Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions directly to Charles in the Breaking Muscle Forums.

 

Question #1: The Dreaded Dot Drill

READER: When I do the dot drill, sometimes I get a brain fart and start stutter-stepping. Also, I find it hard to hit the dots precisely, especially the dots at the bottom of the mat. And I don't even go blazingly fast. Years ago, I recall you writing some secrets for doing the drill. Any suggestions?

 

The dot drill is one of my favorite conditioning exercises.

 
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CHARLES SAYS: Ah, the dreaded dot drill! (For those who might be unfamiliar, read this article of mine for more info.)

 

I don’t use this drill a lot as of late, but it is a superb anaerobic conditioning exercise. One little trick is to identify which segment of the drill you’re worst at, and then focus your efforts on that aspect of the drill only, rather than always completing the entire drill. For me that was always the single-leg portions.

 

A few other tricks:

 

  • Light, supportive shoes and tight shoe laces.
  • There is a tendency to always do this drill as fast as possible, which is not always conducive to skill development. Do most of your dot drill work at speeds that are comfortable enough to do the pattern well.
  • Regardless of where your feet are at any point, keep your center of gravity in the center of the grid.
  • Give your foot and ankle strength time to develop.
  • The leaner you are, the better you’ll do on this drill.

 

Hope that helps and please keep me posted on your progress!

 

Question #2: Maintaining Strength When Bodybuilding

READER: Recently you spoke of maintaining your strength during a bodybuilding phase. Would you go into more detail about that please? Thanks!

 

CHARLES SAYS: Sure. In a phase dedicated to hypertrophy development, it’s common to lose maximal strength capacity, since training designed for increased muscle mass typically isn’t intense enough to stimulate maximum strength.

 

My personal approach to this quandary is to attempt to maintain maximum strength (which can be accomplished with far less volume than it takes to actually improve it) by quickly and economically working up to one to two heavy sets of one to three reps on that day’s core movement. After that, I move on to bodybuilding-style training, using higher reps per set and focusing more on fatiguing the muscle than the weight on the bar.

 

 "In a phase dedicated to hypertrophy development, it’s common to lose maximal strength capacity."

If, in any given session, I find that my maximal strength seems to be deteriorating (as evidenced by the top weight I’m able to hit that day), I’ll make an on-the-fly decision to do a bit more work for that lift, with the assumption that I’m not doing quite enough work to maintain it. As an example, this week on block pulls, I worked up to a 475lb single, which is okay, but not especially great for me. So, I then backed down and did a double with 405.

 

As I get closer to a competition, my emphasis gets shifted to maximal-strength training, while hypertrophy training gets put on maintenance level. So in a maximal-strength phase, I might work up to several sets of two to three reps on the core lift, and then just one to two sets of each assistance movement with the goal of simply maintaining the previously developed hypertrophy.

 

Question #3: Retiring From Vegetarianism

READER: I want to stop being a vegetarian, but I've spent three years telling everyone why it's the best thing to do. How do I proceed? I just want to stop being hungry!

 

CHARLES SAYS: People tend to get overly invested in pet ideas and practices, and then unfortunately, when evidence points you in another direction, it becomes difficult to admit you were wrong and alter your course. Imagine being Robert Atkins (the pioneer of low-carb dieting) and coming across compelling research that low-carb diets aren’t the best approach. Your whole career is based on low carb and you’ve written several best-selling books on the subject. Imagine how difficult it would be to change course!

 

This is why many self-professed vegans actually consume animal products behind closed doors, I’d imagine. The only consolation I can give you (and it’s a pretty good one, I think) is that if you out yourself as a recidivist omnivore, at least people will respect you for being open-minded and honest.

 

meat, chicken, protein

Don't be a closet meat-eater. If being vegetarian isn't working for you anymore, then make a change.

 

This Week’s Training

Significant Lifts

 

  • Squat: 375x1
  • Bench Press: 255x1
  • Block Pull: 475x1

 

This Week’s Volume: 70,604 Pounds (Last Week: 104,989 Pounds)

 

This was another week of solid lifting for me, with good numbers on all three competitive lifts. My squat in particular has been feeling great as of late, which I suspect is just a function of doing it more regularly.

 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll notice I’ve more or less abandoned my focus on quad-building, or at least on the surface. In truth, I feel like the volume I’ve been putting into high-bar squats has been helping my competition squat a lot. So for the time being, I’ll be sticking with that and also high-rep trap bar pulls focusing on keeping the quads working hard.

 

I’m continuing to do the Olympic lifts, mostly as a dynamic warm up for squats and deads, and simply as practice on those movements. I’m not worrying too much about the weight on the bar, although I am always looking for certain weights to feel better than usual.

 

I’m really liking my exercise menu lately. I’m doing the two competitive weightlifting events, the three powerlifts, as well as overhead presses, chins, rows, incline dumbbell presses, and curls. Really pretty much every primary movement pattern and muscle group is being represented but calves. But as Omar Isuf will tell you, the first rule of #teamnocalves is “we don’t talk about #teamnocalves.”

 

That’s all for this week guys. Keep sending those questions. I really do enjoy answering them!


Monday, May 25, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 16,136 Pounds

 

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 125 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 125 lbs × 2
  • Set 11: 135 lbs × 2
  • Set 12: 135 lbs × 2

Notes: Some medial knee pain during snatches and early squats. Good snatch cue: reduce the time between the hip smash and the foot catch

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 275 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 345 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 375 lbs × 1

Notes: Very solid, probably had another 10 pounds

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 245 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 245 lbs × 6

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 203.2 Pounds

Volume: 14,115 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 255 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 10: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 11: 185 lbs × 10

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 8

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 80 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.6 Pounds

Volume: 24,783 Pounds

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 135 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 135 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 155 lbs × 1

 

4" Block Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 365 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 405 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 455 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 475 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

 

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 405 lbs × 1

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 315 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 315 lbs × 8

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +130 lbs × 10

 

Friday, May 29, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.4 Pounds

Volume: 15,570 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 6
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 6
  • Set 6: 95 lbs × 6

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 160 lbs × 8

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 1 reps
  • Set 2: 2 reps
  • Set 3: 3 reps
  • Set 4: 4 reps
  • Set 5: 5 reps
  • Set 6: 6 reps

 

Low Cable Curl

  • Set 1: 20 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 20 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 20 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 20 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 30 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 30 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 30 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 30 lbs × 8

 

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