It’s been a while since I posted about my workout routines. Briefly, about 5 years ago I got motivated by some shocking pictures of a fat, middle aged guy with my face and got back into the gym for the first time in many years. I’ve been working out ever since with a personal trainer, currently Ryan Branson who operates out of a studio gym in Burnsville, MN. I do a constantly changing periodization program that switches from endurance to hypertrophy (mass building) to strength and power.
This summer I spent mostly in a high endurance/cardio program designed to give me a break from building size while at the same time dropping bodyfat and building my endurance and ‘wind’. It was a grueling program and I lost a fair amount of size and strength doing it. Not my favorite thing to do but you have to switch tracks like that to keep your body guessing and resetting for another round of the heavy stuff.
For about the last month I’m back to a mass building program. Currently we are doing a decending rep/increasing weight routine. We started out at 3 sets of 12 reps per movement for two weeks, then 3 sets of 10 reps with heavier weight the next, followed by this week of 4 sets of 10 reps of each movement. In the next few weeks we’ll be dropping to 8 reps, then 6, then 4 as the weights really start going up. I work out 4 days a week doing back, chest/biceps, legs and shoulders/triceps on separate days. We are concentrating on the big compound movements like presses, deadlifts and squats.
One of the interesting things about bodybuilding is that your body has a ‘memory’ when it comes to strength and size. Once you build up to a certain level of strength and mass, your muscles will remember that level and after taking some time off to do a different routine they will get back to that remembered level a lot faster than it originally took to reach it. Right now after only four weeks I am close to my peak size. I don’t do measurements but just eyeball it and use the scale to keep track of mass. I’m just a few pounds off my heaviest weight with minimal gains in body fat (some is unavoidable).
Here are some pictures of some of the movements in my chest/biceps routine:
Incline chest press, mid-movement. This builds the upper chest.
Dumbbell flys, mid-movement. This builds the outer chest.
Decline cable crossovers, top of movement…
… at the bottom. This builds the inner and lower chest.
Dumbbell twist curls, bottom of movement…
…near the top. The “twist” is a rotation of the wrist from bottom to top. At the very top my knuckles will be pointing at the floor with my palms up. This develops the bicep “peak”.
Seated dumbell curls, also with a twist.
Taking a breather….
This routine also includes flat bench presses, dumbbell mid presses, kettlebell power swings, upward cable crossovers and wide grip barbell curls.
Gaining mass is hard work, and not just in the gym. Your diet needs to be strong or you will just be spinning your wheels. I have to make sure I get some good quality protein and low-glycemic carbs in every three hours all day long after a heavy workout. If I miss a few meals my body goes from muscle-building mode to starvation-prevention mode, and will not only store fat from the smallest amount of ingested calories, but will cannibalize the muscle tissue itself as fuel. That is a waste of all that effort. That’s also a lot of food to eat all day.
At 41 I can tell it’s a lot harder to recover from workouts than it used to be, so I don’t know how long I can keep it up. Right now I still enjoy it and it’s nice to be in good shape this late in life, especially considering I sit on my ass for a living. Also I do not get messed with in bars and my daughters boyfriends are scared to death of me, which are nice bonuses.
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913 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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