Thursday, October 31, 2013

Calculate how long a workout will last

When I was planning the first week of hypertrophy training for my friend I realized that I had no idea how long a workout session would last.
So, I tried to come up with some sort of formula that could roughly predict the total time of the workout.
After various attempts, I have this formula that has a 10 min range of error (between my prediction and the actual time that my friend has been training):


set.tot is the total amount of sets in the session.
1.55 is an estimation of the duration of a single set plus the rest between set. 1 min of rest between sets and more or less 30 second to complete one set (1+ 0.55)
25 includes the time for warm-up, cool-down, stretching and some setbacks that may happen in the gym, for istance waiting to use the bench press

This formula helps me a lot when I'm a workout, especially if my friend has to go to the gym between classes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hyperthophy (muscle mass) Training: workout structure

Last August a friend of mine asked me for an hypertrophy workout. This friend of mine is absolutely in love with the gym, he would literally spend all day pumping iron.
So I accepted his request.

(Before the hypertrophy training, we worked one month on his strength)

I designed a workout based on bodybuilding trainings that will last until February (currently we are at week 3).
I'm not going to discuss the aerobic training and the diet. I will focus on the “weight” part of the program. I would just like to say that my friend takes protein shakes after every training session and he follows an healthy diet.

Here is the plan in details.
  • 82kg of muscle mass by February
  • Get a V shape
  • Do at least 5 dips and 5 pull-up with 20% of body weight loaded by February
  • Reduce body fat percentage

5 days of gym training, from MON to FRI, for 5 weeks + 1 one of deload. Repeat the cycle until Febrary.
I'm using a split training system, divided in even and odd weeks.

upper arms.....
lower arms.........
upper arms.....
lower arms.........

upper arms.....
lower arms.........
upper arms.....
lower arms.........

*WED* ---> Wednesday is the “test day”. My friend has to pick a body part not trained the day before (that's why the workout is divided in even and odd weeks, otherwise he will always test the same body parts), e.g. chest, and try to beat his 1 RM max. After that, he carries on with legs and abs.
I added this test day to motivated him to go beyond his limits and to set new targets every week.

*FRI* ---> Friday is the high intensity day. I introduced this day to shock the muscle and to avoid its adaptation to the workout. I wanna catch it by surprise with more weight and less reps than usual.


Always keep an equal number of pulling and pushing exercises to maintain a balanced body structure.

Train to failure. If you have to do 12 reps of bench press, you have to reach the 12 th reps almost dead and try to do a couple more. As Arnold said, are those two last reps that make the muscle grow (and make the difference between champions and normal people)

Lifting weight is a mean, not the goal. We are training to make our muscles grow and not to lift heavier weights. You need to know the right weight for the right exercise and for the number of reps you are going to perform. This is an ability that comes with the experience.

Number of reps and rest. Generally, we will work between the 8 and 12 reps per set with one minute of rest between set.

Warm-up and cool down. Every session begins with a warm-up (rope skipping + dynamic stretching) and it ends with a cool-down (low intensity treadmill run + static stretching)

Feedback. At the end of the session, my friend has to follow a little questionnaire about his pre-and-post workout fatigue, enjoyment, satisfaction, challenging (scale 1 out of 5). Moreover, he writes me his weight after training and the duration of the workout. Finally, he tells me what he liked and what he didn't liked about the training session.

Focus on the muscle that we are training. Targeting the muscle is a matter of technique and right weight. All exercise should be execute with the proper technique. Wrong weight might deviate from hypertrophy training and could even lead to injuries.

Listen to your body. Learn to listen to your body will help you to train better and to avoid injuries. If it hurts (actually pain) then stop!

To work the muscle harder, I use this techniques in top of the basic concentric movement.

Squeezing: squeeze the muscle at every contraction! You will work it even harder

Stripping: get to the last rep, push to the limit and go above the limit. Now, drop the current weight, immediately pick up lighter one and repeat from the beginning. You will surprise how much energy you muscles have when lifting a lighter weight.

Negative: get to the last rep and instead of dropping the weight, perform an eccentric movement (negative). Ask to someone to help you to lift the weight again and perform eccentric movements until you can.

Supersets: perform two or more exercises in a row without rest between series.

Isotension: between sets, keep on flex and contract your muscles. This help to feel “the pump”, which is to keep the blood pumping in the muscles. Arnold said that the pump is like an orgasm (or maybe better)...

Body weight exercises: this kind of exercise stimulate the body to produce growth hormones.
This is it.

At the beginning I had two main issues:
a) In his gym there is anything to measure body fat (I don't really trust the formula method)
b) V shape?!
Bonus) I'm in UK, he is in Italy.

For the first problem, I will use photos to track his progress. I had a picture of him before begin the workout and I will ask him to send me one at the of the program.

To get a V shape I will make him work on the superior part of the latissimus dorsi (with pull up for instance), expand the thoracic cage (pull-over), shoulders and I will try to get his waist slimmer.

While I'm writing this article we are in week 3 of training and he is 79kg. At the end of August he was 76Kg. During September we worked to improve his general strength and the workout described above started on October.

I will post example of a week planning later on; I need to collect more data first.
If you have any advice, question or critic, please don't be shy and fell free to leave a comment: I will really appreciate it.


I know I know, I am a student and I'm supposed to reference properly (e.g. in text); yet, I have already finished the article so... maybe next time :)
Bompa, Di Pasquale and Cornacchia. Serious Strength Training
Delavier. Strength Training Anatomy                                                                              Freitas de Salles, Simao, Miranda, da Silva Novaes, Lemos and Willardson. Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training                                                                                    Low. Overcoming Gravity                                                                                      Schwarzenegger. The New Encyclopedia Of Modern Bodybuilding

Oh my God!? What is he doin'?!

Please please please Lady and Gentleman,
please. Do not panic.

I am just a sport performance analysis student (the name of this course is so cool) with a lot of free time during the day; and I pay a lot for this free time too.

As you may know, boredom is unproductive. You realize this when, at 2.19am of Monday night, you are on wikipedia reading about worms life and death.
So, the next phase of boredom is action. I decided to publish a blog. "Why?" you might ask... well, here there are your answers:
a) I like writing
b) I can improve my written English
c) I already know everything about worms
d) It might help my university journey.

Next step is to keep the blog update. It might sound stupid, but when you begin something you like you are always enthusiastic about it. This is the way I fell right now: I have a lot of ideas and lot of posts that I would like to write.
On the other hand, I know myself very well. I start projects and complete a quarter of them. Still, 25% is not too bad; hopefully this blog is within that quarter.

See ya around boys and girls!