The first half of the year was dedicated to training for a Tough Mudder. The training was different, fun and intense and I performed very well out there on the course since I had put myself through worse situations in the gym and on the hills. This second half of the year has been incorporating a traditional Westside Conjugate System in an attempt to reach the 1000lb club (squat + deadlift + bench), which has taught me alot about my body and mental strength.
Utilizing this type of program with some variation, I've now reached a point at which I am not progressing like I would like. Ravenous hunger, lack of proper equipment, lack of hypertrophy, and lack of conditioning have been just a few barriers that I have to now address in order to continue make progress towards my goals.
For those of you that have lifted heavy on a regular basis (in my case, to max twice a week) you may have experienced this as well. The first half of 2012 when I was training for the Tough Mudder, I could do all the cardio, high rep work and conditioning as I wanted and I didn't feel like I wanted to invade the local cattle farm.
A little bit of BBQ sauce and I could have done a number on this guy.
Now I understand nutritional balance and proper diet and 9/10 I'm on point. Consuming a greater caloric intake will help build muscle and size but the downfall for me was that I allowed myself to fall off once or twice or three times a week and eat everything in sight, knowing that my goal was less oriented towards my looks but rather my strength. I actually don't feel like this limited my progress at all (because I wasn't overly strong to begin with and any program/regular diet would provide me with increases, within moderation). The problem was, as many other trainers and clients can attest to is that constant progressive overload can result in decreased muscle tone even though you are putting on more muscle. You are constantly eating and growing that you end up adding some extra fat. For example, 10 weeks ago I weighed 183lbs and now I currently weight 196 or so. Now I'm not crying myself to sleep and taking a Sharpie to my love handles to sketch out how I should look but I need to do something about it. I'm not a competitive athlete and I'm not a bodybuilder, but I am a guy who likes to feel good in his clothes and feel comfortable in his body, and I can say that I am currently just hovering around that point. At least a little less than the first half of the year.
Rededicating myself with a proper nutritional goal can help manage the hunger that I have. This is a great time to use Christmas as a date to stay on a clean eating path until. Like I said, I generally eat quite clean but I find for myself and my clients, that even a 2 days a week of poor eating can reduce your potential to achieve your desired results. So back to being dedicated and accountable to myself. A change in program can greatly help to pull yourself back together and re-evaluate what you want out of your workouts.
While re-evaluating my goals, I came to the conclusion that I need to re-evaluate my program. I'm no program jumper but small tweaks will allow me to see the results I desire. When using such a popular and well established program like a Westside Conjuagte, I found that I wanted to stray as little from the program as possible in order to see all the same results that you hear about everyone else getting. This leads me to my next point:
Lack of Conditioning
Your traditional Westside Conjugate program contains no conditioning work. Why would it, you're whole goal is to get as strong as possible, not beat the guy next to you in a foot race. This second half of the year has lacked the necessary conditioning to burn the fat that I want and keep me in good "all-around shape". So what's my answer? The first half of the year I incorporated plenty of cardiovascular "workout finishers" at the end of my lifting sessions in order to keep my conditioning progressing and help me achieve new personal bests on runs and hills and so forth. So why not go back to those? It just so happens that one of my first personal training influences Jason Ferruggia has recently released his new e-book Renegade Cardio-52 Fast Fat-Blasting Finishers. So now, every workout (4x a week personally), without a huge time commitment I will utilize a different finisher. I'm incredibly excited to get back to this as it is long overdue and I love testing how mentally tough I am. For $10 Jason has given a ton of information and ideas here so I strongly suggest you check it out.
|Purchase e-book here: http://jasonferruggia.com/renegade-cardio/|
Lack of Hypertrophy and Lack of Proper Equipment
I group these two problems together because they both have the same solution. Currently my max squat=345lbs, deadlift=360lbs and bench= 215lbs Total= 920. My bench has always been bad due to some shoulder issues and never training it regularly but in the past two months, my squat and deadlift have made large strides. So although I'm no powerlifter, I still strive to get stronger with every workout.
Now as exciting and fun as the traditional Conjugate Program is, I've quickly learned that even with a few modifications, that it is too much for a person with my strength. In order to increase your lifting strength, you require hypertrophy in order to create more myofibrullar cross bridges to create a stronger contraction. With the maximal lifts I've been doing, I wasn't paying as much attention to this part of my programming as I should.
So what's my solution? I've made plenty of hypertrophy programs myself (lost alot during the Tough Mudder Training) that I have seen great results with but I find that I really enjoy the Westside format and do not struggle heading to the gym. So why not change the variables (rep and set schemes) as well as the workout density on my dynamic effort days (which I don't use chains or bands for anyways-hence the lack of equipment)? Thankfully, a program that I have used with clients and have suggested to friends was calling my name. Joe Defranco out of New Jersey has developed famous Westside Conjugate adaptation programs for "skinny bastards" which I can admit, I fall under. His third version of the series is called "Westside for Skinny Bastards 3". This address the two issues of mine that are the title of this section. This program doesn't use a ton of the traditional band and chain exercises that a regular Westside program might but rather utilizes some jump training and higher repetition work in order to induce explosive power and hypertrophy respectively. This provides me with some slight variation to what I already enjoy while keeping my regular workout schedule and I still get to get under a bar and push heavy twice a week. So why not try it for the next 3 months or so and then re-evaluate after that?
In summary, constant re-evaluation of your programs is essential to seeing continued results. Listen to yourself. I know the way I am and I know that if I went too long on the path that I was on, I would be completely worn out and discouraged, so why not change it up a bit in order to keep my interest and still work towards my goals. Utilize strong and challenging goals to get you where you want to go. Nothing comes easy but you will grow physically (in strength, endurance and size if desired) but more important you will grow mentally strong as you push past your limits every single workout. This article is not meant to come off in favour of being a program jumper (only utilizing a program for a period of time then changing it up because you got bored or saw something else) but rather an piece of advice on proper honest evaluations of what works for you and your clients. The same things don't work for everyone, you need to find what works optimally for you.
MHK(c), CSCS, CK