Sunday, 4 August 2013

Back to Basics

I've learnt from years of training myself and others that we need to keep appraising which exercises are working for us, keep monitoring our form (and improving it day in day out), keep evaluating our training and eating regimens, and keep listening to our bodies.

Every now and again we all run into problems -- ill health, injuries, time constraints. Rather than allowing these times to discourage you, however, you can take the opportunity to rest, recuperate, and re-evaluate where you are going with your training. For me, this is often a signal that I need to return to basics, weed out all the extraneous exercises, bring down the poundages, and focus on the my key, foundational exercises.

For me, these are multi-joint exercises that are both functional and provide the solid foundations for my physique. I have described my 6 choice exercises in great detail in Foundations for a Better Physique, and I still maintain these exercises (or variations of them) should underpin any serious weight training program, whether your goal is improved body composition, strength, power, or performance.

In recent years I was diagnosed with radiculopathy stemming from about the C6 vertebra. This progressively impeded my training of upper body, particularly anything involving the left shoulder. I developed pain in the biceps insertion, reduced range of motion in the deltoid, and later developed mild carpal tunnel syndrome. Over time the weakness extended to my left hip and knee, making it impossible to train heavy. It was a real challenge to train at all, psychologically as well as physically.

Finally, once I'd set up a new home gym, I decided to return to basics. I began by using very low poundages, high reps, and super strict form. I kept the number of exercises to a minimum, which is when I found myself returning to the exercise prescriptions in Foundations for a Better Physique. By focusing on correct positioning of shoulders, lower back etc, controlled movements and ever-improving form I was able to build up gradually over a period of about three months to the point that I am back to my original poundages, yet with far more control and a much better mind-muscle connection. 

All my deadlifting has been done without straps. This has placed a natural limit on my poundages, but I am now lifting the same weights with an overhand grip that I'd previously used hooks or straps for. 

I've recently started adding in extra exercises to prioritise weak points (I'm doing a lot of shoulder work right now to bring my delta up to proportion with my back and chest). I'm still just using the basics for chest, back, and legs: dead lifts, squats, bench press, close grip bench press, cable/dumbbell row, lat pull down. 

It's been an interesting experiment in listening to my body rather than being enslaved by ever-increasing poundages or prescriptive set/rep/time under tension routines. I control each movement, especially the negative portion, but I'm not fussing about how many seconds on the concentric and eccentric portions. I have a much broader rep range (rather than, say, 8-12 reps I might use something like 10-20). This is giving me a great feel for the exercise, pump, and (so far) good gains. I still mix things up (I throw in the odd superset, use pre and post exhaust), but in the main my workouts follow basic moves such as squats, dead lifts, overhead presses. I improve by increments each workout, and make sure I don't increase the weight too soon. A few years back I was obsessed with personal bests on dead lift and squat. Now I don't increase the weight until I can comfortably complete the requisite reps with full range of motion, and then I only increase the weight a little. For dead lifts, currently, I perform 6 reps per set, and for squats it's 10-20 reps.

Now there training is back under control and proving productive, it's back to nutritional discipline. In a few more months I aim to be in better shape than ever before.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

New gym: stage 1

Here's a glimpse of the new gym we're putting together. It's air-conditioned and in a quiet remote location, which means we get to turn the music up. Most of the equipment is in, but we'll be adding a mat for deadlifting and wall-mountng some mirrors in the next week or so.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bodybuilding Diet

I was privileged to be asked to take a look at a new book on bodybuilding diet by Barry Richardson this week. Conveniently, it's out in Kindle format and has a fully navigable table of contents. There's no nonsense, no technical information to wade through, just easily accessible, simple to prepare recipes for those of you who like to build muscle without sacrificing taste.

Amazon link

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Win Three Training Books

I'm offering free copies of my three training books to one lucky person. In order to win the paperback versions of Foundations for a Better Physique, The F.I.S.H. Training Log, and Nutritional Journal, all you need to do is follow the blog and leave a comment under this post. Once I have twenty comments I'll select the winner at random. The other 19 entrants will receive a Kindle version of Foundations for a better Physique and a copy of my fantasy book, The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus.

If you're wondering who on earth the Nameless Dwarf is, please check out the posts on D.P. Prior's author page

Friday, 3 February 2012

170 kg

Finally achieved a 170kg dead lift using a staggered grip. Felt pretty comfortable, too, so I'm after 175kg next.

Friday, 23 September 2011

A bit of power

I've spent the last month training heavy with a couple of guys at the gym. It's not something I do often, but change is often a good thing, so I gave it a go.

I'm currently up to 150kg squat, 170kg dead lift, 70kg clean, 60kg clean and press, and 110kg bench press.

When I get back to my usual sort of training (higher reps) the poundages will no doubt increase.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Training Season

Hello everyone.

Sorry it's been so long. I've been out of the country for a while and then inundated with editing work. Finally, I'm able to commit to full-time training again.

I'm available for bookings by phone or email (you can use the "contact us" form at if you don't have my contact details.

Foundations for a Better Physique now on Kindle! Get your Kindle here.