T Nation

Another Newbie

Hello! After lurking here for about a week I can’t resist posting any longer.

First of all I am very happy I found this site. There seems to be a ton of good information here with just the right amount of skepticism.

Now, I have been working out for about a week and a half and I would like a little critique to make sure I am not wasting my time.

First my stats:
Age: 33
Height: 5’9"
Weight: 215
Bodyfat %: I don’t know. I know I’m getting fat. I don’t have a ton of muscle under here either.

My goal is simply to build muscle and lose fat. I don’t really know how much muscle equals what weight at my height so I really don’t have a weight goal. I would like to eventually get fairly big.

Here is the program I have been doing:

Workout #1
Bench Press
Incline Press
Straight Arm Pullovers
Chin-Ups
Bent-Over Rows
*Deadlift
Crunches

Workout #2
Clean and Press
Lateral Raises
Shrugs
*Push Presses
Barbell Curls
Seated Dumbbell Curls
Closes-Grip Press
Standing Triceps Extensions
Wrist Curls
Reverse Wrist Curls
Reverse Crunches

Workout #3
Squats
Stationary Lunges
Leg Curls
Calf Raises

  • Straight-Leg Deadlift
    Crunches

The ones with the * are done at 3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
Abs are done at 5 sets of 25 reps(I can’t do the full amount of Reverse Crunches yet)
Calves are done at 5 sets of 15 reps
The rest are done at 4 sets of 15, 10-12, 8-10, 6 reps

Because I work a weird 2 week schedule (with 12 hour work days) I have arranged do them in an odd 2 week configuration:

Week 1:
Sun: Off
Mon: Workout #1
Tue: Workout #2
Wed: Workout #3
Thu: Reverse Crunches Only
Fri: Workout #1
Sat: Workout #2

Week 2:
Sun: Workout #3
Mon: Off
Tue: Reverse Crunches Only
Wed: Workout #1
Thu: Workout #2
Fri: Workout #3
Sat: Reverse Crunches Only

Some of you may notice that this is nearly straight out of the basic training section of Arnie’s Bodybuilding Encyclopedia. I had to arrange to workout days to fit me and I replaced the Heavy Upright rows with Shrugs, and the Lunges with Stationary Lunges (for now). I also took out the Good Mornings.

I have been getting close to 200 grams of protein a day. I usually eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast but I mostly eat chicken and frozen vegetables with semi-frequent servings of red beans and rice. (I can’t help myself) I’d say my carb intake is between 100 and 150 somewhere. Historically I have been able to lose or gain fat fairly easily so I am not TOO restrictive of my carbs.

I have been taking Fish Oil and use protein powder but those are all the “supplements” I use.

So of course I’m wondering if this sounds OK and if there is any tweaking I need to do.

Should I be bothering with Fish Oil and how much should I be taking? Right now I get 2400 mg a day.

And finally, I realize gains are very individual but I’m wondering how long it should take to notice a significant difference?

Welcome to T-Nation! Congratulations on beginning a workout routine.

I would like to give you some advice that almost all “experts” would give you. In fact, it’s one thing that powerlifters and bodybuilders can agree on.

Beginners need to get proficient at doing compound exercises and should do them frequently. You can get away with this because you are weak right now compared to where you will be in a year if you keep at it. Doing a bunch of isolation exercises will likely be counterproductive to your goals right now. You need to build up strength on the big compound lifts before you start splitting it up.

For a beginner, the best choices are either a 3 day per week full body routine or a 4 day per week lower/upper split.

Make sure you are performing a lot of bodyweight exercises as a beginner. Push ups, bulgarian squats, pillars and side pillars are all good exercises for a beginner. You can do these on off days when you are watching television.

The best compound exercises are squats, front squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, lunges, bench press, incline press, close grip bench press, dips, military press, pull ups, chin ups, bent-over rows and t-bar rows.

As for your diet, you say you are getting 200 grams of protein per day and 100-150 grams of carbohydrates. You didn’t mention fat intake. Between your protein and carbohydrate intake, you are getting from 1,200 to 1,400 calories.

Let’s say you are consuming 50 grams of fat per day, which is a fair estimate considering you stated that you eat eggs and oatmeal in the morning and chicken and vegetables throughout the rest of the day. That makes your total calorie intake between 1,650 and 1,850 per day.

Not only do you need more calories, you would probably do better with a little more protein and definitely more healthy fats. More fish oil, flax oil, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, olives, avocadoes and natural peanut butter.

Here is the routine I would do if I were in your shoes but had my knowledge and experience:

Day One

back squat
sumo deadlift
bench press
t-bar row
incline press

Day Two

front squat
lunge
close grip bench press
chin ups or underhand grip pulldown
dips or bench dip

Day Three

back squats
deadlifts
bench press
pull ups or lat pulldown
military press

Three sets of 6 to 12 reps on each exercise. Move up in weight over time. A couple of incline treadmill sessions per week will do you well too. Start off with 2 days of 15 minutes, work your way up to 3 days of 30 minutes.

[quote]bretc wrote:
Welcome to T-Nation! Congratulations on beginning a workout routine. [/quote]

Thank you!

[quote]I would like to give you some advice that almost all “experts” would give you. In fact, it’s one thing that powerlifters and bodybuilders can agree on.

Beginners need to get proficient at doing compound exercises and should do them frequently. You can get away with this because you are weak right now compared to where you will be in a year if you keep at it. Doing a bunch of isolation exercises will likely be counterproductive to your goals right now. You need to build up strength on the big compound lifts before you start splitting it up.[/quote]

So, no curls, tricep extensions etc.? I wasn’t aware that those would HURT my progress right now.

When I first laid out my schedule I was thinking that a 3 day/week routine wouldn’t work so well. On most days I work I literally have NO time. By the time I got home, shower and get ready for bed I barely can manage 7 1/2 hours of sleep. After looking again I realize that it would work just fine.

I actually PLANNED on doing things like that, but I simply spaced it off!

I love doing the compound movements. (Deadlifts are my favorite) For the time being, I have to rely on working out at home. What is a good barbell/dumbell replacement for the t-bar rows? I am doing bent over dumbell rows right now. Are those not good enough?

[quote]As for your diet, you say you are getting 200 grams of protein per day and 100-150 grams of carbohydrates. You didn’t mention fat intake. Between your protein and carbohydrate intake, you are getting from 1,200 to 1,400 calories.

Let’s say you are consuming 50 grams of fat per day, which is a fair estimate considering you stated that you eat eggs and oatmeal in the morning and chicken and vegetables throughout the rest of the day. That makes your total calorie intake between 1,650 and 1,850 per day.

Not only do you need more calories, you would probably do better with a little more protein and definitely more healthy fats. More fish oil, flax oil, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, olives, avocadoes and natural peanut butter. [/quote]

OK! I admit it! I am a little nervous about gaining more fat. How many more calories do you think I should shoot for?

[quote]Here is the routine I would do if I were in your shoes but had my knowledge and experience:

Day One

back squat
sumo deadlift
bench press
t-bar row
incline press

Day Two

front squat
lunge
close grip bench press
chin ups or underhand grip pulldown
dips or bench dip

Day Three

back squats
deadlifts
bench press
pull ups or lat pulldown
military press

Three sets of 6 to 12 reps on each exercise. Move up in weight over time. A couple of incline treadmill sessions per week will do you well too. Start off with 2 days of 15 minutes, work your way up to 3 days of 30 minutes.
[/quote]

I do like the look of that. Nice and simple.

[quote]
So, no curls, tricep extensions etc.? I wasn’t aware that those would HURT my progress right now. [/quote]

This is a confusing topic, because one would initially think that adding in a couple sets of isolation exercises wouldn’t hurt much…and I agree. However, where do you draw the line?

curls, hammer curls, reverse curls, concentration curls, overhead extensions, kickbacks, cable extensions, skull crushers, reverse extensions, lateral raises, front raises, rear delt raises, reverse pec deck, flies, incline flies, crossovers, pullovers, straight arm pulldowns, shrugs, prone shrugs, calf raises, leg extensions, lying leg curls, seated leg curls, standing leg curls, back extensions, revers hypers, glute ham raises, crunches, leg raises, side bends, wrist curls, wrist extensions…the list goes on and on and on.

These isolation exercises don’t add much in the way of strength compared to what the big compund movements can do for you and they can actually hamper your strength gains by drawing from your recovery abilities and preventing you from training with optimal frequency. Down the road, when your strength increases, add some of them in for hypertrophy.

[quote]
What is a good barbell/dumbell replacement for the t-bar rows? I am doing bent over dumbell rows right now. Are those not good enough?[/quote]

You can do t-bar rows with a barbell. You might be confusing t-bar rows with chest-supported t-bar rows. T-bar rows are performed by straddling a barbell with one end loaded and the other end wedged in a corner. You will need a seated-row (v) handle though.

Dumbbell rows are a good alternative to throw in from time to time too. Dumbbells allow you to retract your scapulae further than the barbell version, which makes it wise to perform them from time to time.

You can also do one arm rows and band seated rows from time to time if you purchase some jump stretch bands. Band seated rows are my favorite back exercise right now because of the contraction I get in the retracted position. I like them more than the machine version.

[quote]
OK! I admit it! I am a little nervous about gaining more fat. How many more calories do you think I should shoot for? [/quote]

This is also tricky. Some people just have incredibly slow metabolisms. I will tell you, however, that increasing your caloric intake to help support endocrine function while simultaneously increasing energy expenditure in the form of HIIT usually results in a greater percentage of fat being used for energy rather than muscle. In other words, eat more, train more, look better.

You need more days off lifting dude. Perhaps some days just where you rest or do cardio…

Too complicated. Too soon. Too often.

Workout A:

Full Squats
15 degree Incline Bench Press
Military Press (BB or DB)
Shrugs
Chin Ups

Workout B:

Deadlifts
Dips
Lateral Raises
Shrugs
Seated Rows

Don’t even think about all those other exercises you listed. Throw in one set of curls and one triceps set if you feel you have to work your arms directly, which you don’t as a beginner. Alternate workouts. 3 days per week. 15 reps Monday, 5 reps Wednesday, 10 Reps Friday. Do as many sets of each as you can in 45 minutes. Cardio Tuesday and Thursday. Clean up your diet. You didn’t get to 215 eating clean.

Get 8 hours sleep. Limit stress as much as possible. Workout in the gym, don’t BS. Spend the first month working on your form, not on how much you can lift. If you get injured, it will likely be due to poor form. You can’t work out if your hurting.

Never read another thing about or by Ahnold again (or for at least 5 years).

You’ll be fine.

You said you’ve been lurking around here for a week then I have to assume you’ve read Are you a beginner? It has pretty much all the info you’re gonna need to get started. Including training and all the nutritional stuff ya need to get started.

I think Total Body Training by Chad Waterbury is a great program to get started on…

Here’s the link…

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=508031