Relatively late in my weight training career, I’ve made a new yet basic discovery. Adding more exercises for each muscle group helps me gain strength and size faster. For example, until recently, I only did two sets of most movements, except for squats, which I’d do three or four sets of. I’d do two sets of shoulder press, bench press, and dumbbell row, three sets of weighted chins, and one or two sets of deadlifts.
This wasn’t enough volume to make rapid strength or size gains. My chest strength (bench press) in particular saw very little progress over the years, while my back strength (chins and rows) was much better. I thought this was because I was naturally stronger in pulling movements than pushing. Now I think the reason is that I always did five sets of pulling movements (three sets of weighted chins and two sets of dumbbell rows) while I only did two sets of bench press each workout.
Now I do at least three sets for each muscle group. For chest, I do two sets of flat bench and one set of incline press, or vice versa, depending on which benches are available. I’ve also added two sets of pushups (for chest), and two sets each of bethaks, frog jumps, and duck walks (for legs) as “finishers” at the end the workout. These finishers improve my mind-muscle link, enhance balance/coordination, train higher rep ranges, improve endurance, and exhaust the muscle beyond the brief, intense work done with weights.
With this approach, workouts are longer and I need to rest for at least two days between workouts for the soreness to go away. However the size and strength gains seems to be coming faster. I jog, stretch, or do martial arts on some of the days I don’t lift weights, so I still exercise four or five days a week.
For protein, I’ve settled on eating a 750 gram container of plain greek yogurt almost every day (I add honey for taste). I find this better than whey protein because it’s less processed. Cottage cheese is a bit cheaper and higher in protein but not as easy to eat in large quantities. Greek yogurt is expensive and I plan to stop eating so much of it after I reach a certain bodyweight.