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Iago's trigger has been triggered

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Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:05 pm

Well, I never got a response to my processor questions in my other thread, so after agonizing about it for a while I decided that I was simply far too hung up on it and decided to order the P377SM-A, which is the mobile rather than desktop processor platform.  In reality, dropping from a hexacore to a quad core is not exactly an issue in the majority of my usage, and it should not matter at all when it comes to gaming.  The only thing I still struggle with a bit is the 3.1GHz base clock speed, thought the turbo boost goes up to 4.0GHz.  I have not had a turbo boost processor before, so I really do not know how well it works.  But the 4940MX is unlocked and can be overclocked, though I have actually never overclocked anything on my own.  But it seems to be a simpler and safer process now than it used to be.

Changing platforms and dropping the desktop processor did encourage me to raise the stakes a bit in the rest of the configuration; for instance, I stepped up to a Samsung 850 Pro instead of the 840 Evo.  And I did take the plunge on Windows 8.1, partly because of it allowing the newer versions of DirectX -- no small thing, since I am jamming 980m cards into it.  

Again, that platform appears to be the same one that most boutique vendors are using, at least if you want SLi -- currently, that Clevo/Sager platform is the only one that allows it (outside of the discontinued desktop processor platform.)  Anyway, here is the setup, courtesy AVADirect:

CLEVO P377SM-A Core i7 Notebook Barebone, Intel® HM87, 17.3" Full HD LED Matte, PCIe x16 MXM-III Discrete Graphics
INTEL Core™ i7-4940MX Extreme Quad-Core 3.1 - 4.0GHz TB, HD Graphics 4600, 8MB L3 Cache, DDR3-1600, 22nm, 57W, EIST HT vPro VT-d VT-x XD, OEM
KINGSTON 32GB (4 x 8GB) PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600MHz SDRAM SODIMM, CL11, 1.35V, Non-ECC
ANTEC Formula 7 Nano Diamond Thermal Compound
SAMSUNG 512GB 850 Pro Series SSD, Samsung MEX, 550/520 MB/s, SATA 6 Gb/s, 2.5-Inch 7mm, Retail
SEAGATE 1TB Laptop SSHD, 5400 RPM, 64MB cache, 8GB Hybrid MLC SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ, 2.5-Inch, 9.5mm, OEM
OPTICAL DRIVE Slim Black BD/DVD/CD Blu-ray Disc™ DVD Burner, SATA
NVIDIA 2x GeForce® GTX 980M 8GB GDDR5 Mobile Graphics Card for P377SM-A, SLI Configuration
INTEL Centrino® Ultimate-N 6300 Wireless Card, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 11/54/450 Mbps, Internal PCIe Half Mini Card
MICROSOFT Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit Edition, OEM w/ Media
MICROSOFT Office Home and Student 2013, OEM, No Media
OEM System Recovery (bootable CD/DVD only)
WENGER Legacy Black/Gray 17" Notebook Case
Extended 2 Year Warranty for P177SM-A / P170SM-A / P377SM-A Clevo Notebooks
System Binder


That squeaked out under five grand; bit more than my last one, but nearly three times the RAM and and SSD to boot.  In the meantime, I treated myself to a new keyboard: a Corsair Vengeance K70.  Mighty fine keyboard, that one.

If you are curious, the laptop will look something like this:

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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:57 am

Well, after plugging the new laptop in, hitting the power button, and having it boot from that Samsung 850 Pro in around eight seconds, I will never look back. Sure, Windows 8.1 has some quirks, and still lacks the conventional start button, but most of it was still pretty intuitive to figure out, and I have not had to look up anything yet to figure it out. The search icon in the upper right corner of the new start screen works just as well as the search box on the start menu of older versions, and it is just as easy to get to. And under 8.1, everything boots to desktop anyway right out of the box. Sure, calling programs "apps" is a silly thing in the PC world, but the organization of the App screen is easy to get used to.

Been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition at 1080P with all settings on Ultra and nary the slightest slowdown on even the heaviest battle screens. I do have a free copy of Far Cry 4 coming eventually for having purchased the 900 series cards, and I am curious to see how that does. I also reinstalled Skyrim and decided to avoid the Steam Workshop this time, so I am currently working my way through all of the RealVision ENB recommended mods over at the Nexus. But I do not want to burn my data at home, so it is going to take a while at coffee shops and the library before I get them all in place. (Amazing how quickly you can burn through 15GB with Verizon!)

No real bloatware from AVADirect, and even their preinstalled wallpaper is pretty minimal. The only quirk that I have had with 8.1 (or with my setup in general) is that Windows update always defaults to "off," which is the reason for the X flag in the taskbar. If I turn it on, it is off again every time that I reboot. Since MSE has fallen greatly, I decided to go with BitDefender this time, and as I am not that familiar with it yet, it may be the culprit. I am also breaking down and going with a VPN for public network use -- I am possibly just going to use the free Cyberghost, but I may shell out for the paid version of Private Internet Access. They truly seem to have the most minimal retention of usage information.



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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  East on Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:07 am

DigitalRiver and done!
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:23 am

Brief, but too brief.  Not exactly following what you mean.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  East on Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:53 pm

You can just download the official windows 7 disc image from microsofts distribution partner digital river.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:19 am

Thanks for the help, but that is not necessary. Like I said, my whole point was that all the complaints about Windows 8 are so far not worth worrying about -- at least as far as 8.1 is concerned. It is extremely fast, and has so far been pretty easy to use. I would not even want to go back at this point. I understand that 8.0 was more of a disaster, but that is just not so with 8.1, and if you want speed with DX12 for your new graphics card, it is the only way to go.

Curious if anyone has any experience with the VPN services, though.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:29 am

Never mind my post in the other thread . . .
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:32 pm

Very, very happy with it so far. I will definitely never go back to a standard hard drive, at least for the boot drive and primary drive. I have my main programs and games on that drive, and mostly data on the other -- though I do keep my 100GB or so of games that I have downloaded from GOG on the storage drive, and just install them from there to main drive as I want to play them. And 8.1 is definitely the shizzle as far as speed goes.

I have Dragon Age: Inquisition running at over 60fps with all setting maxed, including AA and AF. Nary a hiccup. I got a free copy of Far Cry 4 with the nVidia cards, but have not messed with it too much as I have been playing Inquisition full time. Looked purty when I booted it up, though.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:30 pm

Very nice. I have been a fan of SSD for some time, and especially more so now as capacities have increased. It truly is night and day.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:43 am

Playing Dragon Age off of it, I get impatient when the loading screens take 10 seconds.  Amazing what a sense of entitlement you get after using one.  (I am guessing that game is pretty nasty running off of a standard 5400rpm laptop drive.)
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:04 am

It's comparable to the switch from dial-up to broadband.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:35 am

The other issue with Dragon Age is exiting the game. In one of those irritating design decisions, you cannot simply exit the game to desktop, but rather have to exit to the main menu first, then to the desktop -- and even off of a Samsung Pro 850, each of those steps takes nearly 10 seconds, for a whopping 20 seconds just to quit the game. It cannot be my processor slowing things down, either -- you see what I put into it.

That reminds me of the article on PC Gamer regarding the 13 worst game design crimes. Unskippable cutscenes actually made more than one point on the list, but exit buttons not actually exiting was #13:

http://www.pcgamer.com/game-design-sins/

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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:05 am

That article is so true.

With a bit of luck, I will have completed the last requirement for school and can spend some time wth gaming again.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:04 am

Well, I do not have school, just a demanding primary job and a time-consuming secondary job. (In addition to being a Village Board member and a Library Board member, I am now Library Board president as well, and we are building a new facility this year.) But I could not make it without gaming time. That is my relatively harmless escape valve. No accident that I primarily play RPGs; they let me escape to another world, at least temporarily.

I just bought The Vanishing of Ethan Carter from GOG, and holy crap. Cool game, but astounding visuals. I reinstalled Skyrim on this rig along with dozens of mods including the ESB series, and I think that this little indie game is actually more visually impressive. I am running it with all settings cranked including the AA -- the game offers some extremely high-end AA settings -- and it looks nearly photorealistic.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:34 pm

Well now I just feel lazy!

RPGs were my favourite game type for the longest time for the exact reason you listed: it afforded an escape to another world. Unfortunately, I also find that good RPGs require dedicated time, typically at least in a two-hour block. Playing for 30 minutes doesn't work. But, I still enjoy clever shooters, interactive story games (like Heavy Rain and Walking Dead) and good racing games. I might be shopping for a new system soon . . . .
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:32 pm

You will enjoy The Vanshing of Ethan Carter. It is relatively brief -- maybe four to six hours, depending on how much backtracking you end up having to do. Like I said, the Unreal-engine graphics are gorgeous. With the top level AA, which is 8xQ CSAA, there are absolutely no jaggies of any kind to be seen anywhere. That may be a first in all of the games that I have played, regardless of setting. But the story is interesting, but it leaves it to you to discover that story. It also has a very interesting ending, which has bothered some people but if you really think about everything that leads up to it, it all makes perfect sense in the context of the game world.

I have played a few of the alternative indie adventures out there like that one and Gone Home. That was also very interesting. Some people derisively refer to them as "walking simulators," as there is no real action or combat. But what I like about them is that they are just as immersive as a good RPG.


I finished Inquistion and downloaded Alien:Isolation, but for some reason I got sidetracked when I reinstalled Deus Ex: Human Revolution and have been playing that instead. It has flaws, but again it succeeds in that "escape to another world" factor.


I still have not transferred all of the files from my old computer to this one yet. I need to get that done this weekend so that I can sell off my old one.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:49 am

Sounds like I have a lot of gameplay to catch up on.

I am not put off by walking simulators, so long as the story is strong. If I want lots of action, there are games out there that meet that need. Sometimes, it's good a story I'm after.

Of course, it is also ski season.

How are your workouts doing? Yes, I know we have another derailed thread for this topic, but . . .
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:12 am

Actually, as far as graphics go, Jeff Vogel's Spiderweb Software just released their new remake of an older game, Avernum 2: Crystal Souls. Indie graphics, which is to say, not much in the graphics department. But that one will probably take up all of my time instead of the more graphically impressive ones, because I love Vogel's writing and storytelling.


Not too bad on the workout front. I got through a Tabata blast some time ago and am back to the M&F four week program, though I am repeating it to go eight weeks. After that, I plan to hit something a bit different, probably one of Stoppani's hybrid programs. (I am cardioaccelerating to go with the workout now, to try to burn a bit more fat.)
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Tue Jan 27, 2015 6:05 pm

I've dialed back after tearing my left anterior delt, developing tennis and golfer's elbow in both arms, and injuring my right forearm. I have mostly healed, although still get a few twinges in my shoulder, and my right elbow and forearm are still shot. I use tensor bands and straps for deadlifts and rows (not that I want to, but it makes it easier on my right forearm and elbow). I'm doing a simple up-down split, and I try for four days a week. I keep a close eye on rest time and throw in supersets to up the intensity. I've been getting decent results (strength is back to normal and I'm starting to see some changes in my body). To be honest, I think I'm getting better results than I had from doing some of the crazy routines, which often just left me sore and injured. I've been doing quite a bit of research and it seems that most of the premium routines aren't so special and not really suited for the average lifter. If taking enhancements, all rules are changed, but following the Rock's routine is too much for most. I have zero interest in that kind of cycling. So, Tabatas and stuff I do in one- or two-week cycles to shock my body, but I don't stay on the routine for four to eight weeks like I might have in the past.

Or maybe I'm just becoming an old fart!
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:11 am

I do use straps for deadlifts, heavy rows and heavy shrugs. Some people dismiss them, but no matter how strong your grip is it will hold you back on maximum weight -- your grip will start to go before your other muscles hit their limits, and you have to focus energy into your hands, not the other muscles. I think that the whole "never use straps" thing is largely a matter of pride, not practical logic. Fortunately, I am none to proud when it comes to lifting and will do what I have to do to get results.

Which is why I like doing the hybrid routines. My body is nothing but one big rut. Unless I throw curveballs in, I get nowhere fast. But I would not do them back-to-back; I have done a pretty conventional routine for the last seven weeks (eight, counting this week) and will go back to something conventional after the hybrid that I will start next week.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:11 pm

Well, it's not a matter of pride for me. I simply can't get by right now without the straps. There is a benefit to limiting strap use, namely that of building up grip strength. The reason I'd prefer that I didn't have to use straps as much is so that I can maintain and build some grip strength. I have no problem using straps when lifting heavy. But I'm referring to using straps even for modest weight, which is what I have to do. That could cause problems for me down the road . . .

I like to mix it up too. My point was that I only like to do the crazy routines in short bursts (i.e., for maybe a couple of weeks). I was stretching out for four to eights weeks (depending on program), and it wasn't getting me anywhere.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:19 am

I use the M&F four week and six week programs as my "bread and butters." What I like about them is that while they are fairly conventional lifting routines, they still give some variety by using light weeks and heavy weeks, and also changing up the pairings. Plus, you can always break things up a bit with cardioacceleration. I just did the four week routine doubled, with half the rest periods cardioaccelerating. (So on the heavy weeks when I took two minute rests, I did cardio for a minute, and on the light weeks when I took one minute rests I did cardio for thirty seconds.)

Now I just started a pretty nasty hybrid built around supersets, but compound ones, which I have never done before. So you are pairing the same body part. In this case, a heavier move with an isolation move. For example, chests on Mondays are 3 sets of 9-10 reps bench pressing supersetted with 3 sets of 12-15 reps of dumbbell flyes. Then you flip the pattern and do 3 sets of 12-15 reps incline flyes supersetted with 3 sets of 9-10 reps incline dumbbell presses. One minute rests between supersets, and those rests are supposed to decrease progressively by 15 seconds every two weeks until by the seventh and eighth week you are effectively just taking the time it takes to switch positions. Not sure if I will do that, though -- I may just drop to 30 seconds and leave it at that. You also do one full-body tabata between body parts. And the whole thing is periodized, so every two weeks the heavy reps get heavier and the light reps get lighter.

So Monday was the two supersets for the chest, one tabata, two supersets for shoulders, one tabata, and two supersets for triceps, with a final tabata. If you stay disciplined on the rest periods, it takes under an hour, though I can see myself letting things drag, especially as the weeks go on. I may not make it for the full eight weeks, as it really, really burns. But for someone like me who struggles hitting true failure, I can attest that you REALLY get a burn going doing this, more than anything else that I have done. So assuming that do not eat too badly, I hope to make some real gains, at least as long as I can stick with it.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:14 am

That sounds horrid! That's the kind of program that I couldn't do for eight weeks. I've done supersets like that, but never on a program that has the rest period essentially decrease to nothing. I can't imagine that will result in much anabolic gains, as it will be all cardio at that point. But should be good for muscular endurance, which should help with strength gains when you switch back to something more conventional and that's geared for gaining muscular size, definition and strength. Maybe note what you're lifting now versus what you're able to lift when you're done this routine? And if you're curious about recording aesthetic results, try taking before and after photographs.

Is this routine a Stoppani special?

Although I am a firm believer that it's more important to get your diet right rather than rely on supplements, have you tried taking creatine? I hadn't until a few weeks ago, but decided I would try in pill form. Hard to say what the results are at this point, but I do feel a good pump post-workout. And I haven't noticed any bloating or cramping with the brand I tried (Con-Cret creatine).
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:16 am

Horrid, no. Brutal, yes. Splitting hairs, I suppose. But yes, it is tough. The idea as a hybrid program is that it is designed for fat burning as well as muscle building. Not focused on strength gains, obviously. It is a full six day program, so it is combing cardio with weights, and an active rest day for the seventh day. But like I said, I am pretty skeptical about the reduced rest periods. I did just start week three, and started going to 45 second rests. If I stick with it for eight weeks, I may not even drop it below 45.

As far as endurance goes, yes, but I am getting increasingly convinced that, at least for adding mass, failure is failure. It is certainly true that for gaining strength you need low reps and maximum rests, and I do still think that 10-12 reps is probably the "sweet spot" for muscular gains, but I no longer think that high reps are only good for adding endurance. It all depends how you do them. If you hit the point of fatigue before hitting true failure, then yes, you are just gaining endurance. But that is no different than the potential problem with heavy days, namely, having your strength give out before hitting true failure (which is one reason why I usually incorporate some form of drop sets, rest/pause or forced reps on the last set to get past the strength failure and into muscular failure.) As long as you are really hitting failure, you can add muscle with the lighter weights and higher reps. And I think that, counter-intuitively, when doing higher reps and lighter weights, the shorter rests make it easier to get the muscles into burning failure rather than simply getting fatigued. And man, the muscles BURN doing this routine! Week 3 & 4 changes the reps to 7-8/16-20, and doing that the slightly shorter rest period actually feels right. But no, I doubt that I will go much lower. Assuming that I make it eight weeks, which I may not. This is tiring, though in as good way. Even if I go four weeks, I will be perfectly happy, and then switch back to something more conventional again.

Yes, this is some Stoppani madness.

I am still using Afterglow post-workout, which does contain some creatine, though not as much as direct supplements. But I do love Afterglow; as long as you hit it quickly after finishing a workout, you end up with much less soreness the next day, even if you do not have time to stretch out afterwards. But I will look at Con-Cret.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:26 am

Hats off to you for sticking to that routine. Does not sound easy at all.

I like working to failure, but my caution would be to not go to complete failure all of the time, as you might find that holds or even sets you back. Conventional thinking is that you should stop when form breaks down, which is typically one to two reps away from complete failure. And while everyone's body is different, anywhere from 6 to 10 reps is typically perfect for gaining mass. That rep range allows you to use high enough weight that all muscle fibers fire to make the lift, and require your fast-twitch fibers to fire.

The gaining muscle, losing fat thing doesn't need to be complicated (although I know Muscle and Fitness and others often come up with creative solutions: hybrid routines, high volume, giant sets, whatever). But the conventional formula, which works for most people is relatively simple. To gain muscle: lift heavy, consistently and with progressive weight or rep increases (or both), and run a caloric surplus with lots of protein. To lose fat, the only real requirement that's different is to run a caloric deficit and cut down on carbs. Of course, trying to do both at the same time is a challenge. It's really not possible, although by working toward lean muscle (fat loss), it might look like muscle was gained. In reality, I don't think that's the case. I think the muscle was just uncovered. And that is why I'm no longer a fan of having no rest time -- that time is needed to ensure a strong next lift, superset, giant set, whatever. Now, if overall endurance is a goal, I think there is a lot of benefit to routines that prescribe minimal or no rest time. And I think there is a lot to be said for doing whatever motivates you and makes you feel good.

I had hit a wall with gains, but I've been making good progress on a fairly basic routine (incorporates all the major compound lifts) that let's me focus on the lifts and allows me to work in things like periodization, supersets and progressively reduced rest times and increased reps. So, basic, with advanced techniques thrown in. I stepped on the scale yesterday and weighed 171 pounds, and I don't feel that I've gained fat. The heaviest I've ever been was 173, but that was not a lean 173. I'm in better shape now and my body feels better for it.

I don't think it's a program that will interest you (at least right now), but the January/February issue of Muscle and Fitness has a strength program that looks pretty solid. It's done over four days, with the fourth day being a bodybuilding-specific day. The other days are done on a rotating schedule so that only one day is ever a heavy day, which helps prevent injury and fatigue. And it incorporates a range of reps. Overall, it looks like a balanced routine.
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