T Nation

Help Wanted


Hey guys and girls, I have a few questions for you, I hope some of you can help me out. I am currently using the WSFSKB routine, and have been for about a month, maybe a month and a half.

I am trying to gain some muscle mass, I am 5'11. and only 164( age 18), ideal would be a much stronger 175-180 lbs. I am not a bodybuilder which I know is popular at this site(nothing wrong with it, its just not my thing), I am lifting for functional strength I can use in sports and martial arts.

My first question...What is meant to work up to a max set of 3-5 reps? Start at say 100, do 5 reps, then keep adding weight until I cant do more than 5 reps. So 5 reps of 100, then 5 reps of 120, etc..

Second question, while benching(the above routine, working up to a max set of 3-5 reps) is it better to go to 150 for the last set, or go up to say 160 and need a little help from my spotter.

Thirdly, can I do any of the following exercises without a cable in the gym?

Seated rear delt machine
Seated dumbbell ?power cleans?
Bent-over cable flyes (single arm)
Standing face pulls
Rope pulls to throat
Bent-over dumbbell rear delt flyes
Cable ?scarecrows"

If so, can anyone tell me how to do them, I am unfamiliar with all of these exercises, and I workout in my school gym so I cant ask any personal trainers etc..Also, if none are possible with cables, can you suggest some replacement lifts.

4) How long should I give the routine before I should start seeing results, if I have no results after say a month should I increase my food intakes, or perhaps start using a protein supplement of some kind?

Thanks in advance, hope I wasnt to demanding.


OK a Lot of questions Im going to be breif and blunt here. No offense just geting it all in.

Yes depending on the amount of sets wanted start out with you 3-5RM in mind and work up slowly through we'll say five sets to a point you get between 3-5 reps. So lets say you know your 5 rm is aronud 225lbs. start with say 155. do it then move up slowly 185, 205, 225, 235.

Well you want to get 3-5 reps just like it says. If a spotter has to help in ANY way the rep doesnt count

Um yes the ones that say "dumbell" well those are done wuith dumbells not cables. Like the DB seated cleans you simply sit on a bench and do DB powercleans Stops you from using body english as much.

Sure you can do other things for them like the standing face pulls simply do a bent row to your face or lye under a bar and pull your self up towrd your face same with the rope pulls to throat. Rope weight PULL toward throat.

Just use a little imagination.

This site may help with exersize examples

Honestly YEARS!!!! A month or month and a half is piss in a bucket stick to training hard for lets say 5 years then look at the progress. You cannot except a TON of progress in a matter of weeks. Sure you shopuld get better/progress moreso if you are new but its very dependent.

Should you eat more or get a protein supp. Couldnt tell you are you currently gaining weight on what you are eating?? if not yes eat more. Are you getting enough protein without the protein supplement from whole foods?? If no yes get some Grow!

Hope that helps,


Not to step on Phill's toes, but I have to disagree with that last point, or rather, add to it. I think you should be able to see/feel some difference from the routine in a month or 2. Whether that means you're getting stronger on movements, or you're seeing visual changes in your physique or how your clothes are fitting. If you aren't, then something's off-kilter. And since it's a solid program (presuming you're following it to the letter), then it's a nutrition/supplement issue.

A phrase has been floating around T-Nation for a little while, "You can't out-train a poor diet." That...is...absolutely...true.

If you were me...you'd be taller and older. :wink: Aside from that, you would've started 6 weeks ago, taking Surge after every strength training workout, and knocking back at least 1 Grow! shake each day. That end of things really is a make it or break it factor.

Practice your exercises. Check exrx.net. Maybe swing by a library and pick up Schwarzenegger's "New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding." There's a crapload of pictures in there. Learn. Get bigger. Get stronger. Enjoy and good luck.



First let me start of with saying that you have picked a very good program to start out with. WS4SB is great for beginners because it is so simple and it really teaches you how to use the Westside template, which is used all the way up to the Pro level. Now to try to answer your questions:

1.) As said before, this does all depend on the individual. What I like to do is start out very light and jump up rapidly until it gets difficult. For instance, say you were going for a 3RM of 150# on the bench. Your sets might look like this:
5 x 45# (rest 30sec)
5 x 65# (rest 45sec)
5 x 85# (rest 60sec)
5 x 115# (rest 90sec)
3 x 135# (rest 120sec)
3 x 150#

If you complete that, throw on another 10 pounds and give it a go. I don't know if it is me, but my maxes often come in big chunks. For instance, I won't go up at all for a couple of weeks, then I'll get the 5 pound increase I was going for, and then I'll throw on another 10 pounds and get that too. Could just be me though.

So that is 6 sets. Certainly I would experiment and see what works for you, but I think that's a pretty good way to do it.

2.) Absolutely NO help from the spotter until you need it. I think people rely on the spotter's help too much. I think you will surprise yourself at how you can grind it out and finish a lift that you thought you would get stuck at. There realy is nothing more satisfying in my opinion. There are some slightly more advanced techniques such as eccentric overload where you lower say 120% of your 1RM and your partner helps you bring it up, but I wouldn't worry about that for another couple of months.

3.) Go on elitefts.com, go to "Q&A" and find their exercise index. If you can't what you're looking for jsut google it.

4.) If you are hitting the weights like a beast everytime you get in the gym and eating a great diet, you will see results almost instantly. I'm not saying you'll turn into Dave Boston in 2 weeks, but you'll get a little extra definition somewhere and get a little bit stronger in a few lifts very quickly. There are 2 keys to this I think:

1.) EAT RIGHT. I can't stress this enough. It's already been said, but if every single person who replies to this thread says it, it still won't be enough. Your diet is so important. Grilled chicken will become your best friend.

2.) Give it your all every time you step in the gym. As long as you are taking an unload week every 4 or 5 week and eating enough, you will recover. A lot of kids half-ass their way through workouts and wonder why they aren't any stronger a year later. You should only be in the weightroom for about an hour- get everything you can out of it.

It sounds like you are off to a good start, if you have any more questions don't hesistate to ask.

With that said, get off your ass and get in the gym!


Thanks for all the great advice guys, I have a few more questions if you will be kind enough to help me out.

Do you know anywhere I can see proper box squat form? I have seen quite a few pictures that show various form which is a bit confusing. I used inproper technique last week, and thankfully I had both a belt and a spotter. I went down once, came back up easily, and went down twice and my back nearly gave out. Not sure what happened, but I do know it was bad, so i would really appreciate it if you could point me to a video clip of someone performing a box squat correctly.

Second question concerns Good Mornings. How does a spotter spot you, and are there any tips for doing these safely. They feel a bit awkward to me, and I dont want to mess up and fall on my face or anything.

Once again thanks for all the help, I appreciate every bit of it.


I'd ditch the belt. It'll eventually lead to muscle imbalances.


There are several videos for sale by Westside Barbell and EFS to watch the big boys do the box squat. There is an article right here on T-Nation by Dave Tate that goes into great detail on how to setup and execute a box squat.


I really like the Westside squat video as a source of comparison, video tape yourself if possible and post it here to get some critiques.

As far as the good morning, I've always worked out alone in a power rack so I just set the safety pins a few inches below parallel to catch myself if need be. You should practice them with light weight and then work up to heavier sets later. Just substitue something else for your posterior chain work till you get it down. Good luck


I agree the elite squat vidoe is AWESOME!!!!


I juast had the chance of watching it a few weeks back and suggest it to anyone not only for learning but also just inspiration.


I am not sure about ditching a belt PP. Could lead to a thrown out back or a hernia. In fact I would think that wearing a weight belt is the contrary a good practice on exercizes like squat, DL, good mornings.


Some squatting info I gleaned from the Westside seminar I attended earlier this year:
The 3 biggest technique points in a box squat are...
1 - Grip the bar as hard as possible, that will tell the rest of your body to stay tight.

2 - Arch your upper back, which will keep your lower back arched as well.

3 - The first thing to move when descending is your butt. Your butt and hips should move back and THEN down. Think of doing a 1/4 or 1/2 good morning, then squatting.

Definitely check out the article Scottiscool mentioned. No real pictures, but it's a great description.

Also, I second the call to ditch the belt. I'd rather build your own belt, through heavy ab/core work. As for spotting the GM, you could do it from behind, like a squat. Just be sure to have a very hetero and secure spotter (kidding, mostly). Or, like Scott also mentioned, set the pins to a decent height, and be ready to drop forward/bail out if needed.


Ditching the belt might be a good idea once he has build those areas but would you agree that until that time it is good to have support?


Nope. As long as you're wearing a weight belt, your core has no reason to get stronger. You can't build strong legs by wearing a cast. Along the same line, you can't build a strong core by wearing a belt. It would be more beneficial to avoid the belt, train the core, and use appropriate weight on compound movements.

If you "need" a belt, you're using more weight than your body can support. Similar to wrist straps. If you need them, you shouldn't be lifting the weight. (This is a much-debated topic, and you can certainly find as many people in favor of straps/belts, as you can find opposed. In the end, do what you're comfortable with.)


Sounds logical. I do wear a belt on my squats not because of my back but when I even go moderately heavy I get a bad stinging sensation in my abdomen on the left hand side just below my belt line. When wearing a belt I do not get that pain.


It sounds like the belt is a band-aid. It's solving the symptom, but not the problem. I'd try to figure out what's causing the pain. Could be poor hip flexor flexibility, a hip flexor strain, some kind of leg length discrepancy, or something else. If possible, get it looked at by a doctor or physical therapist.


Once again thanks for all the great advice, I must admit I am a bit surprised by the great response to my questions, something which I have found is unusual on a internet forum.

How do I know when I should or should nto use a belt? I don't know how much weight I can lift without getting a hernia, and I dont know of anyway to predict that. I certainly dont want to be squatting and be surprised with a nice old hernia.


If you're using WS4SB, you should be working up anyway. Keep upping the weight until your form breaks down, then drop the reps (if you are still working up) and keep going. Stop upping the reps if you miss a lift or your form goes to shit (which is the same thing).


Thanks guys, I have another question(just full of them) for all of ya.

How wide should my feet be? I read they should be slightly more than shoulder length, and then see a picture of Louie Simmons with his legs farther spread apart, and then in the T-Nation article by Dave Tate his feet are spread apart quite a bit.

Thanks again for your time


One of the best things I heard lately was at the last Staley seminar on feet placment. Jump in the air and land. look at your feet where they are naturally and that is probably your best stance.

Give it a try ir seems to work pretty darn good.


Now that I have my workout in order(for the most part) I need to get my diet in order. I am still living with my parents, plus am a high school student so meals cannot be planned around me.

Thankfully my mom cooks meat 90% of the time for dinner. I usually eat cereal since I dont have much time for breakfast(hope to change this to scrambled eggs, both for nutrition and taste).

Does anyone have a favorite Subway sandwich(nutrition wise) I should look into? For some reason I doubt a McDonalds burger and fries are good for me.

Also, does anyone know of any healthy snack? I usually get hungry the last few hours of school, and my only option food wise is the vending machine, which is stocked with cinnamon rolls and candy bars. If there are any healthy snacks(somewhat cheap, I am running off my parents at the moment and I hate spending their money) I could buy, please let me know. I know I am not getting enough protein, and I want to try to get close before I use supplements.

Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate all the advice and assistance.


::throwing a pink dumbbell at you::
Dude, breakfast is a top priority. If, if, if you're eating cold cereal, make it something high-fiber, mixed with, like, a Grow! and water shake instead of milk. Otherwise, old-school oatmeal would be a better choice. Worst case scenario, chow down on a few hard-boiled eggs.

A 6-inch turkey or roast beef on whole wheat, with double meat. Boom, done. Extra tomatoes and hot or sweet peppers earn you bonus points.

A box of Metabolic Drive bars work out to about $1.39 each, which is cheaper than most bars at the local nutrition store. Again, hard-boiled eggs are great traveling food. Mixed nuts or beef jerky also make good snacks.