Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.

 

Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at three of the most common workout problems I hear about.

 

Let’s get started.

 

Problem #1: I’m Going to Miss an Upcoming Workout

Solution: This is a common occurrence for many people. Something comes up suddenly and you realize you’re going to miss a session. Here’s how I handle this:

 

Let’s say my Thursday workout normally looks like this:

 

  • Deadlift: 4x8
  • Safety Squat: 3x8
  • Back Extension: 3x8
  • Leg Curl: 3x8

 

And, my Friday session (the one I’m going to miss) looks like this:

 

  • Bench Press: 4x8
  • Chins: 3x8
  • Skullcrushers: 3x8
  • Dumbbell Curl: 3x8

 

The way I’ll solve this is to synthesize the most important aspects of both sessions into one, which will be done on Thursday. This “hybrid” session will look like this:

 

  • Deadlift: 4x8
  • Bench Press: 4x8
  • Safety Squat: 1x8
  • Chins: 1x8
  • Back Extension: 1x8
  • Skullcrushers: 1x8
  • Leg Curl: 1x8
  • Dumbbell Curl: 1x8

 

This way, your combined session on Thursday is only one more work set than originally planned, and even though you’re doing fewer sets on most exercises (1 set instead of 3), you’ll still maintain your gains by doing one hard set, which is far better than skipping the exercise altogether.

 

You can also fine tune this a bit further by skipping 1-2 planned exercises for your strengths. For example, if your biceps are already well-developed relative to everything else, you might skip arm curls altogether.

 

Problem #2: No Time or Energy To Do the Whole Workout

Solution: This issue is similar to the one I just discussed, and it’s another common challenge, especially for busy people. You’ve got a big workout scheduled, but time is tight and your energy is low to boot. Just the thought of grinding through that session is almost enough to make you think twice about going to the gym at all.

 

There are alternatives to skipping workouts all together.

 

Apply the 80/20 rule and identify the aspects of the planned session that will likely give you the biggest bang for the buck. Stay open to completing the whole session, but don’t force yourself to commit to it. Let’s look at the Thursday workout I used in my earlier solution:

 

  • Deadlift: 4x8
  • Safety Squat: 3x8
  • Back Extension: 3x8
  • Leg Curl: 3x8

 

This doesn’t look like all that much on paper, but if your work sets on deads are 405lb, it’s going to be a long session by the time you’ve worked up to that weight.

 

The first thing you’ll do is to consider pulls a compulsory movement and leg curls an optional exercise. You’ll do one or two work sets on safety squats for sure, but see how you feel after deadlifts to decide whether or not to do more.

 

This type of reasoning helps to de-pressurize the situation, allowing you to work hard on the movement that really counts - pulls. Once you get through your deadlifts, you might feel more inclined to finish the whole session. But if not, that’s okay. Get at least one heavy work set in on safety squats and call it a win.

 

The key here is to divide and conquer by giving yourself permission to skip non-essential (or at least, less essential) work for the greater good of coming through on the exercise(s) that really pay the bills. Think of it as “flexible training.”

 

Problem #3: Your (Knee/Shoulder/Elbow/Whatever) Hurts

Solution: It’s uncommon to be taken totally by surprise by pain during a workout. More often than not, even before you get to the gym, you’ll suspect that a particular body part might become a problem. For example, maybe on the morning of a planned squat workout you notice your low back is talking to you as you get into your car. This should serve as a warning that you might not be able to squat without back pain that afternoon.

 

The solution is to have a Plan B already in mind - or even better, on paper - before you get to the gym. For this example, you might have leg presses in mind as an alternative to squats. This will allow you to train your legs hard with much less chance of low back pain compared to squatting.

 

"The key here is to divide and conquer by giving yourself permission to skip non-essential (or at least, less essential) work for the greater good of coming through on the exercise(s) that really pay the bills."

If you don’t have a Plan B already in place, you might be tempted to scratch the entire workout due to frustration when you experience pain. Or, if you’re hard-headed, you might just try to plow through it and hurt yourself even worse in the process.

 

Incidentally, I often hear trainers and coaches advise their clients to just use light weights if they are hurting. This strategy never resonated with me, since using light weights can still aggravate an injury. And because the weight is light, there’s no upside to the damage you’re creating. Bad idea in my book. Better to either skip the offending movement altogether, or find a viable alternative.

 

I hope these quick fixes are useful to you. Now on to this week’s training.

 

This Week’s Training

Volume: 41,395 Pounds (Last Week’s Volume: 53,690 Pounds)

 

Significant Performances:

 

Bench Press: 255x1

Deadlift: 500x1

 

I’m still experiencing some left knee pain, so I skipped squats on Monday. Everything else is going well, though. My bench and squat are right where they should be with one month to go before the competition.

 

I’ll squat for sure next week, so we’ll see how that’s looking despite the fact that I’m not training it very often lately.

 

I’ve got one hard deadlift session remaining, two hard squat sessions (assuming my knee cooperates!), and three hard bench sessions before my meet on November 22. Thanks all.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.6 Pounds

Volume: 12,165 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 4
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 240 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 250 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 250 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 225 lbs × 2

 

Seated Row

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

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 199.6 Pounds

Volume: 13, 070 Pounds

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 275 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 315 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 455 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 500 lbs × 1 (Video Below)
  • Set 11: 405 lbs × 2
  • Set 12: 405 lbs × 2

 

 

Seated Leg Curl

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

 

Friday, October 23, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.2 Pounds

Volume: 16,160 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 255 lbs × 1

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: +35 lbs × 4
  • Set 4: 5 reps

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

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

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

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

 

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