T Nation

Follow Program or Train By Feel?


#1

Ive been lifting for a couple months, I fell from being fat to being skinny fat with absolutely no muscle tone. After several months of error. Sould I just follow a solid program or should I just focus on the main lifts and eat ?

A good program or some advice would help. Keep in mind Im 16, and I'm balancing school and work.


#2

I’m not a bodybuilder technically so I won’t presume to suggest a specific program to you. I will say this though:

DEFINITELY get on a proven program in line with your goals. You said yourself you’ve only been in for a couple months. Going by feel works great for some folks, but generally that comes after about a decade or two of lifting and learning what does and doesn’t work for you.


#3

In truth I have been lifting for nearly a decade and I have never followed a proposed program.

That being said I always read about stuff, borrow exercises, special sets and stuff like that and try it out, but I’ve always pieced it together on my own. I always though of it as a learning experience.

But as a beginner, go ahead and find one and follow it, and learn what you can.


#4

[quote]csulli wrote:
I’m not a bodybuilder technically so I won’t presume to suggest a specific program to you. I will say this though:

DEFINITELY get on a proven program in line with your goals. You said yourself you’ve only been in for a couple months. Going by feel works great for some folks, but generally that comes after about a decade or two of lifting and learning what does and doesn’t work for you.[/quote]

Everytime I find a program I feel like some of the excersise require a gym. I lift at home, and only have a barbell and bench. I want to lift like the oldschool bodybuilders, they had minimal equiment so I put myself in the same situation.

Any programs you know about with that odlschool lifting template ?


#5

[quote]c.m.l. wrote:
In truth I have been lifting for nearly a decade and I have never followed a proposed program.

That being said I always read about stuff, borrow exercises, special sets and stuff like that and try it out, but I’ve always pieced it together on my own. I always though of it as a learning experience.

But as a beginner, go ahead and find one and follow it, and learn what you can.[/quote]

Can you throw out a routine of yours that you felt work ? So I can give it a try.


#6

You have at least a Squat Rack/Power Rack/Squat Stands, a bench (you can use squat stands for the pins), and somewhere you can deadlift and do other things off the floor, right? Otherwise, I feel like your results will be compromised although that’s not to say you can’t make progress.

Also, what are you current lifts? How is your form? How have you evaluated your form? What are your goals? How long and how frequently can you train? Your current height weight? Your desired height and weight? Any athletic experience? Does your mobility suck and if so or not why do you feel that way?

Anyway, my point with the zillions of questions is that it’s hard to suggest any programs or advice at all without some more information.


#7

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
You have at least a Squat Rack/Power Rack/Squat Stands, a bench (you can use squat stands for the pins), and somewhere you can deadlift and do other things off the floor, right? Otherwise, I feel like your results will be compromised although that’s not to say you can’t make progress.

Also, what are you current lifts? How is your form? How have you evaluated your form? What are your goals? How long and how frequently can you train? Your current height weight? Your desired height and weight? Any athletic experience? Does your mobility suck and if so or not why do you feel that way?

Anyway, my point with the zillions of questions is that it’s hard to suggest any programs or advice at all without some more information. [/quote]

I dont have the complete squat rack I have like a bench and a barbell, but the bench is high enough to use it for squatting.

My current lifts are pretty ebarassing I must say, but Ive been clumsy mmy whole life and just fat and pathetic. Bench: 185 Squat: 245 Deadlift: 260 Overhead press: 125 . For is pretty good I would say. My goal is just to be big but still be able to do somthing with the muscle. I can train 7 days a week. Current height is 6’4 weigh about 205 15% bodyfat. Desired weight is about 220 with 10% bodyfat. Mobility is good.


#8

Pardon me, but this is a silly question.

You’re 16 years old…

…and don’t really know shit about your body, nor about training.

I would recommend that you find a program that suits your goals and you stick with it until its over.


#9

[quote]get_ate wrote:
Pardon me, but this is a silly question.

You’re 16 years old…

…and don’t really know shit about your body, nor about training.

I would recommend that you find a program that suits your goals and you stick with it until its over.[/quote]

I guess if thats what you say I’ll keep a closed mind and do the normal instead of experimenting with working out as no one will know my body and how it responds like me.


#10

Experimenting is good once you get a good muscle base going.

You want to start off with things that work even if they aren’t the most optimal.

Here’s an example- Squats WILL get you bigger legs…sure there are other lifts that might work better for you but squats will work for now.

It’s all about doing what’s been proven to work for a while (putting your time in) then finding out what’s best for you as an individual.

When it’s all said and done you will have your ‘keeper’ exercises and other ones that you cycle through. As an example sometimes ill do Rope Pulldowns for a couple months then I’ll stop getting that good Mind Muscle connection from them and switch to overhead extensions for awhile…but I’ll always keep in skull crushers and close grip bench.

So yeah, do what’s been proven then move on when you have put some time in.


#11

[quote]K-Man32 wrote:
Experimenting is good once you get a good muscle base going.

You want to start off with things that work even if they aren’t the most optimal.

Here’s an example- Squats WILL get you bigger legs…sure there are other lifts that might work better for you but squats will work for now.

It’s all about doing what’s been proven to work for a while (putting your time in) then finding out what’s best for you as an individual.

When it’s all said and done you will have your ‘keeper’ exercises and other ones that you cycle through. As an example sometimes ill do Rope Pulldowns for a couple months then I’ll stop getting that good Mind Muscle connection from them and switch to overhead extensions for awhile…but I’ll always keep in skull crushers and close grip bench.

So yeah, do what’s been proven then move on when you have put some time in.[/quote]

I get this. So for now focus on getting a muscle base going. So just the main lifts and the basic compound movements for a couple months ? What rep range, more hypertrophy or strength ? Can you name the excerises I should stick to for each body part ?


#12

Hey man, my 2 cents…
You mentioned you can train 7 days a week. I wouldn’t recommend ANYONE train everyday. Serious lifting is very stressful to the body. Take your time and train by feel as you suggested, that way you can take your days off when its needed, instead of when your program says so. Ive always done this, I swear by it. I don’t think our bodies give a shit what the program says. You’ve either recovered enough to train again, or you haven’t. No point bustin your ass and feeling sore/tired all the time. Theres more to life than lifting.

Do your compound lifts, eat well, sleep well, be patient. It should all come into place for you relatively fast considering your age. Plus, you haven’t been lifting for long so milk those newbie gains :wink:


#13

You need to have your form evaluated by a good coach or we can give pretty decent ones on this site.

It’s possibly even more important than the program your on. I know you said your form is good… but I hear that from a lot of high schoolers with shitty form which is I why I’m still stressing it.

Anyway, as far as programming, I would give 5/3/1 a go in your shoes. I’d run it straight as is with one of the basic templates laid out for at least a year before tinkering with it at all. Buy the book too. Even if you don’t do 5/3/1 it’s a good training book.

I know the book says for the last set go beyond the prescribed rep range if you can, but especially at your stage I wouldn’t go beyond technical failure. That is, don’t go for reps where you compromise your form. You need to video yourself, have a very good training partner, or a good coach to figure that out. Going by feel as a beginner is not necessarily a good way to check out your form.


#14

The whole point of a good program is to ensure that you’re addressing everything you need to in terms of hitting all muscle groups (avoiding imbalances), well thought out sequencing for the best possible improvements, and some well planned out addressing of frequency and volume.

As you’re first starting out, finding something that not only gives you a plan, but allows you to UNDERSTAND why things are structured the way they are, is going to allow for a much better foundation to be built than just going by feel (chest day, bicep day, chest day, bicep day…)

If you want, you can look at several beginner programs, and hopefully discerning common elements or approaches, you will come to understand the reasoning and be capable of eventually going by feel. This may take a few years though :slight_smile:

S


#15

[quote]Alexis Smash wrote:
Ive been lifting for a couple months, I fell from being fat to being skinny fat with absolutely no muscle tone. After several months of error. [/quote]
This is exactly why it’s best to start off by following a well-designed program. If you keep trying to make it up on your own, you run the very-likely risk of even more months and months of little progress.

Everyone here works and trains, or goes to school and trains, or goes to school then goes to work and trains. Your schedule and priorities are whatever you make them. You definitely don’t need to workout 7, 6, or even 5 days a week, but unless you’re working 40+ hours outside of school, I don’t think it’s a major issue.

There’s a decent free substitution for most exercises. But the sooner you can invest in a gym membership, or a squat rack and/or cable pulldown for your home gym (some are pretty inexpensive), the better.

If you’re 6’4", there’s no way you can safely use a flat bench as a squat rack, unless you’ve got some very weird looking bench setup.

Dial down the attitude, boss. Nobody said you can’t see how your body responds during a pre-designed program. And like I said, you’ve already done the trial and error-thing for a few months and you ended up with no muscle. Keeping an open mind will let you get the most results by following a program for 8-16 weeks, track your progress along the way, and make an informed decision about what to do afterwards.

Look into any of these:
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/1400
(^ Click “Oldest First” to read it properly)



Also, as a taller dude, you’ll need to eat plenty to fill out. Don’t underestimate the importance of eating at least 3 meals a day, every single day - basic stuff like whole eggs, red meat, chicken, tuna, milk, bread, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, etc. Don’t eat like a pre-contest bodybuilder, eat like a growing young guy.


#16

I wasted years spinning my wheels with your attitude. Only until recently did I learn the value of a structured and proven program. I recommend SL 5x5 and get a gym membership that isnt planet fitness.


#17

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
The whole point of a good program is to ensure that you’re addressing everything you need to in terms of hitting all muscle groups (avoiding imbalances), well thought out sequencing for the best possible improvements, and some well planned out addressing of frequency and volume.

As you’re first starting out, finding something that not only gives you a plan, but allows you to UNDERSTAND why things are structured the way they are, is going to allow for a much better foundation to be built than just going by feel (chest day, bicep day, chest day, bicep day…)

If you want, you can look at several beginner programs, and hopefully discerning common elements or approaches, you will come to understand the reasoning and be capable of eventually going by feel. This may take a few years though :slight_smile:
S[/quote]

Thanks this helped alot I will find a program and stick to it. Any ideas on how to pick one just some pointers that could help ?


#18

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]Alexis Smash wrote:
Ive been lifting for a couple months, I fell from being fat to being skinny fat with absolutely no muscle tone. After several months of error. [/quote]
This is exactly why it’s best to start off by following a well-designed program. If you keep trying to make it up on your own, you run the very-likely risk of even more months and months of little progress.

Everyone here works and trains, or goes to school and trains, or goes to school then goes to work and trains. Your schedule and priorities are whatever you make them. You definitely don’t need to workout 7, 6, or even 5 days a week, but unless you’re working 40+ hours outside of school, I don’t think it’s a major issue.

There’s a decent free substitution for most exercises. But the sooner you can invest in a gym membership, or a squat rack and/or cable pulldown for your home gym (some are pretty inexpensive), the better.

If you’re 6’4", there’s no way you can safely use a flat bench as a squat rack, unless you’ve got some very weird looking bench setup.

Dial down the attitude, boss. Nobody said you can’t see how your body responds during a pre-designed program. And like I said, you’ve already done the trial and error-thing for a few months and you ended up with no muscle. Keeping an open mind will let you get the most results by following a program for 8-16 weeks, track your progress along the way, and make an informed decision about what to do afterwards.

Look into any of these:
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/1400
(^ Click “Oldest First” to read it properly)



Also, as a taller dude, you’ll need to eat plenty to fill out. Don’t underestimate the importance of eating at least 3 meals a day, every single day - basic stuff like whole eggs, red meat, chicken, tuna, milk, bread, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, etc. Don’t eat like a pre-contest bodybuilder, eat like a growing young guy.[/quote]

Thanks alot I will look in on the articles. I will invest in a power rack pretty soon since there isnt any gyms around, I live in a small town isolated from city.


#19

I think Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength would be a good resource for you. Just keep an open mind and don’t become a SS cultist. It’s called STARTING Strength for a reason. Great for beginners (or for those who have made it along but could revisit some foundational work), but gets a lot of criticism from those who are more advanced or “learned”.


#20

If you are beginning, like never really lifted before, it is always a great idea to get a gym membership with coaches to help fix your form. If you can’t afford it (not speaking personal trainers !), then you can submit videos here and great advices are offered freely.

Regarding programing, I find it very important when you’re beginning in order to know your body, the effects of rep ranges etc…

After this period, it will come down to your choices. Programs are obviously the best ways to get fast gains. Some people cannot follow them because they don’t find enough satisfaction / pleasure to do it, it can happens, depends your goals, needs, desires. I personnally switch from some months of programming and months of lifting freely, depending my mood, but lifting is not a very important thing in my life. I enjoy it but it s not top priority.