I was wondering if I could get some ideas as to why I have stopped gaining strength and size at the gym. And hopefully get some tips about what I should change/try now.
I’m 180cm / 5’11", 78kg, in my late 20s and I started lifting consistently about one year ago. Before I started going to the gym, I weighed about 67-69kg. So without much exercise, my body shape is average to lean.
I have a weekly workout routine that I stick to pretty strictly (for the last six months or so ). It’s a bit all over the place as I made it up on my own - incorporating a few random tips and ideas from other people. Sorry about the minute details of my routine, just wanted to be thorough. I have a two minute rest between each set.
Is it a decent/shit routine? Do I just have to change things up a bit? Am I doing too much/too little? Are the weights wrong?
Anyway, here it is.
Monday; biceps and triceps in the afternoon after work. Takes about 50 Ã¢Â?Â? 60 mins.
Four sets of: 22 standing bicep curls with dumbbells (alternating arms), super-set with 24 standing tricep extensions with dumbbells (12 with one arm, then 12 with the other):
12.5kg w/ 12.5kg, 15kg w/ 15kg, 15kg w/ 15kg, 17.5kg w/ 12.5kg. I usually fail on rep 9 or 10 of the third set of tricep extensions.
Four sets of: 11 seated machine preacher curls (I do a four second negative rep with these), super-set with 12 standing tricep pushdowns with rope attachment.
30kg w/ 21.5kg, 35kg w/ 24kg, 35kg w/ 24kg, 40kg w/ 26.5kg. I usually fail on rep 8 or 9 on the second and third sets and also at rep 6 or 7 of the fourth set of the preacher curls. I have a rest for ~10 seconds then pump the remainder out.
Four sets of: 12 standing overhead cable curls, super-set with 20 bodyweight tricep dips.
12.5kg w/ bw, 15kg w/ bw, 15kg w/ bw, 17.5kg w/ bw. I usually fail on rep 8 or 9 of the fourth set of cable curls.
I finish with a drop-set of standing tricep pushdowns with rope attachment (each weight until failure).
Tuesday; shoulders in the morning before work. I do a body weight/cardio circuit on Tuesday afternoons. Takes about 45 mins.
Four sets of: 12 seated dumbbell shoulder presses, super-set with 12 standing dumbbell lateral raises.
20kg w/ 9kg, 22.5kg w/ 9kg, 22.5kg w/ 9kg, 20kg / no lateral raises this time. I usually fail on rep 9 or 10 of the third set of lateral raises.
Three sets of: 12 standing barbell shoulder/military presses, super-set with 12 dumbbell front raises (alternating arms).
45kg w/ 12.5kg, 40kg w/ 12.5kg, 40kg w/12.5kg. I struggle with these sets but generally donÃ¢Â?Â?t fail on anything.
Four sets of: 12 seated Arnold dumbbell presses, super-set with 24 standing low-pulley deltoid raises (12 on one arm, then 12 on the other).
15kg w/ 6.5kg, 17.5kg w/ 6.5kg, 17.5kg w/ 6.5kg, 15kg w/ no deltoid raises this time. I usually fail on rep 9 or 10 of the third set of Arnold presses, and rep 10 of the third set of deltoid raises.
Wednesday; chest in the afternoon after work. Takes about 60 mins.
Four sets of: 12 dumbbell bench presses, super-set with 24 push ups.
27.5kg w/ pus, 30kg w/ pus, 30kg w/pus, 32.5kg w/ pus. I sometimes fail on the last few reps of set four.
Four sets of: 12 bent arm double pullovers, super-set with 24 push ups.
27.5kg w/ pus, 30kg w/pus, 30kg w/ pus, 30kg w/pus. I struggle towards the end, but donÃ¢Â?Â?t usually fail.
Four sets of: 12 decline dumbbell flys, super set with 24 push ups.
15kg w/ pus, 15kg w/ pus, 15kg w/ pus, 15kg w/ pus.
Four sets of: 12 standing cable chest press, super-set with 24 push ups. IÃ¢Â?Â?m pretty sure my technique with the cable chest presses is wrong. ItÃ¢Â?Â?s like a mix between the cable chest press and a cable cross where I squeeze/tense my chest when my arms are at full extensionÃ¢Â?Â¦but it seems to work.
13.5kg w/ pus, 16kg w/ pus, 16kg w/pus, 16kg w/ no push ups for the last set.
Thursday; rest day or more cardio/legs.
Friday; back and biceps in the afternoon after work. Takes about 50 Ã¢Â?Â? 60 mins.
Four sets of: 10 body weight pull-ups, super-set with 24 standing dumbbell curls (alternating arms).
10pus w/ 12.5kg, 10pus w/ 15kg, 10pus, w/ 15kg, 10 pus w/ 17.5kg. I usually fail at rep 18 of the curls on set four.
Four sets of: 12 seated lat pull-downs, super-set with 11 seated machine preacher curls (I do a four second negative rep with these).
68kg w/ 30kg, 68kg w/ 30 kg, 68kg w/ 35kg, 68kg w/ 35kg. I usually fail at rep 7 Ã¢Â?Â? 9 on each set of the preacher curls. I have a rest for ~10 seconds then pump out the rest.
Four sets of: 12 seated rows (machine), super-set with 22 dumbbell hammer curls (alternating arms).
97kg w/ 12.5kg, 97kg w/ 15kg, 97kg w/ 15kg, 97kg w/ 17.5kg.
And thatÃ¢Â?Â?s pretty much it for the week. I will sometimes to a leg workout on the weekend or Thursday afternoon.
Really appreciate any responses.
There are many potential reasons for stalled progress. However, if I had to guess as to why someone who’s been lifting seriously for 6-12 months is now experiencing a slowdown in the rate of strength/physique improvements, I would say it’s because they’ve topped out their proverbial ‘noob gains.’
So far as the program itself is concerned, allow me to summarize it:
Mon: 12 sets of biceps; 13 sets of triceps
Tues: 22 sets of exercises for the front and/or lateral head of the delts
Wed: 32 sets of chest (none of which targets the upper pecs)
Thurs: MAYBE legs
(Also, note that while your upper-body plan is detailed down to the tenth of a kilo, there’s not a SINGLE word about Leg work.)
Fri: 12 sets of back; 8 sets of biceps; 4 sets of brachialis/brachioradialis. Each back set is supersetted with an exercise that fatigues one of the ‘weak link’ muscles in pulling movements (ie, the biceps, briachialis, brachioradialis, grip)
Now, you tell me: Is this a balanced routine? If not, what’s being over-emphasized, and what’s being neglected? Does the way exercises are combined seem optimal?
Thanks for your reply.
I can see what you’re getting at. My knowledge of the muscles in each group is fairly limited but I assume it is best to work on each muscle in the groups evenly - especially for beginners. From the way you have explained the workout, I haven’t been…and I think it would be very useful to have some sort of diagram that shows the main muscles in each group and then a list of exercises that target those specific muscles in the groups.
From what you’ve pointed out, I think…
Biceps/Triceps on Monday is basically ok.
I’m probably not getting all the muscles in the shoulder group, and doing too much on the ones I do hit.
Chest…too many sets and I need to hit upper pecs in there somehow (inclined bench press?).
Make more of an effort to do legs.
With Fridays, my thinking was I could kill two birds with one stone…if I super-set back with biceps I could 1) get another workout for biceps in my weekly routine, and 2) by doing biceps, I would sort of tire them out and not use them to compensate during my back exercises (I would engage my back muscles more). But…no?
For my basic level, to fix my routine, is it now as simple as finding out what the main individual muscles in each group are >> then finding exercises for those muscles >> then editing my current workouts to make sure I hit each of those muscles? I imagine at more advanced levels there would be other variables to consider…but whatever they are, would I have to worry about them just yet?
60% of your muscular potential is from the waist down. That means 60% of your metabolic and hormonal potential are also from the waist down.
Arms and chest are around 15-16%
You’re spending the vast majority of your time on 15-16% of your potential, some of your time on 34-35% (but not programming it well), and probably none on 60%. If you’ll program according to those percentages, you’ll be pretty darned close to a perfectly constructed routine.
Your shoulder day doesn’t include rear delt work, and you’re doing way too many sets. Pick three lifts- one for each delt head- and do 3-5 sets of each. If it absolutely, positively has to be brutal (and way more effective than anything else I’ve tried), do John Meadows’ Mountain Dog Shoulders. Alternate sets with some other body part, or work them after chest (in which case, choose two lateral head moves and one rear head)
Put some heavy stuff in there. 5 reps or less, but make sure your form is perfect. Not because you should be a perfectionist form nazi or for some BS safety garbage, but because each lift is designed to work a certain muscle or muscle group. If your form goes to crap, it’s because the target muscle(s) failed.
Some other points:
Heavy barbell cheat curls are unmatched for biceps size. Do those first. Cross-body hammer curls (perfect form with a 10 second static hold at the end of each set) are unmatched for brachialis size. Do those second.
Stretch. Sounds stupid, I know, but if you study the routines of the greats from the Golden Era, you’ll find that most of them were almost as dedicated to stretching as they were to lifting.
I noticed you’re doing straight sets for a lot of lifts. Try ramping up to your top weight on the first lift, and then doing reverse pyramids from there. Ex:
Barbell cheat curls - two warmup sets - 45lbsx10
Two ramp sets - 70lbsx2, 100lbsx2
Top set - 120x5-8
Reverse pyramid sets - 105x8, 90x8, 80x8
Cross-body hammer curls - reverse pyramid
45sx8, 40sx8, 35sx10, 35sx8 10 second static hold at the end of each set
And then do whatever else you want to do (concentration, incline, preacher, etc) starting with the heaviest weight you can do for 12-15 reps and reducing the weight each set, staying within that 12-15 rep range. Stretch the biceps hard for 30 seconds between these sets.
Since this is posted in the Beginners section, I’ll just assume you don’t really know what you’re doing. Maybe add some compounds or just follow some basic linear progression type program (starting strength, ICF 5x5, etc). You’re 1.8m, 78kgs. Eat big, lift big.
Is your goal to get stronger, gain muscle, both or something else?
If it’s both then you need to focus on compound movements. If you want to get stronger in specific movements then you have to learn to fire as many muscles as possible while executing that movement. That gives the added benefit of training as many muscles as possible and helping them all grow.
If you’re into aesthetics, take a look at how much people weigh for being 5’11" to get an idea of the amount of muscles needed to reach your physique goal. Also keep in mind that if you want to gain size and you’ve stopped gaining weight, you might need to eat more.