Been working out for a year, need advice about my routine!

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    Apr 29, 2009 10:51 PM GMT
    Hey guys,

    So first of all I am new to this site so be nice.

    I've been working out for a year now and just want some advice/ feedback about what I'm doing. I don't really have many other friends who work out, so I don't know who to ask. Basically all I've learned is from the internet, and from a free session with a lame personal trainer at my gym. I'm definitely in really good shape now, though could lose a wee bit more body fat, and would like to bulk up a bit more.

    So I workout 5X a week, and start every workout with a slow 10 minute mile on the treadmill. I have a rotating three day schedule. Also sorry for my incorrect lingo!!

    Day 1 - Chest/ arms
    Bench - 3 sets of 12, 95 lbs
    Barbell curls - 3 sets of 15, 50-60 lbs
    Decline bench - 3 sets of 10, 95 lbs
    Incline bench - 3 sets of 12, 60 lbs
    Dumbell curls over the slanted arm rest thing - 3 sets of 15, 30 lb dumbells.
    80 deep incline situps.
    Flys (machine) - 3 sets of 10-12, 100lbs

    Day 2 - Back/ triceps
    The machine for lats that you pull towards you (rows?) - 3 sets of 15, 120 lbs.
    Tricep rope thing - 3 sets of 15, 30-40 lbs.
    Barbell curls - 3 sets of 15, 50-60 lbs
    Lat pulldown - 3 sets of 15, 80-100lbs
    Other machine that you pull toward you, but higher up - 3 sets of 15, 70 lbs.
    Tricep dips - 3 sets of 25
    Back situps (on that thing that holds your legs)- 4 sets of 20 holding a 25 lb weight

    Day 3 - Legs/ shoulders
    Squats - 3 sets of 10, 135 lbs
    Shoulder press (with dumbells) - 3 sets of 15, 25-30 lb dumbells.
    Dumbell curls (the ones that start on your side and rotate) - 3 sets of 15, 25-30 lb dumbells.
    Leg curls (on machine for quads) - 3 sets of 15, 90 lbs
    Side lateral raises - 3 sets of 15, 15 lb dumbells
    Front lateral raises (?) - 3 sets of 15, 15 lb dumbells
    Calve extensions - 3 sets of 20, 180 lbs

    So that's it. I feel like I keep going up in weights in everything but bench pressing (all chest exercises actually) and it's frustrating. Any tips? Should I be doing more cardio to burn my extra fat? Also, I eat extremely healthily and drink 3 drinks of alcohol about 3X a week.

    Thanks so much in advance!
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:14 AM GMT
    Hi and welcome!

    I hope that you have a good time here and meet nice guys and learn stuff. If you plan on sticking around a pic (of some kind) and getting verified is a courtesy… not essential, but most of us prefer it.

    Now down to business.

    (1) Be very aware of areas of weakness. If you have been mostly self taught then you may have forgotten something or be working in an unbalanced way.
    (2) If you can find someone to show you correct form (the proper way of doing an exercise) it really, really is worth it.
    (3) Everyone does these three day splits cos that´s what the pros and advanced lifters normally do. I´m an infidel: I normally lift 3 times a week and do whole body in each workout and have 3 different whole body workouts I use at any one time with no repetition of exercises. The point of splits is not to over work the same parts as we grow when resting and also not to spend 3 hours a day in the gym. If you are lifting 5 times a week this is something to be aware of. I lift 3 times a week and it´s not an issue for me. Your three way split is largely pointless (on why see below)
    (4) Try and work as many whole body, multiple joint exercises as you can.
    (5) Try and work as many free weight and body weight exercises as you can, as it stimulates all the supporting muscles.
    (6) before you start whatever new routine you decide on, take a whole week off (in fact why not 9 days: go home after Friday´s session and don´t go back until the Monday AFTER). A good rest will help you re start, will allow your body to get rested up and do all the adapting you have left. You´ll also find you can lift more after YAY!
    (7) If you have been doing the same routine for a year you probably will be getting stale in it.
    (icon_cool.gif the point of the warm up is to warm up, get the body warm. Literally. If the mile thing works for that, fine.

    “sorry for my incorrect lingo!!”

    you´re kidding: that´s why I´m answering the post. I LOVE it ;)

    This is what you are going now:
    Day one is basically three variants of the bench press, barbell curls, preacher curls, flies and situps
    Day two: seated row, tricep pull down, barbell curls (again), lat pulldown, some other machine I can´t identify, dips and situps.
    Day three: squats, leg curls, calf extensions (=calf raises?), shoulder press, dumbbell curls (again), front raises and lateral raises (lateral means “side”, I´m not sure how you can have front lateral raises).

    Let´s start at the bottom. Your “legs day” has less legs work than my whole body routines. Squats are GOOD. Make sure that you are doing them right and then slowly increase the weight. I´m not sure how you make sure, but get someone who knows what they are doing to watch you and correct you. If you want bulk you HAVE to work your legs. Most of the muscles on your body are LOWER BODY muscle. Your ass is your biggest muscle. Also working the legs stimulates growth all over. You need to work your legs more.

    See this thread

    basically you want to do deadlifts and lunges too, and some other squat variations wouldn´t hurt AT ALL (I recommend pistols, Bulgarian split squats –which can be done with or without weight - and longer static holds in the lowest squat position). If you get nothing else from my reply WORK YOUR LEGS MORE. If you like the machines then the leg curl leg extension super set is great. Also LEG PRESS. This is a biggie.

    Moving upwards. Abs/lower back. Deadlifts (start LIGHT… like 5kg, and work slowly upwards or you risk hurting yourself) are a great mass builder and also strengthen the middle body. Some people say that if you are doing whole body stuff, like the squat and deadlift you don´t need specific abs work. In any case I´d be tempted to suggest that you find an abs wheel and learn to play with that, and also experiment with plank. If your gym has a pilates class you can do then do that… pilates is the final word on core work. The man was an absolute genius. The way many people (OK most people) do situps is really a waste of time and could be putting strain on them.

    Right moving on up. Are your triceps not part of your arms? You may need to see a medical professional (jk haha). I´m a little at a loss as to how you think that a spilt which separates “triceps” from “arms” helps you in any way. You can´t rest your arms on the tricep day. No entiendo. ALso you have more upper body work on your leg day than you have leg work. THe spilt is therefore cosmetic: it´s not doing anything. Also, one way of perhaps challenging your chest is by supersetting and pre-exhaustion. When you do a bench press your pecs, delts and triceps work. Pre-exhaustion is basically means you give one of those a kick so that the others have to work as that group is already knackered. That means mixing up your days 1 and 2.

    I´m going to suggest what I always suggest: simplify your split. You have two options: a two day split (upper and lower/ push and pull) or a whole body routine. Depends on what you want to do, but if you want to LIFT 5 days a week then 5 whole body routines, unless they are all body weight, is going to be a bit counterproductive. If you want to lift 3 days and do two days of cardio and abs (eg) that´s another story and get back to me and I´ll give you some ideas. So let´s go with a two day split: upper and lower.

    Rebuild (this is the hard bit and the most easily challenged by others and got wrong by me). I am not actually suggesting that you follow this exact pattern: I´m giving it to you to give you (and possibly others) ideas. I don´t do this sort of splitting and never know what to leave off. Take it more as some ideas for working the two “halves”.

    Lower body

    Squat and variations
    -with barbell
    -single leg, no weight (pistol). Start with prisoner squats.
    -bulgarian spilt squat (with and without weight)
    -static (all the reps, THEN change leg, I prefer this when the weight is heavier)
    -body weight only
    -with barbell
    Leg press
    Calf raises
    Leg curl,
    Leg extension

    I do all these on a regular basis. DO NOT try them all in one work out as you won´t be able to walk the day after.

    Upper body

    Bench press supersetted with dips.
    One arm row
    Decline OR Incline bench (alternate) supersetted with tricep pull down
    Pushups (a great exercise)
    -wide arm
    -narrow arm (works triceps more)
    - staggered arm (can be used for imbalances)
    -legs on box above arms
    -arms on box.
    -one leg in the air
    -knee to elbow (abs work and extra weight)
    Pull ups/chins (similar work to lat pull down… use them to improve each other)
    Lat pull down supersetted with seated rows.

    Overhead press

    If you WANT to do extra cardio you have two options: a special day for cardio (4 lifting one cardio) or a little bit after lifting. As you like. I´d recomment HIIT (AKA interval training) rather than just running for 30 mins. Search HIIT on here.

    Here are some ideas

    Day 1 Upper
    Day 2 Lower
    Day 3 abs and HIIT
    Day 4Upper
    Day 5 Lower

    1 whole body
    2 HITT and abs
    3 Whole body
    4 HIIT and abs
    5 whole body.

    There are some things to play with.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 30, 2009 4:22 AM GMT
    way to take up the spotlight lost icon_razz.gif
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    Apr 30, 2009 12:53 PM GMT
    is that an apple in your mouth? How do you manage to look so sexy even when you are doing an impression of a suckled pig?
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    Apr 30, 2009 1:24 PM GMT
    [quote][cite]indieworkoutguy said[/cite]
    All in all, I've seen a lot of progress. My weight has stayed about the same over the year (about 125), but my muscles have gotten much bigger, particularly my arms and chest. I was always skinny, but I guess I was hiding a whole lot more body fat than I realized.

    EAT. 125 at 5.7 is thin. I´m 5 9 and weight 50lb more than you icon_eek.gif
    When and what and how much do you eat. You will find BIG results from diet. I´ll open my privates so you can see what happened to me.

    As for benching. I see some people at the gym starting with just the bar, than adding more and more weights with each set. Should I be doing this? Will it help me lift more? I see guys who don't seem much bigger than me benching more than double what I can lift.

    the just the bar sets are warm ups, which are a good idea as you start lifting heavier. You will also see guys who take weight of with each set (drop sets), which is another technique.

    I really think you will see the biggest results from diet (how did I not notice that before?)
  • torontoguy222...

    Posts: 411

    Apr 30, 2009 1:55 PM GMT
    Lost, man! You stole any potential thunder I was going to add to this convo lol.

    Anyways, since Lost's EXTENSIVE response says a whole bunch of good things. I won't dwell on here too long. Briefly though a few things jumped out at me:

    1) 3 types of bench presses?? 2 types of curls?? wtf is that? lol That's just too many of the same movements. Pick one type of bench press and do it at that workout. If you really want two types, then do one using a barbell and the other using dumbbells. I'd also incorporate Dips and Chin-Ups, two key exercises that you seem to be neglecting. And if you're keen on doing isolation exercises, scrap one of the bicep curl exercises and do one for the triceps. (Oh, but wait, I see you have triceps on a separate day than arms, which seems odd).

    2) Barbell curls again?? Oh noo! lol. I'm more of an advocate of compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once. It's much more efficient. Would you rather work your biceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back doing a Chin-Up, or would you rather work your bicep, the muscle the size of a pear, by itself?

    3) Again with your second workout I feel like you're doing too many of the same exercises. Lots of pulling here.

    4) No abs?? It's a fairly big set of a muscles, and they are one of the more visible ones, so why not throw them in? When I was doing a 3-day split I did Legs and Abs on the same day. It'd put ab work way before bicep and tricep days.

    5) I'd be a bit worried about your rep-set arrangement. If you want to bulk up and put on some mass, I reckon that higher weights, lower reps is more effective than 3 x 15. You're not lifting anything really heavy right now, and it's probably because you're doing such high reps.

    6) I just noticed that your barbell curls weight is equal to your incline bench weight, and not much lower than your bench press. That suggests that you are indeed spending too much time on your little bicep muscles! I bench about 145 comfortably, but I can probably only curl the 55lb barbell. I'd rather have big muscles that are strong than small ones like the biceps that are strong.

    I hope this helps a bit. And sorry if there's a bit of overlap with Lostboy. I'll admit I didn't fully read his entire composition lol

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    Apr 30, 2009 2:30 PM GMT
    Regardless of how good or bad your routine is, if you've been doing it for a year, change it. You need to change it up two or three times a year to mix it up and shock your body and muscles. Otherwise they get used to the routine and don't work as hard as they would.
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    Apr 30, 2009 3:02 PM GMT
    Not sure what ur goals are, but from reading ur schedule, 10 mins. of cardio IS NOT ENOUGH for a healthy u...bump it up to an hour. Ur already height weight proportionate. So add more weight when lifting. Sounds like ur in a plateau stage, so challenge ur'self. icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 30, 2009 4:00 PM GMT
    indieworkoutguy saidAn hour of cardio everyday??

    Won't that start to burn muscle as well as just fat?

    Yes it will and at your weight it is totally contrary to your goals

    see here

    I didn´t ask how much aerobic effort your lifting is. If you are taking longish rests and sloping round the gym on slow motion like some guys I see, and if you don´t regularly walk 30 minutes a day (drive everywhere etc) then you probably do want to plan more heart exercise into your life. However, an hour is excessive unless you are training for long distance running/cycling/swimming etc. Walking to a gym which is 15 minutes brisk walk away will give you enough for basic health.

    On the cardio question it´s important to distinguish between what you need for health and what leads towards peak performance in endurance sports. If your 10 minute mile is ALL you ever do then you need more for general health you do need to address it.
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    Apr 30, 2009 10:08 PM GMT
    If you walk a lot at NYC speed you should have basic health covered ;)

    OK I guess you put this here as you want comments. I wrote my essay yesterday waiting for a friend to come back on line and he never did (bastard). I´m now in my post merienda lull…

    First reactions:
    • Reasonable number of exercises in each routine
    • Still FAR too upper body dominant. I don´t know what your knee issue is, but OFTEN strengthening the muscles around the knee helps. Try body weight exercises for lower body if you are wary of lifting big weights: body weight squats, prisoner squats, Bulgarian split squats and work towards pistols. Dead lifts with LIGHT weight or single leg deadlifts with body weight only are great.
    • If you are going to do 3 whole body work outs (which I do) then you do need to be very aware of recovery: the normal line is non-consecutive days. On this you are often going to be doing 4 full body weight lifting routines a week, which probably means you won´t get enough recovery. Just be aware of that, especially as you have variants of the same exercises in all three routines.
    • I can´t really see any logic in the ordering. I often work big muscles then small ones, and also more potentially “risky” things (like benching and squatting) before I´m tired. If I can´t do more pushups I just lie on the ground. If I can´t do more benches I get trapped on the bench.
    • You are doing a variant of bench press three days in a row = no recovery.
    • For best results make your cardio day a HIIT day. There are many threads on HIIT.

    I´ll let others make specific comments, but will post a thingy which is very close to what I do, which I wrote out for a friend to stimulate their thinking. It´s based on a 6 day week, with 4 lifting and 2 core and stretching sessions. You could add core work at the end of the lifting and have those two days as HIIT days.

    Day 1: Weights You could very easily do two different lifting routines a week and thereby double the different exercises you do which gives the body a different question to answer, which is what I do. Here´s one idea,

    (a) Parejas (“couples”): alternate upper/lower body supersets.

    Warm up

    Dumbbell press
    Tricep extension

    Leg press
    Calf raises

    Seated row
    Lat pull down

    Leg extension
    Leg curl

    Dumbbell lateral raise (try 12 to 15 times 12lb or 15lb ie work light)
    Dumbbell forward raise (ditto)

    Strategic stretch (ie. Stretch the parts you have problems with in a very focused way)

    Notes: warm up, this does not mean 30 minutes of treadmill. I do 3 sun salutations which get my body temperature raised and gently stretch my legs, back and arms, then the series of 5 which is part of the Pilates mat work. I leave weight and rep numbers to you. I normally work on the idea that you build up to maybe 12 reps then increase the weight, dropping down as low as 6 if you need to. On this try to leave only about 30 secs between supersets and then a minute or so when changing pair. To make the body grow you have to really work the legs. For bigger arms work the legs. It stimulates grown. All of these supersets kill me, but that could just be my body. Work hard on this day: the primary aim is to stimulate muscle growth.

    (b) Another version (second weight workout of the week, different exercises)

    Inclined dumbbell press
    dumbbell fly /Cable Cross Fly
    Dumbbell bent over row
    Triceps pull down
    A bicep curl (Preacher, hammer etc). You can superset this with the tricep pull down if you like.
    Seated Press:

    Day 2: Core and stretching. I would recommend going to a class in your gym to learn stuff. Pilates, abs classes, yoga… I could talk in detail about it, but that would take a long time (I have practiced yoga for a decade and started teacher training in pilates before I decided that it was not what I wanted to do). Easiest to go to a class to start with. You might meet a nice girl there… smirk ;)

    Notes: This is important as part of the cycle as you need to keep the body supple and the core strong. Lifting doesn´t really do that (certainly not the supple part and often not the core either). This is important recovery after the hard day 1. Be kind to your body today. Remember too that “core” does not mean abs. It means back, abs, glutes and inner thighs and it is important that you stretch all these areas as it can stop aches.

    Day 3: Body weight (45 minutes).

    3s: Circuits of 3 exercises done on a four minute interval (work towards a 3 minute interval).

    Warm up

    Circuit 1: pull ups/dips/pistols. Repeat 3 times
    Circuit 2: unweighted bulgarian split squat (both sides)/wide push up. Repeat 3 times
    Circuit 3: chin ups/narrow arm push ups/jumping squat. Repeat 3 times.

    Stretch key/problem areas.

    Notes: Don´t do more than 2 minutes of work per circuit. Do reps faster if you are strong and it´s “too easy”. If that is easy then do the circuit on 3 mintues, ie. With only one minute recovery. This looks easy? Hahaha. Pistols are HARD. They are single legged squats, ideally going all the way to the ground. If you do it on 3 minute intervals it will be a very hard work out. This is a strong cardio work out too (if you need extra time between circuits to start with take it). The whole body is worked… the abs, the back, legs, chest, arms, shoulders, the heart.