Many people think that I am a skinny loser who never trains and spends most of his time torturing vodoo dolls representing unnatural bodybuilders and juicing fitness models.
Sorry, but that’s not entirely true.
I am skinny, but I still lift.
Also, I don’t own any dolls…yet.
My most recent accomplishment is a 41 kg / 90 lbs weighted chin-up.
I did it in January at the fragile bodyweight of 70 kg / 155 lbs bodyweight.
In before Mark Rippetoe followers will get mad when they see those numbers.
Adult male under 200 lbs?
Are you in a comatose or a progressive transvestite, writes Mr. Permabulker while introducing yet another bomb of estrogen to his body in the form of milk.
Here’s the plan I followed to get there.
In March 2015, I started doing weighted pull-ups and dips as my exclusive upper body exercises.
At the time, I was capable of performing about 10-11 consecutive bodyweight pull-ups on a homemade suspension system. I always do my pull-ups on rings or a homemade suspension system because there’s less stress on the elbows and wrists.
The plan was simple:
work up to a heavy triple;
add weight each week;
construct 8-9 weeks long cycles;
reduce the weight when pulling yourself upwards becomes an impossibility;
build back up again to a new personal best;
Below is my first weighted pull-up/chin-up workout. I took it straight out of my lifting log in Notepad:
5 #5 means that I did 5 regular bodyweight only pull-ups;
5+5 #5+5 means that I did 5 pull-ups with 5 extra kilograms, which equal 11 lbs;
3+17.5 / (38 lbs)
Each week, I was adding between 1 kg / 2.2 lbs to 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs to the final set.
This method worked until I failed to do three reps with 27 kg / 59 lbs. I only got two reps.
I restarted the cycle with a top set of 20 kg / 44 lbs for 5 reps.
The first workout of the new cycle looked like that:
5+6,5 kg / 14.3 lbs
5+11,5 kg / 25 lbs
5+20 kg / 44 lbs
1+20 kg / 44 lbs
In 8-9 weeks, I stalled again at 30 kg / 66 lbs for two reps. Nevertheless, this was a 3 kg / 6.6 lbs improvement.
Naturally, I started a new cycle with a top set of 22.5 kg / 50 lbs.
That new cycle got me to 33 kg / 72,6 lbs for two reps.
Below is the last workout of that cycle:
2+33 – the most epic grinders I have ever done (I’ve written that in the log.)
Can you guess what happened next?
I started another cycle and used 22,5 kg / 50 lbs for my top set. I didn’t add weight this time because the previous cycle had been too hard. Besides, I wanted the first week to be easier than usual.
The new cycle got me to 35.5 kg / 78 lbs for two reps in two months or so.
Next? I began a new cycle with 25 kg / 55lbs.
This cycle got me to 37.5 reps for one rep. I was planning to do two or three reps but failed – a bad move. I don’t recommend going to failure. It’s pointless.
I restarted the cycle with 25 kg / 55lbs as a top set.
In about 8-9 weeks, I got to a 41 kg / 90 lbs chin-up for 1 repetition done with surprisingly good technique. I think I had two in me, but you don’t really know unless you try. I didn’t.
image by: kaboompics
Summary of the principles
I am pretty sure that most people would stop reading the whole post when they see the low number of sets. I understand that the volume I did was extremely low by anyone’s standards, but there is a reason for that. Actually two reasons.
Number 1 – Altering high intensity with high volume is fun.
Let me explain…
During the first phase of your training plan, you do very few sets but make sure they are heavy.
You do that until the plan stops working or your system tells you to stop, whichever comes first.
When that happens you switch to a high volume plan in order to give your body and mind a rest in the form of a new stimulus.
I am currently in the second phase of my plan and perform high-volume weighted pull-ups. I do numerous sets with a weight that allows me to perform 5-7 reps in a row with good form. Currently, the weight I use is 21,5 kg / 47 lbs.
When it comes to pull-ups I prefer to do ladders: 1 rep, 2 reps, 3 reps, 4 reps…1 rep…
This method allows you to reach some incredible volume/tonnage per workout.
My goal is to reach a ladder workout that looks like that 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…
When that happens I will add more weight or test my 2-3 rep max.
Number 2 – High-intensity training saves you time, focuses on the fast twitch fibers and allows you to write books.
I do weighted pull-ups only once a week because they put too much stress on the biceps tendons. Some people may add a light day, but unless I am trying to improve my technique, I don’t care about light days. The real progress comes from the heavier sets anyway.
Long Rest Between Sets
Similar routines cannot work with 1 or 2 minutes of rest between sets. You just cannot recover. I sometimes need at least 5 or even 7 minutes. You can use the time to play on your iFone.
Cycling – Be a winning Gambler
Cycling is nothing but prepared failing. Nothing continues forever without change.
Winning streaks always come to an end and so do losing streaks.
The goal of cycling is to plan your failures yourself.
Instead of expecting to always win, you plan the day you lose. That’s what winners do.
In short, you are a poker player who knows when it’s time to stop playing, cash in and begin again after some rest.
In the lifting world, this means that you have to be conservative with your expectations and deload (reduce the weight and begin over again) when it’s necessary.
A winner’s cycle looks like this:
Workout 1: 100; easy;
Workout 2: 120; easy;
Workout 3: 130; easy;
Workout 4: 140; easy;
Workout 5: 150; Gravity is now talking to me.
Workout 6: 160; Gravity is screaming at me.
Workout 7: 170; Pretty hard. I better stop before I become gravity’s little bitch.
Workout 1: 120; easy;
Workout 7: 180 – PR;
A loser’s cycle looks like this:
Workout 1: 100; super easy;
Workout 2: 120; super easy;
Workout 3: 130; easy;
Workout 4: 140; easy;
Workout 5: 150; medium;
Workout 6: 160; medium;
Workout 7: 170 – Weight feels heavy as hell, but I am going to continue anyway. Bitches you better be ready for me. Records are coming.
Workout 8: 180 – My left knee cave in a little bit and my elbow hurts more than before but fuck it!!!!!!!!!
Workout 9: 190 – Both knees are caving , but I got up anyway.
Workout 10: 200 – felt insanely heavy; saw the white tunnel; knees, lower back and elbows hurt like hell but fuck it!!!!!! I am going to wrap those suckers and go for 210 on Friday.
Workout 11: 210 – Almost did it. Knee hurts like a bitch. Can’t walk. Elbows feel abused. Will try one more time.
Workout 12: 210 – Got up, but the pain is getting insane. My hip started shaking like an uncontrollable belly dancer. Going for 220.
Workout 13: 220 – Fail. I barely got to the gym. That’s how intense the pain was. I won’t give up anyway.
Workout 14: 220 – Fail. Fuck it. This Earth is nor fair.
Workout 15: The doctor says I will have to take two months off due to massive inflammation in my joints.
I will rest for three days and try again.
Obviously, the weighted pull-up progresses slowly because it involves many small muscles. It’s neither a squat nor a deadlift. I started with 17.5 kg / 38 lbs and needed about 10 months to reach 41 kg / 90 lbs. The biggest jumps I did were 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb, which may seem like a feather but is about 9% of my starting weight.
There’s nothing special about this plan other than the fact that it worked.
It wasn’t fast, but can I really complain?
The pull-up workout was done once a week and took about an hour. When you think about it, it’s a pretty good return on investment.