Max-Out Upper Body Workout

>> Saturday, May 15, 2021

95% of my upper body workouts are 1 of 2 things: either super-sets (like X many sets of chest/back, then bicep/tricep, etc) or circuits (like X many sets of 1 set of chest, then back, pull-ups, biceps, and triceps, then repeat). And in both of those cases, I stop each set where I feel appropriate. It's like intervals at the track: if I'm doing 6x800s, I don't sprint the first one all out. I gauge my fitness and run it appropriately to know I can get 6 done decently. I treat my sets of lifting similarly.

But earlier this month, I had more time on a Tuesday morning (during a [covid] normal "at home" workout), and I felt like mixing things up. I wanted to slow down a bit and "max out" more. I was going to give myself more rest between sets, but I still was going to do a super-set like workout, working pairs of muscles at a time. I was going to kind of play it by ear, but I was shooting for 5-6 sets of everything.

Here's what went in my training log:

Maxed out every set. Pull-ups, push-ups, and dumbbell triceps for sure. Back rows stopped when form got crappy. Biceps just went a long time - different burn with doing so many reps there.

Pull-ups: a new set every 3:00. 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 9, and 9. Was going to do 5-6 sets, but after coming back "up" to 9 reps at set 6, I wanted to try one final one.

Push-ups and 40 lb back rows: starting every 4:00.

Push-ups: 55, 40, 26, 32, 32, and 31.

Back rows: 28, 24, 22, 22, 23, and 22. That's per arm.

Bi and Tri: 30 lb hammer curls for bi, 40 lb overhead dumbbell tri extensions. Starting every 4:00.

Bi: 46, 42, 38, 16 (40 lb dumbbells for that previous set), 40, and 40.

Tri: 34, 30, 26, 28, 27, and 25.

"Normally," I shoot for around 8 pull-ups/set. I might do 10 if I'm feeling great. And I might drop down to 6-7 at the end of a long workout. So having 6 out 7 sets over 8 reps was great.

The "normal" for push-ups is 30/set. So starting with 55 and 40 felt insane. And then notice how I crashed: the 3rd set was less than normal (26). But then I climbed back up over 30 again for the last 3 sets. And for back rows, it's usually 20 reps, so being "in" the 20s every set wasn't that unsual.

And my "normal" lately for my 30 lb dumbbell hammer curls is 30 reps/set. So the first 3 sets of 46, 42, and 38 were BURNERS.

Adding in some old PT shoulder exercises before my bi and tri work, and I ended up lifting and maxing out for 76 minutes during that workout!

The funny thing is that because of the greater rest, it didn't feel NEARLY as hard as I thought it would be. My numbers look so much better on paper that you might assume that it nearly killed me. But it hardly felt different in the end. Maybe something to keep trying now-and-then especially now that I have some "base line" numbers to try to beat...


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