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  1. #1
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    Routine critique please (Should I do a split instead?)

    I have been lifting off and on for a few years. I have a good bit of knowledge about lifting, but I've been working on the whole "put this knowledge into action and stay consistent" thing. I've had problems interfere with my progress (alcoholism and depression mainly). I started to get my act in order and I've been lifting consistently for a few months now. Even though I've been researching this for a while and have learned a lot, I still consider myself to be a "newbie" lifter based on how much I am lifting. After a lot of research and discussion, I decided to go with the full body 3x a week routine, in order to "build a solid base" and become familiar with the bigger exercises.

    Here is the routine, along with my last workout's numbers:

    Bench: 3x8x145
    Squats: 3x8x125
    Pulldowns (not strong enough to do chins yet): 2x8x160,1x7x160
    SLDLs: 3x8x140 (Can probably lift more but just got back into deadlifts, only going up 5lbs each workout to make sure I don't injure my back again)
    DB Overhead Presses: 1x8x80,1x7x80
    Crunches: 3x12

    Problems/Concerns:
    1) Squats are not progressing well. I had a very hard time getting form right. I actually had to go all the way down to 95 lbs in order to get down to parallel. It took forever to get up to 125 because it seemed everytime I increased the weight, my form would get worse. It got to the point where I was squatting the same weight everytime just so I could make sure my form stayed proper.
    2) I had a problem for a while about feeling nauseas at the gym, especially after deadlifts. I'd have to cut the workout short so I could go outside and vomit. At first I thought it had something to do with my water intake since I felt like I had a ton of "gurgling" in my stomach. So I quit using the water fountain (I thought I was sucking in too much air maybe) but that didn't work. So I figured it was about how much food I had in my stomach. I finally figured out how much I need to eat and how soon before the workout. I still feel nauseas every now and then, but this problem has turned more into...
    3) Huge lack of energy. Doing squats and deads in the same workout was exhausting for me since I had never done any of the big lifts growing up. Many times I was just flat out too tired to finish the workout. Even with a friend there to motivate me, I just felt like I was "out of gas." I recently started alternating squats and deads each WO, which has helped the energy but I feel I could be doing more work.
    4) I miss working out more than just three times a week. Maybe if I did a split routine I would have less work to do and thus more energy, so I could make sure I always completed the workout. Plus, I am not into sports or anything, so going to the gym is about the only exercise I get right now. (I am currently looking into more activities).
    5) Lack of isolation exercises. All of the people I talked to told me to just forget about bicep curls, tricep extensions, or calf raises, but I think I really want to incorporate them. My calves and arms are never sore, which I know isn't a bad thing, they are still growing, but I believe my body could take a little extra work. Sometimes I would go to a concert and afterwards my calves would be on fire from all of the jumping/hopping/whatever. This makes me think I'm really not working them enough (or at all). When I was doing a split back in high school, I eventually found out I was overtraining (5 days a week, 2 bodyparts a day, 4 exercises per bodypart, 4 sets per exercise), but my body never seemed to have any of the side effects of overtraining. I got pretty big pretty quickly, which I can only attribute to my body being able to put on weight (muscle and fat) easily.
    6) Not sure if the 8-10 rep range is the best for my body. I grew pretty well when I was doing 4 sets (increasing weight each set) and doing 10 reps, then 8, then 6, then 4 reps.

    Overall, the routine is going okay. I am making progress, albeit slowly. I just feel a different routine might be better. I don't know if working each muscle three times a week is best for me. I don't have any scientific evidence, but I just think my body could do more with less frequency and more intensity.

    Okay it seems that I ended up typing a lot more than I had originally expected heh. Any information and/or opinions would be greatly appreciated. I am in the progress of getting clean for 2005, and I want to have my workouts on point. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
    boondockSAINT is offline Associate Member
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    I've used (2) 12 week 5X5 routines in the last 6 months and have seen my best gains ever. Last year at about this time I was 5'9", 165lbs (usually a little heavier, that was kind of depleted of everything after a long sports season). Anyway, I'm now about 205lbs and I'm in my last week of the routine. Next week I will max out on my lifts and post the results.

    Anyway, the routine I use is like this:

    5X5 for 12 Weeks

    DAY 1 (LEGS)
    Squats
    Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
    Calf Raises (I did these when I first started the routine, but dropped them when the weights from the other excersizes increased dramatically. These were 3X12)

    DAY 2 (CARDIO)
    30-45 minutes

    DAY 3 (PUSH)
    Flat Bench
    Military Press
    Close-Grip Bench

    DAY 4 (CARDIO)
    30-45 minutes

    DAY 5 (PULL)
    Deadlifts
    Barbell Rows
    Barbell Curls

    How to do the 5X5:
    After your warmup sets, pick a weight that you could perform about 7-8 times in one set. I'll use your bench as an example. After a warmup, peform 5 sets of 145lbs. Your first three sets you should get 5 reps with minimum difficulty Even if you think you can squeeze out 6, stop at 5. If you can get 5 reps out of each of your last two reps, increase the weight next week 5lbs. If you get between 7-9 total from the last two reps, maintain that weight the following week. If you cannot get 7 reps on your last 2 sets, drop the weight 5 lbs next week. It might take you a week or two to find your initial weights, but after that you should be good to go. I really like this routine because it given me excellent results, and also it allows you to easily see what gains you are making. For example, I think 6 months ago I might have started at 155X5 on bench, and now I'm at 215X5.

    This routine focuses on the major muscle groups. It will add overall strength and size. In my experience I have seen the greatest results in working a muscle only once a week. I know it's only one excercise per muscle group, but the 5X5 is very intense. I don't think you'll be disappointed. However, do not add any isolation movements to the routine. Stick to these basics.

    For squats and deadlifts, do whatever weight you are comfortable with and work up from there. When I started this I had strong legs but little experience in squats. I probably could have squatted low 200's initially, but I think I would have been injured. I just started at 135X5 comfortably and increased 10 lbs every week. 6 months later I'm now doing 315X5. Just don't rush / overwork your legs if their not use to it.

    If you're still reading this, research the site for proper diet and make sure it is in check.

  3. #3
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks a lot for the detailed response. That routine looks great. It's kind of similar to what I'm doing now. I think I am going to give it a shot when I get back to school. Few questions:

    -How do you decide how much to do for the warm-up set? Is it supposed to be a certain percentage of what I can do 5x5 or just enough to where it feels comfortable?
    -Are the Barbell Rows bent-over? (Only kind of barbell rows I've heard of)
    -Any idea where to start for the close grip bench? I've never tried them before and I'm not really sure how to gauge what I could do.

    My diet is in the process of being perfected. I'm getting everything planned out to a T.

    Thanks again for the reply, it's much appreciated.

  4. #4
    AandF6969's Avatar
    AandF6969 is offline Made Up Of Wires
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    Also dont forget that diet is just as important, if not more so, than training. Hang out in the diet forum, you will learn a lot

  5. #5
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
    boondockSAINT is offline Associate Member
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    randumb-
    1. for warmup, just do enough weight to get the blood flowing but not enough to tire your muscles. Usually 10 reps. For heavier excercises, the weight will obviously be heavier. For the stats you gave for bench, I'd say 95lbs would be all you need for a warmup.
    2. barbell rows are bent-over rows
    3. I'm not sure of what weight to start at on the close-grip bench. Spread your hands about 1 foot apart for stability, and keep your elbows close to your sides, not outwards. Don't be afraid to go too light at first. Like I said, it might take a week or two to figure out what weights should be used. Since you've never done them before, I'd say start at 85 lbs and if it's too easy just increase it from there. Judging by your bench I would think you'd be in the 100-110ish range, but definitely start light and work your way up.

    Consistency is the key. If you stay consistent with both your training and your dieting I will guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Good luck.

  6. #6
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    A&F: I definitely think that diet is more important than training. It's been my problem area for a while (mainly drinking) and that's why I'm just now getting back to the point I was at (strength-wise) years ago. I've been (and will be) scouring the diet forum a ton.

    Saint: I appreciate the info. I'm going to start that routine on Monday. Is it necessary to have an off day between each workout or could some days be consecutive?

  7. #7
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
    boondockSAINT is offline Associate Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by randumb
    Saint: I appreciate the info. I'm going to start that routine on Monday. Is it necessary to have an off day between each workout or could some days be consecutive?
    I think it's much better to have a day between workouts for your body to recover. Have I done two workouts back to back? Yes, but I definitely try not to. Also, I increased weight almost every 2 or 3 weeks, but never on a day where I performed a workout back to back did I complete 5 sets of 5 reps. I would definitely try to schedule your workout so that there is a day's rest inbetween workouts, even though that wont always happen. In your original post you commented on how you have a lack of energy. Taking a day's rest will combat that problem. After your first two weeks when you figure out the proper weights, this routine should take no longer than an hour. Make sure you drink plenty of water during the routine and have a pwo shake immediately after to help maximize your gains.
    Last edited by boondockSAINT; 01-01-2005 at 05:40 PM.

  8. #8
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    Okay since I am the type of person that has to figure out EVERY little detail, I just have a couple more questions if you don't mind...

    Rest intervals between sets? I've always done 60-90 seconds.

    Always the same exercises for the entire 12 weeks or do you ever change them up?

    And is there any place for chinups?
    Last edited by randumb; 01-02-2005 at 05:09 PM.

  9. #9
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
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    No problem...
    1. Rest depends on the exercise. I rest for about 2 minutes on smaller muscle activity (bicep curls, cloe-grip bench, etc.) But for your heavier-weighted/larger muscle groups you will probaby need more time. The first excercises of each day on the given routine will probably need more than 2 minutes. For squats and deadlifts I wait atleast 4 minutes. For bench, probably about 3. But don't stand there with a stopwatch, if you feel ready then continue. If you did 5 reps on your first set and 3 on the next, you need to rest more.
    2. I do the same exercises for the entire 12 weeks, and then my next routine would be of the similar fashion and I would keep the compound movements but I would change the smaller muscle-group movements. For example, barbell curls could become hammer curls/underhand weighted-chins, flat bench to incline, close-grip bench to skullcrushers/weighted dips, barbell rows to wide-grip chins, etc. Also, if you did barbell exercises for 12 weeks, try and switch do dumbells. All of this is just to shock your body out of the normal routine to help maximize gains.
    3. I would either do weighted wide grip chins instead of barbell rows for 5X5 , weighted underhand chins instead of barbell curls for 5X5, or add them after the back/bicep routine. I'm guessing it's an exercise that you really enjoy so definitely incorporate it. If you decide to add it as as the 4th exercise that day, you won't need the weights as your back/biceps will already be exhausted. I'd say 2 sets if you're adding them here, and 5X5 (weighted) if you're replacing them for another exercise.

    BTW, I figured this is obvious but record all of the weights / reps that you perform.

  10. #10
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    Wow, that is a lot more rest time between sets than I'm used to (not complaining). It's going to be fun trying to find the proper weight at first.

    Also, I wasn't sure if it mattered or not, but I forgot to mention that I am going to be cutting for the next couple of months. I hope this routine isn't more specified for someone who is trying to bulk up.

    And yeah, I always record my workouts. I've pretty much got everything else in check (diet, PWO nutrition, etc). I just was trying to find a new workout routine because I was getting so sick of that full body three times a week routine.

    Thanks again for the info.

  11. #11
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
    boondockSAINT is offline Associate Member
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    Actually this is more of a buking workout. What's your height / weight? To be honest, I think you should be following a bulking workout with your current stats. You could always shed fat by controlling your diet / cardio (first thing in a.m. on an empty stomach if possible). Add a third day of cardio if you're trying to lose fat, and keep a log of what you eat. That way after a few weeks if your gaining fat - critique your diet log. Just my opinion.

  12. #12
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    I'm 6'2, around 190 now. Was 180 before winter break (no gym @ home). I'm not really overweight as much as I am skinny-fat. I grew up as a fat kid, shed the weight throughout high school (minus the gut), then became an alcoholic (not happy to admit this). So I look skinny but I have a big midsection and trunk. Diet has always been the hardest part... a pint of vodka usually led to fast food, no motivation to change, etc.

    Honestly, I would love to bulk but I know that in order to do that, I have to be happy with my current level of body fat, which I'm not. Growing up overweight, I developed this stigma that as long as I have this potbelly (well, now it's more of a beerbelly) I won't be comfortable with myself. I don't necessarily want to get cut right away or jump into a 6-pack... I just want to flatten out my stomach and to repair the damage years of alcohol abuse has inflicted on my physique. I wasn't planning on "extreme" cutting, just getting my diet consistent and changing my workout routine (along with AM cardio).

    It's taken a while for me to get where I am, but right now I just want to focus on training.

  13. #13
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
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    First, I'm glad to hear that you're now heading in the right direction...

    On the workout, I still think this is the way to go. 6'2" 190lbs is pretty light, and yes I understand the skinny-fat thing. But I think you need your muscles to grow more to show them instead of losing bodyfat. Anyway, if you follow the "add lean body mass diet sticky" and do cardio 3x a week there is no way you're going to gain fat. If a gut is a concern of yours, run a search and see what remedies come up. The workout itself shouldn't change though, in my opinion.

  14. #14
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    If the workout will work fine then that's all I needed to hear. I've read that sticky a lot and I'm not really worried about gaining fat as much as I am about getting rid of some. I'm not trying to rush anything because I want to make sure it stays off. I might just keep calories low for a month or so then bump them back up. I know drinking makes your body store more fat in the belly, so hopefully it will go away some as I stay sober.

  15. #15
    boondockSAINT's Avatar
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    By the way, I'm following the same routine and I'm trying to maintain my bodyweight while losing some bodyfat. Good luck.

  16. #16
    randumb is offline Junior Member
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    Routine is going well so far, hopefully I'll have the proper weights figured out next week.

    The only exercises that have given me trouble are close-grip bench press and deadlifts. The bench will be easier to figure out, but deadlifts are a struggle for me. I've only done SLDLs before and I'm having trouble getting the normal deadlift movement down. I am fine coming up, but the problem is getting back down. I can't figure out how to get the bar past my knees without rounding my back a little and my shoulders seem round in. I've looked at the animation for deadlifts on exrx.net and it seems simple enough, but I need to work more on when exactly to start bending my legs down.

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