Aug 20, 2021 in DIS-TANZ-SOLO

After DIS-TANZ DIARY #22: BACK TO THE GYM and DIS-TANZ DIARY #24: BACK TO THE GYM (Pt. II) this article is the last part of that series. It is meant to give an overview of my training progress and hopefully at the same time provide further insight into how to plan and develop a workout.

I have highlighted the development of the total volume per exercise over a period of eight training weeks and have also included a comparison of the first and last workouts. In addition, possible peculiarities or challenges to each exercise are described.

Whenever the exercise was performed as a single-arm or single-leg exercise, the values are shown separately to indicate possible differences between the two sides.

All values in the graphs have been rounded to the nearest whole number.


Lower Body (Strength Focus)


Squat Progress
The squat is a good example of how I cautiously approached an exercise after my long break from training. As you can see, I started pretty light the first week but increased the weights immediately after each set that felt easily manageable. Similarly, in the last week of training, when I realized I wasn't going to get close enough to reaching my limit, I upped the weights again in the last set.

Leg Extension

Leg Extension Progress
With leg extension, we see an even, continuous increase. This is basically what an ideal progress graph looks like.

Leg Curl

Leg Curl Progress
As you can see, the leg curl is not one of the exercises I am particularly consistent with. However, keep in mind that it's not crucial to improve every single week, as long as you continue to make progress over the course of the entire training period.

Hip Abduction

Hip Abduction Progress
It is easy to understand from looking at the graph that the hip abductor machine has its limitations. With a maximum weight of 130kg, the only way to further increase the total volume is to increase the number of repetitions. Since a number of repetitions of more than 30 doesn't really seem reasonable, I have instead switched to adding a short hold at the end of each movement to increase the time under tension.

Hip Adduction

Hip Adduction Progress
You can expect the same problem to occur with hip adduction as with hip abduction. Even though I'm not quite at that point yet, I've already reached 130kg and increasing reps alone won't make sense for much longer.

Seated Calf Raise

Seated Calf Raise Progress
Since I decided to perform the seated calf raise as a single leg exercise due to the fact that I have had injuries to both my left gastrocnemius and right soleus in the past, you will see slightly different results for both legs. The values for the left side are shown in yellow, those for the right side in orange.

Chest (Heavy)

Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press Progress
Slow but steady progress. Although this exercise is performed with both arms at the same time, the values given refer to the load pressed per arm.

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press Progress
The progression of my performance in the decline dumbbell bench press has been slow and somewhat up and down. This is due in no small part to the fact that the same muscles are targeted as in the regular dumbbell bench press beforehand, and thus there is pre-fatigue. So the more I push myself to the limit in the regular bench press, the harder it will be to maintain or increase the performance level in the declined version. Nevertheless, the muscles are again challenged from a different angle and the total volume is increased. Again, the values given refer to the load pressed per arm.

Sideways Chest Press

Sideways Chest Press Progress
The sideways chest press is another exercise with different performance results for the respective sides. The values for the left side are again shown in yellow, those for the right side in orange.

Hammer Curl

Hammer Curl Progress
Given that the brachioradialis is a relatively small muscle, the progress in total volume admittedly appears modest at first. I found it interesting to observe that sometimes one arm seems to be stronger, sometimes the other. I am not completely sure of what is causing this.

Extended Plank

Extended Plank Progress
The extended plank is a pure bodyweight exercise. As a consequence, there is no development in the total volume with regard to additional external weights. In order to still produce progressive overload throughout the training period, I moved my arms further away from my center with each passing week, thereby increasing the amount of work needed from my abdominal muscles to stabilize my body.

Cable Oblique Twist

Cable Oblique Twist Progress
With the cable oblique twist, you can see that after an initial period of progress, I started using the same weight for several weeks before moving up a notch. Similar to the extended plank, I moved my arms further away from the center during these weeks to still slightly increase the load.

Chest & Shoulders (Light)

Upside Down Kettlebell Overhead Press

Overhead Kettlebell Press Progress
This light training day was only meant to increase the overall volume of the week, not to push individual exercises to the limit. For this reason, I did not try to push myself further after I reached the targeted number of reps.

Dumbbell Overhead Press

Dumbbell Overhead Press Progress
If you wonder why there are so few values for this exercise, it is because the light chest & shoulder day was the most likely to be cancelled (e.g. in the weeks when I got vaccinated). Additionally, I performed the exercise as a barbell exercise in week one before switching to dumbbells in week two.

Single-Arm Straight-Arm Pulldown

Single-arm Straight-arm Pulldown
Minor deviations between the two arms. Steady progress. Nothing much to add.

Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullover Progress
The dumbbell pullovers are an exercise that I approached very carefully due to my weak shoulder. Nevertheless, I was able to improve pretty steadily.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press Progress
The dumbbell bench press is the only exercise I have in my program on both the light and heavy training days. On the light days, I tried to use only as much weight as I could handle without too much effort. The values given refer to the load pressed per arm.

Incline Dumbbell Curl w/ Rotation

Incline Dumbbell Curl Progress
I started the incline dumbbell curl as a single arm exercise, but switched to doing the exercise with both arms simultaneously by the second week. Nevertheless, the values given refer to the load lifted per arm.

Overhead Triceps Extension

Overhead Triceps Extension Progress
My right arm consistently performed inferior to my left. Although the overhead triceps extension is primarily a triceps exercise, this is obviously still due to my weak right shoulder.

Lower Body (Volume Focus)

Barbell Split Squat

Barbell Split Squat Progress
Steady progress. Nothing much to add.

Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift Progress
You can see a clear drop of performance in the week I went from 70 up to 75kg. Mainly due to a lack of grip strength, I had difficulty completing the targeted 20 reps and had to stop several times during the exercise. When calculating the total volume, I only counted the reps that were performed cleanly and without interruption.

Leg Extension

Leg Extension Progress
Steady progress with a slight dip toward the end. Sometimes it's hard to keep track of the total volume as you go up in weight. I probably could have squeezed out one more rep to keep making progress up to the last week.

Seated Calf Raise

Seated Calf Raise Progress
Like the leg extension, I have included the seated calf raise for both strength and volume day. When you focus on volume, it means you use less weight but more reps, thus getting to a higher total volume.

Shoulders (Heavy)

Bent-over Dumbbell Row

Bent-over Dumbbell Row Progress
Steady progress with a slight difference between left and right in the last week.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown (Front)

Single-arm Lat Pulldown Front Progress
I tried to get to the same number of reps on both sides, although I felt the right side of my body was a little stronger than the left. Most of the time I managed to squeeze out enough repetitions to make that work.

Single-Arm Lat Pulldown (Side)

Single-arm Lat Pulldown Side Progress
The same muscles are targeted in the side version as in the front version, only from a different angle. Accordingly, the results in the side version are somewhat irregular and noticeably weaker, as pre-fatigue is again present.

Bent-over Shoulder extension

Bent-over Shoulder Extension
Since the bent-over shoulder extension is more of an auxiliary exercise that doesn't require a lot of load to have an effect, I've only progressed in small steps. Instead of adding weight, so far I have only increased the number of reps. The values given refer to the load lifted per arm.

Bent-over T Raise

Bent-over T Raise Progress
This is another auxiliary exercise that doesn't require a big load. I managed to progress slowly but steadily.

Face Pull

Face Pull Progress
All in all, a continuous improvement in performance. However, you can clearly see that there is an initial drop in total volume every time I increase the resistance weight.

Cable External Rotation

Cable External Rotation Progress
Cable external rotation is a final auxiliary exercise that targets the infraspinatus and is essential for preventing shoulder impingement. I tried not to push myself too much to maintain a clean execution of the exercise.

It may not be the most meaningful value, but it may still not be uninteresting to realize that the weekly volume increased from a total of 50,925kg to 87,778kg over eight weeks of training.

Some aches and pains, including a tense neck caused by all the laptop work, as well as a nagging bursitis that I had developed in both my hips after the last performances, have completely disappeared with the help of strength training. In addition, my posture, both in terms of my slight hunchback and my lordosis, has improved significantly.

I'm currently in a deload week to give my muscles a bit of a rest before returning to full training next week. I will then transition to teaching a summer course and join a creation period for Emanuel Gat's ACT II & III in early September. Although the DIS-TANZ-SOLO project is slowly coming to an end, there is no doubt that I will continue strength training to further improve my performance, both in the gym and on stage.

Header photo by Lenka Horavova on Shutterstock


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Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

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