Against Gravity training log (2020)

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Against Gravity
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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:33 pm

Things are a little more complex, though

* Some weeks, I can't train 5 consecutive days and rest 2 consecutive days, because accumulated fatigue / soreness is so high that I can't overcome it. Its a matter of mental fatigue mostly, you simply don't feel like it. In these days, there's two options:

A) Push through it anyway. Usually, after the first set or two, the fatigue/mental resistance is gone and I can train without problems
B) Perform an active recovery day. Here, I'd just drink 1-2 liters of milk and stretch&massage the muscles (with a tennis ball) where I feel sore. This helps me to speed up recovery

I can have 1-3 active recovery days per week, depending on how I feel. 1 day is common, while 3 days is very, very rare (maybe once or twice a year). So the routine with 1 active recovery day would look like this, supposing that I feel sore on day 4:

Day 1 - Normal workout
Day 2 - Normal workout
Day 3 - Normal workout
Day 4 - Active recovery
Day 5 - Normal workout
Day 6 - Normal workout
Day 7 - rest
Day 8 - rest

As you can see, there's no missed workouts. An active recovery day just lengthens the cycle.

** On days 1, 3 and 5 I like to perform a short extra session in the evening to train my current weakest links: legs and arms. This extra workout consists of:

- 3 sets of barbell front pistol squats
- 3 sets of one arm barbell curls
- 3 sets of one arm push-ups

*** I've decided to fusion my favourite 'bodyweight skills' (HSPU, front lever and PPPU) with strength training workouts, instead having an extra dedicated session for it. A second session for them significantly affects recovery and I can't keep doing it long-term, because some months I'm far more busy than others.

So what I do is, after every OHP set, I do a freestanding HSPU set; after every weighted dip set, I do a PPPU set, and before every BOR set, a FL hold set. This isn't always, only in days I feel particularly fresh (maybe 3-4 days per week). So the routine actually looks like this:

- Weighted pull-ups --> OHP --> free HSPU --> weighted pull-ups ...

- Weighted ring dips --> PPPU --> FL --> BOR --> weighted ring dips...

Each cycle lasts 12 min, so there's enough rest to not affect the following sets with junk fatigue

I mean, it's like this:
- Weighted pull-ups, rest 6 min, OHP, rest 1-2 min, HSPU, rest 4-5min, weighted pull-ups...
- Weighted dips, rest 1 min, PPPU, rest 1 min, FL, rest 4 min, BOR, rest 6min, weighted ring dips

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:54 pm

Now, regarding the progression strategy for each exercise:

Weighted pull-ups strategy
I think I've fully exhausted the gains I can get with the classic&effective 5X5. After 42-43kg for 5x5, I just can't continue to add load, even when using fractional plates (microloading).

The problem is that linear progression can't work forever and double progression (adding reps) with weighted pull-ups is especially hard. For example, my 5RM is 43kg, my 6RM is 38kg and my 4RM is 48kg. As you can see, in the 4-6 rep range each extra rep is separated by 5kg of force. On other exercises, like OHP, double progression is easier to apply. My 10RM is 48kg, 9RM 50kg, 8RM 52kg, 7RM 54kg... adding a rep equals to 2kg of force.

Since I can't use linear progression or double progression anymore to progress on weighted pull-ups, I've two strategies in mind to overcome this plateau.

- The first strategy is simply exhaust PRs on other rep ranges. Basically, fill all PR tables for 5 sets: 10RM, 9RM, 8RM... until I can't improve on any rep range.

Simultaneously, I've added grip work and direct biceps work as accessories to work on my weak links. Biceps will be trained through OA BB curls, and forearms/grip through weighted towel holds and weighted towel pull-ups.

Those towel pull-ups would be done to temporarily substitute weighted ring pull-ups once I can't do the same reps with the same load for 5 sets. Say I'm focusing on my 6RM, and workout 1 looks like this:

+37kg 6,6,6,6,6

Workout 2:
+38kg 6,6,6,6,6

But on workout 3, this happens:

Workout 3
+39kg 6,6,5...

In that case, rather than doing another 2 sets with 5 reps (6,6,6,5,5), which are de-motivating for me, I'd do weighted towel pull-ups For example:

+39kg 6,6 + weighted towel pull-ups 20kg 5,5,5

Thus, I'd continue adding load to my 6RM, until I fail on the first set

+40kg 6,6 + weighted towel pull-ups 20kg 5,5,5

+41kg 6 + weighted towel pull-ups 20kg 5,5,5,5

+42kg 5 (6RM failure).

After failure on first set, I'd focus on another RM and repeat the process, until I can't make any PR in any RM. In this moment, this strategy is over.

- The second strategy is far more simple: triple progression. Increasing the minimal effective volume. Rather than doing 5 sets, I'd build up to 10 sets before trying to increase load/reps.
The reason I don't like using this strategy now is because it requires more dedication/time. I'd have to keep the same rest between sets in order to maintain the same mechanical tension (load). So I prefer to save this strategy as the very last tool.
Last edited by Against Gravity on Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:10 pm

OHP strategy
5 days a week, 5 sets. Each week, add 1 total rep

For example, this week I'm doing
+50kg 9,9,9,8,8
This workout would be repeated 5 times through the cycle/week

Next week
+50kg 9,9,9,9,8

Next one:
+50kg 9,9,9,9,9

Next one:
+50kg 10,9,9,9,9

This has been working so far for me. Its slow, but OHP is a tough exercise to make progress.

Once I make 5x10, I'd slowly transition to 60kg (5RM) by adding 2kg and reducing 1 rep. Like this:

Week 1:
50kg 10,10,10,10,10

Week 2
52kg 9,9,9,9,9

Week 3:
54kg 8,8,8,8,8

Week 4:
56kg 7,7,7,7,7

Week 5:
58kg 6,6,6,6,6

Week 6
60kg 5,5,5,5,5

In case I couldn't meet the required reps, i'd just repeat the week adding one total rep, like I did before.

Once I'm working on 60kg 5,5,5,5,5, I'd just repeat the same process of adding 1 total rep a week (and 5 workouts per week) for as long as it keeps working


You may remember that my left shoulder was injured (impingement). I've fixed this, by doing:
- A lat stretch after every set of weighted pull-ups. This prevent lifting the bar unevenly, which happens when my lats are too tight
- I've modified my technique slightly. Rather than imagining the OHP like a vertical wide bench press, with flared out elbows, now I do it like a triceps overhead extension (with shoulder flexion). This keeps my shoulders externally rotated in the bottom (arms tight against lats) and the lift looks a lot more symmetrical (left elbow doesn't flare out)
- Also, I've been doing ring Y raises as prehab&rehab. The greatest shoulder health exercise I've ever done

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:23 pm

Weighted ring dips strategy
Alternate a heavy day (low RM), with a light (high RM) day. This helps dips more than with any other exercise. The heavy days helps to reduce the RPE (perceived effort) of a heavy load, and the light day, besides extra hypertrophy, helps to increase reps in the heavy day.

I've a problem beyond 60kg extra load though. I don't know why, but my elbows start to hurt in the first rep of every set, and gets worse with every extra set added. I think it might be caused because the load (2 plates of 5kg + 5 plates of 10kg) starts to hang in front of me, and it forces me to lean forwards too much, which in turn hurts my elbows. Its simply painful. After that first rep, it gets better. Maybe if I had plates of 20kg, I'd be able to hold them better between my knees.

I'll experiment with wearing a weighted vest (+20kg) and using a dip belt with only 30-40kg. If that doesn't help, my options are:

- Increasing reps with 40-50kg (which doesnt hurt that much), up to 10-15 reps per set. That would make 60kg a 6-8RM, maybe easier to handle
- Acquiring 20kg plates
- Stopping ring dips and acquiring parallel bars
Last edited by Against Gravity on Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:29 pm

Bent over rows strategy

Very simple. Use the same load than OHP (currently 50kg) and do high reps with it (currently 5x25)

To avoid boredom, alternate with a heavier load (OHP+10kg), so currently 60kg 5x15

I don't like low reps with BOR, for 2 reasons:
- Lower back. It needs a gradual adaptation.
- Legs end up taking most of the load. A 5RM BOR is hardly felt on traps. It becomes a partial ROM explosive squat.

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:34 pm

PPPU strategy
I'm measuring the distance between the wall and my index fingers. Each workout, I increase distance 1mm, maintaining the same reps.

For example, today I did 5x5 61cm away from the wall. Next workouts would be 611mm, 612mm, 613mm... until I can't properly do 5x5 anymore. Then, I'd continue with 5x4, 5x3, 5x2 and 5x1.

Right now my left wrist is injured and I can't bend it backwards, so I'm doing PPPU with index fingers pointing 45deg forwards. I'm far stronger (morr distance from wall) with index 45 deg backwards, but that hurts my left wrist.

So I'll exhaust the gains with wrist 45deg forwards while my left wrist recovers, and then focus on the variation with wrist 45deg backwards

I'm also working on leg/hip mobility to make the straddle PPPU (variation I use) easier

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:39 pm

Front lever strategy
I gave up straddle/half lay variations, and decided to focus on pulley-assisted FL with microloads instead.

The reason is that I've more objective progressions to use. For example, right now I can hold a solid FL for 10s with 2kg assistance. Next progression would be 1,875kg, 1,75kg... and so on until 0kg. So there's 16 objective progressions I can use to make it harder.

I'm using double progression, with 5 sets of 5-10secs. Once I can hold it for 5x10s, I reduce 0.125kg load and repeat. If I cant hold the next one for at least 5 secs, I'd hold the previous progression for longer
Last edited by Against Gravity on Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:49 pm

Freestanding HSPU strategy

I gave up the method of 'just trying'. The reason is that it's too frustrating. I mean: today I might do 1 rep, tomorrow 2 reps, and the day after that... 0 reps. There's a factor of luck involved until really learning the necessary coordination, which takes a lot more time than people think

And I don't like that wave-like progression. It doesn't fit with my personality. If I do 1 rep today, and 0 reps tomorrow, it's very frustrating for me, even though I know that in the long term, it may get better.

So what I did is to use a pile of books and use partial-ROM reps. Currently using 5 books. Each succesfully performed rep, I remove one page. This makes successes a lot more consistent. I feel like I'm progressing, and that progression is objective with every removed page.

Also, progress is adaptative. I mean: once it starts to get too easy, I will be doing more reps per set. That means more removed pages and faster progress.

It requires more patience (about 10 succesful reps for 1mm extra ROM, the depth of 10 sheets of paper), but I prefer it this way. If I want to progress faster, all I have to do is to do more sets and remove more pages.

Once I've finished with all the books (full ROM HeSPU), I might continue this method, this time adding a sheet a paper behind my hands for every succesful rep. Once there's too many sheets, I'd put a more stable platform behind it.

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:53 pm

Weighted towel pull-ups and towel holds
For weighted towel pull-ups, the process is explained in the weighted pull-ups strategy section

For weighted towel holds, the goal is simply to fill a PR table with max BW hold, max + 10kg hold, 20kg, 30kg, 40kg... and so on until 2xBW. Once I can hold 2xBW weighted towel holds for a solid time, I'd use one arm towel hangs and repeat the process

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Re: Against Gravity training log (2020)

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:57 pm

BB front pistol squats
Relatively new addition to my routine, so double progression.
3x5->10

The reason I'm doing BB front pistol squats instead BB back squats is threefold:

1. BB front pistol squats puts more emphasis in my glutes, while BB back squats is more hams & lower back focused. My hams grow very fast with BB back squats. I've naturally big legs compared to my upper body already (tendency to accumulate muscle and fat easily there). Aesthetically, I don't like this. BB pistol squats barely affects hams size, but glutes size - a lot better for the shape of my body

2. I've plates only for a total of 100kg. I'd be forced to use high reps with it if I used BB back squats, which is very draining mentally and doesnt motivate me that much

3. Whole body recovery is worse with BB back squats. I mean I need more active recovery days. Lats, triceps remain sore/tight for more days if I do BB back squats.

OA BB curls

New addition, so double progression:
3x15->20 for OA BB curls
Once I'm stalling I may do lower rep ranges.

The reason I'm doing OA BB curls instead normal BB curls is because using a straight bar has a tendency to cause injuries in my left wrist. It has happened 2-3 times now. So if I grab the bar with just one hand, there's a more 'open chain' and freedom of movements, which makes it more like a dumbbell but with extra forearm gains.

OA push-up
As effective for triceps as a BB curl for the biceps.
The strategy is to start with legs as wide apart as possible, and build a very big double progression leeway. Like, 20 reps per set. This gives joints enough time to adapt.

Then, I'd reduce the distance between my legs, while still keeping the torso in a straight line (no twisting). I'd do this by keeping one feet in contact with the wall, and measuring the distance between the wall and the other feet. To progress, I reduce that distance and build up the reps to 20/set again. And to ensure I'm not twisting my body, I'd use the parallettes as 'mini-barriers' for my face/head in the bottom position. One parallette in the right side, another in the left side: my nose/face must be between both parallettes in the bottom of each rep, ensuring that way a straight body position
Last edited by Against Gravity on Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:52 pm, edited 6 times in total.