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How Often to Work Out?


Umm... I'm currently 143, 16 years old, and am 5' 10''. and have only been working out for a month, and I've put on three pounds so far to a puny 143. I plan on gaining 17 pounds in 2 months, but that seems almost IMPOSSIBLE to pull off. I do not believe that isolation exercises work as well as full body workouts. I also try to constantly eat.

Unfortunately, I do not go to the weight room, but I have dumbells of various weights, a chin-up bar, and an ab wheel. I LOVE back-pack push-ups. putting on about 50 pounds, I do about 8 push-ups.

I also do rows, squats, deadlifts, arnold press, shrugs, curls, calf raises, front raise, and presses, all with dumbells. However, I am still unsure of HOW OFTEN to work out. It DOES vary per person, I understand that.

However, I train every day, but that is way too much for most people. But training only three times a day seems too little for me... Maybe I'm not going hard enough, because i'm only a TINY bit sore the next day. I don't understand the term "failure."

Should I fail after doing one rep of high intensity or fail after numerous reps and sets of moderate intensity? Can you give me some tips on intensity, reps, sets, and how often I should work out? Thank you.


Wait. You just started lifting. How the FUCK do you know what works well? Also, who in the world is telling people to ONLY do isolation exercises?

You should have posted this in the beginner's forum because the fact that you even think like this makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with you guys.


How much weight can you put on the DBS?

If your serious about this you will want to join a gym or invest in more equiptment.

Mostly people reccoment "starting strength" by Mark Ripptoe, so you might want to look that up and see if you have the equiptment to do this. If not, due to the equiptment limitations i would go for a standard 4 day body part split., such as :

M: Legs
T:Chest & Biceps
F:Back & Triceps

For individual sessions you could do something like this:

Legs: Squats, Bulgarian Split Squats, Lunges, Romanian Deadlift, Natural Glute ham raises & calf raises.
Chest & Biceps: DB Bench Press/ Floor Press, Incline Press if possible, Weighted Pushups/ plyometric pushups, DB bicep Curls, Hammer Curls- lots of options for biceps if you just reasearch a bit (www.exrx.com...i think)
Shoulders: DB Military press, Jack Knife pushups, Shrugs, Lateral/front raises.
Back & Triceps: Deadlift, pull ups, Any type of bent over row, Dips (use chairs or something), DB tricep extensions, Push ups with a very narrow base- hands almost touching.

Other than that, be inventive with what you have, be sure to eat enough food and concentrate on progression. You should always be either progressing in weight or the number of repetitions you can perform. If you start off with 8 reps in a set, once you can then do 12 reps with that weight you add more to the bar so you can only do 6-8 again, and then keep on building up the reps untill you hit 12 and its time to change the weight again.

As for intensity, take 60secs rest in between sets and shoot for 3-4 sets of each exercise.

Hope this helps.

@ X I'm assuming he meant to say he thought compound exercises were more effective than isolation exercises, as it makes no sense to compare a single movement to a type of training.


You are 16 and don't go to the weight room? If you are really interested in lifting/working out I'm sure your local high school gym is open during the summer months for football/intramural sports. I'm sure if you contact the school they will help you out. Who knows, maybe there will be a coach/peer at the gym that can help you out.


Some people have slightly different definitions, but basically failure means the last rep you perform is the last rep you could perform. So, you do a set, you get 8 reps, you couldn't get 9. The next time you do the same exercise, you either up the weight, or you fuckin get more than 8 reps. Always do this.


You were once a beginner also. His thinking is just fine for a beginner and he is asking for advise. I would see a problem if he was a beginner and acted like he knew everything. He however, acknowledges that he doesn't know it all, and that he is willing to learn. Nothing wrong with that.


I was a beginner and I would NOT have logged onto a forum with more experienced lifters talking about what I think works best. I would read, find out who has made the most progress here, and then listen and learn. Sorry, not all of us started this believing we had already figured out what works the best. That is WHY we followed what the big guys did because it obviously worked for them.


He is not telling anyone what works best. He is stating what he thinks works best, and then requesting feedback.

You are an experienced lifter, I don't know how you misunderstood his isolation exercise comment. Here is the clarification:

"There are more gains to be had from compound movements than isolation movements for someone at my current level."

I am sure if you were to coach him, you would not make him do curls over chin ups or weighted chin ups. What he is stating is correct.


I'm sorry, but I would have him do what? I would have him do BOTH. Why is this concept so foreign suddenly?

Also, unless you have trouble seeing the words on the screen, a newbie who just got in the gym DID write in the post above what he thought was better...as if isolation exercises should be avoided.

They shouldn't be. NOTHING should be avoided.

How about YOU stop telling ME what I think or how I would respond.


17 pounds in eight weeks is a tall order, but not completely out of reach of a skinny 16-year old new to lifting. If we can get you on a solid training program ASAP and get you to consistently eat plenty of calories, it's worth a shot.

Any particular reason for that amount of weight in that amount of time? Are you just looking to roll into junior year with a bigger bod so you can pull some cheerleaders? :wink:

Why do you think this?

That's like saying "I don't believe that tires can go as fast as a Corvette." Dude, isolation exercises are usually part of a full body workout.

"Try?" You "try?" If you want to get bigger, you'll stop "trying" and you just "will." Your new job eat to eat so often, your friends think you have a tapeworm. That's just about when you know you're on the right track.

Do you have a job, so you have your own pocket money?

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

A weight room would really be helpful, but if you don't have access to one, you'll have to do the best with what you've got.

How many different dumbbells do you have? Also, what's the heaviest pair of dumbbells? Once we get these answers, we can figure out the best plan.

You definitely don't have to train everyday. And actually, if you're not eating enough, training everyday is a dumb idea. Most beginners will do fine training three or four days each week. Depending on the workout, three days of lifting can be plenty.

Have you never had killer soreness? Especially if you've only been lifting a month, I'd expect there to have been a few workouts that had you wake up a day or two later and wonder if you broke something.

Soreness doesn't always mean you had a good training session, but if you've never, ever been sore, there's something wrong with your plan.

"Lifting to failure" basically means that if, for example, you want to do a set of eight curls, you'll struggle like hell to finish that eighth rep, and if you try to get a ninth, the weight doesn't even get half-way up. Depending on your workout, you might rest a few minutes before trying another set at the same weight or a lighter weight, but that's a different issue we don't need to get into yet.


Don't sweat the small stuff. Basically, at least 70% of your workout should be compound movements. Curls are a valid exercise but don't build a program around them. My advice at this point would be to do some research, find a trainer, whatever it takes to learn good form. You want to have your form down before you start trying to set new PR's.

The exersises you need to do are simple: Chinups, Pullups, Rows, Squats, Deadlifts, Bench press, Dips, Military Press.

Also, throw in some curls, tricep extensions, bulgarian split squats, lunges, etc... to add some variety.

Since your a skinny guy, You need to eat a lot. 4000 Kcal a day is usualy a good starting point. Eat every 2-3 hours and try to make them healthy meals. by healthy I mean some carbs (veggies or fruit) and some protien. Now, that is the basis for all good healthy diets.

Here is the good part. Your a young skinny guy so having a big mac or a slice of pizza is not going to kill you, just don't eat that stuff for every meal. You not only need carbs fat and protien but you also need the microneutrients found in fruits and veggies.

That's about as basic as it gets. Do the research, find a mentor or at least a partner, find a gym and get to it.

As many have mentioned on this site a good starting program would be starting strength.


The kiddo specifically said "isolation exercises" and "full body workouts." He's confused. Maybe he meant to say either "isolation-based workouts" or "compound exercises," but he didn't. And really, you're filling in a lot of unknowns with your interpretation of what he said.

What he's saying is an incomplete thought. What you're saying is incorrect. When hypertrophy is the goal, a complete weight-training program (which includes a specific combination of compound and isolation exercises) is the way to get there, whether we're talking about a beginner or a more advanced lifter.

For a 143-pound kid? You don't think that's turning the dial up to 11 a bit soon? I agree with some of your other points, but this broad-sweeping caloric goal is on the high side.

He definitely need to take in a bunch of calories, but I think it's a little premature, and unnecessary, to suggest a goal like that. (Also, it implies that the kid is going to track his calories which, from my experience, is unlikely).

While Starting Strength can be a good first program, since the kiddo already said doesn't go to a weight room (for very good reasons that I'm sure he'll clarify... hint, hint), it's a pretty dopey suggestion. Especially since he said he only has dumbbells and the book's subtitle is "Basic Barbell Training."


way to say what i said and then overcomplicate it with specific calorie ammounts.....hes a beginner therefore basic shit, you eat food and monitor weight, when it stops increasing, you eat more food. I also love how you start off saying "dont sweat the small stuff...."then have a period over it.


Your probably right about the 4000 calories. It worked for me so that's why I suggested it. I was also 24 years old and weighed 120 lbs at 5'7" when I got that advice. Depending on the kids activity level would 4000 calories be way off base? I also agree that he probably won't count his calories. I know I wouldn't have at age 16.

How would you suggest that he plan out his diet? In my experience I thought I was eating a lot but when I did actualy count calories it didn't amount to much.


"I do not believe that isolation exercises work as well as full body workouts." I don't see where he's saying he wants to avoid isolation exercises.


Why does someone always have to turn it into a pissing contest? I'm just giving the guy my advice.


[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
greenhopper wrote:

What he is stating is correct.

What he's saying is an incomplete thought. What you're saying is incorrect. When hypertrophy is the goal, a complete weight-training program (which includes a specific combination of compound and isolation exercises) is the way to get there, whether we're talking about a beginner or a more advanced lifter.

I'm pretty sure I said there are more gains to be had from compound movements than isolation exercises - and that is correct.
I never mentioned removing isolation exercises from the workout, as you suggest I did.


The first step to laying out a plan is to know how he's been eating. That's why I asked for him to list everything he ate yesterday (truth be told, that's a Dan John trick I stole). He said he "tries to eat constantly," but having it written down, laid out, and dissected by us can reveal a lot.

I also asked about his pocket money-situation to see if he'll be able to buy his own food here and there, instead of raiding the fridge day after day, which could cause some friction with his folks.

But in general, some of the points you mentioned (eating something every few hours, being sure to include protein sources, not freaking out over the occasional 7-11 or MickeyD's trip) are spot on.

More specifically, I want to see him eating a substantial meal within a half-hour of waking up, some kind of shake during his lifting, and something about an hour before going to sleep. Food throughout the day is important too (obviously), but if I had to, I'd say those three are slightly more important and they're things that guys trying to add size forget about.


No, it isn't. There are more gains to be had by not ignoring entire movements and exercises just because of some false belief that "compound exercises" somehow make you gain more muscle than an approach that doesn't leave shit out.

This type of thinking isn't helping anyone but the authors whose books you buy.

NO ONE, not one single person, is on this site telling people to ONLY do isolation movements...yet there are TONS of you guys out there telling people to ONLY do "compound exercises".

I am willing to bet the biggest most muscular people on this site are the guys NOT ignoring isolation exercises.


Once again, take an isolation exercise and take a compound exercise. THERE ARE MORE GAINS TO BE HAD FROM COMPOUND EXERCISES.

I don't know WHY you insist on debating something that is not being debated. Did he ask whether it's better to do a combination of Compound+Isolation or compound alone? No.

Did I say that doing compound exercises is better than doing both compound and isolation? No.

It was between compound and isolation movements individually. And the statement that was made was correct.

No one is aruging with the fact that a full program containing a combination of compound and isolation movements is the way to go. But for some reason you insist on repeating it over and over.

He made a simple statement that you misinterpreted and started berating him for. I clarified it, and since then you have become obsessed. Move on man.