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 comments below this article.

 

Question #1: Do I Really Need a Coach?

READER: How important is having a coach? If I am a recreational athlete, with no performance-specific goals, but I am not seeing any changes in my body or strength, is a trainer or coach worth it or should I just get a new program?

 

coach,coaching

 

Breaking Muscle Shop

CHARLES SAYS: Having a coach can certainly be helpful. In addition to accountability and technical supervision, a coach can serve as an objective set of eyes on your training process. It can also be refreshing to just wear one hat (athlete) rather than two (coach/athlete). It frees you up so you can just work hard without always second-guessing your training plan.

 

I guess I’ll take this as an opportunity to mention my own online coaching service if you don’t mind the plug - click here for more information.

 

Question #2: Avoiding Body Obsession

READER: How can I avoid going to far in the body-obsession department? I have been working out because I want to look better, and I do, but I have no idea when I will stop and am concerned I am losing perspective. What are some signs that I'm going too far?

 

CHARLES SAYS: The fact that you asked this question in the first place might be a sign. Aside from that, though, I really have no idea. Maybe psychological counseling? I’m being serious here if that’s not clear. Counseling is just a form of coaching really. Maybe something to consider.

 

Question #3: Morning Workouts

READER: I have to work out in the morning due to work, but I feel weak and unmotivated in the morning and anxious about the day so I'm distracted. Is there any way I can feel better for my morning workouts? I can't change my schedule.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Well there aren’t really any unique motivational techniques for morning workouts, but I’d employ commonly-known tips like having a coach or training partner, having clear goals, and so on.

 

training, training partner

 

But with those aside, I’d also think about the following:

 

  1. Get some carbs in the night before training - it’ll help you sleep better and you’ll have glycogen already in your system when you hit the gym.
  2. Take a long hot shower before your workout for passive warm-up purposes.
  3. Do your smaller, lighter exercises first. This runs against common practice, but ordering your exercises from small to big whenever possible/practical will serve as an extended warm up and help you transition into those early workouts.
  4. Position workouts on your days off from work whenever possible.

 

Question #3: Training to Failure

READER: Can I train every movement to failure? I feel like I am getting the most out of my gym time when I am wasted at the end of each set and every workout, but I'm not sure if it's the right way to go.

 

CHARLES SAYS: You certainly want to go close to failure on your work sets, because it seems that fatigue mechanisms are critical for the growth of new muscle, but if you take sets to absolute failure, you’ll limit the volume you’d otherwise be able to put in. Training to failure also increases the risk of injury. This is especially true for big exercises and movements, since they have a greater overall impact on recovery. So in other words, I’d be less concerned about going to failure on dumbbell curls as opposed to deadlifts.

 

As a slight aside, I’d be more focused on the total work performed, rather than the set/rep brackets that lead to that workload. So use fatigue management tactics in your training, and leaving 1-2 reps in the bank on most sets is one of the best techniques for that purpose.

 

This Week’s Training

This Week’s Volume: 99,660 Pounds (Last Week: 37,049 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Bench Press: 200x8
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 190x10
  • 1.5” Block Pull: 390x10

 

I’m quite happy with the past month or so of training. I’ve had a few pleasant surprises (such as recent performances of dumbbell bench pressing 95s for 12 and pulling 405x9 from a 2.5” deficit) that are definitely shoring up my confidence about my current plan.

 

I also had an interesting experience this week that I’ll relate here in case anyone else is in a similar position:

 

I’ve been dealing with some annoying tendonitis in my left knee for weeks now. Nothing too concerning, but it is a distraction, particularly on heavy squats. This week, prior to squatting, I spent a few minutes foam-rolling my left IT band, and sure enough, it seemed to help, not only during the squats, but also on the days following my squat session.

 

Foam rolling the IT band has been criticized by a few of my colleagues lately, but I think the key it to not completely pulverize those tissues when rolling them out. Instead, search for the irritable spots, and when you find them, just pause there until the pain subsides significantly. It usually takes ten to fifteen seconds. Then find another spot, rinse, and repeat.

 

Enjoy this week’s videos, and I’m enjoying all the great questions - keep ‘em coming!


Monday, July 13, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.6 Pounds

Volume: 20,505 Pounds

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 225 lbs × 8

 

Good Morning

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 165 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 8

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 8

 

Leg Extension

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 190 lbs × 8

 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.2 Pounds

Volume: 22,145 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 195 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 195 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 200 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 185 lbs × 8

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 130 lbs × 8

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 160 lbs × 8

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 70 lbs × 8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.6 Pounds

Volume: 27,701 Pounds

 

1.5" Block Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 365 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 390 lbs × 10 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 315 lbs × 8

 

 

1 & 1/4 Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 155 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 6

 

Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 68 lbs × 8

 

Back Extension

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

 

Friday, July 17, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8 Pounds

Volume: 20,989 Pounds

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 190 lbs × 10 (Video Below)

 

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 8 reps
  • Set 2: 8 reps
  • Set 3: 8 reps

 

Chest Dip

  • Set 1: 8 reps

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

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

 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8 Pounds

Volume: 8320 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 85 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 105 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 105 lbs × 8

 

Lying Tricep Extension

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 8

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 70 lbs × 8

 

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Photos courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.

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