Program to focus on upper body.

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Han
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Program to focus on upper body.

Post by Han » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:14 pm

Hi all,

There has been a bit of talk in here recently on strength standards (across a few different threads). All of which point towards a bit of a deficit in my pressing/rowing vs. my lower body strength.

To give an indication, here are some recent figures at bodyweight ~68 kgs:

Squat: 3x6x107.5 kgs
Deadlift: 140 kgs (1RM)
Bench: 3x6x60 kgs
BB Row: 3x6x60 kgs

I want to put together a program to focus more on upper body. I'm currently restricted to two workouts a week so it's a bit tricky.

At the moment I'm doing a Max-OT style program with lower, push and pull days. Because that's a three day split, I do each workout once every 10 days or so.

I'm tossing it up against something like this:

Day 1:
Bench 3x5
Row 3x5
Military Press 3x5
Pull-Ups 3x5 (weighted if required)

Day 2:
Squat 3x5
Deadlift 1x5
Bench 2x12
Row 2x12

The above would have me benching and rowing twice a week with heavy and light days.

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether this would be better than the Max-OT from a strength perspective? Or have any other suggestions for how to bring up upper body strength on a 2 day split?

Han


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ApolytonGP
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Post by ApolytonGP » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:12 am

I apologize that I don't know the details of your exact question. However, if I could only lift 2 days a week, I would just do two heavy, all-body, identical days. Just a thought...

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Post by stuward » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:28 am

I agree with the twice a week whole body workouts but I wouldn't make them identical. You have a nice selection of exercises. I would just group them differently.

Alternate deadlift and squat in different workouts and alternate the heavy upper body. So Bench+Row one time, Mil Press and pull-ups the other. You can add volume sets after your heavy sets if you want.

This will allow you to hit everything with more frequency but working alternately in different planes give your muscles more recovery. Essentially, the heavy Mil press serves the purpose of the light bench and vice versa. Your arms get worked hard twice a week this way but they recover quickly.

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Post by Han » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:46 pm

Stuward, Apocalypton, that's exactly what I used to do throughout pretty much my first two years lifting. I had stalled on just about all of my lifts with my squat around 102.5 and my bench around 60ish.

I've found after the last nine months or so where I've been doing some Max-OT, and mixed in with 5x5 full bodies (rather than the 3x5 I had been doing), my squat has started going up (it's going linearly again!). Actually squatted 3x5x112.5 last night.

However, my upper body is still lagging. That's why I was thinking along the lines of benching and rowing twice a week for while, and keeping the military/press-ups as assistance.

Does this make sense? In this context, would you still be recommending full bodies?

On a side note, I tried "Day 2" last night, and found I had a heap of time left before my bus came. So I also added 2x12 DB incline press and 2x12 cable rows. Bit worried that the volume might get on top of me if I do this long term, but it might not hurt to give the body a bit of a shock for a month or so. I've also cranked up my calories.

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Post by ApolytonGP » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:07 pm

I would just make sure you hit the legs hard twice per week and hit the upper body hard twice per week. If you only have two days a week to exercise, that means upper and lower hit "hard" each day. Sure, do deads one day and squats the other; or add shoulder press on one day and not the other. But don't only have one leg day (or arm day) a week.

I think if you're stalled, backing off on frequency and load is not the solution. Even that one example you gave of what worked, was upping the intensity. Well...go that way. Maybe have a little snack and some water and a sitdown, mid-workout, to make it more humane. :wink:

Just my two cents...good luck. Lift safe!


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Post by Han » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:26 pm

When I dropped my frequency of squatting from once a week to once every ten days, I started increasing my squat by 2.5 kgs a workout where it had previously stalled. Granted, that could have been the effect of the prior 5x5 period, or it could have been increased recovery time, but nonetheless, it's going up again.

The program above is structured to maintain my lower body strength (not focussed so much on improving it) whilst bringing up my upper body movements. Load is not backed off on upper or lower. Volume is increased on upper.

I'm still squatting and deading once each per week but on the same day. Which takes it out of you, hence I put the lighter upper stuff on that day.

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Post by ApolytonGP » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:41 pm

Sounds like you know what you want to do. once every ten days seems so foreign to me, as does once every 7 days. I am more in favor of frequency. I think you will have residual tiredness, so your ability to pump out a maximal load at any given time is less, based on that tiredness, but I think the working sets will keep going up fine when measured next to each other (and probably faster with more training).

I really don't have proof of it...you could look at the literature...I think twice per week had significant advantages over once per week and 3 times per week was very similar to twice per week (slightly better, but maybe not justifying the time invested). This site advocates twice per week (perhaps 3 times per week for newbies) in some of the instruction materials.

But do what your gut tells you and just feel positive about it.

I'm still getting newbie gains after first year, so hard for me to grok the stalling concept. Getting injured from training, I grok. But not, not getting stronger by at least 5% per month.

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Post by Jungledoc » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:14 pm

Comparing apples and oranges. Han isn't talking about backing off on BOTH frequency and load. Decreasing frequency allows better recovery from heavier loading. That's why you can't compare novice and intermediate lifters on things like this. After a while, you adapt to the point that you just can't progress the load and recover fast enough to make gains. Nothing with squatting and (especially) DLing 1 in 10 for a more intermediate lifter. I've heard of really advanced competing powerlifters that train squat every 3 weeks. I don't know if that's true, but it makes sense physiologically.

Han, I wouldn't personally squat and DL in the same session, but separate tham like Stu suggests. Try the 2/wk upper body, and see how it goes.

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Post by Han » Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:52 pm

Thanks for the suggestion Doc. I thought about it some more and there's really no reason I couldn't separate the squat and the dead. I could put squats up front on the heavy upper body day with no real issues. I probably wouldn't put deads there as I find they affect my rows and pull-ups.

Also means I'll be able to shift more weight on deads :lol:

I originally had some concerns about the duration of the workouts, but having played around with the rep day, I think splitting the lower body stuff across the two will work out ok.

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Post by ApolytonGP » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:46 pm

I like it.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:17 am

Either keep us posted here, or start a journal! Good luck.

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Post by Han » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:30 pm

I've been thinking about a journal. Might have to get off my butt and do it now that things are quiet at work ...

I generally use fitsync.com to record my lifts. I enter my workout into my phone and it uploads it to the net. Draws graphs, etc. May not work in PNG ...

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:42 pm

The G3 (or whatever it is) phone service is pretty expensive here, but we have internet just fine for following. You could always post in the journal section here.

Have I mentioned before that I love Brisbane? I probably have.

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Post by ApolytonGP » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:53 am

I did a trip up the coast. Skipped Brisbane. ;)

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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:40 pm

ApolytonGP wrote:I did a trip up the coast. Skipped Brisbane. ;)
That was a mistake. Beautiful city. Beautiful river with a unique commuter ferry boat system. Friendly people.


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