My Current Training Regimen

My Current Workout

This is the workout I’m currently doing. I’m posting it for information purposes only. I’m not claiming it’s the “best workout ever” or anything like that. There is no one ideal workout. This is just what’s working for me right now. When I stop making progress or want to try something different, I’ll amend it.

My goal is to increase strength and remain around the same body weight. I use mostly compound lifts and Reverse Pyramid Training.

Compound lifts are ones that use the body’s larger muscles and more than one joint.

Reverse Pyramid Training is when (after you warm up) you start with your heaviest working weight. You reduce the weights by about 10% for the next set and aim for a couple more repetitions. You reduce the weights again and increase the reps for subsequent sets.

I do use straight sets for incline bench press these days because I just want more volume there right now.

I use a technique called Rest Pause Training with a few exercises. This is when you do one activation set, followed by a few volume sets with only about 20 seconds of rest between them. I like this to get in some more volume work.

You’ll see I take a few sets to warm up. It’s important to get your muscles ready and to get acclimated to lift heavy weights. You want to increase the weight from one warm up set to the next to get acclimated but you don’t want to take so many warm up sets that you end up fatigued.

The first lift of each workout is the one I’m most focused on.

Monday

Warm up

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

Bodyweight squats – 10 repetitions

Push ups – 10 repetitions

Deadlift

Warm up set 1 – 5 repetitions (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 2 – 3 reps (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 3 – 1 rep (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 4 – 1 rep (2 minutes rest)

Work set 1 – 4-6 reps (3 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 8-10 reps

1-Arm Dumbbell Row

Warm up set – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Work set 1 – 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 8-10 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 10-12 reps

EZ Bar Biceps Curl

Warm up set 1 – 10 reps (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 2 – 5 reps (1 minute rest)

Work set 1 – 4-6 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Set 1 – 10 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 2 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 3 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 4 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 5 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 6 – 3-5 reps

Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises

3 Sets – 10-12 reps (10-20 seconds rest)

Dragon Flag

12 repetitions

Weighted Hanging Twists (Link)

10-12 repetitions

Rotator Cuff

Band Internal Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Band External Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Walking lunges

15 minutes

Tuesday

Warm up:

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

Bodyweight squats – 10 repetitions

Push ups – 10 repetitions

Incline Bench Press

Warm up set 1 – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 2 – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 3 – 1 repetition (1 minute rest)

5 Working sets – 5-7 repetitions (3-5 minutes rest)

Weighted Chin Ups

Warm up set 1 – 10 repetitions (unweighted) (1 minute rest)

Working set 1 – 4-6 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 2 – 6-8 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 3 – 8-10 repetitions

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Warm up set – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Working set 1 – 4-6 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 2 – 6-8 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 3 – 8-10 repetitions

Dumbbell Incline Chest Press

Set 1 – 10 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 2 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 3 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 4 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 5 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 6 – 3-5 reps

Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises

3 Sets – 10-12 reps (10-20 seconds rest)

Dragon flag

12 repetitions

Weighted Hanging Twists

10-12 repetitions

Rotator Cuff

Band Internal Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Band External Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Walking lunges

15 minutes

Wednesday

Warm up:

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

2 sets each of:

40 yard jog

40 yd butt kicks

40 yd Frankenstein

40 yd shuffle

40 yd Carioca

40 yd back pedal

12 sets of 40 yd sprints (rest only the time it takes to walk back to the start line)

800 yd walking lunges

Thursday

Warm up:

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

Bodyweight squats – 10 repetitions

Push ups – 10 repetitions

Deadlift

Warm up set 1 – 5 repetitions (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 2 – 3 reps (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 3 – 1 rep (60 seconds rest)

Warm up set 4 – 1 rep (2 minutes rest)

Work set 1 – 4-6 reps (3 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 8-10 reps

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Warm up set – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Work set 1 – 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 8-10 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 10-12 reps

EZ Bar Biceps Curl

Warm up set 1 – 10 reps (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 2 – 5 reps (1 minute rest)

Work set 1 – 4-6 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 2 – 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Work set 3 – 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Incline Biceps Curl

Set 1 – 10 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 2 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 3 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 4 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 5 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 6 – 3-5 reps

Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises

3 Sets – 10-12 reps (10-20 seconds rest)

Dragon flag (Link)

12 repetitions

Weighted Hanging Twists (Link)

10-12 repetitions

Rotator Cuff

Band Internal Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Band External Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Walking lunges

15 minutes

Friday

Warm up:

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

Bodyweight squats – 10 repetitions

Push ups – 10 repetitions

Barbell Incline Bench

Warm up set 1 – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 2 – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Warm up set 3 – 1 repetition (1 minute rest)

5 Working sets – 5-7 repetitions (3-5 minutes rest)

Weighted Chin Ups

Warm up set 1 – 10 repetitions (unweighted) (1 minute rest)

Working set 1 – 4-6 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 2 – 6-8 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 3 – 8-10 repetitions

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Warm up set – 10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Working set 1 – 4-6 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 2 – 6-8 repetitions (3 minutes rest)

Working set 3 – 8-10 repetitions

Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises

3 Sets – 10-12 reps (10-20 seconds rest)

Dragon flag

12 repetitions

Weighted Hanging Twists

10-12 repetitions

Rotator Cuff

Band Internal Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Band External Rotations 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Walking lunges

15 minutes

Saturday

Warm up:

Handstand push ups – 5-7 repetitions

Weighted crunches – 100 repetitions

Bodyweight squats – 10 repetitions

Push ups – 10 repetitions

Squats

Warm up set 1 – 10 repetitions

Warm up set 2 – 10 repetitions

Warm up set 3 – 3 repetitions

Warm up set 4 – 1 repetition

Warm up set 5 – 1 repetition

Working set 1 – 4-6 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Body weight vertical jump – 3 repetitions (3-5 minutes rest)

Working set 2 – 6-8 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Body weight vertical jump – 3 repetitions (3-5 minutes rest)

Working set 3 – 8-10 repetitions (1 minute rest)

Body weight vertical jump – 3 repetitions

Barbell Calf Raise

Set 1 – 10 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 2 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 3 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 4 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 5 – 3-5 reps (20 seconds rest)

Set 6 – 3-5 reps

Sunday

Off

Each workout takes about an hour and 15 minutes except for Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. Wednesday’s takes about 40 minutes. Saturday’s is only about 35 minutes.

How do I know when to increase the working weights? For the Reverse Pyramid Training lifts, when I’m able to go from 4, 6, and 8 reps for the sets to 6, 8, and 10, it’s time to move up. I add 10 lbs. for upper body exercises, and 20 lbs. for lower body ones.

For the 5 sets of 5-7, it’s similar. I start off with 5 sets of 5 repetitions, all at the same weight. The next session I shoot to add one repetition per set. Needless to say, it doesn’t always happen that smoothly. Eventually the the 5 sets of 5 becomes 5 sets of 7 reps. That’s when I add 10 lbs. and start back at 5×5.

Every 10-12 weeks I take a deload week. I do all the same exercises and the usual weights as above, but I cut all the reps in half. This gives me a mental and physical break to prevent boredom and injury.

As I said, this is just the program I’m currently doing. What you do should be determined by a number of factors, including your goals, your fitness level, schedule, etc. The main principles you want to follow are progressive overload and balancing workouts with recovery. And you want to make sure you’re fairly balanced between pulling and pushing exercises.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below.

Inspiration is Overrated

Inspiration and Motivation are Overrated

Inspiration is overrated. Sure, it has value and can be useful. Think back on the last time you felt truly inspired. How long did that inspiration last? What did you do about it? Let’s talk about what inspiration actually is. Oxford defines it thus : the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.

It’s the spark.

At its root, inspiration is a feeling, an emotion. By definition, that means it’s ephemeral. You can feel it very strongly at the moment, but it’s just not going to last. You can harness the feeling to help you. Or it can be like letting your inner 2 year old be in charge. The intensity of the feeling is really strong but is what it’s inspiring you to do actually going to help your long term goals?

Motivation is overrated. Again, let’s define Motivation. It’s the why. There are two types of motivation. The first is external, it comes to you from someone or something else. A parent motivates a child to keep his/her room clean often by threat or promise of reward. Does it work? Perhaps, but again, only for a while. Chances are it won’t be long before the kid requires another dose of motivation. (I swear, I don’t hate kids. Well, not all kids.)

Internal motivation is different. Continuing the example, this would be the type of kid who cleans his/her room on his/her own. Internal motivation comes from (duh) within. It’s hard to cultivate, but it lasts. It’s about setting and living up to your own personal standards.

Being an adult means choosing what you prioritize. No one is going to tell you why it’s important (or for some of us, if it’s important) to keep your living space clean.

Motivation is also emotional. The authority figure promises a reward or a punishment that spurs you to action. The fear of the punishment and the hope for the reward are both emotions. They do have some value, but again, it’s short-lived.

The Internal Motivation is a more deeply-seated emotion because it’s from within you. Something you want will always be a more powerful driver than something someone else wants you to do. However, desire is still a feeling, which means it also waxes and wanes.

Discipline is underrated. This gives us the how. Discipline is the control that results from training. It’s the structure or framework for the actions that will lead us to achieve our goals. Discipline is tied very closely to habits. It’s the willingness to apply the habits consistently over the long term, regardless whether we feel like it or not.

We see right there that discipline is more powerful and more durable than emotion. You do what you need to do, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. Think how much you can accomplish this way.

Chances are, you exercise it in some areas of your life already. If you have kids, you bathe, feed, and clothe them daily. Aren’t there days when you don’t feel like it? Yet you do it anyway because it needs to be done.

The good news is that means you know for a fact that you can implement discipline in your life consistently. Now what do you think would happen if you applied it to your fitness goals?

Habits are underrated. This is the what. Put another way, Habits are the summation of all the small behaviors that make up the discipline. These are the actions within the framework of discipline. We all have habits anyway. Think about all the things we do pretty much every day. Most of the things we do each day are things we do so often that we barely think about them. Brushing your teeth in the morning, getting dressed, your path to work.

In the fitness and health context, some of these habits are what time of day you workout, the structure and order of your workouts, and of course, all the foods and drinks we take in.

These aren’t emotional. In fact, when our habits are deeply ingrained, we do them without conscious thought or feeling. You’re not actively thinking, first I pick up the toothbrush, then I take the cap of the toothpaste, etc. You don’t feel, “oh no, if I don’t brush my teeth, they’ll rot!” every time you start the process. (Or maybe you do. Ha.) It’s pretty much autopilot.

Habit are just things we do. This is why it’s so imperative to actively cultivate ones that will help us achieve what we’re really after.

Ideally, you’d use all four of these concepts together to Chase down your goals at top speed. But life is rarely ideal, and when it is, that’s just for a short time. Take full advantage of those times when you’re Inspired and Motivated to use Discipline in your daily Habits.

Discipline and Habits are at the core though. This pair will keep you marching towards your goals when the other two are flagging. They are the most powerful tools we have in order to accomplish our goals.

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments, please leave them below.

The Upside of Sucking

When you first start anything new (walking, reading, a sport, a musical instrument) you will be terrible. You will suck. And that’s good.

It’s good for several reasons.

Perspective – even if you are an expert in one area, you will be a know-nothing in most others. Keeping perspective will keep you in the mentality of the student.

Learn Fast – when you’re first acquiring a new skill, you learn fast. It doesn’t feel that way, but you do. Going from zero to one is a bigger jump than from one to two.

Application – The stages of learning: novice, beginner, intermediate, proficient are the same for any skill. You can’t skip. Going through them is how you gain experience. This experience is indirectly transferable as is the accompanying confidence. You probably don’t remember learning to walk. Perhaps you can recall learning to swim or ride a bike. You start off totally unsure. You have to think about each action before you do it. The task seems really complicated. As you practice, you get better and you have to actively think less. This happens each time you try to learn something new. But, you don’t start exactly from scratch even if the new thing is totally different. You have the experience of having gone through the stages. You know that you can learn. You’ve learned to learn.

Become comfortable being uncomfortable – The best way to grow is to struggle. This is an important concept. Obviously there are times where it’s valuable to be comfortable. Being uncomfortable is stressful. Staying in a stressful state for a long time clearly isn’t ideal. But neither is never challenging yourself. The edges of discomfort is where we find our limits. We can’t push our limits if we don’t know where they are and test them from time to time. It also reminds us not to take our comforts for granted.

Inoculation – falling off the bike. Before it happens, it’s terrifying. When it happens it’s scary. It might even hurt a bit. But not forever. The next time it’s much less scary. Going through the process of being bad at something teaches you it’s really not so bad to be bad at something, at first.

Process is the thing – Learning to persist is priceless. This goes hand in hand with intentionally placing yourself in situations where you’re uncomfortable. The achievement of goals is kind of like signposts. They can tell you where you are but that’s about it. The process of getting there is the real value. Having a skill is great but learning a skill is growth. And growth is everything.

So learn something new.

Thanks for reading! Any questions or comments, leave them below.

Minimum Effective Dose

Minimum effective dose. A three-word phrase meaning just enough to have an effect. It’s great when it comes to medicine. You take only as much as you need to in order to get better. Taking more won’t make you heal faster. Taking too much will actually make you sick.

There’s a tendency to think that “more is more” when it comes to fitness. More weights. More sets. More reps. Longer sessions. It’s certainly true that increasing these things can be beneficial… but only up to a point.

As you do more, you’ll encounter the law of diminishing returns, where (in this context) each marginal increase in effort is no longer matched by an increase in results. This is a really frustrating place to be.

Imagine (or remember when) you’re first starting out training. Each workout you see improvement. Many call this period “newbie gains.” There are reasons for this but they can easily be summed up thus: at the beginning you have nowhere to go but up. As you get more and more experienced, you’ll see the rate of your improvement gradually slow down.

Training is about stimuli and adaptation. Your workouts provide a stimulus your body isn’t used to. With proper rest and recovery, your body adapts to the previous stimulus. In other words, the first time you try to run a mile, it’s difficult. The second time it’s easier. Congratulations, you’re in slightly better shape. The downside is it will now take a slightly greater stimulus to cause your body to adapt further.

By the way, this cycle doesn’t just happen in fitness. At one point, you found it challenging to read single letters. The fact that you’re reading this now means your brain adapted. You learned more complex words and sentences and now you can read. (Insert your own joke here about articles continuing to stimulate brain growth).

Minimum effective dose should allow you to keep gaining steadily for a long time. You leave yourself as much space to add more things as you can.

It’s about sustaining progress over the long term.

Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Start simple. You can always add complexity later if it’s necessary. Start off slowly. Fitness isn’t about getting as lean or as strong as possible as quickly as you can. It’s about being healthy and having a high quality of life sustained over the long run.

It’s very tempting to try to ramp up as fast as possible (to lose 50 lbs. or get that 315 lb. bench press NOW!) right? There’s a definite cost. Losing weight as rapidly as possible means you’ll lose muscle and strength as well as fat. You’ll have to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy. Are you really going to live the rest of your life without any carbs? Is this sustainable? What does this mean about the rest of your life?

Put another way, if you start at full speed, what do you do when that stops working? You cut out all the “bad” foods, you workout 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. At first it worked really well but a couple months in your progress has stalled. Now what do you do?

Using the minimum effective dose means that you have room to adjust when your rate of progress begins to stall. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to focus on training hard and eating smart. You need that in order to achieve your goals. But you don’t have to live an ascetic life to get what you want.

Your training should be challenging, no question. But it doesn’t need to leave you feeling destroyed after the workout. If you’re trying to lose fat, your calorie deficit should be just enough to keep the train moving, not the bare minimum to keep you alive. If you’re trying to put on mass, your surplus should be sufficient that you’re not adding a lot more fat than muscle.

Thanks for reading!

Easy Meal Prep

Let me say first off, I’m not a good cook. Some people really love cooking. They look forward to shopping for ingredients, prepping everything. They cook with love. They even hum while they do it. Strangest of all to me, they don’t mind washing all the dishes after.

I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I like food. I don’t love it. I know that means many of you will think I’m the weird one. I’m cool with that.

If you’re an oddball like me, this is for you.

Get thee a slow cooker. I’m mad I only “discovered the magic” a couple years ago. It’s made meal prep so much easier.

I got tired of spending upwards of $75 a week on overpriced food and being frustrated dealing with the lunchtime crowds.

With a slow cooker, you can prepare a week’s worth of food in just a few minutes. You put everything in the pot and hours later it’s ready. Then you put it in containers for each day and you’re good to go.

Don’t worry, this isn’t actually an infomercial.

If you value easy preparation and saving time it’s pretty much amazing.

It’s a great way to make sure you’re hitting your macros targets (protein, fats, can carbs) in a cost-effective and delicious way.

The advantages are:

  1. Convenience
  2. Cost effectiveness
  3. Easy prep
  4. Easy clean up
  5. Little time commitment
  6. Delicious meals for the whole week

An example of a go-to meal prep is this:

~1000 g (raw) chicken thighs

~750-~1000g red potatoes

Spinach and baby carrots (Choose a couple vegetables you like and go crazy)

Add salt, pepper (or whatever seasoning you like)

~16 oz of chunky salsa (I also use Italian dressing. Again, it’s totally up to you)

Everything goes in the slow cooker, I set it for 10 hours. You don’t even have to pay attention! When the time is up the cooker switches to a warming setting so your food won’t burn. The food comes out tender and juicy.

I divide it into containers and put them in the refrigerator and I’m set for the week.

The macros for this would be roughly:

Chicken: 350 calories, 48 g protein, 16 g fat

Potatoes: 100-140 calories, 3 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 24-32 g carbs

Salsa: 140 calories, 28g carbs

The macros for the veggies are so small I don’t really count them. The beauty of vegetables is they provide a bunch of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and volume without very many calories at all.

Oh, I almost forgot, the clean up is really easy too!

I know many of you discovered the value in slow cookers long ago and to you I say, why didn’t you tell me sooner?

If you haven’t tried it, give it a go. It’s so simple to tailor the ingredients to foods you’ll enjoy!

Thanks for reading.

The 5 Best Back Exercises

5 Great Back Exercises

The back is a body part that tends to be neglected for the obvious reason that we can’t easily see it in the mirror. We can plainly view ourselves in the gym’s mirrors working on the beach muscles in the front. While that’s fun, let’s show the back some love.

Ignoring the back means missing out on lots of gains and more importantly, risking muscle imbalances and potential injury.

An over-developed front side (e.g. chest, anterior shoulders, etc.) can lead to tight musculature and a hunched over look, kind of like a gorilla. This means the muscles in the back are weak and over-stretched.

From a side view, there should be a virtual straight vertical line from your ears, past your shoulder, past the hip, leg, and ankle. An imbalance of the front side would pull the shoulder forward, in front of the ear.

Making sure to incorporate back exercises will help you maintain proper alignment. Oh yeah, it will also get you a strong and awesome looking back, too. Look good, feel good, be better at life, right?

Here are 5 of my favorite back exercises:

Deadlifts

This is first because it’s the best one. This isn’t exclusively a back exercise. When done correctly, it’s a compound exercise which works your entire posterior chain. Compound means it works more than one muscle group and more than one joint. Posterior chain is a fancy term for all the muscles on the back of your body. Deadlifts train your butt, hamstrings, and back. These are some of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. This means you’ll be able to work up to some pretty heavy weights and train your whole body efficiently.

Weighted Pull-Ups

You don’t have to use added weights to benefit from it. In fact, being able to do pull-ups in itself is pretty impressive. Pull-ups are another compound movement. They mainly work your latissimus dorsi (the large muscles on either side of your back). But they also target your shoulders, biceps, smaller muscles in the back, and your forearms and hands.

Adding weight obviously makes pull-ups more difficult and also more rewarding. Without it, your options for efficiently developing strength are limited. There are other ways to increase the progressions of pull-ups but being able to add weight is really efficient.

Varying the width of your grip slightly changes the emphasis of the pull-ups. Positioning your hands wider will focus more on the outer lats. Pulling with your hands closer together will focus more on the lower lats. It’s a good idea to incorporate a mix of both for better back development.

If you’re not able to do pull-ups yet, don’t worry. You can start with the lat pulldown machine. Another way to work your way up to pull-ups is to do negatives. Negatives are when you focus on the lowering part of the exercise. For this, you jump up to the bar and hold yourself in same position you would as if you’d just completed a pull-up. As slowly as you can, lower yourself until your arms are almost fully extended. Drop from the bar and then jump back up for the next repetition.

 

Weighted Chin-Ups

Chin-ups are a variation of pull-ups that work the same muscles, but a little differently. With pull-ups, your palms will grip the bar facing away from you (a.k.a. a pronated grip). For chin-ups you use and underhand grip, so your palms will face you (a.k.a. a supinated grip). This causes the biceps to be more involved in the pulling than they are with pull-ups.

You’ll see some pull-up bars will have handles you can use where your hands will face each other (a.k.a. a neutral grip).

 

 

Bent Over Barbell Row

Those two are examples of a vertical pulling lift. You want to make sure to hit some horizontal pulling too. Bent over barbell rows are a great way to develop your lats, rhomboids, trapezius and biceps. There are several versions of rows you can choose from.

 

 

A variation I like to use is dumbbell rows. Dumbbells require each arm work independently so you’ll ensure both sides are trained equally.

If you prefer machines, a seated row or a cable row can train these muscles similarly.

For you body weight exercise enthusiasts, you’ll love inverted rows. You can use a bar or suspension straps.

 

 

Good Mornings

Last up on this list of go-to back exercise are good mornings (I have no idea why they’re called that by the way).  It’s a hip hinging movement great for strengthening the lower back as well as the glutes and hamstrings.

 

There you have it. By no means is this an exhaustive list of all the possible back exercises.  Add these five to your training so you’ll be balanced, front and back. They’re a solid base you can use to build a strong, functional back that looks great!

Thanks for reading. Let me know your favorite back exercise in the comments!

 

 

Use Reverse Pyramid Training to Keep Making Gains

How Reverse Pyramid Training Can Help You Keep Making Gains

In this post I’m discussing Reverse Pyramid Training and how it can help you get stronger. No, it’s not magic. But it’s an efficient tool you can use to improve your lifts without spending all day at the gym. If you have all day to spend at the gym, that’s cool. Most people don’t. RPT is a good way to get the most bang for your buck on your compound lifts.

RPT is when you start your working sets with the heaviest weight. You will want to warm-up first, of course. Skipping a proper warm-up is a great way to get injured. If you’re injured, you can’t train. So don’t get injured. I like to use a really light weight for 10 repetitions. Then rest a minute and go a little bit heavier for 5 repetitions. After another minute of rest, one last warm-up set of 1-2 repetitions and you’re ready to go. The concept here is to find the sweet spot where you’re warmed up and acclimated for your working sets but not fatigued.

Then rest 2 minutes before starting the first working set. Since you’ll only be using this weight for one set you can give it your all. Shoot for 4 repetitions. Rest a full 3 minutes. It may seem counterintuitive, but we’re aiming for strength not just a pump. The full rest period allows your muscles to fully recover. For the second working set you lower the weight by about 10% and aim for 6 repetitions. Rest for 3 minutes and you’re ready for your last working set on this exercise. Reduce the weight by another 10%. Your target is 8 repetitions.

 

Reverse Pyramid
Reverse Pyramid Training

If you find on any of the sets you can’t hit the minimum number of repetitions, the weight is too heavy (for instance, if you can’t get that 4th repetition in the first working set). Don’t be hard headed about it. Reduce the weight on the bar. Just back down and build back up. It’s no big deal and it happens to all lifters at some point. Sometimes one step back to take two steps forward really is the best way.

In contrast, regular pyramid training looks like this:

 

Pyramid
Pyramid Training

The benefit of RPT is you hit the heaviest weight when you’re freshest. Normal pyramid training is where you add weight to each subsequent working set. It does work, but obviously, by your last sets you’re already fatigued. This means your 4-repetition max will be lower than it would be if you attempted it at the beginning, as you would when using RPT. Also, RPT is far less of a grind. You focus on the one really heavy set. The subsequent sets allow for some volume work without wearing you down.

Before a muscle gets bigger, it must get stronger. You can train hard or you can train long, doing both is impossible. RPT is designed to help you get stronger in a time-efficient way. Lifting heavy means you’ll recruit almost all the muscle fibers. With regular pyramid training, the first few sets are easy and don’t require full muscle activation. But they do fatigue you before you get to your last and heaviest sets. Reverse Pyramid Training has you lift your heaviest when you’re strongest.

Your muscles will remain activated for the next sets as well. The first few repetitions will feel almost too easy. These sets allow you to get in enough volume without grinding your muscles and joints into dust.

As you get stronger, you will be able to do more repetitions. Your goal should be to add repetitions each session, or at least each week. Using RPT you’ll go from doing 4 repetitions to being able to get 6 repetitions of the same weight for your top set. Similarly, you’ll increase the reps for the next sets from 6 to 8 and from 8 to 10, respectively. Once you’re able to go from 4, 6, and 8 to 6, 8, and 10, you bump up the weights for all the sets. For lower body lifts you can increase the weight by 10 lbs. to each side of the barbell. For upper body lifts add 5 lbs. per side. Small, consistent jumps is the way to go. Now you go back to 4, 6, and 8 repetitions. And congratulations, you’re stronger!

Use RPT for your primary compound lifts, like squat, deadlift, bench and overhead press. You’re doing your heaviest lifting while you’re at your strongest, so you can optimize your gains. It allows for the most intensity without you having to do a huge number of sets and spending unnecessary hours at the gym.

It’s one more tool you can use to keep improving.

Give it a shot! Thank you for reading and leave a comment below.