click here for part three!
The first four weeks went exactly as I had expected them to go with Andre putting forth some effort but not fully applying himself to lifting. I think it is like this for most beginners as they learn to love the pain of intense training. Andre's progression was steady with the weight increasing by small amounts every week.
Despite the fact that I know his diet was lacking protein and overall calories, he began to show increased muscle mass. This is not surprising considering most beginners, no matter how they workout, will experience at least some gains simply because they have never lifted before. Below are the gains in strength Andre made in 4 weeks:
Flat Bench Press: 50lbs. to 60lbs.
Lying French Press: 25lbs. to 30lbs.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 12 1/2lbs. to 17 1/2lbs.
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press: 12 1/2lbs. to 17 1/2lbs.
Wednesday. Upper Back/Biceps/Traps
Bent-Over Cambered Bar Row: 46lbs. to 55lbs.
Barbell Upright Row: 40lbs. (no change)
Barbell Biceps Curl: 20lbs. to 25lbs.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 25lbs. to 32 1/2lbs.
Friday. Legs/Lower Back
Dumbbell Traveling Lunge: 10lbs. to 17 1/2lbs.
One-Leg Standing Calf Raise: 25lbs. to 35lbs.
Barbell Deadlift: 50lbs. to 65lbs.
Leg Extension: 50lbs. to 65lbs.
I could've pushed Andre harder and forced him to do more weight but I didn't want to cause overtraining. Although the workload of his weight sessions was pretty low, I think the simple inclusion of regular weight training caused enough shock to his central nervous system (CNS) for now. I feel that by month two of his training his body will be better equipped for more intense workouts. It is important for every beginner to start off with something easy in order to "get the feel of it".
I could stress only one thing concerning Andre's diet and that was more protein and increased meal frequency. It is important to get a source of protein about every two hours in order to create a streaming supply of amino acids and overall calories into the body. This type of eating reduces cortisol, a catabolic hormone that will tear apart muscle, and help create a positive nitrogen balance which will induce muscle growth.
I also wanted to get more unprocessed oils into Andre's diet. I think the average American consumes mostly polyunsaturated fat in the form of highly processed vegetable oils. These oils are virtually devoid of any nutritional value and can actually cause serious adverse effects in the case of trans-fats a.k.a. hydrogenated oils.
Both monounsaturated and saturated fats have been linked to increased testosterone levels in men which proved to be good incentive for Andre to consume more of these oils in an unprocessed form. Polyunsaturated fats, like those found in walnuts, are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits.
To raise testosterone levels I recommend a high fat/high protein/low carb diet with emphasis on increased intake of monounsaturated and saturated fat and a specific decrease in sugar. Good sources of monounsaturated and saturated fats include olive oil and coconut oil.
Among reducing sugar intake I also instructed Andre to stop consuming any carbohydrates at least two hours before bed. This is because carbohydrates induce insulin and this action will in turn "cancel-out" growth hormone. The majority of growth hormone released in a day is released while you sleep and to maximize this, carb restriction before bed is advisable.
Andre started off with some supplements (mentioned in part one) that, in my opinion, served mainly as encouragement. Personally, I feel that most supplements are completely unnecessary and Andre could've saved some money by just purchasing an inexpensive whey protein (my favorite being 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition) and a multivitamin/mineral complex; this is all a person needs if they consume a nutritious diet.
Rather than wasting money on magic pills guaranteed to make you huge, I suggest spending that money on either a supply of whey protein and vitamins or go stock up on some good food like organic cold-pressed oils and various meats and vegetables. As I said before, the supplements Andre got at the start of his training served to spur him on. After all, he already spent the money; he might as well work hard and get something out of those supplements.
Continuing To Month 2
I'm confident that after four weeks Andre, and anybody else, is ready for increased volume and intensity. Therefore, the workout plan for month 2 is significantly harder. By this time I also expect that a person would be more familiar with eating intelligently and more conscious of what they eat. Remember, we eat not so much for satisfaction as for optimum muscle growth and overall performance; keeping that in mind when choosing meals is the key to progression.
Month 2 is going to be a four day split with increased volume. Since there is more work it is more important now to get a lot of calories (about 18 calories per pound of body weight), sufficient protein (about 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight), and at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Also, this month I am introducing supersets to Andre. A superset is two lifts performed back-to-back with no rest in between. Here is the plan for month 2:
Flat Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-10 reps -
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Skull Crushers: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Dumbbell Pullover: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Tuesday. Upper Back/Biceps
Assisted Overhand Pullup: 2 sets, to failure -
Bent-Over Cambered Bar Row (wide grip): 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Alternating Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Alternating Hammer Curl: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Military Press: 3 sets, 10-12 reps -
Dumbbell Shrug: 3 sets, 10-12 reps - View Exercise
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 10-12 reps - View Exercise
Side Lateral Raise: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Friday. Legs/Lower Back
Barbell Squat: 3 sets, 8-10 reps -
1-Leg Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets, 10-12 reps - View Exercise
Barbell Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
Leg Extension: 3sets, 8-10 reps - View Exercise
This month I have also introduced focused abdominal training to Andre. The abs are to be trained separately from the rest of the body three times per week. This ab workout requires no special equipment and can be done away from the gym. Here is the ab workout:
Front Crunch: 3 sets, 15 reps -
Reverse Crunch: 3 sets, 15 reps - View Exercise
Twisting Crunch: 3 sets, 15 reps - View Exercise
What's Up Next
For part three of this series I will of course have a new workout plan and naturally it will be even harder. The plan will be to start gearing workout and diet towards maximizing hormonal output. Even though Andre's progress this first month wasn't too impressive, I am very happy with where he is going. His head is in the right place to produce some serious results next month and slowly he's becoming a lifter driven by insanity... as he should be. Until next time...