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Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 2

dumbbell rack

Welcome back to the bulking diary. Over the next fortnight I’ll be working to an upper/lower split schedule, and this week I’ve got a 10-12 rep range with the same 3010 tempo.

Day 8 – Upper body

Sean’s program gives me the choice between either the classic barbell bench press, or dumbbell bench presses. I’m probably going to stick with the latter, purely because it’s easier to stay consistent. There’s only one proper barbell bench rack at my gym, and obviously it’s a much sought after piece of equipment. Occasionally I can get straight on, but usually I have to wait around for quite a while. Conversely, I can (almost) always pull up a free bench and get to work with the dumbbells. Decision made!

Speaking of consistency, I think I need to change the way I approach my pullups. I keep altering the assisted weight to suit my needs on the day, and that makes it harder to gauge my overall progress. I think I should either stick to the same assisted weight, or go without it entirely. I’ll likely have to stick to an assisted weight given that I’m still not strong enough to hit a high range of reps.

I finished the session with some renegade rows, but unfortunately found myself struggling with them. Between perfectly rounded dumbbells and round-bottomed kettlebells, I couldn’t find a way to gain enough stability to really get going with it. I was worried that I was going to either face-plant or snap my wrists, so I ended up bailing and threw in some bent over dumbbell rows instead. Not the best end to what was a good session overall.

Today’s lunch was spicy chicken pasta, as prepared on Sunday. I made a big enough batch to cater for tomorrow as well. Always a good idea to make some food in bulk; it helps you consistently hit your macro goals, and means you don’t have to spend quite as long in the kitchen on a daily basis.

Day 9 – Lower body

Great session today! I packed on a little extra weight for my squats. Although the rep range is slightly lower this week, with the increased load and an extra set it was an intense way to start the workout. And those deadlifts. Damn! I still find them tough with the slower tempo. The burn in my back really built up, and I found myself relying on rest pauses to get through.

Two new exercises today: barbell glute bridges (on a bench), and Bulgarian split squats. Both really tough. I probably went a little conservative with the weights just to get the mechanics down. The glute bridges are good, if a little uncomfortable without a padded bar as the barbell can dig in. Still, you get a really good squeeze and that’s the main thing.

As for the split squats, I found those particularly difficult. My back was already a little fried from the deadlifts, and I needed to take quick rests between each leg, let alone each set. I also had to get my balance right, and forgot to count the tempo during the first set. Not perfect, but moving forward I think it’ll prove a really effective exercise.

Planks. I misread the program and did four sets instead of three. But it’s okay, because the last set was terrible anyway, as you can see…

Ray Planking

Day 10 – Rest

Another little delivery. This time I bought a few boxes of CNP Professional’s protein flapjacks, as brought to my attention by Muscle Maven. Make sure you’re checking out his regular blog for money saving tips.

Day 11 – Upper body

Rough day. I woke up with a headache and felt a little sick. I couldn’t finish my breakfast and considered delaying my workout until the evening. After popping a paracetamol and taking it easy for a little while, though, I soon started to feel better and decided to power through it. Instead of a jog I started off with a pacey incline walk. I was basically testing the waters – and thankfully felt increasingly better, so I soon moved on to the weights.

Second upper body session of the week, and despite my shaky start I wanted to try and up the ante. I increased the weights for everything except the barbell bent over rows. I’m always more cautious when the back’s involved.

Once again the session ended with renegade rows, and I took another crack at them after struggling for stability on Monday. I started off with much heavier weights this time around, and that helped, although it was very intense and I got nowhere near the desired rep range. Next set, lower weight, about the same amount of reps. Final set, even lower weight for a slightly better rep return. It’s a really tough exercise, but I think I’ve got the mechanics of it down now. Although if I’m being honest those three counts were increasingly swift…

For my midmorning meal I tried my new CNP protein flapjacks – chocolate flavour. They’re not as nice as the MyProtein equivalent, but still decent enough. They taste like thrift.

CNP bulking Flapjacks

Day 12 – Lower body

Another troublesome start. This time, bizarrely, I had to spend ten minutes stemming a nosebleed before I could start my session. I reckon this might be nature’s way of telling me to knock leg days on the head. What do you reckon, Sean? (SL: Keep dreaming!)

Had to wait for the squat rack, so I passed the time by throwing in some leg extensions. Low weight with a nice slow tempo, just to get the blood flowing. When I finally got the rack I increased the loaded weight with each set. In the past I think I’ve probably played it a little too safe with my weights on this, but now I’m more confident and committed to pushing myself.

Deadlifts, as ever, are pretty tough going. I think I’m going to try and film myself for a set or two, just so I can review my form. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong, but this is definitely an exercise you want to be sure you’re getting right.

Split squats are really intense. Again I had to take quick breaks in between each leg, just to regain some composure. It’s quite an awkward position to be in, and you don’t want to topple over. I have found that when changing legs, my leading leg seems to creep closer to the bench. This makes it easier but less effective. To get the best stretch I think you’ve got to keep your leading leg a good distance away from the bench. That allows you to squat deeper and hit the muscle harder.

And finally, a little philosophy. Time never goes quicker than when you’re resting between planks. I swear it goes one… two… thirty!

Day 13/14 – Weekend Rest!

Another weekend, another trip up to see the family. I’m going to pack a whole bunch of protein bars and pre-made shakes. But of course, these things should only supplement a healthy and well rounded diet. We’ll see how that plays out…

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.