“The application of consistent, logical effort, over a prolonged period is the key to reaching your physical muscular potential.” – Craig Cecil
There seems to be a point in any workout program where one look in the mirror or one jolt of energy opens my eyes to the gains that I have made. During Shortcut to Shred, I recall how differently my pants were fitting. My biceps (when curled) almost made my eyes pop out during the 12 week muscle builder. For the Modern Physique, this happened during weeks 5 & 6, where I realized just how much heavier I am lifting on certain exercises. I never would have been able to complete some of the sets only a couple of months ago. Now, I’m flying through them and looking to increase the weight.
I’ve been upfront about my initial thoughts regarding the Modern Physique program. I was unsure whether the results would be that impressive. It is now evident that Steve Cook knows what he is talking about. Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror earlier today, it stood out just how much my physique has changed. My soccer jersey, which I decided wear, is noticeably tighter around my chest. My shoulders have some shape to them and I look more like an athlete, as opposed to bodybuilder-esque.
Either that or Planet Fitness have some very good mirrors.
Training – Weights
Weeks 5 & 6 saw a change in some of the exercises previously done. Gone were front squats, close grip bench presses and straight leg deadlifts. In their place are back squats, regular bench press and single leg deadlifts. This was a welcome change, as though the muscles can grow through constant increases in weight and volume, it can also become quickly adapted to a particular motion. I feel this change has stopped me from hitting a plateau and despite some teething problems, is greatly appreciated.
The single leg deadlift in particular is a movement I have never tried, but will be using as a staple for future reference. I found that not only is it good for engaging your brain into the muscle when performing, focusing on one hamstring instead of two, it works the core moreso than a regular deadlift. The balance required on one leg forces the core to stabilize the body. As a soccer coach and sometimes player, improving the balance on my right leg is a big help when it comes to striking the ball with my left foot.
It was interesting to see the gains in my bench press since last year. Though I was doing some regular bench presses back in the UK, Planet Fitness unfortunately only has a Smith Machine, no bar. The last time I had used the Smith to perform a bench press was during the stronglifts program back in October. I got as high as a total of 80lbs of weight (plus the bar), performing 5 reps at a time. However, most of my reps were dropping the bar to about a couple of inches above my chest, no further. By the end of week 6, despite the rep count being less, I was bringing the bar to my chest.
Training – Cardio
I have been really making an effort to step up my cardio. It is something I have often been guilty of when going to the gym…going half hearted or skipping it completely. It’s so important to a healthy life, regardless of muscle building goals. Energy levels are different, bodyfat remains consistent and the heart gets to continue beating. Making endurance gains is a key element of Modern Physique and I’m glad that is the case.
The HIIT element of the cardio training stepped up 5 seconds. So instead of performing 20 seconds of sprinting, it is now 25. Therefore, on the bike, that was 35 seconds of slow cycling, followed by 25 seconds of sprinting, 12 times. What I like about this form of cardio is that it is done in less than 15 minutes. I get easily bored on cardio machines, so this is ideal. It is also very intense and does wonders for the heart, fat burning potential and aerobic capacity. More so than steady state cardio (running continuously for 40 mins, for example) according to recent research (article).
Modern Physique recommends a day of active recovery each week as well. Active recovery is where a rest day is used to perform some light exercise that isn’t too intense, but keeps the body moving and blood pumping. As opposed to sitting on your arse, eating pizza and watching a Game of Thrones marathon, active recovery helps speed up the recovery of DOMS, allowing for better workouts the following day. I was fortunate enough to use these days to take a hike on the Tobacco Trail and catch up with a friend for a game of tennis (she spanked me 6-0, 6-0). I fully recommend using active recovery days to try something different exercise-wise, while keeping the activity light.
Diet & Supplements
Food-wise, I have been struggling. Not necessarily with the quality of food, though that hasn’t been great either, but more with the volume. I’m working long hours and when I do have free time, I’m trying to make the most of it exploring the triangle area. This means, I have had little chance to rest, which I think has affected my appetite. My intake of calories has gone down, which means my macronutrient numbers have gone down also. I’m aiming to eat breakfast earlier in the day to try and help this.
Protein shakes and vitamin tablets have definitely helped during this period, though they are not a food replacement. The clue is in the title – supplements! However, I believe these have supported my gains, both in strength and in size as I am once again hovering between 168-170lbs in weight. This is especially pleasing as I haven’t added any bodyfat.
My T-Shirts are definitely feeling tighter. I think my chest looks more shapely and you can see from the front picture, that some definition around my mid-section is creeping in, no doubt because of the 27 sets of ab exercises every Wednesday. The program has limited the shoulder work over the weeks 5 and 6 and this is very evident.
- Embrace the fitness pillar being worked on, whether strength, power or definition/hypertrophy
- Do the cardio, you’ll feel so much better for it
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