Almost every one that have entered a gym for the last number of decades have heard about compound lifts or split routines in some form or another. They are a commonly known and world wide recognised description of the type of exercises that you can do. Their benefits include:- How to lose weight, build muscle, increase strength, improve sporting performance and even balance well-being.
The aim of Compound Lifts is to provide free health and exercise related information. This will enable you to reach your potential through educated, intellectual and informed decisions.
We are a new website and are currently working towards providing you with free exercise details and program information. Photos and videos about these will be coming soon along with forums, tips and reviews to get the most from your training and improve your well-being.
The Early Years
I developed a passion for fitness at a very early age where I can remember doing head springs off the chocolate coloured draylon pouffee in the living room at 9 years old. This came about when, while in gym class at school, one of the boys a year older than me said he was going to do a one-handed vault over the vaulting horse. To my amazement the whole class stopped to watch him run up and jump it, he then received a round of applause.
I was surprised that every one took so much interest in this as I had been doing all sorts of things in my house expending energy only young boys have and thought…I can do better than that! In my house over the weekend I dared myself to do a head spring while no one was looking and by Monday I was ready to demonstrate to the whole class a well polished head spring. Within a week I was doing hand springs in school and many of the more athletic boys soon followed until it became normality.
As a child fitness always came easy to me as I was always difficult to catch but I also knew that I had strength. When ever there was a contest on who could throw a stone or hurl a police cone the furthest I knew I was in with a shout. I can remember doing sit ups where my sister was sitting on my feet and I challenged myself to a hundred which I did easily then two hundred and this went on until I got bored and gave up after an hour!
‘Fit For Life’
At the age of ten I had a boxing speedball and an XY Chest Expander. My dad burst the speedball Christmas Eve thinking he was Rocky Marciano, I heard it burst while I was in bed but I never lost any sleep over it. I never cared much for the speedball as the chest expander was the real deal as far as I was concerned. This piece of equipment was to rival the Bullworker and the Spring Chest Expander which was basically tow pieces of bar with a spring welded to the middle. Some older boys and I would be out in the street wielding this kit for a while.
Around the age of eleven I had progressed to my first barbell & dumbbell set made by DP ‘Fit for Life’. Looking back I was never going to be the next Mr Olympia the way I was training but it felt good and worked off a lot of unused energy. It was in the summer holidays maybe before going to high school that I used the bar for bicep curls. I would be in the garden by the kitchen trying to shade from the sun pumping out millions of these to build big guns and to this day I still believe I put on two inches on my arms in six weeks that summer. That’s what the tape told me anyway even though I was probably exaggerating it a bit, as all you guys know, we are always good at adding on an inch or two! At the time I was tensing my arm so much that I am surprised it never fell off.
It was around this time that I realised how important being able to gel with your team mates was regarding sporting achievement. During the school sports day my team mate and I were in the three legged race together. We had a secret practice run only once the day before the race and felt quietly confident we would do well. On race day we romped home and won the cup for the blues for the first time in years. From this moment on I understood why certain football teams could stand out from the rest and be clear winners. Having the best football players also helps!
I continued with this weights set for a while in high school but never with so much enthusiasm even though I would always enjoy P.E. especially where it involved climbing ropes etc. A particular skill I had was rapid squat thrusts in the Dutch barn where I would pump out twenty of these in a quarter of the time of the others. The secret was to be wearing the gym daps that I had with a rubber bumper on the front which allowed me to skid my toes on the wet surface caused by holes in the roof and knock these out like a sewing machine! This was adapted from Brian Jacks the Superstar of Superstars, Master of the Squat Thrust and King of the Dips…who was my hero at the time.
My favourite sports session would, not surprisingly, be in the gym where we would do circuits. I loved the opportunity to do all of these exercises and playing ‘pirates’ before holidays was the best fun. In a circuits competition for the whole school I did very well doing two repetitions more than any other and ten minutes longer and quit when it was time for lunch. I still regret not pursuing this natural ability but had little interest in any thing else.
Being in the company of so many other kids of my age it was clear that I did lack certain skills. There was one kid who had football skills that I thought were impossible while he was doing kick ups. The PE teacher betted that he could not do 50 of these and some one shouted out he could do a hundred. The teacher took the bet and after a short while, plus a lot of excitement, the teacher lost his money and still owes. I was very aware at this time that some kids are just naturally better than others at certain things and that this gifted kid would be on TV playing for a top flight football team one day.
Body Blow Called Work
After leaving high school my attention to fitness experienced a massive body blow called WORK! An electrical apprenticeship took up a lot of my time and during this time I became heavily involved with the restoration of a classic car that left little time for any thing else. I did visit local leisure centres a number of times including a fair stint at Cardiff Central Youth Club where I picked up a bit of knowledge and also participated in kickboxing, which would be my favourite contact activity, but time and interest lay else where for a few years.
Given the opportunity I would still look for articles that were health related and my main source was in doctors and dentists waiting rooms where there were plenty of donated ‘Readers Digest’ and an abundance of women’s magazines that contained so many up to date health articles. I always found these kinds of appointments educational.
In My Twenties
In 1990 I was reading a fair amount of literature concerning exercise and muscle growth and would always prefer material that was referenced which was difficult in those days. Around 1992 I came across new performance enhancing products like creatine which had a big impact on the sporting world and tried this product made by EAS which gave great results. By the time I was 23 and in college studying for a degree in business and finance I was very familiar with the benefits of creatine.
During this time one of my most favoured publications was the monthly Maximuscle magazine and Zef Eisenberg quickly established himself as what I considered to be a quality read where every thing was referenced for me to search further. His unbiased revelations of “what science was false and what actually did the job” won a cult following and encouraged him to start offering specific products he trusted, which he did in 1995. Whilst in college I can remember the effects creatine had on my swimming where I felt I could swim like a fish.
Studying like a student does have its benefits like having plenty of time to train and not stressing yourself to much with your college work leaves plenty of time to recover but you still have to put the work in which I did in spades. New research that recommended limiting caffeine intake while taking creatine, as it impaired absorption, was all the rage and was clearly expressed by Maximuscle.
These statements I found to be surprising as my preferred technique for creatine uptake was half a spoonful in a cup of tea with two sugars a couple of times a day which worked great and I quickly built a body like action man. Taking into account that I was 23, hitting the gym almost every day and enjoying life, perhaps that was not so surprising but I fully believe that creatine was a factor in my progress.
It was about ten years on when I came across an article in this magazine that stated that caffeine does not impair uptake of creatine. Intrigued by this I rang Maximuscle a couple of days later and asked them about it and they simply said ‘…that was the case for many years but new reports show that it does not so we are just keeping up with new research’. You can not get much fairer than that! It kept me wondering and questioning it all that time but this simple statement confirmed what I had always believed in.
The gym that I joined just before going to college was part of a tennis club group that had a good amount of facilities including the swimming pool which I used frequently around this time along with many classes that I never took much interest in which I regret. My main interest was always the free weights area which mostly incorporated upper body workouts in the early years but this soon changed to whole body workouts. I did most types of workout styles in this gym from compound lifts to 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 day split routines. Even double split routines where practiced when I had the time.
After 17 years of frequenting this gym with some patchy visits here and there the tennis club closed down in August 2013 shortly after Andy Murray winning his maiden Wimbledon title. It’s a shame that I only played tennis there a few times too. From the date of this closure I did not do any training until opening day of ‘The Gym’ on 31st October 2013 where I started training with interest. A new gym after 17 years was a refreshing change along with new equipment and new faces it was just what I needed to kick-start my workout programme.
I started out by adopting my old routine of training the 4 day split full body workout but with a days rest in between each workout which means it takes a full 8 days to complete the workout out before repeating the cycle on day 9. I found this workout pretty comfortable and easily sustainable in the past and was enjoying putting it into practice. Within a month I was leaving the gym wanting more so I reduced the 9 days to 7 days working out on Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri which also went well for the next few months.
By February I felt good and started to do more in the way of sets or reps without realising it and considered this was not the best way forward and did some thing that I have never done before…I started to train every day on the 4 day split! This was some thing new for me where I was doing a full body workout every four days and nearly two of these in a week.
Originally I would be arriving at the gym to complete these workouts about 7am every morning but as the gym got busier I was getting there earlier which eventually led to 6am starts to get the job done. This was no problem for me as there is nothing like getting to the gym at the crack of dawn bashing some weights around and then walking out of the gym into the sunshine to go to work for an 8am start.
When there are so many joining a new gym and looking to train when its not so busy it was inevitable that I was going to get caught out on my work programme where squat racks are concerned. There was only one squat rack in the gym and a queue was forming from 7am then at 6.30 and then as early as 6am. It all had to end when at 5.45am I arrived at the squat rack and saw a fellow compatriot and I said ‘I got here early this morning to beat you to it’ and his reply was the same!
Some thing has got to give other wise we would have been camping next to the rack so my instant decision was the 4 day double split routine working out every day which was magic! This gave me less work to do in the morning and coming back to the gym in the afternoon after work to complete was delightful and another refreshing change to what I was used to. I had raised the bar yet again but my muscles were getting stronger and more resilient and I was recovering so quickly I kept up this routine all through the summer months. As a point of interest during the summer months I was reading Arnold Schwarzenegger – My Unbelievably True Life Story which was a mind boggling read and also provided added stimulus for the workouts.
My Bubble Burst!
Friday September 5th was where my bubble burst! It was 4.15pm and I fell off an 8ft set of steps and incredible as it may seem I fell onto the steps that broke into many pieces and the middle supporting pole broke through the rear side rail and pierced my left hand rib cage. The pain was the worst I have ever experienced and I have a high pain thresh hold but nothing compares to it in my mind. After a few minutes of stretching my arms out in front of me to try and breath I took some pain killers and got a lift to hospital. Within an hour or so I was uncontrollably losing water, felt dizzy and nauseas and then rushed into the operating theatre for life saving surgery!
The broken pole from the steps had snapped my rib and either the pole or the rib burst my spleen. When I spoke to the doctor a few days later he said I was lucky to be alive but then, while he was looking at me in disbelief, he said ‘I can’t believe how good you look after major surgery’! This was apparently due to me being in such good shape. When we add to this the fact that if I had not been doing 9 weeks of good abdominal work and having such a low body fat percentage I would have been stitched or stapled instead of glued. I would consider that the ten months of hard work prior to this was all worth it.
After about a month of recovery I was back in the gym doing the only thing that felt comfortable…deep squats with an empty bar! I could not do any upper body work which was a real downer but I persevered and within another month was feeling good and by early November I had some serious questions to ask. I had been educating my self via the web as I hadn’t been given much information and had read that many people suffer from fatigue for a few years after a spleenectomy which was not good news so where can I go from here?
Life Begins At 43
Finding myself in this position there were a number of questions to be answered. Could I slowly build up to what I had done before? Would a missing spleen affect the intensity of my workouts? Would the broken rib that was severely displaced return to its normal position giving me full movement? Would I have to alter my routines to incorporate or compensate for this problem?
Approaching this in my usual matter of fact manner I came to the following conclusions:
Doing a 4 day double split routine where I am training every day may not be sustainable in the long term so alternatives must be sourced.
No matter what routine I am doing, being in the gym 10-14 hours per week may not be possible.
Climbing for an hour almost every day will have to be reduced and cancelled for the short term.
Due to the serious psychological blow I must refocus my thoughts perhaps in a different direction and find out more about me so as not to raise the bar to high and experience disappointment.
Find a clear path to the future where I can evaluate my progress as an ongoing process. This would allow me to monitor far more accurately changes that I may be forced to make that will save time and effort that are luxuries I may not have.
Build a workout program that can be monitored for the best results that can be adapted to suit my ability and lifestyle.
Ask questions, expand my mind and share with others what I have learned or at least just share what I have done and what I am trying to achieve.
It was at this stage that I considered a website with a blog page and continual reviews of my progress which eventually culminated into CompoundLifts.co.uk.