Wednesday – Leg Workout

Comments:

I achieved a new max PR in the box front squat that is greater than my regular front squat has ever been. My previous 1 rep max in the front squat before starting the box front squat was 225 lbs. I can now handle this same weight for 5 reps easy. Using a 1 rep max calculator those 5 reps are equal to a 260 lbs. That is an increase of 35 lbs in the last month.

Heavy Shrugs Build More Than Traps

arnold-schwarzenegger-barbell-shrug

I laugh at articles about people accidentally overdeveloping their traps to the extent they look funny. If their traps are that big I am sure it didn’t happen by accident and some people like building big traps more than biceps.

However, I doubt that as a natty it is possible to overdevelop one particular muscle group. For most of us the excitement of seeing one body part become overdeveloped would bring hope that other muscles would soon follow.

I think shrugs get a bad rap. Part of the reason is people don’t go heavy enough. In order to do that you need to use straps or over-underhand grip.

Heavy shrugs are excellent way to not only build the traps but do far more than that. The effects of heavy shrugs are similar to a deadlift lockout. In fact, for each set you essentially perform a single deadlift lockout. Furthermore, if you are required to take a step back from the rack and another to return it you did a farmer’s walk with a really heavy weight.

Most powerlifters shrug more than their 1 rep max in the deadlift for 15-20 reps. Shrugging less than your max deadlift is not considered heavy. The weight you would use for the deadlift lockout is around the same weight you would use for the shrug. In fact, your shrug should not reach its limit until it is equal to your 1 rep max in the deadlift lockout.

Now if you have the guts to lift this heavy then the benefits of the shrug go far beyond building big traps. Heavy short range movements like this don’t burn out your central nervous system compared to exercises such as deadlifts. Plus, the traps can be trained heavy on a regular basis as the muscle fibre type is similar to the calves.

Having big traps will also be an advantage in other exercise involving this muscle such as the power clean, shoulder press, lateral raises, etc. If you gain 100 lbs in your shrug then you should be able to use more weight in other exercises involving the traps – forcing other muscles to indirectly grow.

Another reason shrugs will build more than just the traps is similar to what happens with other heavy movements such as the deadlift. The deadlift is used primarily to target the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings but secondary stress is placed on the quads, abs, lats, traps, delts, biceps, forearm flexors, and etc.

If you are performing a cheating shrug the muscles involved can be endless depending on your technique. Secondary muscles involved are muscles of the upper back, delts, biceps, forearm flexors and if you cheat this could also include the quads, hamstrings, lower back, calves, and abs.

By performing heavy shrugs you can make noticeable gains in a short period of time and then switch focus to a different part of the back. Some people claim you can even overdevelop the traps by accident. Put this myth to the test. If it happens you might end up with monster traps but you will have developed many other parts of your body in doing so.

Monday – Pull Workout

Comments:

I listed all warm up sets this workout in order to demonstrate how I use pyramid training in my workout. Sometimes it takes 3 to 4 warm up sets in order to reach my top weight.

Since my back muscles are warmed up I do not need to warm up for the shrugs. However, I make sure to do an extra warm up set or two before attempting to set a new max PR in the cheat curl.

The Push/Pull Advantage

push-pull-legs

Push/pull workouts prevent an overlap in muscles worked making it possible to train more frequently. If you are a natty like me you will have learned that in order to make improvements you need to train very frequently and time off equals strength loss.

Programs that require training each muscle group once a week produce limited results for natty bodybuilders. With this type of training the muscles end up being really sore the follow few days and you believe you actually trained your muscles hard. This is not accurate.

The reason your muscles get sore afterwards is because you are out of shape. It is also impossible to train the muscles enough hard they need a full week to recover. You are undertraining and every workout you experience the pain of muscle soreness beginners do over and over again.

Just like the movie Groundhog Day except each time you wake up you can barely move because your muscles hurt so bad and you spend eternity wishing you had trained more frequently.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a natty works each muscle twice a week they get better results and less muscle soreness. And if a natty trains three times a week there results improve even great and they reach a point were muscle soreness doesn’t occur unless your program changes such as the order of exercises, volume, rep range, and etc.

The first reason is that without performance enhancing drugs overtraining isn’t possible even if you are an ancient gladiator forced to train all day and starved until you get results.

Secondly, muscles only require 24 to 48 hours of rest to fully recover and you don’t necessarily have to let muscles fully recover before training them again. So if there is no overlap in your training you can literally workout each muscle groups every second day.

With a push/pull program you have two options that align with your body’s natural ability to recover. This can be accomplished one of two ways: push/pull or push/pull/legs.

The first is a two day split where muscle groups are divided into two categories; push/pull. Pushing involves exercises that use the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and calves. Pulling involves exercises that use the back, lats, traps, biceps, and hamstrings.

The push/pull/legs divide the upper and lower body and then further split the upper body into a push/pull split. The workouts essentially remain the same expect all exercises for the legs are isolated to a specific day.

This does generate some overlap in the muscles involved; however, even with no days off each muscle group has well over 48 hours of recovery. As a result, a 3 day push/pull/legs split requires higher training intensity and is often used following a prolonged two day split system to allow recovery.

Whether a two or three day split is used a natty can greatly benefit by using a push/push training split in order to avoid muscle overlap allowing more frequent training.

Sunday – Leg Workout

  • Box Front Squat (w/o belt, 12″ box)
    • 135 lbs x 7 reps
    • 185 lbs x 7 reps
    • 220 lbs x 5 reps*
  • Partial Rep Front Squat (w/o belt)
    • 275 lbs x 12 reps
    • 305 lbs x 12 reps
  • Front Squat (w/o belt)
    • 175 lbs x 12 reps

Comments:

* It is important to note that I did an additional warm up set using 185 lbs. I usually stop at 155 lbs in my warm up and then jump to the top weight. I am not sure if this is too close to my max and if I fatigued my quads a little on the warm up before attempting a new max with 220 lbs. However, this is a new max PR at this weight and don’t think I have even done doubles this heavy before.

However, I set another new 12 rep max PR so I am still making progress just more slowly now. I am going to continue this program doing the exact same things since I just added 30 lbs to my 7 rep max PR in the front squat in less than 3 weeks.

Triceps Exercises that Fill Your Shirt Sleeves

The triceps consist of 2/3 of the upper arm mass so if you want big arms than focus on building your big triceps. And the best way to build your triceps is by pushing heavy weight – weight heavy enough to crush the average man.

There are a variety of pushing exercises to choose from; however, some are more effective then others. Three of these exercises stand out above the rest. They are the close-grip bench press, weighted dip, and the bench press lockout (pin press).

Close-grip Bench Press

Everyone knows that the bench press relies heavily on the triceps. In order to stress primarily on the triceps simply use a closer than normal bench press grip: 6-8”. Remember to keep your elbows tucked in by your sides as much as possible when doing this exercise.

If you don’t have someone to spot you on this exercise be sure to use a power rack. If you are lifting heavy, your triceps will fatigue fast and you can end up being trapped with the weight on your chest with absolutely no arm strength left to move it.

jusup-wilkosz-close-grip-bench-press

Weighted Dips

If you haven’t added weight to this exercise it is time you started. Performing this exercise using only your bodyweight soon becomes boring and people fail to push themselves in this exercise. Many people think this exercise is to be held back until the end of the workout and used to finish off the triceps. However, when weight is added to this exercise can be used to build big triceps as well as create that lower Tarzan pec ridge which is a must for bodybuilding aesthetics.

Don’t be afraid to add weight to the dip but remember to work your way up slowly. If you are adding weight to a belt you can add 2.5 lbs weight increments instead of the typical 5 lbs with barbell exercises. Small 2.5 lbs weight increments add up and eventually you will be doing weighted dips with 100 lbs suspended from your waist.

arnold-schwarzenegger-weighted-dips

Lockout Bench Press (Pin Press)

The lockout bench press or pin press is perhaps the best exercise for building huge triceps and will improve overall bench press strength. This exercise also takes advantage of the bench press as a triceps builder. Think of this exercise as a chest shrug. It is a very short range of motion that allows you to use a phenomenal amount of weight. In fact, you should be able to add 5 lbs to this exercise every time you perform it – similar to the barbell shrug.

Monday – Pull Workout

  • Barbell Cheat Row
    • 135 lbs x 12 reps (w/o straps)
    • 205 lbs x 7 reps (w/o straps)
    • 275 lbs x 7 reps (w/o straps)
    • 345 lbs x 7 reps (w/ straps)
    • 415 lbs x 5 reps (w/ straps)
  • Barbell Shrug (w/straps)
    • 510 lbs x 12 reps
  • Barbell Cheat Curl
    • 170 lbs x 5 reps
    • 205 lbs x Failed*

Comments:

* This is perhaps my fifth failed attempt. I remember Arnold Schwarzenegger saying that in breaking the 500 lbs bench press plateau that he failed 10 times before his first successful attempt. I believe his all-time personal best is 520 lbs.