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Challenge Report - Weight Gain Update

Draper alternating curls.

Remember The Challenge? Two weeks ago we were called upon "to invest in a week of intense, high pitched workouts braced with flawless eating." Many of us took up the Challenge as an invitation to share in our training venture, some to bring excitement to our mundane routine, and others to grasp an opportunity to make a serious a commitment, utilize the accountability and blast some enemy strongholds. It's worked for many as is evidenced from the IronOnline challenge seekers who's enthusiasm was expressed.

I chose to gain weight through my intense workouts and increased yet flawless diet. Five pounds have been gained and Laree insists I've been eating the tuna I've added to my menu without removing it from the cans. As this would be cheating, I've assured her this is not so. Of course, there's the chewing and indigestion.

Though putting on muscle is not easy — near impossible, some of you may argue — it's so much more fun that losing bodyfat only. There is less deprivation, less energy/strength loss and less accent on aerobics. I find within the 5 pounds gained I enjoy more power, solidness, resistance, endurance and energy. Indeed, it is a struggle and has its drawbacks. I've become unhappily preoccupied with eating, sleep and rest. Focus is good, tunnel living is not. I'll stay at the higher bodyweight as long as maintaining it is not like keeping a gorilla on a leash.

The weight gain, though not spectacular, wasn't achieved by increased eating and rest only. Heavier exercise was brought to the training floor. Squats and deadlifts, dumbbell presses and standing curls were done precisely and with deliberate contraction and range of motion. Negatives were accented. I just tried harder, worked harder with more purpose. A challenge will do that. A goal will do that. Accountability and genuine sharing as incentives make us pour it on. Dullness sneaks up on us and we need to hone our training edge or we unknowingly fail to cut our forward path. It's a jungle out there.

Which obviously brings me to deadlifts. Deadlifts? Deadlifts.

Deadlifts are a simple exercise really, made difficult by over-trying and over-thinking. Stand before the weight in a solid, shoulder width stance (may be up to six inches wider), shin to the bar. You are about to bend over and pick up a heavy object before you and this should be your mental approach.

Bend at the waist and at the knees equally and at the same time. Grasp the bar fully and securely in an overgrip or an alternate under/over grip about waist width (may be up to six inches wider for comfort). Looking straight ahead, your spine in a powerful flat position (not stooped over or rounded), focus, regulate your breathing, breath in deeply and steadily pull the bar to a full military position. Keep the bar close to the body and exhale as full force is exerted. Pause for a second of contraction and slowly bend your knees and low back as you return to the starting position and repeat.

3 to 4 sets of 10-12 reps, twice weekly with a light to moderate weight should be of substantial benefit during your first six weeks to condition the many muscles involved, to discover form through practice and the possibilities of application to your goals and system of training. A safe placement for this exercise is at the end of your leg workout (compliments quad work) or at the end of your back work. 80% output should suffice in the early stages to set the foundations, build muscle and prevent training overload and injury. Takes time to prepare the thigh and hip girdle and erectors for heavy power lifting.

The day will come for many, if it hasn't already, when the urge to lift a maximum weight from the floor to your waist for a single rep will challenge you. Be ready — wisely done, deadlifts that approach 6, 4, 2 and 1 reps after warming up are exciting and productive. Exceedingly heavy workouts done twice every 4 to 5 weeks are a valuable addition to your training regimen; systemic muscle growth, increase in overall core muscle, power and bodyweight. Workouts producing personal records (PR's) are truly memorable.

A comprehensive and stabilizing movement, deadlifts should become a standard practice throughout your years of training. Throw in squats and you'll explode. Be careful. Injuries are costly. Finally, only practice and experience will teach you. Don't hesitate, be alert. Observe. Pull. Pull. Pull.

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