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And Then There Were 3: The Third Installment Of My Training Journal!

Throughout my summer training program and in bodybuilding as a whole, you will notice the most improvement on basic movements...
If you have been reading my articles you will see that I have been documenting my training programs throughout the summer. In this article you will see how close I have come to attaining my goals (remember the summer is not over yet so I still got some time). As I did with my previous articles I will tell you the exercises, sets and reps with my thoughts as to why I perform them the way I do. Additionally I will give you some basic principles to implement when trying to put on new pounds of shredded muscle and an idea of what my nutritional plan consists of to gain mass and lean out. DISCLAIMER--- There is not some special scientific mumbo-jumbo, just a well formulated, time-tested plan of attack. THIS IS A GOOD GUIDE FOR THE INTERMEDIATE TRAINEE.
    Current Training Split:
  • Day 1 = Chest, Calves
  • Day 2 = Back
  • Day 3 = Rest
  • Day 4 =Quads, Hams, Claves
  • Day 5 = Shoulders, Traps, some Ab work
  • Day 6 = Arms
  • Day 7 = Rest

Day 1
Low-Incline Barbell Presses (2 warm up sets using 115, then 155 for 10 and 6 reps)

  • 4 sets: 6 reps with 195, 3-4 reps with 205, 2 sets of 2 reps with 215, then a burn set using 175 and aiming for 8 reps (Throughout my summer training program and in bodybuilding as a whole, you will notice the most improvement on basic movements like this one. If you read my previous article you will notice that I was sucking wind trying for 3 reps with I am getting 6 reps with a weight that is 5 lbs. heavier than before! As a result my chest, especially the upper section, has swelled up like a balloon.)

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses 10-12 reps with a pair of 65s, 7/75s, 4/ 85s
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes 10 with 35s, 8/40s, 7-8/ 40s N.B-- The burn here is like an inferno, but is more than worth the mass and striations. Remember if you wanna complete chest you will have to pay your dues just like Arnold did on the Incline.

  • Hammer Strength Decline Press 3 sets: 10/ 70, 8/80, 6-7/90 I started using this movement recently since I was getting bored with dips. I feel it in the lower, middle and outer sections of the pecs. Although I generally prefer free weight exercises there are some good machine movements out there you can use.

  • Cable Crossovers 2 sets of 15-20/ 40 each side, 12-15/55 each side

  • Donkey Calf Raise Machine Or Leg Press Calf Raise. 3 sets of 12-30 reps using 225-380lbs.

  • Both of these are great for the gastroc muscles of the calf, since they provide a great stretch and a fierce contraction. I keep the reps high, as do most people since the calves have many endurance oriented muscle fibers which cannot be overloaded as well with low reps.

    DAY 2

  • As before, I warm-up on a Lat Pulldown Machine getting 15-20 slow reps with anywhere from 100-130 lbs. for 2 sets.

  • Wide Grip Chins 4 sets: 2 sets 6 reps on the first set and 4-5 on the second with a 35 lb. plate attached, then 2 sets of 6-8 reps with a 25lb plate attached, then immediately a burn set of 7-10 with no extra weight attached.

    If you have read any of my articles, you know that I think highly of Chins (especially with weight attached, hehe) because they manhandle your lats and almost all the muscles of the back. My back used to be narrower than the political ideology of a staunch politician but it is a different story now. My continual gains in lat strength and size can be attributed to the fact that I work this exercise like a mad man. Make sure to keep your back slightly arched and take a grip slightly narrower than you would for a bench press.

  • Deadlifts 12 reps with 135 for a good warm-up, then 12 with 185, 10 with 225, 8 with 240, and then 4-6 reps with 275. My entire back has benefited from these: more thickness from top to bottom and shredded erectors. Just as a reference point, in my last article my top set on these was with 240 and I have added some 30lbs to it since then.

  • Smith Machine Bent Rows 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 using 175, 185 and 190. I think these are better than your typical barbell row since you can focus a bit more on muscle contractions than on stability. I feel this exercise in my rhomboids, traps, lats and teres muscles. Dorian Yates, Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman alike have used this exercise and their backs are among the thickest in the world.

  • 1-Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 sets of 10, 6-8 and 10-15. I aim for 10-12 using an 80lb dumbbell for the first set, a 95lb dumbbell for the second, and a higher rep set with a 75. Keep your torso as motionless as possible and bring that dumbbell up as high as ya can for a crimped up contraction of your lats and lower traps.

    I finish things with two sets of V-Bar Lat Pulldowns using 160 lbs for 15 reps to put the finishing touches on everything.

    DAY 3
    I take this day off since Day 4's workout is legs. REST Yep, recovery is an important and oft overlooked part of training. I basically try to sleep and not do anything too physical. Overtraining, which basically means performing too much work and not allowing your body to recover from it, is the one of the biggest roadblocks to attain a muscular body. In addition to keeping an eye on the total number of sets you complete and your nutrition, you should aim for a good 7-9 hours of sleep a night, or, if you cannot reach that number because of commitments, try to take a short snooze during the day. I know that as a busy student, and athlete, bodybuilding as to find time in my schedule but it is not all that difficult-- just be creative and you will do it.

    DAY 4
    I warm-up by stretching my quads, lower back and hams (in that order) and complete 2 light sets each of Leg Curls, Leg Extensions and an Ab exercise. A thorough warm-up is not only crucial for lessening the risk of energy, it also ensures that your muscles will be awake enough for the saga of the Quadfatha

  • Leg Presses 2 warm-ups with 500, 720 then 5 sets: 900lbs for 15 reps, 950 for 12 reps, 1000 for 10-12 reps, 1040 for 7 reps and a burn set of 20-30 reps with 630lbs.
  • Squats. 2 warm-ups with 135, 185 then 6 sets: 245 for 12 reps, 315 for 10, 335 for 7-8, 350 for 6-8, and then 2 partial rep sets with 455lbs getting 7 reps or so on each set.

    I alternate these two movements since they are great mass builders and have distinct advantages. Squats, which are appropriately given the nod as the best bodybuilding exercise stress the quadriceps, lower back, hamstrings, hip muscles and many smaller supporting muscles. At the same time, the high degree of many muscles being involved can be a drawback, since when you fail on a set of squats, your quads actually still have some life left in them. In many cases it is your lower back and other supporting muscles which say they've had enough. For this reason I frequently used leg presses as my basic quad movement. Leg Presses are great movement since I can intensely stress my quads without having to worry about my lower back or glutes giving out. When I reach the final rep of leg presses it is my quads that are beggin' for mercy.

  • Lunges 4 sets of 12-20 reps using 165-195lbs. I am careful to go slowly on the way down since the knee joint could be put in a potentially comprising position.

  • Leg Extensions-- My favorite thing to do here is a 5 part drop set. I start with 180 lbs and get 10 reps, then 160 for 8, then 140 for 8, 130 for 10, 120 for 10, 80 for 20-- yikes, my quads are torched after that.

  • Stiff Legged Deadlifts on a Smith Machine 4 sets of 15, 12, 10, 8. I keep only a slight bend in my knees and lower the barbell so that it is about one inch or so above my ankles. Doing the exercise on a Smith Machine has proved helpful in stressing the muscle more rather than worrying about balancing a barbell. Plus using a barbell after a quad thrash would not allow me to optimally whack my hamstrings.

  • Lying Leg Curls 4 sets of 8-10 reps using 90-105 lbs. I get a tight contraction at the top-- actually it feels more like a searing cramp every rep. I try to stay strict with this one, though I might get 1 or 2 cheat reps in at the end of the set. This exercise is also a good candidate for drop sets and I will us 'em every once in a while.

  • Calves get 3 Standing Calf Raise sets on the floor 12-20 reps using 300 lbs and slow deliberate reps. I go all the way up and get a tight squeeze and then lower the weight as low as I can. A deep stretch seems imperative for the best calf development.

    After this workout I am literally drenched in sweat, lungs sucking wind as I hobble out of the gym.

    DAY 5

  • Seated Machine Military Presses 2 warm-ups using 85 lbs and then 135 lbs. Then 10 reps with 155, 8/165, 6-8/170, 5/ 180. I space my hands slightly outside of shoulder width and lower the weight under control. I try to keep only a slight arch so that my front and side delts (rather than my upper chest) do the work.

  • Lateral Raises 10/ 30lb dumbbells, 6-8 with 35 lb dumbbells then I do 2 sets one arm at a time with 25 lb dumbbells getting 10-15 reps for a little bit more concentration.

  • I have noticed that when I use one dumbbell at a time, I am able to raise the weight higher and get a better contraction in my side delts. I might use a slight cheating motion, but it is only to get the weight moving, after which I maintain strict tension during the raising and especially during the lowering of the weight.

  • Bent Laterals Superset with High Rep Dumbbell Presses on the last set
    3 sets using 35 lb dumbbells for 10 reps and then 2 sets of 8-10 reps with 40 lb dumbbells. I am careful to keep my elbows aligned with my shoulder girdle so that my rear delts are working the hardest, rather than upper back muscles. After the final set I will pick up a pair of 50 lb dumbbells and get 15 slow reps. I find that you can really feel that your entire shoulder complex including the rear delts works during a pressing exercise.

  • Upright Rows 3 sets of 7-10 reps using 95, 100 and 105 lbs. My Uncle Bob started me on the exercise when I started working out and have enjoyed continued progress in my side delts and trapezius as a result. The trap involvement I get here as well as with bent laterals usually is enough although I will occasionally do a few sets of shrugs if I need it.

    I will also do some abdominal work on this day as well. The abs are the center piece of the physique and crucial to ever move you make since they are a stabilizer. Just remember that you won't see that six pack unless your diet is in check!

  • Hanging Knee Raises 4 sets of 12-15 reps. I am only able to complete 15 reps at the most since I tense my abs throughout th entire movement, rocking my pelvis upward and feeling a deep contraction in my lower abs and serratus as well.

  • Incline Board Sit-Ups 4 sets of 15-20. Again here I don't go overboard with the reps because I am contraction my abs forcefully each rep. The angle of the incline is steep. I feel this exercise in my entire midsection, mostly because the leg raises have already got my abs on fire.

    DAY 6

  • Alternate Dumbbell Curls warm-up with 30s/8-10, 65s for 4-6 reps, then 55s/7-8, 50s/8, 45s for 8-10
    Barbell Curls
    warm-up with 65lbs, 120 for 4-6, 105 for 2 sets of 6-10, 100 for 6-8 reps, 95 for 6-8

    These two exercises are the preeminent choices for building biceps mass. Both allow you to go heavy while still employing strict form. The Barbell allows you to power out the reps forcefully and add a slight cheat motion to extend the set past failure, while the dumbbells facilitate supination of the wrist which works another major function of the biceps. Just like Arnold, I will use a little body English on the heavy sets but the rest of the sets are with strict form. Sometimes when I work biceps I might not train as heavy and might concentrate on form while still using moderately heavy weights. I have achieved the best results by going heavy on my early sets and then lightening the load while increasing the reps as the sets progress.

  • Cambered Bar Preacher Curls or Incline Curls 3 sets of 6-10 reps with 65-75lbs. The preacher bench, long touted as the reason for the first Mr. Olympia's bicep development, elicits a stricter contraction of the biceps and brachiallis especially at the initial part of the movement.

  • Incline Dumbbell curls also have a distinct advantage in that they help isolate stress with by pre-stretching the muscle. I will use 35-45 lb dumbbells for this movement and keep my reps around 8.

  • Hammer Curls 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. I like this exercise a lot since it burns the outer biceps and brachialis muscle, located between the triceps and biceps. If you look at the champ like Chris Cormier who basically has perfect arm development you can clearly see he has delineation of the brachs'. Remember, 66 percent of the arms is triceps.......

  • Seated 2 Arm Dumbbell Extensions 4 sets warm-up set with a 50 lb dumbbell then sets of 10 with 75, 8-10 with 80, 6-7 reps with 90 and a burn set of 65 for 10 reps

    The log range of motion a pre-stretch position spells a hellacious burn for the meaty, long head of the triceps. I have gotten much stronger on this exercise and as have my gains in arm size.

  • Pressdowns 3 sets using 130 lbs for 12 reps, 140 lbs for 9-10 reps and finally 6 reps with 150 lbs. The lateral head which really helps give ya that horseshoe shape comes out here. Don't be trying to shove around more weight by angling your torso downward, cause then your pecs and delts will be doing all the work. I will vary the attachments but my favorites are a V-bar and a rope attachment.

  • 1 Arm overhead Dumbbell extensions 8-10 with a 25lb dumbbell

  • 3 cycles superset with 1-Arm Reverse Grip Pressdowns using 25lbs for 10-15. The pump I get here is skin busting since the dumbbell extensions help stretch the triceps and the reverse cable pressdowns contract the hell out of the medial head. Prepare for some pain here along for cross striations when you are lean.



    Undoubtedly, Diet has an extremely profound effect on the results you strive for in the gym and in the competitive arena (for whatever you do). Besides, it is worthless to bust your ass in the weight room only to have a diet that would make even a sumo wrestler cringe.


    Carbs are essential for energy production. They help fuel muscle glycogen which contributes to the pump and vitality you get in the gym when you are having a good workout. You need carbs early in the morning to fuel your energy for the day and post workout to feed your muscles so they can recover. The complex carbs which take longer to break down a preferred since they foster better energy storage in your muscles and control of blood sugar levels. Faster releasing carbs are to be consumed post-workout since they will get into your muscles faster and speed hormonal response. Aim to consume 4-6 servings of veggies too since the vitamins, minerals and other trace elements work together with the macro-nutrients. They help keep the immune system running and are involved with a volley of metabolic activities. Complex Carb Choices: Many Fruits, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Legumes, Carrots, Spinach, Oatmeal, Brain Cereal, Baked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, whole grain breads and pitas, Pasta, Granola

    Simple Crabs: Fruit juices, sugar, white bread mashed potatoes, overcooked pasta, white rice

    Protein which is probably the single most important nutrient for gaining muscle is the building block of almost all bodily tissues. The amino acids which are desiccated in your digestive system repair and build new tissues in your body. Frequency is of utmost importance since your body ( kidneys and liver in particular) can only assimilate so much protein at one time. I try to get some every 2 and a half to 3 hours which will help keep you a positive nitrogen balance. Good sources are Lean Read Meat, Whole Eggs and Egg whites, Fish, Chicken, Low Fat Cheese, Turkey, and most sea foods.

    Fat, often mislabeled as the notional enemy is important as well. Consumed in moderate amounts it helps regulate hormonal levels especially testosterone which help you build muscle and burn fat. To elicit an optimal anabolic response you should be consuming 15-25 percent of your calories from fat. Anything lower and your hormone production will decrease an anything higher you could be losing o cuts. Aim to consume less of the saturated fats (like butter which is solid at room temperature) and use Olive and Canola oils as well as peanuts and nuts.

    Supplements. I will not delve deep into the topic of bodybuilding supplements mostly because there is so much content on the site already that I think you should read. Basically, I believe that supplements can only do so much and that a solid diet is more important. I will discuss my thoughts on a few of them.

    Protein powders can be very helpful. Whey protein and Casein have been shown to raise protein synthesis better than other protein sources and they are easily digested by most. Plus it can be more convenient and cost-effective to mix a protein shake rather than to throw a stake on the grill or chicken breasts in the oven. Designer Protein makes a very good product and there are several MRPs on the market such as those made by Muscle Tech and Metaform which make good tasting, nutritious products, many of which containing glutamine.

    Creatine is another supplement I believe in since it has been shown to effectively boost strength and bodyweight (although mostly by water retention) gains. I have used Pro Lab's Creatine Products with success.

    Supplemental vitamins such as Vitamin C and E are also good since they help fortify with immune system which is under increased stress by the hard training athlete.

    CRITICAL MASS: When you are trying to get BIG

    1- Eat big to get big. Simple but effective. Try to aim for 2grams of Crabs per pound and 1.8-2g pf protein per lb of bodyweight. YOU SHOULD GETTING IN ABOUT 14-20 CALORIES PER POUND OF BODYWEIGHT. The exact amount will depend on your metabolic rate. Consume 4-7 meals daily to accommodate the best assimilation of all those nutrients. Don't be afraid of occasionally consuming some junk food either, just don't go overboard. Remember big doesn't mean fat! You should not lose sight of your abs. It is no good to put on 20 lbs if only 7 lbs of that is muscle tissue.

    2- Train with Basic Exercises. Mass training relies on basic compound movements or those which call upon the largest muscle of the body (Quadriceps, Glutes, Lats, Traps, Pecs, Delts, lower and upper back) to perform exercises with a synergistic effort. Free weights should form the backbone of the routines with some machines. Here are some of the best basic movements:

    Legs: Squats, Leg Presses, Stiff Legged Deadlifts as well has Machine Squats Back: Deadlifts, Chins, Barbell and Dumbbell Rows, Cable Rows, Lat Pulldowns and Cleans, and Shrugs

    Chest: Bench Presses, Incline Presses, Decline Presses (all with either Barbells or Dumbbells) Dips and some Machine Movements Shoulders: Standing and Seated Presses with Barbell or Dumbbells, Upright Rows, Clean and Jerk and Push Presses

    3- Use Moderate Volume. Although many bodybuilders consider the volume of a workout to be highly individual I be willing to bet you will get the best results by training with moderate volume.

    Low volume training such as the Heavy Duty methods preached my Mike Mentzer call for only one set to positive failure. At the other extreme is high volume preached by some pro bodybuilders which calls for upwards of 20 sets to failure per body part. With Low volume training you might have better chances of recovery but you cannot overload as many muscle fibers. With the marathon like volume training you get into the range where you cannot recover fully so you end up wasting effort.

    Studies have shown higher growth hormone secretions with higher sets, although the effect is lessened after about 70 minutes of training. 10-15 sets for the Large muscle groups and 6-10 fpr smaller muscles allows you to satisfy the need for overloading as many muscle fibers as possible while not over stimulating you into the range of overtraining.

    4- Low Reps for High Reaching Results. As I have stated before Training for Maximal strength using heavy poundages and lower reps is a very expedient way to greater muscle size. Training like a powerlifter or competitive weight lifter gives you a volley of benefits if muscle size is what you desire. As a bodybuilder and athlete (if you compete in sports other than bodybuilding as I do) you are in search of larger, stronger muscle and low rep training offers you this.

    Say, you got bird legs and want muscular thighs. If you go from squatting 185lbs. for 8 reps and progress to where you can squat 225lbs for 8 reps you will dramatically induce a muscle mass gain in your Quads, Hamstrings, and Lower Back.

    When I talk about low rep training I am referring to reaching failure in a range of 3-9 reps. In order to train safely with such heavy weight there are some precautions you should take.

    Adequately warm up your muscles and connective tissue by doing warm-up sets, stretching and pyramiding the weight. For a thorough explanation as to how to pyramid the weight read my article The Great Pyramid. Have a spotter on hand and or train in a power rack with safety catches. Also use low rep power training on the basic movements like Squats, Rows, Leg Presses, Benches, Chins and Deadlifts. Isolation exercises do not lend themselves as well to lower reps because of the increased stress on individual joints. For other articles on power training Check out the Brute, Jay Horowitz, Big Cat, Jason Bennett and many other writers on the website with expertise in this area on

    5- Monstrous Pump-- the cliché...Intensity for Immensity. Employ intensity boosting techniques such as drop sets, forced reps, supersets and cheat reps give your muscles more of a pump by extending muscle fatigue and promoting a burn. The elevated pH levels (the measure of acidity from byproducts of contractions) has been shown to elevate muscle building hormones. Use these techniques sparingly to avoid overtraining. These are also good to use when trying to get lean since, when your body fat is lower, they allow for more hardness and definition. Check out other great articles about intensity by Big Cat, Phano, John Giljum, and Big Dog Seth among others.

    When you are trying to get lean...

    1- Reduce Crab calories. Doing so makes your body rely more on fat for energy. Do not attempt to eliminate carbs since they are the most efficient energy source and are needed to keep training up to snuff. Vary carbs from 1 g- 1.5 g per pound when trying to get lean

    2- Keep protein high to spare the muscles which are being deprived of carbs, Consume close to 2 g per lb when trying to get lean.

    3- Perform Cardio. Cardio Vascular activities help burn more fat. Some people have varying tolerances to cardio because of metabolic rates. As a rower I am used to doing lots of cardio so I am used it. Find which activity works best for you. The range from walking, running. or using various machines just as exercise bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and Stairmaster.

    4- This tip could have gone anywhere but since most people are more focused when they are getting cut I decided to put this tip right here. BE AMBITIOUS, NOT OBESSISIVE! CHANCES ARE YOU ARE NOT CUT FROM THE GENETIC GENE POOL TO BECOME MR. OLYMPIA OR EVEN A OLYMPIA COMPETITOR FOR THAT MATTER! There is, however, no reason why you cannot dramatically improve your body. Hell with enough hard work and tenacity you can win a bodybuilding competition. But remember there is more to life than bodybuilding. A good healthy, well rounded lifestyle (WHAT ARISTOTLE AND DA VINCI PREACHED FOR AGES) is what you should be striving for.

    5- Stick with heavy training. Your poundages might decrease slightly since you will not be eating as many carbs but try to still train as hard as ever-- this will help maintain all the muscle you have worked hard to acquire.

    MORE ARTICLES ARE ON THE WAY-- Please contact me at if you have any comments or questions on this article or on bodybuilding and fitness in general