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Is This Thing On? Routine Review Please

I think this is the right forum for this post. It says “ask for a review of your current workout” which is what I’m after. I’ll try to toss in some humor where I can.

I’m 37. I can’t even believe I just typed that number. Between two kids, a job, an ex wife, a new wife, the new wife’s yappy fucking dog, and some kind of hormonal cliff I fell off of upon turning 35, I put on about 30 lbs of burgers, beer, and blub in the last two years. It’s like I take my shirt off, and I am still wearing another shirt, but it is flesh colored and made of an inch of fat. Not that it wasn’t fun. I had a blast. But this is miserable. Just fucking pathetic. I can’t go on like this.

Anyway. I’m 6’3", 238 pounds. No idea on body fat percentage. I was, at one time, in very impressive shape, and I feel like I know how to do some lifts properly, most notably deads, squats, bench.

My goals are to put on some muscle for two months, then lean out, then rinse and repeat. I’d really like to figure out how to put some mass on my delts and upper back. I’d also like to get some mass on my back between my shoulder blades. Chest grows fine, arms grow fine, legs need to shrink if anything, but my shoulders and back never seem to grow.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Day 1
Deadlift 135 x 15 (5 or 6 sets)
Machine row 110 x 15 (5 or 6 sets)
Cable row 70 x 1, 80 x 1, 90 x 1, 80 x 1, 70 x 1
Rear Machine Flyes 30 x 15 (5 sets)

Day 2
Clean and Press 90 x 12 (4 sets right now)
Arnold Press 30 x 12 (usually 3 or 4 sets)
Cable shoulder press 20 x 15 (5 sets)
Front dumbbell raise with rotation 10 x 12 (4 sets)
Side dumbbell raise 10 x 12 (4 sets)

Day 3
Trap bar squat 135 x 12 (4 or 5 sets)
Shoulder shrug machine 90 x 10 (5 sets)
Upright row 65 x 15 (4 sets)
Cable upright row 40 x 15 (5 sets)

Day 4
Cable chest press 60 x 15, 70 x 15, 80 x 15, 70 x 15, 60 x 15, then as many sets of whatever weight felt the best
Overhead Flyes 20 x 15 (5 sets)
Low Flyes 30 x 15 (5 sets)

I’ve been screwing around with this routine for about a month and I’ve seen some results. Weight has stayed exactly the same, which is funny, but my pants don’t fit anymore. I’m starting to see more mass and definition in my upper body, but I have a loooooong way to go. I have more energy which is awesome.

Issues that suck:

  1. My shoulders are unstable. I have partially torn labrums in both. Left worse than right. They really limit the weight I can do with my shoulders and they completely prevent me from doing flat bench with heavy weight. Luckily, my gym has a cable chest press thing that seems to really fatigue my chest just how it needs to be and it works well.

  2. I have inconsistent workouts. I always work out early in the morning. I start with a protein shake and an apple and drink BCAs at the gym. Somedays, I can really feel the “mind muscle connection” (I think. WTF do I know?) Other days, I can’t fatigue my muscles at all. It feels like being halfway through a movie you haven’t seen the end of, but you know you’re going to hate it because Keanu Reeves is a shitty actor and that’s just the way things are, but you’ve already spent an hour so you just see it through. . . That’s what some of my workouts are like. 16 Samurai of whatever that steaming pile of film was. I just slog through and come back again and hope for the best.

  3. I’m confused as hell about supplements. I use protein powder, BCAs, fish oil, and vitamins. I usually get 60 grams of protein a day. I tend to just wing it with the BCAs, like a teenager that has no idea how to make a martini just splashing around some vodka and olives. I don’t know what else I should be taking or how much, and God bless those supplement store guys. . . They try, but I can tell when they are just regurgitating a bunch of bullshit.

I would really appreciate the following:

  1. Suggestions on movements/alterations of the current movements to increase size on the delts and upper back first, and any suggestions on the spots between the shoulder blades second.
  2. Suggestions on rep/weight variation.
  3. Suggestions on how to improve the time I have in the gym, ie when a set or movement just isn’t causing muscle fatigue, what do you guys do?
  4. Anything else you can think of.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate any thoughts.

First things first. I am going to suggest that you may want to move this over to the beginner thread or O35. (IMO)
Second… are we talking pounds or kgs here?
Third… 60 grams of protein? WTF?

Cool. Not sure how to move it, but I’ll figure it out.

Pounds. Yeah, I know. I can lift more, but I’m working into it. Plus, I’ve been told by a physical therapist that high reps and low weight is the way to go. Not sure about that. Are you suggesting I lower the reps and increase the pounds?

I eat more protein than that. I didn’t post my diet. I usually start with protein and an apple in the morning, then cottage cheese at 10am, yogurt at noon, more cottage cheese at 2ish, then I usually just wing it and eat whatever non fast food I can get my hands on from there, and finish with a protein shake at night.

I’m a beginner myself. (Only been at this a couple years now.) But, I really think that is a ridiculous amount of volume. I’m sure some of the experinced guys can tell you more. Have you tried to find a program?

A little more info on your fitness background and or lifting experience would be helpful.

Um why? Are you talking leaning them up where you can see some muscle definition and Vascularity?

Yes. I need to lean them up. I have been sporadically running and riding my bike, and my thighs are pretty big. I haven’t measured, but they don’t fit in jeans or dress pants well. I am reluctant to do any decently heavy squats or direct leg stuff because I don’t want them to get any bigger. Leaner would be awesome. Bigger, not so much. Any suggestion on that other than cutting which I’m already going to do would be greatly appreciated.

Fitness background. . . I was a high school athlete. Basketball and track. Always pretty tall and lean. I’ve had a pretty hard time packing on muscle. Struggled in college. I would lift weights a lot and see no gains because my diet was crap and I was very inconsistent.

In law school I started working out nearly every day and eating at least one chicken breast a night and I really got myself in decent shape. Of course, I was 23. I think that had something to do with it.

Since then, I haven’t worked out all that consistently at any one period of time because I really struggled with putting on weight and doing exercises properly.

I kept reading a ton of articles, many on this site, about bench/squat/deads and how those big compound movements and the right diet were the key to growth. I tried that stuff and failed because I was too ignorant. I went to a powerlifting gym and got some training on how to properly do bench/squat/deads. I know that sounds stupid, but it was the best thing I did. I was benching with my delts and triceps, not my pecs. A couple of adjustments and I actually felt the pull in my chest. I benched often after that and saw a lot of gains. Squats were pretty good. Learned how to deadlift properly. I did that and saw some pretty good gains, but then came the wife, kids, etc. and things just stopped.

Now, I’m back on the horse and trying to sort of redo what I was doing and get back what I once lost. I really feel my back is weak. I’ve been hunched over and have that “chest pulling shoulders in” posture for a long time. I’m trying hard to bring up my back to improve my posture. I’m avoiding doing a ton of bench right now for that reason and because we have a machine at the gym that really fatigues my chest and not my anterior delts or triceps.

Every once in a while, I’ll get a wild hair and do some running or cycling, but I like weight training more and I see better gains.

Complicating this is a couple of torn labrums in both shoulders. I have been avoiding getting them surgically repaired. I just don’t want to do that. The recovery time is a bitch, and I think I can work around them and hopefully strengthen them to the point they aren’t such a problem anymore.

So, that’s my background. Let me know if I missed anything.

I hear you. I tend to avoid heavier weights. Next workout I’ll cut the reps and increase the weight and see what happens.

I have tried programs in the past. The reason I don’t do one now is because I think I need to focus on building my back and shoulders first, then doing a program. I feel like I have to do some decent work before I even get to “zero” if that makes sense.

Thanks for all the replies so far. I appreciate any ideas you guys can give me.

Back/Shoulder Stability Stuff. For warm ups, or extra work at home.


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Ah hell! You got the Big Guns helping ya now! These guys are Awesome! They will get you on the right track.

2 “Progressions” for weight/reps I found really useful.

Rep PR sets. For the “main lift.” Pick a weight you’re comfortable with and do 3 sets. Like deadlift 155 for 8 reps, then another set of 8. On the third set, get 9 or 10. Set a “rep number to beat.” Next week, deadlift 155 for those 2 sets of 8. On the 3rd set, beat your number from last week. Week 3, do it again. 2 sets of 8, then beat your number from last week on that 3rd “money set.”

For the fourth week, you can add 10-15 pounds, and start again. 2 sets of 5, then a 3rd Rep PR “money set.”

I liked this because I progressed slowly enough not to take myself out/wear myself down. Each workout, I had a goal number on the “main lift” to base the workout around and beat. That made the slow progression fun.

“Total Reps” for assistance work. Instead of doing pre planned sets and reps for the assistance work, you just pick a weight and number of reps. Like machine rows, with 110 For 60 Total reps. The first week might be 5 sets of 12. Next week, just get those reps in fewer sets. It could be something crazy like 20-15-15-10. Whatever. Next week, same weight, same Total reps, just push yourself a little harder.

Again, this was a fun way to progress slowly. I had a goal to shoot for, and a number to beat, without it being set in stone.

With this simple progression for the assistance lifts, it was easy to get creative. Putting 3 assistance exercises in a circuit or loop is a no-brainer. Its a fun way to push the pace, and make your workout a little more challenging and intense, without doing anything crazy.

Going slow and steady, showing up and hitting your numbers will keep you on track. Putting in this work will help you get back to zero. As you get used to being in the gym, your instincts will get better.

You definetly want to start all your workouts with something to get your shoulders and posture feeling good.

You may want to try starting Each workout with 3-5 sets of abs and 45 degree back raises or hamstring curls or something to get your hips/and/low back built up.