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hypertrophy specific training

Trygve's digital diary
December 17th, 2003


Training Journal:
the "before" pictures

It's been a tough (and busy) couple of years. Lots of crises to distract (and detract) from training, and a few injuries along the way to bolix everything up. Some of the most inconvenient include breaking (and some soft tissue damage) of my right foot a year-and-a-half ago, and then getting hairline fractures in the metatarsals of my left foot a few months back. Foot injuries have a way of not only breaking your stride, but of screwing up your lower-body training as well.

Enough excuses, time to get motivated and start getting better.

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in the gym

Having your own gym helps a lot in the convenience department. Some people do find it motivating to go out somewhere else to work out, but you can't argue with the time-saving feature of having it all within a couple of flights of stairs.

Being available 24/7 counts for something, too. As weird as my schedule can get, at least there's never a time when I can't work out because it's too late or too early.

Gads, my legs look bad, though. I don't think I realized just how bad until I looked at these pictures. If I'm just looking down at them, they don't look quite so bad and I can at least see some sign of muscle there, but it looks like the camera's not quite so unforgiving.

I can still see striations in my vastus medialis, and it can still be a challenge finding pants that will fit my thighs, but I've lost a lot of overall quad shape and size in the last couple of years.

Not that I haven't been doing any lower-body exercises, but mostly I've been relying on bicycling, which is what I usually do for injuries and soreness in my feet, ankles, and knees. It's low-impact (practically *no*-impact) and the movement is confined to the plane that the joints are designed for, with a minimum of lateral and torsional stresses.

Anytime I'm experiencing pain in my leg joints, biking helps. I figure it keeps the joints warm and moving, and helps to encourage oxygenation and blood flow. That's my theory, but it works for me.

bicycling aero position

In case anyone's keeping track, I'm currently tipping the scales at 190 pounds even. That's well short of hyooge (as they'd say on MFW), especially at six-foot-four, so there's still plenty of room to add on some additional muscle mass here and there.

At least alternating broken feet hasn't kept me from working my midsection; stiff-leg deadlifts were out, but hyperextensions pose no problems.


Usually I don't train my waist the way I'd do most other muscle groups. I work the midsection after legs (to the extent that I've been able to do legs), but I do only one or two sets with fairly high reps (20-30).

Right now, for hyperextensions, I'll grab a pair of 45-pound plates, work with those to failure, drop down to one plate and work with that to failure, and then leave that one on the floor and do as many as I can with just my bodyweight.

That's what feels "right" for me; whether that's necessarily the best way to do it is another question.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm still the amazing "invisible ab" man. I can see 'em when I breathe and move, but it's probably the single area where my body is most thoroughly determined to hang on to bodyfat.

But they're in there somewhere, I'm sure of it. Abs are like a religion; sometimes you just have to believe and hope that your faith is strong enough.


I do crunch/situps pretty much the same way I do hyperextensions: few sets with high reps.

These days I use a situp board angled at 45 degrees. I start with an EZ-curl bar loaded with 80 pounds and hold it straight overhead while beginning a crunch.

(Fortunately, being fairly tall, people don't usually see me from this angle; it's not the most flattering, I know.)

After contracting as far as I can while keeping my lower back flat on the board, I'll continue into a situp. After enough reps, I can't do the situp portion any more, but I can still squeeze out a few more crunches.

When I can't do any more crunches, I can set down the EZ-curl bar and grab the 45-pound plate I have at the end of the machine, or I can just see how many more I can get through with bodyweight only.


But all the ab exercises in the world won't do a thing if there's still a layer of fat in the way.

crunch top

I'm working on that; but at this point I still have to worry about little kids tugging at their mothers' skirts, saying, "mommy, why does that man have no abs?" -- "shhh! that's not polite!"

But the grand plan for the next few months is to try to add a little more muscle. Several regulars on the newsgroup Misc.Fitness.Weights have been raving about a training style called "Hypertrophy-Specific Training" which is quite a bit different from any approach that I've used before.

me and the mirror
loading a barbell

I haven't really changed my weight training style in more than fifteen years: three-way split ( chest/shoulders/triceps, lats/biceps, and legs ) with workouts every day.

Personally, I like working out every day; it's easier to feel "in the groove" that way. Working out every other day, by contrast, usually leaves me feeling the urge to work out on the "off" days and having more trouble getting myself to feel like working out on the workout days.

That, and I've always worked out to failure on every set except for warmups. Following a set schedule of weights and reps is going to be weird; I've always just grabbed a weight based on my mood of the moment and hefted it until I couldn't heft any more.

As far as the number of sets and exercises I'd do for a given muscle group--as well as less-conventional stuff like "working down the rack"--I've always just gone by what I was feeling like doing that moment. Stopping a workout because I'd completed a scheduled plan is going to take some getting used to.

t-bar row
dumbell raise

Right now I'm in the middle of the first week, "strategic deconditioning"--meaning no workouts at all (aiigh!). The "meat" of the program starts on Monday with high-rep (15/set) work.

The rest is all full-body workouts, three days a week. Every workout, the weights go up, every two weeks, the reps go down.

Sounds simple enough...but will it give me better results?

gaspari curl

So, we'll see how it goes. I figure it's worth trying for at least a couple of months.

Wish me luck!

getting a barbell
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