Winter 2022 Programming

This is about lifting weights, what I’ve been exploring in my program, how it’s paying off, and where I want to go next.

Explorations

I’ve been lifting for hypertrophy; no more 5/3/1 (tho principles always remain, especially start light, progress slowly). It’s been about 3.5 months and 4 3-“week” mesos (I lift MWF). It’s basically an upper/lower A/B split. I started with a “powerbuilding” approach, trying to squat/bench and other heavy stuff for progressions.

In time I had to stop squatting because my current shoulder mobility makes it hard to get into position for back squatting and starts to put a lot of strain on my wrists, elbows, and shoulders – excruciating pain, which I’m not hip to dealing with again. So, more leg pressing.

I also found myself following Paul Carter’s stuff again, looking things like “effective reps” and keeping it to maybe 3×5-8 work.

Payoff

Not squatting has been good for me. My body feels better: knees not so stiff, wrist/elbow/shoulder pain gone (well, the squat-induced pain; my left hand/wrist still has other issues, which are better but still present). Plus quads are getting bigger. I use the Cybex Plate Loaded Squat Press, which is awesome. On Lower A day, I put on my squat shoes (elevated heels), feet low on the plate, quad-bias. On Lower B, Chucks (flat sole), feet high, glute bias. Working up to something heavy, 8 reps RPE 9-10 sort of thing. I think I was getting to a point of too much heavy leg work because I was feeling it (stiff, achy, not fully recovering). I’ve started to cut back on the pure volume, as I don’t need as many warm-up sets now as I’m more in the groove of this movement. Slowly adding weight, just taking my time to work up into it – start light, progress slowly.

FWIW, I never thought much of the leg press. I always hated it. It was always a lesser/secondary to squatting. I do think the particular machine helps (vs. other styles of leg press machine), but it’s more having to make this a primary movement and working to wring out the most from it. It’s not an afterthought movement… I’m glad I’m coming to better appreciate the old leg press. It then touches on two things:

First, Paul Carter. While sometimes Paul’s online communication approach rubs me the wrong way, I’ve long appreciated his coaching and knowledge; his teaching is probably 2nd behind Wendler for me. His most recent thing is around “effective reps”. I’ve been exploring that, aiming for 5-8 rep sets to failure (or very close to it). Also, 3 minutes rest between sets. Pushing this hard has been… different. It’s taken a while to work up to where I am, and I’m still not feeling like I’m really pushing it… I’m getting there, but not there yet. And the results are so far solid.

I mean, I can feel more “boulder” with my biceps. I am quite aware of more pectoral, especially clavicular – thank you John Meadows 20º incline bench pressing. I can see my calves popping (both gastroc and soleus). Delts are getting wider. I’ve got hamstrings. Shit’s growing.

Second, less/reducing volume. I was doing more volume – in terms of simple sets & reps, and weight – because I know roughly how much stimulus I need to “stimulate, not annihilate”. Well, as things are getting heavier, as I push more towards true failure, I really need less “overall volume” in favor of “effective volume”. So I’m dropping some warm-up sets – it’s not much, but it all adds up (I don’t need those warm-ups, like going from incline benching to JM press, I was doing a few more warm-up/light sets to learn the movement, but I basically feel I have the groove so I just go right into the work sets).

Also, I’m still getting stronger – the one major indicator is my incline benching. I just did 265×3@8.5, which is all time PR. The fun thing about doing very different exercises (than SBD/P) is there’s all new PRs to set! Plus, I’m really trying to make the # on the bar be a secondary thought: not what I pursue, but a nice thing when it happens. Like to incline 300 will be pretty cool… give me a year, since I’m enjoying plodding along 5# per meso, and that will stall at some point (probably 280, based on how that 265 moved). Still, I’ll get there.

So getting bigger, getting stronger, and not feeling so beat up all the time. What’s not to like?

Next

I’ve been debating if I should replace the Lower B leg press (high-feet, glute) with something like RDLs. It was the “too much” factor. But reducing some of the volume on leg pressing has helped. If I can continue to reduce that volume while still making gains, great. I may still switch, we’ll see. But I’m enjoying this leg pressing stuff so… we’ll see.

I do want to continue to reduce “volume” where I can.

I want to keep doing my “yoga”. That’s been not an everyday thing, but I am more sensitive to it and do these moves and stretches more often. I of course can still improve here. But no question this helps all the things.

But for the most part, I’m going to keep on. It’s pretty simple progression for the most part: 3×5-8@9-10 is the goal. Trying to do “as little as I can” in terms of volume, but pouring that much more into every single rep. It’s a slow progression for me, just keep adding weight & reps each session (e.g. 1 more pound, 1 more rep) and just keep pushing it. Over time, it’ll all catch up. Then I can reset, new exercises, etc. So just keep going until it’s time to not keep going.

Diet

This is been interesting. I’ve been tracking my intake (roughly) with Macrofactor. I’m not strictly following it, it’s more a visibility and accountability thing for me. The app has some good parts, but annoys me a bit too (speaking as an iOS developer for many years). Still, it’s helped me hone in on some things. I can validate that if I basically aim for 50g protein 4x/day and make sure I do that, I’ll be in good shape. Then eat the carbs and fat my body needs, don’t go overboard. And don’t snack or overdo it. That’s the big one that I’m struggling with as it’s massive habit to overcome. But I’m recognizing it and having more successes than before so… it’s coming along.

Really? I need to become comfortable with being hungry, both literally and figuratively. That will change everything. It’s slow progress, but that’s still progress.

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