Heavy is a Relative Term

I see and hear too many people talk about and make fun of someone’s ability (or inability) to lift a certain amount of weight. However when determining heaviness, there is no set number of pounds when something is deemed “heavy”. It’s a term that is defined differently by each and every individual.

It’s important to remember that in the gym, light weight to you may be extremely heavy to others. We should remember this because when we work out with others, or even just look at them through the mirrors, any and all judgement regarding the weight that a particular person is lifting should be immediately done away with and shamed.

We shouldn’t judge others on this subjective concept because what seems like light to you doesn’t matter at all. Because you’re not the one lifting the weight, and the person who is actually moving the weight is probably struggling and working as hard as they can to grow stronger.

This is heavy to them in their current physical state, and that’s all that matters.

We are all trying to become healthier and stronger in our own ways, and it’s a lifelong journey. This also means that we all will be in different stages of this journey at any given time. So no matter how slow someone’s progress may be or how seemingly light the weight is, any progress is better than none at all if you’re working hard. So we must be mindful and respectful of each and everyone’s level of progress and weight that they are lifting.

Because they know that they are dedicated to becoming the strongest, healthiest, and happiest person they can be, and that dedication will allow them to lift even more weight in the future. And with attainable goal setting and dedicated, focused work, what’s heavy today will be light tomorrow.

A Review of The Conjugate System

For anyone who is an intermediate to advanced lifter and wants to get the strongest they can get, I couldn’t praise the Conjugate System enough. In fact I urge you to try it out for yourself. I’ve been on this program for 7 weeks and my strength gains have been the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve been able to break plateaus like never before, and I feel the strongest I have ever felt.

The Conjugate System is a powerlifting program designed to get you as strong as you can at the 3 core lifts: Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. It’s main focus is weak-point training, which basically tells you to pick the movements that you are worst at and focus on developing those in an effort to grow your overall strength and strength potential.

I do a modified version of the Conjugate System – the real program calls for 4 to 5 days of lifting a week. No cardio. No nonsense. I like to work in some cardio on my own program as well as some back and bicep accessory work since you are not training your upper back and biceps really at all on this program.

The Conjugate System: Basic Programming

There are 2 different lifting “types” with this system. The first, is Maximum Effort training and the second is Dynamic Effort training.

Maximum Effort days are ones where you work up to a 1 or 2 rep max on a variation of one of the core lifts. So, you’re not squatting, deadlifting, and benching all regular style every week here. Instead, one week you’re doing a sumo deadlift, the next conventional, the next from a deficit, and so on. You’ll revisit the standard squat, deadlift, or bench every 5-ish weeks to test out your strength gains.

Dynamic Effort days are ones where you really focus on developing your form and working on your weak points that are affecting your core lifts. You aren’t lifting extremely heavy, instead, your working on form and maintaining structural integrity.

The splits are as follows:

Monday: Maximum Effort Lower

  1. Deadlift/Squat Variation (Alternates every week)
    • Work up to 1 to 2 rep max (may take up to 8 sets)
  2. 80% of Above Max
    • 3 sets of 5 OR 5 sets of 3 depending on fatigue
  3. Lower Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Lower Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Wednesday: Maximum Effort Upper

  1. Bench Press Variation (Change variation every week)
    • Work up to a 1 to 2 rep max (may take up to 6-8 sets)
  2. 80% of Above Max
    • 3 sets of 5 OR 5 sets of 3 depending on fatigue
  3. Upper Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Upper Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Thursday: Dynamic Effort Lower

  1. Deadlift Variation
    • 4×6
  2. Squat Variation
    • 4×6
  3. Lower Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Lower Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  5. Lower Body Accessory Lift 3 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Friday/Saturday: Dynamic Effort Upper

  1. Shoulder Press
    • 5×5
  2. Dumbbell Bench Press
    • 5×5
  3. Shoulder Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Upper Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  5. Upper Body Accessory Lift 3 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

(Sunday: Back/Bicep Volume training)

I absolutely love this style of training. It forces you to get stronger at what you’re not good at, and overall it gets you squatting, deadlifting, and benching more and increases your strength. Something that is very important to note here, is that you MUST continually work on your mobility and flexibility while you’re on this program. You’re lifting heavy all week, and this can really take a toll on your body if you aren’t stretching. Additionally, you must take a week off (or train with very light weight) every 4 weeks while being on this program to prevent overtraining and injury.

So what are the PROS?

  • Increases your strength on the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift dramatically
  • The workouts change literally every week because you will be changing the squat, deadlift, and bench variations as well as the accessory lifts you choose so it’s fun and never the same
  • Heavy lifting and working 1 rep maxes every week improves your nervous energy response
  • Overall strength will skyrocket because of the frequency of training the core lifts

What are the CONS?

  • The real program doesn’t call for cardio, which I like to keep in my routine once a week
  • This program is very hard on your body and you need to be very careful not to overtrain or hurt yourself
  • It requires a deep understanding of every move and technique – definitely not for beginners

I plan on posting a more in-depth training and program soon that you can use and adapt for yourself to start training conjugate and becoming the strongest you can be!

 

 

Making a (temporary) change

My life has been kind of a mess lately. I’ve been all over the place in terms of school, work, friends, relationships, and family. That is why I am deciding to create some balance and normalcy in my life. Next week (work week only, so Monday the 19th – Friday the 23rd) I am going to change things up for myself.

First, I am dropping all forms of social media. I will be going ghost and (maybe even deleting the apps on my phone) completely separating myself from these sites and apps. With the exclusion of YouTube, because I don’t use this socially, I use it for music and for educational videos.

Next, the only means of communication I am going to accept and respond to (and hopefully check) are emails, actual voice calls, and FaceTime. So, basically, no texting. 

Additionally, I am going to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. I mean deep, reflective meditation. This may be done either in 5 or 10 minute increments. No less. I recommend calm.com to help. It’s a great guided mediatation site that you can do wherever, whenever. 

Lastly, I am going to actually practice vegetarianism. Someone very close to me stopped eating meats, and the reasoning wasn’t because eating meat is inhumane or taste or anything like that. It was just because of a choice and a practice of restraint. I often made fun of this and didn’t understand it, but I do now. And I deserve to give this perspective a chance in order to better see the perspectives and opinions of others in an attempt to become more understanding.

So why, really, am I doing this?

I want to practice self control, restraint, and find out a little bit about myself while focusing on fitness, my body, and my mind. Life has become chaotic. I haven’t been feeling like me, and some of my relationships, but more importantly my relationship with myself, have become worse because of it. Getting rid of social media will help me center myself and become more present and not worry about the things others are doing and focus on my own life, no texting helps me create more meaningful relationships with those around me, meditation helps me reflect and focus on myself and my feelings, and vegetarianism will help me become aware of a different way of life, accept people’s practices, and create a normal routine that will remind me on a daily basis (because god knows I eat a lot of meat and I’m going to crave it) that I am doing this to grow.

If you’re interested in joining me, let me know or leave a comment! We start Monday 10/19.

 

The Importance of Good Form

There are a lot of things that can go wrong and that you can do wrong in the gym. The most serious and dangerous thing you can do wrong in the gym, however, is bad form. Before you can even add one pound of weight to an exercise, you must have a deep understanding of proper form before you attempt any workout.

Here are 2 biggest reasons why you shouldn’t be allowed in the gym unless you have been trained by someone who knows what they’re doing.


1. Bad Form Causes Injury

This is the number 1 reason why you need to know proper form before getting in the gym. Lifting anything, and even simple things like running, can cause life-long injury if you don’t have proper form. And if you aren’t getting injured, you better believe you’re creating muscular imbalances that will eventually lead to injury and an unhealthy body. You’ll be doing more harm than good to your body. You may think you’re doing it right, but unless you have done extensive research and/or have had someone coach you, chances are, you probably aren’t. Or at least not perfectly. Which leads into my next point.

2. Bad Form Minimizes Strength Potential

If you have bad form, you’re most likely slowing down your growth and strength potential, and performing the movements inefficiently. There’s a reason that there is a technique to lifting. It’s not only to prevent injury, but it is also to maximize the amount of weight you can lift by understanding biomechanics and creating and maximizing efficiencies. Lifting with good form helps you get stronger the right way, quicker.


So in short – lift with good form. If you don’t know what good form is, or even if you think you do, continue to research it or use a personal trainer, and actively pay attention to your form. It is something you must think about, develop, and work on, every time you pick up a weight or step in the gym. You’ll get stronger and minimize injury because of it.

My New Training Program

Just to give some insight into what I’m up to at the gym, below is the program I am following for the next 2 months. I typically change my workout parameters in intervals of 6-8 weeks and I currently just came off of a higher-volume routine during the summer. Now I’m focusing on adding more weight instead of adding more reps. I’m cutting down the volume and focusing on primarily core compound lifts with as much weight as I can while maintaining good form. The goal? To get my body used to lower rep counts again and increase my pound for pound strength and nervous response as much as possible with low volume and heavy weight.


Day 1: Legs & Core

  1. Deep Squats: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • These two first sets are mainly warm ups for activating my muscles and stabilizers. These first two sets are slow, with a pause at the bottom of the movement. Short rests.
    • Then, I am performing doubles for 4 sets. My rests are about ~2.5 minutes, however for the last set it’s usually lift when ready (LWR)
  2. Dumbbell Step Ups: 4×6 (each leg)
    • Classic DB Step Ups. As heavy as I can go while maintaining good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 3×5
    • I use dumbbells here because I tend to get a better extension in my hamstrings. Just a personal preference. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Dumbbell Lunges: 3×5 (each leg)
    • Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  5. Leg Raises: 3x As many as possible (AMAP)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.
  6. Oblique Raises: 2×30 (each side)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.

Day 2: Chest & Triceps

  1. Bench Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Decline Fly: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Incline Press: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Heavy Weighted Dips: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Dumbbell Scull Crushers: 3×6
    • I use dumbbells just as personal preference. As heavy as I can with good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min
  6. Tricep Rope Extension: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 3: Back & Biceps

  1. Deadlift: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Barbell Heavy Ground Rows: 4×6
    • Row from the ground and pull the bar up to your nipple line for proper upper back contraction
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell 1 Arm Rows: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Weighted Pull-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • As heavy as I can while performing a minimum of 6 reps
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Weighted Chin-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • Same notes as above
  6. Barbell Curls: 3×5
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 4: Shoulders & Core

  1. Barbell Shoulder Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Arnold Press: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3×5
    • Good form is a MUST here
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Barbell Shrugs: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Cable Crunch: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  6. Side Cable Pulls (3 Angles): 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  7. Medicine Ball V-Ups: 3×15
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  8. Leg Raises: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1 min

Day 5: Cardio

My cardio day will rotate weekly between:

  1. Row/Sprint Medley
  2. 30 minute run @ 70%