Training December 2017-

Saturday 17 Feb:  Bench qualifier & workout

  1. Bench only comp – Ypuk:  80 kg, 90 kg, 100 kg @ 66kg
  2. High Pull: 60 x 12, 70 x 12, 10
  3. DB side row:  25 x 12, 30 x 12
  4. Db Shrug:  30 x 10, 35 x 10, 37.5 x 10, 40 x 8
  5. 1-arm tri-XT:  3 x 10, 1 x 3

Wednesday 14 Feb:  Legs

  1. Squat:  60 x 8, 100 x 5, 130 x 1, 140 x 1, 145 x 1
  2. Deadlift:  60 x 5, 100 x 5, 140 x 1, 165 x 5 conventional, 5 semi-sumo
  3. CR:  Stack x 16, 12
  4. Rollout:  BW x 12

Sunday 11 Feb:  Back and Biceps

  1. Cable row (close grip):  10p x 12, 12p x 12, 14p x 10, 5
  2. High pull:  60kg x 11, 9, 8 super setted with
  3. Pull up:  BW x 14, 7, 7
  4. DB Bent row:  30kg x 10, 7, 5
  5. DB Curl:  17.5kg x 7, 7, 3

Friday 9 Feb:  Chest, shoulders and Tris

  1. Bench:  60 kg x 8, 80 x 9, 60 x 10
  2. Inclines:  70 x 9, 7
  3. Declines: 60 x 10, 7
  4. Side raise:  17.5 x 12, 11
  5. OXT:  105pd x 10, 7
  6. XTRotations:  2p x 8, 3p x 8

Wednesday 7 Feb:  Legs

  1. Squat:  60 x 5, 100 x 5, 120 x 5, 140 x 3, pause 120 x 4
  2. Dead-lift:  100 x 5, 140 x 1, 170 x 1, 180 x 1, ss 190 x 1
  3. Leg press:  200 x 15, 10
  4. Leg curl:  95 pd x 4, 80 pd x 5
  5. High pull:  50 x 12, 60 x 12
  6. CR: Stack x 15, 9

Sunday 4 Feb:  Back, chest and arms

  1. Bench:  60 kg x 5, 80 kg x 1, 100 kg x 1, 100 kg x 1, 60 kg x 10, 70 kg x 9, 6
  2. Wide row: 180 pd x 12, 11, 5
  3. W-shrug: 70 kg x 16, 11  ss with Front raises: 12 kg x 10, 8
  4. Pull downs:  165 pd x 14, 7
  5. Side raise:  15 kg x 15, 12, 8

Friday 2 Feb:  Legs and arms

  1. Dead-lifts:  60 kg x 5, 110 kg x 5, 140 kg x 1, 160 kg x 9
  2. Leg press:  190 kg x 20, 11
  3. DB curl:  20 kg x 10, 6 Spider curl:  15 kg x 7
  4. XT:  13 p x 12, 7,  OHXT:  10 p x 11

Wednesday 31 Jan:  Back, chest and shoulders

  1. Bench(partials):  90 kg x 10, 80 kg x 8, pause 70 kg x 5
  2. Wide row:  165 pd x 12, 6, 4
  3. Side raise:  15 kg x 12, 10, 8
  4.  Wide shrug:  60 kg x 15, 12, 10
  5. Machine row:  195 pd x 12, 7, 7

Sunday 28 Jan:  Legs and arms

  1. Squat:  60 kg x 8, 100 kg x 5, 130 kg x 7, 115 kg x 7, pause 105 kg x 5
  2. leg curl:  80 pd x 8, 65 pd x 8, 50 pd x 9
  3. CR:  Stack x 20, 10, 8
  4. Spider curl:  15 kg x 13, 8, 5
  5.  OHXT:  120 pd x 15, 13,   XT: 120 pd x 16

Friday 26 Jan:  Back, chest and shoulders

  1. BB Inclines:  80 kg x 14, 5, 4
  2. Pull downs:  150 pd x 15, 7, 5
  3. Wide BB Shrug:  50 kg x 16, 13, 15
  4. BB Press:  50 kg x 5, 5, 5
  5. Machine wide row:  150 pd x 12, 10, 8
  6. Partial side raise:  12 kg x 9, 8, 8

Wednesday 24 Jan:  Legs and arms

  1. Deadlift: 60 kg x 5, 100 kg x 5, 140 kg x 1, 160 kg x 7
  2. Leg press:  180 kg x 20, 15
  3. DB curl:  18 kg x 20, 10, Concentration curl:  18 kg x 11
  4. OHXT:  120 pd x 14, 12, XT:  120 pd x 15

Sunday 21 January:  Back, chest & shoulders

  1. Bench (partials) 60 kg x 8, 85  x 12, 6, 4,  pause 60 kg x 5
  2. Machine row(w) 150pd x 13, 8, 7, 6
  3. DB row:  50 kg x 8, 7, 7
  4. 1-Omni side raise:  17.5 kg x 15, 12-15, 15

Saturday 20 January:  Legs & arms

  1. Squats:  60 kg x 5, 100 kg x 5, 120 kg x 11, pause 100 kg x 5
  2. leg curl:  50 pd x 10, 80 pd x 7,4, 65 pd x 10
  3. Calf raises:  Stack x 17, 9, 7
  4. Db Curls:  20 kg x 11, 7, Spider curl:  15 kg x 7
  5. XT:  150 pd x 12, 7,  OHXT 105 pd x 12

Wednesday 17 January:  Back, chest and shoulders

  1. BB Inclines:  75 kg x 15, 8,  DB flat flyes 22 kg x 14, 8
  2. DB Row:        50 kg x 11, Machine row* 180 pd x 17, 8
  3. BB press:      40 kg x 15, 10, 8
  4. Wide row:     135 pd x 15, 10, 8
  5. Side raise:     15 kg x 12, 10, 10

Monday 15 January:  Legs and arms

  1. Deadlift:       60 x 5, 100 x 5, 140 x 1, 150 kg x 10
  2. Leg press:   180 kg x 22, 15
  3. DB curls:      20 kg x 9, 5    conc curl: 20 kg x 6
  4. OHXT:           120 pd x 12, 7  XT:  120 pd x 11

Friday 12 Jan:  Back, chest and shoulders

  1. Bench(partials):             60 kg x 8,  80 kg x 13, 4
  2. Wide rows:   150 pd x 11, 6, 4
  3. Hex URR:       20 kg x 12, 10, 9, 8
  4. Pull ups:         BW x 12, 10, 5
  5. Press ups:     20 kg x 23, 12

Wednesday 10 Jan:  Legs and Arms

  1. Squats:               60 kg x 8,  100 x 5, 110 kg x 12, pause-100 kg x 5
  2. leg curls:            50 pd x 15, 12, 8
  3. Spider curls:    12.5 kg x 16, 8, 6
  4. Triceps XT:       150 pd x 12, 6   OHXT:  105 x 10
  5. Ring roll outs:  Bw x 10, 10.

Monday 8 Jan:  Back, chest and shoulders

  1. DB Inclines:             35 kg x 15,     DB fly  21 kg x 12, 10
  2. DB Row:                    50 kg x 10, 7, 5
  3. BB Press:                 40 kg x 13, 7, 5
  4. Hex upright row:   10 kg x 13, 11, 9, 8

Fri 5 Jan:  Full body

  1. BB Hack squat:  100 kg x 10, 7
  2. Calf raise:              Stack x 18 ( long break), 15
  3. Pull ups:                 BW x 20, 8 super setted with dips
  4. Dips:                        BW x 20, 17
  5. DB Curls:              18 kg x 11, 5

Wed 3 Jan 2018:  Full body

  1. Leg press:                     170 kg x 30, 17
  2. Romanian Deadlift:  100 kg x 5, 5
  3. Db Incline fly:              26 kg x 15, 8
  4. Wide row:                     120 pd x 22, 11
  5. Omni seated raise:   15 kg x 15, 12, 10, 9

31 December: Back, chest and shoulders @ A

  1. BB Inclines:   75 kg x 14, 6  = 20
  2. DB Row:          45 kg x 16, 8, = 24
  3. BB press:        40 kg x 10, 10 = 20
  4. Wide row:       105 pd x 20, 13 = 33

30 December:  Legs and arms @ A

  1. Leg press: 160 kg x  20, 20, 20 -30 sec between sets
  2. Squat:         100 kg x 15, 10
  3. Calf raise:  Stack x 17, 10, 7 = 34
  4. S-curl:         12.5 kg x 15, 8 , 4 = 27
  5. OHXT:         105 pd x 21, 10, 5 = 36

28 December:  Back, chest and shoulders @ A

  1. BB Inclines:   70 kg x 15, 10, 6  s.s with DB row
  2. DB Row:          45 kg x 13, 9, 7 = 29
  3. BB press:        40 kg x 9, 8, 6 s.s with pull up
  4. Pull up:             BW x 12, 8, 6 = 26
  5. S bent raise:  10 kg 10, 12 kg 10, 15 kg 10, 17.5 kg x 7 then
  6. drop 15 kg x 7 drop 12 kg x 6 drop 10 kg x 5

27 December:  Legs and arms @ A

  1. Dead-lift: 60 kg x 8, 100 kg x 5, 140 kg x 18 hard :)
  2. leg curl:    40 pd x 8, 70 pd x 8, 5, 3
  3. Db Curl:    18 kg x 17, 8  + Spider curl 12 kg x 10, 5
  4. Tri-XT:         12p x 17, 9 + OHXT:  10p x 8 drop- 8p x 4

23 December:  Back, chest and shoulders @ A

  1. Incline DB press*: 35 kg x 14/ DB fly 17.5 kg x 11/ Cable press 6p x 10, 5
  2. DB Row:                    41.5 kg x 15, 9, 6 = 30
  3. Lat pull-down:        150 pd x 8 + drop 135 pd x 8 + drop 120 pd x 6
  4. Seated side raise: 8 kg x 10, 10 kg x 10 , 12 kg x 10, 15 kg x 10
  5. wide row:                  120 pd x 8 + drop 105 pd x 7 + drop 90 pd x 7
  • Could only do 7 reps with 35 kg on the 28/11 so on the mend :)

21 December: Legs and arms @ A

  1. Leg press:      160 kg x 22, 20, 16  30 seconds in between sets
  2. Squat:               100 kg x 12, 10
  3. Calf raise:        Stack x 15, 9, 7 = 31
  4. DB curl:            18 kg x 16, 9 + spider curl:    12 kg x 12
  5. XT:                      150 pd x 10, 5 + OHXT:          105 pd x 10

19 December: Back, chest and shoulders @ K

  1. BB Inclines:               70 kg x 12, 6, 4  super set with DB row
  2. Db Row:                      40 kg x 13, 8, 8
  3. Wide Row:                 13 p x 7, 4      10 p x 10    7 p x 17 super set with
  4. Alt-Side raise:          15 kg x 15, 12, 10
  5. Seated bent raise: 10 kg x 12, 10, 8

First time doing barbell inclines since shoulder injury end of September.  All good.

17 December: Legs and Arms @ A

  1. Dead-lift: 60 kg x 5, 100 kg x 5, 140 kg x 17
  2. leg curl:    40 pd x 10, 55 pd x 10, 70 pd x 7,5
  3. Db Curl:    18 kg x 16, 8  + Spider curl 12 kg x 11
  4. TriXT:        135 pd x 16, 9 + OHXT:  105 pd x 13

15 December:  Back, chest and shoulders @ K

  1. Wide row:             12p x 18, 12, 9 = 39
  2. Cable In press:   6p x 18, 9, 4= 31
  3. Alt Side raise:    15 kg x 10, 10, 10 = 30
  4. Wide Pdown:      6p x 16, 12, 10 = 38
  5. CXO Row:             9p x 10,10,10

13 December: Legs and Arms @ A

  1. Squat:          60 kg x 10,   100 kg x 20, 10
  2. Leg XT:        55 pd x 12, 10, 8 = 30
  3. C-Raise:      Stack x 13, 9, 7 = 29
  4. Db Curl:       18 kg x 15, 7, 6  = 28
  5. TriXT:            135 pd x 15, 8, 6 = 29

10 December: Back, chest and shoulders @ K

  1. Wide row:             12p x 17, 12, 8 = 37
  2. Cable In press:   5p x 23, 12, 10 = 45
  3. Side raise:            7 kg x 20, 18       10 kg x 13, 10
  4. Wide Pdown:      6p x 15, 11, 10 = 36
  5. CXO Row:             8p x 10,10,10

9 December:  Legs and Arms: 66 kg @ Aspyre

  1. Dead-lift: 60 kg x 5, 100 kg x 5, 140 kg x 16
  2. leg curl:    40 pd x 10, 55 pd x 10
  3. DB curl:     18 kg x 14, 7, 5
  4. TriXT:        135 pd x 13,6,4

7 December:  Back, chest and shoulders @ Karamu

  1. Wide row:           11p x 12, 8, 4
  2. Wide pdown:    7p x 6,    6p x 10, 7
  3. Cable In press: 4p x 18, 12, 8
  4. C Side raise:       1p x 15, 12, 10

4 December:  Leg and arms @ Karamu

  1. Squat:     100 kg 16, 8
  2. Leg XT:   5p 12, 8 ,6
  3. DB curl:  20 kg 8, 6, 5
  4. XT:            12 p 14, 7, 5

2 December:  Back, chest and shoulders @ Karamu

  1. Cable row:    13p 14, 8, 6
  2. Wide row:     10p 14, 12, 10
  3. DB inclines:  35 kg 7 30 kg 8, 4
  4. X Row:            8p 10, 10, 10
  5. C side raise:  1p 10, 10, 10

4X training revisited. 2012

INBA Taranaki Overall Mens Champ 2009

A few months ago I wrote about using 4X training (4×10), a training protocol designed by Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson from x-rep.com. It involves selecting a weight you can normally complete 15 reps with and trying to complete 4 sets of 10 reps (each rep involving a 1 second positive and 3 second negative) while only having minimal rest periods (20-40 seconds).  The cumulative fatigue created by the short rest periods and increased time under tension means that you can use lighter weights but are still stimulating the myofibrils and sarcoplasm within your muscles to induce muscle growth (visit x-rep.com for more information).
I have found this training protocol to be extremely effective for me in terms of making gains, getting in the zone, staying lean and injury free so I thought I would revisit it and include some different variations that I have come up with recently.
I have already shared my first variation which was:
Set 1:  Choose a weight you can complete 15 reps with and go for 20 first set.
Set 2:  After 20-40 seconds rest go for around 10 reps.
Set 3 & 4:  After 20-40 seconds rest go for 4-6 reps on these 2 sets. (not necessarily to failure).

Rep goal over 4 sets is 40 reps (So still the same sets, rep goal of 40 reps and rest periods as normal 4×10 but going to failure on Set 1 & 2 as opposed to only going to failure on Set 4).
I always get amazing pumps when I do this variation of 4X.

My second variation (4-MAX) is for those who can’t give up heavy training altogether, it involves:

Set 1: Choosing a weight that is your 8-10 rep max and go for 10-12 (when you get to 12 put up the weight next workout).
Set 2, 3 & 4: Drop the weight (it depends on the body part but anywhere between 20-40% and complete a 3X sequence like normal 4X.

Example: Bench Press
Set 1: 100 kg x 10 (I use a faster rep cadence on this set 1 second positive, 2 second negative).
Set 2: 70 x 10
Set 3: 70 x 10
Set 4: 70 x 10
Sets 2-4 are completed with 1 second positive, 3 second negative and all sets have 20-40 seconds rest periods in between.

Like all 4 X variations I have found that I get really good pumps and strength gains with no issues of CNS fatigue or delayed recovery.

My third variation is similar to (4MAX) and involves using 2 exercises for the same body part in a 4X sequence.

Set 1: involves exercise 1 for 10 reps. (This set could be done 4MAX or 4X style).
Set 2, 3, 4: Then another exercise for the same body part for a 3X sequence.

Example: Chest

Set 1:  Incline BB bench press         80 kg x 10
Set 2:  Incline DB bench press         30 kg x 10
Set 3:  Incline DB bench press         30 kg x 10
Set 4:  Incline DB bench press         30 kg x 10

This variation is great if you have limited time or get paranoid about leaving out a particular exercise that could improve muscle gains as you don’t have to complete a full 4X sequence for each exercise.

If you have been struggling to make gains using the traditional three sets of ten, with 2-3 minute rest periods and shorter tension times give 4X and some of its variations a try. Even better than that have a go at making your own 4X variation that suits you and watch your muscles begin to grow again!

Effective exercises for maximum muscle growth and strength. 2011

NABBA nationals 2004.  Weighed 65.8kg

As a natural trainer your goal should be to select the best exercises for each muscle group and organise them in a training split that allows you to recover and grow between successive workouts. But what are the most effective exercises for each muscle group? If I was to look around any gym, listen to any trainer or read research on the internet the answers can often be quite different. So who do we believe? As I have said before it is important to experiment with a range of exercises to see how they feel and document your progress to determine the effectiveness of each exercise for you (Have a look at some of my archived posts “Finding what works for you Part 1-4”).

But what if you have been struggling to make progress and have run out of effective exercise options to improve a specific body part. One way scientists have determined how effective an exercise activates muscles is by placing electrodes on the body during exercises and measuring the muscle activation (Electromyographical or EMG testing). The premise is that the exercises that cause the greatest activation should in turn be the best for maximum muscle growth and strength. Tudor O. Bompa, PhD carried out such an experiment using trained athletes.

Here are the results (exercises are placed in order of effectiveness). Some of the results may surprise you and make you consider your current exercise selections!

Chest

  • Decline dumbbell bench press
  • Decline bench press
  • Push-ups between benches
  • Flat dumbbell bench press
  • Flat bench press
  • Flat dumbbell flyes

Upper Chest

  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Incline dumbbell flyes
  • Incline bench press (smith machine)

An interesting finding recently by scientists at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College discovered that performing a slightly wider than shoulder grip reverse-grip flat bench press was almost 30% more effective at activating the upper chest than incline bench presses (This movement is quite awkward and should not be attempted without a spotter when using an Olympic bar-I have found the dumbbell version useful for me and a lot easier on my wrists too). Jim Stoppani, the senior science editor at muscle fitness also cited an Australian study suggesting that the incline bench press greatly increased the use of your front deltoid compared to only a small increase in upper chest activation too (food for thought).

Side deltoids

  • Incline dumbbell side raise
  • Standing dumbbell side raise
  • Seated dumbbell side laterals
  • Cable side laterals

Rear Deltoids

  • Standing dumbbell bent laterals
  • Seated dumbbell bent laterals
  • Standing cable bent laterals

Front Deltoids

  • Seated front dumbbell press
  • Standing front dumbbell raises
  • Seated front barbell press

Biceps (long head)

  • Preacher curls
  • Incline seated dumbbell curls (alternate)
  • Standing biceps curls narrow grip
  • Standing dumbbell curls
  • Concentration dumbbell curls
  • Standing curls wide grip
  • Standing E-Z bar curls

Triceps

  • Decline extensions
  • Triceps push downs (angled bar)
  • Dips with a bench
  • One-arm cable extensions (reverse grip)
  • Overhead rope extensions
  • Seated one-arm Dumbbell extensions (neutral grip)
  • Close-grip bench press

Lats (back)

  • Bent-over Barbell row
  • One-arm Dumbbell row
  • T-bar rows
  • Lat pull downs to the front
  • Seated pulley rows

Quads

  • Squats (90 degree angle, shoulder width stance)
  • seated leg extensions (toes straight)
  • Hack squats (90 degree angle, shoulder width stance)
  • Leg press (110 degree angle)
  • Smith machine (90 degree angle, shoulder width stance)

Biceps femoris (hamstring)

  • Standing leg curls
  • Lying leg curls
  • Seated leg curls
  • Modified hamstring deadlifts

Semitendinosus (inner hamstring)

  • Seated leg curls
  • Standing leg curls
  • Lying leg curls
  • Modified hamstring deadlifts

Gastrocnemius (calf muscle)

 

  • Donkey raises
  • Standing one-leg raises
  • Standing two-leg raises
  • Seated raises

 

It must be said that this is not a complete list of exercises for every muscle group and the fact that we all have our own unique body structures and nuances must be considered also. However it does provide some different options for those who have had little success with some of the more traditional exercises for some body parts. So if you have been stuck in a rut for a while experiment with some of the different exercises mentioned here and improve your muscle growth and strength now!

Training aids to enhance your weight workouts. 2009

First comp- NABBA Auckland champs 1998

In the past I have tried to avoid using any kind of training aid like straps or weight lifting belts in my training. However, in the last 2 years I have not only used these training aids but used other tools that have enhanced my weight workouts and physique. Below is a list of these aids and how they have worked for me!

1. Straps:
I use both the double and single loop straps in my training. I use the double loop straps for chin ups with one loop around the bar and the other wrapped around my wrist. This takes the biceps out of the movement even more than having a false grip with thumbs over the top of the bar. As a result I can hit the latissimus dorsi better for more muscle growth. I use the single loop straps for exercises where my grip is definitely a weak link and would prevent me from hitting the muscle hard enough to provide enough stimulus for growth (only on the heaviest sets).

2. Belt:
I never used a belt for squatting believing it would prevent me from using my core muscles properly. However, the first time I used it I increased my PB in the squat from 140kg for 8 to 13!! Also, I have a longer torso in relation to my legs and the belt keeps my upper body more upright meaning more stress is placed on the quads where I want it and less on the hips. I make sure I put the belt on tight enough so I can push out against the belt to create maximum tension and strength from the core.

3. Front squat harness:
This handy training aid makes the front squat easier to perform. I have had lots of success with this aid especially with teaching students at school how to squat. They are able to maintain a more upright position (easier to maintain good posture) which hits the quads more effectively; it allows them to squat deeper and they can balance the bar easier also.

4. Knee, Elbow braces:
Training during pre-contest and trying to maintain weights you use in the off-season can be hard on the joints. Using compression braces can help take some stress off the joints so you can focus on feeling the exercise in the muscle more. It can give you a mental boost as you feel safer (realising that you must always maintain good form and not try anything stupid!) Also, it can keep the joints warm during your heaviest sets if you have extended breaks between them.

5. Dipping belt:
The dipping belt is a necessity to progressively overload your muscles in exercises like dips and chin ups. I am only 65-70kg so extra weight is necessary to keep the reps within the muscle building range of 6-12 per set. Dipping belts can be expensive-$100+. I purchased a cheap weight lifting belt, attached some chain to an S hook (which fitted into one of the holes) hammered it in so it would not come out and added a caribina hook to the other end so it could easily be attached to the buckle- it cost me $35 all up.

6. Rubber mats:
I use the rubber mats to elevate my heels during squats as opposed to using plates or a piece of wood as it is more comfortable on the bottom of the feet (I like to squat in bare feet) I put a couple on top of each other until I feel it in my legs exactly how I want. I do the same thing for stiff legged dead-lifts, but under my toes so I get an extra stretch in my hamstrings.

7. Water:
Water is an important aid (for lots of reasons) at every workout! Research has shown that water can improve mental and physical performance by up to 20%! (One big reason) I sip between sets and drink at least 1-1.5 litres of water during each workout. It definitely improves the pump you get and best of all it’s free!

8. Supplements:
Supplements have definitely got better over the years and it has got to the stage where I don’t want to train without them as they make a huge difference in helping me get the most out of my training sessions. Here is my current supplement regime for a workout:

Pre-workout:
2 hours before workout: ½ dose of plasmajet* (5 capsules are more than enough for me) + 2-3 glasses water
1 hour before workout: 2 sc whey protein, 1000mg vit C, 5g glutamine
15 min before workout: ½ tsp beta alanine, 5 g BCAA + 2 glasses water

During workout:
1-1.5 l water.

Post workout:
Immediately after workout: 5 g BCAA.
2 sc whey protein, 1000mg vit C, 5g glutamine, 1 tsp fish oil, 1x multi mineral.

* Plasmajet works for me, but there are other nitric oxide supplements (you should experiment with a range of products to find one that does the business for you as some work better for different individuals) Another product I would use is superpump 250 (it really works too) if I wasn’t so sensitive to caffeine.

I attribute a lot of my progress to these training aids. Add them to your training regime and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how they enhance your workouts and physique!

Training Naturally 2009

                           Classic Men 2008

I can remember being a keen teenager and picking up my first muscle magazine. In it were articles written by a number of pro bodybuilders. The articles espoused large volume, high intensity and frequency. As a result I began training 6 days a week for well over an hour on top of completing a 2 hour milk run every night, playing rugby, touch rugby and all the rest!! As you guessed I did not put on a lot of muscle. It wasn’t until I cut back on my training that I began to see progress.

However, in saying that it still took years of over training before I realised I had not achieved much for all the hard work I had put in! So where do you find reliable, good advice for the average natural trainer. Most muscle magazines still often promote lengthy sessions completed by pro-bodybuilders (which can work for a few natural freaks), but there are a lot of good training ideas out there as long as you consider several things.

I believe natural trainers need to listen to their bodies more than their chemically enhanced peers. They also need to be more scientific when developing productive training routines. If x amount of training has you still feeling sore or weaker the next time you train there is a good chance you’re overtraining (especially if you’re eating right, sleeping enough and have a handle on your stress levels). Below is an example of how my training has evolved over the last 3 years based on work responsibilities, stress, progress in the gym, feedback and results in competitions.

I have all my training logs back to 2004. This has allowed me to monitor progress, evaluate results and make adjustments where necessary.

In 2006 I used straight sets with my normal workouts lasting 1 hour 3 to 4 times per week.

Here was a typical workout:

Shoulders & Arms

Db Press 3 x 6-10
Db shrugs 3 x 6-10
Db side row 3x 6-10
Db side raise 3 x 10-15                       Total sets: 27
Db bent raise 3x 10-15
Db Curls 3 x 6-10
Dips 3 x 6-10
Hammer curls 3 x 6-10
Pushdowns 3 x 6-10

In 2007 I began to incorporate DC training/ ROB training (rest pause training) as my progress had stagnated and I wanted to increase intensity and reduce training time. I also added x-rep training (especially DXO- 1 and a ½ reps). Workouts were down to 40-45 minutes.

Shoulders & Arms

Db press DXO 3 sets: goal rep range 11-15(total reps for 3 sets).
Cable 1 arm side row: 3 sets
Reverse bent rows: 3 sets
Shrugs 3 sets
Dips 3 sets
Overhead Tri Ext DXO 3 sets                             Total sets: 24
DB incline curl 3 sets
Db concentration curl DXO 3 sets

I noticed I began to recover better and feel fully fit for each session. However after several months and as the weights I used began to climb, my body began to exhibit the signs of over training. I decided to cut back on volume further. I also felt my front deltoids were overpowering so I decided to omit shoulder pressing and focus on side and rear deltoids. I still used DC training, DXO and also started incorporating (P.O.F*) while adding x-reps* on the last set of selected exercises. Training time was around 30 minutes.

2008

Shoulders & Arms

DB side row 3 sets
Leaning Db raise 3 sets
Db bent row 3 sets
Reverse curl 3 sets                                   Total sets: 21
Concentration curl 3 sets
Dips 3 sets
DB tri ext 3 sets

This served me well for most of 2008. I was extremely busy at work so it was good for me to hit my muscles hard without taxing my nervous system too much. I also wanted to hit my deltoids from more angles to activate as many muscle fibres as possible (you can never be wide enough!) while still having enough in the tank to recover properly. I also wanted my arms to look thicker.

This year I am still focusing on width. I also wanted to see if training within a shorter time frame would be even easier on my nervous system. Again it has been great to trust my own instincts as I have never slept better, weights feel lighter and every workout is full of intensity. I have also added static holds to the mix.

2009

Shoulders & Arms

Db omni side row (mid range) 2 sets
Leaning Db raise (contracted) 2 sets with x-reps
Db bent row (mid range) 2 sets                                    Total sets: 16 sets
Db incline raise (stretch) 2 sets with x-reps
Dip (superset 1) 2 sets with static hold* (contracted)
Leaning alt DB curl (superset 1) 2 sets with XTD* set & x-reps
Db tri ext (superset 2) 2 sets
Concentration curl (superset 2) 2 sets with XTD set

*XTD= when curling I use a supinated grip, when I can no longer perform any more reps I rotate internally to a semi-supinated grip to further extend the set.

STATIC HOLD= after completing a normal set I hold weight in a static hold either in the contracted, mid range or stretch position (this depends on exercise).

I am currently alternating 2 shoulder & arm workouts so that I fully develop both my deltoids and arms. The workout takes about 20-22 minutes to complete. The great thing is my entire training for the week is now around 1 hour and 15 minutes!! I am also leaner at a heavier weight than last year as the way I train means I do not rest between sets. NO CARDIO which is awesome. I know I’ll never be the biggest bodybuilder but it is great to see progress!!

My exercise selection is based on *Positions of Flexion for each body part while also choosing exercises that I feel in the muscle bellies, not my joints.

So to sum up- there is a lot of good information out there- you just have to experiment, listen to your body and keep records so that you have something to base your training adjustments on. I realise the way I train would not suit everyone but it works for me as a natural athlete and that’s what counts.