T Nation

Knowledge is Neccisity


Hey there T-Nation forums - Taylor here. After countless hours of reading, lurking, and compiling all the invaluable information here, I've decided to post my workout routine so I can get some feed back. I've been weight training for a about a year now, simply looking to refine my efficiency. Any criticism will help me continue to develop an improved plan. I don't really know where to start, so I guess I'll begin with my current stats/goals.


Goals: Well, I can't really articulate what my ideal body physique would look like, but I'd say at this point I'm aiming for strength/mass which seems to be a good foundation for the future. As for getting 'cut', I feel like that will come along with my training regardless, so I don't plan on grinding out with a Men's Health super-set routine every workout. All summed up, I guess I'm aiming for plenty of definition with a lot of underlying strength. Who would have thought?

Okay, to the stuff that really matters. My current work out split is:

Day 1: Chest/Biceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Shoulder/Triceps
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Back/Traps/Abs
Day 7: Off

Since I haven't given anything to critique yet, I suppose I'll start off by posting my leg workout since that's what I'm doing today. Later I'll post my other routines when that specific body part rolls around.

Warm-up on the bike for about 5-10 minutes.
Squats: Ramp-up x 3 (8-10 reps) progressively increasing weight by what ever 'looks about right' until 2 working sets (5-8)
Stiff-leg dead lift: 4 (10-12) still trying to master MMC on this exercise so I'm focusing on constant tension.
Walking lunges: Ramp-up x 3 (16-20) 2 working sets (12-16)
Leg extensions: 4 x (8-10)
Calve raises on leg press: 3 x (60 seconds)

... Just got done with the workout. Felt like the routine could definitely use some improvements. Recently started up hard with legs so I haven't figured out the dominant muscle in my legs are yet. I'm thinking about adding back to my leg days because I want to incorporate dead lift as a staple in my workouts. I also feel like back would just overall mesh well with a good leg workout. Damn, I'm treating this like a blog. I'm not even sure if this is posted in the right forum, so excuse my noobness if it's in the wrong place. Oh well, I'll get this posted and see what turns up.



Looks alright so far, how's your diet?


As a beginner, any 'decent' program will stimulate gains if you're diet is in check (something most people miss). Put up more info, and if your numbers are going up each week, and you're eating well, the size will come.



For the last month my diet has been progressively improving. At my age I sometimes miss out on eating every 2 hours but in the back of my mind I'm always craving a protein shake or anything that has protein in it if I'm really becoming desperate. On the week days I've been following a meal plan based around a John Berardi article on gaining size. I'm ALWAYS trying to improve, and tailor the meal plan to make it fit my lifestyle when ever I hear some good info on nutrition. I'm going to buy a journal today so I can start keeping a food/workout log so I can track my progress, but here's my basic guideline for my diet.

6 eggs whites (1 cup) 3 whole eggs
6 oz. turkey sausage
1/2 cup shredded low-fat Colby cheese

Snack #1, around 2 hours later:
15 almonds, handful of baby carrots
Low-carb protein shake

Lunch: need to find more meal plans for this, but generally..
12 oz. chicken breast
2 cups brown rice
Spinach salad

Snack #2: usually around 1-2 hours before my workout
1 cup chocolate milk
1/2 cottage cheese 2%
2 table spoons almond butter
2 cups ice

Gatorade powder mixed with low-carb protein and BCAA's. Half before. Half during. Then follow up after the workout with a full protein shake.

Dinner: bulk cooked chili consisting of..
Lean ground beef
Kidney beans
Bell peppers
v8 juice

Before bed:
2 hard boiled eggs (only eating the whites)
Low-carb protein shake with a bunch of ice

There's my general guideline, but it can fluctuate in any given day. I always aim to be eating AT LEAST 20 grams of protein in every sitting if i can't get my set meal in. If you have any suggestions on you're favorite meals or tricks to get some quick protein in, let me know!

Okay so today I'll be doing..

Standing BB military press: Ramp-up x 3 (8-10) 2 working sets (5-8)
Seated lateral raises: 3 (8-10)
DB front raises: Ramp-up x 2 (10-12) 2 working (6-8)
Rear cable fly: 3 (10-15)
Close grip bench: Ramp-up x 3 (8-10) 2 working (5-8)
Seated French press: Ramp-up x 2 (8-10) 2 working (5-8)
Single arm OH triceps extension: 3 (8-10)
Cable push downs: 2 (8-10)

I agree Stu, after what I've been reading I'm keeping it as simple as possible. I'm not even attempting to get into cluster activation, or anything complicated for that matter. I'm going to keep improving my routine through trial and error since, from what I've read, that's the way to do it.

Would yall say it's essential to figure out your 1RMP for major lifts? I've never done that but it seems like a good way to track progress and gauge what to lift. I'll continue to read, post, and integrate! Am I comprehending the 'Ramp-up' concept correctly? I think I'll start doing that for only 2 major compound movements each muscle group.


Well you certainly have your shit together better than most do at 18. Diet looks good, assuming you're steadily gaining weight. Are you? Also, that's a lot of exercises to do, but if you feel like you can really giver on each exercise then that's okay.

And no it's not essential to figure out your 1 rep max. You are progressing if the weights are going up in the rep range you are using.

I'm not sure exactly how you're ramping up, but it seems like you've got the idea. If not, there are plenty of threads on it around here.


Would that knowledge include spelling?


Just pulling your chain!


OP, you are incredibly thin. You are going to need to be eating a lot. 6'5 and 185 is very small. Seems like you have you stuff together but you are going to need to be eating like a mad man. At 6'5" you're going to need to add a lot of weight to look big and "filled out" so start packing the food down. Dont go crazy eating 2 whole pizzas a day but at your height and weight I wouldnt shy away from a bit of junk food here and there.

your chicken breasts and egg whites meals arent going to put on the size you're looking for any time soon. Do you know how many calories you're getting a day?


Ya definitely at 6'5", 185 is nothing! I kind of like eating lean with the chicken breast/egg whites, but maybe I should throw in some olive oil and avocado into the mix to get some good fat/calories. It varies sometimes, but I'd say I'm hitting at least 3,000-3,500. I take a prescription called adderall that makes forcing down food a bitch sometimes, so maybe I should aim for some more calorie dense foods. Don't really know what that would be.. but I'll find something that will work. To gain the weight am I suppose to eat more carbs + fat, or just eat more of what I already am? I'm really not concerned about having defined abs so any bulk meal ideas you have would be great.

Also, I've been using a rep range of 6-8 because it feels more natural, like I'm really breaking the muscle down with good form but I'm thinking about lowering it on big compound movements. Still trying to figure this art out, but thanks for the responses.

Oh, and yes.. complete spelling FAIL.


Ok, well your workouts look well laid out for your age. Nothing serious to critique about any of them individually. However....

However, I do not think a split routine is the best for you at this point in your training life. (Note to all split routine adherents: I am not dogging splits as a whole, just for a guy so underweight and so young). To put on muscle the fastest you should be doing either whole body or Upper/Lower splits. Training each body part once a week is simply not going to cut it IMO.

Mark Rippetoe is an expert on putting muscle on skinny dudes, his advice is a 3x weekly whole body workout. I don't necessarily think you need to go that route: I am not a fan of Starting Strength in many ways although Mark is a great coach and certainly knows his shit.

I think you would do much better doing an Upper/Lower split where you hit each half twice a week. This gives you increased frequency and thus increased growth stimulus. Something like Westside for Skinny Bastards 2 or 3.

In addition I highly suggest you hit a minimum of 3,500 calories EVERY day. Given your stats, I do not think you are eating enough to grow at all. If the scale is not moving up, you are not eating enough, that's just all there is. You are a naturally skinny guy and therefore you will really have to cram the calories down to make the scale move up. And I mean seriously. I really doubt given my own history (I was naturally tall and skinny as well) and your current body type you will have serious success under 4,000 a day, but there's no sense in jumping calories up 1,000+ right off the bat.

After 2 weeks of hitting 3500 EVERY day, if the scale isn't moving, jump up another 500 calories.

Keep a log. That is the ONLY way to ensure you are hitting your calorie goals every single day.


I'd second this post regarding your concerns on weights. If you're able to hammer hard at each exercise that's great. For me I have always found that about 6 is the most I can do going hard on each one. That doesn't count if I am using staggered sets for overall volume (like throwing rows in between bench sets on a bench day). In this case I myself am not hitting the back with a ton of intensity, just getting volume in. Therefore, I personally do not worry about doing 8 exercises if 3 of them were back exercises.

However for myself, if I am not doing "added volume" work staggered in my main day, I keep the exercises generally at under 6 (not counting abs).

Everybody is different; you may be able to deal with 8 exercises just fine. However, don't fall into the "shotgun" approach of trying to get every angle and every exercise in on every day. This is no time to work on your "biceps peak" or sculpting your "rear delts". Pick a number of hard, compound exercises that you can really gun down.

In addition, I would add another working set for a total of a minimum of 3 working sets. It doesn't have to be the exact same weight you used for the first 2 sets if you are running out of energy, but something close.

Here is a sample chest/back day that I used with great success earlier in my training for strength and mass:

A1) Bench: gradually work up to a 5 RM in 8-10 sets (every set except the first is 5 reps, no "pyramiding" down), drop 15% and do 2-3 sets of 5
A2) Dumbbell Row: work up in weight every set, 5-8 sets of 6-10

B1) Dumbbell shoulder press, 4-5 x 8-10 working up in weight, OR using a similar ramp to yours: 2x8, then 3x6 ramping up
B2) chin-ups, straight sets. OR T-Bar row, straight sets 4-5 x 8-12

C1) Lateral Raises, or Triceps isolation movement. 3-4 x 6-10
C2) Cable rows with a different grip width or lat pulldowns, straight weight 3-5 x 10-12, or 3 sets of drop sets: 3 x 6,6,12 or something similar

Alternate each pair-- example: bench, rest, back, rest, bench. Sometimes I would alternate and sometimes I would not: just bench then do the rows. But I generally alternated at least 1 or 2 pairs in a workout. If I was going to only do 5 rowing sets on my first pair I would wait until I was warm from benching to start, and I would start with a moderate weight that was easy but not a complete warm-up set.

I always had at least 1 rowing exercise in my chest/back days. Generally I would have 1 day focused on rowing and 1 emphasizing vertical pulling or lats, but I always had at least 1 row on both days.

For Legs I rarely if ever had to go over 4 exercises in a session, not counting abs.

You could do bicep work on a separate day, after all your chest/back and leg work. Like saturdays or something.