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QUICK TIP: Journaling Progress

One of the single most important aspects of my training has been journaling my progress. Ever see people at the gym with a little notepad and a pen after every lift? That is someone who is serious about making strength gains, or maybe they have OCD and therefore extremely meticulous about every single detail of their session. Either way, it is important for us to track our progress, how else are we going to get stronger? Guessing our numbers week in and week out? I think not.

When I first started lifting, I got a little marble notebook, wrote down all of my routines day by day and tracked the numbers. Even if my numbers fluctuated in the slightest sense, I kept track of it for the simple fact that I want to create a habit. My first year wasn’t as strength focussed as it is now. I focussed more on getting my form and technique down in order to, again, develop proper habits.

The benefit of journaling progress is that it keeps the ego in check and ultimately provides direction. For me, this is the spiritual part of lifting. This is the religious part of lifting. There are some days we may feel stronger, where we feel we can lift ten pounds heavier than planned. By all means, it is alright if we indulge in a little ego lifting once in awhile, but what about long term goals. Are we willing to sacrifice instant gratification of a minor ten pound personal record, frying our CNS short term and setting ourselves back, for long term goals?

This was just a quick tip. I will be sharing a longer, in depth article where journaling or tracking our progress plays a larger role in strength training if we are planning to make this a life long pursuit.

 

Leg Day(Power)

As my routines are anchored by the big four and it’s leg day, I started out with Front Squats as my upfront movement. I warmed up to my working sets, sets of 3 and ascended in weight as I progressed through the squat portion of my session:

Below I kicked it off with 185lbs x 3 reps which felt heavy as hell for some strange reason but it felt smooth and controlled throughout the movement while hitting depth

Next, I increase the weight by ten pounds, hitting 195lbs x 3 which actually felt better than the 185lbs. This indicated to me that I probably didn’t warm-up properly, oops. Seems as if my body still had some warming up to do. Next time ill probably warm-up for 15 minutes on a cold day like today.

The following set I go up by five pounds and hit 200lbs x 3 which felt smooth and controlled.

Now is where things get real challenging, I go up another five pounds and focused less on depth and more on pushing this weight up.

My end goal was to get to 225lbs for 3 but I ended up hitting 215×1, which barely came back up!

 

After this portion of my leg session, I followed up with some accessory work: leg presses, 4×8, leg extension and leg curl superset, 4×15 and some calf work with 4×25 seated calf raises.

 

Building Muscle & Working a Labor Intensive Job

I’ve been training consistently for about 3 years now while working a labor intensive job (at UPS for 6+ years) and it hasn’t been easy at all. It is not the easiest thing to build muscle if you have a labor intensive job. As I am what you would call an ectomorph it has been hard to do two things: stay in a surplus and prevent CNS fatigue.

I work assignments that require me to lift, carry, walk, step up, climb, bend, push, pull, etc in all planes of motion continuously for up 6 hours a day. That is ALOT of calories being spent. Staying in a surplus during a bulk has proved to be a challenge for me to say the least because as an ectomorph I already burn calories at a high rate without even trying. To remedy this, I track my macros/calories daily(using apps or macro calculators it does not matter, just as long as it involves numbers) in order to stay in a surplus or just to stay cognizant of my energy intake. This is the most important part hands down. Without having at least an idea of how many calories I have taken in, my training suffers. For example, if I somehow missed breakfast, I know for a fact my training is going to suffer later on if I do not take some pre-workout and intra-workout carb sources, such as Powerade or Gatorade.

At UPS, the legs and back are the most used parts of the body without a doubt, therefore I make sure I train these muscles on my days off and Mondays after work when I am the most fresh and rested from the weekend. Blue Collar workers have to be cognizant of not only muscular fatigue but mental and CNS fatigue, especially if they work overnight/early am like myself. To remedy the CNS and mental fatigue it’s important to do two things: set up your split in such a way that you train your heaviest lifts/most used muscles at work on days off, that way you are fresh and rested mentally before anything else. The second thing is to have deload weeks where you train at a percentage of the volume or take a complete week off every three weeks. Personally, I train three weeks on and take a week off or train at a portion of the volume on the fourth week. I notice at the beginning or end of the third week I start to fade from the build up of CNS and mental fatigue, this is when stimulants like caffeine and beta alanine can help.

Blue Collar workers who engage in labor intensive jobs can’t train the same way as sedentary workers do, especially if they are ectomorphs. Strength training and bodybuilding has to be approached strategically in the first place and even more so when working a physically demanding career. This is a lifestyle that if taken seriously can lead to overall better, consistent health so we can benefit by taking our time to plan routines, nutrition and habits in such a way that it blends with our obligations outside of the gym and outside of work.

 

DISCLAIMER
All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Articles, videos and other works are allowed to be shared and redistributed in its entirety on any website, blog, ezine, newsletter  just so long as the authors name and website links remain intact and be included with every reproduction. boydavenuefitness.wordpress.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. The owner of this website does not claim to be an expert. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

How To Put On Quality Weight as an Ectomorph

Before I go into the “how to” on how to put on quality weight as an ectomorph, I want to talk about what an ectomorph is. So what is an ectomorph? There are three main somatotypes(body types): endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph, which i’ll give a brief introduction to.

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  • Endomorph: This somatotype is characterized by a blocky frame which tends to carry much body fat compared to the other two somatotypes types. The joints of this somatotype is thicker and wider. The torso is thick as well as the hips which are just as wide as the collarbones if not wider. This somatotype is also characterized by a slow metabolism, the slowest metabolism out of the three body types.
  • Mesomorph: This somatotype is characterized by well developed muscle mass with a narrow waist and wide shoulders. The metabolism of this body type is typically slower than the ectomorph but faster than the endomorph. This body type has the best of both worlds because of the proportions it possesses, having the narrow waist of the ectomorph while having the broad shoulders of an endomorph.
  • Ectomorph: This somatotype is the thinnest out of the three and is characterized by a thin and lanky build. The limbs are long, waist narrow, shoulders are thin and tends to be lean. Carrying little muscle mass and fat due to the fact that this body type has the fastest metabolism out of the three somatotypes and frequently referred to as the hardgainer. Having small joints such as the wrist and ankles, it makes it difficult for this body type to lift and support heavier loads.

Putting on quality weight as an ectomorph

There are a few things that must be done to put on quality weight

Tracking Our Macros

This is where it can get tricky. When I say “putting on quality weight”, I mean composing a body that has an attractive, healthy body fat to muscle ratio. Most people who have trouble putting on weight as an ectomorph are told to “just eat a lot.” The most commonly heard phrase from an ectomorph when asked “how much do you eat?” is “I eat a lot!” But how much is a lot?

To gain any kind of weight we must be in a caloric surplus. A caloric surplus means that we are consuming more calories than we are expending. So the first thing we need to do is figure out our total daily energy expenditure(TDEE) This is the total energy we use to operate our body in one day. This is why we need food, food contains calories and calories fuel us. There are a multitude of TDEE calculators out there on the net.

After we have done that we’re ready to start pigging out so that we can make some gainz! Wait not so fast, eating in a surplus is just part of the story. Although we’re eating in a surplus, what we eat and how much of it we eat is important. For example, eating fast food all day, everyday will definitely yield a caloric surplus but it will look different from eating a caloric surplus that comes from a well balanced, strategic diet. This is where body composition comes in.

Body composition

In order for us to put on quality weight, we must track our macros. “Macros” is short for “Macronutrients.” Macros are proteins, fats and carbs. These are the three components that make up our total calorie consumption for the day and how much of each we consume is important to how our body will build. For example, if we’re eating a diet high in fat, low in protein and high in carbs and we yield a body weight of 180lbs(82kg) despite going to the gym and lifting, our body will look different from someone (180lbs/82kg) who has consumed a diet high in protein, moderate fat and moderate carbs, this is all assuming that this coincides with staying in a caloric surplus.

How to figure out our macros

Again, since we live in the age of the internet and information, we have a multitude of ways and calculators we can use to calculate and track our macros. I personally use “myfitnesspal” to keep track of my macros and daily goals. If you have a smart phone, all it takes is downloading the app and dialing in the specifics to your goal.  If you don’t have a smart phone but have access to the internet you can access a great macro calculator here.

Now, the above macro calculators and TDEE calculators are great but at the end of the day, everything is a close estimate at best and therefore we will need to play with the numbers to adjust for error. We do this by consistently tracking our macros and watching how our weight fluctuates. If your calories to be consumed daily are 3260 (of course accounting for the appropriate macro placements) and you are 180lbs/82kg, eating above or below that will show how it influences your weight. How you divide these calories up by meals is completely up to you which is why I will not speak much on that aspect of diet. If you want to split it up into 2 big meals a day, fine. If you want to split it up into 3 or even 6 meals a day, that’s fine too. Just so long as you are hitting your macros on a consistent basis, or at least eating in a surplus you’re fine.

This is our bread and butter right here(no pun intended). With the above tools, we have the potential of gaining quality weight. All of this means nothing until we contextualize it though.

Going To The Gym To Train

I use the word train because that’s what we will be doing, training. Not “working out” or “exercising.” I believe in the power of words and the word “training” is a powerful one when it comes to reaching goals. This isn’t a play thing. This is serious work. Being skinny and frail is not something to be proud of so we go to the gym to TRAIN.

Compound lifts

We want to train “the Big Four:” bench press, squats, deadlifts and standing overhead press. These lifts put on the most amount of muscle at one time. As ectomorphs we don’t have the time or the luxury to be in the gym training 100 sets of isolation movements. That will get us no where fast. We have to be in and out of the gym with training times ranging between an hour and an hour and a half. Anything more than an hour of intense training and we run the risk of not only injuring ourselves from overtraining but undoing the hard work of building muscle tissue.

  • Bench press: Dubbed the king of chest movements, this movement works the pectoralis major and anterior deltoids(residually). This movement puts on muscle in the chest and shoulder areas. bench press
  • Squats: This is the king of leg movements and one of the most important movements we will ever do. The squat works all muscles in the legs: quads, hamstrings, calves. This movement also works the hips back and shoulders to an extent.pwb-squat
  • Deadlifts: Personally my favorite movement and another important mass building movement. This movement works the entire body, predominantly the posterior chain: glutes, hamstrings, erectors, traps, rhomboids, you name it, this movement  works it all.  Barbell_Deadlift
  • Standing overhead press: This movement works the whole body but predominantly the shoulders. Standing with the bar pressed overhead is a true test of strength. This movement also works the core and glute muscles as tightening the glutes protect the lower back from injury.    20120419115725-shoulders-military-press

With these four movements, we cannot go wrong. I personally build my whole routine around just these four movements and it works wonders for me, taking a “power building style approach”(powerlifting + bodybuilding)

All of this hardcore training, hardcore eating is nothing without sleeping like a baby.

Getting Quality Sleep at night 

Getting quality sleep is the single most important aspect of putting on quality weight. When we sleep, our hormones are regulated, muscle tissue is repaired, central nervous system(CNS) is rejuvenated.

Hormone regulation

After a stressful day of work, training and other responsibilities, we need to sleep. Stress stimuli releases a hormone called “cortisol” and this hormone is responsible for our ability of fight or flight, amongst other hormones. But too much of this hormone triggers diseases. Getting a quality amount of sleep allows the body to regulate this hormone and allowing other hormones to be released to signal repairing the body. Studies show that sleep also regulates proper metabolism function. These same studies show that chronic undersleeping contribute to increased weight gain and obesity.

Muscle repair

Believe it or not, muscles are not made in the gym, they are made outside of the gym and more specifically in the bed. When sleeping, our body goes into repair mode, using the nutrients received from food to fix tissues that are broken, torn, aching, etc. As mentioned above, sleep plays a big role in proper metabolism function. While building muscle we want to store as little fat as possible. We want to get the best sleep quality we can because it’s when we are in deep sleep that most of our human growth hormone(HGH) is released.

Central Nervous System

The nervous system, specifically the brain, is responsible for lifting weights as well as engaging many other tasks throughout the day. We do everything with our minds first, then follows the body. It is important for the CNS to be recharged everyday and if we don’t we lose the motivation and will to complete tasks that we once loved.

So, lets recap on how to put on quality weight as an ectomorph:

  • We know the three main body types
  • We know that we need to be aware of how many calories we expend daily so that we can consume above that. More specifically, we have to eat this surplus in regards to proper macro(proteins, fats, carbs) configuration.
  • We have an idea of the role sleep plays which emphasizes the importance of getting quality sleep every night.

If we follow these basic guidelines, we will be well on our way to putting on quality weight and transforming our scrawny physiques.

DISCLAIMER
All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Articles, videos and other works are allowed to be shared and redistributed in its entirety on any website, blog, ezine, newsletter  just so long as the authors name and website links remain intact and be included with every reproduction. boydavenuefitness.wordpress.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. The owner of this website does not claim to be an expert. All information is provided on an as-is basis.