Hey guys, I’m in need of advice. I want to build a 3 day per week program. My goals are the following:
- Increase functional strength (including core strength, that’s pretty important). I should mention that by “strength” I don’t mean only improving power/olympic lifts, but overall muscle strength - strong biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, etc. included.
- Gain a limited amount of muscle mass (no more than 20 lbs, tops).
- Retain speed and agility (that’s important to me for football/soccer) - not necessarily improve in those areas, but also not worsen.
I’m 5’‘9’, 140-145 lbs, 23 years old, with limited experience in the gym.
So, now that you know the important info about me, I’ll share with you my thoughts on the matter.
I read a lot and the general conclusion seems to be that the best programs for improving strength are the ones that are composed of low-rep, high-weight compound exercises. Things like 5x5 (be it Bill Starr’s or Stronglifts) or Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1.
A conclusion that I made is that 5x5 is better for beginners, as it wields results faster, and 5/3/1 is for when you get to the really high weights and start plateauing. However, I’m pretty new, so I’d prefer starting slow, say doing only 3 sets of the basic exercises (3x5) and some assistance exercises (tell me if that’s a good idea). Question time.
How should I go with constructing my program? I know for sure that I’ll include Bench press, Deadlifts, Squats, OH/Military presses and Barbel rows on 90% of 1RM (right?). What else should I include? The following questions are important for this one.
I read somewhere that isolating certain muscles in exercises like bicep/wrist curls only damage the joints and isn’t more beneficial than bodyweight exercises like dips and pull/chin ups. True or false?
If it’s true how can one strenghten all areas of oneself with just compound exercises?
How should I mix chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs? Also, where do deadlifts fit?
Is 2 minutes of rest between sets sufficient when training for strength? And what about between exercises? After all, I don’t want to do 2-hour workouts…
Can I do some HIIT cardio (running, swimming) or plyometrics or will it take a toll too big on me?
How much warm-up should I do before exercises? Are 2 sets at 50%, than 70% or 1RM sufficient?
How do I go with increasing weights? Just add 5 pounds every week (2.5lbs plates are the smallest in the gym that I go to) or what?
When do I switch from 3x5 to 5x5?
Lastly, if I want to improve my core strength should I do a separate training for that or just add an abs exercise or two after my workouts?
I know that’s a lot of information (questions, and some of them are probably not well formulated), but I’d really appreciate your insight. Thank you in advance!
P.S. I don’t know if you get it from my post, but athletic performance is important for me.