Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 3

Dumbbell Rack

Into week three and it’s another course of upper/lower splits. This time the rep range is slightly lower (6-10), but the tempo remains the same (3010). Let’s get to it!

Day 15 – Upper body

Started off with my customary jog; the pace has increased and I’m running for longer, so that’s exactly the progression I was looking for. Good times.

With it being a bank holiday I had far more people to contend with, and so I couldn’t quite get the weights I wanted for my dumbbell bench presses. I wanted to jump up a few weight levels, but they were all taken, so I had to settle for the smallest increment instead. Still, with the slow tempo and a good squeeze at a top, it got a sweat going.

Again, with the barbell rows, I couldn’t get the weight I wanted. The weight I used last week was the maximum available for the fixed barbells. The next step up is to load an olympic bar but, on this occasion, they were all taken. For the first two sets at least, anyway. I grabbed and loaded one for my final set, jumping up a fair bit in weight. A little too much, in fact. Watch that ego!

For both the military press and incline dumbbell presses I upped the weights and enjoyed the increased intensity, before finishing off with my nemesis – the renegade rows. It’s a really challenging exercise that tests plenty of areas all at the same time. I used relatively low weights, and just about hit the 6-10 rep range. Not sure I squeezed the back quite as much as I should have done, though. Still, my core took a good beating and it was an intense way to end a good session.

Day 16 – Lower body

There’s no way for me to verify this, but today might have been the sweatiest session I’ve ever had. I probably used a full roll of paper mopping my brow over the course of an hour.

Today marked a personal best on the squat rack. Four sets, 6-10 reps, three figures on my shoulders. Counting… that… tempo. It was intense! And used up quite a lot of the tank, to be honest. Every exercise afterwards saw me grunting like a dying mule.

I upped the weights on the glute bridges which, again, provided a solid squeeze. The split squats also saw an increase in weight, but I probably could have done a little better there. After the intensity of the squats, I found them really tough and think they probably got the better of me this time around. In hindsight I should have taken my own advice from last week and done more to keep my leading foot away from the bench.

I spotted a fellow gym rat a couple of times today. I’ve spotted him before, but today we took the next step and exchanged names. He’s the one I’ll probably ask to film my deadlifts; he owes me a favour! It’s good to make a friend at the gym, to be honest. I’ve never had anybody to spot me before, but now if I really want to push beyond my limit and he’s around, I can potentially call on his assistance.

A great session – feeling good, and feeling big!

Day 17 – Upper body

Today should have been a rest day, but as I require a three day weekend I’ve shifted my final two sessions of the week forwards.

I started with the dumbbell bench presses and thankfully, unlike Monday’s bank holiday session, I was able to take on the bigger weights. It was tough, but I fell within the rep range and worked up a good sweat.

For the barbell rows I went straight for the olympic bar, loading up a good amount of weight. Last time I loaded up too much, so I reigned it in a little and hit the spot just right. I probably should have switched to loading an olympic bar quite a while ago. There’s no good excuse for why I’ve stuck with the limited fixed barbells, really. This program is already helping me push into new ground, and that’s obviously pretty gratifying. The system works!

Towards the end of the session my shoulders were feeling pretty achey. For the likes of the incline dumbbell presses and the renegade rows, I used the same weights I tackled on Monday and found them extra intense. Could be the simple lack of a rest day. Usually, and ideally, my muscles would have had an extra day to recuperate. But needs must. You can’t always schedule your sessions perfectly. Still a decent workout.

Day 18 – Lower body

A shorter session to end the week, as I left out deadlifts on Sean’s advice.

I pushed my personal best even further on the squats. Just 5kg more, to be fair, but it all counts. My form wavered slightly towards the end, so I took an extra second or two between reps just to reset and regain my composure. I tend to lean forward when my form starts to go, but it’s pretty easy to catch myself doing it.

The glute bridges and split squats were both really tough this time around – possibly the result of being less rested than usual, and also having once again pushed pretty heavy with my squats. I gassed my way through the split squats, really chopping them up with rests. Not the best session in terms of control and technique, but certainly an intense way to bring the upper/lower splits to a close.

I recently bought some new headphones (Sennheiser MX375), which I tried out for the first time today. They’re pretty good, if not quite as comfortable as they could be. Although I have trained without headphones and can still get in good sessions that way, I much prefer having my own music. Sometimes I take them out to concentrate on other things, but when I need some banging tunes to get me in the zone, it’s great to have my own to sink into. I’ve told myself that I’ll make this pair last by using them only for the gym, but even as I type that I know it’s a regime that’ll last all of five minutes. I’m sure they’ll see me through the rest of this program, though.

Day 19/20/21 – Three day weekend!

Hopefully this will be three days of good dieting and macro smashing. I’ve no problem when it comes to avoiding the desire to indulge; I don’t really crave my cheat meals or throw chocolate bars into the mix on my off days. But I do find myself struggling to consume the same amount of calories without a gym session there to empty the tank. Between that and sleeping in a little longer at the weekend, it’s not quite as easy to schedule my food intake the same way I can during the week. Another challenge to solve, but I’ll find a solution.

Really looking forward to next week and the start of the next phase, but until then, it’s time to rest up…

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.