Friday, May 18, 2012

You Keep Asking. Here it is: How I put together my routine

That kind of puzzles me too.  I'm not sure why people are so interested in how I put together my routines.  I do have a few protocols for putting them together but it's not like I've built revolutionary quantities of muscle mass lately or done amazing things to be picked apart on a Youtube video by the ass-monkey experts using my current programming guidelines.  If you want to know what I do, then get ready to be blown away.  Right.  Now...


Profound and innovative? Pretty much like everything else that gets written out there about strength training.  I do have some things that I keep in mind when I decide how I'm going to put together my routines.  There's probably considerations that we never see in any of the strength sports programming out there that I take very seriously.  I'm sure they're things that you have to cope with too.  Items like time constraints, being able to go work the next day and perform normally.  Having limited, or even no access to a gym or specific equipment.  It's easy to program strength training when you have minimal commitments to anything else but yourself.  With that kind of life, you can afford to mold your life to your training.  For the rest of us, life happens and it's not quite so easy and the training molds more to the rest of our life. With an infant son, my training is, more than ever, all about getting a good workout under a time constraint.  30-40 minutes to myself, when I'm at home, is a luxurious amount of workout time.  I can get more than that...if I'm traveling.  So, then I work with limited equipment issues.   No matter what I do, I do have a labor-intensive job so whatever I do working out can't drain me to the point were I move slow and painfully the next day. 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday are my upper body days.  Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are for the lower regions.  Sunday is my goof-off day and I do whatever I feel like doing.  I try to work out everyday.  It doesn't always happen, but I get a B+ for effort.  As long as I moderate, picking easy and hard days, training every day hasn't been a problem for me.  Things get grey when I try to work out twice a day, every day.  That taxes the amount of recovery I'm capable of with 4-6 hours of sleep. 

When I do my upper body work on Mondays and Fridays, I superset push and pull movements, doing two or three supersets, each one with more volume than the next.  I've found out that my upper body can do a lot in a short period of time without worrying about over-doing it.  That's one thing that I love about supersetting:  less downtime.  You "rest" by switching to another set of muscles to workout.  It really cuts down on the amount of time spent training. On Wednesday, I do only pushing movements.  These I'll do with more of a conventional sets and reps.  No supersetting here since this day usually amounts to a shoulder day.  There aren't too many push movements that don't hit the shoulders.  So, I allow for some extra rest on these. 

Lower body days aren't done with the same kind of mad dash mentality that my upper body days have.  I've done this in the past and spent a day or two limping around with sore muscles as a result.  This isn't fun if you walk several miles or climb ladders all day (both of which I do a lot).  I recall reading somewhere that Tom Platz used to count out the number of steps he'd have to take daily so he could minimize this walking after abusing his legs with his infamous leg training.  Do you have that kind of capability?  Neither do I.  As it so happens, two of my (ongoing) goals are to get better at pistols and be able to do glute ham raises.  This has been much of my leg training, starting with the pistols in low reps and then moving to some GHR work (lately, 5 partials plus 5 eccentric GHR's to a set, one right after another).   I find that when I'm trying to master new movements, it's better to minimize the whole, "most volume in the least time", approch to training.  So lately, these days aren't as rugged on my body.  This is where I kind of wander off the conventional upper/lower split plantation because I also do some Two-Hands Anyhow work after I finish up with the pistols and the GHR. 

Although I'm trying to master these two lower body moves, I've been known to throw in a heavy squat day once a week for a break.  I like doing belt squats, zerchers, and some squat-press with two kettlebells.   Regardless, I don't forget that my legs have muscles in the front, back and sides. 

Sundays are my blank slate.  You might catch me doing all core work, complexes, deadlifting,  or whatever sounds interesting to me at that particular time. 

This summary and outline is meant to be nothing more than my story about how I do what I do to stay strong with some very real world constraints.  I'm still a huge advocate of getting smart enough at training to put together a routine for yourself.   Nobody else's routine is going to take into consideration all of the little idiosyncrasies of my life.  Maybe that's why I find the inquiries about how I do what I do odd.  Still, there's always something to be learned from other people's methods and hopefully you can find a few of my pointers about routine construction useful. 

A slice of my week working out...

Switch Grip Pull-ups, 8 reps
Diamond Handstand Push-up, 8 reps... repeat 4 times

Decline-fingertip push-ups, 25 reps
Sandbag (87 lbs) rows, 25 rep... repeat 4 times

Pistols, 6 sets 5 reps per leg
Hold bottom position of pistols for 15 seconds, twice each leg
GHR work (described above) 4 sets
Two Hands Anyhow, 3 each side

One-arm push-ups, feet < shoulder-width apart, 3 sets 5 reps each arm
Push-ups with sandbag on my back, 4 sets 10 reps
Handstand push-ups 3 sets 15 reps

Thursday .... somehow I got stuck watching the kid while my wife went shopping with her mother and friends.  Forced day off!

Ladder Pull-ups, 8 each side
One arm push-ups on suspension rig 8 each side ...repeat 5 times

Sandbag clean and press 10 reps
sandbag rows, 20 reps... repeat 3 times

Saturday... same as Tuesday

300 lbs deadlifts, 6 sets 6 reps
150 lbs belt squats 8 sets 8 reps
pull-ups, wide grip 10 sets 10 reps


Anonymous said...

Hi! great blog! Really intresting to read about how you put together your routine. Two questions, however. Why do you do the Two hands anyhow? Regarding friday, what do you mean with "Ladder Pull-ups, 8 each side"?


Justin_PS said...

You've probably seen the ladder pull up before. Its the standard progression for the one arm pull up. I wrote about it two years ago...

As for the two hands any how, I do it because it interests me. I could name a lot of benefits to this method of iron- moving but the biggest reason is because I absolutely love doing it.

Shant Yedalian said...
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Shant Yedalian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dray said...

Shant, if you're still checking I might be able to help. I gained about 25 lbs at top weight using bodyweight exercises. I feel like the most important thing is to do high tension exercises and high rep exercises. So, for example, a workout of mine might have looked like this.

Front lever progressions (usually included some body rows with these) supersetted with handstand pushups. I usually would include some pistol progressions here, and then immediately afterward I would move toward doing really high volume pull-ups, then some high rep dips (not many sets) and some squats. I did a lot of work at this and my record was 16 pullups on a fat bar, and at one point I managed 50 pull-ups over multiple sets within 5 minutes. I got to doing sets of 20 dips, and at one point did a straight set of 200 bodyweight squats.

jim said...

Hi Justin,
Have you ever felt pistols can lead to excess strain on the knee? I have built up to 8 slowish reps of 3 seconds down, 3 up, each leg two sets, but now my knee has started to tweek so I have stopped and gone back to static deep squating for awhile, and the knee pain is gone...

Static exercises seem much better to avoid joint pains while still working a muscle group.

Or maybe variety is key, a week of static, a week dynamic to still get both benefits... think I just answered my own question.


Justin_PS said...

Maybe I'm not properly qualified to answer your question since you do more pistols than I do at the moment. So, take that into consideration when you hear my answer.

Then again, I don't have knee problems if I do the squat right and if I'm not too tight. I think that the problem people have with them is the same reason that they're good: they tell you something about your body that you need to hear...or feel. If you're having problems with them, then there's something wrong that needs to be addressed.

You could switch out and do something else but then you're just working around the problem, not addressing it.

Generally speaking, the more sitting down (driving) I do, the more I notice I can't do pistols for shit because my hips and back are so damn tight. You know where this is going. Warm up, foam roll/lacross ball stuff, mobility etc, etc. If the hips don't move like they're supposed to, then then the knee to do the moving instead.


Hope this helps.

jim said...

Hi Justin,
It does help to discuss this thank you for your comments.
I have a foam roller and will use it more, everytime I remember to I find lots of sore muscles!

I will do the one week static/one dynamic plan idea for awhile and monitor it for results and recovery.

I have actually switched to all static recently despite not intending to, doing 60s hand stand, 160s plank, 60s bar hang etc, rather than shorter times dynamic. I used to do the static versions as a warm up, but now do two or three sets of them. I find recovery quicker/less sweaty, so its better to do in work breaks and without a shower possible at the end. It seems more straight forward too, just aiming for times, rather than making sure I keep good form and ROM, and overall time under contraction.


FitCurvyRaw said...

Great blog. I love bodyweight training it's done thing for not even weight training has. I was taught you needed free weight to build muscle but with bodyweight training I have built functional muscle.