T Nation

Any Problems With My Plan

I’m a new poster here and new to lifting in general. Id like some opinions on my plans and goals, and suggestions about where to improve.

First, let me preface by saying that I’ve tried several diet and workout plans over the last two years since I’ve resolved to work out. Most recently I tried the Abs Diet, almost bankrupting myself on the exotic food they had me eating. The weight routines were total body circuits 3x a week which were time consuming and never gave me good strength progress.

So I threw out everything and started on my own. I’ve cleaned up my food intake, eating lots of protein and cutting carbs (more on this later) as well as getting into the gym for the cardio work and weight work I really need. I’m not using a set plan, I’m just using the little that I know to to try to do good work.

Now about me: I’m 27, 6’3, 235 with approx %18 bodyfat (calculated using the tape measure method). I have an ectomorphic frame and my Samoan genes have me holding that 40 lbs of fat mainly on my chest, gut, hips and rear.

My immediate goals are to trim my body fat and increase my strength and lean muscle mass. This is going to be evaluated by how my clothes fit (Im a 40 waist right now, I want to eventually get to 34 like I was 5 years ago) and my functional strength (the 1st “goal” here is 10 clean chin ups, I max out at one very shaky one right now).

Interestingly, I found this forum looking for information on the supplement HOT-ROX. In the process, I saw lots of advice about building muscle mass before trying to drop weight so I’m throwing myself out here in hopes of getting some good criticism.

Because total body methods and circuit training just don’t appeal to me (lack of results = discouragement) in my latest effort I’m focusing on high intensity high weight exercises using splits. Here’s a breakdown:

Day 1:

  1. 30 min intense cardio (HR 75% - 85% max)
  2. Lats - ex: Lat Pulldowns x3 sets at about 85% of my max, goal 7-10 reps (I failed at 4 on set 3 this week)
  3. Back - ex: Seated Rows x3 sets at half-stack, goal 7-10 reps (failed at 5 on set 3)
  4. Tris - ex: Triceps Pulldowns x4 sets at about 20 lbs equiv. 7-10 reps or fail
  5. 30 min intense cardio (HR 75% - 85% max)

I will also do back hyperextensions at home as part of my ab workout.

My tris are weak compared to my biceps and I am focusing on balancing these groups out before trying anything crazy. The lat work is pushing me toward my goal of chin ups.

Day 2:

  1. 30 min intense cardio (HR 75% - 85% max)

  2. Chest: - ex: 3xset Chest press on machine, 140 lbs, 5-6 reps (I am dying by the end but I can finish, so I think I have it right)

3xsets Incline press on smith machine, 5-6 reps at about 110 (thinking of dropping down here, set 3 is brutal)

3xsets 5-6 reps pec-dec flys, using about 1/3 stack. Like the press, I’m dying by the end but I finish.

Shoulders: 3xsets, 10-12 reps lateral dumbbell raises into front dumbbell raise (so 1 to the side one in front, a total of 20-24 motions).

after each set: 10-12 reps of bent over lateral raises.

Biceps: 3xsets 10 reps bicep curls
3x sets 1- reps hammer curls

For bi’s I use just enough weight to feel it, since Im working on catching up my tris

  1. 30 mins cardio (HR 75% - 85% max)

Day 3:

  1. 30 min intense cardio (HR 75% - 85% max)

  2. Legs: 3x sets / 6-8 reps Squats (180 lbs)
    3x sets / 5-7 reps incline leg press
    3x sets / 5-7 reps sled calf press

  3. Lower back: 3x sets / 5-7 reps deadlifts

  4. 30 min low intensity cardio (HR 65% max, low resistance)

Day 4:

  1. ~1.5 mile run to the track
  2. 2x 4x40s or something similar
  3. ~1.5 mile light jog or walk home

I do some general core exercises every 2nd day at home while watching TV.

Wash, repeat.

As for my diet this is representative of an average day:

Pre workout: Muscle Milk or some good cereal
Post workout: Muscle Milk
Meal 3: Grilled salmon salad
Meal 4: Small salad, soup, whole grain roll
Meal 5: Chicken breast, veggies
Meal 6: Whey protein shake

I’ve been considering swapping the why protein and muscle milk since the MM has proteins that last longer in the system.

Anyway, this is what I’m working with. Can anyone suggest changes or point out where I’m totally going wrong? Should I abandon the plan to lose my 40 inch gut before working on getting really lean? One big problem I’m having is figuring out how to get enough protein. I estimate I need about 200g - 270g of good protein a day. A crazy amount!

6 years ago I had a 6-pack, after investing too much in pizza and beer, its time for a change. A big part of my motivation is seeing a friend of mine strut around while I say to myself “I used to look like him”

Anyway, thanks for any advice. Best luck to all of you.

A few things jumped out at me as I read your post. Here are some of my thoughts:

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
The weight routines were total body circuits 3x a week which were time consuming and never gave me good strength progress.

My immediate goals are to trim my body fat and increase my strength and lean muscle mass.
[/quote]
Total body routines do not have to be “circuits”. Fat loss is mainly a function of your diet, not your workout. You’d want to dial in your diet so that you’re eating the correct deficit to make your body use its stored fat, but not to the point where you’re losing muscles. Your workout should be planned to prevent muscle loss, not to burn fat. Therefore, don’t do “circuits”, but lift HEAVY!

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
I’m focusing on high intensity high weight exercises using splits. Here’s a breakdown:

Wash, repeat.
[/quote]
I noticed that you’re doing some intense cardio before your weight sessions. You might want to move it to afterwards. Remember, you’d want to lift HEAVY. Don’t wear yourself out via cardio before hitting the weights. You’d want to be fresh for the lifting, and if you want, you can do some cardio afterwards.

You can also try some some heavy 10x3 using big compound exercises (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) The goal is not to expend as much energy as possible in your workout, but to really use those muscles. Give your body a good reason to keep your muscles.

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
As for my diet this is representative of an average day:

Pre workout: Muscle Milk or some good cereal
Post workout: Muscle Milk
Meal 3: Grilled salmon salad
Meal 4: Small salad, soup, whole grain roll
Meal 5: Chicken breast, veggies
Meal 6: Whey protein shake

I’ve been considering swapping the why protein and muscle milk since the MM has proteins that last longer in the system.
[/quote]
For your post workout meal, have a 2:1 STARCHY carb to protein ratio. The starchy carbs will help to refill your muscle glycogen.

It’s probably a good idea to switch out the whey for something slower. Whey is a “fast” protein and is good for post-workout, but not very good as a pre-bed meal.

Here are some general recommendations on dieting:

  1. Start with body weight * 12 in total calories. Weigh yourself once a week and adjust your caloric intake so that you’re losing 1-2lbs per week. Don’t go too low!

  2. Eat body weight * 1.0 grams of protein and body weight * 0.4 grams of fat. For your fats, have an even distribution between saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.

  3. Have three servings of fruits a day, with a serving being 80-100 calories. Have different types of fruits if possible.

  4. Have a 2:1 starchy carb to protein ratio for your post-workout (PWO) meal, an hour after you finish your workout. This is the only time you’d want to have starchy carbs if you’re on a cutting diet.

  5. Divide up your total protein between your meals (6 in your case) and have a good portion of it with every meal. So for you, at 235lb and 6 meals, you should aim for ~40g of protein with every meal.

  6. Have plenty of fibrous veggies with your meals.

These tips should get you started. Keep working hard and you’ll get there!

[quote]jthsiao wrote:
… Your workout should be planned to prevent muscle loss, not to burn fat. Therefore, don’t do “circuits”, but lift HEAVY!
[/quote]

This is some of the best advice I could have gotten, and unfortunately I didn’t find it until recently. Going with an intense heavy lift vs the circuit stuff I’d tried before has, 2 weeks in, given me a huge psychological boost. I like the fact that it feels like I’m doing something and the short workouts save me time. I am loving it.

I’m going to try this with my lift tonight. A 5 min warm up on the bike, lift, and then my cardio.

After lots of experiment and reading this has become obvious to me, which is why I’m going with a heavy lift this time around.

Is it ok to use something like a smith machine to do my press? I know freeweights are preferred but safety > * and I usually work out early in the morning, alone.

Ultimately I want to start a bulking program that will let me build muscle mass and then cut again, but first I want to improve my body composition. Even dropping 10lbs of fat (to 14.5%) would be a big bonus. I think that the 10-15lb fat loss is a reasonable 2 month goal. Not only will this help me get into shape for lifting but I know myself enough to realize that seeing some results like this will motivate me to go even further.

Am I way off in my plan here? Should I jump right into mass gaining instead of trying to fit my jeans?

What do you think of:

1: Muscle Milk (I love these things because I can buy them by the case and drink them in the car. Saves me 30 minutes in the morning)

–Workout–

2: Whey shake after workout.

3: Something like a 6" Subway sub an hour later?

…?

Are there any articles about how to get lots of lean protein? I am barely making my protein goal through the heavy use of shakes. Should I look into a protein bar to go with some of my meals?

I have been using this website to investigate food options. Like I said, I haven’t been strict with counting nutrients (as that just doesn’t work with me) so instead I’ve been getting a sense for what I’m eating and making choices that get me into the ballpark.

Thanks for your input. I’m hoping to have some good progress to post about in 6 months.

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
Is it ok to use something like a smith machine to do my press? I know freeweights are preferred but safety > * and I usually work out early in the morning, alone.
[/quote]
Smith machines fixes the plane of movement for the exercise. The bar in exercises like the bench press and squat actually doesn’t quite move in the same plane. So, I usually prefer not to use the Smith machine.

I workout alone too, and I prefer to use dumbbells. Not only would you not have to worry about needing a spot, you can also practice your unilateral balance between your arms. Another option is to press in a power rack with pins set at specific heights for different presses. If you fail, the pins on the rack will catch for you. You just have to climb out and set up everything again before the next set.

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
Ultimately I want to start a bulking program that will let me build muscle mass and then cut again, but first I want to improve my body composition. Even dropping 10lbs of fat (to 14.5%) would be a big bonus. I think that the 10-15lb fat loss is a reasonable 2 month goal. Not only will this help me get into shape for lifting but I know myself enough to realize that seeing some results like this will motivate me to go even further.

Am I way off in my plan here? Should I jump right into mass gaining instead of trying to fit my jeans?
[/quote]
Bulking up is a good option, just make sure you keep your bodyfat in check. People tend to gain more fat when bulking when they start at a higher bodyfat level. I know I gain about 1/2 fat and 1/2 muscle when I bulked at 17% fat. But that’s just me. It may be different for you.

You’re at a gray area, where leaning down then bulk up would work, or even doing a straight body-recomposition (adding muscle and losing fat at the same) would work. Which one would work better, that’s really individualistic as to what you’d respond to.

I would say one thing though, it’s much harder to pack on quality mass than losing muscle. So, if you decide to cut, make sure you do everything you can preserve your muscle mass. You can probably put on 0.5-1 pound of muscle per week, but you can lose 1-2 pounds (and even more on more extreme diets) of fat per week.

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
What do you think of:

1: Muscle Milk (I love these things because I can buy them by the case and drink them in the car. Saves me 30 minutes in the morning)

–Workout–

2: Whey shake after workout.

3: Something like a 6" Subway sub an hour later?
[/quote]
I haven’t personally had Muscle Milk myself. There was a bad report on them by Dave Barr before found in this article:

https://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=06-140-diet

But I hear that they have since removed glycocyamine from their formula.

What I might do is to drink the whey shake before the workout, then have a recovery drink (like Surge or skim chocolate milk) during and after, then have a nice PWO meal.

I’m not sure on what the macros are like for a 6" Subway sandwich, which would also depend on the specific sandwich. I’d refer back to the 2:1 starchy carb to protein ratio and see if you’re getting close to that.

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
Are there any articles about how to get lots of lean protein? I am barely making my protein goal through the heavy use of shakes. Should I look into a protein bar to go with some of my meals?
[/quote]
Look up some of the things like chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and fish on www.nutritiondata.com. I find that it isn’t too hard to have protein with every meal, it’s just how much time you’re willing to prepare them. For example, a 6oz broiled beef sirloin that’s cut to 1/8" of fat has about 50g of protein. That’s actually not a lot of meat to eat.

Drinking protein shakes should be a supplement, and just that. They very convenient, but don’t totally base your diet around them. Try to eat as much solid food, and a variety of solid food, as you can.

If you don’t have time to prepare for a specific meal, you can also add beef jerky as part of your meal. They’re a good source of protein (~12g per ounce) and low in fat and carb.

Here are some articles that I like for food in general:

Power Foods
https://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=867137

Berardi’s Kitchen Part I
https://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459212

Foods That Make You Look Good Nekid
https://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=460638

The Forbidden Fruit?
https://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=462254

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
I have been using this website to investigate food options. Like I said, I haven’t been strict with counting nutrients (as that just doesn’t work with me) so instead I’ve been getting a sense for what I’m eating and making choices that get me into the ballpark.
[/quote]
Yeah, counting calories is a bit of a pain. But, starting a food log is one of the best things you can do when you’re on a diet, especially a cutting diet. You’d want to really know what you’re eating, and see how different amounts of food affect your body. I’d write down everything that you’re putting into your mouth, even if you’re not measuring it. Just jot down the portions that you’re eating to get a rough idea. This way, you’d get a good idea about how much you’re actually eating, and the effect that it had on you.

I hope this helps. :slight_smile:

My $.02

[quote]Steelcoat wrote:
jthsiao wrote:
… Your workout should be planned to prevent muscle loss, not to burn fat. Therefore, don’t do “circuits”, but lift HEAVY!

This is some of the best advice I could have gotten, and unfortunately I didn’t find it until recently. Going with an intense heavy lift vs the circuit stuff I’d tried before has, 2 weeks in, given me a huge psychological boost. I like the fact that it feels like I’m doing something and the short workouts save me time. I am loving it.


I noticed that you’re doing some intense cardio before your weight sessions. You might want to move it to afterwards.
Remember, you’d want to lift HEAVY. Don’t wear yourself out via cardio before hitting the weights. You’d want to be fresh for the lifting, and if you want, you can do some cardio afterwards.

I’m going to try this with my lift tonight. A 5 min warm up on the bike, lift, and then my cardio.[/quote]

Another way to warm up… A few light sets, before your “working sets”, and some stretching in between. Consider purchasing the “Inside Out” warm up book from the T-Nation online store (I know I’ll be getting one myself next time I order).

[quote]
You can also try some some heavy 10x3 using big compound exercises (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) The goal is not to expend as much energy as possible in your workout, but to really use those muscles. Give your body a good reason to keep your muscles.

After lots of experiment and reading this has become obvious to me, which is why I’m going with a heavy lift this time around.

Is it ok to use something like a smith machine to do my press? I know freeweights are preferred but safety > * and I usually work out early in the morning, alone.

Ultimately I want to start a bulking program that will let me build muscle mass and then cut again, but first I want to improve my body composition. Even dropping 10lbs of fat (to 14.5%) would be a big bonus. I think that the 10-15lb fat loss is a reasonable 2 month goal. Not only will this help me get into shape for lifting but I know myself enough to realize that seeing some results like this will motivate me to go even further.

Am I way off in my plan here? Should I jump right into mass gaining instead of trying to fit my jeans?[/quote]

Keep in mind it is possible to shift your body composition as you go. In other words, if your diet is in line with the goal of gradually gaining muscle by getting adequate protein and restricting (moderately) carbs, then your lean body mass will increase as you fat mass decreases. This is where you have to figure out what works for you. You can check out some of CT’s articles for some great info and more specific “how to’s”. You don’t necessarily have to “bulk” or “cut”. Food for thought.

[quote]


For your post workout meal, have a 2:1 STARCHY carb to protein ratio. The starchy carbs will help to refill your muscle glycogen.

It’s probably a good idea to switch out the whey for something slower. Whey is a “fast” protein and is good for post-workout, but not very good as a pre-bed meal.

What do you think of:

1: Muscle Milk (I love these things because I can buy them by the case and drink them in the car. Saves me 30 minutes in the morning)[/quote]

Do a search on MM. It’s been the topic of discussion before. I believe in recent months they’ve reformulated, however they previously used GCC, a “potentially dangerous” ingrediant. I’m not an expert so, read up and draw your own conclusions. Further, I’m not sure how the pre-package version saves 30min considering that you can put 2 scoops in a shaker with water in about 30 seconds, but consider the cost. You can save yourself a substatial amount of cash switching to a powder and mixing it yourself.

[quote]

–Workout–

2: Whey shake after workout.

3: Something like a 6" Subway sub an hour later?[/quote]

Screw subway! I wish someone would punch that retard, Jerod right in the f-ing face… Sorry, not a fan…/rant

[quote]
…?

  1. Divide up your total protein between your meals (6 in your case) and have a good portion of it with every meal. So for you, at 235lb and 6 meals, you should aim for ~40g of protein with every meal.

Are there any articles about how to get lots of lean protein? I am barely making my protein goal through the heavy use of shakes. Should I look into a protein bar to go with some of my meals?[/quote]

There are tons, just look around. John Berardi writes some awesome nutrition articles.