T Nation

Help Tweaking My Workout?


So I'm an ectomorph looking to improve my overall physique but my main goals is to improve my strength. I play basketball for the local rec league, so I could really use some strength improvement and gain some explosiveness too.

I'm relatively a beginner so I'm open to any and all advice.

My current routine is as follows:

-I warm up for 15 mins or so at the basketball courts. Practicing layups, jump shots and etc just to get my blood going

-Deadlift (two warm up sets of 10, then 3 sets of 5 of as heavy as I can go)
-Calf Raises (4 sets of 10)
-Dumbbell Chest Press (Warm up set of 12, then 2 sets of 10, and a set of 8 of as heavy as I can go)
-Box Squats (Warm up set of 12, 2 sets of 10 and then a set of 8 of as heavy as I can go)
-Seated Shoulder press (Warm up set of 12, then 3 sets of 10)
-I'm building up strength for pull-ups so I am doing 12,10,8 of Lat Pulldowns
-Ab Cable Crunch (3 sets of 20)

That's it, I do this 3 times a week (MWF). I got my diet down, I eat 3 solid meals a day and I sneak in a protein bar/shake when I can. I sleep plenty and drink lots of water.

Any further advice or tips?


I would be interested with your "diet". Please share.


Your exercise order and rep ranges are just wrong. If you want to build up your strength, which is definitely what you should do, you need to keep your rep ranges in the 3-5 range. Personally, I would do:

Squat Variation 4-6 x 3-5
Deadlift Variation 4-6 x 3-5
BB Bench 4-6 x 3-5
Lat pulls 4-6 x 3-5
Push Press 4-6 x 3-5
Calf raises 4-6 x 3-5
Ab Wheel 4-6 x 8-10

Try to lift the weight quickly (still under control) to develop explosiveness.

Also, eat more.

Good luck, man.


Solid advice, man. Thanks a ton. I'll adjust my workout to just that.

Good luck with your gains too.


Some fruit
A Protein bar right before school.

3 Cheese Tortellinis
Mixed Vegetables (steamed)

-Snack/Post workout
Gold Standard Whey Protein Shake w/Water

Marinated Chicken (Throw it on the Foreman Grill)
Corn, Broccoli, Spinach and Brown Rice

-Before bed
Gold Standard Casein Protein Shake w/Milk


Personally, I wouldn't be advising a begginner to keep reps on all lifts in the 3-5 range. He needs time to develop good form while working up to heavier weights that would warrant a 3-5 rep range. I don't even know of bodybuilders that lift strictly in that rep range. Keeping most lifts in the 6-8 range should work just fine, and working up to a max set of 3-5 is more solid advise.


I'm not completely new to the routine though, I've just been rather inconsistent. I'm pretty confident in my form for those lifts. You may have a point though, I'll work my way up to 3-5 reps so I can push some serious weight when the time comes.


The advise may have come from the popular 5/3/1 program, which does work, but only if done by the book, and it only advocates 3-5 reps on the core lifts. Just willy-nilly aiming for 3-5 reps for everything won't work very well. It's best to follow a proven program like 5/3/1, or another (search this site) until you find what works best for you. If you think what you are currently doing is working, but you need some help getting through a plateau, lowering the reps and increasing the weight is an option.


This is far from correct. You can certainly, without a doubt, take away most of his core principles and have them work, without it being done "by the book"

Also, there is about 486,000 variations and the lifter can make numerous more...

Have you read the book?


Search Westside for Skinny Bastards or Joe DeFranco, thank me later.


Of course not many body builders lift strictly in the 3-5 rep range because it's strength training not hypertrophy training. OP said he wanted to improve his strength so he should follow a strength program, not a hypertrophy one. He can build his form in sets of five.


I guess the point I was trying to make was that not all lifts need to be in the 3-5 rep range, and that a begginner should work his way up to lifting heavy loads/low reps. I don't think anyone would suggest doing everything, including assistance work, in that range. 3-5 reps is great for the larger muscle groups/core lifts for strength building - I totally agree with that. Following a tried and true strength building program is always solid advise.

Beans - sorry if I misquoted Jim. I've stuck my foot in my mouth more than once before around here.


I just did this last night and oh man I feel like I got a LOT out of that workout. Again, thanks a lot.


Input your diet in a calorie counter. You will see what you are lacking.


Doing that now, thanks.


This is a very ignorant post.


Could ya put in your two cents?


Sure. It sounds like nfg16 just read his/her first book or article on weight training and read along the way on some chart that to build strength you need to train in the 3-5 rep range...then decided to apply that to EVERY LIFT EVERY DAY. It doesn't not work like that...not even close.

Typically, if you're focused on strength you will choose either 1 lift, or 2 completely different lifts (like squat and bench) as your core lift and train it in the 1-5 rep range. THEN, you need to choose some accessory work with which you will train in higher rep ranges...say 6-12 is a good place to start, but it's really a matter of preference. Moreover, any back exercises you'll typically want to hit with much higher volume anyway. Most powerlifters I know will typically do 2 reps of pulling for every rep of pushing.

If you're focused purely on strength, I think you'll be hurting your progress by putting it all into one session and doing total body training. Upper/lower is a much more popular choice for a good reason.


If you want to improve strength, then you can't go wrong with a beginner barbell routine like Starting Strength/Practical Programming, Pavel 3-5, Madcow, etc. Even 5/3/1 if you wanted.

Accessory work is not even necessary in some cases for people that are just starting out. From what I have seen, its usually added in just for work capacity and GPP, with its function of balancing out the lifts being mostly secondary. And the only person I ever heard of doing anything like 2 reps of pulling for 1 rep pushing is Matt Kroczaleski.


^He's not just starting out. The man who wrote the very program you mentioned Jim W. recommends a 2:1 pull/push ratio. And pretty much every powerlifter I know does something similar.

Accessory work is not just added in for work capacity and GPP, it's ACCESSORY work; therefore, it's accessory to improving the big lifts.