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Strength Build

Strength Build

With my hypertrophy block successful, the next step is to build on that foundation. Next up is an 9-week strength-building block.

I've avoided the temptation to throw in everything. "Enough" upper body work really is enough. And I'll be geting plenty of bike-specific work on my bike. So the core of my strength workout is dead simple: deadlift, box jump, farmer walk.

The Workout

  • warmup:
    • kb swing: 20 @ 35#
    • 1-arm kb swing: 20 @ 35#
    • kb swing: 20 @ 50#
    • 1-arm kb swing: 2 x 20 @ 50#
  • workout:
    • barbell complex (2 sets, 5 reps each movement):
      • bent-over row
      • deadlift
      • clean
      • front squat
      • military press
      • back squat
      • Romanian deadlift
    • deadlift: 3 x 5
    • chin-up: 5 x 2 (working toward 3 x 5)
    • box jump 3 x 10
    • farmer walk
  • assistance/corrective: 3 rounds of:
    • plank x 60sec
    • jefferson curl x 5
    • resistance band rotator cuff work

So far, so good. First workout was tough, second felt solid, so I increased the weight for the third, and I feel it just right in my hips & hams.

I'm doing the barbell work Monday & Thursday, and doing easy loops on the bike on Tuesday & Friday. So far, that's working well. The bike rides are feeling better and better, and so are the barbell sessions, so... success? Or am I just not going hard enough in the gym? Dunno. I'll just track my progress and tweak as I go.

The Mental Aspect

I took a lot of comfort in doing the Mass Made Simple program, because basically none of the decision-making was up to me. I could see & feel myself getting stronger, and all I had to do was stick with the program.

Putting together my own strength program is far less comfortable.

Honestly, I'm a little stressed at being nearly 20# heavier than I was at this time last year, with ~3 monts less time than last year before racing starts. That really seems... not good.

But looking at the calendar, I'm fine. I've got plenty of time.

Looking at my records from last year has helped. It really only took me about 8 weeks to drop 10#, and if I do that again this year, I'll be happy. That would take me back to my racing weight last year, with significantly more muscle.

I've backed way off on the protein intake. I've bulked up plenty, and I know from experience that I don't need that kind of calorie/protein intake to build strength.

The Big Picture

  • Priorities, in order:
    • gain strength
    • don't gain any more weight
    • stretch goal: shed fat
  • Barbell Mon/Thr, bike Tue/Fri.
  • Weigh-in every Friday, with the goal being not to gain much.
  • If I'm not recovered for my barbell work, I'll cut intensity/volume on the bike. For now, strenght work takes priority.

And with a plan in place, I do feel better. We'll see where I am in 8 weeks.

Hypertrophy Block Review

Hypertrophy Block Review

The Program

I mostly followed Dan John's Mass Made Simple, but I'll state up front that I did not do the program as written. In particular:

  • I started the program, completed 3 workouts, then got sick & continued to do the third workout as a holding pattern until I felt solid enough to move forward.
  • The program recommends a three-day workout rhythm. (Each workout is followed by exactly two rest/recharge days.) I worked out twice a week. (Usually Monday/Thursday.)
  • Where the program prescribes bat wings, I did flexed-arm hangs, and later chin-ups on a pull-up bar.
  • The program uses squats at 185# through much of the last few weeks. That proved too heavy for me. Where 185# is called for, I used 165#.

I found that the workouts took about 90 minutes to complete, including a 5-minute warmup of light rowing.

I did not do any stretching to speak of during the program, and I have not noticed any diminished mobility.

Results

Final Tally

Measurements

  Before After
weight 187.2# 198.2
calf 15.5'' 15.75''
thigh 22.5'' 25.25''
hips 40'' 41''
waist 38'' 39''
chest 39.5'' 42''
biceps 12.5'' 14''

(All measurements taken with my OrbiTape.)

I'd call that a raging success. I haven't gotten results like this since I was in my 20's.

continued

Older & Wiser: Nasty Cough

Older & Wiser: Nasty Cough

I've had a cough for the last couple of weeks. I initially thought it was nothing, and just kept training, which felt fine. But it held on & got worse rather than better, so I've just stopped training altogether & concentrated on getting the rest I need.

I'm finally on the mend & expect to be ready to hit the weights again on Friday. But I don't want to just jump back in where I left off, so I'll be repeating the second week of Mass Made Simple before moving forward & completing the program.

A week off, plus repeating a week means I'll be 2 weeks behind. The initial plan was for 7 weeks of mass building, but the extra two weeks pushes it to 9, and I'm not sure my body will want to do that. So once I hit week #5 of the program (which will be week #7 on the calendar) I'll be alert for signs of deeper fatigue: lack of motivation, stalled progress, trouble sleeping.

Focusing on next summer has made it much easier to make the right decisions this week. I feel like I have plenty of time to rest & recover and I'll still be able to bring my A game when it matters.

Measurements: Before

I meant to do this before the first workout on Tuesday, but I doubt much has changed in two days & one workout.

Here's the current state of things:

  • weight: 187.2#
  • calf: 15.5''
  • thigh: 32.5''
  • hips: 40''
  • waist: 38''
  • chest: 39.5''
  • biceps: 12.5''

The calendar says that I'll wrap up with Mass Made Simple around October 25, so I'll take the "after" measurements around the 30th.

Mass Made Simple

Mass Made Simple

Even before the last race of the Over the Hump season, I could feel that I needed a break. I was looking forward to being able to just ride wherever I wanted, if I wanted. And finishing 5th in that last race, and 7th overall, really made me feel like I'd done what I set out to do.

So what now? Well, it's a good time to take a big-picture look at my health & fitness, and to play the game so that I arrive in May 2020 stronger, fitter, faster and more injury-proof than I am now.

I talked with a nutritionist, who said that I generally eat pretty well, and suggested a few improvements to try. I'm trying them.

I've taken a rest week, and I'm now starting to do some light barbell work to acclimate my body to that kind of work again. (Mostly a modified version of Cosgrove's Evil 8, without the power cleans or good mornings.)

I've started Dan John's Mass Made Simple program. It's classic "bus bench" stuff: show up, do the workout, enjoy the results. The core of the workout is a barbell complex (row, clean, front squat, press, back squat, good morning) similar to Cosgrove's Evil 8, and a heavy helping of squats.

The first workout went really well, and today I'm definitely sore, but not hurting. (I went slightly easy on the complex to make sure I had the gas for the squats.) I'll up the weight a bit on the complex next time.

And honestly, I think just a 40-minute complex/squats/pull-up workout will be an excellent way to maintain my strength gains once I get back on the bike & start base building again in a couple of months.

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