At the beginning of October, I started a three month experiment of lifting very heavy weights for strength without any aesthetic or other reason. Every time I’d done a lifting regimen in the past, it had been to tone up, to train for something, etc,
This time, I just wanted to see how quickly I could gain actual strength. I also followed a 16/8 Intermittent Fasting protocol,which I really enjoyed (I ate three meals during that time, so it wasn’t as tough as it might sound).
This is the program that I followed:
- Fasting 16 hours a day so that all my meals will be between noon and 8pm and biggest meal is right after working out. Ill also be focusing on eating more protein than I normally would to support muscle gain.
- Monday: Deadlifts (3 sets of 5 reps) increasing weight approx 2% per session (starting @125), chinups (as possible working up to 2 sets of eight)
- Wednesday: Pushups, 2-3 sets of 5-7, and pull-ups (as possible work up to 2-3 sets of 5-7),
- Friday: 2-3 sets of 7 squats, 2-3 sets of 7 lunges, 2-3 sets of overhead press (work up to handstand push ups).
- In between, I’ll just do some kettlebells, hiking, and fun activity but no real “cardio.” I’m also considering adding some gelatin for protein and joint strength.
A group of readers joined me on this experiment, so I wanted to post my results and see how everyone else did. The following are my starting and finishing lifts:
- Start: 115 pounds
- Finish: 205 pounds
*As a note: I wasn’t pushing my absolute max before this experiment, and I could have probably lifted about 150 at that point, so it was a strength gain of about 55 lbs over those few months, rather than 90 lbs.
- Start: None
- Several in a set, though still not up to 7 in a consecutive set, but fill in with negatives when I reach failure.
Pullups: Same as Chinups
- Start: Several sets of 7 without trouble
- Finish: to test my max, I did 10 sets of 7 without trouble and can also do 20-30 in a row without a problem (full pushups). Can also do one handstand push up, but my balance gets me before my muscles do on this one… maybe I should do ballet for my next experiment to work on that
- Start: I would do tabata “sprints” with swings, or do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest for 5-10 minutes
- Finish: Can do 75-150 swings consecutively and to test strength, I did 1,000 swings in an hour.
Other notes: I ate a lot of protein during this experiment, more because I naturally just wanted more protein than as an effort to increase protein. I also took Magnesium, Gelatin, Vitamin D, and my normal supplements and didn’t have any trouble with joints or being overly sore, even with increasing the weights a lot.
I really liked this experiment. It was very challenging to keep adding more weight to my lifts each week, but I was able to add more to each lift than I expected. I did no cardio during this time, other than hiking or playing with the kids, and my clothes got looser and I noticed much more muscle definition in my legs and back especially.
Lifting actually required much more effort than I expected, since I was doing only a few sets with high weights. I would crave protein right after lifting, and since I was lifting in a fasted state, I think I noticed faster results. After a workout, I could easily eat 4-5 eggs and a big salad. I was surprised to see the visible changes in my muscle tone, and I slept really well on lifting days (another unexpected affect).
I really enjoyed how little time this experiment took each week and how easy it was to stick to. I think this is something that I could definitely commit to long term and plan to keep up with the training schedule.
I’m planning to post some photo and video for anyone who would like to start training this way but doesn’t know how to do some of the movements.
For the next three months (through the end of March) I’m going to take down the intensity of the lifting slightly, and concentrate more on kettlebells as I’m considering going through a Kettlebell certification and it requires a high level of kettlebell related fitness.