Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 7

Dumbbell rack

Week seven is here. I’m now into the second half of the program; it’s flying by!

Day 43 – Chest/Back

Heavy session to start the week. I upped the weight on my dumbbell bench press 10x10s, and really felt the intensity. I knew about half way through that I wouldn’t quite finish it all, and so it came to pass. In the ninth set I only managed 7 reps, and in the tenth I could only pull out 6. I threw in some rest pauses at the end to make up for the deficit, but it doesn’t count as a complete 10×10. I’ll be doing it again later this week!

Good effort on failing. As I said to you a while back: to really see changes and success in the gym you have to fail. However… you can’t be thinking “half-way through” that you’ll fail. Be confident throughout and think about the set you are on. Don’t worry about what’s to come later. For now, concentrate on positive thoughts and energy at the stage you are at. That mentality will serve you far better in the gym and in life. Having said that, I love the positivity of revisiting this weight and smashing it later in the week.

Next up came the wide-grip lat pull downs. I jumped in with somebody else, and for the first set I used the same weight as last week. Thereafter, instead of going up 7kg on the machine, I added a 5kg block instead. It went okay, and although I never actually racked the weight, there were too many pauses towards the end. This is another one I’ll be attempting again later this week.

Good work. Always good to increase and fail and have somewhere to progress next time. Well done.

After two heavy 10x10s I needed another rest pause in the third set to complete my incline dumbbell flyes, and then my chin-ups weren’t the best. It makes sense that these exercises suffer a little when I’ve amped up my 10x10s.

These subsidiary exercises will suffer after your initial exercises, so don’t worry. Just make them about feeling the muscles and squeezing to create tension. You have a rep range here so don’t be afraid to use it.

I finished with Tabata planks, and successfully managed to increase the weighted proportion. I did four bodyweight phases, and then threw on a 10kg plate for the final four phases. And they went… okay! Failed a little early once or twice, so I need to attempt it again, but it was solid progress from last week where I only managed two weighted phases before chucking it off.

Great progress, well done. Really pleased with this.

I’m happy with today’s session. Although I didn’t quite manage my 10x10s and the weighted planks were a little iffy, I pushed myself and am happy with the progress I’m making.

Day 44 – Legs

I had to swap the order again, forgoing squats in favour of lying leg curls as my starting exercise. I increased the weight a little to compensate, and pulled out a reasonable 10×10. Not as good as I’d hoped it might be, with some breaks and iffy ROM sneaking into the latter half, but not bad.

Good effort on taking the weight up to intensify the session despite the shuffling of the order. I’d rather you weren’t happy than thought you’re doing perfect reps – as that means it’s either too easy or you aren’t really sure what “perfect” is. Well done on this.

For my squats, I opted for the same weight I used last time I had to do them second. This time, instead of practically tripping over my bottom lip, I stayed focussed on making the session as intense and productive as possible, and managed a decent 10×10. Struggled to find my rhythm initially with the form and tempo, but eventually I figured out. If I’m honest, neither 10×10 were the best – but they weren’t bad either. And I kept my head screwed on, so that’s progress.

I think anyone who has performed a GVT routine will agree that the 10×10 squats are the most daunting of all (perhaps there’s an argument for 10×10 chin-ups if they’re in your programme). Therefore, to feel that you approached them better than before and kept your head straight is a huge improvement. Not just from last week, but from 18 months ago when you probably didn’t even know the meaning of a heavy weighted squat. Very pleased with the mental side of this. Well done.

I followed these up, as usual, with glute bridges, leg extensions and reverse crunches on a decline bench. I took Sean’s advice by introducing slightly longer breaks between the 10x10s and glute bridges, and the leg extension and reverse crunches. This seemed to do the trick, although I still think I need to do better overall with these exercises.

Day 43 – Rest

Don’t feel like picking up the phone, so leave a message at the tone.

Day 44 – Arms/Shoulders

Very solid session! I managed to up the weights on both the tricep dips and bicep curls and still pretty much complete the 10x10s, which really surprised me. The tricep dips were really tough, but I managed to get the job done. I think I definitely started too light on these a few weeks ago. As for bicep curls, today was really difficult. There were a few sets where the intensity was such that I kind of forgot to count the tempo, and there were probably a few quick reps in there. I didn’t expect to do as well as I did, though, given that not too long ago I struggled with lighter weights. Today saw me go for 2kg more than last week, and I really thought that would defeat me – and after not too many sets either. Maybe I did something wrong!?

You didn’t do anything wrong, you are just adapting mentally and physically to the training. These exercises are both very intense in specific areas so often catch people out. Well done on upping the weight and making improvements with both. I feel some tight t-shirt arms may be in order this summer!

Afterwards I tackled the shoulders. I’d hoped to put three solid sets together of the seated side lat raises, but again I needed a rest pause in the third set. Next up was the standing military press, and I couldn’t find the weight I wanted so I went one heavier. I only managed one interrupted set, sadly, succumbing to a rest pause in the second, and the third completely breaking up into a series of rest pauses. Not quite the solid finish I wanted, but at least it was intense throughout.

As I said to you at the beginning: intensity is key. Without intensity in their sessions people don’t improve, whether trying to cut body fat or gain muscle. Most people would have just failed with the heavier weight on the second and third sets and left it there. You didn’t. You used another protocol: rest/pause sets, to self motivate and make the session go further. Absolutely brilliant. Again, the mental toughness and give it all approach is commendable.

The session finished with cable crunches. Taking Sean’s advice, I put together a much tougher set. Still getting the hang of the form, but I won’t be swapping it out like I’d briefly considered. I’ll nail it!

Good man.

Day 45 – Chest/Back

Good session to end the week. I’d hoped to make some improvements on my 10x10s, but I actually ended up doing slightly worse. Probably due to doing arms/shoulders yesterday.

For anyone reading this, ideally there would ALWAYS be a rest day between arms/shoulders and chest/back days on a GVT programme. However, Ray’s schedule means he sometimes has to do these days back to back. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either. In fitness, like in life, we can compromise and still get results; which Ray is showing us.

Same weights for the dumbbell bench press, but this time I failed one set earlier. Once again I added rest pauses onto the end to make up the deficit. One or two rests extended beyond the ideal time as I spotted my occasional gym buddy. He was pressing 55kg dumbbells on an incline and needed a boost to get going. Fair play, mate!

As above Ray, I put this down to simple fatigue. A dumbbell press needs the pectoral muscles of the chest, front delts of the shoulder and triceps of the back of the arm. You exercised 2 out of 3 of these very hard the day before, and to be honest there is a considerable amount of chest involved in dips as well, meaning chest will also be fatigued. I actually would have been more worried if you’d smashed the same weight as last time after yesterday’s session. It would have lead me to believe that you weren’t lifting/working hard enough in either session. So… well done. As expected, which is good. Plus, you have something to better next time.

The wide grip lat pulldowns went okay, but again there were too many pauses towards the end, and I think I was going a little too fast towards the start. Still, both 10×10 exercises were intense and I look forward to taking them on again next week. It’s going to be really satisfying when I do complete them and move up another weight level.

Great positive attitude. Very pleased.

I did manage some improvements today, as this time I pulled out three full sets of incline dumbbell flyes without any rest pause at all. And with the dreaded planks, I again completed four bodyweight phases followed by four weighted phases – this time without any early failures. I did go foetal for a good minute afterwards, though.

Well done on both. Always good to finally complete full reps on an exercise and even better to have weighted planks reduce you to that. Good work.

A quick note on food. I’ve been doing really well recently, consistently smashing my macros throughout the weeks. I’ve reintroduced porridge oats to my diet, now consuming a protein porridge (and banana) shake each afternoon. This has given me a great macro boost and ensured I comfortably hit my targets instead of sometimes only creeping towards the finish line. I’ve also been eating a lot of oily fish lately, topping up those good fats.

This is brilliant. As I said from the start, someone like yourself who has always struggled to add weight/muscle can do all the training in the world, but if the extra calories aren’t there to build the muscle strived for, results will be hampered. Now that you are consistently able to nail the macros I think you’ll not only see the results you want by the end of week 12 but you’ll also find the workout easier to do as you have the required energy/fuel to do them. Great to get the oily fish and omega3’s in too. Not only is the fish a great source of protein, the myriad of benefits from oily fish will help you reach that muscle gain goal all the more.

I treated myself to some chocolate at lunch today. Nothing big, but I enjoyed it and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty. In general I eat well very consistently, and a little treat from time to time is no big deal. It’s about having a balanced, well-rounded attitude to health, food and fitness as a whole. Little treats won’t destroy the gains; the occasional bad (or even missed) session won’t undo all the progress I’ve made. It’s all good!

Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s about moderation and accountability. And the only person you are really accountable to is yourself. Giving yourself a treat because you’ve worked hard isn’t bad – in fact, for most people, if they did this it would stop them binging hugely when they do fall off the wagon. As long as a vast majority of your food intake is unprocessed fresh food (meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, fats etc) then you can’t really go wrong. Very pleased how well you’ve grasped this and as it’s arguably 50% of the battle, you will definitely reap the rewards.

Day 46/47 – Weekend Rest

It’s been a good week, but I’m ready for a couple of days rest before pushing on and going again.

Keep it up! Very promising thus far.

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.