T Nation

Is My Routine All Wrong?

I have been working out on my own for about a year, in my basement. I have never gone to a gym or asked advice from experienced lifters. While talking to some guys at work I let it slip that i was working out and suddenly all the experts were asking me what lifts, sets, training I was doing. Well all the experts heard what i was doing and began telling me I how I was doing it all wrong, that I needed to work out certain muscles once a week, etc.etc.

So it has been bugging me enough to seek advice here about my routine. I am 46, 6.0 , and weigh 205. I have been working out for about a year and made pretty steady gains in weight and physical size. I haven’t had any injuries but wonder if my routine is A)Bad for me and will lead to injury, or 2)could I make greater gains with a change of routine? Here is what I have been doing: After a good warm up with increasing weights etc.

I do the following lifts in this order: Bench press 5 reps at 265lbs. Alternating dumbbell curls (8 each arm) with 45lbs. French presses 8 reps with a tricep bar with 70lbs. Alternating Hammer curls, 8 reps with 45lbs. Lat pulls, 8 reps with 140lbs, and finally vertical leg presses, 8 reps with 275lbs. I repeat this routine a total of three times for my workout, resting a minute or two between lifts.

The whole workout takes about an hour and a half including warmups. I do this three nights a week (MWF). So, am I setting myself up for failure here? I have steadily gone up in weight on all of my lifts and i can max bench 310 right now. Could I do better with a different routine?

Should i break it into muscle groups instead of all together? Most nights I will finish off with 30 dips, tricep pushups and regular pushups. I am currently taking whey and 5grams of creatine a day. any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

do starting strenth --> use search function

or westside training or a 5 day split, it really depends on ur goals. wats ur BF%? whats ur diet look like?

ur routine u should do less isolation ex more compound excercises

if u wanna do 3 times a week, do some squats (not leg press unless u cant squat), deadlifts, pullups (not lat pulldowns), barbell curls, yes to the french curls, flat bench press, military press, BB rows and some calf work.

hope it helps

The only thing right with your program is that you say it’s working.

If you’re unsatisfied with your progress there’s an infinite amount of changes available: different splits, different rep range, different exercises.

Most glaring need I see is more leg and back volume. the disparity between pushing and pulling could lead to shoulder problems (and a posture with your shoulders sagging forward like a gorilla). There already seems to be a huge difference between what you can push vs. pull.

Your bench is a bit more than mine, so I can’t say your program isn’t working, lol.

Alot of people might say you should always do compound movements first, and isolation last due to the amount of energy compounds require. It’s kinda weird mixing it up like you do, but obviously it’s working for ya.

However I don’t see any vertical pulling, and your lat pulling is kinda pathetic. You’re gunna eventually have shoulder pain if you don’t already from an imbalance in your back and chest.

Thanks for taking the time to give feedback. I didn’t realize my lat pulldowns were so bad. Did some research. Seems my lat bar is VERY wide and i was pulling from the grips at the end (widest point). I moved my hands in on the bar some, more toward a wide chin up width and my weights instantly went up a lot. I am trying a triangle handle too which adds a nice twist. I have also begun low cable rows and beginning deadlift for more back work. Thanks again.

[quote]JA0754 wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to give feedback. I didn’t realize my lat pulldowns were so bad. Did some research. Seems my lat bar is VERY wide and i was pulling from the grips at the end (widest point). I moved my hands in on the bar some, more toward a wide chin up width and my weights instantly went up a lot. I am trying a triangle handle too which adds a nice twist. I have also begun low cable rows and beginning deadlift for more back work. Thanks again.[/quote]

These sound like some strong alterations that will pay off. If i were you I would look around at some of the articles on here [especially the ones listed in the sticky posts at the top of the beginners forum] and see if you want to change your program.

As for now it seems to work. But maybe in the future you begin to stall out on your lifts and you dont continue up in weight/measurement. In that case it will be good to have a new and totally different training program already looked at and researched. This way you will have gotten any new gear you need or practiced the technique on new lifts or variants.

Doing some light research on programs and information will be as rewarding as the gains they may produce. Also this might allow you to gradually alter your program and switch some lifts for others and keep a changing roster of lifts in your mind this way you can switch out a lift every 4 weeks to keep things fresh.

I know one coach that keep his lift variation such that a lift is only repeated every 20 days. To hectic for me but it works great for many of his fitness-oriented clients. keeps them amused i suppose.

-chris

I agree mostly with Avocado. Here’s the bottom line-- you worked at it consistently (good), for a long period of time (great), and you believed it would work until very recently (awesome).

Guess what? It worked. You stated you made steady gains in size and strength. It went against all conventional advice, it IS unbalanced. But it worked for you because you were dedicated and consistent.

a 310 bench after a year of training at 46!! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

And, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORK ONE MUSCLE GROUP 1X A WEEK. That’s not the only way and the so called experts at the water cooler tend to come out when anything different is done. Sure they work, but they’re not the only way. Just the most familiar. I wouldn’t even say they’re the best for what you’re currently looking for.

I’ve made great progress in times past by doing something similar to what you have been doing this year–doing full-body workouts 3-4 times a week. They are amazingly effective at your current level. I did however do more leg work in them. Most of my progress over the years has been made by following an Upper/Lower split, or a movement based split (powerlifting style). But full body sessions DO work, and they DO work well at your stage.

However, There are things you can do to change it for the better. I suggest a steady diet of reading, reading, reading and more reading. Look at different programs… I would submit you are ready for something besides Starting Strength, so I would recommend an Upper/Lower split where you work out 4 days a week, as an option. Alternately I would look at anything Christian Thibaudeau has written, or Joe Defranco, or Dave Tate.

I would NOT suggest doing max attempts if you decide to do something along the lines of what Dave Tate writes. Just stick with a top set of 5 reps for now, similar to what you did with bench. Especiallly considering you haven’t really ever done any deadlifts or squats in the first place. You should get the technique nailed down first so as to keep yourself healthy, THEN work up the weights. A year from now you can put some respectable weights up there if you work hard at it like you did this self-made program.

PS—It isn’t bad to have super-wide grip lat pulldowns. I do them like that all the time and I like them. However, it is very useful to have periods of time where you do them narrower or use a triangle grip (we generally call it a V-grip) to change things up. Your low cable rows will be a very very welcome addition in the interests of balancing your training out.

PPS–beginning deadlift work was a great idea too.

PPPS–if you can’t get a squat rack when you decide to change programs up, don’t sweat squats so much–the deadlift is a FANTASTIC builder of everything the squat does, so just use it. There are lots of variations you can do.

[quote]Avocado wrote:
JA0754 wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to give feedback. I didn’t realize my lat pulldowns were so bad. Did some research. Seems my lat bar is VERY wide and i was pulling from the grips at the end (widest point). I moved my hands in on the bar some, more toward a wide chin up width and my weights instantly went up a lot. I am trying a triangle handle too which adds a nice twist. I have also begun low cable rows and beginning deadlift for more back work. Thanks again.

These sound like some strong alterations that will pay off. If i were you I would look around at some of the articles on here [especially the ones listed in the sticky posts at the top of the beginners forum] and see if you want to change your program.

As for now it seems to work. But maybe in the future you begin to stall out on your lifts and you dont continue up in weight/measurement. In that case it will be good to have a new and totally different training program already looked at and researched. This way you will have gotten any new gear you need or practiced the technique on new lifts or variants.

Doing some light research on programs and information will be as rewarding as the gains they may produce. Also this might allow you to gradually alter your program and switch some lifts for others and keep a changing roster of lifts in your mind this way you can switch out a lift every 4 weeks to keep things fresh.

I know one coach that keep his lift variation such that a lift is only repeated every 20 days. To hectic for me but it works great for many of his fitness-oriented clients. keeps them amused i suppose.

-chris[/quote]

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
I agree mostly with Avocado. Here’s the bottom line-- you worked at it consistently (good), for a long period of time (great), and you believed it would work until very recently (awesome).

Guess what? It worked. You stated you made steady gains in size and strength. It went against all conventional advice, it IS unbalanced. But it worked for you because you were dedicated and consistent.

a 310 bench after a year of training at 46!! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

And, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORK ONE MUSCLE GROUP 1X A WEEK. That’s not the only way and the so called experts at the water cooler tend to come out when anything different is done. Sure they work, but they’re not the only way. Just the most familiar. I wouldn’t even say they’re the best for what you’re currently looking for.

I’ve made great progress in times past by doing something similar to what you have been doing this year–doing full-body workouts 3-4 times a week. They are amazingly effective at your current level. I did however do more leg work in them. Most of my progress over the years has been made by following an Upper/Lower split, or a movement based split (powerlifting style). But full body sessions DO work, and they DO work well at your stage.

However, There are things you can do to change it for the better. I suggest a steady diet of reading, reading, reading and more reading. Look at different programs… I would submit you are ready for something besides Starting Strength, so I would recommend an Upper/Lower split where you work out 4 days a week, as an option. Alternately I would look at anything Christian Thibaudeau has written, or Joe Defranco, or Dave Tate.

I would NOT suggest doing max attempts if you decide to do something along the lines of what Dave Tate writes. Just stick with a top set of 5 reps for now, similar to what you did with bench. Especiallly considering you haven’t really ever done any deadlifts or squats in the first place. You should get the technique nailed down first so as to keep yourself healthy, THEN work up the weights. A year from now you can put some respectable weights up there if you work hard at it like you did this self-made program.

PS—It isn’t bad to have super-wide grip lat pulldowns. I do them like that all the time and I like them. However, it is very useful to have periods of time where you do them narrower or use a triangle grip (we generally call it a V-grip) to change things up. Your low cable rows will be a very very welcome addition in the interests of balancing your training out.

PPS–beginning deadlift work was a great idea too.

PPPS–if you can’t get a squat rack when you decide to change programs up, don’t sweat squats so much–the deadlift is a FANTASTIC builder of everything the squat does, so just use it. There are lots of variations you can do.

Avocado wrote:
JA0754 wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to give feedback. I didn’t realize my lat pulldowns were so bad. Did some research. Seems my lat bar is VERY wide and i was pulling from the grips at the end (widest point). I moved my hands in on the bar some, more toward a wide chin up width and my weights instantly went up a lot. I am trying a triangle handle too which adds a nice twist. I have also begun low cable rows and beginning deadlift for more back work. Thanks again.

These sound like some strong alterations that will pay off. If i were you I would look around at some of the articles on here [especially the ones listed in the sticky posts at the top of the beginners forum] and see if you want to change your program.

As for now it seems to work. But maybe in the future you begin to stall out on your lifts and you dont continue up in weight/measurement. In that case it will be good to have a new and totally different training program already looked at and researched. This way you will have gotten any new gear you need or practiced the technique on new lifts or variants.

Doing some light research on programs and information will be as rewarding as the gains they may produce. Also this might allow you to gradually alter your program and switch some lifts for others and keep a changing roster of lifts in your mind this way you can switch out a lift every 4 weeks to keep things fresh.

I know one coach that keep his lift variation such that a lift is only repeated every 20 days. To hectic for me but it works great for many of his fitness-oriented clients. keeps them amused i suppose.

-chris

[/quote]

Yeah I agree with you agreeing with me.

Jokes aside getting a squat rack will help a huge boat load. You can usually get some cheap uprights like these:

http://www.healthstylesexercise.com/catalog/images/Body-Solid-Powerline-Squat-Rack.jpg

Or something similar for piss all cash, especially if you can buy used or garage sale. After that all you need are some sawhorses for safety catches. My plastic sawhorses have had 405lbs landed on them and they dont give a shit.

Deadlifts are great and will get you fucking strong but I find that squats help you grow better. just the experience my my athletes and I. The squats give you that time under tension and your deadlift will rise along with them. whereas my squat never rose at all during the time when i did exclusively deadlifts [similar situation to you with the garage training}.

-chris

[quote]Avocado wrote:

Yeah I agree with you agreeing with me.

Jokes aside getting a squat rack will help a huge boat load. You can usually get some cheap uprights like these:

http://www.healthstylesexercise.com/catalog/images/Body-Solid-Powerline-Squat-Rack.jpg

Or something similar for piss all cash, especially if you can buy used or garage sale. After that all you need are some sawhorses for safety catches. My plastic sawhorses have had 405lbs landed on them and they dont give a shit.

Deadlifts are great and will get you fucking strong but I find that squats help you grow better. just the experience my my athletes and I. The squats give you that time under tension and your deadlift will rise along with them. whereas my squat never rose at all during the time when i did exclusively deadlifts [similar situation to you with the garage training}.

-chris[/quote]

Great idea! Uprights + cheap sawhorses = win for squatting, and much cheaper than a full rack. Wish I’d thought of that.

Thanks again for the new input. I have since done my first 315lb. (3 plates! Yes!) bench. I know I should look into new routines, research was never my strong suit. Laziness makes me want to take a routine off a page and follow it. I will check the sticky’s. If anyone wants to share an example of the kind of routine you mentioned I would appreciate it. I have a half cage, with a lat pull down and multiple catches so I can squat off of that. I just always worried about my back so went with the leg press. The vert. leg press has given me great thigh development pretty quickly. The saw horses for safety is a great idea, I have plenty of those. Thanks again.

If you are worried about your back on squats,as I am, try front squats. I do them and it doesnt seem to put as much stress on my lower back. Just takes some getting used to.

[quote]danc2469 wrote:
If you are worried about your back on squats,as I am, try front squats. I do them and it doesnt seem to put as much stress on my lower back. Just takes some getting used to.[/quote]

Yeah just keep that straight spine and work the numbers up without compromising the nice straight back and you’ll be fine. Both front and backs should be ok but danc here is right, fronts will be easier Esp if you’re tall.

-chris