Advice on Gaining Strength & Leaning Out

I’ve been training for about 1 year. I started with SL5x5 program and made some good gains after 6 months. I got bored though and didn’t want to have that stand in my way. I switched to a circuit style lifting program I made (below):
Circuit 1:
BP 8x75%1RM
Pend Row 10x70%1RM
EzCurl 12 reps (last 2 difficult, progressing)
OHP 8x75%1RM
Seated Row 12 reps (last 2 very difficult, progressing)
Rope pull down 12reps (last 2 difficult, progressing)
Circuit 2:
Inclined DB press 12 reps@65lb each hand
Deadlift 8x75%1RM
Hammer Curl 12xdifficult last 2

I alternate circuits 3-5 days/wk. Squats have dropped out because I have ankle mobility issues due to an injury requiring screws, which just hurts and swells if I keep going with them and at 36 I need to be able to walk well for work. My goals include increased strength and leaning out, but I also like the cardio aspect of the circuit training. My circuits go for 3-4 cycles, 1 minute between exercises and 3 minutes between cycle sets; about 30-45 mins total. What else could I add to this to make it more balanced? I have a garage gym with a cage w/pully system, ez curl bar, tricep ext bar, 2 barbells and lots of plates. Any advice?

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Probably avoid whipping up your own program after only 6 months of training. It takes time following other programs to understand what you’re doing and why.

Strength work and circuits don’t really go hand-in-hand because heavy lifts tend to require more setup and recovery. That being said, you can always do a strength base program like 5/3/1 and add on any circuit work you want to do… something like crossfit WODs or other HIIT stuff goes along with it well.


CT has a couple of programs based around circuit style training that might suit what you’re already doing better.

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You could add in one or two “strength days” per week, where you don’t do the circuits, to focus more on moving weights up and getting stronger.

If you want to get stronger you can do the “main lift” of the day with regular straight sets to get stronger. Then do the assistance stuff circuit style for the fun and cardio.

You could also check out some of Brian Alshrue’s ewe-tube stuff. He is big into “Strength Circuits” where the main lift (with heavier weights and lower reps) is worked into the circuit with the assistance exercises, plus some conditioning. That stuff is intense, and lots of guys love it.

Maybe somebody remembers one particular video or post where he lays the detailed scheme out.

If you’re trying to get some Legs back into the routine you could try box squats, or belt squats, with a more hip dominant, sit-back style that keeps your shins vertical and doesn’t make your ankles bend.

Or maybe something like Step Ups where you can keep a vertical shin. Or backwards sled drags where you ankles bend “backwards” instead of “forwards.”

I see curls, where are the Triceps moves?

There are a lot of barbell, two arms at the same time lifts. If you were looking to add in some one-sided, isolateral work you could set up one barbell in the corner like a Land Mine and bang out 1 armed rows and presses and stuff. Maybe you could even try a “Lumber Jack Squat” with the landmine, to keep those vertical shins, if you wanted to mess with it.

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