It is so frustrating that the dates of journal entries and comments are not preserved on the page any more. Anyway...
This is a workout journal. The entire thing is going to be about the progress I've made in the gym in the last 2 1/2 months, with maybe a couple workout tips tossed in there for good measure. If that's not something you're interested in reading, then you won't be missing anything by skipping this one. If you keep reading, I'm going to assume that you're interested, and will write accordingly. #fit4rtx I suppose.
Yesterday was leg day. Because it was a Monday. I usually do a bunch of leg press on leg day, but I decided this time to focus on the smaller muscles, namely the hip abductors and hip adductors (the ones that rotate the leg out and in, respectively). It's remarkable how many people are weak in these muscles who are otherwise strong, just because they never think to train them.
When I got back into the gym in April I figured out a form problem I'd been having with my abductors exercise, which is allowing me to actually push as much weight as my muscles are able to. Previously I'd been stalled at 90lbs because the muscles were giving me "You'd better stop this" pain, but I made a foot position adjustment and now it's fine. The little things matter so much when it comes to fitness.
So what's my actual progress since getting back in the gym? My adductors, or inner thighs, are up to being able to do a set of 10 at 80lbs. This has them very nearly back to where they were before my injury, and 20lbs stronger than April. My abductors were able to do a full set of 12 at 100lbs, and a set of 5 at 120lbs. I'm not sure why they're so strong, but I'm not going to complain. I did heavy leg press two weeks ago, and I was able to get off 3 at 350lbs, and the week before that I did 7 at 330lbs. I am very satisfied with my leg progress, and I've started moving to freeweight movements.
My chest and back progress has been difficult to measure, because I've been doing different exercises in different orders each week. This makes gathering comparison data difficult. However, doing it this way ensures that I'm actually training each week, rather than just testing every week. This sounds like an obvious distinction, and yet it is the most common mistake that people make in the gym: they try to get a bigger lift every week, rather than doing volume at a slightly lower weight to stimulate growth.
What data I do have for my chest and back are kind of random. I've been primarily focusing on my upper chest and the abdominal head of the pec (yes it's a thing, it's what chest dips are for), and those parts of my chest have grown visibly larger and more defined. In fact, my upper chest is now actually getting in the way of one of the exercises I do for my serratus. I can only really judge my back by how it feels, because my back exercises have been very schizophrenic (on purpose), and it does actually feel larger as well. I'll grab some numbers on my chest and back before the end of the month, but I'm pretty comfortable saying they're coming along nicely.
I haven't really been working my shoulders that much, because they've outgrown my arms and I need my arms to catch up in order to maintain proportionality. My shoulders have been maintaining their strength though, so...yay? I'm going to work them hard again soon. As for my arms, they've gained an inch in the last 2 months. They were at 12", and I measured them today at 13". Measurable progress is good.
My core is kind of a different beast. The thing to remember about your core muscles is that they're meant mostly for stability. The only bones you have between your sternum and your hips are your spine, and on its own your spine doesn't do that great a job of holding you upright. As such, you have several layers of muscle around that region to do the job for you. What that means is that it's reasonable to primarily train your core for stability, rather than strength.
That sometimes makes it difficult to measure progress. Especially when you're working your core hard every day, as I do - it's not uncommon to do the same exercise two days in a row, and do worse the second day because the muscles are fatigued. With this in mind I've been trying to focus on my obliques and serratus on gym days, and my abs on other days, with Sunday being an Ab Wheel day.
I have definitely been seeing measurable progress on my obliques. There's an exercise called a Wood Cutter, where you grab a cable with both hands to one side, and then rotate your trunk to pull the cable away. I have doubled the amount of weight I can pull on that. I've also reached the point on another oblique exercise for stability where it's my arms holding me back, rather than my obliques. So that's very good.
My abs are harder to measure, because I don't do any weighted exercises for them. My ab wheel progress is fairly steady though, and I can now go to full extension on almost two complete sets, whereas I was having to cut it short very early into my second set before. I'm also more consistently getting to 20 seconds on every set of hollow body holds. This means I'm confident that my entire core is getting stronger, and I'm going to start working more varied exercises into my routine in the coming weeks.
What all of this adds up to is that my time in the gym is being well used. I am growing stronger across the board, and I've only gained about one and a half pounds of weight, up from 166.5 or so to 168 or so. That is really good progress. I'm 6'3", and I feel like my ultimate endpoint is going to be about 175-180lbs lean. I have no desire to get bigger than that, as size is not my goal - health and fitness are. Once I get to that point, it will all be about maintenance and cardio.
However, just because I'm not out to get huge, that doesn't mean that I'm unwilling to learn from those who have gotten huge. The latest channel I've followed on YouTube belongs to Ben Pakulski, a former champion bodybuilder with a very reasonable approach to working out. I've only been watching him for a week or so, and I've already learned a whole bunch of stuff from him that seems totally obvious in hindsight. If you want to see how someone who does it for a living approaches bodybuilding, you can follow him here.
So that's my progress. How's yours?