My Philosophy is Evolving

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I’m Doing in the Gym” post, and that’s mainly because I’ve been all over the place when it comes to my training lately. But now that I’m finally back in a good groove, I’ve got a plan of attack that will help me reach and exceed the numbers I was lifting quite a few months ago, but this plan will also help me do so in a way that’s healthier, safer, and more impressive.

What I mean by this is that when I was on my old powerlifting program, I was increasing my strength like crazy. I was hitting numbers I never thought I would hit. 405 deadlift, 320 squat, 240 bench. I was extremely excited that, at 160lbs, I was able to hit those numbers. While they aren’t extremely impressive for any competing powerlifter, 4 plates, 3 plates, and 2 plates was something I’ve always wanted to accomplish, and I did it relatively quickly.

But after I hit those numbers and tried to continue to make quick and frequent PRs, I hit a major plateau, and I ended up loosing my mental game and also started pushing my body too hard. I felt weaker because I wasn’t making jumps as fast as I had been, and I was brittle because I would try to over-lift and my ego got the best of my body.

After recent months of lackluster training which has had noticeable affects on my overall strength, I’ve finally been able to get back into a routine. But my head is also in a much better place than it was before in regards to my training.

Before, I was ego-lifting. Trying to force personal records because I wanted to see the number go up and impress myself and others around me. But once I got to that place, I realized, my strength was of very little quality.

This was because I wasn’t focused on building a foundation first, I was focused on getting right to building the house.

Now I’m not a bodybuilder, so a house isn’t referring to my body, but my strength and my numbers.

This time, I am taking the time to recognize what’s most important. The core. The roots. The foundation.

How am I doing this?

By slowing down.

I am no longer concerned about getting strong quick and lifting the amounts I was before as fast as possible. I know I’ll get there. But when I get there I’m going to be able to continue growing stronger because I will have built a foundation that is strong in all areas. Not just in the core lifts (squat, bench, deadlift), but in dynamic motion, power, and agility.

I am going to be relying on my weight-belt much less as well, in fact, I won’t be using one until I can lift a total of 900lbs between my squat, bench and deadlift. Using a belt was central to my squat and deadlift, but it prevented me from building that strong core foundation that is so extremely important for real, quality strength.

Currently, I’m at about 275, 225, and 335 respectively, totaling 835lbs. These next 65 pounds are going to be tough to get back, but I will get back.

To stop myself from ranting on, I will end with this:

In all aspects of life, we take shortcuts to achieve our goals quicker. But in almost every case where this is done, we would be much better off taking our time where we can, investing in yourself and the process, which will lead us to achieving our goals and more in a way that’s healthier, smarter, and more fulfilling because we know that we did things the right way, and our hard work and dedication in the life long journey of becoming the strongest, healthiest, and happiest we can, be has paid off. 

Thankful for the Common Cold

Yes, even getting sick has a positive side.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I know most sickness are serious and difficult to deal with, and these are not what I’m addressing in this post. But almost because of that fact alone, there are a few reasons why I am actually thankful for the occasional common cold, and why you should be too.

While annoying, having a cold actually makes you realize how happy you are and how thankful you are when you are in good health. We often times take for granted that most of us have relatively healthy lives, free of the many serious illnesses that millions of people are affected by every day.

The cold is a relatively non-serious infection that gets us to temporarily snap out of this mindset and force us to remember how much we should value our good health and how serious we should be about taking care of our bodies in order to prevent injury and sickness in the future.

Think about it, the last time you got a cold, what did you do? You started drinking lots of water, paid more attention to what you ate, you drank less alcohol, you got to bed early, and sure, you probably took some sort of anti-inflammatory and a bit of NyQuil, but the point is that you immediately started to take care of yourself.

After a week or two of this behavior, your cold was gone.

Now, aside from the reactive OTC drugs you took, if drinking lots of water, eating well, consuming less alcohol, and sleeping more all helped you get rid of sickness, you best believe that taking those measures proactively can help you prevent sickness.

Getting a cold not only makes you realize how much you value not being sick and how you shouldn’t take good health for granted, but it also teaches us how we should live and treat our bodies to help prevent further sickness. Now most of us get rid of the cold and then are back to our old behaviors of a bad diet, less water, more alcohol, and less sleep, but we need to keep these illness curing behaviors in our lives constantly and proactively in order to prevent sickness and ultimately live a healthier, stronger, and happier life 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%