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Really #&@^(@#^% Confused Now...


in light of a recent slew of injuries, i've decided to start over from square one. i searched high and low on here and other sites, haven't found what i needed and am now more confused than ever.

5'9", 186 lb, < 14% body fat on 3-pinch test (last measured 8/17, will re-measure on 9/17)
arm circumference: 16 1/4"
chest: 39 1/8"
leg: 23"
calf: 16"
i've been lifting regularly for the last 3 years, and finally got serious last winter with my first 5/3/1, then this past spring with my first diet phase.

long-term goal:
whatever weight i need to get to so i don't look small, i'm guessing 190# and single-digit body fat is a good start based on my av (169#, < 10% body fat). also, because my squat and bench suck, i think shooting for a 900# total would be realistic.

short-term goal:
to clean bulk until february. no idea how much mass i can possibly gain or how much i need to get to my long term goal. after my diet phase ended on 5/24, i felt that i needed more size in my traps, shoulders, chest and arms. my legs have always been on the thick side so i didn't want to put more mass on them.

most recent program (last 12 weeks):
my own design which included LOTS of explosive pressing (180 presses on chest days), barely-there eccentric effort on some lifts, and pretty much RAWWRRRRR lifting everything. basically i pressed my 5RM in db/bb/machine variations until i couldn't anymore, then moved to semi-compound movements then isolation movements (usually supersets) for a pump. sessions typically took < 2 hours including 15-20 minutes of warming up. i worked shoulders, traps, arms, chest, and back in that order and threw in 5/3/1 squat and deadlift as a "rest" day between arms and chest.

current diet:
working off of Kroc's clean bulk plan ( http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/eat_to_get_big_without_getting_fat ) recalculated for a 185# lifter. on training days it works out to 360g carbs and 288g protein (2592 kcal) including peri-workout shake. on non-training days, 220g carbs, 350g protein, 48g fat (2712 kcal).

main lifts:

bench = shit.
in an effort to avoid injury while doing 5/3/1 last winter, i benched in the smith machine. i didn't have a spotter and i'd only just started incorporating bench form from dave tate's bench instructional series.
best lift was 315x2.

squat = shit.
190x4 oly squat. i got this far while trying to learn how to oly squat (PL squat hurts my right groin) and establish a 4RM on a true ass-to-calf squat for use in 5/3/1. pulled my right groin > 1 month ago and my left spinal erector about 2 weeks ago so i haven't been under the bar since then.

deadlift = getting somewhere.
255x14 RDL, before i pulled my back.

pullups = ok.
12 BW dead hang, some kipping on the last 4-5 reps (not crossfit kipping thank god).

row = ok.
db row dead-stop, 125x7 before i pulled my back.

schedule/availability to train:
i am a RN and work 13 12-hour shifts a month, 7a-7p, but that means i'm up at 530a and don't get home until 8p. i've tried lifting after work but i was always too tired to lift at max intensity. i tried going as low-intensity as walking (not fun after already walking all day) but even then i'd be unable to sleep so any activity on work days is out. so at best i have 17 training days per month. i get to request my schedule maybe two months ahead of time, with an emphasis on REQUEST. i don't always get what i ask for because the harpies i work with count how many mondays and fridays we all work, in addition to having to work every other weekend. so for example, next week i will have 3 consecutive days to train, the week after that also 3 (day off, work, 2 days off), after that 2 consecutive days. some weeks i only have 1 day to train.

the good thing is that on my days off i can do two-a-days if needed (no kids, pets or other obligations, gf understands to a point).

i've used techniques like rest-pause, drop sets, run the rack, etc. based on my goals, needs and recent injuries, i was thinking of doing DC training (yes, the concentrics are explosive, but the eccentrics are controlled, and machine use is ok), but i can't do it as written due to my schedule. i asked a buddy who's doing it and he said some people do workouts on consecutive days because of their schedules, but since i'm starting over i don't want to make any more assumptions.

let me know if current pics are needed. thanks for taking the time to read, help, and criticize.


just a heads up...you're not <10% in your avi


ehh 3 pinch has a margin of error, no? doesn't help that i got lazier with it and stopped averaging the measurements after a while. either way i had a measure more reliable than just waist circ to track my progress with...

but enough talk! i'm thinking of sucking it up and doing DC training even on consecutive days. i just want someone to tell me i'm not way off my rocker here. yes i know it wouldn't be DC training anymore, but i'd like to finally stop trying to reinvent the wheel.


^I think the simpler the better. You still have much progress to be made on all your numbers and don't need anything "fancy" to do it.


fair enough. I was originally thinking 5/3/1 boring but big and just sucking it up with two-a-days on weeks where I only have two training days, and doing whatever lifts haven't been done most recently on the weeks where I have just one training day. I've tried benching later on a squat day and getting a leg cramp while benching isn't fun... but again I just wanted to make sure I'm not crazy.


man, that's a brutal schedule. You're a unique case where the line "consistency. consistency. consistency." just can't apply. You have to learn to be instinctual with your training. You've got the diet in place. I think it's good to have a template in place, like 5/3/1 for your core lift (whenever you can get around to it) and then leave your accessory work open-ended depending on what you are feeling for the day. You can also add some bodyweight conditioning work at home, sprints, etc.

Best of luck.


Quit training like a fuckin retard. Don't try to "clean bulk". There wow I just solved all your problems.


I've been forced to tinker with my routine a lot because of work, hence all the reinventing of the wheel, trying to get more done in less time etc. so I guess I'll just have to suck it up. it'll probably turn into a combo of "5/3/1 boring but big" and "I'm not doing jack shit today".

mr. pop -

I have another thread where I listed my measures and was told to clean it up, which for me basically amounted to cutting out fruit juice, and eating more fruit and eating oatmeal or quinoa instead of cereal. what's wrong with that?


What's wrong with that is you have a 39in chest and 23in legs and you are more concerned with replacing juice with fruit than you are with doing what it takes to build a drastic amount of muscle mass.

Building muscle is already such a slow process when you're doing it as fast as you can naturally, that trying to slow it down even more in the hopes that you won't add an ounce of fat simply isn't practical. Your body doesn't WANT to build more muscle, not at all, and if you give it any reason not to then it will happily avoid it.

The way you train, and from the impression I get about your diet, I know my body certainly wouldn't grow doing any of that.


ok, I see your point with the diet. I know you commented on my method of training in my injuries thread, and it's never smart to get injured while training... but every training session started with trying to improve somewhere, be it increasing weight, reps, rep speed or quality or decreasing rest time. I thought at least that train of thought was ok?

and what's wrong with "boring but big"? I can choose assistance exercises to cover weak points.


It's a good idea to try and increase weight or reps every time you train, if you are training sensibly and with quality muscle-building form... not flinging and jerking weights around telling yourself that you are "accelerating" or doing "perfect reps".

The problem with boring but big is that it isn't a bodybuilding program and to my knowledge has taken nobody from skinny to big. I know it's the "cool" program right now... last month it was starting strength. Before that it was westside. Before that it was TBT... I strongly advise you to forget about "programs" altogether.

Think of the bodyparts you want to grow in terms of a couple basic exercises that work most directly on them. For me to grow my chest, I know I need to increase my flat and incline bench... for my back I need more pull ups and a bigger barbell row... for shoulders it's seated military and side raises... for somebody else it might be flat bench and incline DB, or pulldowns and deadlifts, or whatever.. And you create a routine around that.


the whole speed thing came about after watching some of CT's vids. I definitely agree with the theory that muscles respond to load and force and that speed is a part of force... but then I disregarded my joint health and overall durability in the process. so I guess it's back to ramped sets with CONTROLLED eccentrics to provide that load and save my joints in the process.

I'd also read a bunch of the newbie threads about Prof X, Waylander, C_C and Fattyfat (sp?) and you guys are all pretty much saying the same thing. unfortunately there's just so much damn info out there that it's confusing.

anything wrong with going through ramped sets of db/bb/machine compound movements, then doing the same with semi-compound movements then straight sets of isolation work for a pump?

ex. OHP db -> bb -> machine variants, ramped 12,10,8,6,6
upright row/face pulls/standing lateral raises, ramped 12,10,8,6,6
shoulder complexes (a la Defranco shoulder shocker)


I think my reply got eaten... ?

the whole speed thing came about after watching some videos "somewhere" by "someone". I agree with the theory that muscles respond to load and that load can be increased via weight and/or velocity, but in doing so I disregarded the joint-saving benefit of the eccentric portion of the lift. I guess it's back to ramped sets and controlled eccentrics before my shoulders pop loose.

anything wrong with ramping sets for db/bb/machine variants of a movement (as appropriate), then ramping semi-compound movement(s), then isolation work for a pump?

ex. shoulders, with a goal of overall shoulder mass gain
OHP db/bb/machine variants, ramped 12,10,8,6,6
upright row/face pull/lateral raises, ramped 12,10,8,6,6
shoulder complex a la Defranco shoulder shocker (seated lateral->seated front raise->bent-over rear flye->bent-over Y-raise, fawking burns)


Why not just train like a normal bodybuilder?

Ex: shoulders
Seated press (I personally don't recommend any machines) 4x12,10,8,6(DB side raise 3x15,12,10(DB rear raise 3x15,12,10(

No rocket science necessary.


the progression through the movements is to take advantage of other secondary muscles for assistance that haven't been fatigued yet, like traps+tris for presses and then traps+bis for pulls... but if you're recommending 4x12 presses THEN 10,8,6 I guess if I'm not fatigued by then, I wasn't going heavy enough.


He's not. He is recommending doing 4 sets, working up to a final set in which you get at least 6 reps. When you can get 10, or whatever he said, reps with that final weight, you go up in weight. The previous 3 sets are about warming up and preparing for your working weight.


damn board ate my edit again...

yea I figured as much after I got through my first set of 12 close-grip chins and dips. there's no way I could've gone through 4x12 to start...


Some advice, get a chiropractor and some electric stim to fix your injuries, buy a foam roller. Warm up before you lift for at least 10-15 minutes.. you should be sweating.
Your schedule is not bad, imagine if you did landscaping or load trucks every day, all day & then go work out. I work 12hr shifts as well, but nites. Pick 1 nite and do a lighter workout maybe something like weighted dips, barbell presses, floor presses,or pull ups. Use one of your other days as an off day and 3rd work day abs and lower back, that leaves you 4 days to train I would do day 1 upper/ day 2 lower then off day/ then day 4 core lifts deadlift or/ and squat front squat, bench. If your getting hurt doing some of these lifts you have a weak core or bad technique. do the basic lifts pick 1 or 2 exercises per bodypart. You don't need to do 5 exercises for a bodypart. do 6-10 sets, not including your warm up sets. Do 6-8 reps and you can vary that one workout 10 x 6, another 6 x 8, amother another 10 x 8, 6 sets 8-8-8-7-6-6. Just be consistent and get in and out of the gym. Don't have conversations, concentrate on training and getting in and out in an hour.good luck


Agree with everything Mr Popular said!

fr0IVIan, you need to take a step back and relax. I can feel the thermic effect of your brain buzzing through all this information, your cortisol levels are shooting through the roof, it's all making you smaller! lol

As has been said, muscles respond to progression on an exercise (with adequate target tension) and over-eating. Don't try to get the "exact" amount of calories. Over-shoot it (while not being stupid). Don't try to do the exact amount of sets/reps and "best" workout program, just do enough over and over and over.

Bodybuilding is not a performance based sport, it is pretty straight forward. No need for fancy periodization plans, focussing more on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy vs myofibrillar, dynamic effort work, mass vs acceleration blah blah blah blah....

Of course, when things slow down, you may benefit from varying things a little (e.g. different rep/set scheme, pull back/rest a little more, switch exercise)...but this is only when you milk things dry. And even then, you need to check that you are eating enough/making weight gains FIRST.

Just remember, while you're trying to work out the best and most "intelligent" way of doing things, others out there aren't sweating it and simply getting things right roughly, over and over and over...but making 2x the progress.


so, even though I said I'm normally a really shitty sleeper and that any activity will make it harder for me to sleep, I should push it anyway instead of just going home, clearing my mind and getting a good, sound sleep? ok...

yup I'm trying to follow the set/rep scheme as above with safe, controlled eccentrics. definitely feels like I'm starting over again.

how often is it again that I should re-evaluate my weight gain and adjust calories in as needed? weekly? I should be gaining like a pound a week right?