Phano's Training Journal 6!

It's been a week since our return to the gym and I'm still having trouble finding my motivation and intensity and I can't figure out why. With a lack of motivation and intensity...

4/8/02 Hamstrings-Monday
It's been a week since our return to the gym and I'm still having trouble finding my motivation and intensity and I can't figure out why. With a lack of motivation and intensity, I knew I was going to be in for a kicker because today was hamstring day and training hamstrings hurts like a bitch. To make matters worse, we had to train abs also because their training has been postponed for some time.

We started with the usual 5 minutes on the bike and then went to stretch. I am happy to say that my shoulders were sore as piss over the weekend. They still burn to this very day so something we did was right. The gym was packed today with the tag team bench pressers trying to throw up triples using 135 while they arch their backs so much they almost want to snap. Hahaha!

As Dave and I made our way to the lying leg curl machine, we noticed some sorority girls occupying it. They would do a set while talking and then just sit on the machine and talk some more. If you want to talk, go to a social. If you want to hog a machine, hog one of those nautilus machines. If you want to watch some hardcore training, then watch us. Since our first machine was taken, Dave and I did some abs. We each did 3 sets of 20 on the decline crunch and 3 sets of 20 with seated knee-ups. We didn't use any resistance because it had been awhile since we had trained abs. No sense in making them more sore than need be.

We then made our way once again to the lying leg curl machine to find it vacant this time. Score! We began by performing this exercise with our feet positioned together on the padding. Starting with 50 lbs, I performed 15 reps followed by another 15 reps with 80 lbs and another 15 reps with 110 lbs. For my work sets, I moved the weight up to 150 lbs for two sets of 10 reps. My hamstrings were being worked but I couldn't feel that great of a pump. This was due to the fact that my diet over the weekend sucked! I wasn't eating as much as I normally do and when I did eat, I would eat bad. Ok, so no one's perfect.

We then went to the platform to perform Romanian deadlifts. Starting with 135, I performed 15 easy reps. We then slapped on 225 and performed an easy 12 reps. I can remember when 225 lbs was extremely difficult on this exercise. It's amazing to me how poundages change over time provided that you work hard enough. For our final exercise, we went to the S & C II room to use the unilateral leg curl. If I could, I would perform all unilateral curling movements for my hamstrings only to even out the strength difference between them. The strength difference between my left and right hamstring is like "night and day" says Dave. To start things off, we put on 50 lbs and performed 15 reps per side. I always make sure to use my weaker left side first and as should you. Then it was 100 lbs for 12 reps per side followed by 150 lbs for 8 reps per side. I couldn't feel much of anything but I knew that I was going to be sore as piss the next day. Honestly, I think I can do without my hamstrings being sore because their soreness is different than other muscles being sore. It burns more than it hurts. And to make matters worse, it is a constant burn. But hey, it's all part of being a bodybuilder because what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

4/9/02 Arms-Tuesday
Once again, motivation was still a problem for me. I just didn't want to be training but I went regardless. Why force yourself to do something that you aren't motivated to do? Well, sometimes I'm just lazy and after a few sets, I get my mind set right. Since this would be our first arm workout since our return to the gym, I knew it wouldn't be too taxing. Or at least that's what I thought going in.

We began with the usual 5 minutes on the bike and then some stretching. Fortunately, there was a cute girl that we knew on the stretch mat to make the stretching go by a little faster. Then it was off to the preacher bench to perform 1 arm preacher curls at a steep angle. If you haven't tried it this way, I strongly urge that you do. You won't be able to use as much weight but you will get a much better pump. This I can promise you. We grabbed a 30 lb dumbbell and performed 15 reps per arm. Since this is a unilateral movement, I always use my weaker side first. In this case, it was my left bicep. After some stretching, I performed another set of 15 reps using the same weight. Then it was time to work. Using a 40 lb dumbbell, I performed two sets of 10 reps per arm. What an amazing pump! I was actually surprised at the pump I had attained so quickly because my diet has been poor. Oops.

After this exercise, we then just switch sides and perform e-z preacher curls using a wide grip with 70 lbs for 10 reps. For the next set, we used a closer grip using the same weight for another 10 reps. If you haven't noticed, our poundages have dipped slightly but it is of no concern. We both know that we will pick up where we left off in due time.

Next came my most dreaded biceps exercise: seated alternating incline dumbbell curls. I hate this exercise with a passion! Mainly because it takes so much out of me that I fatigue rather quickly. Regardless, I still do them because I know how effective they are. Using 35s, I performed 2 sets of 12 reps. This isn't much but endurance has been playing a major factor in our workouts this past week. We just seem to run out of glycogen much faster than normal.

Now it was time to train the triceps. Starting with the usual dips, we performed 3 sets of 15 reps making sure to squeeze the triceps at the top of the movement. If you do these correctly, you can build some freaky triceps. I've been told that my triceps are huge and although I'd like to thank genetics, I would also like to attribute much of their size to doing heavy dips from the beginning. Why did I do this? Well, when I first started, I was more interested in the amount of weight I could move rather than working a particular muscle. In my case, I learned triceps training technique quicker than my back training technique.

Then it was time for lying triceps extensions using an e-z bar. Starting with 70 lbs, I performed 15 reps making sure to keep the elbows in. My elbows weren't bothering me at all so I saw no reason in going heavier. We slapped on 120 lbs and I performed 6 slow and grueling reps. What a difference 50 lbs makes! My triceps were extremely pumped but we needed to perform one more exercise. Last on the list was e-z reverse triceps extensions. Starting with 120 lbs, I performed 15 easy reps. Then it was time to work using 150 lbs for 10 reps. All of these sets were done to positive failure because we're slowly trying to build up our intensity. Hopefully, we can build it back up to where it was within 3 weeks and then just coast into the 2002 Mr. GA.

4/11/02 Quads-Thursday
This weekend, I am going to Berry College for a 7-a-side tournament to visit a bunch of former teammates and possibly play. So I wanted to keep my legs fresh, relatively speaking. With this in mind, I decided not to blast my quads as I normally would have. Instead, I opted just to go through the motions and "feel" each set and get a good pump. I did just that. We started off with 5 minutes on the bike and some stretching.

Dave was visibly stressed so I asked him what was the matter. He's got a lot on his mind and has been studying a lot for the MCAT lately. So I decided to make this session a little fun and cracked some jokes. We started off with leg extensions to get some blood to the quads. Using 50 lbs, I performed 15 quick reps followed by another 15 reps using 80 lbs and then another 15 reps using 110 lbs. Ok, no blood to the quads as of yet but they are a little warm now.

Then it was time to squat. We slapped on 135 and banged out 2 sets of 15 reps with some stretching in between. Then I decided to stick with 225 for sets of 10. Yes, I know this is out of the ordinary but if I go all out, I have NOTHING left. It's extremely difficult for me to walk, much less play soccer. I performed 6 sets of 10 reps using 225. It wasn't much but I made sure to focus more on feel and form. Needless to say, I still got a nasty pump.

Then it was off to leg extension to continue the onslaught. Once again, I only performed straight sets here: 3 sets of 20 reps using 100 lbs. Nothing fantastic, just feeling the movement.

Now it was time to do some hack squats. Once again, I performed 2 sets of 10 reps using 225 lbs to positive failure. I don't think I strained that much but I sure did feel the tension in my quads. It's amazing how the mind to muscle link works well if you constantly train it. With one more exercise left to go, Dave was about to die.

Now it was time to do some walking lunges. Oh the horror! We did something with a twist once again. Instead of performing 40 alternating steps, we performed 60 alternating steps. Ouch! This hurts like hell whether you're tired or not, especially if you do them right. We did a total of 2 sets here making sure to focus the stress on the quads and glutes. At the end of the last set, Dave just fell down gasping for air. I have never seen him that fatigued from a workout before. I guess "contest fever" is getting to him more than it is me. Whatever the case, if we can train like this until the 2002 Mr. GA, everyone better watch out.

4/12/02 Chest-Friday
Today was the last day of classes so there was some incentive to train today. Regardless of that, I still fed myself fairly well the past couple of days in hopes of having a good training day today.

Dave and I met at the usual time and began with our usual five minutes on the bike followed by some stretching. The gym was quite busy today so we had to wait a few minutes for an incline bench to open up. When one did, we immediately occupied it and slapped on 135 lbs. I performed two sets of 15 reps for my warm up. I felt pretty good after the second set but I knew I still had to stress my pecs with more weight to get that pump I want. Then we slapped on 185 lbs and I performed a set of 8 reps and then a set of 6 reps to positive failure. Now my pecs were pumped and I was ready to rock. My next set was with 225 in which I performed 6 reps and then 5 reps. This was harder than usual but I still fought my way through these two sets. Then I dropped the weight back down to 185 lbs and performed one final set for 8 reps.

Next it was incline dumbbell flyes for two sets using 60s. Starting at a higher incline set at 3, I performed 10 slow reps making sure to focus on squeezing my pecs. On my second set, I set the incline at a slightly lower incline setting of 2 and performed one final set of 8 reps.

We were going to perform flat bench press next but all of the benches were taken up. Imagine that! So to make up for this, we opted to do machine presses instead. I like this because all you have to do is push and squeeze the pecs without worrying of controlling the weight. Machines are good for those wanting to develop muscle nuance but should not be the backbone of a workout. I have had to learn this the hard way. Free weights are king in my regiment.

Next came the finisher: high cable crossovers. Starting with 70 lbs per side, I performed 15 reps making sure to treat each rep as if it were a most muscular pose. Then it was a final set with 80 lbs per side for 12 reps. Wow, what a pump! There's something about training chest that makes all the blood rush to my upper body and making me look 10-15 lbs bigger than normal. You should see how full my muscles are after a chest workout. Since this is only our second workout back from our rest period, we're still doing a limited number of exercises. However, the plan is for us to constantly add sets and exercises leading up to the Mr. GA so we can really develop the muscles.

4/14/02 Back-Sunday
I've been eating well the last few days so I felt as if today's session would be good but I actually had no idea how good. Dave and I agreed that 3:00 PM would be the designated time to train so we met there and things were quiet at first. Dave has been studying for the MCAT non-stop and training really disrupts his studying but he knows it needs to be done. I admire how much he can study and still get in his meals and train like an animal. He knows what needs to be done and does it. More power to him.

We began with 5 minutes on the bike, as usual, and stretching a bit. My hamstrings, quads and pecs were sore as piss so I stretched all of these muscles out. After some light stretching, we moved straight to the corner to perform wide grip front pull-ups. I performed two warm up sets of 10 reps followed by one working set using 10 lbs strapped to my waist for 9 reps as my one working set. I already had a massive pump in my back but I knew it was going to get better.

Next came barbell rows using a pronated grip. We slapped on 135 lbs and I banged on 15 reps and then 12 reps. I made sure to squeeze my shoulder blades together to get that last contraction in my mid back which is lacking in comparison to everything else. Hey, I know how to honestly critic myself. Next came a set using 185 lbs for 10 reps. No problem here. Finally, we put on 225 and I performed 8 reps making sure not to cheat too much. Yeah, my back was cooked but it was still getting better with each rep.

Next came front pulldowns using a medium and thumbless grip. Using 100 lbs as a warm up set, I performed 12 easy reps. This was followed by 120 lbs for 11 reps as my working set. If you can develop a mind to muscle link with the back exercises, then you are in for some serious growth. If not, then you are only cheating yourself. The next exercise for back was seated cable rows using separate handles. Using this slight variation, you are better able to squeeze the mid-back together as opposed to having your wrists be a limiting factor in this movement. Starting with 110 lbs, I managed 12 easy reps. Then it was time to work using 130 lbs for 12 grueling reps. I could have probably gone 150-160 for 8-10 reps but I wasn't sure. It's hard to tell where you are strength-wise when you are cycling up in training intensity after a brief rest period. My back is tight and full of blood but we still have more work to do, much to my delight.

Next on the agenda are curl grip pulldowns. In all honesty, I like this exercise more than I like the v-bar pulldowns. It just feels more natural, so to speak. Using 100 lbs, I managed two sets of 10 reps. I messed up on the second set because of a mental lapse. I thought I had moved the weight to 120 lbs but apparently, I had not. So I just did the second set with 100 lbs as well. Oh well. I'll get it right next time. We were both tired as piss but we had to do some sumo style deadlifts. Oh the horror!

Instead of wasting a set with 135 lbs, we jumped straight to 225 lbs for 10 reps. Then it was 315 for another 10 reps. I almost lost my balance on the 3rd rep but I fortunately regained it. This would have been disastrous. Now it was time to better ourselves from our previous deadlift workout. We jumped to 365 and had only one set to do here. It was more of a mental battle than anything else. With Dave trash talking me, I proceeded to move 365 lbs. He said: "all you gotta do is stand up." So I stood up and I did it a total of 7 times. Not bad at all! This is only our 2nd workout back from our time off and I'm only 40 lbs away from my best deadlift record based on poundages and reps. I figure it'll take us 4 weeks at max to reach where we had left off. From then on, it's just gains, gains and more gains.

For our final exercise, we performed barbell shrugs to build some more thickness in the traps. Starting with 135 lbs, we perform 15 reps. Then with 225 lbs, we performed another 15 reps. All of this was done without any straps so grip was important. Needless to say, my back was blistered. It's been 6 hours since we trained and my back is hurting like crazy. I can tell that soreness is a mere few hours away.