It’s been a few months since I posted, and I appreciate your patience as I’ve been working my butt off to get back in the swing of things. One of my New Year’s goals is to be consistent here, and what is a better time to start than now? Let’s get this train rolling.
My wife and I spent the fall caretaking American Prairie’s 73 Ranch. I hunted A LOT and took some time off barbell work. When I wasn’t caring for things around the ranch or chasing elk with my longbow, I used the MTNTOUGH app to keep up with my fitness goals. For three months, I logged countless miles in the hills and managed to drop 15 pounds. During that time, my glucose levels stayed in range over 80% of the time.
Back to the Bar
When we got back from the ranch, I participated in Sorinex’s annual DEADCEMBER event. Every weekday, there was a deadlift variation and full training protocol for December. Deadlift has long been my favorite, and this was a great way to get a bar back in my hands without having to sit down and program the next 30 days. It also kept me accountable, even if my “training” partners were spread nationwide.
At the end of DEADCEMBER, I pulled 505 pounds for a comfortable single. Not an all-time PR, but a number I was grateful to hit after a long fall of beating myself up in other ways. While running the DEADCEMBER program, I realized a few things; 1) I have a crappy bench number (as I pretty much always have), 2) if I wanted to change that, I needed to increase the volume I dedicate to the bench press, and 3) the grip that I thought was strongest for my build was not my strongest.
I decided to take some of what I learned during DEADCEMBER and focus on another New Year’s resolution: to bench 315 pounds again for the first time in a LONG time before our kiddo arrives in April.
I used to bench once a week, sometimes two if I’m really feeling froggy. Squatting and deadlifting two times a week helped the other develop even though they’re different movements, but my bench always felt like it was left in the dust. The time I had my biggest bench in college was also when I had a nagging back injury. When I backed off my squat and deadlift training and upped my bench frequency, I made a lot of progress in a short amount of time.
Up the Frequency
I’m using a bastardized conjugate program that’s Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to make sure I’m tackling Max Effort, Dynamic Effort, and Repeated Effort every week with small variances on grips and bars. The program is four weeks long. At the end, I assess how the first four weeks went and bump the numbers up for the next four weeks around. I mix conditioning days in between bench days, but I don’t feel obligated to condition if other things come up. I have one goal, and my three days a week are enough to get me there.
Focusing on something more specific has made accountability to those primary days easier, while also giving me flexibility on other days. I’ve never been a proponent of trying to hack fitness and promote a get-strong-quick program, and I don’t think this volume is sustainable for me long term. This program is more about pushing myself for a short-term goal and doing the work necessary to express strength that was already there. So far, I’ve noticed an increase in size and weight on the bar every week, and I’ve been able to mitigate any overtraining concerns.
“Crockpots not microwaves” is a saying I try to live by. Most ventures that promise a quick result usually leave you broadside in the rhubarb wondering what happened. When I started this program, I wondered if it was a microwave program and if I was going against my slow-cooking motto. Two and a half months in, I’d describe this program as more of a pressure cooker template. I’m excited to hit my 315-pound bench goal before our baby arrives. I’m even more excited to get back on a slow cooker program as Jordanne and I learn how to be good parents.