I love training - obviously. If I didn't, there is no way I would still be doing it 30 years after I started with the same rickety bench and plastic-covered weight set millions of other kids did at home. It puzzles me how so many people treat exercise as a burden, an uncomfortable inconvenience. Most people will use any excuse they can to avoid going to the gym. I am the total opposite. I have gone to the gym many times when I really should have stayed away: times when was sick, injured, on zero sleep, etc.
But I will be honest. Over the last few years, training hasn't been as fun as it used to be. The reason is all the injuries and chronic aches and pains I have accumulated over three decades, the details of which I won't bore you with for the 1,000th time. Suffice to say that there are some exercises I can't go nearly as heavy on as I did in days gone by, and even some I can't do safely at all anymore. The risk to benefit ratio in those cases leans far too heavily toward risk. And though I used to roll my eyes when older men tried to tell me this in my own younger years, nothing heals as fast in your 40's as it did in your 20's - not by a long shot!
So even though I never stopped training hard and always hit the gym with the intent of giving it my best each day, one question was always in the back of my mind: "What will I hurt today?" For example, my left shoulder has its good and bad phases. When it's feeling good, I can press pretty heavy. There is a video on YouTube from earlier this year where I pressed 130's overhead for a few reps. But any time I do something like that, I pay the price for at least a week or two of pain and hampered workouts. Generally speaking, training very heavy just isn't a good idea for me anymore. Even though I have said many times that I don't care how strong I am or how much weight I use, I should have qualified that statement. I still like to train as heavy as I am capable of in decent form and working the target muscle. But Father Time and the ghost of injuries has caught up with me now. I can still go pretty heavy on some things, but I need to start finding other ways to stimulate the muscle and continue to improve my physique.
The great news is, I think I've found it. I've been using the TORQ (Tension Overload Repetition Quantity) system I read about in IRONMAN. Here's a brief explanation from Senior Editor Steve Holman. For more info, go to the TORQ Facebook page or www.x-rep.com
"Pick a weight with which you can crank out 25 to 30 reps--and get 30. Go to failure.
Rest 45 seconds, then go to failure again, getting 15 to 20 reps.
Rest 45 seconds and go all out one last time, hitting failure between 10 and 15 reps.
Ideally, your reps will go 30, 20, 15. By hitting those rep numbers, your tension times will be in the high-end hypertrophic zone--60 to 90 seconds.
Most bodybuilders never get that, so they miss out on some incredible growth. Researchers confirm that the time under tension for OPTIMAL muscle growth is 40 to 90 seconds. TORQ gets you there. (Most bodybuilders' sets last around 20 seconds, the STRENGTH TUT; no wonder growth is so slow for most.)
So what is a TORQ "sandwich"? It's based on the three Positions-of-Flexion exercises for each muscle--midrange, stretch and contracted. You use TORQ on the first exercise, midrange, and the last, contracted. For the middle stretch move you use standard heavy sets, resting one to 1 1/2 minutes between.
Studies show that there is a definite upsurge to muscle size from stretch overload--such as the animal study that produced a 300 percent mass increase after only 30 days of stretch-only "workouts." Heavier stretch moves are a good hypertrophic catalyst to TORQ"
So far I absolutely love TORQ. Granted, I have adapted it to my own needs and I am not following any particular rules. So before anyone emails me to know which exercises work best or the best way to structure your workouts with it, please don't! I am doing it my way and don't even know if Holman would consider my bastardized version of it true to the system. I have also been mixing in straight sets of some exercises just so I feel I am hitting each muscle group from all the angles I want to. I will continue posting my workouts. But I will say that the pumps have been amazing and I have been getting sore each and every time, yet my joints feel great. The last time I could say that was - wow, I can't even remember! Here are my last two workouts.
Have a great weekend and talk to you all later!
Thursday, August 8: Shoulders and chest
Standing dumbbell lateral raise
25 x 30, 20, 15
Free-motion Smith machine upright rows
95 x 12, 115 x 11, 135 x 8, cut to 115 x 8
Seated dumbbell press
35 x 30, 20, 15
Precor pec flye machine
145 x 27, 19, 13
Incline Hammer press
135 x 15, 225 x 10, 225 x 8
Bodyweight x 14, 12, 10
Precor seated bench press machine
145 x 27, 16, 11
Friday, August 9: Back, traps, rear delts
Warm-up: light lat pulldowns
Bodyweight x 15, 12, 10
110 x 28, 20, 15
135 x 15, 185 x 12, 225 x 10
'Superman rows' on Hammer Hi-row
135 x 12, 10, 10
(see www.gasparinutrition.com for video that demonstrates)
Seated cable row
140 x 28, 15, cut to 130 x 15
Hammer shrug machine
225 x 20, 315 x 15, 405 x 12, 495 x 10
Dumbbell bent lateral raise
35 x 15, 40 x 12, 40 x 10