T Nation

Upper/Lower Split - Basic Movements Only


#1

Hi all, I believe I would never find better place for workout critique and advices rathar than T-Nation

First let me inform you a little bit about myself. I'm 33 years old male, used to be overweight and my heighest recorded weight was 134kg, two years ago I decided to lose weight and had started strict diet, and dropped weight from 134kg to 62 kg. Of course lost fat and muscle as well. Chronically:

01-November 2013: started diet @ weight 134kg
01-November 2014: weight was 62kg
01-November 2014: started lifting weights

So, I'm only 1 year of weight training. I used to lift weights during my college days (15 years ago).

I'm still on caloric deficit in order to reduce BF% to 12% or below if I could (500kcal deficit)

I workout 4 days a week (Sat, Sun, Tues, Wed), and I've my own home gym (barbell, dumbbells, bench, power rack, etc.)

My current workout program is upper/lower split, and I'm trying to stick to the basic compound movements.

Upper A:

Flat BB bench press
Pull Up
BB row
Behind the neck BB press
DB flyes (aux)
Front DB raise (aux)
Biceps curls (aux)

Upper B:
Incline BB bench press
Pull up (underhand)
Kroc row
OHP
Lateral delt raie / bentover delt raise (aux)
Biceps curls (aux)

Lower:
BB squat
RDL
BB calf raise
Front squat
Bulgarian split squat / lunges (aux)
Seated calf raises (aux)

I do good progress, however, my main problem is time and energy. As I progress into my lifts, it takes too much time to finish and I start to lose energy to do auxilary lifts. So, my question; is it enough to focus on main lifts only for 3 months to gain good amount of strength then reduce intensity and add more auxilary exercises? Let me make it more clear, for example, my squat for yesterday was (1RM = 81kg)
10 x 1 @ 40kg
8 x 1 @ 50kg
6 x 1 @ 60kg
6 x 4 @ 70kg
6 x 1 @ 60kg
8 x 1 @ 50kg

As you can see, it takes around 20 minutes to finish squat workout. After the third exercise (60 minutes of working out) I feel low of energy of course. Yesterday, I could only finish squat, RDL, BB calf raises, and front squat with some hip raise. It took me 90 minutes and left me very tired.

Your advices please


#2

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
two years ago I decided to lose weight and had started strict diet, and dropped weight from 134kg to 62 kg.[/quote]
That’s some awesome progress. Nice work.

That’s a solid plan, yes. Something like the 5/3/1 “triumverate” routine discussed here is exactly what you’re looking for:

You’re describing a common situation a lot of guys end up in. Trying to follow a workout that’s poorly designed overall and that’s inappropriate for their current condition. Stick to a well-designed, pre-written program.


#3

My advice is simple: do fewer exercises. There’s no need to do back squats, RDLs, front squats and split squats in the same session unless you simply don’t work hard enough on each one.


#4

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
Hi all, I believe I would never find better place for workout critique and advices rathar than T-Nation
[/quote]
blushes

First of all, congratulations. This is a big accomplishment, and one you should be very proud of.

This was 15 years ago, it’s very important not to get hung up on what you used to do and what used to work. Your body has changed a lot in 15 years.

Be aware that this is going to impact on the quality and quantity of training you can do, and the results this will give you.

These are not the basics. People have many different ideas on the basics, but I would suggest most peoples lists come out to well under 10 total lifts. You have 21

Yes, absolutely. I would highly recommend it.

[quote]Let me make it more clear, for example, my squat for yesterday was (1RM = 81kg)
10 x 1 @ 40kg
8 x 1 @ 50kg
6 x 1 @ 60kg
6 x 4 @ 70kg
6 x 1 @ 60kg
8 x 1 @ 50kg
[/quote]
Normal notation would have sets first, ie.
1 x 8 @ 50kg would be one set of 8 squats at 50kg

Well yes, it would. That’s a staggering amount of volume to do on a calorie deficit and probably not helpful to your goal. I think you would be best served at this point picking a basic strength program with the sole aim of getting stronger. Let your diet take care of weight loss, and let your strength program take care of getting you strong. Don’t confuse the two.


#5

What do you weigh now? And how tall are you?

If you’re still 62 kg and eating 500 calories less than maintenance…no wonder you’re struggling with energy. Not everyone is going to be a 100-kg mass monster, but it’s exceedingly possible right now that you’re underweight and underfueled, and would be better served to add some bodyweight - you might feel like you still look skinny-fat now, but adding quality mass has a way of making guys like you look leaner (if I’ve read the situation correctly and you’re still only 62 kg).

Good training advice has already been given.


#6

or

or

WS4SB


#7

Thanks so much for all of your great advices. It is clear for me now that all agreed on reducing total exercises and focusing more on core lifts (squats, bench press, OHP, DL, RDL, and rows), so my next target for the coming 3 months will be pure strength gains.

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
What do you weigh now? And how tall are you?

If you’re still 62 kg and eating 500 calories less than maintenance…no wonder you’re struggling with energy. Not everyone is going to be a 100-kg mass monster, but it’s exceedingly possible right now that you’re underweight and underfueled, and would be better served to add some bodyweight - you might feel like you still look skinny-fat now, but adding quality mass has a way of making guys like you look leaner (if I’ve read the situation correctly and you’re still only 62 kg).

[/quote]

I’m 70 kgs right now, and I’m following 5/2 dieting method described here on T-Nation before. On training days my intake is 1500 and two other days my intake is 800 (two meals only). BTW due to old habit and my job nature I train fasted. I wake 06:30 AM; take my breakfast, then go to work. I return back home by 05:30PM and do my workout by 06:00PM, I don’t eat anything after breakfast till I finish my workout, If I consume anything before training I can’t perform well (I don’t know why!!!), Also during working hours I have no chance for snacks of small meals. Anyway I’m satisfied with that routine as it is my routine since 15 years.

My height is 170cm, and my job is deskjob (I’m CTO), so my maintenance is very low (1800 to 1900 kcal). I know it is very low number but I’ve monitored my intake for long time to get that number. I asked Lyle McDonald’s help also nd he calculated my maintenance to be 1900.

I’m going to study 5/3/1 program as it seems interesting.

Thanks pros for your great advices


#8

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
On training days my intake is 1500 and two other days my intake is 800 (two meals only).[/quote]

I’m not a nutrition expert but shouldn’t you be eating normally (i.e. at maintenance) during the 5 days? You are already in a caloric deficit every day and then go into an extreme caloric deficit for 2 of them. It doesn’t sound very healthy, especially if you’re lifting as well.


#9

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
BTW due to old habit and my job nature I train fasted. I wake 06:30 AM; take my breakfast, then go to work. I return back home by 05:30PM and do my workout by 06:00PM, I don’t eat anything after breakfast till I finish my workout, If I consume anything before training I can’t perform well (I don’t know why!!!)
[/quote]

You could at least drink some BCAA’s during your workout


#10

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
On training days my intake is 1500 and two other days my intake is 800 (two meals only).[/quote]

I’m not a nutrition expert but shouldn’t you be eating normally (i.e. at maintenance) during the 5 days? You are already in a caloric deficit every day and then go into an extreme caloric deficit for 2 of them. It doesn’t sound very healthy, especially if you’re lifting as well.[/quote]

Very much this. This sounds like half the amount your body needs (I ran the numbers).


#11

All the advice here is spot on.

Congratulations on managing to lose the weight. That’s a hell of a job.

Like the others have said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Auxiliary lifts are just that. Your main lifts are what drive your progress. Your best bet is something like 5/3/1 where pretty much everything is set out for you.

Also, don’t be afraid to increase the calories a bit. You’re training now, and you need the energy. The 5/2 isn’t bad - I used it for about a year - but for it to work for me my intake on the 5 days was pretty big and I was not at all picky about what I ate beyond avoiding junk food. I also usually had a pretty big dinner on the fasting days. I initially did 12 hour fasts, then had to go to 10 and eventually 8 because it just got harder and harder as I grew, which is why I swtiched to very simple carb cycling. The 5/2 the way I did let me add about 12 kg (26 lbs) going from 83 to 95 kg (182 to 209 lbs) over that year without adding any body fat (around 20%, maybe a shade under) that I could tell. No idea how much actual muscle in that, all I can say is my waistline didn’t increase but my back, shoulders, chest and legs got bigger.

Not giving all that detail to blow my own horn, just to put it into context.

Anyway, long story short you’re on the right track but try a pre written program and add some calories on your non fasting days.

Best of luck.


#12

Thanks very much gentlemen for your precious advices. I will switch to 5/3/1 training program as per your advice. Program looks very interesting and not time intensive that suits my schedule very much

Regarding to BCAA I’ve never tried it before, does it boost energy or just help preserving muscle mass during exercise? For energy boost I rely on coffee 15 minutes before working out and it works very well. Never tried any energy boosters like C4 or that stuff.

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
All the advice here is spot on.

Congratulations on managing to lose the weight. That’s a hell of a job.

Like the others have said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Auxiliary lifts are just that. Your main lifts are what drive your progress. Your best bet is something like 5/3/1 where pretty much everything is set out for you.

Also, don’t be afraid to increase the calories a bit. You’re training now, and you need the energy. The 5/2 isn’t bad - I used it for about a year - but for it to work for me my intake on the 5 days was pretty big and I was not at all picky about what I ate beyond avoiding junk food. I also usually had a pretty big dinner on the fasting days. I initially did 12 hour fasts, then had to go to 10 and eventually 8 because it just got harder and harder as I grew, which is why I swtiched to very simple carb cycling. The 5/2 the way I did let me add about 12 kg (26 lbs) going from 83 to 95 kg (182 to 209 lbs) over that year without adding any body fat (around 20%, maybe a shade under) that I could tell. No idea how much actual muscle in that, all I can say is my waistline didn’t increase but my back, shoulders, chest and legs got bigger.

Not giving all that detail to blow my own horn, just to put it into context.

Anyway, long story short you’re on the right track but try a pre written program and add some calories on your non fasting days.

Best of luck. [/quote]

Congratulations for your progress sir, your words encouraged me to continue 5/2 as I feel it is very simple effective. I don’t know much about carb cycling (read a lot about it but can’t understand what is it exactly, too many were written!!!) My main problem is love handles that’s why I’m still dieting. BTW, what might be healthy weight for male 170cm with 15-17% BF? I’m 70kgs right now, I don’t want to be bulky but be in a good shape with decent amount of muscle mass and good strength (I care too much about strength more than size)

Thanks for all of you gentlemen for your great help and support.


#13

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
BTW, what might be healthy weight for male 170cm with 15-17% BF? I’m 70kgs right now, I don’t want to be bulky but be in a good shape with decent amount of muscle mass and good strength (I care too much about strength more than size)
[/quote]

I think healthy is a very subjective term so you will probably have to set your own (specific) definition.

My feeling is that the correct answer will be “when you’re happy and a little bit proud of how you look/perform”. Ultimately, that’s the end goal for nearly all of us.


#14

[quote]hanymamdouh wrote:
Thanks very much gentlemen for your precious advices. I will switch to 5/3/1 training program as per your advice. Program looks very interesting and not time intensive that suits my schedule very much

Regarding to BCAA I’ve never tried it before, does it boost energy or just help preserving muscle mass during exercise? For energy boost I rely on coffee 15 minutes before working out and it works very well. Never tried any energy boosters like C4 or that stuff.

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
All the advice here is spot on.

Congratulations on managing to lose the weight. That’s a hell of a job.

Like the others have said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Auxiliary lifts are just that. Your main lifts are what drive your progress. Your best bet is something like 5/3/1 where pretty much everything is set out for you.

Also, don’t be afraid to increase the calories a bit. You’re training now, and you need the energy. The 5/2 isn’t bad - I used it for about a year - but for it to work for me my intake on the 5 days was pretty big and I was not at all picky about what I ate beyond avoiding junk food. I also usually had a pretty big dinner on the fasting days. I initially did 12 hour fasts, then had to go to 10 and eventually 8 because it just got harder and harder as I grew, which is why I swtiched to very simple carb cycling. The 5/2 the way I did let me add about 12 kg (26 lbs) going from 83 to 95 kg (182 to 209 lbs) over that year without adding any body fat (around 20%, maybe a shade under) that I could tell. No idea how much actual muscle in that, all I can say is my waistline didn’t increase but my back, shoulders, chest and legs got bigger.

Not giving all that detail to blow my own horn, just to put it into context.

Anyway, long story short you’re on the right track but try a pre written program and add some calories on your non fasting days.

Best of luck. [/quote]

Congratulations for your progress sir, your words encouraged me to continue 5/2 as I feel it is very simple effective. I don’t know much about carb cycling (read a lot about it but can’t understand what is it exactly, too many were written!!!) My main problem is love handles that’s why I’m still dieting. BTW, what might be healthy weight for male 170cm with 15-17% BF? I’m 70kgs right now, I don’t want to be bulky but be in a good shape with decent amount of muscle mass and good strength (I care too much about strength more than size)

Thanks for all of you gentlemen for your great help and support.
[/quote]

Happy to help, and thanks.

Carb cycling can be super simple. Have a read of this:

That’s what I’m (sort of) doing. All I do is essentially have no carbs if I don’t train, and as many carbs as I like if I do. No calorie counting or anything, and when I say no carbs I mean no breads, rice, potatoes, etc. Just meats, eggs, vegetables and stuff. If I have a protein shake it is with water and if I have a protein bar I make sure it is low carb. I try to shoot for around double my bodyweight in grams of protein per day or more (95 kg x 2 = 190 grams, usually it ends up around 200-220 grams per day).

Based on my experience, I’d say stick with the 5/2 for the moment but as you add muscle and find anything over 8 hours of fasting tough be prepared to consider changing things to something like the simple carb cycling.

With the whole healthy weight, dagill2 is on the money. It’s down to how you feel.

At a guess, I reckon if you got up to around 80-85 kg at 15-17% body fat you’d be pretty happy with how you look. You wouldn’t be huge but you’d be pretty sizeable.

BCAAS are awesome. I don’t think they boost energy, more they improve recovery. If you use them while you train I think the idea is that your muscles are able to repair much faster because the BCAAs go straight to the muscle without needing to be digested.