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: Should I Prioritize Strength or Looking Good?

READER: For most people, their goals are to look good and be able to say they can lift pretty heavy weights. If you don't have priority for either of the two (you don't care for aesthetics more than strength and vice versa), which should you focus on first, and for how long?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re addressing both adaptations. I think it’s also slightly more effective to train for strength and muscle gain sequentially, rather than simultaneously.

 

As long as you’re addressing both strength and muscle gain, preferably sequentially, you should be good.

 

There are at least a few potential reasons for this:

 

  1. Your body can adapt more successfully if it’s only dealing with a single challenge at a time. Think of it this way: If you had to prevail in a fight, would you be more successful if you only had to fight one person or if you had to do that on top of making sure you didn’t fall off of a rooftop at the same time? Or to use a motor learning analogy, clearly you’d be a better guitarist if you only played guitar, as opposed to trying to excel at playing drums at the same time.
  2. Whatever type of challenge you’re subjecting yourself to, your body will, over time, “figure it out.” That’s why, when you start a new program, you’ll be sore for the first week or so, but after four or five weeks, despite lifting heavier weights, you’ll no longer experience DOMS.

 

So train for hypertrophy for 4-6 weeks (perhaps sets of 8-15 reps), and then switch gears by lowering your reps (to the 4-6 range) and increase the loads correspondingly.

 

If you’re more interested in muscle than strength, you might train hypertrophy and strength at a 3:1 ratio (for example, 6 weeks of higher-rep training followed by 2 reps of lower reps). Reverse this ratio for a greater emphasis on strength development.

 

Question #2: Should I Talk to That Hot Girl in the Gym?

READER: So, there is this really hot girl who wears ridiculously nice clothes (read: tight) and a shirt that says "Don't Even Think of Talking to Me at the Gym” - at the gym. What gives?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Look man, as a rule, it’s exceeding risky to talk to girls in the gym anyway, especially if they seem serious and/or if you come across as creepy. And I don’t blame them, really. Guys tend to be fairly predatory, especially in gym settings, and while some women use gyms as a dating service, my guess is that the girl you’re referencing here isn’t. Cool?

 

Probably best to let the women in the gym focus on their training.

 

Question #3: What Should I Sub for Conventional Deadlifts?

READER: I have a question. I'm an athlete and I hate doing conventional deadlifts for strength. Would a power clean and its variation work as a suitable substitute for my pulling strength work instead of a deadlift? I don't enjoy doing conventional deadlifts and my body isn't very suitable for them.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Sure. After all, these two movements have a lot of similarities, and for the most part, they train the same muscles. But that leads me to wonder, if your body isn’t suited to conventional deadlifts, it probably isn’t suited to power cleans either, since the two drills have so much in common.

 

"If none if these options work for whatever reason (and I’d suggesting finding out what that reason is and then correcting it), you might consider things like heavy kettlebell swings or sled pushes as an alternative."

Keep in mind also, that there are a large number of variants for both the deadlift and the clean. You can pull sumo-style, from blocks, from a deficit, against elastic bands, or with a wide grip, and/or with a trap bar, just to give a few examples. With cleans, you can do them from the floor or from the hang. Or you can do clean pulls, or even clean high pulls.

 

If none if these options work for whatever reason (and I’d suggesting finding out what that reason is and then correcting it), you might consider things like heavy kettlebell swings or sled pushes as an alternative.

 

This Week’s Training

This Week’s Volume: 84,165 Pounds (Last Week: 29,525 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Squat: 295x5
  • Paused Bench Press: 225x5
  • Deadlift: 425x6

 

Well, the deload was nice, but it’s also fun to be back into heavy training! The primary observation I had was this week is that I’m starting to feel…I’m looking for the best descriptor here…I guess it’s “strong.” And intuitively it feels like the previous eight weeks of high-rep training contributed to this.

 

These things are sometimes difficult to articulate, but especially on squats this week, I just felt like I could grind through almost anything if I had to. It’s almost like having better “first gear strength,” if you can relate to that analogy.
 

"At this stage, while I’m still striving to keep volume as high as I can (to preserve previously-gained adaptations), intensity takes precedence over anything else."

Aside from all that, I should report that my right shoulder has been complaining as of late. Strangely enough, I first noticed this last Tuesday during the deload. It’s mostly hurting on the bench press - no surprise there, I guess. Next week I’ll need to make a decision about how to address that during workouts. When you’ve got a lot of momentum built up in your training, it’s difficult to break the pattern in order to allow an injury to rest, but the consequences of not doing so could be even worse.

 

One final point is that you’ll notice my volume is down. This is an unavoidable (and totally acceptable) consequence of lower-rep sets and slightly lower weekly training frequency. At this stage, while I’m still striving to keep volume as high as I can (to preserve previously-gained adaptations), intensity takes precedence over anything else.

 

Thanks for the comments and questions. Get back to the gym and let’s meet again next week!


Monday, August 10, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 204.6 Pounds

Volume: 23,545 Pounds

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 8: 295 lbs × 5
  • Set 9: 275 lbs × 5

 

Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 170 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 210 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 260 lbs × 5

 

Leg Press

  • Set 1: 230 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 270 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 270 lbs × 8

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 6

 

Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 80 lbs × 6

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8 Pounds

Volume: 13,475 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 205 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 5
  • Notes: Paused

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 6

 

Seated Row

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

 

Lying Tricep Extension

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 85 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 85 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 85 lbs × 6

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

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

 

Life Fitness Row

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

 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 203 Pounds

Volume: 26,450 Pounds

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 315 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 365 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 385 lbs × 5
  • Set 8: 405 lbs × 5
  • Set 9: 425 lbs × 6 (Video Below)
  • Set 10: 405 lbs × 5

 

 

3.5" Deficit Trap Bar

  • Set 1: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 315 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 315 lbs × 5

 

Seated Leg Curl

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

 

Leg Extension

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

 

Friday, August 14, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 203.2 Pounds

Volume: 20,695 Pounds

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 180 lbs × 6
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 6
  • Set 6: 190 lbs × 6
  • Set 7: 200 lbs × 6
  • Set 8: 190 lbs × 6

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 85 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 105 lbs × 6
  • Set 5: 115 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 115 lbs × 5

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: +25 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: +25 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: +25 lbs × 5

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8

 

EZ Bar Curl

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

 

Check out these related articles:

 

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

Topic: