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Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 1

Dumbbell rack

Hi there. My name is Ray Wilson, and for the next few months I’ll be working my way through a personalised bulking program designed by Sean Lerwill. I’ll be blogging throughout the experience with a new entry every week, so feel free to follow my progress and see how I get on.

Let’s get to it!

Day 1 – Fully Body

Hey Sean, I’ve changed my mind. No hard feels?

Just kidding… but this was a tough start.

Before now I’ve always used split routines. But Sean’s starting me off with a series of full body sessions, which is a new way of working for me. I’m not used to hitting so many compound movements in a single session.

Another new aspect is the introduction of some cardiovascular activity in my warm up. In the past I’ve usually just done some stretching and a couple of lightweight sets, but from now on I’ll be enjoying a jog before I lift as well. Nothing extensive, but enough to properly increase my heart rate before I tackle the weights. Today I only jogged (at a medium pace) for three minutes. I’ll try to steadily increase that as I go on.

He’s also got me paying real attention to the tempo. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been careless with this; I know you have to keep things controlled. But this is the first time it’s been at the forefront of my mind. I’m currently working to a 3010 tempo, and today I literally counted my way through the negative / eccentric phases of my reps.

The slower tempo meant that in order to hit my rep range I had to lower the weights, and even then I still struggled a bit. I threw in some rest pauses to help me get through the deadlifts (and overhead presses). This all served to bruise my ego a little bit, but I know that I should be leaving that at the door anyway. I wish I’d done better, but it’s the first session so I can’t beat myself up too badly.

Tough road ahead, but I’m looking forward to it. Bring it on!

Day 2 – Rest

Straight into a (well earned?) rest day. Although I haven’t hit the gym, I have been thinking a lot about my diet. As this is all about bulking I’ve got a lot of calories and carbs to hit. I could do with some new supplements. Oh hang on, there’s a knock at the door…

Day 3 – Full Body

Today I tried a caffeine tablet pre-workout, but I’m not sure it really had much effect on me. I thought it would, given that I don’t drink coffee (or even tea), but I didn’t really feel any different. Maybe it was just a dud? We’ll see.

I started off with squats, which always gets a good sweat going. I’ve started taking my trainers off to do this, which does seem to increase my stability, albeit marginally. I’m doing it for deadlifts too, and again it does seem to have a small but decidedly positive effect.

Once more I’ve had to throw in some rest pauses to get through my deadlifts… and overhead presses… and dumbbell bench presses. Only on the final sets, mind! By then the slower tempo really pays dividends with an increased burn.

I usually use an assist machine when performing pull-ups, because I don’t yet have the strength to complete a high range of reps unaided. Unfortunately, though, both assist machines were taken today, so I went bareback, so to speak. Not many reps, but pretty intense with the slow negative phases. I’m hoping to see some solid improvements with these over the coming weeks.

On the diet side of things I tried eggs on toast as a mid morning meal, and it didn’t go down very well. Just felt like too much. The post-workout shake and mid-morning meal is a key combination that I need to crack. Eggs on toast isn’t the answer. Stay tuned.

Day 4 – Rest

I tried out some MyProtein flapjacks today, and they tasted great. I only bought them as insurance in case I don’t have time to prepare a proper meal, but on this evidence I may have to quickly sub them into general use. They’re pretty expensive, though, so I should probably try and find an alternative.

Day 5 – Full Body

Final session of the week and definitely the best.

I’m still finding the deadlifts particularly challenging. I’m lifting relatively lightly compared to past efforts, but that slower negative phase really burns me out by the third set. If I’m being honest, though, it was quite a while before I actually started deadlifting, so it would make sense for it to be one my weaker exercises.

Most of the benches at my gym are the same, but there are a couple of extra padded ones, and today I had to use one for my dumbbell bench presses. The extra padding may provide more comfort, but I do think it has a marginal negative effect at the same time, as part of the energy I’m exerting is wasted as I sink into the upholstery. Maybe this is all in my mind? I also find that my arms aren’t quite as strong as each other. Old lefty’s got the edge, which means as I fatigue I don’t always manage to move them as evenly as I should.

Today’s lunch was another helping of last night’s tea: the classic chicken, rice and broccoli combination. It took me ages to get through. It feels like quite a lot, chucking back a post-workout shake and then a mid-morning meal before lunch. But this is how I’m gonna grow. Also, today I tried some Palatinose for the first time. It’s a low GI carb powder that carries ever so slightly less nutritional punch than Fructose, but it goes down much easier as it’s almost flavourless. Definitely worth looking into if you need a helping hand with your carbs.

Day 6/7 – Weekend Rest!

It’s Friday night as I write this, and I’m getting ready to visit family over the weekend. In the past I’ve eased up on my diet simply because it’s easier when around other people, but I think it’s time to change that. I’ll be putting my tubs, bottles and pill boxes to good use.

Fire up the grill, Ma. I’m bringing my chicken.

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.