R4 D42 – P90X Chest and Triceps

I was forced to hurry today but even so without the shoulders part of the chest, triceps and shoulders routine the entire workout is around 30 minutes. I have made a habit of subbing dips for some of the lame tricep stuff since doing endless extensions with 35lbs isn’t going to do much. Since I had made my own dip station during the summer it is getting a real workout these days. I still value push ups as a workout tool, regardless of how often you do them, they are still one of the best overall chest cage workouts out there. Even with the limited variations that Tony provides, he gives you ideas to try and variations to make up on your own that will give almost endless possibilities. The triceps however remain an issue. The problem is that the triceps are far stronger than anyone gives them credit for and doing extensions with dumbbells simply isn’t good enough. You need close grip bench, dips or heavy pushdowns to get a decent tricep workout.

Round 2, Day 36 – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps and Home Bench


I am really happy with this workout now that I have substituted some of the weaker exercises with more bench work. When I bench I feel like I am really working. I have a hard time getting out of the gym rat mindset that unless you are throwing massive amounts of weights around then you really aren’t working. At least this way I get to stress my body, feed my desire to push 45lb plates around and still get a great varied workout.

The bench has been my partner for so many years. From being frustrated at my inability to push 2 plates right through to my bloodvessel busting 395lb singles we have come a long way together. My new partner is the chin up bar. Around a year ago I decided that my lifelong inability to do chin ups was finally going to be a thing of the past. I remember vividly not being able to do more than one chin up, and for a person who (yes I admit) thinks of themselves as pretty strong it was a real disappointment. After all, what kind of person can shoulder press and bench press well over their bodyweight and yet can’t do chin ups. It was an embarrassing secret. I committed to doing more pulldowns and to doing jump releases which are basically jumping up to full chin up and lowering yourself slowly. After much work I found that I was up to around 10 or so, something which I have to admit I always thought would be impossible. My introduction to P90X came shortly after that and since then my chin ups are where they probably should be, although not at Tony’s level, I can certainly hang with the other guys in the videos.

Maybe this is a hangover from the goal setting spiel from yesterday I am not sure. Either way, I find the bench to be a warm reminder of my many many years in the gym and the pull up bar as my hope for the future. I am missing the gym less and less but every so often it’s nice to reminisce with some heavy straight and close grip bench.

Round 2, Phase 2. Day “29”. The Next 3 Weeks

I am posting this again only because I had a hard time finding it the other day. Today is day 1 of Phase 2 which means technically it would fall on day 29. I am currently on day 26 having skipped the rest days and probably employed some horrible math.

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 4: Pure Cardio with or without Cardio Abs
Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6: Cardio Power and Resistance
Day 7: Cardio Recovery

I will most likely kill Cardio Recovery in order to ensure that the 2 days coaching are my days off. In light of Tony’s rant that I posted yesterday I am going to stop being “a bitch” and taking that additional day off. It’s time to man up, Tony style!

Today saw the return to Chest Shoulders and Triceps and that also meant a return to using the bench in the gym. Some of the tricep stuff that Tony does is what we in the weightlifting community would refer to as “finishing” moves. In other words, they don’t do much but give you a pump but really aren’t useful in any muscle building way. Any tricep extension that you are only using 10lbs for isn’t worth anything. Not even the time to hit next on the remote. You see, the triceps are a vastly underutilized and underestimated muscle group and in order to get any kind of response from them they need to be worked very hard. Dips and close grip bench are terrific exercises for triceps. Overhead extensions, not so much. If you really want to see your bench press (or in P90X terms, your push ups) improve, blast your triceps with heavy weights for a few weeks, you will be amazed at the results. Of course, this would require you knowing just how powerful your triceps are… Let me just say that in gym terms, you should be able to do about 75% or more of your heaviest bench in a close grip bench grip. If you rely on push ups as your benchmark, you should be able to do 75% of your max regular push ups in military and at the very least 50% in diamond. If not, it could be that your triceps are lagging and need heavy work. Doing anything with a 10 or 15lb dumbell just won’t cut it I am afraid.

That being said, the workout is good, if you substitute enough tricep work to make it worthwhile you will definitely be sore the days following.

Day 64 – Straight Numbers and Stupid Carrots

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

You would think that just keeping the right day on the right numbered post would be easy wouldn’t you? The truth is that for the most part I write these posts the following evening before I work out that night so keeping the right date on the right day isn’t necessarily something I can just look at the schedule and confirm. Especially since I am skipping updating the weekends since a day of cardio and a day of stretching after 2 months isn’t the most interesting thing to read or write about. So I was off by a day, which means that when I noticed today, my Day 60 post celebrating 2/3 of the program is now listed as being Day 59. Not the end of the world…

nocarrotI planted carrots quite some time ago. It did not say on the package that they were shy, uncooperative or stubborn so I have to assume it is something about their environment that they don’t like. Since my Romaine Lettuce are crowding each other out now I suspect that at some point this week the carrots that should be will turn into the mulch for some transplanted Roamaines. It is almost the end of summer, I am almost finished P90X and the organic garden that I planted to assist in the fulfilment of my new healthy diet to date has provided exactly zero. Next year, if there is a next year for this grow your own malarkey, I will plant early, put the boxes close to the window and let the spring sun start the process early. I will also not waste my time with carrots or leeks. Stupid vegetables.

The chest, shoulders and triceps workout is one of my favourites, I think it is because I somehow feel that my triceps get left behind with all the pullups. As my rear delts begin to bulge, my triceps feel like they are shrinking away. This is factually not correct but since I used to do quite a lot of work on my tri’s I find that I miss it. Today fed the tricep monster that still lives inside my arms and he was happy! This workout also gives me the opportunity to work some shoulder presses which I also miss due to the fact that my last real goal at the gym was to get my military press over my bodyweight again. I had met that goal and was happy with my shoulder strength regardless of the significant pain I had to endure. This may sound insane to some of you but it’s really difficult to let go of something you are good at and comfortable with. This workout gives me access to that feeling of accomplishment without the unnecessarily heavy weights. However, I do have to admit that some of the movements in the workout I have replaced with barbell moves for triceps. This is primarily due to the issues I have had with my shoulder and elbow pain however it is also due to the fact that I just can’t help myself when it comes to isolating muscles properly.

Day 44 – The Return of the Mack

Tuesday August 4 2009. Chest Triceps and Shoulders.

My Personal Saviour Back in the Day

I’m back! The weekend ended up being a bonus in a way, I feel better, more capable, and most of all a lot less sore than I did on Friday. The workout, then, was not easy, that’s not what happens with P90X. I was able to do more than usual, it was just as hard but the output was better. Of course, as I sit in my pool of sweat at the end of the workout the weekend recovery seems eons away. I once again landed on my head doing the inverted shoulder press, something I am not impressed with given that before I started I could shoulder press 275lbs. However, this time I had my feet on the bench, not the upturned bucket so I was almost completely inverted with my feet as high as my knees. My single pervasive thought through the whole workout was next week’s rest week. A whole week without pull ups or push ups. A whole week to give my shoulders and elbow a much needed break but also a week where I need to pull myself together and drop some more pounds.

I know I did this more as a challenge to myself than as a weightloss tool however I think the last month I should really try to push my nutrition boundaries to give me the best shot at getting rid of a few more pounds. I am close to my lightest weight in almost 8 years, back to the weight I was when Nicole and I met and being there again with a large degree of control over my weight would be amazing. I remember that back then the reason I was in such good shape was not because of my diet but because of the Stairmaster. I would spend 2 hours in the gym every morning before work, an hour of which would be on the PT4000 climbing the stair to nowhere. As soon as I was not able to do the work any more, the weight came up. My experience has taught me that in order to be successful at weight control it is not about the 2 hours in the gym, it is about the 22 hours out there in the world. The gym is the easy part. Ironically, I used to tell my Personal Training clients that. I guess I just wasn’t listening.

Day 36 – Week 6 Begins – The Grind.

I feel like I am in that no-man’s land between the start and the finish. It’s that part of the race where you are too far from the start to be beginning but too far from the end to be excited about finishing. This is the grind. I expect that phase 2 will be like this the whole way through although I will be excited once I finish week 7 and get to have an easy week until the final push into Phase 3. It’s a good job that I am enjoying the new workouts because that is what will keep me going into Phase 3. I am a little concerned that Phase 2 doesn’t do much tricep work in comparison and tends to concentrate on back but then again I was always a chest guy so I am probably over sensitive to the imbalance.

So today I learned that one more rep is not always a good thing. I was doing these butt raised shoulder press things where you have your feet on a bench, your butt up in the air so that there is a straight line between your hands on the floor and your butt all the way through the shoulders. As you press you are actually using your shoulders almost like a handstand pushup but with your legs resting on a bench. However, the higher you put your feet, the closer it is to an actual handstand pushup and as I struggled to do one last rep with my ass in the air my arms very slowly gave way landing the top of my head on the padded floor with a resounding “thump”. I was not amused, especially since my instinct was to stand up but because my arms weren’t working I couldnt stand up either. So I lay on the floor for a minute or two staring at the unpainted ceiling and wondering if I should try that again.

Day 29 – Phase 2. Bring the Pain!

So here I go, all soft and fuzzy after my week of rest only to be thrown to the lions. I still have to install my chinup bar in the basement but since today is Chest, Shoulders and Triceps hopefully I won’t need it yet. However, I should put it up before I am too sore to lift my arms to brush my teeth tomorrow.

The only thing more difficult than the airborne clapping pushup... and I am not THAT crazy!

The only thing more difficult than the airborne clapping pushup… and I am not THAT crazy!

Nicole decided to join me today, I am guessing she is on the P9X program where you can work out once every 9 days and still look amazing. Not that I am bitter or anything… Anyway, the workout was a real treat. It was difficult enough to have me sweating bullets again, simple enough that you didn’t have to skip back on the DVD to understand the movements and best of all there were no repeat movements. Even though it is good to have repeats so you can really push yourself, the time flies by if you do a list of completely new exercises instead. The program consisted of 24 movements, some compound shoulder/arm/chest motion, some isolation exercises. I knew it would be hard given that I had taken an easy week but even so during the workout I was amazed that I was able to push myself harder and make it through most of the workout doing max reps. I also made full 25 reps on at least 1/2 of the Ab Crippler exercises which shocked me. My hip flexors must have thought that last week was just brilliant with no AR… So much for that.

I did find that my wrists started getting sore at one point, I suppose I should really be using push up bars to protect my wrists knowing that I have carpal tunnel in both wrists as it is. The history on that is I woke one morning last year with a sore rhomboid muscle and a weird tingling in my arm. After a few hours I found that I had lost the feeling in half of my right hand (and of course I am right handed!). I was not able to feel anything in my 4th and pinkie fingers or down that side of my hand. What was far more distressing than that was the fact that I had barely any grip strength in my hand. I had trouble holding on to a 45lb plate with my hand in the coming days which really scared me. I went to see a neurologist (nerve guy ) who told me a couple of things. First, the fact that I have no feeling in my right shin and zero reflex in my right knee since my back surgery is permanent. Second, the nerve test on my hand said that PROBABLY I would get the feeling and the strength back. Enter the ridiculous medical community and their inadequate testing equipment. “Grip this” he said, giving me a handheld grip strength monitor. I crushed it. My grip strength in my right pathetic hand was still off the chart regardless of the fact that it was about 50% of my left hand. It was actually so bad that I could no longer do chinups at the gym because I couldn’t hang on to the bar with my right hand. Anyway, long story short he said that it was radial nueropathy known as Saturday Night Palsy because it usually happens when people get drunk, pass out and trap their arm underneath them, pinching the nerve. Either that or (and he was disturbingly casual about this next part) I had degenerative disc disease in my neck and my vertebrae were crushing my spinal cord. Nice! This was disturbing because I was at one time diagnosed with DDD in my spine as part of my MRI’s for my back. Taking a look at my massive head (orange on a toothpick!) you would think that he would be more inclined towards the spinal-neck-vertebrae-crushing thing, but apparently not.

So, that is the history behind my wrist/arm/hand/neck problems and it is the reason why, after his diagnosis of carpal tunnel in BOTH wrists, that I have some wrist pain when doing pushups. Nicole said it was due to me doing not only clapping pushups but AIRBORNE pushups with Tony, but I don’t think so *wink*.