T Nation

Beginners Routine


#1

Hey guys, I began lifting around this time last year doing a brosplit. I quickly came to my senses and found stronglifts 5x5 and gained about 40lb. My training only lasted only a few months because I strained a muscle in my back, and have been away for gym for about half a year and am now ready to come back. I can only squat about 1.4x bodyweight for 5x5 which I don't think puts me out of beginner status yet so I am after a new beginner program. Not that stronglifts was bad (amazing) but I feel like switching it up this year.

Someone recommended to me ICF 5x5, and it seems to be highly regarded. Basically stronglifts with added isolation near the end and it looks very promising. Would this be my best bet or do you guys have a better program in mind?

If going with ICF 5x5, would it be wise for me to add calf raises 3x15 in every workout, and static holds / farmers walks every second workout? Thanks in advance.


#2

I think Starting Strength and Greyskull LP are superior linear progression programs compared to Stronglifts or the ICF 5x5. The ICF has more volume and exercises than you need, as a beginner, and which can impede your progress on the big lifts. Your goal should be to add weight to the bar on the main lifts and eat enough food to grow. Calf Raises, for example, are a waste of time.

I suggest you read this:


#3

I haven’t seen it before but it looks a decent beginner program.

The main thing that jumps out is no vertical pulls and no calf raises.
Both could easily be worked in though as he has Bent over Rows on both days . Switch the rows for pullups on workout B.
Switch Cable Crunches to Calf raises on Workout B also and that should be a decent program.

On Workout A I wouldn’t bother with the hyper extensions. You’re already doing bent over rows and deadlifts so no need to put further stress on the lower back.


#4

w/ that Av, does OP need calf raises?


#5

Highly regarded by who?

EDIT

Just googled it. This Jason Blaha fellow is a pretty interesting character lol.


#6

Thanks for the replies guys.

Craze9 - Greyskull looks like a good strength program but it has a pretty low amount of volume (less than SL). Are you sure it would be good for me, wanting to gain strength but also grow as much as possible? Why would calf raises me a waste of time? Also that was a good link thanks, but why the 10+ reps of squat? All of the best beginner programs seem to be 5x5, it also contradicts with the EMF studies cited in the greyskull program.

Angus1 - Thanks. The hyper extensions definitely worried me about that program, but I watched the 20 minute video explaining the entire program and the crunches & hyperextensions are meant to combat forward lean which is common during squats. I tend to lean forward slightly during the last workout of the week. I also generally have no problem adding weight to squat and deadlift, but my bent over row and bench press stall very frequently, the added arm work looks like it would be useful for me. These things are all things Jason Blaha thinks are the weak points of stronglifts and I seem to have experienced some of them in my experience on the program. I think ICF would be a logical stepping stone for me but again, there could be better programs out there.

1 man island - Why not train my entire body? Especially since I am close to 6’3, I need all the leg gains I can possibly get haha.

Dt79 - Regarded by a gym friend who first recommended it to me. I read a bunch of the comments on the program, and everyone says they had great results on it. lol is Jason Blaha interesting in a good way or a bad way? I don’t really watch much of his videos but his form videos seem to be pretty good.


#7

Just go ahead and do it. Don’t worry about trying to find the perfect program. It does not exist.
A good program should work pectorals, deltoids, latisismus dorsi, trpaezius, quadraceps, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, triceps and calves.
With a slight modification this one will do just that.

Push it hard for 3 months and see what kind of progress you have made. If something doesn’t feel right then make slight modifications. There is enough information in TNation articles to keep you on the right path.
Actually why not just choose a program from this site? There must be hundreds.

I’ve never understood why anyone would not do calf raises. If you are blessed with amazing genetics and have muscular calves without training them then that’s fine. If not then you had better start doing calf raises because they wont grow otherwise. They are also good for ankle mobility which you need to squat properly. They are good for the prevention of plantar fasciitis and it is the single best way to stretch your calves and achillies tendon out which comes in handy if you like to play sports.
Hell just do it.


#8

You are overanalyzing a bit. Believe me I understand the desire to choose an “optimal” program, but since you are a beginner and don’t know your own recovery abilities, or much about training in general, you’re better off choosing something simple and hitting it hard rather than comparing different program volume and citing EMF studies. Experience will be the best teacher.

The difference between doing 3x5 at 85% 1RM and 5x5 at 80% 1RM isn’t that big a difference, but in my experience you will be able to make progress for longer with the former, which is why I recommend SS and Greyskull over Stronglifts. Squatting 5x5 3 days / week gets difficult fast, if you are adding weight to the bar every workout (which is the point).

Calf Raises are a waste of time because for 90% of people they’re not going to add anything when you’re already doing heavy deep squats 3x week. It’s like doing forearm curls. You can do them if you want, but that’s 10 minutes you could probably spent doing something more productive, and the more important point is that ICF is already very heavy on volume for a beginner program, so why add more stuff?

Any of these programs will work, including the Dan John one in the link. More important than which one you choose is how well you eat and recover. If you do ICF just be aware it’s a lot of work for someone who hasn’t been lifting at all for a year and a half.


#9

[quote]Angus1 wrote:
I’ve never understood why anyone would not do calf raises. If you are blessed with amazing genetics and have muscular calves without training them then that’s fine. If not then you had better start doing calf raises because they wont grow otherwise. They are also good for ankle mobility which you need to squat properly. They are good for the prevention of plantar fasciitis and it is the single best way to stretch your calves and achillies tendon out which comes in handy if you like to play sports.
Hell just do it. [/quote]

look mate, just get off my case! I’ll get round to training them eventually!


#10

[quote]Angus1 wrote:
I’ve never understood why anyone would not do calf raises. If you are blessed with amazing genetics and have muscular calves without training them then that’s fine. If not then you had better start doing calf raises because they wont grow otherwise. They are also good for ankle mobility which you need to squat properly. They are good for the prevention of plantar fasciitis and it is the single best way to stretch your calves and achillies tendon out which comes in handy if you like to play sports.
Hell just do it. [/quote]

I’ve never really noticed myself getting any better whenever I include them in my programming, nor do I seem to get any worse when I stop doing them. It’s pretty much the same reason I don’t do any stretching or mobility work.

That said, the general sentiment of this thread is truth. Just do A program. Follow it with violent intensity and you’ll be fine.


#11

Madcow or texas method, both similar but better than ICF


#12

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
Madcow or texas method, both similar but better than ICF[/quote]

I have done and really like both those programs but they are more “intermediate” programs. This guy hasn’t lifted at all in 6 months.


#13

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
Madcow or texas method, both similar but better than ICF[/quote]

I have done and really like both those programs but they are more “intermediate” programs. This guy hasn’t lifted at all in 6 months.[/quote]

He’ll be fine, also IMO the constant linear progression of SS etc is a bit too aggresive for someone coming off a back injury


#14

Thanks guys, I think I may go with ICF in a couple weeks when I test my back out with a few squat sessions. Any tips for recovery? Injured it about 6 months ago and my healing seems to have plateau’d (from sitting on my ass all day I assume). Before I started going to the gym in the first place I had lower back muscular pain from being so weak (borderline anorexic) and to my disbelief heavy ass squats and deadlifts cured it in only a few weeks.

To my best knowledge I think my current upper back injury is at a similar stage. It has healed completely, but the only discomfort/pain I feel is because of it getting considerably weaker, and also probably lack of flexibility.

Any general tips? How quickly should I be adding weight? I have started at 20kg (bar) and moving my way back up to 95kg (my pb at 5x5 before injury) at 5kg per session increments. Squatting 3x a week. I am up to 40kg next session.

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
Madcow or texas method, both similar but better than ICF[/quote]
Noted, I will remember these as possible alternatives if I decide I don’t like ICF.


#15

Heres my story after along time out of the weight room I started working out again bike riding etc.. to lose some lbs guess what happened I put on fifty lbs and Im the strongest I’ve ever been but training for most of my adult life now so these thing don`t surprise me much any more. I weigh 250 and squat 450 do the math. GL


#16

[quote]Massthetics wrote:
Injured it about 6 months ago and my healing seems to have plateau’d (from sitting on my ass all day I assume).[/quote]
Your back injury has lingered for 6+ months? You said you can’t go to a doctor, but did you check with your doc after his 4-6 week timeframe passed and you weren’t any closer to healing?

Dude, you need to be proactive about your recovery, not just be eager to get back to squatting three days a week. Get back to where you can do full range push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, and full range toe touches without pain, and then think about lifting.

Disbelief being the key word here, as apparently it was a band-aid solution that didn’t “cure” anything. We should try not to do that again.

A 100% healthy body has zero discomfort and zero pain. At 16, that’s where you should want to be. If you’re feeling discomfort/pain, you’re not fully healed, period. Tissue quality work (foam rolling, treating mobility drills as important as oxygen, etc.) should become part of your new daily routine. A handful of drills, 10-15 minutes a day everyday, to hit the whole body would be a start.

Also, consider some yoga. No joke. It’d be a decent combo of stretching and activity as long as you stick within your capabilities. Either find some beginners lessons online or see if you can find a local class to score a free trial.

Undertand that if you don’t legitimately fix this 100%, it can be something that sticks with you as a problem for years. It’s undoubtedly worth putting in the time to correct it now.


#17

[quote]Angus1 wrote:

I’ve never understood why anyone would not do calf raises. If you are blessed with amazing genetics and have muscular calves without training them then that’s fine. If not then you had better start doing calf raises because they wont grow otherwise. They are also good for ankle mobility which you need to squat properly. They are good for the prevention of plantar fasciitis and it is the single best way to stretch your calves and achillies tendon out which comes in handy if you like to play sports.
Hell just do it. [/quote]

You really don’t know why anyone wouldn’t do calf raises? I don’t think I personally know any powerlifters who do them. Like, ever. I haven’t done them in years, and it’s not like I’m blessed with awesome calves to begin with. Unless you’re training specifically for aesthetics, I don’t see a reason to do these. They’re certainly not necessary for improving ankle mobility or preventing injury. My perspective is that you have to put in a ton of time and effort to see reasonable results from calf raises. Not enough bang for the buck for me to incorporate them.


#18

[quote]300plus wrote:
Heres my story after along time out of the weight room I started working out again bike riding etc.. to lose some lbs guess what happened I put on fifty lbs and Im the strongest I’ve ever been but training for most of my adult life now so these thing don`t surprise me much any more. I weigh 250 and squat 450 do the math. GL [/quote]

… you had to get your bodyweight up to 250 just to squat 450? That seems like a problem to me.


#19

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Also, consider some yoga. No joke. It’d be a decent combo of stretching and activity as long as you stick within your capabilities. Either find some beginners lessons online or see if you can find a local class to score a free trial.
[/quote]

Do you have any suggestions on useful yoga positions for mobility work?


#20

[quote]Massthetics wrote:
Thanks guys, I think I may go with ICF in a couple weeks when I test my back out with a few squat sessions. Any tips for recovery? Injured it about 6 months ago and my healing seems to have plateau’d (from sitting on my ass all day I assume). Before I started going to the gym in the first place I had lower back muscular pain from being so weak (borderline anorexic) and to my disbelief heavy ass squats and deadlifts cured it in only a few weeks.

To my best knowledge I think my current upper back injury is at a similar stage. It has healed completely, but the only discomfort/pain I feel is because of it getting considerably weaker, and also probably lack of flexibility.

Any general tips? How quickly should I be adding weight? I have started at 20kg (bar) and moving my way back up to 95kg (my pb at 5x5 before injury) at 5kg per session increments. Squatting 3x a week. I am up to 40kg next session. [/quote]

No mass building routine will adjust your injuries. You don’t need a mass gain plan right now, as much as you do a rehab program.

And you constantly divagate from being an experienced expert to a humble beginner.