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.
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!
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’d like to show you a marathon 8-hour arm workout that is not for the weak of heart (or body). This is for the dedicated few that really want to go the extra mile in order to grow. If you think that this is too grueling, too taxing, or that it can’t be done without steroids, then do not do it. For those of you that do end up doing it, be prepared to stop when your body tells you it can’t go on. Listen to your body! It’s one thing to push through a plateau or to go on when you’re tired, and it’s quite another to tear a muscle or a ligament in a misguided search for vain glory at the gym.
We all reach certain stages in our workout routines when we need to shock the body and this workout will definitely do the trick — if you can get through it, and most people can’t. I couldn’t. I tried it and got through five hours of it before I had to call it quits.
You’ll understand it best once it’s explained to you in this video featuring Rich Piana. Don’t be fooled by his tattoos and intimidating demeanor, he’s a nice guy who’s been publishing all sorts of informative bodybuilding videos. Sadly, he’s also passed away recently, possibly due to his overuse of steroids. At least he was open about his usage, unlike most other pro bodybuilders.
Following the instructions in the video, I made an infographic, a guide to help you out. Just print it and you’ll be set.
This past weekend, I recorded portions of a chest and back workout I did. It marked an important point in my plan to add muscle mass. During the past month, I’ve started to feel the pump during my workouts. A pump, for those who are uninitiated, is a feeling of well-being, of swollen muscles that occurs during your workout. It’s a great motivator and it helps with the pain one normally feels during the sets. You don’t get a pump unless theres a certain amount of muscle mass on your body. In other words, you could be working out for years and still not get a pump unless your muscle mass grows to a certain point where every time you work out, you start to feel your muscles grip your bones like armor plating. It’s pretty nice. Getting the pump is a mile marker, it means you’re well on your way. So it’s good.
Enjoy the video!
This is a second whole body workout I wanted to share with you (here’s my first one). I reached new maxes in this workout on the clean and press, deadlift and t-bar rows. I did the following exercises:
- Good Mornings
- Clean and Press
- T-Bar Rows
- New max on the clean and press: 60 kg or 135 lbs
- New max on the deadlift: 130 kg or 290 lbs
- New max on the t-bar rows: 60 kg or 135 lbs plus barbell
I need to mention that I used unorthodox form on the t-bar rows, which can lead to injuries if you’re not experienced. So don’t do it like I did it unless you know why I did it that way (hint: it has to do with the way the old school bodybuilders did it).
Enjoy the video and I hope it motivates you to push further in your exercises!
During this workout, I trained my legs with the following exercises:
- Front Squats (5-6 sets)
- Regular Squats (1-2 sets)
- Leg Extensions (5-6 sets)
- Hamstring Curls on the exercise ball (both legs and one leg at a time)
- Leg Presses (4 sets)
- Donkey Calf Raises (3 sets)
- Sitting Calf Raises (2 sets)
I also (unexpectedly) reached new maxes on the front squat, the leg extensions, the leg presses and the donkey calf raises and in the video, I talked about how gains come when you don’t expect them to (as long as you put in the work to get your body ready for them). I also talked about how we perceive weight and how we tend to let pre-conceived notions dictate to us how much weight we can or cannot lift. It’s important to approach each set with only the expectation of getting the most benefit out of it. Don’t pre-program yourself for any specific weight, because who knows how much you can truly lift? Why limit yourself?
Hope you enjoyed the video!
Here’s a recent arms workout I did, filmed by Ligia:
I performed the following exercises:
- Warmed up with standing dumbbell curls, followed by regular sets of the same,
- Triceps rope extensions,
- Standing curls with preacher bar,
- Concentration curls,
- Alternate sets of prone and supine triceps pulldowns and
- My original variation on one-arm preacher curls: the one-arm cable biceps curls.
It was fun! And afterwards I naturally drank one of my Wonder Smoothies.
Here’s one of my chest workouts, captured on video by Ligia recently. I warmed up with standing cable flyes, followed by the workout, which consisted of incline dumbbell presses, dips, machine chest presses, lying cable flies and incline dumbbell flyes.
I talked about each exercise in various detail, giving advice gleaned from my experience. At the end of the video, I extended an invitation for bodybuilding-related questions. I’ve got about nine years of intensive experience in the gym, on both animal and vegan diets, and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t along the way. If you’ve got some questions, I may have the answers.
Till next time!
Want to see me work out at the gym? Ligia filmed me during a recent workout, the first after taking a 1-month break due to travel and business. It was a whole body workout where I warmed up on the roman chair, then did the clean & press, pull-ups and stiff-legged deadlifts.
In-between the sets, I also talked about form and gym etiquette.
I’ve mentioned this before, but for the benefit of those just tuning into my website, I am a raw foodist, which means I eat mostly uncooked vegan foods, and that’s also how I obtain the protein for building muscle.
I began working out regularly again last fall, in the month of September. I was sidelined for a couple of months due to an ankle injury and my current goals are to: (1) add significant muscle mass and (2) prove that I can do it on raw food, without animal protein.