Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Pre-Contest-Prep: Back Training 101!

Image 1: An impressive back of which Adelfo feels it really lacks behind. Read more about how he is going to tackle this problem area, this week.
Time is flying by, only 2 weeks and Adelfo will start the hot phase of his contest preparation for the Wheelchair Nationals 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. From the last installment of the series, you will probably remember that he is using this time to streamline his raw-foods intermittent fasting diet regimen, which - he hinted at that in the last installment already, has not hampered his training progress the least. Currently at 149.5lbs with a body fat percentage of 13.4% he is hitting the gym more motivated than anytime before, as you will read and see in today's installment of Adelfo's exclusive contest-prep log, here at the SuppVersity.

If you want success, you have to constantly reinvent your diet

I already mentioned in the last installment of this series that I felt like the introduction of more and more raw foods into my diet had really helped with both strength as well as size gains in the gym. So, before I delve a little into my current training modalities, I thought I'd share a few additional thoughts on my current nutritional regimen with you.

Image 2: Adelfo's latest preworkout goodness for you to copy: Raw Kiwi Strawberry PreWorkout Shake - 20g protein, 44g carbs, 5g fiber, 28g; 508kcal of muscle building all natural foods, free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, yet 100% delicious!
Although everything seems to be working just fine at the moment, I am already planning ahead. When I start my prep, I will add a protein shake (50g) right after my workout, and then have the rest of my PWO meal when I get home... I just weighed myself today. 149.5 pounds, that's what the scale is telling me and what my current calculations are based on. I estimate my initial caloric needs at about 2,250 calories per day and given the amount of food I am slamming down at the moment, the addition of a protein shake immediately after my workout will help me to get up to those 2,250 calories as a reasonable starting point for my contest prep. While this may be my first prep on an intermittent fast, I figure that  

... whether you fast intermittently or not, you got to start a every diet with a reasonably high caloric intake...

If you do not lose weight as fast as you want to you can still cut back on calories. If, on the other hand, you are losing weight much to fast, chances are your will already have lost valuable muscle tissue, when you realize that you need to add in that additional protein shake that preserves lean tissue and revitalizes your metabolism. The occasional hunger pangs, I have been experiencing in the course of the last week are an early warning sign, I am not going to ignore.

Building a huge back sometimes forces you back to the drawing board

Image 3: Trying to build a killer back like the "Governator", but no clue which exercises will work? Then you better check out the SuppVersity EMG Serie with The Best Back Exercises of Witdh and Thickness.
I already mentioned in the SuppVersity Student Spotlight that I like it fast and heavy (I am speaking of training here, guys ;-) Currently, however, I am experimenting with some sort of heavy/light alternating training pattern, which looks like that:
  • Monday: Chest/Triceps (heavy day)
    5 chest exercises & 2 Triceps exercises
  • Tuesday: Back/Biceps (heavy day)
    5 back exercises & 2 biceps exercises
  • Wednesday: Rest (not so heavy day ;-)
  • Thursday: Triceps/Chest (volume / higher reps)
    5 triceps exercises & 2 chest exercises
  • Friday: Biceps/ Back (volume / higher reps)
    5 biceps exercises & 2 back exercises
  • Saturday: Shoulders (volume / higher reps)
    the only exercise I go really heavy on are shoulder presses
I consider my back one of my weakest body parts, so I've expanded my back training exercises. I used to do different variation of lat pulldowns, in the past, mainly because I was limited due to my mobility. Similarly, many gyms have machines I could not use until, after a lot of hard work, my core and trunk muscles got stronger and I began to feel a lot more confident to just try and experiment with new exercises, machines, grips, etc.
Video 1: Adelfo training back 2 weeks before the hot phase of his contest preparation is about to begin.
I guess, if you have not already been, Adelfo did now get you interested in "How on earth can you train in a wheelchair, at all?"... if you want to see a part of his current routine, i.e.
  • seated rows - underhand grip
  • wheelchair pullups
  • seated rows - overhand grip
I suggest you click on the video to the left and enjoy a lesson in "how to train your back properly" - if the expression picture perfect form had not been out there for quite some time, someone probably would have come up with it after seeing this video ;-)
Currently, I do most of my back exercises on cables and machines, especially the hammer strength machines - those are my favorites. I also do body weight exercises for my back, such as pull ups and chin ups (see video 1). I use machines and cables because I am not able to transfer onto a T-bar row or do any type of standing or bent-over rows, so I try to just mimic those exercises as much as I can through machines. I train my back twice a week usually on Tuesdays and Fridays. I combine my back exercises with biceps.

Image 4: Next time he will be posing in front of the American flag, it will be with a procard in his hands ;-)
I usually like to train real heavy on Mondays and Tuesdays, because that's when I feel the strongest after my Sunday refeeds, so I end up training back real heavy once and with a higher volume and/or higher reps, the other day. That being said, I still try to lift as heavy as I can even within the higher rep-ranges.

On heavy days my set/ rep range are 4-5 sets of 5 reps (not including warmup sets) I try to increase the weight on every set whether it be just a 5 pound increase each set, just as long as I am trying to better my last set. On my volume/ higher rep days, my rep ranges are 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

I usually start off with exercises for thickness, so I always do row exercises first...
  • seated row machine - I use this to mimic the T-bar rows
  • seated row machine - this is a different variation that has a lower under hand grip and I use this to mimic some what of a bent over row where you have an under hand grip
  • seated high rows on the hammer strength machine - one of my favorites, I can go real heavy and get a real good squeeze on my back
  • single arm cable rows  - on a cable machine, I tie myself to the opposite end, while I have somebody pull the cable for me, and with a under hand grip I can do single arm rows, I know its hard to explain but I will eventually get video of it, couldn't do it today because there were a lot of people occupying "my" machines ;-)
Image 4: Leaning back slightly
(135° vs. 180°) on lat pull-downs
increases the activation.
The exercises I feel contribute more to the width of my back are
  • wide grip lat pulldowns - I tie a weight belt around my chair so that I can lift heavy without getting lifted off my chair
  • under hand grip lat pulldowns and wide grip behind the neck lat pulldowns
  • close grip pulldowns - I use the V-bar
  • wheelchair pull ups and wheelchair chin ups
As any reasonable trainee would do, I obviously don't do every exercise in every workout. For me it depends on how I feel the very day and which exercises I actually can do - as I mentioned I need a helping hand on some of the moves ;-)

I guess that's it for this weeks, folks. I am already looking forward to next Thursday, where - I can guarantee that - Dr. Andro and I will have some more interesting stuff for you to read, watch and think about. Until then, those of you interested in more information on diet and exercise science should check out both, the SuppVersity EMG Series and Dr. Andro's latest "baby", his Intermittent Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting... but, with all that reading, don't forget to hit the gym!