T Nation

WB Log 5/3/1


Hello all - I just found this website during my quest for some new work out strategies. I have gone through some of the old topics on the forums and there is some great stuff here! Id much rather base what I am going to do in the future on real experience and back and forth conversation than some guy in a magazine trying to sell u something. Anyhow - enough of that - I am looking forward to being a part of these forums - hopefully I can offer some positive participation.

A bit of background - I am 6 feet tall and 35 years old although I dont feel like it. I like to lift weights for a variety of reasons - it gives me energy, it keeps me strong, it makes me feel good about myself, and it keeps me in shape/healthy. I do not compete or anything like that - I lift for me and me alone. I was first introduced to weights my freshman year in college.

A few guys down the hall in my dorm took me into the college weight room. First exercise was of course barbell bench. They threw a 45 plate on each side and when it was my turn the bar nearly caved my sternum in. We did squats too and I could barely walk for a week. Anyhow after that, I realized that I was a weakling and got myself some cheapo weight set and lifted at my own pace semi-frequently with some decent results. When I got out of college and away from all the 24-7 partying, I became more serious and dedicated to my lifting schedule. I got in pretty good shape - at least I thought so - I was very cut - probably 6% bodyfat. I was finishing off curling at 135 straight bar, benching 225, and squatting 315. I weighed 195 then and ran 2.5 miles several days a week. All of my exercises were done primarily in a 3 or 4 sets of 10 rep fashion - sometimes I would throw a 4 or 5 rep set at the end in to see what I could do. All my sets progressed in increasing weight.

Then one day, I started to get siatic pain in my glute - literally a pain in the ass. Eventually, it migrated down my leg to my toes. That ended my weightlifting for a long, long time. I could not put on my own shoes for 2 years because I could not bend over. There was never any real injury - it just started. The doctor said it was more likely a previous injury and one day the straw broke the camel's back so to speak. At this point, I basically I went from being in the best shape of my life to the absolute worst because all I could do was lay around in pain. It took several years of stretching, physical therapy, and dedication, but I have FINALLY overcome all of that and have rebuilt my body (somewhat) without letting them cut into me. Let me tell you this was not easy.

This brings me to present time - again, I am now 35 and weigh 210. I can run 3 miles with ease, but not every day. My typical bench set is 135X10 185X10 225X10 245X6 - Curls is 45X10 75X10 95X10 115X6. I am not much on supplements - creatine only. Now we come to my issues. I have had a hernia surgery, I have had back problems �?? degenerative disk disease and wedged vertebrae. Because of all of this, in my efforts to rebuild myself, I have severely neglected my lower body mostly out of fear of re-injury, but partially out of ignorance. I now realize that this was stupid as I am lopsided - big upper body with chicken legs - which could serve to exacerbate my old problems if I dont fix this soon.

Initially I had a few goals which were achieved:

1 - Begin the rebuilding process so that I am not a complete weakling fatass (upper body mainly get back to being able to lift regularly)
2 - lose a little weight by getting my cardio back
3 - do not hurt myself in the process and go slow for everything

And now these are my new goals:

1 -I need to even myself out without injury.
2 - I want to bust all my plateaus because I have stagnated - I know that I can lift more.
3 - I want to lose a little more fat.

I am pretty sure that I have figured out how to achieve all of these new goals - obviously I need to lift legs more, which I have started. For busting my plateaus I am going to try a new routine, with different exercises, more variation, and a greater emphasis on more weight and less reps - specifically I am looking at the max ot workout (anyone use this one??). This will be the first ever workout program that I have used that was not of my own making (which may be a good thing). I am a bit concerned with some of the exercises listed in the workout plan (like straightleg deadlifts 45 leg presses etc. which I never have done) that could potentially re-injure my back/hernia if done improperly. Id love to hear any suggestions as for more back friendly replacements, good or bad experiences with this routine etc. Right now I am thinking that I will do these leg exercises, but with very little intensity (ie very low weight). I believe that I will still see gains because when you go from doing nothing to doing something - u will still see improvement.

Lastly to lose fat, I just need to keep up my running and keep away from crap food. I have gone from barely being able to do 1.5 miles to being able to run 5 - in 6 months or so. I have lost 15 lbs in the last 6 months and have still gained some power. Keeping my cardio (running) 2-3 times per week has been challenging, but the rewards have been noticeable. I want to lower my fat a little more I dont know what it is at now, but I want it lower. I like to eat (its nothing for me to scarf two chicken sandwiches down) and I would rather run than eat like a bird. I do not eat fast food/junk. I do eat a lot of fruits, chicken, beans etc.

I guess it would be beneficial to give an idea of my normal (soon to be old) workout schedule. I do change it up now and then, definitely not enough, but heres a general idea:

Monday chest/tri (chest/abs at lunch and tri/run after work)
Bar flat bench 135X10 185X10 225X10 245X6
Incline dumbbell bench 55X10 75X10 85X10
Flat dumb flyes 35X10 45X10 55X10
Abs - various crunches 5 to 10 setsX20

Nosebreakers bent bar 45X10 65X10 85X10 95X10
Cable pushdowns y bar whatever feels good usually end with full stackX10
Dips- unweightedX20 add 25lbX15 add50lbX10-12 (very strict form no leaning over)
Run 3 miles on treadmill 9.5 min miles

Tuesday- biceps/forearms
Straight bar curls - 45X10 75X10 95X10 115X6
Seated alt dumb curls 40X10 45X10 50X10
Concentration curls 30X10 35X10 40X10
Dumb Wrist curls (single palm up) 35X15 40X12 45X10 (usually I do these with virtually no down time it seems if I dont the reps they are too easy a 70 lb dumbell is too awkward and would break my wrist but I could curl it)

Wednesday back/run (weights during lunch pull-ups and run after work)
Cable pulldowns 90X10 120X10 150X10 180X10
Reverse grip (closegrip) cable pulldowns 90X10 120X10 150X10
Alt Dumb lat pull 50X10 50X10 50X10
Abs �??various crunches 5 to 10 setsX20

Pullups I vary the grip a bit but I like the one that works your biceps a little since its the day after bis
unweightedX18 add25X15 add50 X12
bar shrugs I like these a lot 135X10 185X10 225X10 285X8 225X10 185X10
run 3 miles treadmill

Thursday shoulders my shoulders vary a lot on how good I feel
Seated bar press 45X10 95X10 135X10
Front or side raises 20X10 25X10 20 X10
Alt dumb press or Arnold press 45X10 50X10 55X10
Upward rows on cable or preacher bar 75X10 95X10 115X10

Friday legs (try not to laugh) if I miss a day this is always it
Smith machine squats 45X10 95X10 135X10 165X8
Horizontal leg press machine 170X10 210x10 250X10
Seated Ham curl machine 75X10 75X10 75X10
Quad extension machine 75X10 75X10 75X10

So thats my story. Looking forward to comments, participation etc.



Welcome! I think some of the others are better suited to give specifics but looks like your back on track. As far as breaking through, If you cant change weight change reps. I mean if your stuck at 245 x 6, for a few weeks dont do it at all.

Use say 135 x 8, 185 x 6, 200 x 5 x 5. If you dont get them all the first week come back till you do, then work up to 5 x 6, then go from there. Just very weight/reps to get through.
As far as legs go I cant help ya there. I suck at legs.
God Bless Lonnie


Hats off to a motivated person. First of all I have nothing against split routines (boiler plate disclaimer) you will understand after you have been around a while. IMO splits are best for more advanced lifters-they need heavy volume for gains.

If you want fat loss -full body routines along with, interval running is worth a try.
Yesterday, I did 30 minutes of intervals-today I did squats, one arm standing dumbbell press along with pull ups.

Tomorrow, I will do Intervals again. Many times I super set these exercises. On dead lift day its 10x5 on dead lift along with, 5x5 on incline press. When inclines are done, I finish the dead lift super set with 5xmax on dips.

Your doing a lot of crunches and isolation stuff-tricep extensions are OK,you may want to examine your time allocation more closely. Once your doing dead lifts and squats you could cut back on crunches(I think crunches are a feel good exercise better to Russian twists etc) The interval sprints should help you keep that belly flat.
Yes I'm a shameless fan of Cosgrove and Waterbury.


thanks daud/63- i mainly do the crunches because it puts the least stress on my back. i am SUPER afraid to reinjure myself - i cant tell u how depressing it was to go from hero to zero and back to fatassdom. as far as the fat loss goes - i do want it, but it is not as much of a priority for me as to strenghten myself, (i have lost most of my unwanted fat already).

i really like the one body part per day per week thing as it fits my schedule well and gives me a lot of recovery time - but if i dont see results i will go elsewhere. i am hoping ramping my weight up and dropping my reps will work for me - we will see.

like i said i have almost always done 10 reps exclusively - mainly because of hesitancy to reinjure - i didnt want to push myself. i am ready to push myself now though - i feel good - no pain. i have looked at that Waterbury stuff and really dont think i could hang with 60 seconds of downtime between sets - it takes me a good 2-3 minutes to recover. i am not sure if this is bad or good.

i think that i was previously overtraining in some areas but this new workout is going to be almost the exact opposite and we will see how it goes. maybe i need to be somewhere in the middle i dont know. ill let u know how it turns out. thanks for the replies.


WBN, I believe smith machine squats actually put more stress on your low back then regular squats. High rep squats and leg press with low weights can pack size on your legs. There was an artilce a few months back about squating 135 lbs for several minutes non-stop for size. Try leg press 20 reps, leg ext 20 reps, squat 20 reps no rest btw exercises. Good luck.


eco - ill take that to heart - i am done with the smith machine for the most part as i dont like machines/ being constricted to my movements. unfortunately one of the gyms (ymca) i go to during lunch only has the smith and no squat rack (i know how lame).

ive switched my leg day to saturday anyhow so i can use the rack and bar at my local gym. i think that high rep/low weight thing will work well for my legs in this situation where they have remained virtually untrained. thanks for the idea. i dont think i can do the no rest thing btw exercises - yet. WB


Here is what I am looking at trying - its basically the verbatim maxot w/o with a twist for my legs/back (more reps and lower weight). You do some warm up sets and then basically push/pull as much as u can in 4-6 reps (6-9 sets/muscle group).

This will be my program for weeks 1-4. I think my muscles are in for a rude awakening.

Exercise Sets Reps
Inc Bench 3 4-6
Bar Bench 3 4-6
Dec Bench 1 4-6
Bar Wrist Curl 2 8-10
Dumb Wrist Curl 2 6-8
Exercise Sets Reps
Bent Over Bar Row 2 10
Close Pull Down Vbar 2 4-6
Pull up 2 4-6
Cable Row Vbar 1 4-6
DL 2 10
Bar Shrugs 3 10

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumb Press 3 4-6
Bar Mil Press 2 4-6
Dumb Side Lats 2 4-6
Tri Cable Pressdown 2 4-6
Seat Overhead Tri Press 1 4-6
Exercise Sets Reps
Bar Curls 2 4-6
Dumb Hammer Curls 2 4-6
Bent Bar Curls 1 4-6
Leg Lifts 2 12-15
Cable Crunches 2 8-10
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 10
45 Leg Press 2 10
Stiffleg DL 2 10
Stand Calf Raise 3 6-8
Seat Calf Raise 2 6-8


Looks good. Nice volume. As you get into it you can adjust to you.

We are in the same boat as far as bad backs go. Dont be surprised if you have some trouble at first. The first time a dead lifted 135 I was in bed for 2 days. First squat was worse.
What I did was go back to just the bar at first.

When I worked up to say 75 - 100 reps in 5 sets I added a LITTLE weight.
Just take it slow. It will come.


I saw that article as well Eco. That might be worth a try. Welcome WBN!


yeah its bar only slds for me tomorrow morning. work on the form and inch my way up. slowly but surely has been my mantra and it hasnt failed me yet. my upper body is reaching personal bests in almost every regard except for biceps - now i just gotta work the lower to make it even.

my buddy once told me that i went from looking like a vee to a pear after my injury. he didnt mean it to hurt but it did. its gonna feel friggin excellent to be in the best shape of my life and over 35 (wtf is the deal with that - am i supposed to lay down and die b/c i am now 35??) anyhow only i can stop me now.


Being pear shaped sucks! Good thing you recognized it at 35 instead of 47. I'll be following with great intrest.


I hurt my back in a cycling accident when I was thirty. It took seven years before I stopped feeling the discomfort. I never want to feel that mortal again.

Ab's support the lower back, they don't have to show but thet have to be there. Stretching prevents injuries! Always warm-up and cool-down! Stretch while you workout! Drink lots and lots of water! I do this and have been injury free since my accident. It adds a little time but I swear by it.

I do all my heavy and intense leg workouts on the machines. I do Romanian Dead lifts, lunges, sissy squats with free weights. I plan on doing front squats and good mornings as well.

I don't worry about injuries any more. My safety measures are engrained into my workouts. I look at my end results to determine what works for me. At my age I am more interested in finding ways to do things in an extreme fashion, safely. I guess I'm trying to say anything can be achieved safely.

Stay strong, work hard and stay focused.


Just wanted to through in my welcome.


thanks guys - streamline its been 6 years from my time of injury. i definitely agree with the abs/stretching thing - i attribute my recovery to a regimen full of ab work and especially a ridiculous amount of stretching.

its the stretching that allowed me to get back to the gym, and it is what keeps me there and keeps me from reinjuring myself. i still get a little dull pain now and then after heavy workouts and yardwork (especially shovelling) but when that happens i know its time for a good long stretching session and i am usually fine the next day.

jw - being pear shaped really sucked - but that time is long gone thank god. 2 years of upper body/cardio baby steps have gottem me back to a little vee, some titties and straight down. a little more back work and loss of 5 lbs of fat and ill be back where i was. 6-10 months of lower body work and i will be in the best shape of my life. its just a matter of time.


ok, i am going to begin logging my workout. hopefully, this may help somebody in the future. my history is laid out in the previous posts. the purpose of this routine is to improve my posterior chain and legs, additionally to break some plateaus that i have in the upper body, all the while while trying not to reinjure my lower back.

i have completed the first week and so far so good. ill stress that i do not hesitate to stop or change an exercise when something feels wrong. some of these exercises are either completely new to me or its been a long time since i used them. my mantra is smart and steady.

this is basically a max ot principalled w/o for the upper body (high weight/low rep with a lot of recovery time) mixxed with a higher rep lower weight routine to get my legs and posterior back to life.

10/11 legs - mainly sets of 10 until i get a little more brave

10X135 10X155 10X135
45deg leg press
10X90 10X140
stiffleg DL
6Xbar 6Xbar
standing calf raises
seated calf raises
10X50 10X70

i felt good during this workout. i moved 10 yards of mulch after it. the next day- sunday, i was very sore. i took monday off work to stretch and rest.

10/13 chest/forearms
incline bench bar
warmup reps then
6X225 6X205
flat bench bar
6X225 5X245 5X225
decline bench dumbells
10X75 6X95
bar wrist curls
10X75 6X115
dumb wrist curls
10X45 10X35


10/15 back and cardio
bent over bar row
10Xbar 10X65
vbar pulldowns cable
6X225 6X225
11X25 4X70 (add 25 and 70 lbs with belt)
cable row vbar
15X225 (need one where u can add plates at the gym)
Rack DL im not very flexible at this point
10X95 10X135 10X185
bar shrugs
10X225 10X275 10X185
run 4 miles in 38 minutes

10/16 shoulders and tris
dumb press
warmups then 6X65 5X75
bar mil press
6X145 4X155
dumb side laterals
5X40 6X35
warmups then 6X105 5X105
straight bar tri cable pressdowns
4X210 6X195
seated overhaed tri press
10X40 9X60


10/17 bis and abs
straight bar curls
warmups then 6X115 6X115
dumbell hammer curls which i had to drop as i felt something wrong in my left forearm probably from pullups
bent bar curls
6X115 5X125 6X115
leg lifts
2 sets of 12
cable crunches
12X195 9X210

10/18 made it back to legs
10X135 8X155 10X135
45 deg leg press
10X90 10X140
8Xbar 8X95
standing calf raise
10X135 10X185
seated calf raise
10X70 8X90

10/21 chest/forearms/cardio
smith machine incline bench (no inc bar bench at one gym)
warmups tehn 6X255 5X255 5X245
flat bench bar
5X245 6X225 6X225
dec bench dumb
wrist curl bar
6X115 4X135
reverse wrist curl bar
6X55 6X60
run 3.3 miles 32 mins


Looks great. Is there a reason you do your inclines before flat bench?


yes - ive almost always done it the other way around (flat first). i am hoping to shock my muscles by flip flopping. also, ive heard its a good way to break bench plateaus, but havent tested the theory. this routine will only last a month.

next month it goes back to the old way, but everything is changed up - order of days, different exercises etc. i think the philosophy is to keep the muscles guessing. we will see how it goes. im into foreign territory here.


Greetings Broken!

Sounds like you are getting your ducks in a row nicely. Great that you are back to throwing around iron.

Well, once upon a time I was badly busted too. The ultimate in keeping stress off your back but still blasting your legs is single-leg work. Machines never match my body dynamics so going heavy on them usually results in injury. I avoid them unless I have an excellent reason not to.

What's left? Unilateral ,i.e., single leg work, such as single-legged dead lifts (if you do them right you can't hurt your back), pistols/single-legged squats, Bulgarian split squats, step-ups, lunges and the like. When my back acts up or I have other issues I fall back on these.

You can get a terrific burn if you do them right (try an ass to grass pistol with a 25 lb. weight) with very little back loading. If you insist on doing a squat, my choice is front squats, since the load profile on the back is nicer. Really light overheads are a good diagnostic tool from time to time as well, but your back might not let you do them.

Also, isometrics are an excellent choice since it is pretty hard to hurt yourself. This is almost as large a topic as training with iron though...

Consider taking swimming lessons. Again, once I had to quit running due to hip/back issues and so ended up in the pool. I do mean take lessons (this is a longer term training goal.)

See, when I need to slim down, I swim a lot and that burns calories far better than running ever did, BUT it will take you a good 6 months of practice in a pool with competent coaching before you can really swim like that.

I would also point out that swimming is the most joint friendly exercise you can do and my direct experience is that I can leave pretty much every ache and pain in the pool for a day or so. YMMV.

Not sure what you are looking for, but if you want to chat more about what I wrote, feel free to ask.

-- jj