Phano's Training Journal 5!

Well, it's been nearly 3 months since we started training seriously again and I can feel my body being broken down to the point of no return.

3/19/02 Hamstrings-Tuesday
Well, it's been nearly 3 months since we started training seriously again and I can feel my body being broken down to the point of no return. For some reason, when we train this hard, my motivation to keep hitting it this hard begins to diminish. I don't know if I feel my body slipping or maybe it's just a mental thing.

Whatever the case, Dave and I have discussed the possibility of taking a few days off to allow our systems to recharge. This week was the week of Spring Break for the students of UGA. Spring Break basically means no classes, no tests, no studying and no worries. However, Dave and I still had the job of training. Ugh! Training is starting to drag ass but I still go.

Today was hamstring day and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I was unmotivated and lethargic but well fed. So I really didn't know how training would go today. Dave and I decided to train today because of personal reasons. So we met up at the gym around 11:00 AM and began our workout. We started with the usual 5 minutes on the bike and some stretching. The gym was almost completely empty! Probably the only upside to training during the break. After some talking, we began with lying leg curls with our feet positioned apart on the padding. We began with 3 warm up sets using 60 lbs for 15 reps, 90 lbs for 15 reps and then 120 lbs for 12 reps.

Now it was time for the unilateral leg curls. I absolutely love this machine! I wish I had done more unilateral leg curl work when I first started training hamstrings seriously so I wouldn't have the problem of one hamstring being much stronger than the other. This is a present problem of mine which I plan to rectify in the coming months. We started out with 70 lbs for 15 reps per side followed by 140 for 12 reps per side.

My hamstrings were fully pumped after the second set. Now it was time to get serious. I put on 160 and only got 7 reps. F*cking hell! I'm much weaker than usual and it's frustrating me. I knew this workout was going to be tough but I had to fight it out. Next I decided to drop the weight to 140 so I could get some reps in. Unfortunately, I only managed 8 reps per side. I'm not feeling up to par but we still trudged forward.

We then headed to the platform to perform Romanian deadlifts. Ugh! We slapped on 135 and banged out 15 easy reps. No problem so far. Next came 225 for 8 reps. Still no problem. Then it was 315 for 6 very difficult reps. Problem! I have never had problems using 315 for this exercise before until now. This was a total pisser! Instead of going up, I decided to stick with 315 for my last set which I managed only 6 more reps. I was f*cking pissed. We then went back to the lying leg curl machine to perform leg curls with our feet positioned together. I knew we were almost finished so this terrible workout would end soon.

For the final three sets of this workout, I used 100 lbs for 15 reps, 120 lbs for 12 reps and finally 130 lbs for 10 reps. This workout seemed to last forever and I was just glad it was over with. Despite having a shitty workout, I was happy that I completed it. Maybe it is time for a break.

3/22/02 Chest-Friday
After taking two days off, I was still feeling unmotivated to train but I knew I had to get some workouts in just to retain some level of strength. I was spending Spring Break in Atlanta with some of my family so it was nice and relaxing. My diet has been pretty bad since Wednesday and I haven't even thought about setting foot in a gym. However, Dave was eager to train so I agreed to meet him in Atlanta for a chest training session. He came to my family's house and I drove us to a nearby Crunch Fitness. I told him that I was once again feeling unmotivated and lethargic but I would do the workout regardless.

After some goofing off, we began our workout with the usual 5 minutes on the bike. Then we stretched a bit and headed straight to the incline bench press. We slapped on 135 and banged out a set of 15 and then a set of 10 reps. The first set felt a bit awkward but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what the cause was. It was either the different bench, bar, etc. or it was either my body telling me to back off. Whatever the case, I knew something was amidst. Then I slapped on 185 and only managed 6 reps.

I knew I was f*cked after this point because 185 is usually really easy. So instead of trying to force myself to do more weight than I could actually handle that day, I decided to stick with 185 for sets of 6. I then proceeded to do 185 for 5 sets of 6 reps each. After incline press, I had a pump in my chest but it just didn't feel right. My chest was pumped but flat. I'm sure that this had some effect on my chest strength and endurance but I wasn't going to quit. I had a workout to finish and I was going to give it everything I had.

Next came incline dumbbell flyes using 70s for 2 sets of 5 reps each. Once again, a decrease in weight from my previous chest workout. So the trend continues. Next came an exercise which we haven't done in awhile: the bench press. I know how everyone loves perform and hear about this exercise so I decided to humor Dave and myself by throwing it into the mix. Since this movement was quite foreign to us at this point, we threw on 135 for a light warm up set of 10 reps which proved to be quite awkward. I then threw on 185 and completed a set of 6 reps and then a set of 5 reps. Man, 185 has never felt so heavy before!

Next came the pec deck machine. I like this exercise because I don't have to worry about balancing and controlling heavy dumbells. I manage 12 reps with 70 lbs and then 8 reps with 120 lbs. I can't feel shit but I'm still training. Pretty crazy, huh? We then decided to do decline bench press for the sake of changing up our routine. I would normally perform this exercise in our gym at UGA but all the bench press lovers like this particular exercise because they can bench a lot more weight. How stupid!

Anyways, we slap on 135 for a warm up set of 10 reps. This was quite difficult and a bit awkward once again but I felt as if I could handle 185 for a few reps. True to myself, I managed 6 solid reps. Ouch! To finish off the "jugs", Dave and I performed high cable crossovers. Using 50 lbs, I manage 15 reps and finally with 75 lbs, I manage 10 reps. Was I glad to be finished or what?!? These workouts are following a particular trend towards crap. Now I know it is time for a break but the question now is: when do we take the break and how do we incorporate it into our training? So many questions, very few answers. Bah!

3/24/02 Back-Sunday
Today was the last day of Spring Break and I was actually glad. No, I don't like school that much but I do like being on a routine and I do enjoy easy access to the dining hall where I can eat clean foods. My girlfriend and I have been on shaky ground the entire break and weren't exactly getting along well. This didn't put me in my right state of mind for my workout. I was pissed, upset, anxious, etc.

All of these feelings all bottled up and I had to relieve my tension somehow. What better way to do this than to hammer at my back! I had enough calories in me to get a good workout in and all I had to do now was get my mind straight. We ended up training at 5:00 PM today and I wasn't a minute late. I was actually there before Dave was. That's funny because he usually gets there before I do. I guess he's a little more eager than I am since he's still a rookie. Fortunately for him, I'm there to show him the entire way so there is no guesswork for him. I didn't have this luxury but I'm always willing to help others who WANT to be helped.

We began today's workout with the usual 5 minutes on the bike and then followed this up with some stretching. After some trash talking between ourselves, we headed to the platform to perform barbell rows. You have got to love this exercise! I'm sure you've heard it said many times and I'll say it again, if you aren't doing these, then you aren't building a back. End of story! We began with 135 using a pronated grip for 15 easy reps and then 10 easy reps. I made sure to squeeze and feel every single rep on both the concentric and the eccentric phases. After some stretching, we moved up to 185 for two sets of 8 reps. Now my back was pumped and I was feeling better. All thoughts about my troubles with my girlfriend had disappeared and I was starting to feel somewhat motivated to train, much unlike my past couple of workouts. Now it was 225 for a set of 10 and then a set of 8.

My decrease in weight was about right based on this pathetic trend of mine the past week or so. I wasn't arguing though because I was still training at a level which many cannot even fathom. I made sure it hurt like hell and made sure my form was good. That was all I asked of myself that day.

Next came seated cable rows using a v-bar grip for two sets. On the first set, I used 140 for 10 reps and then it was 160 for 10 more reps. I felt as if I could have gone 180 on this exercise for about 6-8 reps. I hate doing 10 or more reps. Ugh! Now came a twist in the form of seated cable rows using a medium, supinated grip with a long bar. I haven't done this exercise in almost 1.5 years and it felt nice to change things up a bit. Using 140, I managed 10 reps and then with 160, I managed 8 reps. Dave and I joked about how today was a rowing day because we both want extreme thickness in our backs. Our width is there when we do our lat spreads but our thickness could always use improvement. This doesn't mean I will neglect pulldown motions entirely. I just will not emphasize it as much from here until the show but it will still be addressed intensely.

Next came the ballbreaker of the workout: sumo style deadlifts. You should have seen Dave's face when I told him the next exercise would be deadlifts. We both just kind of looked at each other with a face that was both puzzled and excited. It had to be done and we were going to be the ones to do it. We slapped on 135 and began the torture with 10 easy reps. Then it was 225 for 8 reps followed by 315 for 6 easy reps. We were both discussing how heavy we would go and I decided to f*ck it all and slap on 405. I banged out 8 f*cking reps here! I probably could have gotten 2 more in but my grip was almost gone. Makes me wish I had gripped it better but I'm not going to complain.

We then made our way to do front pulldowns with a shoulder-wide grip. Using 100 lbs, I manage 10 reps and then with 120 lbs, I manage 8 reps. I was f*cking toasted but still training as hard as I possibly could. Next we did v- bar pulldowns for two final sets to finish off this workout. Using 110 lbs, I manage 9 reps and then with 120 lbs, I manage 6 reps. Yes, it is true that if you train with all out intensity on ALL of your work sets, your strength will diminish rather quickly. Why? Well, because you've only got so much intensity to begin with. If you space it out throughout the entire workout so you can lift the same amounts relatively speaking, you are only short-changing yourself. I leave the choice up to you.

3/25/02 Shoulders-Monday
After some careful planning, Dave and I decided to make today the last day of training for the rest of the week so our bodies could recover for the next 12-week run leading up to the 2002 Mr. GA. I decided that we would end on a shoulder day since Dave had a subpar shoulder workout last week so it would only be fair for him. Hell, I may even improve a little but I'm just trying to improve Dave's chances of winning in July. As much as I hate to say it, it was nice to have the students back in the gym. The atmosphere was good and I was actually having fun.

After some talking, we began with 5 minutes on the bike followed by some stretching. Yes, my chest and back were f*cking sore as hell but that's another story. Since we haven't done abs in awhile, we decided to do some ab work. You may think that our ab routine isn't much but if you develop that mind to muscle link you always hear about, we'll do more in those 6 sets than most people do in 30 sets. We began with decline crunches for 3 sets of 20 reps starting with our bodyweight on the first set and then adding resistance on each successive set. The 2nd set was with a 25 lb plate and the 3rd set was with a 45 lb plate. Yeah, it hurt but it felt good. Next came seated knee-ups on a bench. Once again, this is an exercise that requires you to mentally focus on what you're doing. If you don't think about it, you'll miss the purpose entirely. We performed two sets of 30 reps for a different feel.

Now that we were sweating a little, it was time for the "walk in the park shoulder workout." We began with a pre-exhaustion movement: standing dumbbell side laterals. Using 15s, I perform 15 reps and then 10 reps. Next came a set with the 20s for a set of 10 reps. My shoulders were already burning and pumped so we moved on to seated dumbbell presses. We pyramided up as we usually do with all basic mass exercises starting with 60s for 10 reps, 75s for 8 reps, 85s for 6 reps and finally 100s for 5 reps. That was f*cking amazing! I have never been able to use 100s before so this was quite a milestone. Dave finished with a set using 115s. What a f*cking bitch! He's so f*cking strong that it's ridiculous. Actually, I don't really mind Dave being stronger than me. I actually push him so that he can be successful. I guess that's what a good trainer/training partner does.

We then proceeded to do 1 arm dumbbell side laterals with a slight lean to better emphasize the medial deltoid head (side delts). Using a 30 lb dumbbell, I was able to squeeze out 12 reps per side on the first set and then 10 reps per side on the last set. Not to shabby for being unmotivated.

Next came t-bar rear delt laterals. Dave and I both like this exercise because we don't have to worry about cheating. We just do a reverse flye and squeeze the living hell out of our rear delts. They are always on fire after every set. Using 30s, I squeeze out 15 easy reps. Then it was 35s for 15 easy reps once again. Now it was time to work with the 40s. Two sets here and it was time to move on. I managed a set of 12 and then a set of 10 reps. Training rear delts is more about having the desire to push through the pain more than any other exercise. It burns and hurts but you have to want it bad enough to push past the pain. If you don't, then you cheat yourself and if you're anything like us, you hate to LOSE!

Next came behind the back smith shrugs. We've decided to slowly incorporate trap training back into our workouts since our backs have actually surpassed our traps in symmetry. Hard to believe, I know but it happened. I'd rather have a big back and mediocre traps than no back and high traps any day. You guys know what I'm talking about. That look is f*cking ridiculous so quit doing shrugs and start doing rows. Sorry about the randomness but it's stupid to look at a guy with that type of body. Ugh! What makes it worse is that they'll keep on doing shrugs with 5000 lbs or whatever. How dumb! Back to our training. The first time I saw this exercise done was when I saw Lee Haney's training video. He performed this exercise using a barbell and he had some thick traps. Hmm...maybe there's a correlation. I've actually done these before but since I decided to stop training my traps because of my fear of loss of symmetry, my traps began to slowly lag. Now I will rectify this problem by doing more mid-trap work. Using 90 lbs, I squeeze out 20 reps. I made sure to squeeze the hell out of the intended muscles. We then threw on 180 and performed two work sets of 15 and 12 reps, respectively. That was it. I know my traps will be a little tight tomorrow but they won't be sore like my other body parts. I just want to start light and then work my way up. Eventually, we will probably perform 6 sets for our traps in hopes of bringing symmetry to our backsides once again.