Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 8

dumbbell rack

Week eight. I’m now approaching the business end of the program.

Day 48 – Rest!?

Dang, an unintentional rest day. I had a busy day planned, but expected that I’d still be able to get in an evening leg session. Sadly this didn’t play out. Mass delays on the M62 (because of a butter lorry!) and consequently some rearranged appointments meant that I didn’t get back until very late into the evening. I was shattered, and sadly didn’t make it to the gym. My schedule is looking increasingly busy as I gear up to move city and start a new job, so I need to be flexible with my training schedule whilst ensuring that I still get the sessions in. Challenge accepted!

Life happens, and although fitness is an important part of your life, it isn’t your life. Even people who work as coaches, PTs and sports models need a life outside of the gym and training – just as pro-athletes/sportspeople do. A good lesson learned today, especially ahead of your big move. As long as you don’t let life’s detours affect your eating habits too much, and get back on the training bus soon after these mishaps, it won’t affect results too much.

Day 49 – Legs

Back on the horse this morning, but I felt a little worse for wear. Sore throat, tired, and lots of other things to take care of – but there was no way I was skipping leg day.

I got straight onto the squat rack and put in a very sweaty 10×10. I usually read my own blog posts to remember how I got on last time around, but on this occasion I forgot. I couldn’t remember whether I was supposed to go up a weight, or attempt the same weight again. Swapping the order hasn’t helped my continuity, but no matter. I went for the same weight again, and it took a lot out of me. Again, some iffy form and quick reps towards the end, but I finished.

I suspect a day of driving and being mentally focused all day lead to feeling a little under the weather. Good effort for manning up and cracking a GVT legs session. Many wouldn’t have!

Following this, I put in a good 10×10 set on the lying leg curls. Same weight as the last time I did it second, and I did much better. Still some reduced ROM at the very end, but not as much as before. Next time around I’ll be going up a weight on this I think.

This is great, especially after the pre-fatigue from the squat (due to the re-arranged order from last week). Keep this up and you’ll be swapping the skinny jeans for straight leg!

Glute bridges were better today – no rest pause in the third set! As for leg extensions, I had to use an alternative machine to the one I usually work with, and I’m not sure it’s quite the same. I don’t think I lifted enough – it wasn’t as intense as desired. My bad. Won’t happen again.

Well done on the glute bridge. Now you have the form and tempo, really concentrate on squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement and making sure they are fully firing in this movement. Big muscle, so definitely one to get a good muscle-mind map with.

Shame about the leg ext, but it does happen when forced to use a different gym or different machine. You’ll know next time. In the future, if this happens, don’t be afraid to put the first set down to a warm-up then do three more with higher weight. That’s if you realise after the first set of course!

I finished up with reverse crunches on a decline bench, and put together three sets with more reps than I have before. Today I hit the top end of the rep range, whereas I usually fall somewhere in the middle. I did need to break up the third set with rest pauses though.

This is a great exercise when done well. I’m glad you are needing a rest pause, it means you are doing it right! Well done. Remember to exhale and suck the belly button in before pulling the knees in each time. This will pre-contract the abs and make each rep better.

All in all, a good session. I’m interested to see how I get on when I hit the legs again on Friday. The schedule shuffle means I’ll have had one less rest day than planned. Let’s just see…

I like it. Challenge yourself and be positive, not being negative about it. Great work.

Day 50 – Arms/Shoulders

I finally met my match with the tricep dips. A further weight level up from last week made for a 10×10 that I couldn’t complete. I was going okay through the first half, but the entire second half saw me fall short on each set. I made up the deficit at the end with a few rest pauses, but this is a level I need to attempt again. It’s taken quite a few weeks, but I’ve finally hit a wall.

I bet you are glad you started light a few weeks ago and didn’t jump ahead too quick! You will always find a plateau point with GVT if you keep progressing. This is great news. Attempt it again and when you beat it, look back at what you’ve written above and realise how far you’ve come strength and endurance wise.

As for the incline bicep curls, I tried the same weight as last week. Last time around it was very intense and I kind of forgot to count the tempo and it felt just a bit sloppy towards the end. So today I wanted a more controlled 10×10, and I managed to do that. Next time out I’ll be upping the weight. I’m still a bit suspicious of my progress here, if I’m honest. It seems like I’ve managed to jump up a level, over a difficult hump, and I’m still going.

Brilliant work. Don’t be suspicious. If you’re doing it, you’re doing it. Keep taking it up and doing your best. Strength and size changes will follow. Very pleased with the progress here, especially as you thought this was a real weak spot.

On another note, well done for wanting to ensure tempo/form were better before jumping ahead. Too many guys just want to increase the weight without any thought to form and tempo. That leads to injury and reduced strength and size increases. What you are doing is spot on.

I’d hoped to put out fuller sets of seated side lat raises and the standing military press, but again I had to employ some rest pause techniques to get through. I did actually put a fuller set of the standing military press together, but I turned it into a bit of a push press for the latter sets. So just a bit cheaty – but still, as always, intense.

These are subsidiary exercises, so don’t be too worried. Some would argue push press and rest/pause versions of these will be more intense due to reaching failure than if they were a breeze; meaning a better session. In my mind, as long as you are working to your best effort, I’m happy and you’ll get results.

The session came to a close with cable crunches, and my best set yet. A nice heavy weight, controlled on the way back up, feeling it in the abs.

Finally nailed it. Like I said, there are loads of ab exercises out there. Most are pretty useless at best. The ones on this programme work, so well done Ray. Glad you are now feeling it.

Day 51 – Chest/Back

Bit of a dodgy session, this. Not only is it another chest/back session the day after arms/shoulders, but I got less sleep than usual after staying out late at a friend’s house, and woke up with a stuffy nose. Still, excuses excuses.

You may be getting a bit sick from the stress to your CNS from training like this and from preparing to move and start a new job. We may want to throw a rest week at you. I used to have enforced rest weeks at week 7 of every transformation I gave to people. Now I just see what happens as sometimes life/injury throws us a forced rest week anyway. Let’s monitor.

10×10 dumbbell bench press went okay, although I failed again towards the end. I reckon there’s a chance I’ll nail it next time I get to attempt it without having done arms the day before. I didn’t do that well today post-fail, though. I seemed to put up less resistance to failing after the initial failure. Not cool.

Well done for giving it a go. Not easy after arms/shoulders and as I mentioned last time, a lot of the same muscles used. I would say feeling a little sick is affecting you mentally now. Again, we should consider a rest week, or active rest week I think.

Same for the 10×10 lat pull-downs as well. I failed during the latter sets (and this time actually racked the weight), and then almost gave up on trying to avoid failure, stupidly enough. Not my best moment. I let my head wobble a little bit, I guess.

Same, same. Chin-up. It happens to us all. The best thing is now you’ve experienced it, you can learn from it. “Know thyself” and know that when a bit tired and run down, this is what happens to you (and everyone else!). Good life lesson learned I’d say.

I followed these up with the usual incline dumbbell flyes (slightest increase in weight from last week; rest pause in the third set; lower end of the 12-15 rep range) and chin ups (tried different and no assisted weighted – not many reps; a poor set).

Good effort on these. Love the fact you went for chins unassisted despite a relatively negative session. This shows real effort and balls. I’m impressed. Great effort on upping the weight on the flyes as well. Well done Ray.

The session did finish on a bright note, though. I managed to complete a full set of Tabata weighted planks. Eight full phases with a 10kg weight – save being a couple of seconds late/early on a few occasions. I’d decided to start with the weight instead of introducing it part way through, just to see how I got on. And I really surprised myself. Although I did shuffle the weight around a few times; not quite sure I’ve found the perfect sweet spot. Still – good times!

This is brilliant. To have the mental resolve to crack something you’ve not been able to do before at the end of (in your words) a session where your head wobbled, is excellent. Tabata plank is hard, doesn’t matter who you are, so well done Ray. This is really promising in terms of a mental transformation, let alone physical.

So overall a mixed session. I think I was having one of those daft days where I manage to convince myself that I’ve made absolutely no progress whatsoever while everybody else is making super awesome gains that are beyond my reach. Ridiculous. Get it together, berk!

“The Mind fails long before the body”, my mantra as a PT after leaving the Royal Marines. You showed this here: a little tired, so the mind puts doubt and you almost ruined a session; yet the body was fine (as shown by the Tabata planks at the end). Lesson learned for you and one I’m glad you did learn. It’s help in subsequent sessions and in life from this day on.

Day 52 – Legs

The final session at my current gym was – of course – a leg session! And a pretty good one at that.

Couldn’t have worked better.

Straight onto the squats with the same weight as last time. I put together a very solid 10×10, and now I’m happy enough to progress up a weight next time. There were one or two instances of leaning forward, and quick pauses at the top, but few and far between. It’s time to kick it up a notch.

Great work. Well done Ray. Nailed this weight so up we go.

After this I moved onto 10×10 lying leg curls, moving up to a new weight. I’ve tackled this weight before when doing the exercise first, but not second. It was an okay 10×10, but the latter half saw decreased ROM and I definitely need to tackle it again.

Well worked. Sounds like a good session and the doubts from yesterday well and truly gone. The worry is that these doubts stick around and need addressing outside the gym.

Glute bridges were good – three full sets, top end of the rep range, and no rest pause in the third set. Progression beckons. And after this, my leg extensions were better than earlier in the week, but still not great. By the time I get to these, I struggle to maintain the slower tempo with a challenging enough weight. The tank is usually pretty low by this point.

That’s expected. The leg ext is a pretty lactic intense exercise anyway, especially at this tempo and this late in the programme. I usually struggle to maintain form/tempo later in the set. If you want to switch glute bridge and leg ext order for a week or two, please do. On the glute bridge, well done. This is a key exercise, missed by many, but when done correctly really helps build a strong set of legs.

I finished up with reverse crunches on a decline bench, hitting the top end of the rep range with only a very quick rest pause in the third set. Although, truth be told, I think each set here was a little less controlled than it should have been. Too quick! I really need to slow it down and feel the burn.

Defo one to slow on the way down if you can and try extend the feet. However, if the abs are fatigued, it can be impossible. Just keep doing as best you can.

Overall a good session, and an intense finish to my time at this particular gym.

Really pleased with the learnings from this week and the results in terms of weights and exercise achieved. A very good week mate.

Day 53/54 – Weekend Rest Moving!

  • Finish old job on Friday.
  • Move across the country over the weekend.
  • Start new job on Monday.

… not quite rest, but hey – s’gotta be done.

If you feel under the weather or need a bit more time with starting the new job, moving house etc. Let’s put a rest week in here. It can be an active rest week, so go for a couple of runs in the sun. Throw in some Fartleks with press-ups, sprints, abs etc. Or just do some bodyweight stuff at home in the new flat. Just take this part of your life to get settled so from next week training can be back to top-notch. Better to take one week off before the rest of the programme and get that month perfect, than have 4 weeks less than perfect due to changing circumstances.

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.