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Very simple question

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:38 am
by 24fps
Hi all,

While perusing the website I found the templates for a 3-day training, which is perfectly suited for my busy schedule.

One thing that puzzles me though is that if for instance I click on a Push/Pull/Legs I go to another page that shows me workout A, B and C.

I assume that each workout represents a day in the week. Also there are several muscle for each workout. If I click on one of them I go to a page that shows me numerous ways of exercising that particular muscle/group.

Is the idea here is to pick one of them. This might seem obvious to you but it is not clearly stated.



Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:21 pm
by stuward
That's right, pick 1 exercise of each type. There are guidelines at the bottom of each page that explain it.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:36 pm
by jtw
The exercises in bold text are the best, so choose those first. Ideally, use barbell or dumbbell exercises before lever/smith/machine/others, but make sure you get at least the bold ones in.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:02 pm
by 24fps
Thanks for the tips guys.

JTW: Would you suggest to stick to barbell/dumbell or alternate between different methods on a say a monthly basis.

For instance if I look at the Lateral Deltoid exercises both the upright bow for the barbell and the cable work out the same muscles. In my case switching between the two might simply act as a psychological incentive, after all I do have more fun with cable than barbell/dumbell.

I did train but that was so long ago that I completely lost touch but I do remember that the machine rather than bells brought a bigger sense of accomplishment.



Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:09 pm
by stuward
My opinion:

The more unstable the exercise is, the more the stabilizer muscles come into play. Doing machines only, will not work the stabilizers, only allowing the prime movers to come into play. This doesn't lead to functional, useful strength and leaves gaps in your training that could potentially cause injuries. Going too far on the unstable continum you get to situations where the prime movers are never trained and you actually get weaker. Think of bosu ball, etc.

The sweet spot is training with barbells and dumbbells. You build useful strength. You prevent injuries and the strength is transferable to real life situations. Cables and machines can provide variety, but the bulk of your training should be basic compound movements with free weights.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:15 pm
by jtw
24fps wrote: JTW: Would you suggest to stick to barbell/dumbell or alternate between different methods on a say a monthly basis.
The emphasis should be primarily on the barbells and dumbbells (free weights) vs machines, but read this about changing up your routines:

For example, the weight you can bench press is significantly less than the weight you use on a chest press lever machine, because balancing the barbell depends on all the smaller stabilizing muscles and not just the main muscle used for the machine chess press. In real life, you need to use those stabilizing muscles too. (as Stu mentions).

I used to use the machines since I didn't really understand the free weights, but now I am much happier with the results and I only use the machines when there's a long line for the equipment.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:21 pm
by 24fps
Believe me I am not bent on building a program with machines, it was merely because on a psychological level I found it more gratifying.

In any case this is really insightful and practical advice, thanks Stuward!

By what you are saying I guess I should gradually mix free weigths and cables/machines, just to make sure there is a perfect balance between primes and stabilizers but for now, since I am beginning again I should focus more on stabilizer, right?


Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:26 pm
by stuward
I would do the type of exercise that gives me the biggest return for my time and effort. Free weights do that the best. Machines are easier to learn so its sometimes easier to start there and move to free weights later. The investment in learning to use free weights effectively will pay off faster than wasting too much time with machines.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:41 pm
by Rucifer
I think a distinction should be made between cable exercises vs machines. Machines which restrict the motion to one exact path are the thing to avoid. Some cable exercises can actually be useful (the seated row comes to mind). But I agree in saying the bulk of a strength workout should be free weight based.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:54 pm
by 24fps
Well that sounds pretty good to me, thank you both.

Now I am curious as to how would be the best approach to master the free weights? Any particular method you use that is effective?

Keep in mind I am a novice and for the first six months (I should start training next week) I may be a bit cautious, I have an old hockey injury in my lower back.



Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:22 pm
by Rucifer
It's not so much the mastering of free weights, its the mastering of the exercises. And some exercises are harder to master than others (squats and deadlifts come to mind). Upper body movements are generally easier to learn and do correctly because they aren't as complicated. I would probably watch several reputable Youtube videos on each exercise and listen to the advice of folks on here. Or you could go and seek out a professional on the subject if you are really really into it.

I forgot to mention earlier- start slow and don't start out with too much weight.

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:17 pm
by stuward
Look through the stickies for the site on Starting Strength. It includes technique guides on the major exercises. Also look for the videos by Boris Bachman called SquatRx. It's a great series that helps you troubleshoot your squat technique.

Edit: ... ength_Wiki ... 8F10C4DE1F

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:08 pm
by 24fps
These are great links Stuward, thanks !!!

I guess I have a lot of reading and watching to do, once I start training I will get back on this board.

Thanks again for all the help.


Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:28 pm
by 24fps
Well tomorrow is the first day and I can't wait, no worries though I will be taking it slow.

I've chosen all the exercises for a 3-day program and yes 95% of them are free weights and they all look fun.

Now there is one last question that I would like to ask. What about reps?

I've perused the board and found all kinds of combination (2x 8-12, 4x10 3x15 etc.)

What would be the best one for a beginner like me, also a short explanation as to why that rep is the best would be nice.



Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:23 pm
by pdellorto
The reps depends on your goals. Generally, the lower the reps, the more of a strength adaptation you get. The higher, the more of an endurance adaptation. In the middle, you get more size.

Most of the combos total up around 24-30 reps. So you see a lot of 5 x 5, 3 x 10, 2 x 15, 8 x 3, 3 x 8, etc. That's "sets x reps" when I write it, by the way.

I blather on a bit more about this here. ... range.html
The Starting Strength link is broken but I can't find one for that pdf that works right now, sadly. The other one is probably sufficient.

If you're a beginner and you're totally unsure, I'd go with 5 x 5. There are a few ways to do it. Lyle McDonald blogged about it here: ... ogram.html can scroll down to his "Beginner 5X5/Ascending Ramp" section and give it a read. It explains a good basic 5 x 5 quite nicely.

Hope that helps,