By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
August 16, 2015
As most of you have already read this week, I had a bit of a setback in regards to my weightlifting. Unfortunately, it was a perfect storm of just about everything, where the lack of sleep, nutrition, fluids and actual working out made me realize I had fallen off the wagon a little bit. It wasn't from a lack of effort so to speak, for my losses didn’t go completely unrewarded (I lost ten pounds in less than a month!), but it was still not the type of results I wanted to be hearing about. Just about everything failed for me, from the bench press (which I am not great at, but it was still a slap in the face) to the deadlift (which was a surprise in regards to how bad I was) and even the back squat (which I refused to go heavy in order to save my psyche from another fail). Now here is the caveat to the failure of that fateful Tuesday morning: I’m still way above average in regards to my weight lifting weights. Sure, I don’t put myself through this to be just slightly average so to speak, but perspective is something I rarely remember about. I am a results based guy, so seeing my slippage can be a slightly devastating procedure on my already mentally fragile mind (which I will admit is a problem for me).
Now don’t worry, I’m not going flip out or anything and start binging or what not. I’m not going to stop running or competing or trying to build a physique that would make me proud of myself and be better than average. It’s just a matter of refocusing on the other side of the coin in regards to my fitness. Now up to this point, I have become rather transfixed on the weight loss and the running (Even though my running has been reduced to nothing lately….this summer is just ridiculous. It was 117 degrees in Phoenix yesterday. People were joking that it was “only” 108 here in Tucson! The forecast was for well over 90 degrees until midnight!), but now I have to kind of get back into the weight lifting part. I have been a little off so to speak, but only because of safety, not because of effort. I have remained vigilant and consistent in my efforts, but there is really only a few things one can do when you are trying to stay out of the way of the paying clients while also doing your own thing. Since I don’t have a spotter, heavy bench pressing is kind of hard for me to do, and since I try to take as little space as possible, I don’t do a whole lot of dead lifting. On the other hand, I still hang cleaned 185 pounds, which is the only movement I didn’t lose any traction, merely because I have practiced so much on the movement that I actually hoisted more weight in that fashion than I did on the bench press. But is lack of repetition really the only thing that is holding me back right now?
I have to say it is, and I have plenty of good examples to kind of prove otherwise. Right now my running speed has gotten considerably slower than I want it to be, along with the distance, simply because it is just so darn awful to run in this weather. And also, this has happened before. During periods where I didn't work certain movements as hard as I should have, there has been some slippage even though I would greatly improve in the other areas. But I always came roaring back, merely because the best way to fix any problem is understanding that the problem exists. Now losing gains is not really a problem in my book. My initial goal in this fitness journey is and still is the desire to lose weight. But I am also getting dangerously close to my goal weight of 220 pounds, where I know at that time, part of my new goal will be to get stronger and turn the remaining fat in to muscle. Right now, my weight loss trajectory is still on course and making good progress, so now I have to start thinking about the endgame. But how can I get there? I know doing simple stuff like curls and bench presses really aren’t going to be the only method to getting rid of he stubborn belly fat. I have to try something different in the process, especially since it seems my issue with my deltoid in my right arm doesn’t want to go away while my grip actually seems to be slipping (tendinitis!).
Now Jon has introduced me to a lot of different things along the way. When calisthenics kind of ran there course with me in the early going, we had to start going with TRX movements as the next logical step, for I was getting too good with simple things like bench dips and body squats. When I was getting good at bench pressing and free weight overhead presses and rows, deadlifting and other Olympic style lifts started getting thrown into the mix. Heck, when I became somewhat decent on the push-up, Jon introduced elevated PVC push-ups! Then other crazy stuff came along, like Turkish Get-ups and V-Ups were replacing other more simple end of the workout stuff like burpies and crunches. So it only seems perfect to try and work on another new system, something that can help me burn fat and build muscle at the same time. Jon decided to introduce me to German Volume Training.
Now this method of training can also be called “10 Sets Method” or “Super Sets,” for the primary goal is to gain mass and strength even if it seems like you are not lifting terribly heavy weight. This whole thing apparently started in Germany back in the 1970s by a man named Rolf Feser. Once power lifters and bodybuilders alike started making incredible gains in their workouts and competitions, the popularity of “GVT” took off. Now up to this point, I have only known it as Super Sets, which I thought was just a funny joke on the Broscience videos that I would occasionally watch. Dom Mazzetti would get into an obnoxious mood and start cranking out Super Sets. I thought he was just showing off and trying to intentionally anger people, but it turns out this is a pretty intense regiment that is not for the meek of heart. The goal of course is to choose a weight and then do ten reps of the said workout movement. With a limited rest time, you then do it again for ten reps and so forth until you reach 100 reps. Now this sounds easy enough, but the key to the exercise is not just in the amount of rest you take in between each set of ten, but in the amount of weight you utilize. Jon knows I have a problem with the whole weight section thing, and it really became quite comical on Thursday when we introduced me to the world of GVT. Now from a purist perspective, I should have done every set with the same weight, but then again, I overestimated how much I had recovered from my 15-mile, 100-degree, in the sun walk and run. But since I was relatively unsupervised and making my first attempt, rules were going to be bent. Now before I describe the hilarious journey, the whole point of the GVT philosophy is to get sets of ten with the proper rest intervals with the same weight, which is the perfect indicator that you should move up in weight when you can do all 100.
Anyway, I had four exercise to go forth with; Chest press, kettle rows (green kettles, 53-pounds), weighted depth squat and overhead press. Now according to much of the research I did, I was supposed to get about 60 to 90 seconds of rest between each movement, depending on the percentage of my max percentage. Well, we didn’t do any of that and decided on 30-second rest periods between each set. I predictably started with the chest press, which is my weakest of the four exercises due to my shoulder situation. I started out with 50-pound dumbbells and everything seemed okay for the first twenty reps. But then my body started hitting the wall by the time I hit 30. I knew this was not going to work, and this would be a spectacular failure. So I reduced the weight to 40-pound dumbbells, and even those were brutal to partake in with the final 70 reps. Either way, It took me a considerable amount of work to get this part down, and the 30-second rest period started turning into one-minute intervals. Now when I decide to attempt this next time, I will first need to do the whole thing with 40-pound weights, just to make it official when I move up to the 45-pound weights, and I will need to do all ten intervals in sets of ten. Only when I do that will I allow myself to move forward. Now I really didn’t have any troubles with the bent over rows, for this is one of my better workout movements. For some reason, it doesn’t affect my shoulder and arm as much as the bench presses and chest presses do. While I didn’t stick to the 30-second intervals all the way through, I did manage to do all 10 sets in sets of ten. Since the green kettles are kind of the limit in regards to what I have available, the next step for me is to actually get all of the sets with the 30-second intervals. Yeesh, that is gonna be a mountain to climb. Even I have to admit that will be a tough one.
I aced the next two movements rather well, especially the depth squat. I took it a little easy on myself, for I’m not going to lie. I was already feeling tapped and tired from the first movements, and only used 25-pound weights on the depth squats. I also went light on the overhead presses, using 35-pound weights. Now some of you might think I am going soft, but I just wanted to make sure I didn’t kill myself. I still payed for the new form of training the next couple days when I could barely walk or even run (the depth squats were brutal!). I have to say, the whole ordeal was pretty interesting from beginning to end, for who would have thought such a high volume of exercise would be such a benefit. But the new goal is to of course pick one weight and run with it for the entire 100-reps, which would be a tough climb for me.
But let’s look at it this way, I really want this. I don’t want luck to be the only factor in my success, like the accidental weight loss I experienced. I want everything from here on out to be planned and decided, not stumbled upon. This means some more buckling down of course, and this possibly means a regular dose of GVT if Jon decides to allow me such a “pleasure.” But just be weary of one thing. It will tear you up pretty good, but if you properly rest and take necessary steps to improvement on a weekly basis, who knows? Maybe the next stock photo of a person working out that I use for the blog on occasion will be me!
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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