T Nation

Should I Just Write My Own Routine?

I just hired a coach because after being out of the gym for almost 3 years, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have someone else’s eye on my training to help me get back on track. A couple years ago I had a coach that helped me achieve a lot, but unfortunately I think she programmed too many chest exercises that led to an imbalance and eventually an injury in my shoulder that still flares up from time to time 3 years later.

I made sure I mentioned this with the new coach I just started with, that I want to focus more on back and do more back exercises to chest exercises… but she just showed me the first week of my program and there’s literally more chest to back exercises :upside_down_face:

Is it truly important to have a higher ratio of back exercises to chest? Am I just being paranoid that I’ll get injured again or form an imbalance?
I guess I’m a little frustrated and torn about whether or not I should just write up my own training or not. But because of having so many years off I was really wanting someone else to guide me a bit and get comfortable again with lifting.

Any advise?

Your options aren’t limited to having a coach write your program and writing your own program - there are a ton of different programs out there that are written, and have a long record of success. Most importantly, if you are questioning your coach prior to running your first week of a new program, you are wasting money and time.

If you are set on writing your own program, it can be a good learning process to just write it, try it, and see what adjustments you need to make. If you want a suggestion for a program that’s proven to work and written by someone with lots of experience in making people stronger, let us know and people will chime in with different suggestions. All we’ll need is a general set of goals, and how many days/how much time per day you can exercise.

I think the main thing for me is a lot of programs I’ve seen having too many pressing exercises, which are just barely comfortable for me to do at this point because of my shoulder. So then I have to figure out how to take out exercises that don’t feel super good from a program with other ones that do feel good… and so I end up basically having to write my own program. If that makes sense haha. I could just be overly nit picky though and have too many goals I try to focus on, which is why I wanted to get some help :woman_shrugging:

But I know. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be wasting my time or money but I feel like I kind of did.

My main goals right now are to build bigger hamstrings and back. Especially back. I competed once in figure and would love to do so again.
I can workout like 4-5 times a week, 30-45 mins a day.

Cool! Definitely have some programs to suggest. Can I just ask you about the nature of your shoulder pain, and how you perform your presses, i.e. are you pinning your shoulder blades back and down throughout pressing exercises?

I used to hold my shoulders back and down but after playing around with pressing recently, I stopped doing that and literally almost zero pain. Pressing with a neutral grip and about 30-45 degrees of abduction don’t seem to irritate it either. I haven’t tried anything really beyond some shoulder presses, lateral raises and flat chest press but those have managed to pass with no flare ups!

1 Like

I am currently about to get back into the gym after 3 years off as well, last time I lifted I was 20, anyways my approach I am going with is DOGGCRAPP or DC training, it’s monday wednesday friday 1 exercise per body part 1 set working towards muscular breakdown and CNS response. It is a program someone recommended to me shortly after I did Texas Method when I was 16. Personally, at that time this style of training worked well for me and I have always seen good responses with HIT / PR, WM, NR sets. Workouts are ABA so workout A workout B workout A2
the program is broke into “cycles” that consist of two weeks. So week 2 is different then you adjust the program accordingly as you go after the 2 week cycle. These workouts usually finish in 45 minutes and its easy to work into and adjust.

TLDR - 1 exercise hard as shit = muscle response, don’t need to burn out to achieve hypertrophy especially being out for so long.

ALSO wrote a diet that I hope to see work, I hardly eat now and have been “fasting” for the last 2 or 3 weeks and feel good so I will just start with a post workout meal and dinner whilst fasting mostly throughout the day, I am currently 207 and can easily hold the muscle while dropping to 190ish. THATS the plan atleast l0l.

THIS ALSO depends on your goals / plans!

Personally for the shoulder pain I would try to find a machine that you can do that minimizes the pain you are experiencing. Sure its hard to beat DB press and OHP for size and strength but its not work the long term pain.

1 Like

Yay! Stopping this fixed my shoulder pain as well.

I’m gonna suggest this:

Gives you great flexibility in training and the tools to “write your own program”. Sessions can be done in 45 mins if you keep rest times low, and you can choose your own exercises.

Yes - brutal training can let you get work done in one set, and DC training is effective - but for someone looking to avoid injury, it’s one of the last program’s I’d suggest. Triple rest pause is absolutely BRUTAL, and the potential for things to go wrong increases exponentially with each rest pause set.

It’s a good suggestion, though - just not mine.

I’d also suggest good old 5/3/1. Not-to-failure, moderate volume, slow progression.

2 Likes

So, after looking at that, how would I change things around if I want to bias more back and hamstrings? Would I just remove a chest exercise and add a back? And likewise with hamstrings to quads?

The article explains it more in depth but the way you work your body parts stay the same. Every “A” workout targets these body parts, in this order:

  1. Chest
  2. Shoulders
  3. Triceps
  4. Back width
  5. Back thickness

The “B” workout hits these muscles, in this order:

  1. Biceps
  2. Forearms
  3. Calves
  4. Hamstrings
  5. Quads

You stick with this order because it saves hardest for last after pre exhaustion. Like the other guy said this training method is intense, I am 23 and have a right scapula issue but tomorrow is day one and im excited to see how it goes. I will start a log tomorrow sometime in the afternoon.

Its every body part youre hitting, one exercise a week, changing the exercise the next week and so forth.

The program is pretty balanced. I would not remove a chest AND add a back - I would just remove one chest exercise and keep the back volume the same. I would do the same with the quads vs hamstrings. That way you’re operating below a base level of volume, but still biasing those body parts.

Alternatively, you can run a template, 4 or 5 day, exactly as written, but consciously tamp down the weights or intensity for chest. Given your time limitation, however, I would eliminate a chest exercise, and eliminate a pressing shoulder exercise. But don’t be afraid of pressing - pain is often weakness, and years of pinning your scaps back means you likely have some weaknesses to address.

By the way, since I mentioned multiple people being able to help you, let me see if I can get some others in the thread who can contribute, or if necessary, completely disagree with what I’ve said and give you better advice!

@robstein was the first person to suggest that BBing template to me, and is a pro BBer.

@EyeDentist is not only super knowledgeable and safety-conscious, but sports a ridiculous physique.

@FlatsFarmer has helped me with I-don’t-know-how-many injuries, and can possibly dive further into your shoulder programs, but can almost certainly suggest some prehab/rehab stuff for you.

There are probably about 5 people I’m forgetting, and a bunch more people who I regularly look to for advice - no offense to anyone I didn’t mention - and I could probably sit here and squeeze out a couple more names, but I don’t want to overload you with information and differing opinions, and have your head spinning. If you want, lay out the exercise choices you’re going with from the program, and a tentative template within those guidelines using the 4 or 5 day template (I’d probably suggest the 4 day if it’s going to be easier for you to stick with it), and people can give their thoughts.

Also - I’d really, really suggest you pop over to the training log subforum and start a log, and tag some of the people who reply in this thread, as well as checking out other people’s training logs for ideas, advice, and just general motivation. I’ve never seen anyone have a bad reaction to someone randomly dipping into their log to ask a question about anything.

5 Likes

Thanks for the shout-out, @flappinit.

This puzzled me:

You’re asking pretty basic questions about training, but were once a stage-ready Figure competitor?

1 Like

If your back volume contributes mainly to internal rotation and you do not have much shoulder stability then there is not going to be a ratio that help you out.

I don’t buy into the more pulling than pushing for balance mantra but a strong back is always an asset. So I’d include a good amount of pulling for that reason,l.

For injury prevention/avoiding shoulder problems I’d focus on ensuring my scapula moves properly, I have have proper internal/external rotation and full extension in shoulder and thoracic spine.

3 Likes

I know, seems silly that I could’ve gone on stage but seem so clueless now haha.

Reasons are though that at the time I had a coach and didn’t ask any questions about my training. I wanted to compete for the sake of competing and experiencing something new.
Now several years later, after being extremely inconsistent to training due to injuries, a sudden surgery, and two pregnancies… I realize I need to be smarter and more invested in what I do when I lift. I want a program that matches my goals but also have to work around weaknesses and occasional flare ups. So I’m basically starting at square one again BECAUSE I’m wanting to be smarter getting back into lifting, which is why my questions are so basic :woman_shrugging:

It may just be how you typed it, but working around weaknesses tends to make things more weak, whereas working through them by starting light and progressing the right way can fix things you thought would never be fixed. @strongmangoals has a really good post too - I used to be a believer in the “ratio of pull to push”, but I don’t think it’s very consequential anymore.

Are you close to choosing a program, or considering starting a training log here?

1 Like

So I tried to follow the program outline that you sent over as best as possible but I moved a couple things around and added in some exercises that I wanted to focus on. Tips would be great! If I get a bit of feedback I’ll probably head over and start a training log :woman_shrugging:

Day 1- chest and biceps
Floor press
Dumbbell flyes
Incline dumbbell bicep curls
Preacher curls

Day 2- shoulders and triceps
Shoulder press
Dumbbell lateral raises
Posterior delt row
Crossbody tricep extension

Day 3- glutes and quads/calves
Glute bridge
Glute kickback or cable abduction
Quad leg press
Calf raises

Day 4- glutes and hamstrings
RDL
Stiff legged dumbbell deadlift
Seated leg curl
Walking lunges

Day 5- back
Dumbbell row
Landmine row
One arm lat pull down
Wide grip lat pull down

1 Like

Rearrange your days so your shoulders get a little break after chest day and before shoulder day. Give them a chance to recover before you smash them again.

And so glutes get a break after glute day and before glute day.

Maybe like

Chest/Bicep
Glutes/Quads
Shoulders/Tris
Glutes/Hams
Back

3 Likes

I agree with @FlatsFarmer about giving your shoulders some rest. In the article, the 4 day layout is
Day 1: (e.g., Monday) – Chest & Biceps
Day 2: (e.g., Tuesday) – Back & Abs
Day 3: (e.g., Thursday) – Shoulders, Triceps, & Abs
Day 4: (e.g., Friday) – Legs
and the 5 day layout is
Day 1: (e.g., Monday) – Chest & Calves
Day 2: (e.g., Tuesday) – Back & Abs
Day 3: (e.g., Thursday) – Shoulders & Hams
Day 4: (e.g., Friday) – Quads & Abs
Day 5: (e.g., Saturday) – Arms

So I’d either keep it like the article does, or slot one of the leg days in like FF said. Make sure to follow the rep schemes and the rest times as best you can.

Besides that, all good exercise selections as far as I can see, only a couple things that are just my opinion that I’d change - I’m not a huge fan of dumbbell flyes - they provide virtually no tension on the chest at the top, and they’re tough on the shoulders at the bottom. Cable flyes are MUCH better, like crossovers high-to-low, or something. Besides that, I see you just have calf raises - I’d throw in seated calf raises on the second leg day, or if you go to the 4 day template, I’d do them both on leg day, or whatever. Finally, I’m just wondering what type of shoulder press you’re doing - I’m a big fan of dumbbell shoulder press for shoulder health. I do love a good BB shoulder press, but in a bodybuilding template I go for DB’s most of the time.