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Time for a change

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:29 am
by Jungledoc
Change has been mentioned a few times lately--change often, don't change just to be changing, etc. Well, for me it's time for a change. I'm tired of my "whole body" workout made up of lots of isolation work. It takes forever to get through, and I'm not making a lot of progress.

My goals are strength and general fitness. I'm 5'11", 200# (down from 220+#). I'm planning to tighten my diet further, since the weight loss has slowed.

You can all be my coaches. Here's what I think I want in a lifting routine. I want a simple routine made up of a few (probably 3) compound exercises. I want the workout to last not more than 45 minutes. I work out 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Sat usually) so I want a 2-day split, probably each day completely different. Before I hurt my back I was starting to realize that I didn't have adequate recovery time for the squats (I was squatting every workout), but I don't think I'm working heavy enough to need a whole week to recover, so the 4 or 5 days provided by every-other M-W-Sa I think will be just right. I assume that I'll do 3x5 or 5x5 for most of the lifts. I want to include rear squats, dead lifts and bench press. I'd consider bent over rows, chins, shoulder presses, but I'm not dead set on any of the above. I still need to take it real slow getting back into squats.

What do you all think?

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:21 am
by pdellorto
Jungledoc, where would you place yourself training wise? Still a beginner, intermediate, advanced? That'll affect the answers. If you're still a beginner in terms of weight, you might just go for a beginner routine. All the ones in the sticky are heavy on compound exercises (Starting Strength has nothing but heavy compound exercises, for example).

Otherwise...thinking it over a bit...

You could do a simple Push/Pull/Legs splits, either doing Pull one day, Push another, and legs on a third, or do three each of Push/Pull/Legs and vary up up the exercises or the intensity.

For example, pulled out of thin air:

Legs: Squat variation (Front, Back, Box)
Push: Bench Press variation (Incline, Wide, Close Grip, Normal)
Pull: Bent Over Rows

Legs: Deadlift variation (RDL, conventional, Sumo, snatch grip)
Push: Shoulder Press
Pull: Chinups

Saturday (unilateral PPL to ensure balance)
Legs: Lunges or Step-Ups
Push: Side Press
Pull: One-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Or you could do the same exercises each day, but vary the intensity, so one is Heavy (5x5 or 7x3), one is medium (3x8), one is light (2x12). Reps and sets are just an example, but if you did Squats, Bench Presses and Chinups, you'd do Squats heavy, bench medium, chinups light, then next squats light, bench heavy, chinups medium, then squats medium, bench light, chinups heavy....just as an example. There are other ways you could do that and I'll warn you I've never tried this so I'm just passing on my understanding of stuff I read.

I personally found I did well despite my "intermediate" status doing Crossfit for a while, and recently coming back from a training injury I made some nice gains on a modified Westside for Skinny Bastards III workout (check the beginner's routine sticky for the link). But it really depends on your work. My goal when I get my injuries whipped in a little better shape is to do another WS4SB cycle.

Hope that helps,


Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:14 am
by TimD
Well, Pete gave you some good choices. I see he listed crossfit. All good. The best variation of combiningboth that I've seen is Coach Rutherfords MEBB, done 3X weekly. It's full body, but done with a twist. You concentrate on strength with a press, squat and deadlift move, but those basics are done only 1 X each each week. It's followed on with some generalwork in METCON fashion. An example of this,
Mon Squat, 5x5, take a 5 min breather then;
as many rounds as possible of dips X7, chins X7, Back ext X10 in 10 mins
Wed would be Pr or BP 5x5 followed by 10 mins of each own metcon, and Fri the DL.
Coach Rut has 3 cycles laid out in his blogspot
Lots ofvariety, and I've never taken more than 34 mins to get through one. His cycles start on Jan 01, so look in the archive. Right now he's just concentrating on GPP/METCON work

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:14 am
by Jungledoc
Perer, I'd say I'm either an advanced beginner or an early intermediate lifter. I didn't mention that I'm 55. I've been lifting pretty regularly for 2 years, with a 5-month interruption.

I want to stick with a 2-day split. The first 2 days of your suggestion appeals to me (squat/bench/rows then dl/shoulder press/chins).

Tim, good suggestions, too. Rutherford is one I hadn't looked at for a while. I'll look at that when I get a chance.

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:26 am
by TimD
Doc, I didn't realize you were my age, or close. Don't let the metcon stuff scare you. I'm 58 and if anything, it enhances things.

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:39 am
by pdellorto
I forgot about Coach Rutherford's site. It's a good one and it's a 3-day a week setup, which is much more convenient than 3-on-1-off like Crossfit is.

Jungledoc, TimD's advice about metcon is probably spot-on. It's really beneficial to me (age 36, amateur MMA fighter), and from the comments on the Crossfit site it seems like it's even more beneficial as you get older.

I'm glad the routine I suggested looks good. I think at your level it might work, but again I'd stress you run the programming past others, I'm a beginner at that at best. Really, though, don't neglect unilateral exercises, it's easy to get out of whack with just bilateral end up favoring one side. I know that's happened to me. I have pics of me 2-3 years ago with even hips and good even shoulders, but the last year or so has been me with shoulders and hips out of whack from constant bilateral training with no attempts to even out. I'm correcting that now and I wish I'd corrected it from the start!


Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:41 pm
by Jungledoc
So here's the plan for now.

Squats--rear squats for now, variations added later
Bench press--variations from time to time
Bent-over row--a new lift for me

Deadlift--also a new lift for me
Shoulder press

At the moment, I'm still working on my back (hip stretches, hyperextensions) and learning the new lifts. I've surfed around for videos on form on each, and am starting with light weights.

To start, I'll probably use 3x5, but may switch to 5x3 or ramped sets later.

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:47 am
by TimD
Thats a good basic plan for the strength portion. As I recall, you were interrested in conditioning as well. That could easily be done by adding some of Coach Rut's "gems" or some HIIT type of invervals as finisher's, say 10 mins or so.

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:09 am
by Jungledoc


You're right, of course.

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:28 am
by stuward
Doc, that routine you came up with is great. Those 6 exercises are the foundation of most succesful routines.

It can be a drag going in every time but after a while, you get into a habit. If you miss a workout or cut one short, it will start to bug you. It's kind of perverse but for a couple of days before my deadlift workout I get excited because I'm going to go for a new record in that workout.

You have to learn what motivates you. I have to make each workout a challenge beyond just trying to get the next extra rep. That's why I have a complicated routine with different components to it. I need the complexity in order to make it interesting. Learning about different techniques and program design is part of the fun of it for me.

Make it a game. Make it a personal challenge. Being a "chick magnet" doesn't work much to motivate guys our age. Being the only guy in the office without a pot belly is pretty cool though. Of course in my office, everyone is in shape. It's a prerequisite to the job.


Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:21 pm
by pdellorto
Yeah Doc, it's a good routine. Just do some intense conditioning exercise too.

Either do this:

Monday: Workout A
Wednesday: Workout B
Friday: Conditioning


Monday: Workout A + short conditioning work
Wednesday: Workout B + short conditioning work
Friday: Workout A + short conditioning work
and then BAB the next week.

If you go with the first option, make Friday something good but tough - a metabolic condition workout from Coach Rut's webpage or Crossfit is good, or you can do a Tabata interval of sprinting or bodyweight conditioning exercises. Examples are things like Crossfit's "Cindy" (one round is 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats, as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes) or Coach Rut's recent one with 10 knees to elbows, 20 walking lunges, 10 clapping pushups, 20 walking lunges back to the bar, and then go again, max rounds in 20 minutes. Or a barbell or dumbbell complex like in the sticky.

If you go with the second, like TimD said, check out Coach Rut's webpage (The Fitness Conduit) and pick something he's coupled with a max-effort lift and just wait 5-10 minutes after your main workout and go for it. It can even be something like Tabata interval sprints in place, or do some rope jumping, or whatever.

The routine you've outlined is a good one, and coupled with some intense conditioning work afterwards it should be fine. I did well on a once-a-week full body routine coupled with crossfit metcons, and I've done well on a twice-a-week version of Westside for Skinny Bastards plus one metcon a week.

Good luck and have fun!


Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:24 am
by Jungledoc
Stu & Pete:

Thanks. What motivates me is mostly feeling good, not like a slug, and knowing I'm improving my overall health. I also need some social interchange when I work out. That's why martial arts were so good "back when." Right now I work out with my son, and that is great. He leaves for college in a few months, so I'll need to coordinate with one of my friends here to w/o together.

I'll be doing Pete's "second option." For now I'll probably do intervals on a stationary bike or elliptical. If I could get a heavy bag or a kicking dummy I'd do kicking/punching drills as intervals. I'd need to scale most of the CF WODs or Coach Rut's routines back quite a bit. Our "gym" is probably 4 lunges long--I suppose I could go outside--nah. Too many curious stares from local folks who don't understand why the ex-pats have to go to a special room and wear special clothes to exercise! Most of them are amazingly ripped just from living life in a hard place.

And, yeah, it'll be fun. I haven't put this much thought and planning into lifting before, so I'm curious how it will go.

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:22 pm
by pdellorto
Jungledoc, My gym has space for 1 lunge by the pullup bar/squat rack, 3 lunges diagonally across the ring or 6 lunges diagonally across the mats. Generally, I consider myself lucky if I get to use the ring. You make do with what you have, so 4 steps...that's fine! Two per side forward, turn around and walking lunge back.

If you want to scale Crossfit WODs, go to BrandX Martial Arts, they scale for you. Coach Rut doesn't, but if you do heavily scaled Crossfit WODs for a while it's pretty easy to learn to scale for yourself.

That's where they'll list the scaled WODs. Just click on the appropriate date.


PS - Where do you live that everyone's already so hard?

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:47 pm
by TimD
As to Rut's follow on WODs, I did an ME Pr/PP yesterday, and the follow on was a lumberjack squat *similar to a corner row, put the O bar in a corner, pu on some plates, in my case, just 2 45's), put the end on your shoulder and squa it up), X10, DB RDL's X 10 (I used 50 lb DB's) and 10 situps X X 4 rounds. It wasn't a problem Got it done in about 6 mins.

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:43 am
by Jungledoc
Peter--I live in Papua New Guinea.