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Ivan: Building a Better Beast


Ivan

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As my goals no longer fit into six week boxes, this is really an extention of my last challenge.

 

 

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 - 50/66kg* (76%)

Deadlift - 115/132kg* (87%)

 

* I am defining 'bodyweight' as 66kg for now becasuse that has been my avereage weight for several months prior to the holidays. When I'm close enough to my goal for it to matter, I'll make sure I'm using up to date weight.

 

In my last challenge I tweaked my program to focus on my press while continuing to deadlift once per week. I'm now making a few further tweaks, and I'm going to open the year with the following (all exercises RPT):

 

Monday - Press, Clean into Front Squat, Weighted Chins

Wednesday - Snatch into Overhead Squat, Deadlifts, Weighted Dips

Friday - Press, Clean into Front Squat, Weighted Chins

 

So a few changes here. First, I'm moving my 'weighted' exercises to the end of the session. One thing I noticed over the holidays (when I could not chin or dip) was that my presses gained a rep or two simply from being the first exercise. This allows me to push more weight, driving faster adaptation. My weighted exercises will suffer, but they are not a priority at this time.

 

Second, I've switched chins and dips. Chins suffer after deadlifts because the lats get pretty burned from deadlifting, and dips rely on the same shoulder muscles that snatches use, so making the switch seems like a no-brainer, at least on paper.

 

Finally, I've dropped the olympic lifts (sort of). The truth is, I'm weak. Lack of strength is hurting me far more than lack of technique right now. Overhead squats strengthen the receiving position of the snatch, and by actually using the snatch to set up the squats I keep working on my snatch technique, albeit at a slower pace. The same is true of the clean and the front squat. The only part of the movement that I'm not doing at all right now is the jerk.

 

Incidentally, this new program has me squatting twice a week, which think will be a good thing, as my squat is very weak compared to my other lifts. However, if I feel that this is hurting my deadlift recovery I'll drop back down to once per week.

 

 

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.

 

In news that will shock no-one, I put on some weight over the holidays. I'm weighing in at 157 lbs (+10 lbs over the end of November), with a 12.7% body fat (+2.2%). I'm going to cut back down to 10.5% body fat over the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to seeing how much I will weigh at that point - with luck I've put on some lean muscle mass.

 

Mandatory Bonus Fun: At the end of this challenge I will submit my press and deadlift PRs to the lifting leaderboards! Holding my results up for comparison and public riducule will hopefully give me some additional incentive to lift heavy and get strong.

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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Love the strangth goal as opposed to an appearance goal! Your body fat is already pretty low. The only person that will notice that 2% is your measuring tape.

 

Yeah, and until I actually build some more muscle, there's no point in droping below about 10% anyway. :lol:

 

 

I'm squatting 4 times a week and just pulled a 40# PR. Squatting will help your deadlift 

 

That would be awesome.

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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I'll second Matt's comments.  Front squatting really helps the deadlift.

 

It will be very interesting to see if I make more progress on the deadlift after incorporating more front squats. The trouble with (conventional) deadlifts is that you can't train them as frequently as I would like to. If front squats will truly help my deadlift, I'll learn to love them. :D

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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I don't know, have you actually run into over training with your deadlifts? I know SL5x5 and Starting Strength put it into our heads that our bodies can only handle 1 deadlift session a week, but a few months ago, one of my weeks consisted of doing (relatively heavy) conventional pulls 6 sets of 6 (not including warm ups) followed by deficit pulls at 80% 3-5 sets of 3.  Then two days later I did snatch grip deads.

 

I would suggest experimenting with what your body can take.  You can always do heavy pulls one day and "speed" work another day in the week.

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I don't know, have you actually run into over training with your deadlifts? I know SL5x5 and Starting Strength put it into our heads that our bodies can only handle 1 deadlift session a week, but a few months ago, one of my weeks consisted of doing (relatively heavy) conventional pulls 6 sets of 6 (not including warm ups) followed by deficit pulls at 80% 3-5 sets of 3.  Then two days later I did snatch grip deads.

 

I would suggest experimenting with what your body can take.  You can always do heavy pulls one day and "speed" work another day in the week.

 

Huh.

 

I've never actually thought about it that way, actually. As you say, all the starter programs really push how cautious you need to be with deadlifts, and I've just never questioned that. Food for thought... especially the next time I feel like I'm stalling on my deadlifts.

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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Yea, I've recently switched to sumo for the few upcoming months, but yea I think you could probably play with heavy pulls at 80% or higher and then speed/volume work at 65-75% without frying your lower back.

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Stupid, stupid, stupid.

 

I got to the gym, and it was packed. Monday after New Year's, right? Queues for the barbells and everything. But the dip bar is free - let's do that while I'm waiting.

 

Except that I pexhausted my shoulders and triceps with an exercise I don't care about right before doing presses. Not only did I not make any progress on the press, but my reps went down.

 

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

 

Okay, rant over. I won't make that mistake again.

 

My deadlifts were okay - I've just put them up to 117.5 kg - but I'm taking in far fewer calories than I was a week ago, and my body needs to readjust. Hopefully I"ll get the extra reps I need next week; the lifts didn't feel too hard, but I didn't have the oomph (technical term) to break it off the ground a third and fourth time.

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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Don't worry, they gym will empty out again before the challenge is over and then the wonderful lull of gym activity before people get really panicked about having to put on a bathing suit in public again.

 

Also to jump on the bandwagon a little late, squats totally help DLs.

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I like your idea if posting to the lifting leaderboards. It sounds like another great way to stay accountable. Where are the leaderboards? (Sorry I'm new to the warrior guild scene!)

Human Warrior       Level 11 (80%)

STR 3 | DEX 7 | STA 2 | CON 2.5 | WIS 3 | CHA 7
“Don't fear failure— Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail."

1. 23/10/14 - ride a wild Giant Tortoise... or at least see one (Isabela Island, Galapagos Islands)

2. 20/10/2014 (MASTER QUEST) - Grade to first dan (blackbelt) in Soo Bahk Do

3. 4/10/14 - hike the Inca Trail

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Very interesting thread... I'm very much into bodyweight work, and lifting as a means to body recomposition, but you are completely nerded out over the details of lifting!  I mean that in the best way, of course.  So, subbing for the sheer detail!  Also, your stats are nearly identical to mine and I'm interested in seeing how quickly you recomp that 2% bodyfat!

Level 21 Wild Elf Ranger/Assassin

Spoiler

I'm not really sure these stats are relevant anymore...

STR: 31 DEX: 26 STA: 30  CON: 24  WIS: 30 CHA: 26

Current Challenge

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I like your idea if posting to the lifting leaderboards. It sounds like another great way to stay accountable. Where are the leaderboards? (Sorry I'm new to the warrior guild scene!)

 

The leaderboard forum is a subforum of the powerlifting and weightlifting forum. In each thread (one for each exercise) the top post ranks everyone according to the wilkes formula (which compares how much you are lifting to your body weight, taking into account your gender, giving you a 'score'). You post your details in the thread and the guild leader periodically updates the opening post to reflect the new rankings. And yeah, I figured it would give me a little added accountability.

 

 

Don't worry, they gym will empty out again before the challenge is over and then the wonderful lull of gym activity before people get really panicked about having to put on a bathing suit in public again.

 

Also to jump on the bandwagon a little late, squats totally help DLs.

 

Heh. It will be interesting to see. My last gym was really small, and there was no New Year's rush, which is why I was taken by surprise.

 

 

 

Very interesting thread... I'm very much into bodyweight work, and lifting as a means to body recomposition, but you are completely nerded out over the details of lifting!  I mean that in the best way, of course.  So, subbing for the sheer detail!  Also, your stats are nearly identical to mine and I'm interested in seeing how quickly you recomp that 2% bodyfat!

 

Guilty as charged. You should see some of my other challenges if you really like the numbers side of things. Check out this post to see how I planned my last cut, which for a similar weight range. As with that challenge, I'm on a 500 kcal deficit per day. It's a gentle cut, but I know from experience I can cut at that rate without losing strength.

 

The one wild card is that I'm walking much more than I used two - about 10 miles per day rather than 2 miles per day - which has forced me to push my calories up. Depending on how well, or poorly, I've done that, I could be cutting faster or slower than I'm expecting. I won't really know until I go back on 'maintenance' calories, and see how stable my weight is.

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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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The one wild card is that I'm walking much more than I used two - about 10 miles per day rather than 2 miles per day - which has forced me to push my calories up. Depending on how well, or poorly, I've done that, I could be cutting faster or slower than I'm expecting. I won't really know until I go back on 'maintenance' calories, and see how stable my weight is.

 

Wow--where do you find the time to walk 10 miles a day!  That's a pretty significant time expenditure, unless you're like a parking meter or beat cop....

 

Anyway, yes I too keep track of my lifting progress.  Since I've only been lifting for about 4 months now, it's been easy to see "progress" every week.  Except when I realized my forms weren't correct and I had to drop weight to get them on track.  Anyway.  

 

Still very interesting!

Level 21 Wild Elf Ranger/Assassin

Spoiler

I'm not really sure these stats are relevant anymore...

STR: 31 DEX: 26 STA: 30  CON: 24  WIS: 30 CHA: 26

Current Challenge

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Basically, it's two miles or so to and from work, and I walk on my lunch for about another four miles. It's roughly two hours of brisk walking over the course of the day. I've essentially stopped using public transit for anything but long journeys.

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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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Basically, it's two miles or so to and from work, and I walk on my lunch for about another four miles. It's roughly two hours of brisk walking over the course of the day. I've essentially stopped using public transit for anything but long journeys.

 

Before i moved i'd contemplated doing this. I was 6 miles from work and using public transport (walk to bus, bus, tube, train, walk to office) it was an hour door to door. I could walk that in 1.5hrs and save myself £140/month in season tickets. 

A lot of people in London don't realise how close things are and how slow public transport actually is. People see it being 3 stops on the tube and think its miles away when they might well be able to walk it in a similar time.

I then moved, and now i'm 40miles away so no choice.

 

Do you do it in the rain too? I think i asked you that previously, not sure.

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Generally (like today) the rain doesn't stop me; I have a small umbrella in my bag for keeping dry. If the weather is really foul, though, or I have something heavy or akward to carry I happily hop on the the train/bus.

 

And although I didn't do it to save money, the savings do add up.

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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Because I'm travelling on Friday, I did Friday's workout today - I felt that given my focus on pressing, getting another day of presses in was more important than my olympic lifts.

 

It was a little disappointing. I made virtually no progress on my press (+1 rep on my last drop-down set) and actually lost some reps on my chin-up drop-down sets (despite weighing 2 lbs less than last time I did chins). I did manage to add an extra rep to every single set of my front squat, though, which means I'll put the weight up next week.

 

While I can find excuses for my poor progress if I look hard enough (only 48 hours since my last set of presses rather than the usual 72 hours, chin-ups done last instead of first, etc), I suspect the truth is that going straight from holiday excesses to a cut has been a little hard on my body. Next year (assuming I remember) I'll probably do a week at maintenance first, and then cut, just to make the transition easier.

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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What is the rep and set scheme you are following? 5/3/1 variant?

 

All my sets are reverse pyramid training. This has been around forever, but it was really popularised by Martin Berkhan of LeanGains. Since then it's become a lot more mainstream.

 

Basically, you do your first, or 'top' set at your maximum working weight for whatever rep range you use (I use four reps because I'm focusing on hyperplasy rather than hypertrophy), and then you do one or two 'drop-down' sets. In each drop-down set you reduce the weight by 10% and try to beat the number of reps you got on the previeus set by one or two reps.

 

So my front squats today were 4@62kg, 6@57kg, 8@52kg. Because I made the maximum number of reps in my top set, the weight goes up next time. If I'd made less than my max reps on the top set (like last week, when I hit 3@62kg) the weight stays the same and I try to beat my previous number of reps.

 

In this way progress can be made either through weight or reps, which allows for smaller increments of progression. This becomes progressively more important as you get closer to your potential and the gains come more slowly.

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 okay, yea I saw something in Kidney Bean's thread about the reverse pyramid.

 

I like the idea, as I sometimes feel a little gassed when I was doing 5/3/1.

 

Do you work up to the top set as usual then do the drop down sets?

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RPT starts with the top set (after a warm-up, obviously), so you are doing your heaviest set while you are freshest. The system puts the minimum amount of stress on the muscles to trigger growth by allowing you to work with heavier weights than if you were on a more traditional system (say, 5x5).  You've traded increased max weight for reduced reps, which is why it is favoured in LeanGains, by people cutting, or anyone with recovery issues.

 

The downside is that it requires you to bring a huge amount intensity and focus to your lifting because you have one chance to force muscle growth - your top set. If you half-ass that you've just wasted the training day.

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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