatches. Ah, snatches. All the clumsiness of learning to power clean for the first time, with the added risk of dropping the bar on your head. This is the lift that gives me the most trouble. It's just so different from anything else I've done.

 

The weight is still low - 25 kg - but it's heavy enough that I dropped the bar for the first time. I caught the bar too far back, and the weight was just enough that I couldn't correct it. FYI, if you are going to mess up a snatch, lose the bar forward not backward. Forward means you are falling on top of the bar. Backward means the bar is falling on top of you. I managed to get out of the way, but it's a real lesson in why you don't want to screw this lift up.

 

After doing my set of snatches, I moved to my clean & jerk. These went much more smoothly. Although I'm using a full squat clean, it's similar enough to the power clean that my arms know exactly what they need to do, and I have very few difficulties with the first part of the lift. The jerk is a little trickier, as I'm still working on properly coordinating my upper and lower body - the temptation is to end up doing something that looks an awful lot like a jump-press. And let me tell you, the jump-press is one ugly beast. :P

 

So, yeah. It's a work it progress, but always good fun.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Warriors don't count reps and sets. They count tons.

My psychologist weighs 45 pounds, has an iron soul and sits on the end of a bar

Tally Sheet for 2019

Encouragement for older members: Chronologically Blessed Group;

Encouragement for newbie lifters: When we were weaker

 

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So, yesterday was squat day. It started well enough, with me trying to pull four weighted chins ant +17 kg for the first time. I got three, and I suspect I'll get the fourth some time next week. It amuses me that at 147 lbs, I have the bicep strength of a 180 lbs guy who can do three chin-ups.

 

I then moved on to presses, and I pressed 45 kg for the first time. My, how things have changed from when 32.5 kg seemed insurmountable. I only managed two reps, but I'll get more next week.

 

Then on to squats. I hate squats. I don't want to hate them, but it's time to stop pretending that I don't. So much effort for such little weight. Why do they have to make me feel like I'm going to die? Or that dying might be a nice change of pace?

 

Anyway, I'm front squatting 57.5 kg right now. People have said to me that I shouldn't clean the weight, that I should use the squat rack. If I don't, these people warn me, I will be limiting myself. To these people I say this - Hah! You of little wisdom, do you not know my squats are so crap that cleaning the weight is the EASY part of my lift?

 

After all that moaning, you might be forgiven for thinking that I crashed and burned, but in fact I made my reps, so the weight will go up again next week.

 

Sigh.

  • Like 1

I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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So, yesterday was squat day. It started well enough, with me trying to pull four weighted chins ant +17 kg for the first time. I got three, and I suspect I'll get the fourth some time next week. It amuses me that at 147 lbs, I have the bicep strength of a 180 lbs guy who can do three chin-ups.

I then moved on to presses, and I pressed 45 kg for the first time. My, how things have changed from when 32.5 kg seemed insurmountable. I only managed two reps, but I'll get more next week.

Then on to squats. I hate squats. I don't want to hate them, but it's time to stop pretending that I don't. So much effort for such little weight. Why do they have to make me feel like I'm going to die? Or that dying might be a nice change of pace?

Anyway, I'm front squatting 57.5 kg right now. People have said to me that I shouldn't clean the weight, that I should use the squat rack. If I don't, these people warn me, I will be limiting myself. To these people I say this - Hah! You of little wisdom, do you not know my squats are so crap that cleaning the weight is the EASY part of my lift?

After all that moaning, you might be forgiven for thinking that I crashed and burned, but in fact I made my reps, so the weight will go up again next week.

Sigh.

4 weighted chins with 17kg at your weight is no meager feat, well done for that.

And squats are never fun until they're finished. Brilliant strength/mass builders though.

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Yesterday was full of win. 

 

Of course, it helps that my Monday program is awesome. How awesome? Well, let me answer your question with a question.

 

arnold.png?resize=474%2C453

 

The correct answer, of course, is PRESSES, BABY! And yes, the caps and the exclamation point is required for full marks. Award yourself bonus marks if you added ('Cause you always leave your deadlifts 'til last).

 

That's right, my Mondays now contain both presses, and deadlifts. So. Much. Awesome.

 

And when you burn through all your reps, well, your day becomes

 

full-of-win.jpg

 

Oh, did I mention that I'm playing with gifs today?

 

Anyway, I pushed all my weights up, which meant adding +1 rep to my chins, +2 reps to my presses, and +2 reps to my deadlifts. 

 

tedxdetroit-be-awesome-007.jpg?w=600

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Today was olympic day, and it went reasonably well. I added a kilo to my dips, and my snatches were pleasantly smooth.

 

I had a little more trouble with the jerk half of my clean & jerks, though. I think my homework for this week needs to be re-investigating form and technique tips for this lift, because it's certainly where I feel the weakest.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Subbing for motivation! You're doing an awesome job. 

CoderGatherer

Fire Genasi - Level 5

STR 9 | WIS 6 | CON 8 | CHA 3 | DEX 6 | INT 6

 

Current Challenge

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 -Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6

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Battle Log

 

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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I've been on the road for the last few days, which means I missed my Friday workout. It also means that I'm not as well rested going into Monday's workout as I would like to be. C'est la vie.

 

I made a few changes to my routine today. The major change is that I've moved from three sets of RPT per exercise to two sets of RPT per exercise. I went with three sets for much the same reason that I started with 5 reps for my top set - it's what I was doing in the Starting Strength program. However, I discovered a new Leangains blog a little while ago (Martin's blog has been inactive since March), and he was making the case for two sets only.

 

The point of RPT, he reminded us, is to get the maximum stress and intensity out of your top set. The dropdown set is then to use up anything left over. What, then, is the second dropdown set for? At 80% of your PR, you aren't driving further strength gains, but you are increasing the amount of recovery that your body needs to do. According to this guy, a professional trainer, he saw much better gains when he moved from 3 sets to 2, and his clients have seen similar improvents.

 

What he's saying makes sense, so I thought I'd give it a try. After all, I saw improvements moving from 5 reps in my top set down to 4, so why not this as well? I figure I'll gve it a few weeks and see how things go. It should reduce the amount of time I spend in the gym, which will be nice as my workouts have gotten longer with the recent tweaks to my program (designed to fit in the olympic lifts).

 

The other thing I changed was the weight jump on my press. This new gym only has plates going down to 2.5 kg, so despite my fractional plates, there are certain weights that I need to 'fudge' - adding extra collars, ect - and I don't like that. So instead of 1 kg jumps, I thought I'd try 2.5 kg jumps, which would avoid this issue. I need to make sure I can handle that weight jump, though, and still make progress. Another 'try it and see' experiment.

 

So how did it all go? Decently, I suppose. I managed 3 reps at +18 kg on my chins, failing my fourth rep by a hair (just couldn't get my shoulders to the bar). I felt the difference with only two sets on my dropdown set, though. Without having to hold anything back for my third set, I could really go all out on the second, which meant I got 5 reps at +10 kg.

 

On my press, I got 2 reps at 47.5 kg, which I figure is the bare minimum to actually make progress. For what it's worth, though, there have been times even recently that I only got 2 reps after putting the weight up by only one 1 kg, so this could be absolutely fine, especially after a weekend of travelling. I'll just need to make sure that I actually make progress on my next two press days, rather than stalling out. If I can hit 3 reps, and then 4, I'll call the weight jump manageable. If I can't though, I'll probably go back to smaller jumps.

 

I managed 3 reps at 110 kg on my deadlift, but I'm only counting the first two because the last one was rubbish. I also tried chalk for the first time, but I don't think it made an ounce of difference. Clearly, my grip is not my limiting factor right now. I do think I need a form check, and I'll try and set one up over the holidays.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Looks like a good workout too me man, and you got a link too that blog? i'm interested since it does make sense.

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Sure thing

 

I've also decided that I need to recalculate my calories. It's nothing major, but I've started going for walks at a local park during my lunch. I probably do about 45 min of brisk walking, and that has a calorie consequence. I don't want to be inadvertently cutting when I'm trying to maintain or build myself up. The net result, after adjusting my activity modifier slightly, is an increase of 80 calories per day.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Your workouts are pretty hardcore. Its funny how you describe your workout and then put "sigh" and i'm there thinking "wish my workout was that good".

 

How long do you spend in the gym per workout can i ask?

 

:lol:

 

I suppose it's human nature to spend so much time looking at the road ahead that you don't notice how far you've already traveled.

 

As for gym time, if we ignore changing/showering/ect, I spent about 50-60 min in the gym when I was on 3 exercises for 3 sets of RPT. When I was on 2 exercises for 3 sets of RPT (during my cut) and yesterday, when I was on 3 exercises for 2 sets of RPT, that drops to about 35-45 minutes of actual gym time.

 

As you'll see from the RPT link above, a lot of that is just resting. You go all out with RPT (seriously, I sometimes get the shakes on the bigger lifts), so I leave four minutes between sets/warmup. That used to be five minutes when my top set was for 6 reps instead of 4, but it was probably more than I needed.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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:lol:

I suppose it's human nature to spend so much time looking at the road ahead that you don't notice how far you've already traveled.

I've noticed this a lot, its like as soon asi get to the level i strive towards the goalposts move and the prior goal becomes a baseline haha.

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Ah, olympic day. Smells like... well, let's not discuss what the gym smells like.

 

I'd been toying with putting the weight up on my dips by 2 kg. After all, if my presses were going up by that amount, why not dips? Well, today my dips reminded me why not. I only put the weight up by 1 kg, and getting that fourth rep was tough.

 

Before moving on to my olympic lifts, I spent some time just doing power jerks with an empty bar. I'd done a lot of research over the last week, but I really needed to actually feel how the movement worked.

 

After getting into the groove, I started on my snatches. I'm only at 30 kg, but I could feel my shoulders working, and I questioned the logic of doing weighted dips right before lifting heavy objects over my head. I may move dips to the end of the workout. They might suffer slightly, but they are not a priority right now - I just don't want to be ignoring my chest completely.

 

Finally, I worked on my clean and jerk. As much as I really want to put the weight up, I also know that I really need to drill this properly. I just look at my 30 kg and think about Ilya lifting 242 kg the other day. Meh.

 

Of course, I'm adding about 10 kg a month. If I can keep that up (lol) then I'll be clean & jerking more than I currently deadlift in a year's time. All the little gains add up.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Ah, olympic day. Smells like... well, let's not discuss what the gym smells like.

I'd been toying with putting the weight up on my dips by 2 kg. After all, if my presses were going up by that amount, why not dips? Well, today my dips reminded me why not. I only put the weight up by 1 kg, and getting that fourth rep was tough.

Before moving on to my olympic lifts, I spent some time just doing power jerks with an empty bar. I'd done a lot of research over the last week, but I really needed to actually feel how the movement worked.

After getting into the groove, I started on my snatches. I'm only at 30 kg, but I could feel my shoulders working, and I questioned the logic of doing weighted dips right before lifting heavy objects over my head. I may move dips to the end of the workout. They might suffer slightly, but they are not a priority right now - I just don't want to be ignoring my chest completely.

Finally, I worked on my clean and jerk. As much as I really want to put the weight up, I also know that I really need to drill this properly. I just look at my 30 kg and think about Ilya lifting 242 kg the other day. Meh.

Of course, I'm adding about 10 kg a month. If I can keep that up (lol) then I'll be clean & jerking more than I currently deadlift in a year's time. All the little gains add up.

moving the dips makes sense mate, big important most taxing lift first is how i like to do it, that way i'm not burned out for it :).

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moving the dips makes sense mate, big important most taxing lift first is how i like to do it, that way i'm not burned out for it :).

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That makes sense. I'll give it a go next week and see how it feels.

 

I've also upped my calories again. I've started walking to work instead of taking the bus (faster with London traffic), so I'm getting another few miles in each day. I'm going to have to monitor this new normal, but based on my activity modifier I should be on 2.5k calories. I want to be making big gains, so I'm prepared to risk putting on a little bit of extra weight (and periodically cutting to drop it again) if it means I can move towards my strength goals more swiftly.

 

I am conscious, of course, that I've got a holiday coming up in December where calorie counting will be forbidden. I might as well pencil in a January cutting challenge. :lol:

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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You're a London nerd Ivan? Brill! I work near Liverpool Street.

Yeah the bus sucks, but sometimes a necessary evil especially the winter months. I tend to omit all walking from my calorie calculations, it seems to work for me. I guess i just have a crappy metabolism and the walking just evens that out. I tend to walk further than most average joes i know in a day.

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Yep, moved to London in September. I don't specifically count walking, but there is a general 'activity modifier' that is part of the TDEE calculation that increases as you spend less time sitting around.

 

Today's workout was uninspired. No progress at all on my chins, and none on my press, either. Sometimes you just have days like that, but because I've been making changes I'm hypersensitive to lack of progress. I'm also feeling super greedy for trying to put my press up by the same incriment as my freaking deadlift, so on Monday I'll back down to 46 kg. The truth is that I just need to suck it up and by the extra fractional plates that will enable me to put my weights up 1 kilo at a time. That's what has been working for me, so why mess with it.

 

Amazon order placed.

 

I also failed my front squat for the first time. I knew it was coming, and I'd been stressing about it, but it turns out it's no big deal. You just sink into this squat you can't get out of, and let the bar roll off your arms onto the floor. Other than a dull thud, there's not much to it. Cool.

 

So, yeah. I got two reps at 60 kilos. That only a few kilos away from where I got stuck with my back squat, and I'm a little baffled I made it so far before failing for the first time. The easy gains are done, and the real work finally begins.

 

Now to rest up and eat big over the weekend, so I can make sure that Monday's workout is filled with awesome.

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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Today was disappointing.

 

I started with weighted chins, and made no progress at all. I then moved on to presses, and dropped my weight down to 46 kg, as planned. I got three reps.

 

I really, really tried for that fourth rep, but I couldn't break through the sticking point. And that made me pretty mad. I'm eating more than I have in half a year or more, I'm getting plenty of rest, and still, nothing is improving.

 

Frustrated, I did a third set for my presses. I know it's not been much of a test (just over a week), but it's a startling coincidence that all my major lifts stalled as soon as I tried dropping to two sets per exercise rather than three. I want to get back on track, and that means doing what I know works.

 

I moved on to my deadlifts, and got three reps, which is exactly what I got a week ago (although I refused to count one rep for poor form last week), making the entire session a stall, just like Friday's session. I did a third set of deadlifts, too.

 

I'm not feeling weak. I'm not having an off day. I'm just not growing stronger right now, and I really want to fix that. That means going back to what I know and bringing as much intensity as I can to my training this week. Next week we'll find out if it works...

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I will do today what others won't, so that I can do tomorrow what others can't.

Building a Better Beast: Challenge #1, #2, #3 #4

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