Towards the end of last year I started rereading large portions of Stuart McRobert’s Beyond Brawn and seeing how I’d begun training in the mornings and consequently had less time to do so I decided to experiment with a more abbreviated routine. Here’s how my routine stands as of today:
- Neutral Grip Chin-ups
- Single Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises
- Barbell Bench Press
- Bent-Over Barbell Rows
- Weighted Crunches
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
- Parallel Bar Dips
- Dumbbell Shrugs
When I was planning this routine I hadn’t had a break from weight training for a few months and I could feel that a rest would be in my best interests: I was starting to feel tired more often, progress had slowed and I knew from past experiences with over-training that if I kept pushing it I would only regress.
I dismissed strength training for a week, did some extra running and swimming and proceeded to eschew modern bodybuilding techniques, turning my back on split routines and instead focusing on building my basic core strength with a mere handful of big, basic, compound exercises.
The abbreviated approach seemed to go against the generally accepted dogma that you have to train to absolute exhaustion to see results and I admit I was skeptical. For the first month I even avoided accessory movements (in italics above,) only performing 2 exercises per session and was amazed to discover that by doing less work I was able to make more progress!
Over the festive period I did absolutely no exercise, got myself fully rested and since getting back into training I’ve brought in some accessory work for my calves, abs and traps and over the course of a few weeks built back up to my previous bests in the compound movements.
This week has been the start of a journey into new poundages and as such I’ve increased my caloric intake. Generally, I’m performing 2 warm-up sets and 3 work sets for the compounds and 1 warm-up set and 1 or 2 work sets for the smaller exercises. My swimming routine has consisted of 60 lengths of breaststroke and it will be the first thing to be dropped, along with the accessory movements, as I approach the limit of this training cycle. I’m loving making progress again, it reminds me why I like about playing the iron game!
Right, I gotta go eat…