I don't post a lot about the specifics of my workouts. Why? Well, whereas all the diet & fasting stuff was very accessible and could be put into practice quickly — with quick results to verify, repeat, verify, and so on — workouts never struck me like that. I'm a neophyte (still) but that's changing.
Also, I have a trainer and he's proven himself to be unconventional and actually willing to listen to me. Right off the bat, he said all I need is two 30-minute session per week of high intensity. That told me he had a lot right. Now, he often sports my Free the Animal T-shirt. That's pretty cool.
There's a new book out there I may have mentioned. It's by reader and sometimes commenter Dr. Doug McGuff, Body by Science, which is soon coming up in my reading stack. In the meantime, workout guru extraordinaire, Keith Norris, has reviewed it in multiple parts here, here, and here. [Added later: Chris Highcock interviewed Dr. McGuff here, and here's another interview on video.]
There's a bit of a coincidence. When I first began this journey two years ago, I went to the bookstore to pick up a book on working out. I was already a bit familiar with Art DeVany's power law (endurance and intensity are inversely related, i.e., the more intense, the less you can endure, and it's the intensity that drive the gene expression you want). So, it was only natural that John Little's book appealed to me: Max Contraction Training : The Scientifically Proven Program for Building Muscle Mass in Minimum Time. I read it cover to cover. Essentially, it relies on the power law principle and takes it to the end point: the highest intensity would be muscle failure in under 1 second. How to do that? Well, that's the problem. You need one and possibly even two trainers and spotters to help get HUGE weight into a maximum contraction situation, where you then hold to muscle failure. You aim for enough weight to hold three seconds, then increase weight until you can do less than a second. John had some interesting photos, such as a normal woman on an old-style peck deck holding a contraction against a bunch of plates with two guys standing on them; so, hundreds of pounds.
The punch line: John Little collaborated with Doug McGuff on this new book.
At the same time, my trainer wanted to do pretty intense, but it was mostly isolation. I was making gains, so I just shut up. Fast forward to a couple of months ago where I broached the subject of moving to compound exercises and big volume. Man, what a difference. I just love it. Rather than three boring, often excruciating sets of 10, it's now 5, maybe 10 sets, and most are only 2-3 reps, because the weight is so much. On squats, my form has improved to where I can easily do several sets of 4-5 reps at my body weight: 185. Once I am very confident of form, I'll start increasing it.
So, last Saturday I ran into my trainer here at my condos. He was training another resident in our workout facility. I invited him up, then thought of lending him John Little's book. And, so, he had a big surprise for me today.
The first was lat pulldowns. Fortunately, he had the pulldown straps that go across your elbows. It's amazing how much more you can do when you don't have to hold a grip. So, whereas 120-130 is a lot, I was able to warm up at 150, then a couple of reps at 220, and then a whole bunch of negatives at 300 pounds — where we would have to use both of our full body's weight to get into full contraction and hold. 300 is max on the machine, and I could hold a few seconds in a full contraction, ease to half and hold a couple of seconds. We did that about 4-5 times and it was simply awesome. I'll never do boring reps upon reps again.
Next was a sitting chest press that's configured in a way that makes it easy for Mike to help me press it into a full extension. First was a warm up at 150, then to 220 to test an extension, ease, and hold at half extension. No sweat, so we maxed out that machine at 300 as well. What a delight! There's something just really cool about holding against 300 pounds.
Next was off to do some free squats, mainly to warm up and practice form. Did 4-5 sets of 4-5 reps at 135 going to 185.
To round out the 30-minute workout, we went to a lay down leg press machine. Just went right to the max, which I think was 300, again, and pressed to half extension and hold. I did two or three of those, holding for about 10 seconds each time, quads quivering like crazy.
I've just gotta say that I'm really loving this. Whole New World. But, be careful out there. Frankly, I have no idea of when I'd have been ready both physically and mentally to take on this sort of thing, and I don't begrudge at all almost two years of isolation conditioning. There's a fear factor, too, and you should not be attempting anything like this without assistance from someone who knows what they're doing; but more importantly, until you're sure you're up to it. You'll know when you're up to it.
You'll feel strong.