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Workout Advice & Nick Evans

I’m new to T-Nation & am sort of a beginner for really directed workouts. I am 49 in pretty good shape(?) & have been following the book by Dr. Nick Evans [“Men’s Body Sculpting” c.2004] on working out. Have been going to the gym for 3 yrs now & try to eat right & all that good stuff.

Recently had a trainer for 5 sessions & he said the Evans book was all wrong. I shouldn’t do supersets but just do cycle training where you switch quickly from one machine to another for 1 set of 12 reps on each. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this & am really looking for a good guidance for body building.

I don’t want to compete or engage in sports: just body building. My chest is okay but I’m having trouble with my arms. The beginner section here talks about “why you should go to the gym” and now, at 5x/week, I’m beyond that.

I get very little NEPA (or general non-exercise phys activity) since I own a computer modeling firm and can’t take time off during the day for long walks.

I feel that my gym trainer was not very good but I only had him for 5 sessions.

Hello and welcome

Firstly, at the upper-right corner there’s the search function. Or google in general. Something like ‘starting out bodybuilding’ should do the trick. One of the best ways to avoid redundancy is to search for topics that had already been discussed. Which is pretty much all of them.

Basically, bodybuilding is about figuring out your own body. There’s no magical programs, set/rep combinations or supplements. There are people who put their mind to it and excel with the ‘worst’ programs. While most people read all the best scientifically sound programs and never see any changes.

The general bodybuilding guideline is to eat a surplus of whole food in 4-6 meals throughout the day, while lifting weights. Lifting should be done with force and control, while maintaining focus on the target muscle(ie bench press = chest doing most of the work, not tris and shoulders).

If the target muscle is not doing most of the work - you are doing something wrong. Correct it and move on.

Just by virtue of adhering to the above you will grow stronger. Increase weight as much as it’s possible without compromising the focus on the target muscle group.

With your sedentary lifestyle and low activity level, some cardio and a relatively clean diet are most likely a must.

As you can see, it’s SIMPLE, but NOT easy. Effort and dedication are the trump-cards here. It’s really what will make or brake you if you plan to change the way you look.

The rest is kind of a wash. So help yourself at the smorgasbord.


I’m familiar with the concept of eating right & lifting weights. However beyond that I find a lot of conflicting advice. Some links here talk about V-Diets & which seem to indicate that you have to work in the construction business (for NEPA) or forget bodybuilding.

Thanks for your help but I do not want to have the worst routine and still excel at it. At 49 years old I can’t just eat fries, lift 8 lbs 1X/week and still look ripped.

i agree that often after doing a search you can be worse of than before. too much conflicting info and flat out bullshit (like that trainer was giving you).

i think the best advice would be to start experimenting, and finding methods that work the best for you. this should include exercise selection, rep range, rep tempo, rest between sets and workouts, range of motion in exercises, various ‘intensity’ methods, the number of exercises and sets, the number of muscles per workout, the number of days per week, etc.

or you could follow one of the numerous cookie-cutter programs, and tweak it as you progress.

I’m curious as to what routines you followed in the 3 years spent in the gym. Was it always based on Nick Evans’ book? I don’t quite remember Evans’ exact routine (it’s been a few years since I flipped through it), but I’m pretty certain it’s better than the advice you got from this trainer.

While the other posts are absolutely correct in that we all have to experiment to find a good routine, I believe there are a few good starting points. You might take a look at these old articles posted years ago on this site by Arley Vest:

Routine 1
Routine 2
Routine 3

I particularly like the set-up of the first two. Of course, adjustments can and should be made, but I think they lay a pretty good foundation.

It’s good that you’ve clearly stated your desire to focus on bodybuilding, and I hope that prevents people from steering you in the wrong direction.

Um, 49? You look much younger.

It may be that it’s time for you to design something for yourself. If you fancy doing that then these articles will give you all the info necessary to make a balanced and effective programme:

Waterburys Essential Program Design:

Thibaudeau’s How to design a damn good program:

Alternatively you could look under the Authors section and pick one of the ready made progs. Have a read of some Waterbury if you like fullbody workouts or Thibaudeau if you fancy a bodypart split.

Also be sure to check out the ‘Over 35’ lifters forum, as there’s lots of experienced guys over there.

Good luck.

get out away from the trainer now. start using mostly freeweights now, and only start adding in machines when you are shoring up weak points in your physique. for arms, preacher curls, do a lot for your bicep peak, and i also love regular hammer curls to.at least for me,to get bigger arms, you just head over the the dumbbell rack and you curl till your arms start shaking.21’s are tough, but they are worth the effort

i take it though you want to end up more “ripped” than just big. correct?

Here at T-Nation it’s impossible to throw a rock and not hit an excellent article on fitness and nutrition. So why don’t you take a look through the “must reads” and read the ones you think sound interesting, hmmm?

Thanks very much for all the comments. Actually in 2 mos I’ll be 50! Really I wish I was 39 or even 19 & not 49.

To recap the Nick Evans book is a good place to get started. He’s an older Dr. (MD) and discusses the physiology behind muscle growth. He covers supersets & basically stesses working out a muscle or group to exhaustion rather than jumpring around as my trainer said so as to give the muscles time to recover between sets.

Why the muscles should recover between sets I don’t understand. I thought we were supposed to stress them so they grow. Also Evans has a good section on nutrition.

I like machines rather than free weights because with no one to watch me I wonder if I have good form with the free wts. My gym (Bally’s) has a big free wt section.

I’ll try more of those articles. I think I’m in pretty okay shape but have hit a plateau. My arms absolutely refuse to grow.

Thanks again all for your helpful comments.

for full reference the book is “Men’s Body Sculpting”
by Nick Evans, MD 2004
There’s also a “Bodybuilding Anatomy” book which I just starting to use as a reference for figuring out what people mean when they describe certain exercises.

I found Evan’s book in the store the other day (assuming you mean the one with him performing a one-armed preacher curl on the cover), and it’s not bad.

On his basic 3 day, push/pull/legs split, I would think most people could stand some extra volume, but I guess he adds some for the hybrid routine.

Since you are purely interested in bodybuilding, I think you’d be better off with a 3-5 day split, hitting everything once a week, which you may already be doing. Since arms are your current stubborn area, try giving them their own day and space it as far from your other upper body days as possible. Something like:

Sunday: Chest/Shoulders
Monday: Back/Traps
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Arms
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Off

I’m also curious as to what you mean when you say you’ve hit a plateau. In strength? In size? Something you might try is rotating your lifts each week.

For example, one week you hit the chest with flat bench, incline DB bench, flat flys, then the next week you go with incline bench, dips, and cable crossovers. The following week, you return to the first rotation.

This works very well for me and is the basis for many successful routines out there, as it satisfies both size and strength requirements.

Yes, you’re correct on the title I’ve also revised my post to include the reference.

When you say “a 3-5 day split” what does that mean?

I’ve hit a plateau in weights and in my growth. For ex. with flat bench presses I cannot do more than 140+ the bar (35 or 37 lbs)? I do 3 sets of 12 lifts or at least try to. However towards the end I can’t press that much so it can drop to 110 + the bar.

I do pretty much what you outlined above for the chest although cable crossovers are hard to get as some fool is usually using that whole machine for curls.

[quote]Gallienus wrote:
When you say “a 3-5 day split” what does that mean?

I’ve hit a plateau in weights and in my growth. For ex. with flat bench presses I cannot do more than 140+ the bar (35 or 37 lbs)? I do 3 sets of 12 lifts or at least try to. However towards the end I can’t press that much so it can drop to 110 + the bar.

I do pretty much what you outlined above for the chest although cable crossovers are hard to get as some fool is usually using that whole machine for curls.


By 3-5 day split, I mean splitting your body up over 3-5 days, hitting everything directly once a week. However many days you go with depends on your schedule and volume requirement. I usually feel it’s better to start at the low end of the spectrum (3 day split) and add days/volume where necessary, just to ensure you don’t overdo it.

Are you saying you do 3 sets of 12 reps for each lift, using the same weight for each set? If so, you might be creating some redundancy in your routine. Try doing something different with each exercise for a given body part. For example, say you’re performing 3 exercises for your chest. Pick the one you can go heaviest on and go light to heavy with your sets, pyramiding up to a max or near-max 6 reps or so. On the next exercise, do a lighter set to warm up with, then do 2-3 sets in the 8-12 rep range with a set weight; you could pyramid this as well, but keep the jump in weight from set to set lower and keep the reps high. For the last exercise, go with an isolation move, keep the reps high and the rest between sets short, and pump as much blood as you can into the muscles.

These are just a few suggestions, nothing set in stone.