20in30 – Volume Bench

Need to put on some size? Get stronger? If so, you probably need to crank up the volume!

Today was my volume bench workout and so as promised earlier in the week, I will talk about what in the world volume is.

The formula for volume is simple. Volume = Weight x Sets x Reps. For example, if I squat 100 pounds for 5 sets of 2 it would equal 1000 lbs of volume.

In order to keep progressing with your strength goals, your volume has to increase over time. That doesn’t mean you need to add thousands of pounds in volume each and every workout but small timely volume increases are important.

There are pretty much only three ways to add volume with either more weight on the bar, more sets, or more reps per set. Sounds simple right? It Is fairly simple but there are lots of combinations to keep things interesting. Continuing with our earlier example of the 100lb squater, to make an increase from 1000lbs to 1200 instead of 5 sets of 2 @100lbs we could do 4 sets of 3 @100lbs. Then the following week go to 5 sets of 3 at 100 lbs, and repeating the process with a little more weight on the bar next month.

To really gain hypertrophy (build muscle) increasing the volume is vital. Just don’t jack the volume up to fast or you will become brutally sore.

So long story short, this is my volume bench day, AKA the day I do higher reps of bench press.

Bench Press: 5×8

Band pull apart: 5×10

Close Grip Bench Press: 3×10

One Arm Dumbbell Row: 3×12

Machine Chest Press: 3×15

Machine High Row: 3×15

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20in30 – Day 3 Speed Bench & Shoulders

Today is day 3 of my program and my triceps are still thrashed from Monday’s workout. I actually expected to be pretty sore and not able to bench big weights today, which is why I programmed today to be a speed day.Band Bench

Let me explain the whole “speed day” thing. I’m using 50% of my 1rm for the bench press and adding bands to the bar. Adding bands (or chains) is known as accommodating resistance which was really first utilized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. The bands only have slight resistance when in the bottom of the lift (bar on chest) but when pressing up the resistance increases, overloading the top portion (the lockout) of the lift. Because the lift gets harder as you push up, the bands help you to focus on moving the bar quickly, also known as SPEED! So why would I be doing this? Well there are several reasons.

  1. Explosiveness: Learning how to move the bar quickly and explosively is extremely important, especially with heavier weights. This allows me to work that aspect and not just grind out every rep.
  2. Lighter Weights: Speed work is usually done with 50%-60% of a 1rm. The lighter weights are perfect on a day like this because I am sore and feeling a little beat up from the past two workouts. I got in extra work but it didn’t pound me into the ground like going for another 3 rep or 5 rep max.
  3. Technique: I’m using the speed work to hone in my technique. I’m taking the opportunity to do a slight pause on the chest and keep my body as tight as possible and then explode. I’m hoping that I can get an increase in my 1rm just from technique alone.

So that’s my speed day in nutshell but here’s the actual workout.

Banded Bench Press: 9×3

Band Pull Aparts: 9×10

Dumbbell Incline Press: 5×10 increasing weight every set

Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise: 5×15

Lateral Raises: As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) w/ 25, 20, 15, 10 lbs. Do the whole sequence twice.

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20in30 – Day 2 Squat Day

Today was squat day.

Even though the main goal of this program is progressing the bench press, I don’t want to lose strength in the other big lifts (squat and deadlift.) It is usually best to have one main goal; because of that I will only be squatting and deadlifting once a week. Squat I usually squat 2 to 3 times a week and at one point I squatted everyday for 45 days. So the low frequency is odd to me but I don’t want to burn myself out on squats and not be able to hit my bench numbers the next day.

I did 3 sets of 3 on high bar squats and I chose high bar for a couple of different reasons. I’m not nearly as strong with a high bar squat as low bar so this gives me a chance to work on the technique and build strength in this style of squat. Also, because it is a lighter load it’s less systemic stress on my body, which hopefully will allow full recovery for my next bench press day (AKA Wednesday.)





Here’s day 2 of the program.

High Bar Squat: 3×3

Bulgarian Split Squat: 3×8

Donkey Calf Raise: 4×20 (Raised the weight every set)

Ab Wheel Roll Out: 3×10 (Best ab exercise ever!)


Hit a fairly easy 3×3 at 275 today and it felt good. Looking forward to the speed bench day tomorrow! Getting better everyday.

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Day one of the program here!!!

20in30 – Day 1

Today I started my 20in30 program that I have been working on. I’m trying to add 20 pounds to my bench press in 30 days because unfortunately my bench press is woefully sub par.

So, today was my first day and I feel pretty good afterward. Hit my numbers for the day which is really important because today was my “intensity day.” Now contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with HIIT or how many ounces of sweat I lost. Intensity in the weight room refers to the amount of weight lifted. So today my goal was to lift a heavy weight for low repetitions. This could be compared to the Westside or Conjugate method of a “Max Effort Day” but instead of a 1 rep max (1RM) I worked up to a 3RM and then took 90% of that for 3 sets of 3. I can’t take credit for this idea because Travis Mash of MashElite.com uses it all the time in his programs.

Since this was my intensity day I didn’t want to do a ton of benching volume (to be explained later this week) mainly because I have a volume day scheduled later in the week. So I did some direct arm work instead. I have avoided direct arm work for around 2 years and it’s time to get some horseshoes! TricepsMy triceps are fairly weak and I believe that is contributing to my poor bench press performance so I attacked those suckers using Kris Gethin’s DTP method. DTP is a pyramid scheme. I’m using his method to add size to my arms. It utilizes extremely high volume and low intensity and I need some actual muscle growth in my arms because a bigger muscle has the potential to be a stronger muscle.




So without further adieu,


Super Set 1

Bench Press: Work up to 3RM – Then take 90% of the 3Rm for 3×3

Cable Row: 1 set of 10 for every set of bench press, including warm ups.


Super Set 2

Hammer Curls: Sets of 50, 40, 30

DB Tricep Extensions: Sets of 50, 40, 30


Super Set 3

Cable Curl w/ Iso Hold: 3×20

Cable Tricep Pushdown W/ Hold: 3×20


So I hit 195 for a solid triple and did 3 sets of 3 with 175 for bench press. It took me around 10 or 11 sets including warm ups so I did 10 or 11 sets of cable rows.

I’ll try and post again with tomorrow’s workout, make yourself better and live human.


Wellness – Resources to Better Yourself

Wellness can be tricky to define but I think we would all agree that is vital to us living a long, happy, successful life. The definition that I find most useful is from the National Wellness Institute. It says “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” This is a very broad definition and I think that’s why I like it. It’s so much more than physical health!

Part of wellness is striving to further yourself intellectually and physically. In some ways my blog can help accomplish those goals but there are also other resources out there. Books, podcasts, seminars, conferences, and education, to name a few. I wanted to list some of my favorites and hear yours. Many of the resources on my list are health related but certainly not all.

WEBSITES – These are my go-to websites for reading material!

  • BarbellShrugged.com is a fantastic resource for all things fitness but they also delve into other topics like goal setting. The Shrugged team has been doing a lot of changes of late and are even working on something called Barbell University, which I am ecstatic about. Their website has a plethora of information on it and several different training programs. You can purchase and get access to the 6 month Muscle Gain Challenge as well as Barbell Shredded and Barbell Bikini.
  • JTSStrength.com is home to Juggernaut Training Systems and the juggernaut himself, Chad Wesley Smith.ChadSmith With a 2,325 pound total, Chad knows his stuff, and the articles posted to his website are fantastic! His team continually provides great free information. He also has several digital resources like A Thoughtful Pursuit of Strength and The Juggernaut Method 2.0. This might seem like a powerwebsite but they have articles on mobility, weightlifting, nutrition and several other topics.
  •  MashElite.com is home to the Travis Mash who has not only been coaching for 21 years, but at one time broke the world record pound for pound total. He broke Ed Coan’s record, the greatest of all time (the GOAT) . Clearly, Mash knows a ton about powerlifting but he also was a great Olympic lifter and his Olympic athletes are consistently winning competitions. The website has new articles being posted all the time and Mash posts new FREE training programs all the time. You have to at least check out the website.

PODCASTS – I have turned into quite the podcast junky. I love that I can acquire new information while driving around all day. Now I am constantly gleaning information from people via these great podcasts

  • Barbell Shrugged Podcast I know, these guys again? Yes! This is the podcast that started it all for me. Originally it felt a little more like a crossfit podcast but as the show matured, it progressed into so much more than just that. They have had some amazing guests like Cory Gregory, Christmas Abbott, Travis Mash, Brian Mackenzie, Rich Froning, and even Dmitry Klokov.

bb shrugged

  • Barbell Life Podcast This is led by Travis Mash of com. I really enjoy this podcast because it is just a bunch of good dudes who really care. While the show might lack some in audio quality, it excels in content quality. They answer questions, have big time guests, and are always willing to learn themselves. This podcast is honestly, a breath of fresh air.
  • Industrial Strength Show – Joe DeFranco is THE man when it comes to strength and conditioning for sports. joe-defrancos-complete-3-week-strength-reboot-graphics-1He has trained more NFL players than can be numbered and his knowledge and experience is vast. I like this podcast because Joe is an incredibly passionate person and it comes through in this podcast. He has had many great guests but I also enjoy the episodes where he is by himself. He is extremely consistent and always posts a new show on Thursday morning. I have usually finished it the very same day because it’s that good! He also has worked out a deal with CBS, which should propel the show even further!
  • Tim Ferriss Show – This might be the most interesting of all the podcasts. If you are not familiar with Tim Ferriss than come out from underneath the rock, Patrick! He has written several books; The 4 Hour Body, 4 Hour Chef, and the 4 Hour Workweek. I love this show because every guest is so different! I have learned about cancer research, hip hop music, foreign languages, kettlebell swings, and how to answer emails most efficiently. Ferriss is constantly speaking with people who are trying to push the limits of human performance, and who doesn’t want that? If you haven’t checked out this podcast yet, you should.
  • Dave Ramsey – We have officially and completely veered off the path of fitness but honestly, I don’t care. This post is about wellness, remember? Dave Ramsey is a financial genius, and it’s not because he can teach you how to play the stock market. He is a budgeting mastermind and genuinely cares for people and their wellbeing. If you are in some financial woes, consider the path of Dave Ramsey. His baby steps can be life changing and although his methods might seem extreme, his results speak for themselves. He also had produced a really terrific app called Every Dollar

BOOKS – Let me start this section by saying that these are literally my three favorite books. I think they are the most tremendous resources, especially for those of us who are in pain.

  • Becoming a Supple Leopard Kelly Starrett is the author and he is no joke. His doctorate is in physical therapy but he was also an Olympic rower and now owns Crossfit San Fransisco, however he is known everywhere as a movement guru. I first heard about him through MobilityWod.com and his youtube videos. His videos not only show you how to achieve a stretch or exercise that can make you feel better but he also explains the why and how. I don’t know if you can tell, I love learning, and I have learned so much about my body through Kelly Starrett. The book is excellent because it talks about how he performs self care, how to do every exercise known to mankind, and hundreds of exercises that can help improve mobility and ease pain. Dr. Starrett says that you should be able to treat about 90% of your own aches and pains. That is incredible and so is this book. I would definitely recommend the 2nd edition as it is much better organized. Both are incredible though.
  • The Roll Model – Jill Miller might be a Yogi, but she won’t put you in any twisted and painful positions.JillMiller4 She is actually doing just the opposite, trying to heal your movement. Musculoskeletal disease affects 1 out of every 2 persons over the age of 18! That is insane; and I would be willing to bet it is only going to get worse in this country, if we don’t do something to change it! Jill utilizes her Yoga Tune Up balls to help release all the fascia in your body so you can move better and feel great. I know it works because I have two of those balls and I want to get more of them! To me, this was an easier read than Supple Leopard and I absolutely adored the sequences in the back that help release tension and stress in different parts of my body.
  • BibleOkay, stay with me for just a second! This is hands down the book that releases the most pain in my life. No matter what you believe, most people would agree that relieving emotional strain is extremely important. The spiritual benefits are off the charts. Don’t believe me? I dare you to read some every day for a week.

For thousands of years humans have strived to increase their knowledge, intellect, and power. This is a piece of the wellness puzzle and now you have seen a glimpse into my own endeavor.

How have you been trying to better yourself? What books or resources have you been using to improve yourself? Flowing water brings life, stagnant water is riddled with disease. So keep cultivating who you are. Live like a human and progress forward, onto great things.

Comment with your favorite resources and how you are moving forward!

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Nutrition – Low Hanging Fruits Part 2

So hopefully you read part 1 about how you should erase the soda and replace with water. Not to mention erasing the fried foods and replacing with grilled. I called these the low hanging fruits of nutrition because it’s the easy stuff. Anyone can do it and it is not supposed to be that hard. I want to continue that conversation so we can get healthier.

So what should we Erase/Replace next?

Erase the processed foods. Why? Well, there is a laundry list. Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. Trans Fat is the worst fat ever. Remember our talk about fried foods? Well this fat likes to creep into other processed foods as well. However, it sometimes likes to hide in disguise under the name “partially hydrogenated,” “hydrogenated,” or “fractionated.” Oh and remember that on the ingredient list, the sooner the name appears, the more of that ingredient is in the “food.” Yeah, I used those quotations on purpose.
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup is also about the worst sugar you can digest, and not just because it’s a crappy form of sugar. It can singlehandedly raise your chance of heart disease, diabetes and can even encourage overeating! That’s crazy! More on sugar later…
  3. Sodium levels are insane in processed foods. Now salt is healthy, but not that much salt. Read those labels and be afraid, very afraid. Herbs are expensive and salt is cheap, which is why it is used to enhance the flavor of a frozen meal that will probably still be “edible” in 2050.

Check out livestrong.com for more on processed foods!

Replace with real food. What do I mean by real food? I’m not specifically talking about organic food, even though it’s great. I’m talking about single ingredients that you can pronounce and when you buy something that has an ingredient list, make sure it’s five ingredients or less.

I once read that if you stay on the outside edges of the grocery store, you are more likely to buy healthier items. Don’t walk down those aisles, it’s not worth it. Those processed foods have little to no nutritional value while fruit, vegetables, beef, chicken, milk, eggs and even rice are full of vitamins and minerals. Everything you eat either makes you healthier, or sicker. Remember, there is no Switzerland when it comes to food.

Erase all that sugar! Okay, most people know that sugar isn’t healthy. Snickers are widely accepted as delicious and incredibly fattening. You might think it’s just because snickers have 250 calories in a bar or 170 in four miniatures! It’s also because of how sugar works in your body. There are lots of types of sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and lactose! Basically, everything that ends in “ose” (Read more at this great blog nerdfitness.com).

So when you eat sugar, either from the snickers or the entire box of chocolate covered strawberries, your body can do two things with that glucose in your blood stream. Use it for energy or convert to fat, known as triglycerides.

This is where insulin comes into play. When your body detects sugar in the blood stream your pancreas releases the hormone insulin. Then it attaches to the glucose and takes it to your muscles and converts it to glycogen or takes the glucose to fat cells…those nasty triglycerides again.

The part that really stinks is when you bombard your body with a ton of sugar, your body sends out a lot of insulin and it doesn’t always get the balance right. So your body might release too much insulin so now your blood sugar drops drastically and you crash. In fact, you crash so hard you want more sugar for energy! Thus starts a vicious cycle.

Replace the sugar. Hopefully you have already replaced the soda with water. Those sugary snacks can be replaced with healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. If you are craving something sweet check out this banana ice cream recipe. The point is actually not to replace all the sugar with other things but to lower your overall intake. Some sugar isn’t going to kill you, but let’s be honest, you are probably eating too much and you don’t even realize it.

There is a bit of theme running throughout this post. Living healthier means eating real foods with real nutrients. You have to start taking your nutrition into your own hands. There is no reason you can’t live a long healthy life. I can’t time travel but maybe if I make healthier choices, I will extend my time on this earth. Seems like a goal worthy of a human.

Until Next Time!

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