Any problems with this routine?

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sks24
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Any problems with this routine?

Post by sks24 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:33 pm

I have an exercise routine I've been doing, and, upon my presentation of it here, I would welcome any thoughts or comments any of you might have.

The routine: Three day split, ABCX.

A: Chest general (press), Back Lats (pulldown), Chest upper, back general (bent row), full squat, hyperextension chair.

B: Incline situps. Crunches.

C: Military press, side deltoid, rear deltoid (lying rear delt row), Traps (seated shrug), biceps, triceps, wrist curl

X: Rest.

I switch exercises for specific groups every three months or so. (Bench press to dumbell flys, for example.) I know that's probably too long to wait. But it's kind of a pain to switch. What I would like to do is switch when I reach sticking points, but I'll bet that's not advisable.

My cardio is: run, swim (water run), elliptical, repeat. There are days off in there, but they're random.

I'm not sure about the order of the exercises on "A," and so I was wondering about that specifically. I also wonder if I should move some of the "A" exercises to other days, but I'm not sure which exercises or which day. If I could keep it like I show above, then that would be fine with me.

The main reason I train is that I'm 46 and want to go into middle and old age and still be able to do normal things absent pain and fatigue.

The main muscle group I'm worried about is my mid-back. I want to get that strong so that it doesn't bother me whenever I wash the dog, or work on the motorcycle, or ride it for long periods. Basically, anything that involves having my arms out in front of me for long periods - washing dishes or cooking . . . dog, motorcycle - will cause the middle of the middle of my back to start hurting. My lower back doesn't bother me.

I do light (two sets), medium (two sets), heavy (one set). So it's like this:

ALBLCLX, AMBMCMX, AHBHCHX Repeat.

I've been doing high rep low weight leg lever extensions on the days I run, which might be on A, B,C, or X days. My knees bother me if I don't do that.

I own a power cage, hyperextension chair, and a station with a leg press on it. The power cage has a cabled stack, too.

I keep track of weight and sets on a Google spreadsheet, and also my body weight and % body fat. I'm at 180/19%. I would like to go lower on the % fat, but I'm not sure how much. And I don't think I want to go below 175lbs. Three years ago I was at 220 lbs and 25+% fat.

I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.


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Post by stuward » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:04 pm

Basically, your routine is A: whole body, B: abs and C: shoulders & arms.

I suppose that's an OK split but it seems a little uneven to me. The fact that you hit whole body every 4 days is a plus. I don't think a whole workout for abs is required but I assume it's just something to do while your in the gym. Is that your cardio day?

Looking only at your whole body day, as that's where 80% of the benefit is coming from, you need to focus on the big exercises. Make the first exercises you do be big compound exercises: Squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. Do them every time. If you want to change them arround, change the variations.

DB flys should be an accessory move after you do your press. Suitable variations would be flat bench, incline, decline, dips, or you could experiment with grip width, bands, boards, chains, etc. In all cases, continue to press. Leave the isolation moves for finishing moves.

This same pattern can be applied to the other big lifts, squats, deadlifts, rows, pull ups, and overhead presses.

Deadlifts and rows will do the most for your middle back. Poor posture can contribute to back pain. You need to work on that.

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Re: Any problems with this routine?

Post by nygmen » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:09 pm

sks24 wrote: The main reason I train is that I'm 46 and want to go into middle and old age and still be able to do normal things absent pain and fatigue.

The main muscle group I'm worried about is my mid-back. I want to get that strong so that it doesn't bother me whenever I wash the dog, or work on the motorcycle, or ride it for long periods. Basically, anything that involves having my arms out in front of me for long periods - washing dishes or cooking . . . dog, motorcycle - will cause the middle of the middle of my back to start hurting. My lower back doesn't bother me.
Honestly, Deadlift. It is one of the most productive things you could spend 30 mins doing. Start light and work your way up slow with good form. When i first stated i would feel totally wasted from the back of my knees up to my neck. And my forearms would pulsate too. It is fantastic.

Bent over Rows can't hurt either.

EDIT: Stu posted while i was logging in. So in essence, I say X2 to what he said.

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Post by sks24 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:45 pm

Thank you very much for those comments.
OK. How 'bout this three day split:

A: Back/Thighs/Biceps
Deadlift/Squat/Bent over rows/Curls/Hyperextension chair

B: Chest/Triceps
Bench Press/Incline Bench Press/Triceps

C: Shoulders/Abs.
Deltoids front, rear, and side/Abs.

X: Rest

My cardio is almost every day, except when I don't have time or am tired. In an ideal world, I suppose I would run only on the "A" days, but sometimes I'm out of town, and that's the only exercise I can do. So far, doing the leg extensions - or wall sitting - whenever I run (a/o/t with the rest of the thigh exercises) hasn't caused me any problems.

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Post by sks24 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:06 pm

More specifically, any problems with this three-day split, as sequenced?:

Back/Thighs/Biceps:
Deadlifts
Squats
Bent Row
Lat Pull-Down
Biceps Curl
Hyperextension
Wrist Curl
Plow Stretch

Chest/Triceps:
Bench Press
Incline Bench Press
Decline Bench Press
Triceps Extension

Shoulders/Abs:
Behind the Neck Press
Lateral Raises
Lying Rear Delt Row
DB Seated Shrugs
Incline Sit-Up


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Post by pdellorto » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:55 pm

That one looks about the same as before.

Your back/biceps/thighs workout is full-body. Deadlifts alone hit almost everything you've got. Same with squats. Then you've got a large number of additional exercises on there.

Your chest/tris workout is 3 types of bench press, plus triceps extension. That seems like overkill if you're doing any of the bench presses hard.

Finally, you've got a shoudlers day...and your shoulder already work hard on the other two workouts - from deadlifts and rows and lat pulldowns on the first day, to 3 kinds of benching on the second.

I think you might benefit from just using a pre-published program to start with. You're a bit all over the place. It can be hard to figure out how to build your own routine...you don't want to miss anything but you end up with too much of one thing and not enough of another.

The basic routines sticky has a few rotuines worth checking out. Definitely read that first. If you're more into using a book routine, there are a few I think are really excellent:

Maximum Strength, by Eric Cressey. Highly recommended - it needs a cable station, but you've got a cable setup so...covers diet, basically, and also includes a warmup (not common in these kinds of books) and different advice based on your body type for cardio.
Starting Strength, by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore. You've got a rack and a barbell, you can squat, squat, squat - this one is also in the sticky. Covers proper exercise form, and worth picking up if you intend to squat, bench press, press, deadlift, or power clean at all in your workouts.
The Metabolism Advantage by John Berardi has a great diet/exercise plan in one. It's only 8 weeks initially, but it pretty much nails down what to eat and how to lift in one set, taking out a lot of the guesswork about diet.

There are others, but all of those have the advantage of explaining what to do, how to do it, and not over-complicating things. I think it's worth taking the time to check those things out.

Peter

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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:35 pm

sks, have you told us what your goals are? Why are you lifting? Your routine looks a bit like a body-building split to me. If you're mainly a strength trainer, I'd suggest a straight full-body plan. You say that you're out of town a lot, so there are interruptions to your workouts. If you are using a body-part split, and then miss a couple of workouts, you may go a week and a half or two weeks between working a particular body part. With a whole-body workout that would be minimized. My workouts are often interrupted by the contingencies of my work. If I'm on schedule, it's never more than 2-3 days since I've worked my biceps, for instance, and if I have to postpone a workout a day, or even miss it altogether, it's still not more than 3-4 days until I work them again.

My other thought about your original routine, and the proposed revision is that they are very long. You don't really want to workout for more than an hour. For me, doing 5x5 on most of my lifts, that limits me to 4 exercises on a practical basis. Use the big compound exercises. They do the most for you in the least amount of time.

I'd certainly second the comment about lack of DL. It's the "King of Exercises!" Bow down in homage to it on a regular basis.

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Post by sks24 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:44 pm

Thanks Peter and Doc.

I'm never out of town for more than one day, and that's only once or twice a month.

The main reason I train is that I'm 46 and want to go into middle and old age and still be able to do normal things absent pain and fatigue.

The main muscle group I'm worried about is my mid-back. I want to get that strong so that it doesn't bother me whenever I wash the dog, or work on the motorcycle, or ride it for long periods. Basically, anything that involves having my arms out in front of me for long periods - washing dishes or cooking . . . the dog, motorcycle - will cause the middle of the middle of my back to start hurting. My lower back doesn't bother me.

I guess that what it all boils down to is that I have one overriding priority, and that's to exercise my back and then leave it alone for at least two days. At this point in my life, that's the main reason I lift. I'll quote exrx.net:

When designing a split program, adequate recuperation of the lower back (Erector Spinae muscles and the joints of the thoracic & lumbar spine) must be considered. As with all muscles and joints exercised with moderate to heavy weight, it is necessary to allow the lower back to recuperate at least 48 hours (longer for advanced trainies) before involving it in another workout; directly (as a target muscle) or indirectly (as a synergistic or stabilizer muscle).

I purchased a hyperextension chair last spring, and it had an immediate positive impact w/r/t my back pain. So I would like to keep the hyperextension in my routine.

I'm thinking two-day push/pull split here, ABX. But I would like to modify it slightly by doing my abs on my "off" day. I hate doing sit-ups, but, if that's all I have to do, they're easier to, uh, stomach.

A:
Bench press
Leg press
Incline bench press
Behind the neck press
Triceps extension

B:
Deadlifts
Lat pull-downs
Lateral Raises
Hyperextension chair
Biceps curls

X:
Incline sit-ups

Or a full body workout, WXX. Again, the abs on one of the off days.

Deadlifts
Bench Press, slight incline
Lateral Raises
Behind the neck press
Seated DB shrugs
Biceps
Triceps
Hyperextension chair
Abs

Thank you for all your time and consideration of this matter.

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:01 am

Well, now you've left out squats.

And a lot of that stuff isn't real necessary. Like, remember what I said about long workouts? Include both squat and DL, some push and some pull each day. Drop the small-muscle assistance stuff(curls, etc.)--those muscles all get worked by the big compound lifts

Find some guy who has a master's degree in exercise science and CSCS, and let him design a workout for you. There are a bunch of them around. Rippetoe, Starr, Staley, Berardi--they're all available, and they really know what they are doing. For most of them, you can get their program from a web site, and you don't even have to pay for the book, although the books are probably good to have.

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Post by Ironman » Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:01 am

How about twice a week you do
bench
incline
squat
deadlift
row
chins or pulldowns
calf raises
3 sets each

then
lateral raise
shrugs
curls
dips
1 set each

Then on another do a little cardio for heart and lungs.

Squats and deadlifts work the abs and lower back. More than 90% of what you want is done with those 2 exercises.

Do not do an ab workout. Do no more than 2 sets per week of ab isolation total.

Ab, arm and shoulder isolation is like vomiting. Everyone does it, but you try to keep it to a minimum.

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Post by pdellorto » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:11 am

sks24 wrote:The main muscle group I'm worried about is my mid-back.

(SNIP)

When designing a split program, adequate recuperation of the lower back (Erector Spinae muscles and the joints of the thoracic & lumbar spine) must be considered. As with all muscles and joints exercised with moderate to heavy weight, it is necessary to allow the lower back to recuperate at least 48 hours (longer for advanced trainies) before involving it in another workout; directly (as a target muscle) or indirectly (as a synergistic or stabilizer muscle).

Sure. All of the programs in the sticky, and in the three books I recommended, will do exactly this. You will work sometimes two days in a row in some of them (Maximum Strength does that) but you won't stress your back two days in a row. All of those programs are heavier on back exercises - pulling exercises - than on pushing exercises.

Your workout, on the other hand, has you working 3 days in a row before you rest. You can do that, but I think it'll be hard at age 46. I can't lift like that at age 36. If you do an ABCx split, you'll need to carefully break up the exercises to ensure your low back isn't working all three days and gets its rest. The programs in the sticky and in those books, and the one Ironman suggested, give you a day off after you lift so you will get that 48-hour rest you want for your low back. And they will generally give you a lot of back work in the first place, so it increases its strength and endurance.

Jungledoc's advice is good. It isn't like you need a CSCS and an MS to design a good program...but if someone with those has a program that will match your available equipment and goals, why not take advantage?

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Post by sks24 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:23 am

Thanks Ironman.

I know myself well enough to know that, even if I fully intended to do so upon my saying here that I would seek out the experts you mentioned, I almost certainly wouldn't do it. I have, however, read extensively in this site, over both the last few days and couple of years. And I thought that the three day split I had concocted met the main requirement I thought I needed, which was two days off for my back.

So, with Light, Medium, and Heavy days, I've got it playing out like this:

(L)WXX(M)WXXX(H)WXX(L)WXXX, and so forth. Since the strength sessions will be long, I won't do cardio on those days. I'll do one set of weighted incline bench or crunches on one of my X days.

With 3x sets, I assume the first is a warm-up. My reps look like this: Light days, @20x/ Medium, 13-20/ Heavy, 9-13. Truth is, I don't work very hard, and I add weight very gradually.

I'm thinking that on my heavy days, I'll only do one set.

I've found that I simply don't progress well absent light days, and I think that that is largely a function of the ease with which I'm able to maintain good form throughout the sets. To date, I've done two sets on light and medium days, and one on heavy days.

I have made progress in terms of fat loss, and I suspect muscle gains, on my own version of the three-day split, which I've been on for about five months now.

I rather strongly suspect that I'll have to do one of two things, or I won't lift at all.

One is that I'll have to nix some of the exercises on the full body program you suggested, and which I will try for at least a month or two. In order, I'm thinking that should be: Incline bench, Calf raises, and Shrugs.

The truth is that I simply don't like any kind of exercise, and the only reason I do it is to avoid somatic and emotional distress. So it's important that I never have to face a gigantic mountain of exercises, or I simply won't do anything at all. If that starts to happen, I'm sure that a three-day split will become imperative again.
(Even five exercises on a full-body day was too much. It's all a matter of proportion: on the other days, the amount of work was: zero.)
I actually started out doing full-body, but it was too much for one day, and so I went to a two day split, and then, "well, why can't these exercises go on a third day?" That's why I've made such good progress with the three-day: I actually do it.

And so the other thing is that I might go back to the three-day split. Here's what I've come up with, and, given that I never push very hard - I suspect there's almost always another rep in there, but I usually don't go for it - I'm having a hard time seeing the harm in it. From what I can gather, and given how hard I work, the risk appears to be over-training the shoulders.

Back/Thighs/Biceps
Squats
Deadlifts
Lat Pull-Down
Row
Biceps Curl
Hyperextension
Wrist Curls
Plow Stretch

Chest/Triceps
Bench Press
Incline Bench
Triceps Extension

Shoulders/Abs
Behind the neck press
Lateral Raises
Lying rear delt row
DB Seated Shrugs
Incline Sit-Up

In looking back over this, it kind of sounds like, "this is what I'm going to do." But all of the foregoing is by way of inviting comments and advice. Thanks in advance for that, and for all your consideration thus far.

Best,
SKS

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:08 pm

When we talk about using the experts, we don't mean literally seek THEM out, but use routines that they have designed and published! We're trying to say it a bit humorously. Those routines are there on websites, and they are very good.

You've got biceps work in ALL THREE of your days! You've got triceps on two of them. This will be difficult for recovery!

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Post by sks24 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:33 pm

When we talk about using the experts, we don't mean literally seek THEM out

I did miss that. Sorry. It's clear to me that I'm going to have to do two full-body lifts week. I think I should be OK with it. I'm in much better shape than I was two or so years ago when I started out.

But on some days I'm going to want to do as few exercises as possible.

I was thinking this, from the templates:

Squats
Deadlifts
Bent-Over rows
Bench Press
Weighted Incline Sit-ups.

Three sets on all the exercises except for abs (one set), and I don't see how I could exercise those absent sit-ups or crunches or something. That'll be thirteen sets all together.

Would that I could divide that by seven and do 1.85 sets a day. (!)


Again, thanks,
SKS

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:51 pm

That's a lot better. Maybe you've trimmed it down a bit too much You could use some vertical push (press) and vertical pull (chin-up/pull-up/lat pull-down).

Have you looked at the programs in the sticky?


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