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: Improving Leg Speed and Leg Strength

READER: I'm a track athlete who is seventeen years old. I primarily do the 100 and the 200 along with shot put. I would like to improve my leg strength, especially my posterior chain to improve in my sprints. As well, I'd like to build a nice physique to complement my performance. I weigh around 175-180 and I'm 5'11-6'0. My best back squat is 275x3 and front squat is 195x5. My best power clean was 195x2. The best trap bar deadlift I had was 285x3. The best bench press I had was 205x1. What do you suggest I do to accomplish my goals while lifting four or five times a week and sprinting two to three times a week?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Okay, there is a lot going on with this question, and while I don’t have enough specifics to give you concrete advice, I think I can provide a few avenues of additional inquiry for you:

 

The first thing that jumps out at me is that you might be trying to accomplish too many varied objectives simultaneously. For starters, if you’re training and eating properly, the physique goals should pretty much just fall into place anyway, so let’s confine the rest of this discussion to training.

 

sprint, sprinter

Training for sprinting and track athletics is about volume and balance.

 

In my opinion, lifting four to five times per week is far too much lifting, particularly if you’re also on the track two to three days a week, and especially if/when you’re in season. To give some context for this, many of the world’s strongest athletes lift only three days a week, and that’s all they’re doing. You’ve got the additional demands of the track work on top of everything else. So my first and really primary recommendation is that you should lift perhaps one to two days a week in season, and two to three days per week off-season.

 

Second, any athlete who is lifting to improve his or her performance in another sport needs to heavily emphasize the concept of training economy. In other words, employ the 80/20 principle at every opportunity - seek to get the most gain with the least cost, rather than trying to do everything and anything with the hopes of deriving maximum possible benefit.

 

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to emphasize proven standard lifts such as the ones you mentioned in your question. Stick to the three to six rep range for the most part, and seek to constantly better your weight-room performances - but not at the expense of technique, of course. On a three-day lifting week, I’d deadlift once, and squat and bench press twice. Add in one to two assistance movements on top of that for each session, and you’re good to go.

 

Thanks for your question, and I hope that helps that helps to give you some sense of direction.

 

Question #2: Using NSAIDS for Recovery

READER: I sometimes (okay, often) use NSAIDS so I can train again sooner (or sleep after a hard workout). Am I killing my gains?

 

CHARLES SAYS: There has been research recently that strongly suggests chronic NSAID use does in fact impair the muscular hypertrophy process.

 

That being said, NSAIDs can be an effective tool - if used intelligently. First, if NSAIDs allow you to train where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, then I’d say the upside is worth the downside, at least acutely. In other words, do you make more progress by training with NSAIDs or by not training at all?

 

There is another important consideration here, though, which is, “Why are you in pain in the first place?” While I’m fine with temporary NSAID usage while you’re simultaneously doing whatever you can to diagnose the problem causing the pain, that’s quite different than using NSAIDs as a “cure” for the problem itself. So the best way to view NSAIDs is as a stopgap measure to bridge the span between your first symptoms and the resolution of those symptoms.

 

Question #3: Why Am I Not Seeing Results?

READER: I've been doing an upper/lower split plus thirty minutes cardio every other day, plus getting a handle on what I eat. Three months, and no visible change. I'm about ready to give up. What do I do?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Based on your question, I’m guessing you’re probably on the more novice end of things. If that’s indeed the case, then I’d recommend whole-body sessions three to four days per week rather than upper/lower splits. The reasoning for that goes like this: If, for example, your max squat is less than 225lb, then you’ll recover from your squat workouts in about one to two days. If that’s the case, and you’re only training lower body twice a week, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity for growth.

 

Another thought is to make sure you’re consistently and accurately monitoring your workouts as well as your nutritional intake and bodyweight. I bring this up because I’ve been hired by people who claimed they weren’t making progress, and then upon digging a bit deeper, I found that they weren’t monitoring things carefully enough to ascertain whether or not they were making progress or not.

 

Keep in mind that you can make visible changes in your body (i.e., weight loss) through diet alone, so if you’re training that much and still not seeing progress, I have to suspect you aren’t monitoring accurately enough and/or your calorie intake is too high for your current energy expenditure.

 

fat loss, training

Stay patient - your program and method of assessing results might need a small tweak.

 

Question #4: Consolidating Workouts

READER: Because of my crazy work schedule, I have to pack all my workouts into three consecutive days per week. Is there a good way to do that?

 

CHARLES SAYS: I’d do a moderate lower-body session on day one, a hard upper-body session on day two, and then an extremely rigorous full-body session on day three. Essentially, on day three you want to train so hard that you’ll need a four-day recovery period. Not ideal mind you, but probably the best approach given your circumstances. You can certainly play around with the details, but for certain day three must be a very, very hard session.

 

Question #5: Measuring Calories on Machines

READER: Which cardio machines have accurate calorie readouts? I can do the same workout on three different treadmill brands at my gym and get three very different results for calories burned!

 

CHARLES SAYS: None of them are accurate. But you can still use these readouts to monitor relative progress from session to session, even though they aren’t likely to be accurate.

 

Question #6: Post-Workout Beers

READER: I have great lifting partners. We work out hard three to four times per week, every week. Problem is, we almost always go to the bar afterward. Is this killing my gains?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Not my area of expertise, but it’s certainly not a “best practice” unless you’re ordering protein shakes.

 

beers, beer bottles

"Hey guys, I'm here for the post-workout."

 

This Week’s Training

This Week’s Volume: 127,460 Pounds (Last Week: 112,983 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Close-Grip Bench Press: 185x9
  • 2.5” Deficit Pull: 405x9
  • Military Press: 100x10

 

Just for reference, this is week three of an eight-week hypertrophy phase, and it’ll be followed by a one-week deload, which I’m definitely in need of as this was the most training volume I think I’ve ever posted.

 

Despite high fatigue levels, I actually posted three lifetime personal records for reps this week (posted above). I’m guessing this is probably due to the fact my rep-specific fitness adaptations (work capacity, in other words) are sufficiently large to offset that fatigue.

 

After the deload, I’ll change up my exercise menu fairly significantly and hit the ground running for another four-week cycle. The only other change to this next cycle is that my rep target will be eight (as opposed to ten, which is what I used for this cycle).

 

Thanks for all the great questions lately, please keep them coming!


Monday, June 29, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.6 Pounds

Volume: 36,490 Pounds

 

High Bar Squat

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

 

Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 10

 

Leg Press

  • Set 1: 160 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 230 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 270 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 270 lbs × 10

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 9
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 10

 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.4 Pounds

Volume: 21,200 Pounds

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies On Rings)

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 170 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 170 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 175 lbs × 10
  • Set 7: 180 lbs × 10
  • Set 8: 185 lbs × 9

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 120 lbs × 10

 

Machine Row

  • Set 1: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 90 lbs × 6

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 70 lbs × 10

 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 34,225 Pounds

 

2.5" Deficit Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 315 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 405 lbs × 9 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 315 lbs × 10

 

 

19" Box Squat

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 205 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 10

 

Seated Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 115 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 115 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +140 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +140 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +140 lbs × 10

 

Friday, July 3, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 26,845 Pounds

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 180 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 180 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 200 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 180 lbs × 10
  • Set 8: 180 lbs × 9

 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.8 Pounds

Volume: 8700 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 85 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 100 lbs × 8

 

Lying Tricep Extension

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 10

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 10

 

Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 10

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 10

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 8: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 9: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 10: 75 lbs × 5
  • Set 11: 75 lbs × 5

 

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Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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