Too much conflicting info!

  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Dec 18, 2008 2:33 PM GMT
    Ok, so I have been working out for a while now. After losing a lot of weight a few years ago through running, I started to get into weight training to try to rebuild some of the lost muscle mass. My ultimate goal is to lower my body fat level to increase definition, but my plan is to first build some more muscle mass.

    I think this is the goal of most guys, to achieve a higher level of muscle mass and a lower level of body fat. I did the 12 week muscle building programs and achieved modest results but appear to have plateaued. My plan right now is to build mass, and then try and cut off the fat after.

    I have started eating a lot more, but haven't really put on any weight, so I think my metabolism is speeding up and mostly matching my new intake. Aside from food, I am confused in what to do for a workout. There seems to be some consensus to do less reps and higher weight, but then things start to diverge. Right now I'm doing something similar to the 5 day a week muscle building program on this site, but seem to have hit a plateau. I've been told to workout more, to workout less and make sure I don't go over an hour, to increase the weight and lower reps, lower weight and increase reps, drop it down to 3 days a week, use isolation exercises, use compound exercises, only work out each muscle group once a week, work out muscle groups several times a week, etc. All I know is what I'm doing right now doesn't seem to be having a big impact. I think I can work out the eating stuff pretty well, but where to go with my weight program I'm mostly lost.

    Anybody here who's had some good success in that front have any ideas?
  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Dec 18, 2008 4:32 PM GMT
    ...Anyone? ... Bueller?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 18, 2008 5:52 PM GMT
    Well, you see so much conflicting info because what works well for one type of person may not for someone else. Since everyone is a little different, you have to be ready to try different techniques out until you find one that works for you. Working with a trainer (a good one) can shorten that process up a lot, but diligent tracking of exercises and results can let you figure it out all yourself.

    Some simple "sort of" universals:

    * Food. You have to take in enough cals to grow and specifcally, enough protein. Make sure you are getting about 1 gram of good quality protein each day for each pound of body weight (later, you can reduce that a bit to match only your lean body weight, but go simple for now). Balance with a good carb mix (nothing white -- bread, pasta or rice -- use veggies and whole-wheat/grain) and good fats. Eat 5-6 small meals a day, every 2-3 hours (important!). Get a *LOT* of water. I did not start seeing very good gains at all until I got my diet in order.

    * Sleep. Get plenty of it -- it's when your body does most of the muscle building. Be sure to take a small amount of protein (about 20g or so) before bed -- about 30--60 minutes -- so your body has some additional fuel (and it can help minimize catabolism -- your body "eating" your muscles -- overnight).

    * Change things up. Your body doesn't grow very much once it gets used to you doing something (it still grows, just very slowly). If you change up your exercises every few weeks (4-6 weeks is a starting point, but eventually, you'll start to feel when you need to change). Change the exercises you use, or the intensity, or the mix of them -- something substantial.

    * Weight. For *me*, I tend to shoot for 8-10 reps per set on most body parts. On the first set, sometimes I'll go to 12 and if I do, it's a sure sign to increase the weight. It is pretty important to make sure each set goes to failure. Don't just stop at some "number". If you get 10 reps done, keep going and on the next set, increase the weight to get back to failing around 8-10. If you can't do 7 or 8, then on the next set, reduce the weight. But the rep count is more about figuring out what weight to use and not magic by itself.

    * Intensity. One change up I do every other "cycle" is to change the intensity of my workout. Right now, I'm in a more intense phase, so I'll line up 3 exercises for a body part and super-set them -- do one set of the 1st exercise, then immediately (no rest) do 1 set of the next exercise, then the next, then rest (about a minute -- not too long) and then do the second set of the 1st exercise, then 2nd, then 3rd, repeat until you've done 3 or 4 sets of each exercise. It can be really taxing and leave you gasping and sweaty, but the change will shock your system. Next cycle, try doing one exercise at a time, for 3 sets, with some pauses between each set (short). You'll probably push more weight then, so adjust accordingly (supersets often involve reducing weight a little bit because of the sustained effort).

    * Target Big Muscles. Focus exercises that really hit the big muscle groups. Squats for legs (not leg presses), barbell or dumbbell presses for chest (not flyes), rows for back (and/or chinups (overhand) and lat pulldowns -- they help, but rows are king) and some bicep and tricep work.

    Food. Sleep. Periodic Changeup. Intensity.

    If nothing else, it's a starting point -- keep it up and your body will eventually help you figure it out (that isn't some happy-crap malarky -- you will start to "know" what is working and what isn't after a while).

    I'm just an amateur (hobbyist?), so do your research and decide what makes sense for yourself, even if it's awfully confusing (and it is).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 18, 2008 5:55 PM GMT
    I've always had the problem of putting on size until this year. I decided to change the way I work out completely.

    Since changing my workouts to be very targeted, I've noticed some great results. I still need to post new pics

    I changed my workout to one body part a day... Doing this I've had some great results.

    Good luck.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 18, 2008 6:19 PM GMT
    polobutt saidI've always had the problem of putting on size until this year. I decided to change the way I work out completely.

    Since changing my workouts to be very targeted, I've noticed some great results. I still need to post new pics

    I changed my workout to one body part a day... Doing this I've had some great results.

    Good luck.


    In the past too I've found that training one body part per day showed some great progress. If I were to work out my Chest on Monday, I would then work out my back on Wednesday because they are competing muscles. My workouts looked similar to this:

    Monday - Chest/Abs
    Tuesday - Biceps/Cardio
    Wednesday - Back/Lats
    Thursday - Triceps/Abs
    Friday - Shoulders/Cardio
    Saturday - Legs
    Sunday - Rest

    Remember, this routine worked for me and I saw some great gains however it may not work for you.
  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Dec 18, 2008 10:10 PM GMT
    Ok sounds good sounds like a good starting point. So I've been doing more towards one major muscle group per workout (chest, back, legs, shoulders) adding biceps in on back days and triceps in on chest days. Maybe its mostly the diet that's the problem, I don't know I feel like I'm a fairly healthy eater but I guess it wouldn't hurt to try and focus on it a bit more. Thanks for the advice guys, I guess all this stuff isn't as simple as it would seem.
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    Dec 18, 2008 10:22 PM GMT
    HighVoltageGuy said
    polobutt saidI've always had the problem of putting on size until this year. I decided to change the way I work out completely.

    Since changing my workouts to be very targeted, I've noticed some great results. I still need to post new pics

    I changed my workout to one body part a day... Doing this I've had some great results.

    Good luck.


    In the past too I've found that training one body part per day showed some great progress. If I were to work out my Chest on Monday, I would then work out my back on Wednesday because they are competing muscles. My workouts looked similar to this:

    Monday - Chest/Abs
    Tuesday - Biceps/Cardio
    Wednesday - Back/Lats
    Thursday - Triceps/Abs
    Friday - Shoulders/Cardio
    Saturday - Legs
    Sunday - Rest

    Remember, this routine worked for me and I saw some great gains however it may not work for you.


    i must agree with the aboive. my workout routine is very similar to HighVolatge. I found one body part a day gave the body ample time for rest as well as allowed you to specifically train one muscle hard, I do, every four to six weeks, depending on how the body feels take a week off, where i will jsut do cardio, which allows i believe more growth and recovery in the muscles (but that is me). eating is big too. protien and creatine were also great supps for me. good luck bud.
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    Dec 20, 2008 12:11 AM GMT
    lovinglife4 said...Anyone? ... Bueller?


    For you, just starting out, look at a book called Starting Strength. It's a magic book for beginners.

    And eat. You may think you're eating enough but until you can't stand the sight of food, and you have to force it down your throat, you're not eating enough. And I'm not talking just junk food. I'm talking lean meat and potatoes. Shoot for 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, spread over 6-8 meals a day. A couple of those meals will be protein shakes. And for two of the solid meals, throw in a baked potato. And if you want to avoid fat, cut off carbs at 6PM.

    Long as you have a solid routine (see Starting Strength), and you're eating right, you WILL PUT ON WEIGHT.

    Hope that helps.
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    Dec 20, 2008 12:16 AM GMT
    I wouldn't be jumping into one of the RJ 12-week programs or any split-body program right off the bat. Too many isolations. Do Madcow's 5x5 for beginners to build your core first, then experiment around with the RJ plans or other split programs to see if they work for you.
  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Dec 20, 2008 2:34 AM GMT
    Well I already did jump into the 12 week strength program, about a year ago now. I had already been working out somewhat on my own, but it really did give me some results. For the past few months though I've plateaued. I just changed it up today and did mostly compound exercises, high weight and low rep, aiming to max out around 5-8 reps. So we'll see how I feel tomorrow, it didn't feel that strenuous for whatever reason, despite upping the weight substantially from what I'm doing. Decreasing the reps and increasing rest (I was doing almost no rest before, almost only super sets) allowed me to lift must more weight than I thought I could. I'll try it out for a bit and I'll see how it goes. I have been eating what feels like a lot, and coming from a background where I used to be obese, I am very nervous about giving myself free range to eat as much as I want. LOL. Don't want to start tugging at that thread and see where it leads.
  • Hunkymonkey

    Posts: 215

    Dec 21, 2008 6:24 PM GMT
    You have to experiment to see what works for you. Even, then, that will change over time. And you have to change every few months. There's a lot of info out there on proper recruitment of muscle fibers v. reps v. weight. Take a look at articles by Christian Thibedeaux on testosterone.net. Right now, I am starting the DC training method. Several friends report solid results, combined with good eating habits.
    You can read up on it at intensemuscle.com.