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  1. #1
    TOkidd is offline Productive Member
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    Overly complicated theories on building muscle and strength....

    Whatsup people:

    I've spent a couple weeks now reading the various training programs and theories published by both veteran and professional bodybuilders on this board, and I've gotta say; many of these programs are as complex as rocket science. Page after page after page of theory, with every aspect of bodybuilding dissected in every way imaginable. These individuals have taken their many years of experience, meditated on all that they've learned, then put forward a workout routine that reflects their beliefs about the best way to gain lean muscle and strength, while simultaneously injecting dozens of thesis statements and supporting sentences arguing why their approach is the best. So reading these training programs is much like reading a convoluted academic paper.

    I have no problem with any of these posts, nor do I contest the theories they put forward regarding the best way to gain muscle and strength. My problem is with the overly complicated approach they have taken to explaining, justifying, and extolling the benefits of their approach over others. I have an MA in English, have spent many years researching the most obtuse academic papers, and some of this stuff is even more difficult to understand than a commentary on TS Eliot's use of imagery in The Wasteland. Bodybuilding may be a lifestyle for some, but for most it is a hobby, even if a passionate one. The fact is, most of us want to read about different training regimens, but we don't want to spend hours reading and re-reading several-thousand-word dissertations that distill a lifetime of bodybuilding knowledge into a ten or twenty-page article.
    I don't know about others here, but if it takes me a week to grasp a particular person's theory on bodybuilding and how to implement it, I'm just not going to bother with it. Most of us here are not personal trainers or kinesiologists (spelling?) and we're looking for simple, straightforward articles and bodybuilding programs to learn from.

    So for all the well-intentioned vets out there with tons of valuable experience to share, please keep it simple. I'm no newbie to the world of bodybuilding, but I am an experienced writer who knows the benefit of keeping things simple - especially instructions for others who are not all experts in a particular field.

    That said, I do have my own approach to training that I've learned over the years and has worked for me. I hope I can sum it up in a few short sentences. You don't have to be a newbie or a vet to benefit from it, nor do you have to be on steroids . Any comments and critiques are welcome:

    I work each body part on a different day, once per week. I spend about two months doing high-volume workouts with an emphasis on strength and size. Large muscle groups like pecs and lats get 9-12 sets generally. Smaller muscle groups like biceps get 6-9.

    Simple exercises like bench press, barbell curl, wide-grip chins, squats, etc. make up the core of each routine.

    An example of a high-volume week:

    Monday (chest): Bench press (reps: 20,12,6,6) Incline press (10,6,6,8) dumbell fly (10,8,8) - alternate with dumbell pullovers (10,8,8)

    Tuesday (Legs): Squat (20,12,6,6) Lunges (10,8,8,8) Hamstring curls (machine) (10,8,6) Standing calf raises (20,10,8) Seated calf raises (8,6,6)

    Wednesday: Rest

    Thursday (Back): Wide-grip chins (5 sets) *alternate weekly with close-grip chins. Barbell rows (10,8,6,6), Dumbell rows (8,6,6) Deadlifts (20,10,8,6,6)

    Friday (biceps/triceps): Barbell curls (20,10,8,6) Hammer curls (8,6,6) Lying tricep presses with EZ bar (20,10,8,6) Dips (3 sets) *alternate with close-grip bench press (8,6,6)

    Saturday (shoulders): Arnold Presses (20,10,6,6) Upright row (8,6,6) lateral flys (12,8,6,6) Shrugs (20,12,8,8,8)

    Sunday: Rest

    During the high-volume weeks, I try to get in a decent mix of medium-rep and low-rep sets for a good combination of strength/mass building. I also throw in different exercises when I get bored with the usual routine, but they are always basic, "core" exercises. For example, I'll often do barbell cleans instead of upright rows one week, or behind-the-head dumbell tricep press intead of lying EZ-bar tricep press.
    The rep recommendations are a fairly rough guide - the point is to start off at a medium weight, then move up to something heavy. Sometimes I'll finish off a set with something lighter, say 10 reps.
    Serious caloric intake is the name of the game while doing this high-volume portion and protein intake must be high. If I feel a little overworked, I'll take a couple days off rather than reduce volume.

    After 8 weeks, I change up my routine and do a month of low-volume, higher rep exercises. This portion of the routine concentrates on sculpting exercises, using cables and even machines. Less sets and higher reps give muscular definition and give your body a break from the heavy weight and high volume.

    Here's an example of a typical week:

    Monday (chest): Bench press (20,12,10) *Alternate with decline press. Incline press (12,10,10) Cable fly (12,10,10)

    Tuesday (legs): Squat (20,12,10) Seated quad raise (12,10,10) lying hamstring raise (12,10,10). Standing calf raise (20,12,10) Seated calf raise (12,10,10)

    Wednesday: Rest

    Thursday (Back): Cable pull-downs (20,12,10,10) *alternate between wide and narrow-grip. Seated cable rows (20,12,10,10) *alternate between wide and narrow-grip. Deadlifts (20,12,12,12)

    Friday (Triceps/Biceps): Cable presses (20,12,10) Dumbell kickbacks (12,10,10)
    Preacher curls (20,12,10) Bent-over dumbell curls (12,10,10) *alternate with cable curls

    Saturday: Arnold Presses (20,12,10,) Cable raises (12,10,10) lateral raises (12,10,10,12) Bent-over dumbell raises (12,10,10) Shrugs (20,12,10,10)

    Sunday: Rest

    I've developed this program over 11 years of lifting. Often I would lift for a year or two and then be forced to stop for one reason or another, so lately I'm coming off a two-year hiatus. Nonetheless, the program works for me. It may not suit everyone, but I've tried to lay it out as simply as I can in the hopes that people reading can absorb the information easily. I am open to advice, critiques, whatever. Right now I'm not on steroids, but I'll probably do a cycle in a while if I can find a good source. Still, I think this is a good program for your average bodybuilder, and I'd like to hear what the vets have to say.

    peace

    TOkidd

  2. #2
    LatissimusaurousRex is offline Senior Member
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    IMO, I think it crosses over from hobby to lifestyle the more you realize what you have to do to reach your goals. Also, you went out of way so much to say how other programs are so complicated that you ended up not making yours as simple as you could have. It seems more like a split than a real program, but it's not bad by any means. Any average lifter could just pick up and muscle mag and find a generic workout split or they could ask on here for a split or to critique a split and it's usually answered in a simple fashion, even more simple than this.

  3. #3
    songdog's Avatar
    songdog is offline ARs TOP DOG ~ MONITOR ~
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    Man and I thought I was the only one who thought that.Keep it simple thats the way I like it.Good thread.

  4. #4
    TOkidd is offline Productive Member
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    Thanks for the comments guys. I hope people continue to post their opinions on the topic. I know for most experienced bodybuilders my program itself is a bit of a snooze, but it works - this much I know, because friends and relatives have used it as the basis of their program for years with great results.

    LatissimusosaurusRex: I get your point about BB becoming a lifestyle. It is, in a way, because it's not just the hour you spend in the gym that matters - it's your nutrition, your supplementation, sometimes juice as well. It does end up being more than a hobby, but what I meant is that we're not all pros, nor do we want to be. Just as I wouldn't try to explain a complex piece of literature to an avid reader the same way I would to an English professor, some of the posts on this site are valuable, but directed at too narrow an audience. It's like experts talking to other experts.
    As songdog said, simplicity is key, at least when explaining your program to others - even if you have tons of science and experience backing it up.

    peace

    TOkidd

  5. #5
    InsaneInTheMembrane's Avatar
    InsaneInTheMembrane is offline Anabolic Member
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    it's all trial and error... as years go by, you become attuned to the complexities of your own body is response to training, and your program evolves accordingly. what worked 3 years ago will not work today. in the end, your workout regimen may end up looking like a crapshoot to someone else, but you know it works. For me, thats the complexity, trying to see the workout program of people around you and trying to figure out, what works for them, what may work for you and what they are genuinely doing wrong.

  6. #6
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    reardbandit is offline Associate Member
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    Good post by insane, and by the original author. This is one of the reasons why weight training can become a life long passion, because it takes years to truly understand how you respond to different methods, techniques, etc. There are so many exercises I used to not do, or hate doing, and now I do them regularly because of the results I get from them. About the original post, though, I could not agree more. I have heard it broken down as simply as "deads, squats, bench press, and hang cleans will do everything you need done" as far as size and strength are concerned. Now this may be a bit of oversimplification, but those are (to me) the four core exercises all must do. Without those, there will always be a glaring weakness in your training regimen.

  7. #7
    reardbandit's Avatar
    reardbandit is offline Associate Member
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    Good post by insane, and by the original author. This is one of the reasons why weight training can become a life long passion, because it takes years to truly understand how you respond to different methods, techniques, etc. There are so many exercises I used to not do, or hate doing, and now I do them regularly because of the results I get from them. About the original post, though, I could not agree more. I have heard it broken down as simply as "deads, squats, bench press, and hang cleans will do everything you need done" as far as size and strength are concerned. Now this may be a bit of oversimplification, but those are (to me) the four core exercises all must do. Without those, there will always be a glaring weakness in your training regimen.

  8. #8
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    Trainwreck is offline New Member
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    Nice post!

    Question: How much rest do you take generally between sets?

    Also, when do you incorporate ab work?

    Thanks for the tips.

  9. #9
    TOkidd is offline Productive Member
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    I used to take short, one minute breaks between sets, but now I take much longer breaks - up to three minutes depending on the exercise and the weight. If you really put all your effort into a set, you need more recuperation time before you go at it again IMO.
    I don't do ab work for two reasons: I have a naturally very low % of body fat, and my abs get plenty of work on all the other days. Remember that every muscular contraction begins in your core - so when you're working your legs and your back and your chest, you're also working your abs. That said, if I needed extra ab work, I'd incorporate it into my lightest day, and maybe do it as a superset in between sets of bicep/tricep exercises. That's just me. Other guys here who work their abs routinely probably have different approaches.

    TOkidd

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