T Nation

Am I Lost in a New BB World?

Greetings All. I have been reading here for the past 6 weeks and I have become so uncertain of what I learned over the years, I am scared I may need to abandon most of what I know and start over. I am looking for advice to improve what I do, or assurance that I am not all that lost. I will try to truncate this so bear with me if I leave facts out.

I am 35 years old and returning to the gym after not working out for about 3 years. The last time I read books/magazines and changed my routine was around the time MetRX or phosphagen first came out. I was an avid reader of Muscle Media 2000 at the time. I haven’t seen anything like MM 2000 since the old days when it was good, until I recently stumbled across this site. I never thought there would be anything like MM 2000 again, but here I found it. and with it I have again found my infatuation with body building.

As I read the boards here I see much talk that has me questioning myself. Things like total body workouts several times a week, not training to failure, doing less in terms of sets/reps, more compound exercises than concentration, down the rack more often than I thought possible, are kind of foreign to me.

The routine I developed was after years of work and testing and reading. I always thought it was rock solid and simply could not be improved upon. I have always gotten great results on it, and now I am questioning it. I learned to “feel” my workouts rather than think and analyze them as some of what I read here seems to do. 1 second up, 2 seconds or longer down. down important, up not so important. The list goes on and on.

I am used to living by an acronym that had always been my body building gospel:

F.I.T.:

Form
Intensity
Diet
(I know it is not perfect, but I didnt create it)

I understood going to the gym and pouring on the pressure, going past failure to down right masochism. Lift to fatigue, cheat the weight up then let it down real slow in perfect form, go down the rack, forced negatives from time to time. Every do squats to total failure? Its hell not being able to stand up no matter how hard you try.

If I felt or saw signs of overtraining then back off, if I felt like doing more than I probably could and would. I recall reading in “Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding” that when a body part is lagging behind, you must train it as if your life depend on it. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I had always been considered knowledgeable in fitness by peers, and always thought I knew what I was doing and talking about. Now I am not so sure.

Anyhow, here is my routine, whatchya think? Am I lost or not?

3 Day split:

Day 1: Chest, Biceps, Abs
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: legs, triceps (abs work added later)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Back, Shoulders (supplemental ab work added later)
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest

For chest, Bicep, Tricep, Back, Shoulders, I do 3 different exercises per body part, 4 sets per exercise, 5-7 reps. Weight adjusted appropriately.

An example of chest may be 4 sets flat bench 5-7 reps, 4 sets incline 5-7 reps, 4 sets decline 5-7 reps dropping weight on the last set of each exercise after failure and doing more, as I “feel” good doing. Maybe even some negatives or forced reps/cheat reps depending on my feeling.

For legs I do same thing all the time: 4 sets of each: squats, leg press, leg curl, leg extension, & calf raises.

For Abs: I focus on Day 1 with 2 different exercises, about 3 sets to some sort of Ab failure pain level. I add abs to each day on as I get more able to do more in my workouts.

My goal has always been to build big strong muscles and burn any fat through lifting and diet. I never had any benefit from cardio, so never did it religously outside of trying to remain active throughout the day.

When I first came back to the gym 6 weeks ago, I aimed for 12-15 reps, and did only 4 sets per body part. Each week I increased sets/exercises, decreased reps to what is above. As I progress week after week, the intensity of each set/exercise also increases. 6 months - 1 year+ I may add focus on another body part like forearms, or an area that is lagging behind.

Do I/should I alter my routine?

That is not a bad or great workout–IMO.

But I read in there about thinking that it could not be improved. Let me be the first to tell you, ANY routine can be improved. First and formost, everything works and nothing works forever. This is important.

I used to work splits, like most of us over 35-40, but have really come to like my full body workouts. I still mix things up, but look forward to the full body turns. When I do splits now, I generall go with upper and lower body and work in planes. It seems to work for me.

So–change things up. Experiment. See how you like it. I enjoy working the bodyparts more than once a week. But I also like the old pure leg days. I mean what was better than like 15-20 sets of legs. Wow, I wish I was 20 again----sometimes!

Nothing’s wrong per se as long as it produces results and doesn’t lead to injury. Ideas about what works best are always changing, and there will always be some new method that everyone and his brother are doing. The current trend here has been toward total body workouts and compound movements.

Though lately I’ve been reading some dissenting opinions, so for all I know things will eventually swing back to body part splits and isolation movements. Just remember, extremists are always the most vocal, but they’re in the minority.

Most of us take advantage of all the great training protocols out there.

Let’s not forget that the psychology of training is probably the most important factor in one respect. If thinking you have worked out the one and only optimal routine is what keeps you training hard and motivated, then it is, indeed, the one and only optimal routine for you. Is everyone else going to agree? Never, no matter what your routine is. If you’ve been reading the mags for years then you already know that someone somewhere has gotten big doing any damn thing you can think of.

I read something by Ian King (I highly recommend his training methods) once along the lines of asking yourself why you train. If you’re training for results, then experiment on yourself and do whatever gets you the best results regardless of what anyone else does. If you’re training to meet emotional needs (the need to feel fit, the need to feel like you’re doing something positive in your life, etc.) then do whatever meets those needs.

Let me illustrate from my own experience. I used to train like an animal for two hours a night, Monday through Friday and I loved the way it made me feel. After reading one of his articles, I decided to try training for only one hour a night, every other day and lo and behold, I started making better gains, even though it sort of felt like I was wimping out compared to my previous training methods. But I’m in it for the results, so I have to go with what gets me those results, not with what meets my emotional need to feel like I’m training like an animal.

For me, if a routine gets me results, it’s a good routine but I’m always willing to try new things that make sense to me (and even a few that don’t). I also enjoy variety, so I change my routines every few weeks and try different exercises. Some become more or less permanent parts of my training and some fall by the wayside, even if some bodybuilding god swears by them. I do what works for me and that is the only thing that matters to me. Others feel differently and that’s ok too. Hell, some people die from taking aspirin so it is crazy to think that just because we’re all human that the same things affect us all the same way.

I’m hearing in your post that feeling like you’ve got it all figured out is important to you, so do whatever it takes to meet that goal. I’d say you’re on the right track for that already.

Thanks for the responses all. It is reassuring to get feedback I am not way off track.

I have actually been thinking lately about trying out one of the total body workouts I keep hearing about here. What I am currently doing takes about 2 hours per session, which is 6 hours a week in the gym. I am thinking this routine http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=508031

looks easy enough to give a shot at.

I originally backed out of total body training because it took too long for me (I was using mostly concentration exercises) and I would become exhausted and my intensity would drop.

I can’t imagine having better reults than what I currently have (my gains are fast because of muscle memory), but if I can get the same results in 3 hours a week, not burn out 1-2 years from now, it sounds like its definitely worth a shot. Not to mention if I can get even better results up to where I was and can continue good gains beyond that.

Yea, I definitely need to experiement and read more. I actually tried a recorery week this week for the first time. Heh, dont like it so far.

I don’t suppoes anyone wants to post their total body routine, or even any suggestion on how I can improve what I am currently doing.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Pete

Waterbury’s TBT that you linked to is a good framework. You could run this for a long time without getting stale by occasionally changing up the exercises.

You might like to have a look at this one as well:
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=960811

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
Thanks for the responses all. It is reassuring to get feedback I am not way off track.

I have actually been thinking lately about trying out one of the total body workouts I keep hearing about here. What I am currently doing takes about 2 hours per session, which is 6 hours a week in the gym. I am thinking this routine http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=508031

looks easy enough to give a shot at.

I originally backed out of total body training because it took too long for me (I was using mostly concentration exercises) and I would become exhausted and my intensity would drop.

I can’t imagine having better reults than what I currently have (my gains are fast because of muscle memory), but if I can get the same results in 3 hours a week, not burn out 1-2 years from now, it sounds like its definitely worth a shot. Not to mention if I can get even better results up to where I was and can continue good gains beyond that.

Yea, I definitely need to experiement and read more. I actually tried a recorery week this week for the first time. Heh, dont like it so far.

I don’t suppoes anyone wants to post their total body routine, or even any suggestion on how I can improve what I am currently doing.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Pete[/quote]

Waterbury has a template for this workout. I suggest you follow that.

And it may have been a slip of the fingers, but, “looks easy enough” just might come back to bite you if you pick the appropriate poundages and keep the rests to the prescribed lengths. That minute starts to go by real fast.

[quote]sasquatch wrote:

Waterbury has a template for this workout. I suggest you follow that.

And it may have been a slip of the fingers, but, “looks easy enough” just might come back to bite you
[/quote]

Not a slip of the tongue. More like poor writing skills. I was thinking it will be easy for me to follow the routine, as well as create and implement the dividual exercise and all the other stuff to fit the outline of that workout. I am afraid I will need to bring a list of what I will be doing. I’ve been doing the same workout so long I dont even think about it.

I will definitely check out the Waterbury template you speak about. I’ve been looking for something like that. Sounds even better since you said it is physically challenging.

Pete

[quote]happydog48 wrote:
Let’s not forget that the psychology of training is probably the most important factor in one respect. If thinking you have worked out the one and only optimal routine is what keeps you training hard and motivated, then it is, indeed, the one and only optimal routine for you. Is everyone else going to agree? Never, no matter what your routine is. If you’ve been reading the mags for years then you already know that someone somewhere has gotten big doing any damn thing you can think of.

I read something by Ian King (I highly recommend his training methods) once along the lines of asking yourself why you train. If you’re training for results, then experiment on yourself and do whatever gets you the best results regardless of what anyone else does. If you’re training to meet emotional needs (the need to feel fit, the need to feel like you’re doing something positive in your life, etc.) then do whatever meets those needs.

Let me illustrate from my own experience. I used to train like an animal for two hours a night, Monday through Friday and I loved the way it made me feel. After reading one of his articles, I decided to try training for only one hour a night, every other day and lo and behold, I started making better gains, even though it sort of felt like I was wimping out compared to my previous training methods. But I’m in it for the results, so I have to go with what gets me those results, not with what meets my emotional need to feel like I’m training like an animal.

For me, if a routine gets me results, it’s a good routine but I’m always willing to try new things that make sense to me (and even a few that don’t). I also enjoy variety, so I change my routines every few weeks and try different exercises. Some become more or less permanent parts of my training and some fall by the wayside, even if some bodybuilding god swears by them. I do what works for me and that is the only thing that matters to me. Others feel differently and that’s ok too. Hell, some people die from taking aspirin so it is crazy to think that just because we’re all human that the same things affect us all the same way.

I’m hearing in your post that feeling like you’ve got it all figured out is important to you, so do whatever it takes to meet that goal. I’d say you’re on the right track for that already.[/quote]

great post

Pete

My 2 cents…

You’ve been out of the gym for a while, so you can expect decent gains from most any routine, as long as the volume and intensity are adequate.

This forum is notorius for loud-mouthed posters insisting that one way is crap and theirs is the only way. That applies to lifting, diet, etc.

I agree with the above poster who said you need to find what works for you eventually. And that will likely change as well as your body adapts.

Most of the reasonable guys/gals will admit that most of the stuff you read in the mags is just to sell magazines. The writers often invent or re-invent things just to keep their jobs. If you are willing to filter thru the crap posts, there are often very informative posters to be found. Just be wary of the guy that says his way is THE WAY.

Good lifting.

I know what you mean about thinking you have it wired tight and then finding this site. It’s almost TOO much information to digest. My routine looked a lot like yours and I have been doing a “total” body routine except I split upper and lower body into different days.

I was making some excellent progress until an injury jacked it up. I’ll tell you the one exercise that I never did that I now freakin love is the deadlift. Make sure you give those a try.

[quote]happydog48 wrote:
Let’s not forget that the psychology of training is probably the most important factor in one respect. If thinking you have worked out the one and only optimal routine is what keeps you training hard and motivated, then it is, indeed, the one and only optimal routine for you. Is everyone else going to agree? Never, no matter what your routine is. If you’ve been reading the mags for years then you already know that someone somewhere has gotten big doing any damn thing you can think of.

I read something by Ian King (I highly recommend his training methods) once along the lines of asking yourself why you train. If you’re training for results, then experiment on yourself and do whatever gets you the best results regardless of what anyone else does. If you’re training to meet emotional needs (the need to feel fit, the need to feel like you’re doing something positive in your life, etc.) then do whatever meets those needs.

Let me illustrate from my own experience. I used to train like an animal for two hours a night, Monday through Friday and I loved the way it made me feel. After reading one of his articles, I decided to try training for only one hour a night, every other day and lo and behold, I started making better gains, even though it sort of felt like I was wimping out compared to my previous training methods. But I’m in it for the results, so I have to go with what gets me those results, not with what meets my emotional need to feel like I’m training like an animal.

For me, if a routine gets me results, it’s a good routine but I’m always willing to try new things that make sense to me (and even a few that don’t). I also enjoy variety, so I change my routines every few weeks and try different exercises. Some become more or less permanent parts of my training and some fall by the wayside, even if some bodybuilding god swears by them. I do what works for me and that is the only thing that matters to me. Others feel differently and that’s ok too. Hell, some people die from taking aspirin so it is crazy to think that just because we’re all human that the same things affect us all the same way.

I’m hearing in your post that feeling like you’ve got it all figured out is important to you, so do whatever it takes to meet that goal. I’d say you’re on the right track for that already.[/quote]

This is a good post. Berardi said something similar in an old T-Nation post on his training, where he put satisfation and fun in training up there with results to keep him motivated.

To the original poster: I know how you feel. I was a PT at a McGym for 7 years, which means I know just enough about excercise to make me dangerous. I week on this site and I felt like I know nothing and many times I was doing more harm than good to my clients (I got out right when the “core stability” crazy started to take hold…here balance on this ball and curl when you are 23% bodyfat to engage your “core”…WTF?)

I can say for my body type, reduction in training volume and also a phased approach to training throughout the year has made a great deal of difference even at 34. Between that and my nutrition changes thanks to JB I am in better shape than at any other time in my life.