My program, opinions?

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neal
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My program, opinions?

Post by neal » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:43 pm

Hello all,

I've been looking at exrx.net now for quite sometime and have been a lurker in the forums.

I've gotten to the point in my workouts that I am not sure about what to do and thus I figured I would bounce it off y'all and get your inputs in any.

Here are some stats...

I am 6'2"

In July 2009 I weighed 350 lbs. I started a half-hearted attempt to lose weight then.. In January I started in earnest and now I am at about 285 lbs and 27% BF.

I started out just performing cadio then I realized that my company paid for a wellness program which included a gym membership. So I did some fitness assessments and got a workout prescription. So I started lifting weights along with the cardio (I haven't lifted weights in about 12 years since I played football in HS). That was about 4 months ago. I started with a total body program which involved about 15 machines 60% of 1 RM for 15 reps two days a week. Eventually I moved up to three days a week and just in the last two weeks I changed to a push pull program going four days a week.

Now I have read lots of places about moving away from machines and getting into free weights, I decided to make that transition slowly where I think it is safe...

Goals:

#1 15-18% BF
#2 Decent upper body strength (really lack it)

And I see weight lifting right now as just another way to burn calories, also I started lifting weights just to tell my body "Hey, you might want to keep that..."

Here's what I do now...
Cadio -- 3 or 4 days on, 1 day off. 50 minutes on an elliptical trainer in the morning.

Warm up for weights, either treadmill (about 25 minutes) or elliptical (about 15 minutes).

Pull days. 3X10 (targeting 3X12 if I get there, increase weight by 5lbs for upper, 10 lbs for lower)
Lat Pull Down (life fitness machine)
Leg Curl (Hammer strength not plate loaded)
Row (Hammer strength MTS row not plate loaded)
Hip Abductor (life fitness machine)
Hip Adductor
Arm Curl (DBs -- my only free weights)
Shrug (on smith machine or the free motion pully step up machine)
Rear Fly (machine)... sometimes A little nervous about the shoulder use

Push Days: same rep/set discipline
Leg extension (machine)
Bench press (Hammer strength iso)
Leg Press OR Glute exercise
Incline press (Hammer strength)
Shoulder press
Calf Press
Lateral raise
tricep press

However, I read the article about low volume progressive intensity workouts the other day and gave it a shot on the pull day, I added in the high row machine because I had time, and I wanted another back exercise that wasn't rear row. I also am going to include a warm up set. So on this day I did a warm up set and lifted a regular set at about 20% - 30% higher for 8 reps (which was pretty hard).

So here's where I am, I am thinking about adjusting my weight work out to a blend of the low volume, progressive intensity and the one I have already been doing.

So it should look something like this..
Rest
Rest
Pull - Low volume
Push - Low volume
Rest
Pull - Regular
Push - Regular

I guess I am just wondering if I should stop tinkering with the workout and just go do it. I like the 4 days a week, and I think I like the higher intensity low volume workouts too.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Neal


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ApolytonGP
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Post by ApolytonGP » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:18 pm

Keep up the good work. Be safe and do what you are comfortable with. You're on the right path to fitness. Losing fat rocks!

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Post by frogbyte » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:21 pm

Add deadlifts. Also the leg extension machine might be the most dangerous piece of equipment in your average gym.

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Post by Jungledoc » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:36 pm

Good on ya. I have a few thoughts.

First, simplify the routines a bit. You list more exercises than you need to be doing in single workouts. Stick with the compound movements to get the most bang for your buck in the time you spend in the gym.

Second, do more for your lower body. Squat and all their variations, deadlifts, etc.

Third, the lever machines will not be as good for you as free weights. Start weaning yourself from the machines.

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Post by Han » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:33 pm

My recommendation: read the stickies.


neal
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Post by neal » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:10 pm

I probably should have mentioned that earlier in the year I had a disc in my lower back make itself known it was out of place... So I have been pretty leary about exercises that place unsupported pressure on the spine (squat and the like) or make the low back a fulcrum and subject the body to torques (bent over row, deadlift..). I would really like to eventually incorporate those into my routines, maybe later on this year as I drop more weight. The back thing has almost completely gone and I think it may have to do a lot with how much weight I lost and hopefully as I progress and lose the rest of the weight my disks will decompress. Well I guess I do transfer quite a bit of static load to the spine with the shrug exercises, I'll have to think about it.

To the note about the leg extension being dangerous... I guess you are referring to potential knee damage? Aside from squat, I suppose I could do some bodyweight or DB lunges as a sub in concert with leg presses? Or a glute machine that really exercises my quads?

And I know... about the stickies, this whole thing is really new to me (even though I lifted weights in high school...) and it is somewhat overwhelming. However, one thing that I have decided is that it feels really good to be physically active and especially lift weights. I am really enjoying it, a year ago, I would have laughed at you if you said I would enjoy it and I would become almost obsessed with it...

Thanks for all the encouragement and help.
Neal

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Post by ApolytonGP » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:37 pm

The prevailing attitude on this board is "Do Starting Strength". Very PL centric. That's OK. It's a point of view. But not the only one. Read around and make your own decisions. It's your body.

I advise you to put together a program that you feel is safe and that stresses your muscles for growth. Then stick to it (change if an issue, but don't change based on chasing betterness). Really any program will work for a beginner. Just pick one or develop one and follow it. Simple! Honest, program selection is NOT the main issue. Program adherance IS!

Read Lyle McDonald's site. he has a good 4 parter on beginning weight training.

also drop the fat. It is the simplest thing in the world. do it. your back doesn't excuse being fat. I know ladies in wheel chairs at NS that did no exercise and lost 100 pounds. Get slim.

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Post by Jungledoc » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:20 am

neal wrote:I probably should have mentioned that earlier in the year I had a disc in my lower back make itself known it was out of place... So I have been pretty leary about exercises that place unsupported pressure on the spine (squat and the like) or make the low back a fulcrum and subject the body to torques (bent over row, deadlift..). I would really like to eventually incorporate....
Several thoughts and suggestions.

Most importantly, you need to learn to do ALL EXERCISES (and in case you miss the emphasis, I'll repeat ALL EXERCISES) with a neutral spine. In fact, I should probably say something like "you need to learn to do LIFE with a neutral spine. Sitting, standing, moving. Hips level, gentle arch in the low back, only a gentle arch in the thoracic spine. Go find the Neanderthal No More articles over on T Nation, read them, and make them the basis of your exercise program for a few weeks or months.

Then learn to "lock your spine" by tightening all of your "core" muscles. Don't think about muscles, just learn to tighten your back and belly to keep that neutral position in your spine. The weight is only "unsupported" if you don't provide the support!

Squats should be incorporated early into your routine, but not necessarily weighted. There are two different approaches that you could take, and both at the same time would be the best. First is body-weight squats. You do these anyway several times per day when you get up out of a chair. Just learn to do them with good form, and then increase the reps. Start with a chair or box that is whatever height you can do comfortably. Sit on the edge, get your feet in good position and your spine neutral, then push down with your heels and stand up. Then keeping your spine neutral, sit down and stand up again. Don't let your knees flop in as you do it. As you sit down, push your butt back before your knees start to bend. Do a few sets of five, and then increase the reps. Eventually, start holding a dumbbell or kettlebell against your chest as you do them, and increase the weight slowly.

The second part of the squat equation can be belt-weighted squats. There are fancy belts and devices, but you wouldn't need them, at least not at first. I have a luggage strap that works well. You lash weight to your waist, and then squat.

Your description of deadlifts and GMs implies a basic misunderstanding. They don't "make the low back a fulcrum and subject the body to torques", as you put it. The spine and pelvis should move as a unit in the DL. Again, it's a movement that you do anyway when you reach down to pick something up off the floor. You need to learn to do it better, and then with more strength. If done properly the DL will help and protect your back. For goodness sakes, start with low weight--the bar or less. When you can do lots of them with decent form, then add weight. Your back will thank you!

And don't be doing rotational movements against resistance, or rotational stretches. THOSE will hurt you. You might look at http://bretcontreras.wordpress.com/2010 ... -in-vices/. The science isn't deep, although there's a lot in the article.

I'll quit now. It's squat day, and I need to get up there and do some.

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Post by KPj » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:35 am

ApolytonGP wrote:The prevailing attitude on this board is "Do Starting Strength". Very PL centric. That's OK. It's a point of view. But not the only one. Read around and make your own decisions. It's your body.
I think you miss the point with the general recommendations for beginners here. It's not "do SS and become a PL" (don't think there's many PL's on here anyway).

What we're really saying is, "learn the basics". The beauty of programs like SS is that they focus on the basics and are simple and easy to follow. Every exercise you can do is just a variation of the basics, which is why it's recommended by so many people to start with a program that focuses on them.

And yes, beginners can train like idiots and make progress. I was a poster boy for that and loads of experienced lifters I speak to are, too. However I wouldn't tell a beginner, "just train like an idiot - you'll make progress anyway"...

For the OP, i would go with Jungledocs recommendations. I would emphasis aswell that a squat is just 'sitting down and standing up', a DL is just 'picking something up off the floor' - you do these every day. Best place to start for you is to fix those movements, with just bodyweight. I wouldn't be rushing into heavy squats and DL's but I would prioritise fixing those movement patterns. Basically, learn how to use your hips.

KPj

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Post by neal » Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:10 am

Jungledoc, KPj thank you for the excellent words. I will certainly implement those items, makes a lot of sense.

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Post by neal » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:52 pm

So I changed up somethings...

I am very concerned about the back, so I added a freemotion V-Squat machine for my push day. So as a result the DOMS have made life pretty rough the past few days, I took care to stretch afterwards and stretching, but my quads and glutes basically useless chunks of meat until I can get them stretched...


I also went from a machine press to DB press. I am sure I provided much entertainment to gym vets that saw it. I was pretty amused at the lack of control/difficulty I had with the exercise, lifting the weight wasn't hard, keeping it in a straight line was non trivial. I figure I will give up the heavier resistance (on the machines) to try to develop for and then move my incline work and shoulder press work to DBs. Also, got some DOMS in the pecs/anterior delts. So I take DOMS as a good thing when I change things up... right?

Anyways, enough for tonight.
Neal

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Post by hoosegow » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:57 pm

No. DOMS sucks and is never a good thing. However, for a beginner it shows that you did something significant. Keep squatting.

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Post by pdellorto » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:05 pm

I get DOMS whenever I change exercises. Since they get changed on me week to week, I'm often sore after a workout. So I wouldn't worry too much about being sore after changing things up like you have.

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Post by evaino » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:01 pm

Jungledoc's right about learning to move without bending at the low back, and that deadlifts done right should involve a "hip hinge", not a bend at the back.

That said, if you really have a low back issue, then heavy squats and DLs may not be ideal for you. This might be a case where split squats then rear foot elevated split squats then single leg squats would be a good idea instead of weighted bilateral squats. Ditto, you can do single leg Romanian deadlifts instead of deadlifts for a great effect. But be careful of form.

As you switch from machines to freeweights, you might want to try to find someone - ideally a good trainer - to show you how to do them properly. I see so many bad squats and deadlifts at the gym it makes me cringe.

Sounds like you're making great progress with fat loss - keep at it!

Elsbeth

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Post by jml » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:11 pm

evaino wrote:
As you switch from machines to freeweights, you might want to try to find someone - ideally a good trainer - to show you how to do them properly. I see so many bad squats and deadlifts at the gym it makes me cringe.

Elsbeth
I completely agree. Even after reading Starting Strength it probably took me 5-6 months to get really comfortable with squat and deadlift form (and I'm still constantly working on squat form). I really wish I could've used my glutes and hamstrings correctly to begin with.


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