A few days ago, I had my second workout in what amounts to almost a year off due to my back pain. I recorded a short video after the workout, which you can see below. It feels great to be back in the gym, and even though I still have some recurring and minor back pain, I’m undergoing therapy to address it and cannot hold off on going to the gym any longer. Exercise is vital for me.
I get asked quite often how I get my protein as a vegan (raw vegan). First of all, if your diet is diversified enough, you’ll get plenty of protein from the foods that you eat, but if you also work out and you want to add extra protein, here are the sources that I’ve tried.
In the order they appear in the video, these sources of vegan and raw vegan protein are:
In response to multiple requests about my progress with my workouts, I recorded a new video a week and a half ago, where I talked about one of my back workouts.
I’ve been using different techniques for the weighted pullups and chinups and I wanted to share them with you, because they have to do with lower back safety. First, I talked about where it’s good and where it’s not good to attach weights when you do the pullups and also why a popular spotting method for this exercise isn’t such a good idea for the lower back.
Finally, I demonstrated a new lat exercise which I feel works the lat all the way down to its insertion point, developing more of a V-taper. There’s a good chance this exercise isn’t new, but since I figured it out for myself, I’m calling it new — it’s new for me, at any rate.
There’s a second video I made about this exercise, where I show the proper angle of movement. Make sure to watch this one as well:
I hope my advice is helpful to you. Till next time!
Today was Leg Day and the last workout in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Blueprint, an 8-week workout program that he launched a few months ago. I had a great time doing it, although it took me more than 8 weeks to complete it, due to the various projects we’re working on and the fact that we now have a little girl. I couldn’t go to the gym six times a week on a regular basis and made it there 3-4 times a week instead. There were a few times when I was able to go 5-6 times and it felt great.
I made a lot of gains in strength on most exercises. For example, my bench press went up to a 2-rep max of 225 lbs., which is something I haven’t been able to do since college, and even then only a few times. Back then I hovered around the 185-205 lbs. range. I can now deadlift 5 x 315 lbs. I can also squat 2 x 225 lbs. and this was another problematic exercise for me. I can’t remember how much I was able to do in college, but I think this is right up there with my previous max.
I finished the program with a bang, too. I was supposed to try for a 1-rep max on the front squat and I managed 195 lbs, which is more than I’ve ever done. And right after that, I maxed out on the deadlifts as already mentioned above.
I remember how much this program kicked my butt when I started it. I simply hadn’t been doing sets of 30 reps at any weight, and that’s what it started with on the first day and kept on like it for the first three weeks. I was so sore the first few days. I found it extremely difficult, both in terms of pain and stamina, to push through that many reps, but I stuck with it, did every workout and now I’m done.
I didn’t measure my body when I started. I really should have. It would have been great to see my progress that way. All I can tell you is that my weight is up a bit since the last time; it’s now at 187 lbs. Not a big increase but then only I know how busy I’ve been and how little I’ve eaten. Most days I got 2-3 proper meals when I should have eaten five. Such is life when you take on too much. I’ll tell you one thing though: doing renovations on your house as you live in it and also having to act as the general contractor for said renovations is a pretty surefire way to go cuckoo, especially when you need quiet time to work on your business and your other projects.
Here’s the bright side though: I didn’t go cuckoo, gained muscle mass and strength and finished the program! Yes!
Last but not least: thank you Arnold for a wonderful program!
I got a really good question about my Wonder Smoothie recipe this morning, one that made me wish I would have included the info right in the original post. The question was:
“I was wondering if you would do a breakdown of your post-workout shake (reason for specific ingredients, e.g. baobab, alkaline water, methylsulfonylmethane, suma root etc.)”
To that effect, here are the main reasons I put each of those ingredients into the mix:
- Chlorella/Spirulina: detox and protein
- Mesquite: vitamins, minerals and lysine
- Gynostemma: strength, endurance, digestion
- Baobab: antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Suma Root: muscle building, endurance and healing
- Triphala: digestion and cardiovascular functioning
- Rose Hip: antioxidant
- MSM: joint health
- Coconut Butter: healthy fats, metabolism booster
- Hemp Seeds: healthy fats, bioavailable protein
- Sesame Seeds: minerals
- Alkaline Water: detox and recovery
- Raw Honey: immunity, healthy sweetener
- Raw Protein: high quality bioavailable protein from plant sources such as brown rice, pea, hemp, amaranth, quinoa and more
As you can see, my Wonder Smoothie is packed full of goodness to nourish the body, help it heal after workouts and support its growth.
I have to tell though, if you don’t get the recipe right, it’s going to taste awful. So play with the recipe until you get it to the point where you can drink this and then always make it the same way.
Drink the smoothie right away after making it — this isn’t one of those drinks that keeps for hours. It spoils after a half hour. And don’t drink it too often, otherwise you’ll tire of its taste and won’t want it anymore. Once or twice a week is enough.
Here’s to your health and continued growth!
I wanted to share a video from a recent back workout with you (it’s from this past Saturday). I know I haven’t posted workout videos in a few months, so that was one of the reasons I made this video. Another was to show you what a high-rep workout looks like. The popular opinion is that you need to lift heavy with fewer reps in order to work the muscle and put on mass, but that’s not true. You can also go for higher reps at 50-60% of your max, focus on form, proper contraction and extension, go for the pump and you’ll still work the muscle beautifully (two days later I’m still sore) and still put on mass.
What happens when you focus on heavy workouts is two things: you run the risk of injuries constantly because when you’re constantly at the limit, you don’t know what’s going to give (a joint, a muscle, a bone) and second, you will over-exert yourself and over-train. Some people say there’s no such thing as over-training. There is. You can recognize the symptoms easily: lack of power, lack of energy, hitting plateaus frequently, extreme fatigue and soreness after workouts, desire to sleep constantly, injuries (small or serious ones) and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never do heavy workouts. But it pays to alternate, to do a few heavy workouts until you feel you’re reaching your training limits, then step back and focus on lighter workouts at anywhere from 40% to 80% of your 1-2 rep max on each exercise. How do you know when to step back? You need to listen to your body. As long as you’re feeding it and resting it properly, it’ll give you the proper feedback and results.
A third reason I wanted to make this video was to show my progress. I posted this photo a couple of weeks ago but a video shows how far I’ve come much better. If you still can’t see it, you need to look at one of my early workout videos, like this one for example.
Alright, here’s the video and the workout routine is below:
- 5 sets of pull-ups: as many as you can on each set, start with palms forward, wide-grip, do as many as you can then switch grip to palms toward you, shoulder-width or so and again do as many as you can to finish the set.
- 4 sets of T-bar rows: 50-60% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.
- 4 sets of close-grip pull-ups: use a parallel grip and pull some extra weight for some of the sets, do as many reps as you can on each set.
- 4 sets of deadlifts: 40-50% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.
- 5 sets of standing high cable rows: this is an exercise I’ve adapted from Athlean-x, who does it with dumbbells attached with rubber bands to a power rack. I did it with handles and a chain attached to a cable and pulleys, works just as well.
- 4 sets of seated wide-grip pull-downs: 40-50% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.
Hope this helps you!
I thought it’d be worthwhile to take a photo from December 2012 and put it side-by-side with a photo taken this month (December 2013).
If you’ll remember from a previous post, I am a raw foodist. I was also slowed down for a couple of months by an ankle fracture which required two surgical interventions. And yet, this was my progress. I’m satisfied with it.
I plan to grow even more. There are certain measurements I want to reach. I am so glad I started bodybuilding again.
Here’s a triptych where I included a shot taken in March of this year.
Happy New Year!