T Nation

1st Training Cycle of College

Hey guys,

I’m trying to plan my first training cycle for my first few months of college and this is what I have so far. It’s kind of a cross between a bunch of different programs. The main goal is to create a solid strength and size base by slowly increasing weights on some basic exercises and eating a whole lot. I’m not too worried about imbalances in development right now. I’ll worry about being delt dominant on the bench press later…

Here’s some basic information: I’m 17 years old, 5’10", 160 pounds, bodyfat just under 10% I think. I squat 225 for 5 reps, bench 200 for 5 reps, and deadlift 270 for 5 reps. I have trouble putting on weight so I eat a whole lot and I’m pretty anal about making sure what I eat is clean and making sure that I’ve got all my nutrients. For supplements, I just drink a whey, creatine, glutamine, and BCAA shake after training. Sometimes I’ll drink some BCAAs and glutamine before bed.

And just to be completely clear: My goal is to get very muscular and big, not to be super strong. However I recognize the need to be stronger and have a well-developed CNS before I can actually put on a serious amount of weight, and hopefully this routine is frequent enough for CNS efficiency, and will increase my strength, but also get me a bit bigger (although maybe not as big as a super hypertrophy program or whatever).

So here’s the split, nothing fancy.

Mon - quads, push
Tues - hams, pull
Wed - rest
Thur - quads, push
Fri - rest
Sat - hams, pull
Sun - rest

Workout A (quads, push)
(main exercises)
Back Squat 1-3 X 5
Flat Barbell Press 1-3 X 5
High-Incline Barbell Press 1-3 X 5
(auxilary exercises)
Close-Grip Barbell Press 1-2 X 8
Thick Bar Hold 60sec hold/60sec rest/30sec hold
Incline Reverse Crunches 2 X failure
Neck Raises 2 X 10-15

Workout B (hams, pull)
(main exercises)
Sumo Deadlift 1-3 X 5
Overhand Barbell Row 1-3 X 5
Neutral-Grip Pullups 1-3 X 5
(auxilary exercises)
Incline Barbell Shrugs 2 X 12
Lying Dumbbell Pullovers 2 X 12
Standing Calf Raises 2 X 10

I rest 2-4 minutes between sets (4 minutes for deadlifts and squats, 2-3 for most other stuff, sometimes only a minute for the auxilary exercises).

I lift explosively on the main exercises (as explosively as I can with a 5RM) and I lower under control, but not super slow or anything.

So this is how the cycle works:

I give myself about 3 weeks to work back up to the poundages I was using in my last cycle. So I start with 3 sets of 5 reps of about 85% of my previous 5RM. Each workout I increase the weight until I’m at my previous 5RM.

Then I start increasing the weight in even smaller increments, only 1-2 pounds per workout (so 2-4 pounds a week) with my nifty little .5lb and 1lb plates. When I can no longer increase the weight each week and reach the full 3 sets of 5 reps after two attempts, I decrease the number of sets to 2 sets of 5 reps and do the same until I can’t complete those 2 sets of 5 reps either after two workouts. Then I go down to just 1 set per exercise and remove all auxilary exercises. When the weights stall at this point, I end the cycle and take a couple weeks off, switch up the exercises (same movements, but with variation).

It is my hope that I’ll be able to increase my weights for each exercise by a good 20-25 pounds before the cycle ends. Hopefully, if I’ve eaten enough as well, I’ll have grown several pounds as well.

I’ve got to go now, but I can explain my exercise choices, as well as a better explanation of my long term goals in a future post.

Thanks in advance for any feedback. I’d like to know what you guys think. If any of the coaches want to post anything too, I’d be really happy…

Your workout has no shoulder presses… And I think if you are set on doing a total body type workout (Legs and Upper body in the same day) you should stick with the traditional M,W,F total body split. It has been proven time and time again to add lots of muscle. I really cannot understand the need to make a “cross between a bunch of different programs.” The traditional TBT and Split programs work very well so why change them?

Check this out

This is what I did when in college for my first year and made excellent gains:

Mon: Chest, Biceps
Tues: Quads
Weds: Off
Thurs: Shoulders, Triceps
Fri: Back, Hams
Weekend: Off

Check out the MAX-OT workout. I know several people personally who did this with me and got very strong and put on a lot of size. I gaioned about 15 lbs of muscle with this in my first year of school and put 75 lbs on my bench press. If your goal is to grow, make sure you keep your workouts under 60 minutes (45 mins is best IMO) and as intense as possible. Do not overtrain (more than 12 sets per bodypart is probably too much) and eat eat eat.

Here are some of the reasons I chose the exercises I did and also the variations I’ll try after I’m done with this cycle. If anyone knows of better exercises for the reasons I’m giving, just tell me.

Back Squat - It’s the Back Squat… you just do it. I might switch in the Leg Press or Front Squat later, but I’m not sure that those exercises have the same effect as the Back Squat because for one, you’re effectively seated, and for the other, you can’t use as much weight.

Flat Barbell Press - I’m still pretty young and weak and the Flat Barbell Press seems like the core horizontal pressing exercise that’ll help me handle the most weight and hit the right muscles. I think I’ll switch in the Low-Incline Barbell Press later, and maybe some Weight Dips, with emphasis on my chest.

High-Incline Barbell Press - This is my vertical pressing movement (the incline is pretty high, so it effectively mimics how far back I would lean if I was doing a standing overhead press). I chose it instead of the standard overhead press because my shoulders aren’t so flexible. I’m going to see what I can do for that and move into the Standing Overhead Barbell Press later, then maybe the Seated version or the Push Press.

Sumo Deadlift - I chose this version instead of the regular version because I’m under the impression that you end up using your legs more when you do a wide-stance. I will switch in the standard Deadlift and the Stiff-Legged Deadlift in later cycles.

Overhand Barbell Row - A core upper back exercise that require stabilizing yourself. I might try it underhand in later cycles or switch it with the Single Dumbbell Row.

Neutral-Grip Pullups - I’m told that this grip will involve the lower lats a little more. I really have no clue, but after I’m done with a set of them, I feel it solidly in my whole lat region. I’ll switch in Wide-Grip Pullups and Wide-Grip Pulldowns I think.

Close-Grip Barbell Press - For triceps. They’ll be tired by now so this exercise won’t be optimal, but it’s not one of the main exercises. I included it mostly because I want my tris a bit stronger for benching.

Thick Bar Hold - Grip strength and forearm muscles.

Incline Reverse Crunches - I find this exercise pretty tough; I can only get about 12-15 good reps out as of now and my abs are pretty sore the next day. I’m not big on ab or core training or whatever, so I figure if I feel these are eating into recovery time too much I’ll leave them out.

Neck Raises - Strong and big neck. I think this is how to do it…

Incline Shrugs - As sort of a finisher for my upper back. I hope these will also strengthen my deadlift.

Pullovers - Even if that whole chest expanding thing is bullshit, I like the stretch in my lats when I do this.

Calf Raises - Although I’m pretty sure that increasing my load on things like deadlifts and squats will make my calves grow, I like to train them using 8-10 rep sets followed by a fast-paced burnout bodyweight set. Builds character… and makes climbing stairs the next day interesting.

I’ve also decided to make a small change to the split and the lower body exercises because squatting monday, followed by deadlifts the next, will kill my lower back. Here’s what I’m going to do instead:

Mon - Quad/Push (squat)
Tues - Ham/Pull (glute/ham raise)
Wed - rest
Thur - Quad/Push (leg press)
Fri - Ham/Pull (sumo deadlift)
Sat - rest
Sun - rest

Also, I’m not going to start with 3 sets of the main exercises, I’m only going to start with 2, so I won’t be overreaching and so I will be able to add weight a bit faster.

The “cross between a bunch of different programs” isn’t entirely accurate haha

The idea of slowly increasing the weight on 5 or 6 big basic exercises, done once or twice a week, with low volume, came from Stuart McRobert. The Madcow 5X5 also suggests this, but 5 pounds every two workouts never really worked for me. The split was from an article by Thib. That’s about it haha

I’m stuck between going for a Mon, Wed, Fri split with the Quad/Push workout being A and the Ham/Pull being B and then alternating each and the 4 days a week I have now. My thoughts were since I plan on getting my diet and rest and supplements down perfectly (or as close to it as possible) that I’ll be able to do 4 days a week with the low volume (only 6 sets per workout of heavy lifting). And I will definitely be taking out any the auxilary exercises if I’m having trouble recovering each workout.

I’m not a fan of the Total Body Training thing by Mr. Waterbury because I think 25 reps is too much, and I prefer my progression to be just weight. Maybe mine isn’t so much hypertrophy oriented and maybe 1 or 2 pounds a workout isn’t really that much. But in 10 weeks, that could be 20 to 40 more pounds on my compound lifts. And I’ll grow from that.