7 Days Out From Bodybuilding Competition #2: Back Day
Saturday, October 22nd, 2005. Empire Fitness Club. Hoboken, NJ. One week from today is the next competition: The NPC New Jersey Gold’s Classic. Today’s training and dieting is business as usual – back, traps, calves and cardio today – but tomorrow starts the “final week” ritual once again…
Back & Traps
- A1 Reverse grip (supinated/curl grip) lat pulldown
- 2 light warm up sets
- Set 1: 170 lbs X 13 reps X 3321 tempo (3 second stretch every rep)
- Set 2: 180 lbs X 12 reps X 3321 tempo (3 second stretch every rep)
- Set 3: 190 lbs X 10 reps X 3321 tempo (3 second stretch every Rep)
- A2 Dumbbell Pullover
- 3 sets X 65 lbs X 15 reps
- no rest between supersetted exercises A1 & A2, 60 seconds rest between supersets
- B1 Seated Low Cable row (3-part rows)
- Set 1: 170 lbs X 11 reps
- Set 2: 160 lbs X 10 reps
- Set 3: 150 lbs X 9 reps
- B2 Straight Arm Rope Pulldowns
- 3 sets X 130 lbs X 12, 10, 9 reps X 3321 tempo (3 seconds stretch every rep)
- no rest between supersetted exercises B1 & B2, 60 seconds rest between supersets
- C1 Behind back smith machine shrugs
- 3 sets X 265 lbs X 15, 13, 12 reps
- C2 prone 45 degree incline dumbbell shrugs with roll
- 3 sets X 60 lbs X 10, 9, 8 reps
- no rest between supersetted exercises C1 & C2, 60 seconds rest between supersets
- A1 Seated Calf Machine
- 3 sets X 90 lbs (2 plates) X 35, 31, 30 reps
- A2 Squatting calf raises
- 3 sets X bodyweight X 15, 13, 12 reps
- B1 calf press on the cybex supine leg press machine
- 3 sets X #19 (380 lbs), #20 (400 lbs), #21 (420 lbs) X 15, 12, 10 reps
For the last 5 days I stayed on low carbs, but it was more carbs than I have been eating on low carbs days in the past few weeks: I did about 200 grams each day. Today is my high carb day at 400 grams, then we’re back into the final week preparation again. Tomorrow (Sunday the 23rd) I start my depletion phase again with 3 days at 150 grams. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I don’t do a severe depletion anymore. It’s not necessary and in my opinion wont create any additional super-compensation during the 3 day carb up period that follows.
At the end of the day today, after consuming 400 grams of carbs, I filled out quite a bit and vascularity was much more visible, especially when I had a pump. I’m already leaner than last week. I can see veins that were not there a week ago and the skin on my lower abs and lower back is getting even tighter. I’d have to say I’m 99.5% of what I want to be: What I want is perfect conditioning.
You might think that striving for “perfection” is a bad goal, because none of us will ever be perfect, and God forbid the day we stop striving to improve. There really is no such thing as a perfect physique. But that’s not what I’m talking about. While there may never be such a thing as a perfect body (because we all have flaws and we should always strive to improve and become more symmetrical, more muscular, etc.), there IS such a thing as perfect conditioning and I’m going to keep pushing to reach that goal. The most important thing however, is that I am improving, and I can definitely say I am leaner and tighter than I was a week ago.
My workout today was back and calves. I had an outstanding session. I felt better than I did two or three weeks ago. More energy, better concentration. I was really dragging earlier this month. The extra calories and carbs help with the energy, no doubt. It’s sometimes a necessary evil to cut the calories and carbs pretty low to get the fat off (I did a few cycles as low as 100 grams of carbs and only 2500 calories on low days), but if you stay that low too long, you’re asking for trouble. Your body goes into starvation mode and fat loss actually slows down even on less food. You may begin to lose muscle, and your energy goes down the tubes, not to mention you are essentially brain dead. I read one study that said you need 200 grams for optimal brain function. I do fine on anywhere from 150-200 grams and lose fat best with this type of moderately low carb regimen (cycled with higher carb reefed days), but any lower than that and I might as well be in a coma (my friends, business partners and co-workers will verify that for you, LOL!). So over the past week I actually increased my calories a little bit, although I am still in a calorie deficit on the 3 low days.
But I digress, back to back training. Including traps, this back workout was 6 exercises, but since I did them all in superset pairs, and rested only 60 seconds between supersets, it was a very brief workout.
I began with reverse grip lat pulldowns, but instead of regular reps, I did stretch-emphasis reps, which I believe help to “pull out” your lats as viewed from the front in a front lat spread and front double biceps pose. I pulled the weight down in two seconds, held it at my chest for one second, let the weight back slowly to a count of three and then held the weight fully stretched overhead with my body and head leaning forward INTO the machine (for even more stretch). Then I began each rep from a total dead stop without any body English. Even a week out from a show, I could easily pull 210-230 lbs for reps and in the off season I can do the 250 lb stack easily for reps, but with the kind of reps and form I used today, even 180 lbs felt heavy.
Taking only enough time to move from the lat pulldown machine to the flat bench, I supersetted directly into cross bench dumbbell pullovers. Again I used less weight than usual (only 65 lbs) but went higher reps (15) and emphasized an extreme stretch, dropping my hips down as I went into the stretch position.
Second superset: Seated cable rows (3 part rows) combined with straight arm rope pulldowns. The 3 part seated cable rows are done in a “mechanical” fashion with three distinct phases rather than one fluid motion: 1) Pull from full stretch/trunk flexed forward position to stomach, trunk perfectly vertical/extended position – then hold momentarily in contacted position, chest high, back arched, squeezing the shoulder blades together, (2), extend the arms with absolutely NO trunk flexion (forward lean) whatsoever – hold trunk perfectly vertical so just arms move in this phase, (3) after arms are completely extended, THEN lean trunk forward and stretch the lats, hold momentarily in stretched position without releasing the tension on the lats. WOW. You’ll have to come train with me or richie (or wait til our videos come out) to really appreciate the form on this and the effect on your back. I had to use a reverse half pyramid weight scheme (drop weights on each set) to keep my reps up and even then I didn’t hit the 12 I was initially aiming for. It’s amazing how much of a profound effect on your muscles that changing your form can have.
After the seated cable rows I supersetted into straight arm rope pulldowns with virtually no rest between the exercises. Once again, I focused on the stretch position at the top of the movement. This is like the straight arm pulldown with the lat bar by the way, only I used the rope instead. As you move into the stretch position, you arch your back, stick your butt out, and stretch the upper lats like crazy.
That was it for lats. Then I moved on to traps. Here is an AWESOME superset for the middle and lower trapezius! Superset between behind the back shrugs and dumbbell shrugs lying face down on a 45 degree incline bench and do the dumbbell shrugs with a roll: Shrug up, hold at the top, roll down, then lower the weight back down. Holy Yates, batman! This hits a part of your upper back you very rarely feel with any other exercise… except maybe the day after heavy deadlifts.
Last but not least were calves; high reps/light weight seated calf raises supersetted into squatting calf raises (The squatting calf raise is exactly like it sounds. Squat down on the balls of your feel and rise up to your tippy toes. Since youre already on the balls of your feet with your heels up on this exercise, this is a very short range of motion, but it hits the soleus hard, especially in combination with the seated calf raise machine). After that I finished with the heavy calf press on the Cybex supine leg press machine.
My cardio has been steady at one session per day for 40-45 minutes. I haven’t done double sessions in a couple weeks. Since I’m already so lean, it’s a matter of fine tuning now, not marathon sessions, in order to get that last fraction of a percent in conditioning. I’ll continue my cardio for three more days until Tuesday before the show (no cardio wed, thur, fri before the Saturday competition). After this show, after four months of daily cardio and many double daily cardio sessions, believe me, I will be a happy camper when I can cut my cardio back to only a few short workouts a week!