Using Slow Reps in My Weight Training

My 5/5 Weight Lifting Workout

I’m just coming to the end of a 10 workout regimen using the principle of constant tension to build muscle mass and break through what I hope was a year long plateau in my weight training. I call it 5/5. There were I believe a few factors contributing to this ridiculous plateau:

  1. Over-training: not allowing myself enough time to recover. I was stupidly using resistance training as a method for burning calories so I was obsessed with getting my workout in every day if possible and just burning out when I could. Pure dumb assery. I’ve finally learned that dieting is the only way to effectively lose weight. Resistance training is for strength, not weight loss.

  2. Not pushing myself hard enough. This one I’m not so worried about, though it is important to find the right balance. I’m very careful and very concerned about injury.

  3. Not varying my workouts. I would occasionally switch the order in which I would perform the exercises but rarely which ones I was doing or the amount of weight I was lifting. Now I have 3 or 4 different workouts that I perform as part of a system. This aids in recovery as well since the workouts work my body in different ways such as using weights one day and body weight the next and some workouts are not as intense interspersed with recovery days concentrating on stretching.

I need more time to really see if I’ve broken through my plateaus and my progress with pull-ups is something I’m still researching since I’m not happy with it at all, but overall I feel like I’m making progress when I was not before.

My current (for one more workout this cycle of 10) resistance regimen with weights is a variation of the principles I read about in this post by Tim Ferriss (yes I know I’m a fucking fan boy – deal with it!), which is based on a routine called Occam’s Protocol. Basically I took the use of slow repetitions by moving the weight for a count of at least 5 in each direction and applied it to the exercises I had already, for the most part, been performing.

The reason for using my own routine, which does have plenty of overlap, was because my body is accustomed to those movements so I could minimize injury and most importantly I can track changes when I move back into my former workout to assess any difference. This routine is one I have been tweaking for a long time, and I use the other regimens in the system (pull-up/air squat days and kettle bell/ab days) to provide the necessary changes to movement.

The following exercises are performed with a minimum count of five in each part of the movement. Some, like the Romanian Dead Lift, might take a longer count since it is a longer range of motion. I kept repetitions low – between five and eight. Unlike the aforementioned systems I performed two sets of each exercise (gasp!) with a 2 minute recovery between each set. During these 2 minutes I would perform 45 seconds to one minute of a movement like jumping jacks, blocks, or punches to keep my HR up and to keep warm. I work out in my garage and this is taking place November to January in at times 20 degree temps! All exercises are performed with a barbell.

1: Back: Bent Over Row

2: Chest: Bench Press

3: Quads: Back Squat (high back, low squat) – Front would have probably been better

4: Shoulders: Overhead Press

5: Biceps: Bicep Curl

6: Triceps: Close Grip Bench Press

7: Hamstrings, Glutes: Romanian Dead Lift

After my normal warm up I would only warm up with a low weight row prior to the first Bent Over Row. Normally when I’m doing these ‘primary’ lifts I would warm up with a low weight first and build up to my target, and I’ll go back to this practice when I do my ‘normal’ routine.

I’m excited to cycle into my previous workout, which I call 3’s, and see what kind of changes I’ve made. I know my bench press, which is really where I had plateaued, has improved since I am ending this 5/5 cycle at the same weight I was stuck on.

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