Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: starting strength

P90X3 Prep!

Well, after my disappointing news earlier this week, I have spent the rest of the week recovering and brainstorming my next training block. It is a shame that I can not make it to the World's Toughest Mudder this year, but at the same time, I am excited about my short-term training goals leading up to the release of P90X3 on December 10th!

For those of you who don't know already, I will be running a  P90X3 Challenge Group, so that a group of us like-minded individuals can progress through the program together.

Leading up to P90X3, however, will be a hypertrophy/strength/mass gaining hybrid that I have concocted that will aim to fulfill a few goals: 

  1. Put on some mass. 
  2. Improve strength. 
  3. Work on specific areas for hockey (I am back playing men's hockey on Sunday nights). 

The idea here, is that I will be heading into P90X3 in good physical shape, but with some weight to lose. The timing will be perfect, since we will be starting just after the holidays, so I can focus on getting my diet in perfect order, and 'cut' the best I can with X3.

My hybrid will consist of Body Beast workouts, alongside Tony's 1 on 1's (schedule below). I will be playing around with some of the rep ranges, however, but before we delve into why I am doing this, let me give you a crash-course on "core" vs. "assistance" exercises. 

"Core" vs. "Assistance" Exercises
Strength and power repetition ranges are intended to be done by "core exercises". A core exercise is one that recruits one or more large muscle areas (chest, shoulder, back, hip, thigh), involve two or more primary joints, and receive priority when one is selecting exercises because of their direct application to sport.
"Assistance exercises" on the other hand, usually recruit smaller muscle areas (upper arm, abdonminals, calf, neck, forearm, lower back, or anterior lower leg), involve only one primary joint, and are considered less important to improving sport performance.

If you are familiar with Body Beast, you will know that majority of the workouts (roughly) use 15-12-8 repetition goals. I am going to be aiming for 12-8-6 repetition goals for all "Core" exercises (using the above terminology). So, for example, chest presses, squats, shoulder presses, etc. will be considered "Core". Specific exercises, such as bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, etc. will still use the 15-12-8 repetition goal range.

6 to 12 repetitions is the "magic zone" when it comes to hypertrophy (muscular growth), but the closer to you get to 6 (6-8 reps), could be considered "functional hypertrophy," as the muscles also gain some strength as well. When working major muscle groups, across multiple joints (chest press - elbows, shoulders), the forces placed on the body can be displaced and 'handled' better by the body. 

Since I am playing hockey on Sundays, that will essentially work as my "cardio" workout for the week, because I know a lot of you like to use that term. Me personally, I like to think of any workout that elevates your heart rate above resting levels for an extended period of time (what workout doesn't?!?) as a "cardio" workout.

The only two workouts that will NOT be following the mention repetition goals will be my legs days (Tuesday/Thursdays). Tuesdays will be about improving the plyometric nature of my muscles, so that they function better on the ice. I also really enjoy the very hockey-specific exercises in Tony's 1 on 1 - Plyo Legs, specifically the lateral jumps, and 4-corner jumps as they mimic the actions used when skating. Legs Thursdays will be my own concoction of some really heavy squatting, deadlifting, and step-up to reverse lunging. Since I will be doing deadlifts on Legs Thursdays, I will be omitting them from any routines the day before or after (Back/Bis on Fridays).

You may notice double chest days during my "Phase 2" workouts. My chest has always been a trouble spot for me, so I will be attempting to put some mass on in that area, enough said! 

Finally, I will be dabbling with some forearm work (great to improve my strength and explosiveness of my shot), and core work - both of which I will be playing around with a few ideas of my own. Once I get a good routine, then I can share them with those interested. 

Oh, and one last thing. I don't have my "off" or "recovery" weeks planned as of yet. They will most likely be a 3x/week mix of total body workouts, such as Tony Horton's Road Warrior, Body Beast Total Body, and maybe a Focus T25 workout or two! 

Schedule: 

Phase 1 (October 7th - October 27th)

M - BB Build: Chest/Tris + Abs
T - TH 1on1 - Plyo Legs
W - BB Build: Shoulders + Abs
Th - Legs
F - BB Build: Back/Bis + Forearm work
S - Off
S - Hockey

Phase 2 (November 4th - November 24th)

M - BB Bulk: Chest + Bulk: Back (no deadlifts)
T - TH 1on1 - Plyo Legs
W - TH 1on1 - Diamond Delts + Just Arms
Th - Legs
F - BB Bulk: Chest + Abs
S - Off
S - Hockey
 
Phase 3 (December 2nd - December 22nd)
 
Week 1 - Phase 2
Week 2 - Phase 1
Week 3 - Phase 2
 
December 23rd - December 28th - Off

December 29th - Start P90X3! 





My Future Plans - Starting Strength

I am currently enjoying my trip through my second round of Body Beast (modified). Growing up, I have always been an active athlete, competing in various sports, so I have always been a pretty lean guy. My latest fitness endeavours have been a lot of fun, pumping weight and acting like a total meat-head, umm...I mean bodybuilder. 

As much as I have enjoyed Body Beast, the program is certainly not perfect, and it also has some limitations that I wish to overcome, especially as I head towards my World's Toughest Mudder training.

First of all, Body Beast is a mass-building program. It's intentions are to help folks build mass at home - traditionally a very tough thing to do. I feel as though Body Beast has been very creative in modifying workouts to suit the needs and capabilities of folks at home, but it inevitably lacks in some areas. 

That is why I went out and got myself a proper squat rack. By adding a barbell and weight plates to my lifting routine, I am/was able to kick things up a notch and dial up the intensity. The added weight has certainly helped my progress, especially by adding in more traditional compound lifts (bench, squat, deadlifts, military presses). 

Beyond adding more weight, however, most people don't realize that Body Beast is not really a strength-gaining program, it is a hypertrophy program. Sure, as with any training program, your body is going to adapt to the stimulus, so by increasing weights throughout, you definitely have the ability to get stronger, but, there are other ways to gain strength that are more scientifically-sound and proven to work. 
 
 A review of sets and repetition goals.

A strength training program is also nice to help me bust through some plateaus. I have now made it through 2 rounds of Body Beast, and both times I inevitably hit a plateau simply because my strength cannot match the speed and pace of these routines. Again, Body Beast is a hypertrophy program, so it is designed to move at a quick pace, never allowing the muscles to fully recover from a previous set, in order to create a metabolic demand, thus increasing muscle size.

Because of this, as I said previously, my current strength gained by muscles can only take me so far. Remember that muscle size does not necessarily indicate the force that can be generated by said muscle. So, even though Body Beast, or any hypertrophy training for that matter, increases the size of the muscles, they aren't as strong or efficient as they can be. 

So, by changing direction in my training, and aiming for more strength-based training, I can then take my newly-enlarged muscle fibers, and train them to be stronger. When they are stronger, I can then go back to another round of Body Beast later if I wish, and make gains beyond what I was capable of before. 

My program will be a hybrid of a "Starting Strength" program and a "Stronglifts 5x5" program. Both programs are similar in nature, but with slight differences. I have combined elements from both based on my desired needs.

Here is the program: 

Workout 1

5x5 Squat 
5x5 Overhead Press
5x5 Barbell Rows alternating with* 1x5 Deadlifts

Workout 2

5x5 Squat 
5x5 Bench Press
3x10 Hip Thrusts
3xFailure Chin-Ups (15 reps max**) alternating with* 3xFailure Pull-Ups (15 reps max**)
 
 *alternating with means that one full day will be dedicated to one exercise, then the next time that workout is used, the other exercise will be used (example below).

**Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups sets will be done to failure or 15 reps, whichever comes first. If I can hit 15 reps during a set, then I will add weight to the next set through either a weighted vest or a weighted backpack.

Deadlifts are kept to 1 set, as I will be lifting as much weight as I possibly can for 5 reps. Plain and simple, picking up and putting down that much weight places a lot of stress on the body, so one set will be plenty!
 
The numbers listed are "sets x repetitions". So for example, 5x5 = 5 sets of 5 reps. Recovery time between sets will be lengthy (2-5 minutes), as I will want to allow my energy stores to completely recover to allow maximal or near-maximal effort on every set. This is not circuit-training!

Each exercise will be completed in its entirety before moving on to the next exercise. So, for example, I will do 5 sets of Squats, with a 2-5 minute break between each set, before moving on to the 5 sets Overhead Presses.

I will lift on a 3-day-a-week pattern (M-W-F) with some light distance running and yoga in there to supplement on non-lifting days. 

So an example of what my schedule will look like:

Monday - Workout 1
5x5 Squat
5x5 Overhead Press
5x5 Barbell Rows

Tuesday - 5km easy run or other light cardio

Wednesday - Workout 2
5x5 Squat
5x5 Bench Press
3x10 Hip Thrusts
3xFailure Chin-Ups (max 15 reps)

Thursday - Yoga/Recovery/Stretching

Friday - Workout 1
5x5 Squat
5x5 Overhead Press
1x5 Deadlifts 

Saturday & Sunday - Recovery

Monday - Workout 2
 5x5 Squat
5x5 Bench Press
3x10 Hip Thrusts
3xFailure Pull-Ups (max 15 reps)

Tuesday - 5km easy run or other light cardio

 Wednesday - Workout 1
5x5 Squat
5x5 Overhead Press
5x5 Barbell Rows

Thursday - Yoga/Recovery/Stretching

Friday - Workout 2
5x5 Squat
5x5 Bench Press
3x10 Hip Thrusts
3xFailure Chin-Ups (max 15 reps)

Notes about the schedule: 

You may be looking at this thinking, "That's it? Where's the circuit training? Where's the core work?" 

This program is about intensity. Since I will be lifting a lot of weight and pushing my body to get stronger, I will need more time to recover. Not only that, but each of these lifts are compound lifts, utilizing multiple muscle groups and multiple joints at once. This synchronizes the body to work in a much more efficient and harmonized way. 

As for "core" work, there is no need to get on the floor and work my abdominals and core muscles by doing crunches and planks since the core is so heavily involved in each of these compound lifts. 

As for scheduling or length of the program, I am going to announce my World's Toughest Mudder training schedule very soon. This will play a part in that schedule, so I will announce more details on the length of this phase, as well as my plans.

Let me know if you have any questions/comments/concerns by commenting below!