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 via social media or in the comments section below to participate in next week's mailbag.

 

Question #1: Maximizing Training Time

READER: What about two-a-days? I can find thirty minutes at a time for training, but not an hour. Can I split up my strength and conditioning work like this? If so, how long between?

 

CHARLES SAYS: If, in fact, you can only find thirty minutes at a time, then yes, I’d do two-a-days. Also, if your time is that tight, pick your battles carefully. In other words, be highly selective about the cost-to-benefit profile of the exercises you choose. Stick with big “bang for the buck” movements.

 

"You’ve got to push the boundaries to ensure continued progress - just make sure you do so in an intelligent manner."

Breaking Muscle Shop

Another consideration for time-starved people is to use exercises and/or set/rep brackets that require minimal warm up and/or set up. That might mean higher reps with machines, for example, or any other type of exercise that you don’t need a lot of warm up for.

 

A final thought is that if you have occasional weeks where you’ve got more time, use those weeks for more conventional (i.e. longer) training sessions. Same goes for people who might normally only be able to train for two days a week - if and when you’ve got more time, exploit it.

 

Question #2: Recovering From Illness

READER: You were sick lately, right? How do you program and train during/after sickness?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Yes, I tend to get sick once every seven or eight years, and this was one of those years. Honestly, for me, I don’t try to train through illness. I figure that the training will pull from the same pool of resources my body needs to recover from the illness, so it only delays the inevitable.

 

Usually, illness is a sign that your body isn’t successfully coping with the stresses it’s dealing with. So, that being the case, in my mind, it’s better to remove stresses where possible, rather than add to them.

 

Question #3: Testing Max Reps

READER: I've heard that 1RMs are dangerous and should not be tested often. How else can I find out if I'm progressing, perhaps on a monthly basis? Or are 1RMs okay to do?

 

CHARLES SAYS: If your technique is stable, I don’t consider 1RMs particularly dangerous relative to 3RMs or 5RMs, for example. In fact, in some cases, max 3-5 rep efforts can actually be more dangerous.

 

That being said, if you’re not a competitive lifter, there is no real need to go into 1RM territory, as long as you’re making a contentious and determined effort to ensure progression in whatever rep brackets you commonly use. But again, a true max effort for any number of reps is going to have an element of danger. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted, it just means you should be aware of the risk and always maintain correct mechanics no matter how hard you might be pushing. You’ve got to push the boundaries to ensure continued progress - just make sure you do so in an intelligent manner.

 

 

This Week’s Training

This ended up being an unplanned deload of sorts. For unknown reasons, I’ve just been feeling flat and uninspired. Although last week’s volume doesn’t appear to be anything crazy, I did put up a new 3RM personal record on the deadlift, and I guess of all things that might put a dent in my recovery, that’d be pretty high on the list.

 

That aside, a few things to note:

 

  • I’ve been gradually working toward 225 (5x5) on my bench press. This week, I managed 3x5 with 220, so little by little it seems to be getting there. Next week, I’ll attempt 220 (5x5). These bench sessions are very intense - definitely going to or nearly to failure on every set to get the numbers I’m looking for.
  • After not low-bar squatting for seven weeks, they feel like utter crap right now, so I’ve put them back into the program every Monday. Further, my efforts to target my quads only seem to be resulting in tweaky knees. As of now, I’m reducing/eliminating partial ROM squats, hack squats, and leg presses.
  • After many (over fifteen?) years of not doing dips, I’m working on them again. Managed bodyweight for 4x7 without much trouble this week. Not sure how these will pay off, but time will tell.

 

Apologies for no video this week – honestly, I just haven’t being doing anything noteworthy lately, but I expect that to change soon.


Weekly Volume:  49,801 Pounds (Last Week: 83,540 Pounds)

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.4 Pounds

Volume: 13,690 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 139.69 Pounds

 

Hang Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 143 lbs × 2
  • Set 11: 143 lbs × 2
  • Set 12: 143 lbs × 2

Notes: IQ: 86.25

 

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 × 3
  • Set 6: 275 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 275 lbs × 3
  • Set 8: 275 lbs × 3
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 10: 225 lbs × 3

Notes: IQ: 178.61

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 210 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 120

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 199.6 Pounds

Volume: 13,663 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 155.27 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 205 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 225 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 240 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 250 lbs x 0
  • Set 10: 225 lbs × 4

IQ: 139.16

 

Chest Dip

  • Set 1: 7 reps
  • Set 2: 7 reps
  • Set 3: 7 reps
  • Set 4: 7 reps

Notes: IQ: 199.6

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 160 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 160 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 160 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 160

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 70

 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.8 Pounds

Volume: 9355 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 170.09 Pounds

 

Power Clean

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 115 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 155 lbs × 3
  • Set 8: 175 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 195 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 195 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 116.6

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 225 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 214.66

 

Friday, April 24, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.4 Pounds

Volume: 13093 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 179.35 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 205 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 215 lbs × 5
  • Set 8: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 9: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 10: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 11: 215 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 168.57 Missed 250x1

 

Chin Up

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

Notes: IQ: 201.4

 

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Photo courtesy of Shannon Khoury.

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