The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 18 (Legs)

I have a hard time designing my leg workouts.

Usually, I put a couple of quad exercises together with one hamstring and one calf exercise and call it good.

My biggest fear is not being able to walk the next day, so I usually err on the side of caution.

On the other hand, if I don’t hurt a little bit the next day, I feel like I wasted my time.

I felt like my last leg workout was a little worthless, so I decided to change it up a little bit.

I Google’d ‘leg workout’ and selected the link from

Here’s the workout I did today (with some slight modifications):

Barbell Squats 4 x 4-6
I rarely ever do these when I’m working out solo, so I did them on the Smith Machine today. My plan is to work up to doing them with a free barbell, but I wanted to get a feel for the motion, since I also did them as front squats.

Dumbell Lunge 4 x 12
I did alternating sets of front and back lunges.

Leg Press 3 x 12-15
I wasn’t sure how much weight I could do on the leg press machine. I started with three plates and worked up to five. On the third set, I rep’d it out and felt I could go a little heavier, so I went with six plates, but could only get out ten quality reps. If I hadn’t done the first set with three plates, I probably could have gotten out the last few reps with six plates.

Lying Leg Curl 3 x 12
For each set of leg curls, I did four reps with neutral toes, four reps with my toes facing inward, and four reps with my toes facing outward.

Leg Extensions 3 x 20
These killed me. I was only able to do a maximum of twelve reps before I had to stop. After a brief rest, I completed the rest of the reps in the set.

Standing Calf Raises 4×12
My quads were so fatigued that I had to take a short break before starting my first set of these.

Tomorrow: Chest


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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 10 (Chest)

I live in Colorado and work out at the 24 Hour Fitness locations in the Denver/Boulder area.

For the most part, the people here are pretty conscientious about putting their weights away and putting them in the correct location.

California is not Colorado.

In California, every location is a train wreck. Perhaps it’s just a cultural thing, but no one here seems to give a sh*t.

Apparently, no one’s ever been taught to put things back or leave things the way they found them. Or, maybe the employees at the locations here never do any routine maintenance and organizing, so chaos is the gym’s natural state.

Either way, today was extremely frustrating.

Incline Dumbell Press 4×8
I had to look high and low for a pair of weights that I could start my workout with. Not a good way to start out a workout. Or, maybe it was a good way — I felt stronger to start.

Flat Dumbell Press 4×8
I moved to my routine flat dumbbell presses after the incline presses. I again did these with my legs straightened and raised. My initial anger must have carried over, as I felt like I could have done more weight on my initial set of these. To account for that, I used the same weight for my second and third sets. That strength faded fairly fast, though. I was only able to perform seven reps on my third set and had to drop down in weight for my final set.

ISO Lateral Decline Press (Hammer Strength) 4×8
I had to hang out and wait for this machine, as both it and the decline bench were taken. I went up a bit in weight to start and got a really good set in.

Dips 4×15
I started out using just my body weight, but my hulk strength was still with me. I ended up using some kettle bells hung on my foot for added weight.

Decline Cable Fly / Incline Cable Fly 4×10 / 4×10
By now, my initial anger had turned to irritation, and I was ready to get the hell out of the gym. As a result, I superset my last two exercises.

Tomorrow: Back


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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 9 (Legs)

I’m traveling for work again this week.

Luckily, I’m in Pasadena, where I was able to find a 24 Hour Fitness. It isn’t the nicest location I’ve ever been to, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get.

Squat Press 4×10
I wanted to do some actual squats, but all of the racks were in use. I resorted to doing some leg presses. I hadn’t used this specific machine before, so it was difficult to get the weight dialed in. Additionally, I couldn’t find very many 45 lb. plates around, so I used what I could.

Walking Lunges 4×8
I didn’t have very much space on the weight room floor and was forced to use one of the ‘aerobic’ rooms. Lunging across the length of the room and back resulted in about sixteen steps, hence the eight reps per leg. I started out using just my body weight, but ended up performing the last three sets with ten pound weights in hand.

Walking Side Squat 2×20
A friend of mine used to make me do these when we worked out. I hated them. That must mean they’re good for me, so I did them since I couldn’t think of anything else to do. For each set, I did ten reps one way, followed by ten reps the other way.

Standing Calf Raises 4×12
I ended up using another machine I hadn’t ever used before. It was a plate loaded standing calf raise machine. As a result, I again had a difficult time getting the weight dialed in.

Seated Leg Curls 4×10
For my last exercise, I did some seated leg curls. While I do these, I like to actually hold the parts of my hamstrings that are not on the seat. I have a difficult time focusing on the ‘pull’ exercises (back, biceps, hamstrings). Holding my hams helps me to actually focus on contracting them instead of simply counting the reps out.

Tomorrow: Chest


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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 8 (Shoulders)

First day I’m actually cataloging a shoulder workout. We’ll see how it goes.

Dumbell Shoulder Presses 4×8
I’d like to eventually get to the point where I can start doing these with a barbell, but I don’t have enough confidence right now. Dumbells allow me to easily get out from under the weight if I have issues, whereas with a barbell I’d feel more comfortable with a spotter. I have a hard time asking strangers for a spot — you never know what their ‘style’ of lifting/spotting is.

Lateral Raises 4×10
Normal lateral raises. Focusing on keeping my arms extended, lifting with my elbows, and not swinging the weight around.

Front Lateral Raises (?) 4×10
A buddy showed me this exercise. Basically, you extend your arms overhead with palms facing each other. On the negative portion of the rep, you are lowering your arms until they are parallel with the floor. At this point, your palms should be facing up. The positive portion of the rep brings your arms back over your head with palms facing each other. I sometimes superset a bunch of front, rear, and lateral raises. If so, I usually finish with these. Good burn.

Front Raises (Supinated Grip) 4×10
I usually do my front raises with a palms up grip because I feel like I get better contraction and focus on my front delts with them.

Rear Dumbell Flys 4×10
Just some rear flys to round out the back of my deltoids. I do these bent over at a 90 degree angle at the waist. If I didn’t have any dumbells in my hands, my thumbs would be touching each other at the bottom of the rep. There’s another variation, in which your palms face each other, but these feel like they also hit the rhomboids in the middle of my upper back.

Shrugs 4×12
Plain old shrugs, being careful to focus on the contraction at the top and not roll my shoulders.

Upright Dumbell Rows 4×10
A buddy turned me on to these. I like them because they don’t put a lot of stress on my wrists (like a barbell does) and they focus on my delts instead of my traps. The variation I do brings your hands out a little wider than shoulder width with a little heavier weight. In doing so, you aren’t able to bring your hands past your upper abs at the top of the rep. The result is that your wrists stay straight and you can really feel a big contraction in the delts.

Dips 4×10
I like to finish my shoulder workout with one triceps exercise. My favorite is dips. I read somewhere that the best exercises are those that are 1) compound, meaning more than one muscle is involved, and 2) move your body through space – think pullups, squats, and….ahem, dips.

Tomorrow: Legs


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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 7 (Back)

Arrived back home today and was able to get to a normal gym.

Still trying to focus on growing my lats, I put together a workout similar to last week.

Wide Grip Pull Ups 4×8
I decided to try to start this week with pull ups, as opposed to the pull downs I did last week. If I was not able to complete a full set of pull ups, I supplemented the set with pull downs. As expected, three of the four sets needed to be supplemented.

Bent Over Dumbell Rows 4×8
Again, I try to do these with strict form and concentrate on the contraction at the top.

Lateral Pull Downs 4×8
I still don’t know if that’s what these are called. To describe the exercise again, I sit rotated 90 degrees on a Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Front Lat Pull Down machine. I do the pull down with a palm facing grip, bringing my arm down as if I intend to pull my elbow into my ribs (although my range of motion won’t allow it). I like this exercise.

Bentover Barbell Rows (45) 4×10, Bentover Barbell Rows (90) 4×10
I super set these two exercises again this week.

Dumbell Dead Lifts 4×10
These were difficult last week. I couldn’t remember what weight I used to use in order to determine where to start. My forearms were also burning during the exercise. All of the barbells were taken at the gym so I substituted dumbells instead. I also used some lifting straps to relieve the load on my forearms.

Close Grip Pull Downs 4×8
I’ll eventually move to pull ups with the ‘V Bar’, but for now I’ll continue to do pull downs. Apparently, Arnold liked these too.

Hammer Curls 4×10
Finished off with good ol’ hammer curls.

Some post-workout thoughts:

  • During my superset of bent over rows, I noticed that I was having a harder time than the previous week. Probably due to starting today’s workout with pull ups instead of pulldowns.
  • I noticed that from gym-to-gym, I may not be able to do the same amount of weight on the same machine. This might be a good reason to move away from exercises that are dependent on machines with cables/pulleys.

Tomorrow: Shoulders



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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 6

Business travel is still messing with my workouts.

I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted to workout in a hotel gym before, but they typically aren’t the most robust facilities.

The exception to this (in my personal experience) is the Hilton in Pleasanton, which grants you access to a Club Sport, a full gym that is attached and accessible through the hotel.

Unfortunately, I’m not staying at that Hilton this week.

Luckily enough, the hotel I’m at has a fairly decent array of equipment.

Incline Dumbell Presses 4×10
While there may be a variety of equipment, the free weights leave something to be desired. I was forced to use significantly less weight and increase my reps slightly. There was the added benefit that forced me to focus on contracting my pecs.

Flat Cable Presses 4×10
The machine I used for the cable presses I haven’t ever used before. It was a little difficult to get the weight positioned, but allowed for a good range of motion. I really felt like I was able to increase my focus on my pecs and decrease the focus on my triceps.

Flat Machine Flys 4×10
Typical machine flys with the fixed bar arms. I wasn’t super excited about these.

Incline Dumbell Flys
My imagination was limited, so I went back to the incline bench I had used before and did some dumbell flys. I probably could have tried some pushups with my feet raised instead, but I thought I’d save the pushups as a substitute for a decline press, since there was no bench or machine that could accommodate a decline.

Decline Cable Flys
I went back to the weird cable machine to do some decline flys. Oddly enough, I think that my declines may be my weakest part of my chest. I like doing decline exercises because I can really feel the effects, but probably don’t do them often enough or with enough intensity.

Decline Pushups
Just did these to get in an additional decline exercise.


  • Need to consider doing more decline exercises. I’d really like to build my upper chest more, but not at the expense of balanced strength, which I seem to lack between my upper and lower chest.

 Tomorrow: Back


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The Big(ger) Brother Project – Day 5

Iconic Jordan

Iconic Jordan

Business travel.

It always screws with your workout schedule.

Your workout time(s), your location(s), your equipment. Business travel disrupts all of it.

I took yesterday off because of business travel.

I expected to get a leg workout in today, but got an offer from some guys at the local offices to go an play some basketball.

I figured maybe some basketball would be a nice substitute for a leg workout – little did I know.

Outside of the occassional one-on-one with an old roommate, I haven’t played basketball in years.


Not two years. Or three. Or even five. We’re talking fifteen to twenty years.

So here we are running fives. Full court. For THREE hours.

I was exhausted after the first game. I was crying on the inside after the second.

By the time we got to through the third game, I had a cramp in every leg muscle you could name. Heck, my toes had cramps in them.

I’m wondering how long my ability to walk will be impaired.

Tomorrow: Chest

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