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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:55 pm 
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its been 6 weeks since ive started weight training at my local gym (first time ever if that matters). i'm a skinny guy, i look long and lanky at 6 ft 1in at 175 lbs. i have a few questions about my bench, because i havent been able to put up anymore weight on it for about 2 weeks now.

my bench history:
1st week, 55lb, 3 sets by 8 reps
2nd week, 65lb, 3x8
3rd week, 75lb, 3x8
4th to 6th week, 95lb, 3x8

i should note, i could almost never do 8 reps on the last set, ever. had to stop around 4-6 reps with help getting it up.

i read up on how lower reps (4-6) are better for str gains and more (12 ish) are better for mass gains. ive also read going slow is better for mass whereas medium to fast doesnt necessarily help in any specific way.

I am interested in strength gains because i am weak, so i usually do weight where it is hard to do around the 7 or 8th rep. but now i am thinking that i need to gain mass before i can actually gain anymore strength. basically put, i need to gain size so my muscles actually have room for more cells/strength. how does this theory sound?

anyone with experience, what should i do to try and increase my gains, i mean, 100 lb bench is nothing and i dont understand why i cant lift more.



my schedule consists of ABC off ABC off etc.

A(push)
-flat/decline/incline bench 3x8. (all 3 of them)
-2 dumbell tricep exercises 3x8
-abs

B(pull)
-seated cable rows (starting from infront of chest and pulling in) 3x8
-seated cable rows (starting above head, pulling to chest) 3x8.
-backwards fly 3x8.
-dumbell curls 3x8
-back extensions

C(legs)
-squats 3x8, always a joy to do
-leg curls 3x8
-calves push 3x8
-abs



on all of the big exercises like bench, cable row, squat, i usually find it hard to do the last reps of the last set, except bench is about 3X harder it seems. it seems like ive come to a standstill with my bench and soon to be my rows.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 9:31 pm 
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Bananas, those are huge increases in load (42% in 4 weeks). This may not be so unusual when you first start, but those kind of gains will subside as you reach the upper extremities of your potential- which you probably have a lot to go still.

While many differ on their approaches to load increases, I usually follow the '2 for 2' rule:

When you can surpass your rep range by 2 reps on your last set, for 2 training sessions (similar sessions) in a row, it's time for an increase.

For less trained individuals in terms of training age, I like to recommend 2.5 to 5 lb increases for the upper body and 5 to 10 lbs for the lower body.

Be patient with your gains. Keep working at it. Try not to work at your max loads every single session. Your body need to recover sufficiently for proper progression.

Best wishes.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:03 am 
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Something I do which helps is treat each set individual, so that if after the second set I am gauging my fatigue, I'll drop the weight a little to allow me to hit the rep number I am after. I aim for the last rep to be right at the point where another one isn't possible. Many times a few workouts later I'll hit all the reps of all sets at the same weight. I workout at home and don't have a spotter but I'd like it if I could do one more with a little help.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:46 am 
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Hi. Ditto what Scribbles said, especially the 2X2 rule and smaller weight jumps. Also ditto what Paul K said about the last set not being able to be as heavy as the first. OK, let's assume you are doing 3X8. In my book that doesn't necessarily mean you should be a 3 sets at your top(or work weight). I would go like this, 1st set light warm up, 2nd set, a bit more weight, still a warm up (if needed) and then hit 1-2 work sets. That should be plenty, and apply Scribbles 2X2 to them. If you really feel the need for another set, drop the weight, and get the reps. Some people use these as a "own " set.
Tim


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 1:18 pm 
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I would stop benching for a week.

You are doing 3x8 on each angle of bench press twice per week plus tricep exercises? That is A LOT of work for the chest muscles.

If you refuse to stop benching, I would do this:

On days you would normally bench, grab some dumbbells (probably 25-30 lbs for you) and I would do as many reps as you can in a controlled fashion.
I would do at most 2 sets of this, first time I would make the 1st one a warmup and then just do 1 set.

When you go back to benching the next week, I would start with around 80 lb. on the bar and then work up over a few weeks to your 95. With all that work building up to 95, you should get a lot stronger without killing yourself each week so you will recover better. I also wouldnt do all three benches in the same session. Pick 2 each session and do your 3x8.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 2:53 pm 
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thanks for all the info guys.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 10:36 pm 
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after taking a week and a half off, im still rowing (cables) the same amount. i have always been pushing up at a normal speed and going down slow. as for going over 2 reps 2 times in a row, ive never been able to get past 8 on all of my sets to actually be able to raise the weight next time. my next step, tomorrow, is to see if my bench has hanged at all after the week and a half off.

i talked to a guy in the gym today and he said stay off the bar for a while and do dumbells. for the back to straight pull ups.

i would only be able to do maybe or 2 pull ups but im going to try that too.

if that doesnt work, im going to plain old take weight off so i can do maybe 12-16 reps or something, and after all that im going to try a mass gainer. btw if some of you dont get how skinny i am, im pretty damn skinny, but definately not anorexic looking. a skinny white boy. im seriously thinking that i dont have enough mass to let my muscles get any bigger.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 1:30 am 
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huh? I didn't make heads or tails of that.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:06 am 
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you ahve to read scribbles 2x2 post to understand, but ill try again.

i've been doing what people on here suggested. i took a break, and have been doing the 2x2 seconds thing. lift up takes about one second and i go down in 2 seconds.

im back from the break and im still havent gained any more str, its exactly the same as last time.

now im going to try and do dumbells for my chest and normal pullups for my back because a guy at the gym told me that would be good to do. he said you have to give the barbell bench a break every now and then and mix it up.

also, my cousin took some kind of weight gainer and in a month he went from 185 to 220 ish. he knows it water weight but he was still able to gain str while doing it, which is what i want.


i seriously think that i need to get bigger before my muscles will increase there strength. im a skinny guy. im goign to give a mass gainer or some kind of supplement a try if nothing helps. my friends who are bigger are still gaining a bit but they are also shorter and thicker or taller and thicker than me.


why am i not gaining str?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:01 am 
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Honestly, I try to keep to myself because I'm the inexperienced guy, but I really do think your intuition is right on this one. If you're training in the 8 rep range or thereabouts, your strength is going to be at least somewhat limited by your muscle size, IMO. If you were training for power only then I think size would be less of a determining factor. (Though as an aside, I think that for your size you should be capable of benching more than 95lbs.)

If you're anything like me you'll have to eat properly to get stronger. I think the weight gainer stuff is the last thing you need to be looking at right now. Eventually you might want to "add it in" if necessary, but you should be solidifying a core diet first. You need to be eating plenty of healthy stuff: lean proteins spread throughout the day, fruits, veggies, good complex carbs and good fats. I need to eat at least 3,000 calories a day to grow and I'm smaller than you.

If your cousin went from 185 to 220 in a month I'd have reservations about adopting that diet. There's no way that most of that is water weight. I would suspect that most of that was fat. A good goal is 1-2 pounds of lean mass gain per week for someone at your level. Any more weight gain than that is likely to be fat. The more advanced you are the less mass you can gain.

Now if your goal is to just get stronger without gaining any mass, I honestly don't know much about how to do that. Maybe training in much lower rep ranges or doing more of a powerlifting style routine. Regardless, without proper nutrition I've never really been able to get stronger no matter how I trained.

I won't suggest any kind of training routine because I tend to be a little unorthodox and would probably get an axe in my skull from some of the regulars (in a loving way), so I would just say to stick with what you're doing now. But if you're like me, you have to go heavy to grow. I've found that when I can do 8 reps at a particular weight, it's graduation time and the next week I would add weight on the bar. But of course I wouldn't even consider lifting heavy on a consistent basis without having a good diet in place.

Just some things to consider from a super-amateur. The only other advice I have is patience.

John


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:27 pm 
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Try doing double the sets, 4 reps a little short of failure. This will boost your strength a bit. Then after a few weeks of getting your poundages higher, cut the sets back to normal, keep the weight the same and do 4 to 6 reps to failure and keep raising the reps until you get back to your usual range. Then increase the weight only when you get to the top of your rep range.

It could be you need a little more strength to gain size. Also someone like you that is very skinny should have simple carbs with the protein before the workout. If nothing else putting your whey powder in a big glass of chocolate milk might do the trick. You also need to eat more in general.

Don't give barbell a break for very long. You should always do both dumbbell and barbell. When I do chest I do flat barbell and incline dumbbell one week and then the reverse the next week. You need both to develop the chest the best.

I hope you have decreased your sets. 2 flat OR decline and 2 incline is all you need when going to failure. Then 4 and 4 on strength program. Not including warmups.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:41 pm 
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thanks for the advice guys.

to Ironman: i go to the gym with my friends (all huskier then me) and they have it dead set in their heads that they need to use every bar and bench possible, do 4 sets each and go to failure each time. their rationalization for this is that you have to push your muscles until they cant move anymore (which isnt possible). its REALLY hard to just 3 exercises for chest because they nag at me to do more when im tired and feeling dizzy.

im talking they do 4 sets 8 reps of incline, decline, flat, then they do a flat with dumbells, then a fly machine, then a push machine, then they will do around 4 tricep exercises 4 sets each. i believe they do most of those exercises just because the machine/bench is there. btw they do this every 4 days. ABC off ABC off

i really just want to tell them to shut the fv(k up because they can be assholes about me getting tired/dizzy and me thinking that that they are doing too much, but THEY are the ones adding weight to their reps still, not i.



to jwcalla: is there anyway to know if im eating enough of what i need for my muscles to grow? if im doing all the exercises correctly, then it must be my diet or sleep shcedule, right?

its really hard for me to eat exactly what i need everyday, heck i dont even know what i need for weight lifting. what is it that i need? maybe i should go to a doctor that deals with this kind of thing and get some kind of chart that tells me what im low on.

what else do i need besides a lot of besides carbs for energy and protein for muscles? maybe im missing something important.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:04 am 
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Those are the kind of workouts you do on gear. Without gear you are just going to destroy your joints and tendons and sustain injuries and have slow progress from overtraining. I know natural guys who train like that and they have had lots of muscle, tendon and joint problems. We are talking people that needed physical therapy and injections. No gear, no marathon workouts, it's that simple. You just need to put your foot down, 4 sets to failure or 6 to 8 with low reps short of failure is all you need for chest for a week.

I'm 5' 11" and after 12 months of general diligent lifting and 19 months of bodybuilding I went from 255 pounds at 48% fat to 223 pounds at 11% fat. No gear. No real bulking or cutting for the most part.

On failure training (usually 6 to 8 reps) I do 3 to 4 sets of compound and 1 or 2 sets when isolating a muscle used in a compound lift, but 3 sets for something like gastrocs. I have done a couple strength phases I do 3 or 4 reps, 4 to 6 sets short of failure on compound and as little as 2 sets of other things. German volume training is the highest I go with 10 sets of 8 for major groups and 3 or 4 sets of 8 for others loaded at 65 to 70%. Sometimes I even do beyond failure training, it is 1 set each with forced reps negatives and double and triple drops. Every now and then I might throw in pre-exhaust or supersets of different types but not often.

That's all you need for goods results and no injuries.

Keep in mind though, I have good nutrition and other then cable pulldowns and the standing calf, I do all freeweight.

Maybe when/if I get down to 7% I'll post a pic.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:32 am 
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jwcalla, excellent post!

Bananas, it's hard to say from a distance since I don't really know what you're doing, but it sounds like you're doing too much too soon.

You've only just started 6 weeks ago plus ~ 1 1/2 weeks break, and it's your first time ever. Don't follow the other guys since everyone's physiological adaptations differ.

Normally, when someone is starting out, I can spend 2 or 3 weeks with them just building a foundation. Your nervous system has to 'learn' the movements you're performing. Tendons and ligaments have very low vascularization (i.e., very little blood supply) and take much longer to adapt than your muscles will. If you load up on weight too quickly too soon, you might find some soreness between articulations- a result from not giving your tendons and ligaments a chance to 'catch-up' to your muscles.

Building a foundation means, learning correct form and technique for each exercise, starting with 7-10 exercises, performing one to two sets and building up progressively from there. You also need to develop some sort of muscular endurance to sustain the requirements of the loads you're aiming for.

Being tired and feeling dizzy is not something to strive for ('no pain, no gain' approach). This may be an indication that you are doing too much, not resting enough between workouts, or not eating enough to sustain your energy requirements.

In terms of your diet. The ONE best advice I can give you, is to take the next three days and log your nutritional intake. Write down everything you eat, how much of it you eat and when you eat it.

This will give you an idea of how many calories you are taking in. Without knowing this information, you cannot know whether you should eat more, less, or about the same.

At 6 feet 1 in., 175 lbs, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is about 1910 kcals. To calculate this figure, I have assumed you have a lean factor of "1" (i.e., you have a body fat percentage between 10-14%).

If I assume you have a 'light' to 'moderate' daily activity level, (1.55-1.65), then, your daily caloric requirement will be somewhere between 2950 kcal to 3150 kcal daily.

In terms of protein requirements, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 1 gram of protein per pound. If you weigh 175 lbs, then aim for about 175 g of protein daily (i.e., 700 kcals).

To gain mass, you need to take in more calories than you are expending, otherwise all your efforts in the gym will be less than productive. To add a pound of lean muscle mass, you will need to add ABOUT an extra 2500 kcal, or, about 350 kcal per day.

This means you should be taking in somewhere between 3300 kcal and 3500 kcal daily to support your goals.

If it were me, I would back off the load and plan the next four week cycle using 8-12 reps, mostly at the upper end. I would probably cut out a couple of exercises: you are doing 9 sets of a simple chest exercise (incline/decline/flat, it's the same muscle group).

I would get in and out of the gym quickly and spend more time resting. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by ABC off ABC off, but if you're training push/pull/legs on the same day, then a day off, then push/pull/legs again, this means you're training chest 3x per week- at 9 sets a session- equalling 27 sets for chest a week. If this is the case, then you may not be allowing sufficient recuperation between sessions. Your muscles will only grow with adequate rest and nutrition.

Be patient. You can't increase your reps by 2 each session. It takes time to progress up to it safely and effectively.

One final note. Compared to all the push/pull exercises you've selected, you only have 3 exercises for the legs. You may perhaps be concentrating too much on your upper body and not enough on your lower body. Work all of your muscle groups proportionally. Your legs are important.

Good-luck with your training. I'm sure you'll make the gains you're after with a little bit of time and patience.

Sorry for the length of this post!

Best wishes to you.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:52 am 
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"but THEY are the ones adding weight to their reps still, not i."

That's exactly the point. What works for your friends, isn't working for you, so you need to try something different.


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