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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:26 pm 
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I'd appreciate any thoughts on creating a good full-body workout program. I've been reading ExRx pages like crazy, but I'm starting to confuse myself and have many questions. Note that I am a beginner who is just getting back into lifting weights after a long time (like 20 years) away. I also have time constraints so I believe either a full-body or two-day split program makes sense...and the former seems preferable for a while at least.

My questions are:

  1. does the simple workout below make sense? It seems like so few exercises compared to what I did all those years ago (when I was young and probably overtraining)!
  2. I'm also a bit confused on the low volume, higher rep, how many sets question, since a lot of the research here seems to point to just one or two "real" sets after a light weight warmup? Should I workout three times a week or twice? Is this a difference between having more or less experience training?
  3. Do the number of sets and reps apply equally to legs? I've heard that they might need more sets than other body parts?
  4. Is there any need, at this stage, to work in some smaller, more focused exercises (pec flys, dips, curls, etc) for different body parts on different days or will I end up overtrained?

Based on what I think I understand (and based on the limited equipment at my gym), I am thinking of the following every other day (M/W/F with Sat/Sun off), each with one warmup and two work sets to failure at 8-12 reps:

  • Leg Press
  • Leg Curl
  • Dumbbell Bent Row
  • Seated Bench
  • V-Ups

I figure can mix it up and still keep to basic exercises by interchanging:

  • Standing or seated leg curl - or straight leg dumbbell deadlift (no barbells other than smith machine at my gym)
  • not sure what else would be good for quads given the limited equipment...I'm leery of Smith Machine squats
  • Lat pulldown instead of bent row
  • Hip Raises or Sit-ups instead of V-Ups


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:48 pm 
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if that's all the equipment you have access to then yes, it's fine. You could do some lunges or split squats with dumbells.

lat pulldowns should be done as well as the row, not instead of.

working up to an all out set of 8-12 is fine. Just work up in sets of whatever rep range you choose until you hit a top set. Don't worry too much about how many sets it takes but a decent guideline is 3-5 sets.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:13 am 
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Any reason you're not including squats and deadlifts? Leg presses and curls are fine as accessory lifts, but don't really seem like material for a main exercise.

Simple is better.

Try this:

A vertical push (press)
A horizontal push (bench, etc.)
A vertical pull (chinups/pullups)
A horizontal pull (row and all it's variants)
A hip-dominant legs (deadlift)
A knee-dominant legs (squat, etc.)

If you like only doing 1 or 2 working sets, you could probably do them all twice a week. If you want to do a little more volume, you can divide this up and do half each time.

Doing 1 working set is way better than no sets. 2 working sets adds a little to that. 3 working sets adds a bit more. I like to do 3 working sets most of the time, but for some things I'll only do 1, or sometimes I'll do 4 or 5. Single-set vs multiple sets is one of those controversies that there will probably never end. Try a variety of approaches and decide for yourself what's best for you.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:16 am 
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he's got no barbell except the Smith gramps


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:03 am 
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Yeah. You can do all of those movements with dumbbells. Many of them are BETTER done with DBs.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:38 am 
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dumbell squats and deads? Not for me, but other people might like them I guess


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:35 am 
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Goblet squats.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:26 am 
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What about Single-leg glute bridges or hip thrusts? The abscence of PC work is obvious in that program. Some glute training would be very beneficial. Or Single-leg RDLs? Both are easy to do with Dumbells, and maybe even better.

I don't like the idea that you push yourself to failure every workout, every exercise. You migth wreck your CNS, and you migth slow your gains. Studies have shown that if you take the sets to 1-2 reps shy of failure, the effect of the sets is the same as taking sets into failure. Obviously it wont stress your nervous system as much, and you don't get used to failing!

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:31 pm 
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Thanks for all this great information! I didn't even think of doing some of these exercises with dumbbells! I might be able to get to a gym that has more equipment soon too.

A few questions:

1. What do PC and RDL stand for?

2. Vertical Push (press) means some kind of military press or the like? I have some shoulder pain that makes military presses difficult, even with dumbbells, but I'll look into alternatives too.

3. "If you like only doing 1 or 2 working sets, you could probably do them all twice a week. If you want to do a little more volume, you can divide this up and do half each time." -- I take that to mean that I could split them up and work out 4-days per week, hitting each exercise twice per week.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:47 pm 
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chrisl wrote:
...1. What do PC and RDL stand for?
...


PC = Posterior Chain.

RDL = Romanian deadlift

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:29 pm 
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Dub wrote:
I don't like the idea that you push yourself to failure every workout, every exercise. You migth wreck your CNS, and you migth slow your gains. Studies have shown that if you take the sets to 1-2 reps shy of failure, the effect of the sets is the same as taking sets into failure. Obviously it wont stress your nervous system as much, and you don't get used to failing!


I wouldn't take the "to failure" litterally from novices. I think it's closer to "when I get bored and tired and concerned it wont go up and I have no spotter", than full out failure

just speculating


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:00 pm 
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As a novice, this is what "to failure" means to me. If I am wrong, please correct me! I consider failure to be when I can no longer complete a rep...in other words, when I can only manage 1/2 or 1/4 rep. I actually log the last as 1/2 rep so I can later remember that it was to failure not a stop for some other reason.

Right? Wrong?

I have been doing every work set beyond one warm-up set with 25% or so of later weight to this version of failure. Maybe that's too much?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:27 pm 
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chrisl wrote:
3. "If you like only doing 1 or 2 working sets, you could probably do them all twice a week. If you want to do a little more volume, you can divide this up and do half each time." -- I take that to mean that I could split them up and work out 4-days per week, hitting each exercise twice per week.

No, I was assuming that you would lift twice a week. Do something like:

Day 1: Squat, bench, row
Day 2: DL, press, chins


You said that you only have time to lift twice a week, so I assume that's still true.

Regarding failure, you probably should not be lifting to absolute failure (that's what you're doing) on a regular basis. For most of the big lifts you should feel like you still have a couple of reps left. If form breaks down (as in you have to struggle, the bar leaves it's normal path of travel, back rounds on DL or squat, etc., etc) you have gone past what is called "technical failure" and you've gone too far. There's a good old article on this subject that I can't find now, but someone will probably post the link.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:05 am 
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Thanks. I probably wasn't clear in my original post: I can go to the gym every morning for as many days of the week as make sense, but I only have about 45 minutes of actual time on the floor there every day. So I was thinking some kind of high-intensity workout that could be done in that amount of time for the whole body or doing a split if that wasn't enough time for a whole-body workout!

Then I became a bit confused because a 3-day per week full body is often suggested for getting started, but so is is a two-day split...the first works everything out 3x per week, the second 2x and I wasn't sure what I should be aiming for

I'll search around for articles on failure too. I seriously had no idea that I wasn't supposed to work to failure all the time. That kind of changes everything when it comes to figuring out reps and sets!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:16 am 
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take the last set of every exercise to failure, just not every set.


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