My Training Approach

As a competing powerlifter, strength is my main goal.  As a wannabe Frank Zane, I like to look good in the mirror.  The common thought is that you can’t have the best of both worlds, but I beg to differ.  Since drastically overhauling my training scheme, about two years ago, I have added slabs of muscle and am stronger than I have ever been in my entire life.  I must mention that I am 33 years old, also.  This isn’t being written by a young, twenty-something year old personal trainer.  I picked up my first weight in 1994; long before most of those other guys/gals were even born.  With that now being public knowledge, I claim to know a thing or two about building muscle. Up to two years ago,  I spent most of my time doing isolation exercises and wasn’t incorporating enough of the main lifts (squats, bench, deadlifts) in my routine.  Once I added these monster movements to my routine, I started seeing some amazing things happen to me physically and mentally.


It all starts with the squat

For years, my leg days consisted of leg press, hack squats, leg extensions, and leg curls.  That’s all I did for over a decade, I bet.  Though I was working my legs pretty good, in this fashion, my lower back had grown very weak.  It wasn’t until I started having multiple muscle spasms in my lower back that I discovered my core was weak, too.  this was a tough pill to swallow because I have always sported a nice set of abs.  I finally had to accept that a nice set of abs doesn’t necessarily translate into a strong core or lower back.  Not to mention, I honestly only hit legs once a week!  I was one of those poor souls was under the impression that I could follow a “one body part, once a week” program and grow.  Was I ever so wrong.  We live and learn, right?  It was after discovering the squat that my legs began to slowly grow like baby oak trees.  I started seeing muscles in areas I didn’t know had muscle.  This started two years ago, when I was 31 years old.  I can’t imagine how huge and strong my legs would be had I started squatting in my teens.  See, when you look at someone with great leg development, it’s hard to fully appreciate that type of musculature.  You have to feel it on your own body, after earning it, to truly appreciate it.  I discovered the low bar back squat as a result of watching some YouTube videos.  I saw people of all shapes and sizes squatting this intense amount of weight on their backs and loving it.  I saw people who had strength comparable to a superhero and thought to myself, “that’s it”.  That was going to be my goal from there on out; get as strong as possible starting with the legs.  Before too long, I was performing basic 5 x 5 routines and simply practicing the movement.  I’d squat with just the bar, for most of my earlier workouts, and then add just enough weight to make 5 sets of 5 reps a good workout.  Right after squats, I performed the next movement I saw others on YouTube lifting with superhuman ability: the deadlift.

 The mightiest lift

My lower back was severely weak when I first began deadlifitng.  The fact that I was incorporating squats for the first time, too, made it an all out assault on my sciatic nerves.  Within the first year of deadlifting, I had three different episodes in which my lower back muscles would tighten up so bad, around my sciatic nerve, that I would be paralyzed for at least a week.  I could do something as simple as lifting up a stick in the back yard and my lower back would seize up; absolutely paralyzing me.  It would take either rest or an ER visit to fix things.  I know what you’re thinking.  Yes, I did keep lifting after all of this.  The only reason I continued was due to the fact that my my doctor said my spine was perfect, but my lower back was weak.  See, I needed to deadlift to strengthen those muscles.  Too be honest, I never hurt my self unless I was over doing it.  As with the squat, the deadlift workouts started with mainly just the bar and then a 5 x 5 scheme.  Never did I know that, less than two years later, I would lift 500 lbs. off the floor like it wasn’t a problem.

My most challenging lift

See, the squat is more difficult than it looks; there is so much technique involved.  The deadlift is pretty straight forward with it’s two variations.  For me, the bench is just as much of a technical lift as the squat is.  There is so much to it and it is, naturally, my weakest lift.  Everyone has that one lift, unless one is truly gifted, that just seems to lag behind.  My chest musculature is exactly how I want it, though.  I can’t tell you how many videos I watched about proper bench form;  learning about how much different the bodybuilding bench press form was different from the powerlifting form. Then, I taught myself how to program the two together in order to grow stronger while simultaneously growing muscle.  The bench has been my longest battle, so far, but I love giving it all I got.  The smallest increases in this lift feel better than my biggest increases on the others.  Except for that 500 lb. deadlift.  That felt really good.

I got so strong at all three of these lifts that I started competing in local powerlifting meets.  My numbers aren’t much to write home about, and that’s a fact I love.  I’m still so young in my powerlifting days that I have plenty of time to grow stronger and have fun while doing so.  Besides, my only competition is me.


Currently, I squat everyday; 5 days in a row.  I also bench everyday; 5 days in a row.  I hit a light to moderately intense deadlift workout twice a week.  Amongst these behemoths, I sprinkle accessory work and bodybuilding movements in for that inner bodybuilder.  I do absolutely no cardio, due to the fact that all of my workouts are so intense.  If I want abs for the beach, I just carb cycle for a few weeks.  I don’t like to get too cut up because it makes me weak.  I do, however, want to look good with my shirt off.  This is where I simply tweak the diet to match my goals for the season.  I never truly bulk, but do fluctuate in the 10 to 12% body fat range.  I’m not a huge guy, either, and was once a hard gainer.  I’m happy with what God has blessed me with and plan to do every last thing in my power to hang on to it.  Just slinging around over 300 lbs. every morning is part of it!

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Subscribe to my blog and you’ll see daily, or weekly, reviews on each of my workouts.  They get interesting, sometimes.

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Quick Tips for Easy Weight Loss

If I’m not being asked for tips on how to build muscle, I’m being asked for tips on how to lose weight.  People think way too deep into this topic and don’t realize that the path is so easy FOR SOMEONE WHO TRULY WANTS TO LOSE WEIGHT.  Honestly, the key to fat loss is all about having a proper diet and cutting back on caloric intake.  Yes, you need to get active too; but in the early stages of beginning a healthy lifestyle, most people can get by on diet alone.  Follow these tips and you’ll see your body melt fat off of your body within weeks.  I’ve seen people healthfully lose up to 40+ lbs. by following the below tips (in no particular order). These are all things I’ve done, along with multiple others, and reaped great rewards in losing unwanted fat.  Some experts may disagree, but I let the results do the talking.


 Cut out the sodas

People love sodas, and I simply don’t understand why.  They leave you feeling full of gas from all of the carbonation and sluggish after all of the sugar suffocates your blood vessels.  Cut out sodas and you’ll almost guarantee fat loss.  You’ll begin to actually taste the food you eat, also, since you aren’t washing it down with a sugary beverage!

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Drink water

Drink it like your life depends on it.  God put water on Earth to fuel everything positive in the life cycles of many things and beings.  This fact is exactly why it aids in fat loss.  As a natural appetite suppressant, it ensures that you are truly hungry when you feel you need to fuel up (eat).  Make sure you drink it cold, too.  Cold water motivates your body to burn calories, more than room temp water,  because it uses more calories to warm up the cold water.  Didn’t know you could burn more calories by simply drinking water, huh?

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Cut back on bread intake

Bread can make you fat due to the fast acting carbohydrates that are rapidly converted into glucose, before hitting your bloodstream, and then deposited in your swollen fat cells for energy usage.  Unfortunately, you’re eating so many carbs everyday that your body never gets the chance to use up the majority of them.  Bread is a huge contributor to carb intake and something to truly consider cutting back on when aiming to burn more fat.  Get your carbs from more healthy sources and you’ll start noticing a difference in the way you look and feel.

A toasted slice of white bread with a skull and bones symbol isolated on a white background.


Cut out as much sugar as possible

If you have sweet tooth, pull it.  I’m joking.  Seriously, though, cut back on the sugar intake.  You can still treat yourself, every once in a while; but try to completely eliminate it all together.  Just think of the nasty belly fat it’s going to put on you if you eat it.  It’s all a mind thing, I promise.  Also, if you haven’t caught on by now, sugar is not a friend of fat loss.

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This ends my list of things you can immediately cut out of your diet to begin the process of burning unwanted body fat within weeks.  Along with eating the right types of foods and an living an active lifestyle, you’ll begin seeing an amazing body reveal itself as that unwanted body fat simply melts away.  You’ll begin feeling better, mentally, too.  Of course more goes into losing fat for the long haul, but following these tips will get you by for a great while.  Good luck!

 

 

4 Days of Gains

This week has been pretty crazy; dealing with a flooded house and a wrecked vehicle.  Concerning training, all was steady in the gains department.  I wrote about Monday, but the rest of the week has been a mystery to you all.  Well, here’s what really happened:

Tuesday – Upper Body

Tuesday was cool.  Strength on the bench is increasing and we annihilated shoulders with heavy shrugs.  Had to make it snappy, due to an early morning dentist appointment.

Exercise: weight x reps x sets

Warm-up (15 min)

Flat bench press:

  • Bar x 20 x 1
  • 135 x 7 x 1
  • 225 x 3 x 1
  • 225 x 2 x 1
  • 245 x 3 x 1 @9 RPE

Note:  This is the hardest movement for me to grow strong in.  I can do push-ups for days, but not bench heavy.

Flat bench db flye:

  • 20 x 12 x 1
  • 25 x 12 – 16 x 2

Super-set


Shrugs:

  • 90 x 12 x 1
  • 225 x 10 x 2
  • 135 x 20 x 1

Note: This is the only Smith Machine exercise I’ll do.

Dips:

  • Bodyweight x 12-15 x 4

 Wednesday – Squats and Deads

With my legs still sore from Monday, I performed the following:

Warm-up (20 min)

Deadlifts:

  • 135 x 6 x 1 – Conventional
  • 225 x 4 x 1 – Conventional
  • 315 x 3 x 1 – Conventional
  • 315 x 3 x 1 – Sumo
  • 385 x 1 x 1 @ 8 RPE – Sumo
  • 405 x 0 x 0 – SUMO FAIL!!

Note:  Never underestimate how important it is to rest at least three days, after performing squats, when you plan to deadlift.  This proved to me that you are not as strong when you have not had the proper rest.  Hitting sub-max weights, next week.  Tested limits, this week.

Low bar squats:

  • Bar x 10 x 1
  • 135 x 10 x 1
  • 225 x 5 x 1
  • 275 x 3 x 1
  • 315 x 3 x 1 @ 9 RPE
  • 225 x 1 x 1

Note:  My legs and back were so shot after performing that lest set of 315 that I could barely do 225 for 1 rep!

Thursday – Upper Body, Again

Warm-up (15 min)

Flat bench press:

  • 135 x 10 x 1
  • 185 x 5 x 1
  • 225 x 3 x 1
  • 245 x 3 x 1
  • 265 x 1 x 1 @ 10 RPE

Barbell row:

  • 95 x 10 x 5

Incline cable flye:

  • 35 x 12 x 2
  • 40 x 10 x 2

Seated Hammer Strength dip machine:

  • 180 (each side) x 10 – 12 x 4

Hammer Strength shrugs:

  • 90 (each side) x 10 x 1
  • 135 (each side) x 8 x 2
  • 180 (each side) x 8 x 1

Friday – Squats and Deads

Low bar squats:

  • Bar x 10 x 1
  • 135 x 7 – 8 x 2
  • 225 x 4 x 1
  • 275 x 5 x 1
  • 315 x 3 x 1 @ 10 RPE!

Note: Lower back and legs clearly too smoked to squat heavy for a third day in a week.  I like this because it means that I have much room to grow when it comes to frequency, IMO.

 Deficit deadlifts:

  • 135 x 7 x 1
  • 185 x 6 x 1
  • 225 x 5 x 1
  • 275 x 3 x 1 @ 8.5 RPE

Note:  Once again, back toasted after doing heavier squats for a third time this week.  Lowering the amount of days I squat heavy, next week, should resolve this.  Maybe only hitting a deadlift movement once per week  will help, too.

Super-Duper-Set


Preacher curl:

  • 40 x AMRAP x 4

Note:  This is performed on two separate machines: one with a close grip and one with a wide grip.  Do AMRAP on both machines, back to back, before moving on to tricep push-downs.

Tricep push-down:

  • 50 x AMRAP x 4

Lying leg curl:

  • 30 x AMRAP x 4

Close grip push-ups:

  • Bodyweight (??) x AMRAP x 4

This concludes a week of what I like to call gains.  I learned a bit, too.  I need to squat lighter, versus heavier, on more days of the week.  I also need to not go all out on deadlifts, unless feeling awesome, due to the fatigue factors I’m working with.  We’ll see how next week goes.  Gonna squat 5 days, next week!!

Monday – SQWAAATS!

Hit squats, this morning.  Upon arriving, I received a cool gift from my training partner.  It’s a Harbinger HumanX chalk ball, which totally eliminates my need to carry around a container full of chalk.

After performing my usual squat warm-up, I went to work performing the following:

Exercise: weight x reps x sets

Low bar squats:

  • bar x 10 x 1,
  • 135 x 7 x 1
  • 185 x 4 x 1
  • 225 x 5 x 1
  • 275 x 3 x 1
  • 315 x 3 x 1
  • 365 x 1 x 1 @ 8.5 RPE

Note:  Squats are feeling a lot stronger!  If I can just hit above 400 at my next meet, I’ll be happy.  I hit 402 at my second meet, but bombed at 425 during my third meet last February.

Walk -outs:

  • 405 x 1 x 2

Note:  We loaded the bar up to 405 lbs. and walked it out of the squat rack.  After supporting the weight for about 3 seconds, we then re-racked it.  Doing this will enable our CNS to start adjusting to heavier loads.

Leg Extensions:

  • 60 x 12 x 1
  • 60 x 15 x 1
  • 45 x 12 x 2

Note:  Ended the workout with some leg extensions so that the bodybuilder in me would be happy.

Overall, great workout.  Getting stronger and feeling on track for my next meet!

Weekly Training Review

While my wife and I were at the beach, this weekend, my house flooded!  However, I was not going to let that ruin my training.  Luckily, the motel that the insurance company booked us a room at was only a 10 minute ride to the gym.

Monday – Heavy Squats & Calves

I thought I’d be ruined from all of the stress my nerves had to endure during the catastrophic weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised.  After my usual squat warm-up, I hit the following:

Low bar Squats: bar x 12 x 1, 135 x 5 x 1, 225 x 5 x 1 @ 7.5 RPE, 315 x 2 x 1 @ 8 RPE, 335 x 1 x 1 @ 9 RPE,     225 x 10 x 1 @ 8 RPE.

Note:  I focused heavily on my breathing with each set.  I took in a breath, from the belly up, before each rep.

Sitting calf raise: 55 x AMRAP x 3

Tuesday – Heavy Bench & Upper Body

Performed my usual upper body warm-up and then performed the following:

BB bench press: bar x 15 x 1, 135 x 5 x 1, 225 x 3 x 3, 245 x 2 x 1, 265 x 1 x 1 @ 9 RPE

Note: Very happy with my bench progress.  I feel the added weekly frequency has really helped out!

DB flyes: 25 x 15 x 1 (bench flat), 30 x 12 x 1 (bench slightly inclined), 30 x 12 x 1 (bench flat)

Note: I use an adjustable bench, when I do these, and will adjust it with each set.

BB bent rows: 95 x 12 x 4

SUPER-SET –

  • Close grip bench press: 95 x 20 x 1, 95 x 12 x 1, 95 x 13 x 1
  • Hammer curls: 35 x 8 x 2, 25 x 10 x 1

Db lateral raises: 25 x 8 x 2, 15 x AMRAP x 1

Wednesday – Deadlift , Squat, & Accessory Movements

After my usual squat warm-up, which also primes me for pulling, I performed the following:

Paused deadlifts on a deficit: 135 x 6 x 1, 205 x 6 x 1, 205 x 5 x 4

Note:  I performed these in a conventional stance, beltless, and standing on a 45 lb. plate.

Low bar squat: 135 x 10 x 2

When you've had enough squats for one day. #squats #cowabunga #powerlifting

A post shared by Adam Quattlebaum (@adamquattlebaum) on

Note: I was smoked after doing these!  I could barely step out of the rack after my last set.

Lying leg curl: 60 x 12 x 5

Thursday – Upper Body

Began the workout with my usual upper body warm-up and then performed the following:

Exercise: weight x reps x sets

Bench lock-outs: 135 x 10, 225 x 6 x 2, 225 x 3 x 1

Note:  We don’t have power racks in my gym (arrrrgghhh!), so I made due with using one of the squat racks with lower safety bars.  Also, attempted to throw up 315 lbs. and it didn’t budge!  LOL.

BB overhead press: 95 x 12 x 3, 95 x 10 x 2

Note: My arms gave out quickly when I started working on these.  I guess those lock-outs fatigued me pretty good.

Machine rows: 4 sets x 10 – 12 reps

Dips: bodyweight x 12 x 4

Sliding curls: 50 x 8 – 10 x 3, 40 x 6 x 1

Standing calf raise: bodyweight x 10 – 12 x 5

Friday – Squats and Laughs

Today’s workout was the best I have had in a very long time!  My younger brother surprised me by joining in, along with a friend I haven’t seen in years.  After warming up, reminiscing on old memories, and laughing until I cried, I hit the following:

Exercise: weight x reps x sets

Low bar squats: bar x 10 x 2, 135 x 7 x 1, 185 x 5 x 2, 225 x 5 x 3, 275 x 3 x 2, 315 x 3 x 1, 365 x 1 x 1 @ 9 RPE

Note:  We cracked up the entire time we did these.  So much fun.

BB shrugs:  We had 225 lbs. on the bar, but I lost count of reps and sets cause we were catching up on life.

Note:  I think we did 5 sets of 10 reps (???)

CONCLUSION

Overall, fantastic week of training.  Made some PRs, ran into no injuries, and had a chance to workout with family.  I wish every week was this awesome!  House is still a wreck, btw!

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Weekly Training Review

This week has been crazy hectic, so I am combining my entire week of training into one blog post.  Though things out of the gym were as crazy as it can get, training has been on point.  Also, I got a new camera.  No more cloudy videos and pics!! Here’s how the training flow went each day, with some minor notes.

Monday – Heavy Squats and Deadlifts

Today I worked up to a few  reps of 315 lbs on the squat and then performed some back-off reps with 275 lbs.

After squats, I hit some Sumo deadlifts.  I’ve been lifting conventional for a few months and was curious to see how good my sumo was, currently.  I worked up to a heavy single of 405 lbs and then called it a day.  Had two more days of squats coming up and didn’t want to fry my CNS too bad.

Monday grip & rip. Cause it's fun. #deadlift #powerlifting #mastersofgravity

A post shared by Adam Quattlebaum (@adamquattlebaum) on

Tuesday – Heavy Bench and Accessory Movements

Today I warmed up for the bench press in a way I never have before.  I did a circuit of lat pull-downs, cable triceps push-downs, cable curls, and face pulls for 4 sets of 10 – 12 light reps.  This really got the blood moving and I felt more prepared to hit the bench press than ever before.

With that being said, I worked up to a 2 rep max that I have yet to hit on the bench press.  Following bench, I did some bodybuilding type movements for my entire upper body, except the shoulders.

Wednesday – Moderate Squats and Moderate Bench

Yes, more squats and bench press work.  I have been reading about how tweaking frequency can produce gains, either in power or muscle, and figured why not give it a go.

First, I hit squats because I wanted to be fresh when performing them.  I worked up to 5 sets of 5 reps @ 8 RPE.

I didn’t want to destroy my CNS, so I moved on to some hack squats for 10 – 12 reps after I felt I was it was time to move on.  I hit some sitting calve raises while waiting my turn on the hack squat machine, too.

Next, I hit the bench press for 5 sets of 5 reps @ 8 RPE.  I actually felt pretty strong, so maybe this hitting bench for multiple days in a row will pay off.  I’ll continue it until my body tells me otherwise.  If any tendonitis or aches kick in, I’m going to back off a bit.

Thursday – Upper Body and Light Bench

After performing my upper body warm-up circuit, I started the workout with some overhead presses for 5 sets of 5 reps @ 8 RPE.  I used as much weight as I could without sacrificing my form.

I immediately followed the OHPs with 2 supersets of side and rear lateral raises, accomplishing roughly 15 reps a set.

Once my shoulders were toasted, I moved on to some chest presses via the Hammer Strength machine.  I worked up to 4 sets of roughly 12 reps with some moderate weight.  Felt really good, considering this is the third day in a row I have performed some chest action!

My back started to become very jealous of not getting as much attention as my arms, so I hit the Hammer Strength seated rowing machine for four sets of 10 to 12 reps.  I made sure to alternate my grips from close to wide on each set, creating some variation in the movement.  Got a really good burn off this one.

After all of this upper body action, I figured it was time to hit abs.  Other than performing a handful of abdominal vacuum holds each night, I really don’t do much for abs.  I feel my abs get hit enough with all of the power moves I perform, but still hit them with isolation exercises at least twice a week just in case.  Did a few super-sets of hanging leg raises and ball sit-ups to end the workout.

Friday – Day 3 of Squats

Started today off pretty rough!  I woke up 30 minutes late, due to the volume on my alarm being too low, and could only get some squats in.  I planned on doing more, but did what I could with the little time I had.  After warming up for about 20 minutes, I worked up to a set of 315 lbs. x 2 reps @ 9 RPE.  Then, I dropped back to 225 for AMRAP.  I hope my squats go up, soon, cause 315 still feels a bit heavy to me.  Regardless, I’m going to keep nailing them until they progress.

Well, that’s it for this week!  Overall, with all the madness life was delivering to me throughout the week, I was pleased with my performance in the gym.  Looking forward to the weekend, now!

Prayer Request

I know I don’t request these much, but I feel the need to do so on this one.  For those of you that do not watch the news, there were 9 people shot during an evening church service in Charleston South Carolina last night. The guy who did it sat in on an hour-long church service before murdering 9 of the church members.  The guy who did it is still on the run, last I heard.  He’s young and obviously not too smart, so I’m sure he will be caught soon.

The first thing I could think of, other than the families of the victims, was the fact that non-believers will look at this as ammo to prove to themselves that there is no God.  They will then use the question “If there was a God, why would he allow people to be shot in his house?” as a means to pull other lost souls into darkness.  I then thought to myself, how would I answer this question if approached by it.  As soon as I thought up this scenario, I immediately answered my own question with a simple fact – We live in a fallen world and God never promised us 100% protection from evil while we are on this earth.  He did, however, promise us the strength to defeat evil by overcoming the damage that is done when actions like this are carried out.  Also, this kind of stuff goes on around the clock and around the world.  Christians are being killed every single day; but only the stories that the news channels feel will get them the most ratings are being presented to us.
Please keep the families of those that lost their earthly lives in your prayers.
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. – 1John 5:19 
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