I’ve now started, or more accurately, I’m a couple days in with the third week of the Shortcut to Size program. This week has me working in a fairly low rep range at 6 per set. What a difference that makes!
For those of you that have read my previous posts you may have noticed this is not typical for me. I normally stay within the standard hypertrophy range of 10 reps or so. Going down to 6 reps has really forced me to challenge myself. Not only that, but the last 2 weeks during each phase of this program call for drop sets or perhaps more commonly known as the stripping method. Whatever you wish to call it, it’s a killer.
The first day was primarily a chest and triceps day. Yesterday, day two, was back and biceps. Nothing out of the ordinary there. That is, not until I woke up this morning. I have been doing work for my back for quite a while now. However, I have never really experienced any soreness after the fact. It seems that it’s a fairly universal opinion that post workout soreness is a good sign you’ve pushed yourself. Well, I hope that’s the case because this morning…I’m feeling it. My entire upper back is more sore than I have ever experienced. The thing is, it’s a good sore. I don’t feel like I’ve pulled anything. I don’t feel like it’s a detriment to functionality as a human being. It’s just really sore.
I really think pushing it this week is going to open my eyes to some of my training failures thus far. With those failures being brought to the forefront, I’m hoping to really be able to amp up my game going forward. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but, I use an app to track all my workouts. That app provides me with a calculated 1RM for each exercise I’ve ever done. Conveniently, I haven’t strayed too far off the beaten path with my routines. What I decided to do this week was an actual calculation using this 1RM and line it up with my rep range. So, for 6 reps, I went with 85% of my 1RM. I think that’s what made all the difference in the world. For the first time over the past 5 months or so I was actually hitting true failure points during my sets. That’s something I haven’t really experienced yet and I think it’s been holding me back.
As an example, I had originally thought of doing bench presses with 150 for 6 reps. That didn’t seem like much, but I thought it would be a good number. The evening before my workout I tried a set of 150 for 6 reps. It seemed a little too easy. After that I tried a set of 10 at 150. Not as easy, but not really that taxing either. This was the catalyst for checking out the 1RM numbers. It gave me a number of 225. I know, pathetic. Regardless, I decided to use that number as a baseline. Using the 85% method brought me to around 190 or so. I decided to start with 185. By my fourth set I was only able to do 5 reps. Pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. I then proceeded to do a ridiculous number of drop sets after that. I ended up going all the way back down to just the bar. In retrospect I did this last part incorrectly, so the workout took a little longer than I had hoped. No matter, my chest got blasted and I was happy. My back workout went the same way and with the correct drop set scheme. Perhaps with some level of stupidity I found out after the chest workout that I wasn’t supposed to be resting in between drop sets. Strip the weight, get to it. I won’t make that mistake again.
In closing, so far I’m finding the calculated 1RM to be fairly accurate. I think I need to keep using it. Keep pushing myself. Keep failing! I would highly recommend, for those finding little gains, to step up to their own challenge. I’ve always been fearful of pushing for that last rep. Feeling that exertion as I fight to get the bar racked. This week has reminded me of why I’m doing this in the first place. To get better. That’s the whole point.
Next week will be even more interesting. Rep ranges drop down to 3. I’ll probably be working in a 90-95% zone. That should be a treat.
I’ll make sure to be safe about it…Make sure you do the same!