Lately I've been getting bored with my routine at the gym. What I've been doing runs as follows...
Decline Bench Press
Cable Lateral Raises
Dumbell Tricep Extensions
Cable Bicep Curls
Dumbell Bicep Curls
The way I used to work each move was to do ten reps, then up the weight and cut to eight reps, then up the weight again and do six reps. But on the advice of hot tub guy, I sort of reversed that, and started with the maximum weight I could do and squeeze out at least six reps. Then after that, I'd start taking off weight until I could do ten reps. Each time, I would go to failure.
This routine made sense to me because it had me lifting some of the heaviest weights I've ever been able to handle, and heavier is better if you want to get bigger, right? Every week, I'd be upping my starting weights. (If I got to ten reps in less than three sets, that meant next time around my starting weight would be higher.)
But I've been doing this for awhile now. And I've sort of been wondering how I could do things differently.
And I found my answer!
There's this website I like, RealJock, that's all about physical fitness for the gays. Really cool workout suggestions with clear descriptions of how to do things, and the forums are pretty lively. And in one of the forums, a newbie guy who is a hard gainer posted asking for advice for hard gainers.
Hard gainers are folks like me: congenitally skinny. Some people--of medium height with broad shoulders and narrow hips, also referred to as "Mesomorphs," can put an inch on their biceps by loading up the dishwasher. Hard gainers are just that, they have a hard time putting on weight, even when that weight is lean muscle mass.
I posted to the forum and offered some advice. And the next poster basically said I was on the wrong track. He suggested that hard gainers look at Hypertrophy Specific Training.
I looked into it.
The stuff about "slow protein" and "fast protein" I'm dismissing out of hand. I'm not a believer in supplements and such. But I'm liking the approach. The basic idea is, contrary to what I've heard and read for years, if you want to get bigger all around, work your whole body every day at the gym. You don't have to kill yourself, but if you work all your muscle groups consistently every day, your body will adapt by getting bigger.
Years ago, I was working out at this gym in Brooklyn that had a great pool. Every morning before work, I'd spend twenty minutes swimming laps. And man did my body respond. And that's basically the same thing, right? The great thing about swimming is it works every muscle group in the body. And I was doing that every day, without giving my muscles time off to recuperate.
So that's the deal. Every day, I'm going to work chest, back and shoulders, legs, biceps, and triceps. Not killing myself, just a nice, moderate workout. One of the criticisms I've heard about Hypertrophy Specific Training is that it's boring. You're doing the same thing over and over again every time you go to the gym.
But I, genius that I am, might have figured out a way around that. Just because I'm working my chest every day doesn't mean I have to do bench presses every day. Get it? I've figured out enough variables so that I can work all five of the basic muscle groups for four days before I have to repeat.
And I'm looking forward to the new thing.
Now, don't get me wrong.
I very much doubt that Hypertrophy Specific Training is the the Be All And End All and the answer to all my problems and that in six weeks I'll have to get a whole new wardrobe because I'll have a 52 inch chest, a 32 inch waist, and 22 inch guns. (That would be steroids!). My theory of Going To The Gym is that you've got to do it. If you're happy to spend forty-five minutes on the stair master, or do yoga, or swim, or ballroom dancing, or whatever, that's cool. But you've got to go to the gym. Nature didn't design us to sit down every waking minute of the day, and if you do that, you'll very quickly reach the point in life when you've got many more bad days ahead of you then good ones. Me? I like lifting weights. I pay a lot of attention to form, and I get to feel all superior to everybody who doesn't. I like the testosterone boost it gives me, and after my work out, I rush back to the lockerroom, rip off my shirt, and spend a couple of minutes admiring my pump. And if I didn't go to the gym, I'd weigh 162 pounds and no one would date me ever.
So in my gym life, I'm off on a new adventure.
If Hypertrophic Specific Training does turn out to be the Be All And End All, I'll be sure to tell you about it. But frankly, I'll be a little disappointed if that's the case. Because when I get bored with it a year or two from now, I'll have nothing to switch to.