Monday, February 28, 2005

Smack That Azzzzzzzzz!!!

Ok, it's really Week 4 of the Prilepin Program for Midback (Heavy), done at lunchtime. And might I say, it's good to be a little piggy on the weekends sometimes!

I gather that the 3rd week (85% 1RM for 5 sets of 3) is designed to reduce you to putty and set up week 4 because once again, as in the front squats, the 3 sets of 2 at 90% 1RM was cake. Hell, I didn't just pull it up . . . I YANKED it up. And I had a feeling I would because the other sets were almost too easy.

T-Bar Rows (150): 35x6, 45x4, 60x3, 75x3, 85x3, 95x3, 105x3, 115x3, 135x2x3.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

W4k 4: Prilepin Squat/DL - Light

Did my workout yesterday despite not feeling 100% in spots. I felt good enough for everything really but to do GM for the scheduled 5 sets of 3 at 210 gave me pause. I thought top myself that the 245x4 test, despite the lower volume caused by it being just a test, had sent my body the message: the strain, and calling up my muscles to push its limit. So I decided to skip this movement and do back extensions, just to get some blood in there, just because my back had an appointment with a movement. Afterwards, my back was major pumped but once I left the gym, my back felt great. Just what I needed. Heck, it feels really good right now.

Back extensions: 1kg x 16, 2kg x 14, 3kg x 10, 4kg x 8, 5 kg x 7.

Hoist Calf Presses (110): 55x10, 75x10, 80x6x2. Since I didn,t want my lower back loaded, I did this movement instead of the standing ones.

Seated Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 75x8, 80x6

Assisted GHR (90 lbs assist): 4 sets of 9. These were tough, just because of the tired lower back and sore abs.

Step Ups: This time, I did them correctly: each leg done as the lead leg for a set. 4 sets of 12. Felt slightly aerobic.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Yesterday, I felt wiped out, and today was just slightly better. I got home and took an hour nap, then went to my son's b-ball game. I'll do my good morning workout tomorrow. Just a slight case of overtraining.

Pain? Only in my abs. Ball crunches with a weight are highly effective but since I haven't done them in a long time, it hurts deep. It feels like someone hit my abs with a paddle.

I think the thing that pushed me over that precipice was the GM test (I had done front squats with 90% 1RM that same week, then this 245 x 4 which was above 90% 1RM), the test on trap bar shrugs (aside from the 214 max, I forgot to list the 144 lbs x 10m rep warmup. This is why I only take tests on the first week of this kind of cycle, because at 89% 1RM for 6 total reps it can just as well be done up to a max for less reps.

I'll probably do everything else as is and as for GM, work up to 185 for a triple. Why do 210 for 3 sets of 5 when I did 245 for 4 reps just days before?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Wk 4: Prilepin Bench/Midback

18" Incline Pushups w/pushup bars: 6 sets of 3. All pushups done fast and full. Why 18 reps? At the 70-80% 1RM range, this is the optimal total for Prilepin's table. I also figured rather than court burnout, let me start easy. Besides, working volume (18 reps x 173.77 lbs=3127.86 lbs) is equal in volume to the working sets of my light bench program.

Seated Rows (160): 40x6, 50x4, 60x3, 75x3, 90x3, 100x3, 115x3, 130x3x5.

Seated Side Laterals (17): 8x10, 10x10, 12x8, 12x6

Barbell 21s: 40 lbs x 21

Ball Crunch (45): 20x10, 25x10, 30x8x2. I decided to start these again because incline situps just weren't doing anything for my abs . . . I felt them a lot more in my hip flexors. These burned like crazy!!! Hey, a powerlifter can want flat abs, can he? Heck, I might do these Prilepin style!!!

Lying Leg Thrusts: Failure at 7, 6, 5, 5. Preexhausted . . . see last exercise.

Trap Bar Shrug (Test): 214 x 1.

Wk 4: Prilepin Lats - Lunchtime Workout

This was the heaviest week for my lat work, 90% 1RM for 3 sets of 2 (notation is weight x reps x sets):

Hoist Assist Wide Pullups (122.5; weight on scale was 238.4): 78.4x8, 88.4x8. 98.4x6, (add 2.5 lbs plate in pocket) 110.9 x 2 x 3. Easier, but wide pullups are still one of the toughest things I do. Or, it was all the reps beforehand.

Arched Back Good Mornings (255): This was a test set only, no warmup. Probably should have for safety purposes (Nothing happened!), tightened my belt up a lot to be on the safe side and quadrupled 245 lbs. Which would put me close to a 280 max, a 25 lbs PR. Once again, I will not adjust my workout 1RM. So, Kris, if you're reading this, this program works great for things other than the bench press!!!

Friday, February 18, 2005


I finally measured that platform that I use for incline pushups and step ups yesterday, and it is actually 18 inches high. So until I correct the entries on this blog, now you know.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wk4: Prilepin Squat/DL Heavy

I was reminded today why I had ball-busting weeks like last week in the squat. Today was the heaviest week in the Prilepin Program: 90% 1RM for 3 sets of 2:

Front Squat (215): 50x6, 65x4, 85x3, 100x3, 115x3, 135x3, 150x3, 165x3, 195x2x3. Everything was easy. Even the max wasn't so bad, hard but smooth. And I had some left in the tank!

Assisted GHR (90 lbs assist): 4 sets of 9. The first two were easy, the last two I had to squeeze hard and work for.

Seated Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 72.5x10, 77.5x8x2

Hoist Calf Press (110): 55x10, 75x8, 80x6

Back Extensions w/2 kg ball: failure at 12, 10, 9, 8 reps. My endurance is starting to go up in that, which is great.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pushups to Benches

I'm considering using pushups in place of bench presses to build bench GPP and strength, starting from 9 sets of 3 and adding a set per week until I hit 20 sets of 3. As I could never find a definitive answer to percentage of bodyweight atually lifted, I went to the gym, weighed myself on an electronic scale with clothes on, then got into two pushup positions with my hands on the scale and had someone take a reading. Not easy: move or twitch too much and it won't take a reading. At a weight of 241.4 lbs, my pushup with feet on the floor was 166.4 lbs (68.9% of BW) and with my feet elevated 18 inches high, it was 176.8 lbs (73.2% BW). Of course, this will vary per person, depending on leg length (lever) and how their weight is distributed. So for the 2 cycles where I'm trying to build up strength and GPP, this works out great.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Wk3: Prilepin Bench/Midback-Light

Valentine's Day and , on top of that, my son's 11th birthday. So I had to split this workout even further . . . . I will finish abs tomorrow.

T-Bar Rows (150): 35x6, 45x4, 57.5x3, 70x3, 82.5x3, 95x3, 105x3, 130x3x5. Maybe I should have done T-Bars for lunch, because I had little pulling power left and the 130-pounders dragged. Had I done them for lunch, the chins would still have gone well.

Incline Pushups (18" elevation w/pushup bars): 9 sets of 3. I think I will start to do this routine instead of light benches, twice a week, and build up a set a week. This will cover pushups for my PRT, for GPP, for bench volume, and the velocity curve works better and more muscles are at work. If I could afford chains, it would be different . . . . maybe.

JM Press: worked up to 95 lbs x4. I think I'll do decline tricep extensions and one arm reverse pressdowns for triceps, a combo that has worked for me in the past.

Wk3: Prilepin Lats-Light

Lunchtime: Hoist Neutral Grip Chins (142.5 lbs; bodyweight today was 239.4). Tested with 100 lbs of assistance, or 139.4 pounds lifted. Did that for 4 reps, or a 152 lbs calculated 1RM. Almost a 10 lbs gain. I'm not going to alter my program yet, though; I've got patience. Then, I continued with my regular workout: 79.4x6, 89.4x6, 99.4x6, 109.4x3x6.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Periodization/Conversion Phases

Before I ever heard of Westside, I had bought a book from Applied Futuristics called Strength Training for Sports , written by Fred Koch. Though not perfect, it gave me plenty of good ideas for periodizing my training. It would also clear up many questions for me.

As a military person, endurance is something I always have to keep in mind. I'll give an example. My general quarters station position was as a stretcher bearer onboard USS PAUL F. FOSTER (a Spruance-class destroyer). We ran plenty of drills to keep us sharp and ready. My job was to help carry injured people to safety in an emergency or during wartime, sometimes from one end of the ship to the other, through hatches, up stairs/decks, while keeping the injured stable. Sometimes, with some kind of firefighting equipment on. In that situation, all the strength in the world doesn't matter if you're out of breath. But I found that if I didn't keep up my strength, the job became harder no matter how much endurance work I did. Paradox, huh?

I came out of a long layoff in January 2003 and decided to get back in shape. I followed a few months long program from Muscle and Fitness that would slowly get me back, but I kept this book in mind when beginning. Activation was my first cycle. Normally, it is 4 weeks long with 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps at 45-60% 1RM. This cycle gets your muscles and joints and everything else ready for the work ahead. I started, however, with one set of everything and gradually built up to 4 sets of a lot of exercises, and I ran this cycle two to three times and tested 1RM each time. I actually built some strength back on this cycle. It built up my work capacity, and with aerobics it helped get my endurance back a bit. I increased my range of motion, also.

In the book, they also had a Maximum Strength cycle. It explains that strength is the key to all other cycles, such as endurance, power, plyometrics, and even building muscle. Makes sense: if one gains weight, your reps in chinups would suffer unless you increased strength to compensate, and would increase if you went beyond that. In a lot of the cycles that do not involve heavy weights, you will still see 2-3 days of some kind of heavy lifting. In a book by Tudor Bompa, it explains that in lighter cycles, nerve/CNS based strength fades first: those 2-3 days of strength work was called Maintenance of Strength, and was designed to prevent that.

Maximum strength, a 6-7 week cycle with weights in the 70-90% 1RM range and 1-8 rep range, worked OK, but the idea of adding more sets (plus long rest periods) as I became more advanced didn't thrill me, especially because I'm not a high school or college athlete with nothing else to do. And I couldn't understand why I was hitting a wall where the gains were slowing down. While this book had a conversion cycle for power that addressed power (an 8 week cycle with weights in the 40-60% 1RM range but with high reps), it didn't explain it well enough and I needed it sooner in my weightlifting cycle than months down the line. Enter Westside, where it not only made it clearer but it put it all in one program. My strength gains from December of 2003 to the spring of 2004 were dramatic. It introduced me to conjugate method, to Prilepin's table, and the idea of accomplishing different objectives at the same time. No longer did I think that more squatting would fix my squats. Now, I thought more back work, more hamstring strength, much more speed, more GPP, more volume (In the old Maximum Strength routine, as you move up in strength the volume dropped and this was one of the problems I could never explain). This became my Maximum Strength cycle. Towards the end of 2004, I also experimented with speed pushups, speed pulls using Olympic-style lifts (this helped improve my deadlift fast: 275 to 365 in a month), front squats, push presses as an ME movement to build bench press.

Now, I've been building up to the next level. I still want a lot of strength. But I also want to last longer in a game of basketball with fresh lungs, jump higher, run longer, get lean. I want to be a more fit Sailor. And though powerlifting sounds like fun, it may never be the only thing I do. I now do a Prilepin cycle where I train conjugate but instead of speed, I train GPP and high repetition movements like situps, pushups, step ups, jump rope. I also run drills forward and backward, do lots of GHRs, shoot balls, jump, sprint. I'm also training to increase my run over 10 weeks so that I could run 20 straight minutes at 7 MPH. I notice that my endurance is climbing steadier than in the past and though you'll hear that endurance work kills strength gains, I'm also gaining strength because of the volume of heavy work I do. And once I'm done in the summer with this cycle, it's Activation time again to prepare for the next goals, or Transition time to do nothing but a few weeks break, lots of sports, no weightlifting, and small muscle work like rotators. Maybe, I'll buy a sled, too, and work that in. This is another evolution for me in training. It's still periodization, still Westside, still conjugate.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wk3: Prilepin Squat/DL Light

The day I was waiting for, the lightest week at 73% 1rm for the main movement. I really needed the break for GMs.

Arched Back Good Mornings (255): 55x6, 75x4, 105x3, 125x3, 145x3, 165x3, 185x3x6. Easy, easy, lemon peezy!!!

Assisted GHR (90 lbs assist): 4 sets of 8

Standing Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 72.5x8, 82.5x6, 72.5x10

Seated Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 72.5x8, 72.5x10

Step Ups on 18" platform : This will be my GPP movement for legs. I experimented today with one legged split squats but this movement was a lot better. I felt it everywhere, and it even felt like it would give me a boost from the bottom if used with dumbells. I did 4 sets to failure, just bodyweight, switching the lead leg each set. Tough, but that's why I felt I needed this movement.

WK3: Prilepin Bench/Back

I forgot my gym clothes yesterday, and gym staff told me after God knows how f'in long that I could not work out in regular clothes. So, this workout was what I got away with because it was bowling night last night:

Flat Bench Press (200): 45x10, 60x6, 75x5, 95x5, 110x5, 120x4x5. Reps were better because I had my lats tensed, and I had plenty of speed. But controlling the bar speed past the middle was tough; I guess this is one of the reasons why Westside advocates accomodating resistance when doing speed work. I'm almost thinking of using the Nautilus Nitro Bench Press for this day for just that reason. I could tell this is a lot of work, because I feel like a nap afterwards!!!

Seated Rows (160): 40x6, 50x4, 60x3, 75x3, 90x3, 100x3, 115x3x6.

Hoist Assisted Wide Pullup (122.5. Bodyweight today in troublesome street clothes: 242.7): 82.7x8, 92.7x8, (put 2.5 lbs weight in pocket for resistance) 105.2 x3x5. This is starting to get easier. Right now, my back's toast!!!

Wife is sick, and I'm starting to feel it, too. But legs are today, and the weekend is upon me. So the show will go on today. Am ditching front squat today as an assistance movement and replacing it with either leg presses or one legged squats of a bench. It was a drain to squat with so much volume one day and then for reps days later in the same movement.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Wk3: Prilepin Squat/DL-Heavy

Bodyweight today: 236.4. Weight is starting to drop. Woohoo!!!

Front Squats (215): 50x6, 65x4, 85x3, 100x3, 115x3, 135x3, 150x3, 165x3, 185x3x5. The 165 set was tough, so just imagine the last 5 sets of 185. The last 3 of those was nothing short of a grind. I think that when I tested for a max in December , it wasn't as deep as I squat now - - - almost ass to the grass. And that is something I haven't trained for; it takes more out of me. I think low front box squats are in my future.

Assisted GHR: (80 lbs assist- - - test): 5 reps, (90 lbs assist) 3 sets of 8. Almost feel like switching now: my hams were contracting hard with the 80 lbs assist. But I can wait til I get my 4 sets of 10.

Seated Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 72.5x8, 82.5x6, 72.5x10. That last set was hard (10 reps vice last week's 8), especially because that first set of GHRs gave my calves a slight pump.

Standing Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 72.5x8, 72.5x10

Back Extensions w/2 kg ball: failure at 10.5, 8, 8, 8 reps

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Navy Physical Readiness Test

This post is in response to Scott Bird's (from the blog Straight to the Bar) question about what my Navy PRT test is.

Twice a year, the Navy tests physical fitness of its members. Their exercises of choice are the push-up, situp, and 1.5 mile run/ swim (for those who hate to run). Since I'm not that fast a swimmer, the run is my poison. You also have to pass weight standards for your height or, if you can't make weight, bodyfat testing using the difference between your neck and waist circumference placed on a chart with measurements based on height (kind of like BMI). ANd you have to pass a sit-reach test. If you do not pass BF or weight, you fail regardless of how you do on everything else. There are also standards for the exercises based on age. Failure can affect your evaluations adversely over time, and in the past 3 failures would get you kicked out.

Physically, I could pass the exercises but not that great. And bodyfat has been my bane since 2000. When I got out of the regular Navy in January 1999, I got careless. So whereas I was 206 at 20%BF 1in 1999, I was 26% at 234 in April 2004 and since I'm trying to get back in the regular Navy, this was a big hurdle.

In endurance for the exercises, I was having a hard time because of my weight. Now, I knew I needed to build up strength: endurance work with more strength means a greater ability to handle my weight repeatedly. I have a conversion phase designed for that taken from a book called Strength Training for Sports that always worked. But their Maximum Strength phase never made me that much stronger, and my endurance would hit a wall because of it. Another thing I knew was that I could never make weight: I carried enough lean mass (based on caliper testing) that even at 10% BF I would be 206 lbs (192 is the weight for someone 5'10"). So that meant cardio plus weights, because in the formula, a bigger neck means lower BF (Subtract a big neck from waist measurement).

Westside was my solution; it allowed me to get stronger fast and identify weak points. One was my lats/upper back. At a bench press of 185 at the time, I could only row 92 lbs. So I worked back with a vengeance. Unlike Westside, I train my back equally hard at lunch with maxes or heavy triples. This made pushups easier to launch from the bottom. In six months, this nearly doubled my T-bar strength and increased my chinup/pullup strength by 50 lbs. I also used Prilepin's Program from's site but used it for everything: squats, RDL, bench, deadlift, and chinups/pullups using a Hoist assisted machine. All the triples and work volume brought my mass up which, combined with a system of circuits for running, dropped my run time by a minute to 13:00, increased my pushups and situps (my exercises for that were lying leg thrusts and ball crunches with weight plates.), and increased my neck one inch to 18" and dropped my waist size 2". When I was measured in September, my bodyfat had dropped to 20% without losing a pound or dieting hard. It was a great learning experience.

One last note: the muscle endurance cycle I went on was 12 weeks long. To avoid a strength drop, especially because CNS based strength fades first, I did a Westside workout two days of the week not being trained for endurance and worked up to a heavy single on ME days. I will cover conversion phases for strength in a future blog.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wk2: Prilepin Bench/Back

T-Bar Rows (150): 35x6, 45x4, 57.5x3, 70x3, 82.5x3, 95x3, 105x3, 120x3x5.

Hoist Neutral Grip Chins (142.5 lbs; bodyweight today was 238.4). I put a 1 lbs weight collar in my pocket to get closer to target weights: 79.4x6, 89.4x6, 99.4x6, 109.4x3, 120x3x4, 120x6 (Ok, I just felt like it).

Trap Bar Deadlift: I wanted to see if the GMs and GHRs were really working (Muscle wise , they are). So I tried 365 lbs first, since this was my last lift in late December (conventional), and was surprised when it was easy. So I attempted my first 400 in anything: 405. That was harder, but that, too, came up. Woohoo!!! My hamstrings didn't seem to work hard and my lower back was rock solid. A 40 lbs gain with no deadlifting!!!

Incline Pushups (feet 18" high with bars): 8 sets of 3

One Arm Reverse Pressdown (60): 30x10, 40x8, 45x6x2

Decline Tricep Extensions (80): 40x10, 50x8, 60x6

Incline situps: failure at 16, 11, 9, 6

Lying Leg Thrusts: failure at 6, 6, 5, 5

High Intensity Interval Training: 2 sets (30 sec sprint at 9.0 MPH, 30 sec jog at 6.0 MPH).

Bring on Week 3!!!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Wk 2: Prilepin Squat/DL - Light

Arched Back Good Mornings (255): 55x6, 75x4, 105x3, 125x3, 145x3, 165x3, 185x3, 205x3x5. It felt great. Maybe playing more basketball has made me limber because I was able to push my butt back farther and still get the required depth. My hams got worked really good.

Front Squats (215): 105x10, 145x8, 165x4, 165x3, 165x3. Maybe the arched back GMs worked TOO WELL. Or I didn't do the GMs or front squats for lunch like I usually do. I had to strain to get the second set, and the last two sets was such a struggle I had to split the sets. I had no launching power at the bottom, so it was partly the GMs fault.

Standing Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 75x8, 85x6x2
Seated Calf Raises (110): 55x10, 75x8, 80x6x2

Assisted GHR (90 lbs assist): 8 reps x 2, 7 reps, 6 reps. Kind of a test for me. The fact that I got it after all the other leg work is my go ahead to do 4 sets of 8 next week.

High Intensity Interval Training: 2 sets (30 sec sprint at 9.0 MPH, 30 sec jog at 6.0 MPH). This killed me! Am trying to get leaner so I thought I would start this 3 times a week.

This was yesterday's workout. Next week, I'll remember to do the squats for lunch!!!