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Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 10

dumbbell rack

GVTs are a thing of the past. PPL is the new game in town! I’m also working to a fresh tempo of 4020. Just a second slower on the way down, but that could make all the difference.

Day 62 – Push

Trained with my friend Dom tonight, and we started off with a session on the rowing machine – which I haven’t done for a long time. Then we moved over to the main event – a series of push-based supersets.

Great to have a training partner, Ray. Not just to help you with spotting, but you’ll find a little healthy competition will mean that when it says 8-12 reps, you may stop at 10 when training on your own, he may too; but training together, if you go first, you’ll push to 12, just in case he (going second) makes 12. It really does help people work harder.

Dumbbell Bench Press (6-10 reps) into Dumbbell Flyes (8-12)

This went pretty well. I hit up a nice heavy weight for the bench presses and managed to squeeze out ten reps for the first two sets, then eight for the final set. Dom helped a touch on a few of the latter reps. The dumbbell flyes also went well. Obviously quite tough off the back of the bench presses, but I hit the rep range. The last set of flyes actually benefited from an extensive rest though, after I managed to drop a weight and smash my shaker. Water, water, everywhere… my bad!

Haha! Well worked though. As you’ve said, Dom helped a little. Great to have a training partner there to do that or you would’ve had to stop.

Tricep Dips (6-10) into Press-ups (8-12)

I surprised myself with the dips, managing at least six reps in each set (without assisted weight), and then managed to squeeze into the rep range for the press-ups on all but the last set. Couldn’t quite manage it. In hindsight, I should have rest-paused to get the final two reps in. Next time I definitely will.

Well done Ray. You see? Dips not that bad. Pre GVT, you thought they were the Devil’s work. The programme has worked in terms of strength and conditioning. Well done.

Standing Military Press (6-10) into Front Disc/Plate Raise (8-12)

Still wish the gym had some heavier barbells for this, but the slower tempo made for an okay set of military presses. The plate raising was definitely a challenge. The shoulders are the quickest muscle to feel the burn for me, so I had to fight the urge to swing and get myself into the rep range – which I just about did. A good superset, this.

All about shoulders, so glad you feel it there. Maybe try with dumbbells but be strict with form if no barbells to suit. Ideally Olympic bar if you can get it.

Incline Dumbbell Press (6-10) into Isometric Wipers (8-12)

Felt pretty sore by this point, but tried for a nice heavy weight for the presses – and hit the top end of the range for the first two sets, dropping just short in the third. The wipers didn’t go down too well, though! Quite a difficult movement, and I only really managed a small handful each time. I look forward to getting better at them. Assuming I do…

Wipers is a tough, tough movement and meant to completely fatigue you here. Which by the sounds of it, it did. You will get better. Well done on weight selection for the press and on getting the reps. Top session overall, Ray.

Day 63 – Legs

A morning leg session right after an evening push session? Mercy.

Barbell Squats (6-10) into Front Squats (8-12)

This was a tough one. With fewer sets and reps than I’ve been doing with GVTs, I was able to load some extra weight onto the barbell, dropping approx 20-30% before each front squat set. I tried to keep the tempo as consistent as possible, but struggled with it on the front squats – which I haven’t done for ages. I managed the low end of the rep range here, and want to do better next time. There’s no way to get around the mini-rest in between sets when I need to adjust the plates to suit.

You have to rest as you change the weights, that’s expected. If the tempo is too much for both exercises, use a 2020 for the fronts for now. Keep at this, it’s not easy but is a great superset to master, fitness, strength and hypertrophy wise.

Deadlifts (6-8) have never been my strongest exercise, and truth be told I’ve never really made a great effort to make them a staple of my workouts. I do want to get them down though, so it’s good that they’ve made a comeback. I chose a decent weight – probably lighter than I could do, though – aiming to nail the form. I hit the low end of the rep range across four sweaty sets. I’m still not convinced I’ve really got the form right, though…

The reason these aren’t supersetted is so you can work at the form and get it right. No point doing this exercise wrong as that leads to injury. Its one of the best exercises done right, but worst done wrong. Keep at it. Maybe get Dom to video and send to me so I can give pointers.

Glute Bridges(8-12)  into Goblet Squats (8-12)

… because my back always feels it straight away. Like here. Same (light) weight as last time for the glute bridges, concentrating on a tight squeeze at the top, and then straight into goblet squats. I’ve never done them before, and my back was feeling it, so I’m not certain I really nailed the form. I’m going to watch some more videos to get the technique right, because it seems like a good exercise. Just need to make sure I’m doing it properly!

You aren’t conditioned for the front squats, goblet squats and deadlifts, so I’m not surprised the lower back felt it with glute bridges thrown in. Let’s switch the order. Do the deadlifts after glutes bridge/goblet squats. If the back still plays up, we’ll switch some exercises up. No point injuring your back. Again, feel free to video your technique and send my way.

Weight Planks (30sec) into Reverse Crunch on a Decline Bench (8-12)

Three sets of these, with twice the weight I’ve been tackling with my weighted planks recently. I fully managed it though, super-setting around the reverse crunches. They weren’t bad. I fell into the middle of the range, but next time I want to make even more effort to slow it down and exhale / suck in the stomach like Sean’s previously advised me.

Good effort on these; working with the supersets should make these tougher than you found with GVT, but as you’ve realised: important to get technique right.

This session reminded me of the early weeks of the program where I was doing full body stuff. Mucho sweat!

Day 64 – Rest

Snooze…

Day 65 – Pull

A morning session…

Pull-ups (to failure) into Inverted Rows (8-12)

After a quick run I snatched a squat rack (which has pull-up bars at the top) and got to work on this. I did okay with the pull-ups, and think the inverted rows went quite well as well. I’ve never actually done them before so this was a first. I’m not certain I got my body position totally correct, but I managed to fail in the middle of my range, so that’s good. This is a decent combo, although I think the machine I got today is the only one that allows me to do both things in one area. So hopefully I get it again next time.

Good to have a rack with a bar at the top allowing you to seamlessly and quickly go from one to the other. If you aren’t sure about inverted rows, get a video done and send to me. Ideally you should be pulling the nipple level of the chest up to the bar. Concentrate on keeping shoulder blades down (i.e. don’t hunch shoulders) and taking elbows down towards the floor. Keep shoulders, hips, knees and ankles straight.

Bent Over Row (6-10) into Reverse Grip Pulldowns (8-12)

Once again the lack of heavier fixed barbells is annoying. I had to go pretty light for the rows (with the Olympic bars all in use), but the slower tempo and squeezing still made it useful. The pulldowns went okay, although for the first set I went too heavy and had to drop for subsequent sets. I might drop even lower next time, just to make sure I’m concentrating on my form and tempo.

Annoying re:barbells and O-bars being used. Might be worth you doing this with dumbbells. You could even do it as a prone lying dumbbell row (slight incline bench, lie face down with middle of chest on end off bench. Row dumbbells up at the same time keeping shoulder blades down and bringing elbows up). Squeeze biceps hard on reverse pulldowns. Again, concentrating on keeping shoulder blades down and brining elbows back and down.

Upright Row (6-10) into Lying Reverse Flyes (8-12)

I was a bit too ambitious with the weights for both of these exercises. Using dumbbells for the upright row (barbells not heavy enough) I enjoyed the intensity of lowering them slowly, before jumping into the reverse flyes – which I’ve always been pretty poor at. I hit the top end of the range on the rows, but the bottom end of the range on the flyes. Not bad, but I want to do better here. Two not great supersets in a row. One is already too many, of course.

Well done on the upright rows. It’s a good one for a deep burn in the shoulders when done with a slow tempo. Reverse flyes I still have to do super light; especially as part of a superset. Always a tough exercise if done slowly, squeezing the muscle and with full extension.

Close Grip Chin-Ups (to failure) into Barbell Curl (8-12)

The bars I wanted to use for the chin-ups were in use, so I had to settle for a bar that’s pretty close to some other bars. When I pulled myself right up to the top I had to watch my head and make sure it didn’t get stuck between two other bars. Weird, and not ideal, but I got some good sets out of it, though reasonably modest in terms of reps. The barbell curl used the heaviest barbell they have available, which I thought would be too light (which should tell you something about how high they don’t go), but with the slow tempo and being right at the end of the session, it actually wasn’t too bad. My arms were a little fried, though, so I didn’t quite get the strongest squeezes in.

I never go heavy with biceps curls after chins, preferring a light weight and to really squeeze the biceps hard at the top and lower slowly. If the barbells are too light you could do one of two things:

  1. Lean forward so that you’re bent at the hips. Keep the back straight and shoulders back. Keep the arms parallel with the walls (i.e. pointing straight down) and curl from there – keeping the upper arm parallel with the walls. Tends to be far harder.
  2. Use dumbbells for normal curls.

Not a bad session, but it seemed to go by pretty quick, and I hope next week it’ll be better. The lack of heavier fixed barbells really affected this session, so I may change things up next time to increase the intensity.

Grabs the dumbbells and see if that helps.

Day 66 – Legs

Barbell Squats (6-10) into Front Squats (8-12)

Couldn’t get on a squat rack, so I had to use a smith machine. Boo! I kept to the same weight for barbell squats as I’d done on Monday, with the idea that I’d be able to increase the intensity by consistently squatting lower (with assistance from the smith machine, of course). This worked reasonably well, although for one set I forgot to put the weight back on that I’d taken off for the front squats. The front squats weren’t the best. I was lifting a little more than I did earlier in the week with the free barbell, and I couldn’t seem to find the right grip / set myself with the bar. I sadly dropped short of the rep range in each set; it was still intense, but I never felt comfortable with the setup. Always seemed slightly awkward. I much prefer the regular squat rack!

Smith machines are a strange beast. In all honesty I’d rather see more normal squat racks and no smith machines, but gyms tend to give people what they think they want and a lot of lads like benching half reps on big weights on a smith machine so they can tell their friends about it. The smith machine isn’t great for either squat movements to be honest. Well done for trying to make it work and still getting a good session in the bag.

Glute Bridges (8-12)  into Goblet Squats (8-12)

Again I couldn’t grab an Olympic bar for the glute bridges, so the lighter barbell came into play once more. I upped the weight for the goblet squat, and hit the low end of the rep range. I don’t think I’m going full capacity with it yet, though. My back felt both exercises, though not as much as when I do them after the deadlifts.

On both exercises concentrate on squeezing your glutes/backside. Imagine you have the sh!ts and are trying to squeeze everything as you rush to a toilet. That squeeze during the reps will fire your glutes and protect your back. Try it and let me know if it’s any better. Again, you could use one heavy dumbbell instead of one light barbell for glute bridges if that’s easier.

Deadlifts (6-8)

Not bad. I finally managed to jump into a squat rack – and pulled out four sets at the top of the rep range. I’m not using that much weight to be honest, but next week I’ll go up a level and see how I get on. I’m going to try to organise a leg session with Dom, and get him to film me so Sean can take a look and make corrections where necessary.

Good work on these. Easy to injure, so slow and steady is good.

Weight Planks (30sec) into Reverse Crunch on a Decline Bench (8-12)

Nailed the planks, and did okay with the reverse crunches. I had to take some rest pauses though, as the planks give my core a test before I do the crunches. I might try to progress the weighted planks further, though. Either a little bit more weight, or longer sets. What do you think, Sean?

Well done on these. You’re progressing well. This will help with deadlifts and glute bridges/goblets as the core gets stronger. I would say either can work, but for now, try to take the weight up for weighted planks. See how that goes.

Day 67/68 – Weekend Rest!

I wish I’d done a bit better this week, even though it was still alright. It’s a bit annoying to be nearing the end of the program and still be making some compromise due to different/unavailable kit etc, but it is what it is. I can only work to make my sessions as intense as possible and give 100%.

Also, I haven’t eaten that well this week. Or rather, enough. My commute to/from work is longer now, so I get home later than usual, which has pushed back my afternoon/evening meals. As a result, even though I still hit the macros, I sometimes haven’t been having my shake before bed. I need to find a way to adjust and get back to hitting all the marks each and every day!

You may not feel like a shake before bed, but if under macros, just get it down. Failing that, try add some more food in earlier in the day. Keep it up mate, only a few more weeks to go!

Ray Wilson - Author

Ray has worked with Sean on a number of projects across film, web, and health and fitness. In 2015 he completed a bulk/cut cycle, blogging about his experiences with weekly input and advice from Sean.