Alright, so I’m not really a beginner (been lifting for about two years). I’ve gone from 150 to 165 at 6’1". But I’m still short of my goal of 180. I want to go beyond that but if I can reach 180 I will be verrrrrry happy and anything after is icing on the cake. I think that is a realistic goal. Yes?
Like I said, I’ve been working out for about the past 2 years(well, I’ve lifted before that but never on a strict plan with a goal). Been doing a lot of program hopping. Started out with John Berardi’s program and began with 5X5. Noticed some good gains here but plateuad very quickly. Continued to make REALLY GOOD improvements in strength but my scale weight was not going up. Eventually took a step back and re-evaluated, started doing more research into hypertrophy and periodization.
Long story short, I’ve “re-evaluated” too many times. I’ve done so much research and reading and have found A LOT of conflicting opinions about mass gain for the skinny bastard. Some stress the Low reps, high weight scheme. But again, I performed my own experiment here and found that my strenght improved but I did not gain as much as I wanted. I can’t knock it too much, I seemed to make the best gains on the 5X5 program (about 10 pounds). But strength is NOT my main goal.
I will be frank and truthful, my main goal is weight gain NOT STRENGTH GAIN. Again, yes I’ve read articles that state that the two go hand in hand. And yes, I’ve seen PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD pop up in numerous articles as well. I’m not debating either one. All I’m saying is that I do not want strenght to be my primary focus.
I have little use for great amounts of strength. I’m not a logger, or a firefighter, or a UFC fighter. I am realistic about what goal will benefit me the most, and it’s not lifting a ton of weight. I could care less about the AMOUNT of weight that I can brag to others that I lift. I am more interested in building the size of the muscles, more of the artistic and aestetic side of lifting. As a matter of fact, when I record how much weight to use the next time in my workout journal, I don’t write down the TOTAL weight.
Instead I just write down how much weight to put on one side of the bar. Example: I will just write 57.5 in the block I have in my spreadsheet for bench press. This doesn’t mean I’m benching 57.5 pounds, it means that’s how much I put on both sides and then add in the bar weight. This is how little I care about how much I can lift. Hell, when someone in the gym asks me how much I’m lifting I have to pause for a second and do the math in my head because I honeslty don’t know (or care) the TOTAL weight. I DO CARE however, about progression.
And this is the very reason why I keep a strict workout journal recording my weight used and how many reps I managed for each set. Once I reach my target reps for all sets, I bump up the weight and write down what I WILL lift during the next workout. Ok, I think you get my point…blah blah blah. Sorry if I got a little wordy. Any way here is my current program, please critique and give this frustrated guy some constructive criticism:
I do 3 full body workouts per week. I do sets with an aim for 12 reps on one day and then on the next day (one day’s rest between) I do sets with an aim for 6 reps…keep flipping from one rep range to the next every workout. So basically I have two workout Journals as follows:
WORKOUT-1 (12 rep day):
(CHEST) flat bench-3sets X 12 reps (w/ 60-90 seconds rest between sets)
(BACK) V-attachment cable pull/row 3 X 12 (same rest)
(QUAD) Squat 3 X 12 (same rest)
(SHOULDER) standing barbell press overhead 2 X 12 (same rest)
(HIP/GLUTE/HAM) Stiff deadlift 2 X 12 (same rest)
(BICEP) E-Z Curl 2 X 12 (same rest)
(TRICEP) Close grip bench in smith rack 2 X 12 (same rest)
WORKOUT-2 (6 rep day)
(CHEST) flat bench-3sets X 6 reps (w/ 90-120 seconds rest between sets)
(BACK) Weighted pull-up 3 X 6 (same rest)
(QUAD) Squat 3 X 6 (same rest)
(SHOULDER) standing barbell press overhead 3 X 6 (same rest)
(HIP/GLUTE/HAM) Stiff deadlift 3 X 6 (same rest)
(BICEP) E-Z Curl 2 X 6 (same rest)
(TRICEP) Close grip bench in smith rack 2 X 6 (same rest)
OK, there it is. I can usually have either workout complete in under 1 hour. I’m currently on week-2 and after 4 weeks I will chose different exercises and/or change the order I perform them (I will always do the squat no matter what though…it stays!) I always aim for the maximum number of reps I have designated for each set. Once I get all sets at the max reps, I bump up the weight for the next workout. I began doing this program after doing a 3-day split routine (Chest and Biceps, Back and Triceps, Shoulders and legs) where I was working in the 12 rep range for one week and 6 the next week back and forth.
The reason I switched to the full body was because I didn’t feel that stimulating the body parts just once per week (as happens with the split) was sufficient. I did more sets and exercises for each body part while on the split (Typically 6 to 9 sets per bodypart and 2-3 exercises per bodypart). Since I am now doing the full body and will be stimulating every muscle 3 times per week instead of just one, I reduced the number of sets per body part to 2-3 with just one exercise per body part (please note above that I do switch bewteen v-attachment rows and weighted pull-ups depending on the rep range…I can’t do 3-sets of 12-reps of weighted pull-ups just yet but I can do three sets of six with weight so that’s the reason why).
Ok, my main question in all of this is: What is the better periodization principle to use? Switch rep range (and therefore the % of 1 rep max) every other workout day like I am now? Switch rep range every other week like I was doing? Or stick to one range for a few weeks and then switch to the other for an equal number of weeks? I feel that doing it every other workout day, or every other week at the least, is best since it provides enough variation throughout the week(s) to keep me motivated instead of getting bored. I just recently started adding some priodization into my routine.
I think this may be a key factor that has been holding me back for far too long. I kept searching for that “magic” rep range and finally (after two years if beating myself up) I’ve come to realize that variation is key. Yes, I have also researhed the different muscle fibers and stimulation of CNS and release of HGH and Testosterone. I realize that heavy weight is key to CNS and growth hormone release.
However, I also realize that if the weight is too heavy and the reps are too low that this is more power lifter/pure strength training and will not lead to optimal growth (although the CNS will be kick-ass!).
So there it is, feel free to rip my program a new arse-hole. I just ask that you do so constructively. AND, keep in mind my goal which is: 180 pounds (at least), not interested in pure strength. (Don’t get me wrong, strength is fine if it comes along with my goal, but I will not sacrifice my goal for simple strength gains…been there done that). Thanks in advance. Also, if I came across a little rough it’s just because I’ve gotten so frustrated with all the conflicting arguments/data. 180 pounds or bust!!!