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Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 5

dumbbell rack

Week five is here, and I’m continuing with the same split and tempo – now into the second round, so the plan is to pile some extra weight into those GVT 10x10s!

Day 29 – Legs

Leg day to start the week? What madness is this.

Actually a great thing to do as most people don’t do legs at the start of the week, so the kit is usually free – unlike the bench press!

Straight onto the squats after an incline walk warm-up. The plan was to load up the same weight as last week and then throw on the minimum extra amount, which would have been an extra 1.25kg on either side. However, I didn’t look couldn’t find any of those, so instead I added 2.5kg on each side. Slightly outside the planned protocol, but I was reasonably confident that I could handle it. And I did, just about. Again, my form wavered a little towards the end as I leant forward, but I pulled out every rep.

Great effort. Not the plan, but it worked well. BUT… you have to add to this next time now as well.

The lying leg curls proved another challenge. On this machine the minimum weight I can go up by is 5kg, and I suspected that this might actually be a little too much. But I managed it, albeit towards the end my tempo wobbled and my range of motion decreased as the muscles grew tired.

You might need to repeat this weight next week. Although that’s not the plan, 5kg is a big percentage of your lift at the moment.

I followed up my 10x10s with some glute bridges (always good) and leg extensions. For the leg extensions I actually reduced my weight from last week to try to get a consistent set of good form extensions out. I didn’t do that, sadly, as I still had to throw in a couple of little breaks. I think the extra intensity from the heavier 10x10s made this more difficult. I’ll keep at it.

As long as you are improving where the breaks are taken (further in, less frequently, last set only) you are still improving overall!

And finally, some reverse crunches on an incline bench. It’s surprising just how quickly this hits the abs. I’ll be grating cheese in no time…

Day 30 – Arms/Shoulders

Sadly not one of my better days.

The 10×10 triceps dips weren’t bad, but I think they were one level too comfortable. The dilemma is, do I jump two ahead next time to catch up to where I think I should be, or just play it normally and see how it goes?

Go up by one, there is no rush and you can always add a week in to the 12 week programme to catch up if necessary. There is no race; you are competing with you.

Afterwards I tackled some bicep curls, moving up one weight level from last week. And I struggled with it. Although I did manage 10×10, the latter half of my sets were consistently punctuated with mid-set breaks. I just had to release the burn that builds up around the shoulders/arms before I could continue. I was pretty frustrated with myself. I don’t think I can move up weights next time. I’ll have to complete a better, fuller 10×10 at the same weight first.

I had the same problem when doing GVT myself for Maximuscle a few years ago – the biceps curls were a sticking point as the weight jumps are so big compared to the overall weight lifted. However, stick with it; repeat this weight next time and see if you can go up the next time or the one after that.

I followed the 10x10s up with some trusty seated side lateral raises (up one weight level, went okay) and overhead/military press. I dropped down a weight for the military press to try to complete three good sets of 12-15 reps. Last time I found my rep return dropped each time. And again, it was really tough; I had to throw in some rest pauses to get through. I don’t know what it is about this exercise but whenever I do it, whatever weight, wherever it’s scheduled in my session, I seem to struggle to throw in a consistent set of reps.

At the moment it’s a weakness: train your weakness and it will become a strength. I never used to train dips. Didn’t do them at all. Came to do them; found them tough. I now do them all the time and for GVT managed to get up to a 20kg disc on a chain – but, years before that, I found my bodyweight tough. The moral: stick with it. It will get better.

I finished by swapping out the planned cable crunches for an ab crunch machine as all the cables were busy. Cheeky.

Day 31 – Rest!

I’ve had trouble eating to the same schedule on non-training days, but today I really tried to do just that. The only difference was that for my shake I swapped out Dextrose and subbed in Palatinose. Out with the High GI carbs (fast absorbing, better post-workout to refuel the empty stores), in with the Low GI carbs (slower release of energy).

Not a huge problem if you’re a little less calorific on rest days. Your body won’t need as much, we just want it to repair, rebuild etc before the next arms/shoulder session.

Day 32 – Chest/Back

Reasonable session today. I upped the weights for my 10×10 dumbbell bench presses and made my way through without needing to rest pause at all. Although, during the latter sets, I did find it harder to isolate and squeeze the pecs. When fatigue creeps in I have less control and just can’t get the same squeeze with any consistency.

I went up one weight level for my 10×10 lat pull downs. I thought it might actually prove too much, but I just about managed it. Although I did have to rely on rest pauses throughout the latter sets. I’d do six reps and then need a quick rest before completing the final four. I also found my reps declining in quality. I couldn’t quite get the bar as far down as before and, again, isolating/squeezing the target muscle became more difficult.

Stick with this weight next week, try to get at least 7 reps on the same set you rest paused this time. As for the full reps, try your best to make each perfect. As long as you’re trying it’s the best you can do; like the overhead press, it will improve.

I stuck to the same weights for incline dumbbell flyes, and actually did a little worse than last week. Could be that I ploughed through heavier 10x10s this time around, so it wasn’t an even playing field.

The heavier DB press will affect your flyes; again, do the best you can.

Chin-ups are still a bit of a struggle, but although I still can’t get that many reps out (roughly 5-8 with assisted weight), I do feel more comfortable with the movement and concentrating on the lats now.

Great effort.

The session finished with Tabata planks. I wish we had more mirrors so I could check my form. Today I managed to get through a whole course with success in every phase, although I do wonder whether I had my form quite right for the first two sets. It seemed a touch too easy, and that’s usually a telltale sign…

Try find a mirror. Next time, add 5kg on the lower back for the final 4 sets.

Day 33 – Legs

Bah! A poor session. I couldn’t get onto the squat rack so I had to change it up and do my lying leg curls first. I upped the weights for it but given that I usually do it second, should I have upped it even more? Similarly, moving onto the squats after, should I still have upped it given the reordering? I kept the weight the same as Monday in the end. I did look for some 1.25kg plates to slip onto each side, but I genuinely couldn’t find any. Probably for the best.

Stupidly, this little reshuffle got in my head. The swapping of the order, to my mind, made the weights used and my performance void this time around. I mean, I still did the exercises, but it seemed to break the GVT protocol, so now I don’t know where I stand. Despite calling on the help of my favourite tunes I just couldn’t get my head back in the game. I still completed everything, mind; each and every set. But they weren’t the best. Inconsistent tempo, questionable form. I don’t really know what happened. It just got away from me.

The mind is a powerful weapon. In the Marines (and now as a civilian trainer) my motto was “the mind fails long before the body”. You showed that in this session. Your mind beat you. This is great. You can learn an important lesson from it: your aim in every session is to train hard; to spark the changes you want in your body to look, feel and perform better. Other than to write down on this blog, the order of exercises and weights used are irrelevant. You just need to be balls out on every set of every exercise. Life is a compromise, so is every gym session; try to do what is set out, but be prepared to shuffle, change and make it work.

While some people can find their escape in the gym, I find that life follows me around in there. If I’ve got stuff on my mind, which I did today, I just can’t let go and sink into the session – and as a result I’m far quicker to rattle. Not cool!

Get the tunes on early and get focussed. You need to leave it all behind.

Day 34/35 – Weekend Rest!

Alright, its time to kick back. I had a couple of dodgy sessions this week, and that’s been disappointing. But this is now my time to rest and recharge before I go again next week. And next week is going to be the best week yet. That’s the goal. That’s always the goal.

But for now, it’s time to plan my cheat meal. I fancy an icecreamcookiepizzaburger…

Overall a great week Ray, well done! Take on the salient points I’ve made and remember, just do the best YOU can do with what you have in each and every session. Leave the gym feeling proud of yourself, not thinking: shoulda, coulda, woulda…

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.