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Does My Program Need More Variety?

I’ll try to give a quick summary of my situation without writing an autobiography: 23 years old, 6’1" 160lbs. Until recently my sport of choice has been trail running/orienteering. I also do some mountaineering and kayaking. About a month ago I became tired of looking weak. I guess more to the point - I became tired of feeling weak so I began to hit the weights.

I’ve been alternating upper and lower body workouts with a day of rest between (upper/rest/lower/rest/…). For upper body exercises I’ve been doing bench press, military press, bent-over barbell row, and pull-ups. For lowerbody I do squats, deadlifts, and dumbbell step-ups. I usually do 5 sets per lift for about 8 reps, although I’ll go over 8 if I feel like I need do lift more to fatigue the muscle. Current single rep maxes are 185lbs for bench, 225 for squat, and 265 for deadlift.

I guess one of my questions is do I need to include more (greater variety?) lifts?

I also hate the term “core training” as well as ab workouts. For the time being will I build enough core strength from squats, deadlifts, etc that I don’t have to incorporate ab-specific training?

As far as diet goes I am bulking (started at 155 lbs). Daily caloric intake is about 3500 cal/day. Diet is fairly “clean”. I limit sweets like cookies, cake, etc to a few times a week but eat just about everything else I can find.

Currently my goals are to gain 15 lbs by the end of August and increase my single rep maxes to 225 for bench, 275 for squat, and 315 for deadlift.

Are these goals realistic? Should I aim higher?

Thanks for your time any advice you guys can offer will be appreciated.

No not really and any small change can be enough grip rep ranges etc every 6-8 weeks.

I will say why not just go two different upper two different lower days and alternate them and have diff rep ranges for each then after several weeks swap the rep ranges Much Like ABBH you might read that article

base your lower days 1 on the squat, one on DL, Upper one on Bench and a row, the second on OH press and chins


Your goals are realistic and your plan is good. Vary set/rep scheme before you vary exercises.

You have the right idea setting strength goals and giving yourself a deadline. Work hard, take a back off week once in awhile, eat lots of food and you’ll get way past those goals.

Good luck.

First of all good job on making the decision to incorporate weights in your quest to gain some size and strength.

Your program looks pretty good at face value. The Upper/Lower split is a great way to develop strength.

The way I see it you have two choices:

a) Modify existing routine
b) Find new routine

If you wish to modify you could change the sets, reps and rest intervals. Or you could replace the movements you are doing now with similar but different movements. For example you could go from regular deadlifts to stiff-legged deadlifts, or from military presses to push-presses. You’re only limited by your creativity.

If you want a whole new routine you could try total body training (TBT), where you hit every major muscle group every time you train. Check the archives for some of Chad Waterbury’s routines, he has some really great programs which I’m sure will help with your goals.

I hate “ab days” just as much as the next guy on this site, but it has been my experience that direct ab training is important in developing the whole body. Your abdominal muscles are definitely being challenged by all the movements you are performing but this stimulus is often not enough to really strengthen them. I usually go with T-Man style ab movements like hanging pikes and dragon flags.

As far as your diet goes, you could probably afford to eat more maybe even as much as 5000 Kcals per day. You have to experiment by keeping a food log and seeing what works best for you.

Your goals look good, just be sure that after you attain them you set new ones. Never be satisfied, always strive to improve your lifts.

Hope that helps.

As for your diet you might want to check out this article and all the ones linked within. There is a calorie calculator in there that think will open your eyes a bit as to how much you really need to eat to gain.

Massive Eating Reloaded, Part I

Massive Eating Reloaded, Part II

Good luck!

3500 calories a day is honestly pretty moderate, in fact low for a guy your size if you plan to really grow for very long.

The only litmus test for whether or not you need more variety/to change your routine is: is your routine generating results?

You’ve already got a quad dominant movement, a hip dominant movement, a lower body unilateral movement, a horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, and vertical pull. For a beginner, that’s a pretty good place to start.

The only time you really need to change your routine is:

  1. If you change your goals- i.e. you decide that you need to focus more on strength than hypertrophy, or vice versa

  2. You notice that certain muscles aren’t developing as fast as others- in which case some isolation movements would be a good idea (not that they’re not a good idea anyways)

  3. You plateau- i.e. your routine stops producing results

Other than that, you really don’t need to switch things up as much as some people would have you believe. I personally have not seen any scientific literature that supports the concept of “muscle confusion”. But, I’ve seen plenty that supports the concept of progressive overload.

So, as long as you are using progressive overload and your routine is producing results, stick with it. If one of the 3 things I mentioned above occurs, then you should modify/change the routine.

Good training,


P.S. I second what others have said about your caloric intake. It might surprise you just how much food you actually need to eat to be gaining muscle.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
3500 calories a day is honestly pretty moderate, in fact low for a guy your size if you plan to really grow for very long.[/quote]

Yeah, I checked out “the massive eating calculator” and it suggested a little over 4500 cal/day (I also work a physically demanding job).

Thanks for the replies; it’s good to know that I’m basically starting out right.