With my scale back week, I thought it was a good opportunity to invite a guest poster to share some time. This is part of my mix it up format. As Lisa commented on one of my posts, we running bloggers have a tendency to report a bunch of facts. With that said, I have invited Scott from Forging Ironman to do a little bit over here. Scott has an interesting background and truthfully I made the suggestion as to a weight lifting post. My thinking at the time being that this is pretty much a fitness blog. Scott is not a runner but I think you might like what he has to say. Thanks for stopping by Scott.
Hi. This is Scott from Forging Iron Man. Rob asked me to write a post on weight lifting for him since I was a bodybuilder before I got cancer. So think what I will do is describe what I did to build a lot of mass. And with the mass came strength. Now that I have been out of treatment for cancer for a year (getting fat), I think it is time for me to go back to the gym, and I will ease myself into this plan. If you are interested in building size and strength, try something like this plan, and let me know what you think of it after three months or so.
Experts recommend you change your plan every few months or so, because your body might get used to it and stop growing. However, after several years of lifting, I came up with this plan and did it with very little modification for eight months straight and I got in great shape. It didn't seem to be losing it's potency for me.
Day One: Chest
Day Two: Back and Shoulders
Day Three: Legs
Day Four: Arms
Day Five: REST
You want to be sure to ease into the plan, because if you haven't been lifting, you will be in lactic acid hell for a couple weeks if you try to just start this full blast. In fact, it might be a good idea to take a couple weeks and lift very light weight and low repetitions for your whole body to get used to work before you dive into the above plan.
My general rule was 4 sets of 10 reps for each lift. Sometimes I pyramided up and sometimes down with my weights. Sometimes I would want to go heavier than I could handle for 10 reps, so I'd end up with a set of only 4 or 6 reps. Conversely, sometimes I would lift lighter than my potential and I would make my last set hit 12, 15, or 20 reps—almost to failure. Between sets, a 1 to 2 minute break is best.
Now each day you should attack each muscle group from all of its ranges of motion and at many different angles. Chest day is a good example. You might think the chest has one exercise—the bench press. Well there are lots of ways to do this. Using a barbell you can bench incline, decline, or flat, and you can also do the same movements with dumbbells. Right there are six different exercises! Then you can get creative and throw in some cable benching. And you don't want to forget the other movement the chest makes, which is pulling your arms in. For this you can do the standard flyes with dumbbells, a pec deck machine, or you can use a cable machine to hit that movement at three different angles—up, horizontal, and down. There are a couple other ways you can nail the chest for mass, but they are hard to describe.
Using this plan, a typical chest day for me would use four of those exercises. I might start with 4x10 of flat barbell bench presses and then go to 4x10 of incline dumbbell presses. By now my chest would be feeling full and I would maybe do 4x10 of flat dumbbell presses, probably lighter weights now because your dumbbell work should always be lighter than your barbell work because dumbbells focus on symmetry and secondary stabilizing muscles like the triceps for bench pressing, and barbell work focuses on brute strength. By now I would feel a great pump in my chest and most likely would feel that I had done all the necessary pressing motions for the day. I would probably finish with a fly motion using a two sided cable machine and lifting my arms up and in to finish the pump. If you add it up, in this sample workout, you've just done 160 repetitions. If you collapse before you can finish that, you should probably focus on lifting lighter for the time being. If you do that and don't feel in the least bit fatigued, you are lifting way too light, and I suspect weight lifting isn't your gift—you should look into running marathons!
Also, I recommend after your workout, get on one of the cardio machines and do only 10 minutes of cardio. Then get home and eat a meal high in carbs and protein (a balanced meal or a protein shake with a fruit blended in) in the "golden hour," which is anytime in the hour after exercise when your muscles need replenishment the most.
I've focused on the chest, but with the other muscle groups, follow a similar plan. With back and shoulders, I focused on the shoulders because they have the most complex range of motion. But don't forget to do some exercises to hit the major muscles of the upper back, which are the trapezius and the latisimus dorsi.
Leg day should be the most grueling, as squats, leg presses, and weighted lunges are brutal, draining lifts. But don't forget to do plenty of quad extensions and ham curls. Then I always loved trying to get a bunch of sets on a calf machine before I puked. The calves are the only muscle group that I recommend breaking the 4 sets of 10 guideline. Those muscles—the gastrocnemius and soleus—need both heavy weights and high reps. I usually sat in a calf extension machine and did 20 reps with my feet straight, immediately went to 20 reps with my feet facing out, and then immediately 20 reps with them facing in. If you can do that, you will Charlie horse up. Once the pain goes away, smile . . . you're growing!
Arm day is always my favorite. Concentrate on doing four different exercises at 4x10 for your biceps, then four different exercises at 4x10 for your triceps. I know, that adds up to 320 repetitions on this day. It is hard but it should give you an insane pump. Try to put a coat on before you leave the gym. If you can't get it on, that means you had a good workout. The biceps exercises will hit the forearms, but if after all that, you want to attack your forearms, you can do a few forearm rolls or something. But don't overdo it!
Having the one day of rest is a minimum. If you are beat at anytime in this training split, don't feel bad to take an extra day off at any time! There is a lot more to bodybuilding, but this is just a basic plan that I found worked wonders for me. If you have any questions for me, go to Forging Iron Man and leave me a comment or email me. I will respond!