Phano's Training Journal 2!

I didn't feel up to par to train hamstrings today but I went regardless. One good thing about hamstring training is I know it's really simple.

2/21/02 Thursday-Hamstrings
I didn't feel up to par to train hamstrings today but I went regardless. One good thing about hamstring training is I know it's really simple. If you disregard the poundages, it is just two basic movements performed in less than 45 minutes and that's it. I guess you can say I enjoy the mechanical processes of my daily activities.

We began today with the usual 5 minutes on the bike followed by the stretching and mess talking amongst ourselves. Then it was off to the lying leg curl machine in one of the corners of the Ramsey Gym. I like the seclusion of this piece of equipment so I can stay out of sight of prying eyes. There are many rumors which circulate around the gym and school about me concerning my "natural stance" and you know what, I don't give a rat's ass! Just because I bust my ass in the gym, eat right, do my research and rest, people are going to trash talk me. Well, to all you haters at the Ramsey Center, you guys can kiss my ass because I'm natural and you guys know deep down inside I am and the more trash talking you do, the better I get. End of story! Once again, I apologize for the randomness inserted here but you can see what I go through on a daily basis here at UGA.

Now back to training. I believe I was at the lying leg curl machine. We started off with our feet positioned together on the pad for four warm up sets starting with 60 lbs and then increasing by 30 lbs each set after. Then it's only two work sets with 150 lbs for 10 and 9 reps. Hamstrings are now fully pumped and it is difficult to walk properly. Now it is time for the most difficult part of the workout. Yes folks, Romanian deadlifts are next on the agenda. We have to work in with some other guy because he was at the machine first but we make haste. Fortunately, he's already got 135 on the bar so we just grab it and bang out 15 reps. Then it's 225 for 10 easy reps followed by 315 for 8 hard-as-hell reps.

The Ramsey Center has this platform which everyone does shrugs on. So when anyone loads that particular bar with anything more than 225, everyone assumes that individual is going to perform shrugs. So when Dave and I load the bar with 315+ lbs and start doing perfect Romanian deadlifts, people just stare and wonder what the heck is going on. I'll save all you starers the mental anguish and tell you what's going on: we're growing and you're not, haha! Now it's back to the lying leg curl machine with our feet positioned apart on the padding. You won't believe it but the positioning on the leg pad does make a difference which part of the hamstrings you better emphasize. I suggest that you give it a try if you're hamstrings are lagging. Three sets using 100, 120 and 120 lbs for 15, 10, and 10 reps respectively here and that's all she wrote!

2/22/02 Friday-Chest
I woke up this morning feeling like crap. I knew I was starting to get sick and thought to take the day off. But before I could actually take the day off due to this forthcoming illness, I found the desire to force myself to the gym. Don't ask me how but I did. If you really think you're hardcore about weight lifting, then put yourself in this situation. Would you have gone to the gym in my condition? You're probably saying "yes" now but it takes a different type of mentality to force yourself to the gym despite feeling like total shit. Nevertheless, I knew I had a job to do in the gym today and I wasn't going to let a little illness prevent me from doing what needed to be done. Going to the gym wasn't probably the best thing I could have done but I went anyhow.

We started off with the usual 5 minutes on the bike and then proceeded to stretch a bit. After stretching, we looked around to see that all of the incline benches were taken up. We thought for a second and decided to train our abs as an additional warm up. We started off with decline crunches. This is the backbone of my ab workout. Why? Well, if you really focus on the contraction, this exercise can't be topped. Also, stretching in between each set helps to achieve a better pump. If you're training your abs and you aren't getting pumps, then you better develop some ab training nuance. If you don't, you're wasting your time! We performed 3 sets of 20 reps on the decline crunch with just bodyweight, then 25 lbs, and finally 45 lbs. The last set hurt like a bitch!

Then we performed 3 back to back sets of seated knee-ups for 20 reps each. Now we've got a good sweat going and we're ready to rock and roll. We make way to the incline press and slap on 135 lbs. I almost always go first because I like to give Dave something to compete against. I don't mind it so much because his success in the Mr. GA is more important than my success. I've already proven myself and now it is his turn. I get 15 easy reps with 135 and then stretch some. Then it's 10 slow and easy reps with the same weight. I stretch some more. We slap on 185 lbs and bang out 6 easy reps. At this point, I can tell that it's starting to get difficult. Translation: the sets now will start to tear down the working muscles so they grow back bigger and stronger. Now it's 205 for 8 slow reps. I'm breathing hard in between sets now and my pecs are fully pumped. I'm still stretching and using isometric tension in between sets. If you're not doing this for all of your muscles, then you better start doing it now. It will allow you to get a better pump and will allow you to better feel the working muscles. Then I slap on 215 and squeeze out 6 arduous reps. Dave is still going extremely strong so we opt for one last set. I get what seems like an impossible 4 reps with 225 while Dave reps out with 275.

Then it's off to incline dumbbell flyes for only two sets. Based on the previous chest training poundages, I opt for 70s for both sets. I bang out two sets of 8 reps. Something about doing this exercise slowly makes me feel as if I'm going to tear a pec or something. Maybe it's my mind playing tricks on me or maybe it's my muscles making me feel what's working. Whatever it is, it is working. Now it'' off to incline dumbbell press for only one set. No warm up sets here. It's 80s for one set of 7 reps. Yes, it hurts a lot at this point but I don't care. If I'm not hurting, then I'm not training hard enough. Next, we move to the machine bench press for two sets. I get 10 reps with 160 and make sure to feel each rep and squeeze the living hell out of my pecs.

For the second set, I bang out 7 reps with 180. I can't feel my pecs and my entire upper body is pumped like hell. Dave and I decide to finish off the pecs with cable crossovers. We perform this exercise exactly like a most muscular pose. Why? Well, it's not a standing cable press! That's right…it's not a pressing motion! So all you idiots out there, get the form right and stop hogging the cable machines if you're going to stand there and talk. Using 50 lbs a side, I bang out 15 easy reps for the first set. Then it's 10 reps using 70 lbs per side. We walk straight out of the gym and head to the bathroom for the usual posedown. We pose for a bit and compare our physiques. We are progressing nicely. I just fear that we may be progressing too rapidly. If that is the case, I will have to alter the diet and training accordingly. But I won't know until the end of April so I'll worry about that when it comes.

2/25/02 Monday-Back
We took Saturday off because we never train on Saturdays. It's nice to have that day off but I was sick all weekend. I thought I could train on Sunday but I was way too sick to even eat. I lost my appetite completely and was very weak and feeling extremely sluggish. I told Dave that I would train on Monday regardless of my condition. I didn't feel that bad, or so I thought until we started training. After biking for 5 minutes, we began with the usual front pull ups using a wide grip. The first two sets was with our bodyweight for 10 reps each. Then it was time to strap some weight on. The next set was with 25 lbs strapped to my waist for 8 slow reps making sure to squeeze at the top. Somehow, I am able to get a pump. This is surprising because I haven't been able to eat much of anything the past 2 days.

Next it's off to seated cable rows with a narrow grip to focus on the mid-back. Using 140 for the first set, I squeeze out 10 easy reps. Then it's 160 for 9 reps and finally 170 for 6 reps. These numbers don't fall with the usual pattern of progression of poundages and decrease in reps as I am accustomed to on account of my illness. My strength is completely gone at this point and I want to quit but I won't allow myself. I came here to train so I might as well do so to the best of my abilities. Then it's v-bar pulldowns for two sets using 110 and 130 for 10 and 8 reps respectively. I am not going to lie to you. I'm hurting more than I've ever hurt before. My body and mind feels as if I've just done 6 sets of deadlifts after a long cardio session. I want to quit so bad but if I quit, it will show a sign of weakness. I've overcome many obstacles and although the thought of quitting is ubiquitous in my mind, I will not allow it.

Next it's barbell rows using an overhand grip. First it's 135 for 10 reps followed by 185 for 10 reps on the second and third sets. In between sets, I'm hacking and coughing and spitting up phlegm. My eyes are bloodshot and my head is stuffy. My breathing is rapid and I feel as if I'm going through metabolic acidosis but I fight on. Next is behind the neck pull-downs. First it's 100 lbs for 10 easy reps followed by one working set using 130 lbs for 8 reps. I've made it this far, I might as well finish. The final exercise is 1 arm cable rows or as I like to call them: lawnmower pulls. I like this exercise much better than it's free weight equivalent, 1 arm dumbbell rows, because I am able to contract my lats more efficiently. Using 100 lbs per side, I get 10 reps as a type of warm up set. Then it's one working set using 150 lbs getting 10 reps per side. I feel like shit and am glad we're done. Good thing tomorrow is an off day so I can lie in bed and get over this illness. Despite a below par back session, I think I will be sore.

2/27/02 Wednesday-Shoulders
My back has been sore for two days now. The soreness isn't that bad but it's present especially when I stretch. I'm still feeling sick today and I'm starting to wonder when this illness will go away. My girlfriend has been feeding me with tons of cold and flu medicine and all it does is enable me to feel ok for a bit. Frankly, I'm getting sick of being sick. I started taking echinacea, glutamine and vitamin C once again in hopes of giving my immune system a boost. I wasn't my usual talkative self because this sickness is starting to piss me off.

Usually, I get sick maybe once a year and when I do get sick, it's for 2-3 days. This is the first time that I can recall that I have been sick for almost a week. We start off on the bike for the usual 5 minutes today and do a little bit of stretching. Then we head to the dumbbell rack to perform some standing side laterals. The first set is with 12s for 15 easy reps just to get used to the motion. Then it's 15s for 10 reps followed by 25s for 10 reps. Now I have a pump in my delts. Nothing extravagant but a pump nonetheless. After feeling extremely sick after Monday's back session, I decide not to push myself balls to the wall today. I told Dave that I would sell myself short today because of my illness. He didn't seem to mind too much because he knows how much I hate to hold back. I grab the 30s and perform 3 sets of laterals for 10, 8, and 8 reps all to positive failure. Then we performed 4 sets of seated dumbbell presses using 60s, 70s, 80s, and 80s for 12, 8, 6, and 4 reps respectively. Dave finishes his last set using 100s. His strength increases the last few weeks have been unbelievable. All I have to say is that my program is working. We're both getting leaner and stronger at the same time. Yes, I'm smiling as I type this entry.

Back to training now. Now it's time to hit the rear delts using t-bar rear delt laterals. We grab the 30s and perform three back to back sets of 15 reps each. What a burn! Sure, it's not as heavy as the seated rear delt laterals but just switching up the type of intensity will usher in new muscle soreness. How do I know? Well, my delts as sore as piss right now. The next exercise is standing alternating dumbbell front raises for two sets using 30s for 20 reps each. If you perform these right, you don't have to worry so much about the poundages as long as the weights you are using are heavy enough to stress growth. A good rule of thumb I use is if you can perform 10 alternating reps without cheating and it hurts, you could probably squeeze out 10 more reps if you have what it takes mentally. It's more of a mind thing than anything else. The final exercise is 1 arm dumbbell side laterals using 27.5 lbs. I would rather have used 30s but some jackass took both 30s so he could perform 1 arm concentration curls. I managed 10 reps per side on each set using 27.5 lbs and that was it. I was done mentally and physically.

2/28/02 Thursday-Quads
I'll be damned! It's been 6 days since I got this illness and I'm still feeling it. My only major concern is my shortness of breath when I try to breathe deeply. Other than this, I feel pretty much ready to go. Today's workout was something of a different tune because we've allowed on board another individual by the name of Nick. I've been helping Nick out with his training and dieting since October of last year. In the few months I've been assisting him, Nick has gone from 145 to 162 lbs while maintaining his low body fat levels. How did he do this? Well, he followed everything I told him down to the wire.

Now on to training. We began with the usual 5 minutes on the bike. For some reason, I was a bit stressed today. I think it was a combination of being sick still, my girlfriend, having to help Nick with his technique, a few comments from Dave and school. After some dissension in the ranks, we threw everything aside to blast our quads. We began with leg extensions to warm up our knees and pre-fatigue the quads. I started with 60 lbs for 15 reps, then 100 lbs for 12 reps and finally 150 lbs for 10 reps. I made sure to stretch thoroughly in between sets and to use isometric tension to help get a pump. Unfortunately, my pump was lacking today. I knew this would be the case because I haven't been doing my homework outside of the gym due to illness. I don't know what it is about being ill but I lose my appetite completely. Enough bitching because I know you don't want to hear about that. I sure as hell don't want to hear it so why subject you to the torture.

Our next movement was squats. We slapped on 135 and banged out 15 quick reps. Then it was 225 for 10 reps. Then it was 275 for 6 reps followed by 315 for 6 reps making sure to stay tight through the entire movement. Nick isn't as strong as us on squats so we're having to change these plates left and right. Let me tell you, changing plates in between squat sets is torture especially if you have to change 2 or more plates. Nevertheless, we work on. Next comes 365. Ugh! This is so much harder than normal. I am absolutely amazed that I was able to actually get 5 reps. On my final set, I try for 365 again but I bottom out on my FIRST rep. That is embarrassing but hey, I tried. If I'm going to fail, I'm going to fail attempting a lift and not because I was too chicken shit to not try.

Next came hack squats. Once again, I'm having to show Nick proper hack squat technique to maximize his quad intensity. Dave and I don't mess around here. We slap on 315 and start our sets. I get 8 easy reps with 315. Then we slap on 405. I bang out another grueling 6 reps. Now it's one more set. Do or die! The weight has increased to 455 but I'm not scared. I get 6 seemingly impossible reps. I remember the last 2 being so slow and taxing that my left leg was shaking uncontrollably. Somehow, I managed to push through. After Nick's final set, I looked over at him while his head is down. He's covered in sweat and looks as if he's going to die. Actually, we all look as if we're about to pass out but we fight on.

Next comes leg extensions. At this point, you really can't feel your quads and you're walking is somewhat goofy. I start with 100 lbs and squeeze out 10 reps. Next is 150 lbs for another 10 reps followed by 150 lbs again for 10 more reps. I was selling myself short here because I didn't want to suppress my immune system anymore than it already was. Afterwards, we proceeded to make our way towards the long hallway outside of the physical fitness center to perform our ritualistic walking lunges. We performed a total of 4 sets with each set consisting of 40 alternating steps. Nick was about to die! For some strange reason, I found joy in seeing Nick succumb to our training. I guess it's knowing that very few train with this intensity and when they do, they know what it's like to live in my world for a session. Only then, can they truly respect such madness.

3/1/02 Friday-Arms
I felt like ass today. I don't know if it was being tired from yesterday's quad workout or me just being lazy. Whatever the case, my mind wasn't there. Dave and I started the workout with standing e-z bar curls. Our first set was with only 40 lbs for 15 reps. Then it was 70 lbs for 10 reps followed by 90 lbs for 8 reps. At this point, things are starting to get difficult and I've got an intense pump in my biceps despite not eating much the past few days. Our first and only work set with this exercise is with 120 lbs. I manage only 6 reps but hey, I made every reps count.

Our next exercise was the 1 arm preacher curl done at a perpendicular angle to the floor. This puts extra stress on the biceps and doesn't allow you to rest at the top of the movement. I start with 45 lb dumbbell using my weaker left arm first. I manage 7 reps with the weaker arm and I have to match it with my stronger right side. Ever since I noticed this imbalance about 2 years ago, I've really concentrated on bringing them equal in strength. It's worked and my right arm is only 1-2 reps stronger than the left arm. My second set was with the same 45 lb dumbbell getting only 6 reps per arm. My arms feel as if they're going to pop and I can't even come close to touching my shoulders with its respective arm. Too much blood in that region.

Next came seated incline dumbbell curls with a slight twist. We are curling each arm at the same time so total body fatigue doesn't play a factor. We only use 40s but it's still hard. I get 10 reps on the first set and 7 reps on the second set. I'm blitzed but we still have hammer curls to go. I just grimace as I prepare for this exercise. We only do one set using 40s but it hurt like no other. We curl the weight forward and away from our body instead of alongside our body like most people do. One set of 20 alternating reps is enough to do me in. I'm tired but we still have triceps to go.

Since triceps make up 2/3 of the arm2, especially my arms, I need to hit them with the same intensity I did with biceps. We started off with the usual 2 sets of 15 reps on dips using only our bodyweight. Since both of our elbows have been bothering us, I opted to stick with all cable movements for this particular triceps workout. First it was reverse grip triceps pushdowns using an e-z bar. Using 150, I bang out 15 easy reps. Then it's 200 for only 6 reps. Yes, it's as hard as it sounds so don't get fooled. Next was overhead triceps extensions using the rope. This exercise is very similar to overhead dumbbell extensions but you get constant tension from the cables and don't have to worry about balancing the weight or it dropping on your head. We performed only 2 sets here but they hurt. Using 100, I managed 15 reps and then using 140, I managed 12 reps. I could have gone heavier here but I didn't want to risk too much form for 10 more pounds or so. I'd rather train smart than anything else.

My next and final exercise of choice was regular triceps pushdowns using a straight bar. With only two sets to go, I am glad to know that this grueling session is coming to an end. My first set, I use 150 for 12 reps and then for my second set, I use 170 for 10 reps. As I make my way out of the gym, I congratulate myself in my mind because I finished a workout which I did not want to partake in. I'm not like most guys because I don't like training my arms. I'd rather train back or legs but then again, I'm one mentally disturbed individual.