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 our discussion forums to participate in next week's mailbag.

 

Question #1: Can I Use the Elliptical for Cardio?

READER: Is the elliptical machine a valid form of exercise? Sometimes I see the bodybuilders at my gym going super fast for what seems like a long time, but whenever I bring up using the elliptical my friends make fun of me, so I never use it.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Of course, it’s valid - it burns calories, after all. I do think that certain protocols (HIIT, for example) are easier to perform on a bike, but I have no particular issues with elliptical ergometers.

 

Question #2: Supplementation

READER: Creatine?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Yes.

 

Question #3: Catching the Bounce During Squats

READER: Pause or bounce at the bottom of a squat?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Well, I’m not sure you really should “bounce” in the literal sense, although there are certainly lifters who do that without apparent consequence. For most people, though, I think the better choices might be pause versus no pause, if that makes sense.

 

The best way to come out of the bottom of a squat depends on your goals and strength level.

 

Most of the time, for most people with typical goals, no pause will probably be the default technique. However, with that being said, there can be distinct benefits from pausing (and for the purposes of this discussion, I’m referring to a pause at the bottom position). For example, if you’re fairly tight in the posterior chain, you’ll experience a lot of assistance from elastic rebound coming out of the hole. This assistance helps you lift more weight, but it also tends to rob your muscle tissue of adaptive stress. Sports scientists call these the contractile and elastic components. While we tend to think of force production as the sole result of muscular contraction, it’s not that simple - simple elastic tension contributes a lot, as well.

 

From time to time, inserting two- to three-second pauses in your squats (and other lifts, for that matter) can serve to dampen the elastic contribution and this should force the muscles themselves to work harder.

 

Question #4: Gender Differences in Fat Loss

READER: 
I've been training for about 1.5 years now and have lost a lot of fat and gained a bunch of muscle. My girlfriend, who I've been with the entire time, looks exactly like she did a year and a half ago. She is starting to freak out at my change, but I don't feel any differently toward her. How can I get her to stop being jealous and acting crazy? (I haven't given her any reason to be, by the way.)

 

CHARLES SAYS: She doesn’t like your progress because it makes her look worse by comparison. Been there, done that. I’m afraid you’re in for a world of conflict because I don’t think you can really change people for the most part. Mind you, she may in fact change at some point, but it’ll be at her own choosing, not yours.

 

weight loss, fat loss

Weight loss and relationships can often be a tricky mix.

 

This Week’s Training

I felt pretty good about this week, honestly. Volume is moving up and I also hit a few significant numbers, as well. My bench press in particular is moving along nicely.

 

My current thinking is that I need to be mostly in bodybuilding mode for a while now (since additional muscle is probably my most likely path to greater 1RM numbers down the line). But I’m starting each workout by quickly (and as easily as possible) working up to something heavy on that day’s core lift, and then switching to bodybuilding mode after that, staying in the 6-10 rep range for the most part.

 

I’m still wrestling with the (perhaps self-imposed) notion that my quads are a weak link in my preparation, and how to shore up that weak link. My recent attempts seem to mostly just irritate my knees, so I’m not sold on the cost/benefit of those efforts. I’ll keep you posted on my thinking about that issue.

 

See ya next week - keep those questions coming!


Significant Lifts:

 

  • Deadlift: 465x1, 405x5
  • Bench Press: 250x1, 225x5

 

Weekly Volume:  72,769 Pounds (Last Week: 49,801 Pounds)

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.4 Pounds

Volume: 14, 081 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 139.41 Pounds

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 8: 265 lbs × 3
  • Set 9: 295 lbs × 3
  • Set 10: 275 lbs × 3

Notes: IQ: 145.25

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 183.07

 

Power 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 × 3
  • Set 6: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 132 lbs × 2

Notes: IQ: 79.53

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 225 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 225

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 16,755 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 118.82 Pounds

 

Bench Press

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

Notes: IQ: 132.82

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 120 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 115

 

Seated Row

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

Notes: IQ: 150

 

Tricep Pushdowns

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

Notes: IQ: 130

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

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

Notes: IQ: 70

 

Thursday, April 30, 2015, 2:00 PM

 

Free Workout

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 24,476 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 212.83 Pounds

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 154 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 87.26

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 155 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 155 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 242 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 435 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 465 lbs × 1 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 405 lbs × 5 (Video Below)

Notes: IQ: 270.57

 

465 was a rough attempt, but I still managed to get it off the floor.

 

405 lbs for reps ended up feeling much better.

Leg Extension

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

Notes: IQ: 130

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +120 lbs × 12
  • Set 2: +120 lbs × 12
  • Set 3: +120 lbs × 12

Notes: IQ: 120

 

Friday, May 1, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 17,457 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 176.33 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 190 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 210 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 8: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 9: 220 lbs × 5
  • Set 10: 225 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 175.11

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 180 lbs × 7

Notes: IQ: 180

 

Chin Up

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

Notes: IQ: 200.4

 

Chest Dip

  • Set 1: 8 reps

Notes: IQ: 200.4

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 80

 

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