Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Project Cyttorak, one month on

This has been a most educational experience. As I like to hang my own experiences off of popular items in society, I'll use a comparison of my progress thus far in parallel to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Yes, I just watched The Dark Knight Rises last night. It was AWESOME! Now, on to the amateur weightlifting analysis.

I found myself unable to work out in the classic MuscleHack ways after my first THT experiment last fall / winter. Training at a normal THT cadence was not working for me. I was actually plateauing in several places, notably my shoulders, when I should have been seeing my muscle growth carrying on in its usual breakneck pace.

This is much like the end of Batman Begins. Bruce finds himself wholly consumed by the Batman. He is at a level beyond ordinary men, and needs to "live" there to survive.

Now, as I find myself moving, training at a higher standard compared to even regular THT training. The bar has been raised and there's no going back. This is an analogy that relates directly to The Dark Knight Rises - MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Bruce must remake himself in order to survive and to remind himself why he's alive - and that he wants to remain alive for more reasons than actually being Batman. In my training, I'm reminded of the fact that I cannot go back to my old training ways and that I now hold myself to a higher standard - a standard I have to maintain if I want to continue to progress in my training. In reality, I've re-made myself again in my training as it's the only way forward that I can see right now.

I took the most of 3 months off starting in March. I'm already pretty much back to where I was, especially compared with my body type and build compared to where I was in January - I'm about .5% higher in my body fat than I was then. I notice the difference mostly in my abs and chest. I'm almost back now. Physically I'm strong, I'm sure of that. Now, to just get that little bit leaner and keep adding muscle mass.

It's not an easy road, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Keep lifting hard and training smart, MuscleHackers!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meathead problems!

This week has become a complete litany of fun events. I shoveled a load of soil into the Ram (haven't felt like a farmer in ages!), got a damn good workout in yesterday and realized that I've once again joined the ranks of the (all-natural) meatheads.

What are "meathead problems"? Allow me to list but a few of them:

  • Unable to do most leg exercises with two legs (leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises) because you've maxed-out on the machine's weights.
  • That odd look you get when you spot a fellow lifter with two fingers on each side of his bench press.
  • Lamenting how slow the water fountain is at cooling the water (because you're always there between sets).
  • Griping about how your grip strength is slightly behind your dumbell trap shrug holding requirement. Now you need straps, you wimp.
  • Having to improvise on your workouts / breaking your sets into novel groupings just to make sure you're absolutely hitting yourself as hard as you can for maximum growth.
  • When you actually hit your second wind during cardio and realize you could do this for hours, much to the chagrin of those around you. Hello economy of motion!
  • Performing tasks that seem easy to you, then suffering the realization that "hey, not everyone can boulder straight up 20+ feet and haul themselves over an edge like an action movie stunt".
  • One of the only real exercises that pushes you to the point of breaking anymore is dead-lifting.
  • Having to scrutinize labels for carb, protein and healthy fat content, while not paying as much attention to "calories".
  • Planning your entire week solely around workouts - not work or time off, or recreational activities. Can. I. Get. In. One. More. Workout?!?
There's a bit of satire here, but not much. Working out is a lifestyle. For the dedicated, it's not a choice. All you're doing is adjusting your rest periods between workouts - nobody ever TRULY leaves.

Food for thought on this awesome Wednesday. :)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How DOES one become a Juggernaut, anyway?

First off, you need to make sure that you've read the title correctly and realize that this has nothing to do with juggalos. At all. Or Insane Clown Posse. It's music to some, and cosplay for some of their fans, but neither of those things has anything at all to do with my experiment.

The premise of my workout is simple, but it's only that: a premise. There's no hard fact or per-established case evidence that what I'm doing is any better than any other weightlifting workout out there at all. What I'm doing is taking something that works well (THT 4.0 HIT from Mark McManus's awesome MuscleHack doctrine) and just adding piles of extra work to it. Well, there's a bit more to it than just that.

The first set consists of massive amounts of weight, 4-6 reps (adding weight and resetting after 6 successful reps). This is largely regarded as a "mass-building" set, geared more toward bulking up than adding pure, lean muscle. I find that the intense weight moved (after a warm-up set of 6-10 reps, 33-40% of my first weight) helps to really get the blood "boiling" and gets the muscle prepped for a serious beating.

The second and third sets are done in near-typical MuscleHack fashion. These sets are drop-sets of -10% and -10% again, 6-8 reps. This rep range is more in keeping with strict MuscleHack philosophy, and to a lesser extent classic bodybuilding doctrines.

Cardio is sporadic and fun: ball hockey, biking, hiking, rock climbing (bouldering). Anything non-regimented. I like fun cardio and hate anything that's rigid or structured for cardio. This keeps a nice balance between my workouts and my "down time", which includes cardio.

Eating: I eat. A lot. Lots of white and red meats, lots of all-natural peanut butter on whole-wheat toast. Whole grains are my fave carb, and the odd white pasta makes it in there too at times. Weekends are largely carb-up days (normally Saturdays).Trying to get more greens going, along with my cardio, to cut down about 1-1.5% BF or so... I'm just over 10% currrently (likely 11), but was a bit higher a few weeks ago. It's remarkable what a few months of little-to-no exercise can do to you.

More to come as I go along.

Train hard and lift smart, I always say. Even if your motivation is a mythical false deity who exists only to create avatars of pure destruction.