T Nation

Workout Plan and the Gym I Have to Work With


THanks to Aragorn, on this forum, he gave me a great workout plan which is this.
Day 1: chest press, bent row, face pull, incline press, chin ups, DB press, biceps/triceps
DAY 2: and DAY 4: squats,k deadlift, cable thrust, back extensions, hip thrust, with some abs between sets
Day 3: incline DB, seated cable row, flat bench flye, 1 arm DB, DB lats and biceps/triceps

I realize that I"m lifting way too light and need to improve, but another bodybuilder told me that I need to throw this plan out and do stronglifts. I would be up for it, but I don’t have powerracks at my gym, can’t afford to buy one,nor can I afford the only gym in town that has one. I currently do bench press on a smith machine, which i know isn’t ideal,but it’s all I Have. Can I still get strong on my plan and with the machines I have available to me, or is it truly impossible?


is there some reason you don’t want to do the workout Aragorn gave you?

What is it about Stronglifts you believe to be better than the routine you are doing now?


First of all, you can get strong just doing push-ups, chin-ups and squating holding a heavy rock. There you go! It’s not about fancy machines or ideal training plans. But, it is always about how much effort you put into whatever training plan that you have.

Secondly, I would stick to the program that Aragorn has given you he’s been around a long time is a very smart guy and has given you some good advice.

Just remember while programs are important they will never be as important as working really hard at whatever movement you are doing!


If you can’t squat in a squat rack, you don’t want to do StrongLifts, period. It’s literally build around the squat.


I like aragorns plan a lot. Im just asking if what this person told me, to scrap my plan and do the basics, if thats really necessary.? Shes just saying im not lifting enough, which is an easy fix, just add more weight to my program now. One question, is it ok to continue bench press on smith machine? I have a squat rack but no power rack for bench presses, so my only options are to use smith machine or free weights, which are hard. I love and admire aragorn, he has helped me immensely.


Hi Herrera! I just went and looked at your old thread in the beginners forum.

I’ll put the link here because it will help readers to understand where you’re at and what’s already been discussed. The videos and discussion are really helpful.

Confused and Need Help, Everything Contradicts Itself


Have you been doing this program since the fall?

Did you have to take time away from training?

Have you been able to get comfortable enough with form to progress to heavier weights? You mentioned that you are still lifting very light?

Are you having any issues with pain or injury?

If you’ve been consistently doing this rotation of exercises, it may be time to change things up.

If you’re having trouble building confidence to lift heavier, my advice would be to keep practicing the movement patterns until you feel comfortable getting heavier with all of your lifts, or get a coach or experienced training partner to help you so you feel confident.

About programs, everybody at the gym is going to tell you something different, because there are just many roads that lead to Rome. Don’t let everyone who has an idea derail you.

Based on the previous thread, you’re doing it right. Get comfortable with form. Practice them with lighter weights, and then begin to progress the weights you’re lifting a bit.

You’re adorable, BTW and I think some of the concern with your belly is posture. If I slouch and relax my belly, I look thicker as well.

And about scale weight, you’re very small. As you gain muscle, your scale may actually go up while your waist measurement comes down a bit. I would expect this.


I just saw this. I’ve never used the Smith for Bench, so I’ll let someone else answer that. I see other people doing Bench variations on the Smith. Our Smith machines have a very large bar so it’s would be fairly uncomfortable for a small woman.

You said you’re doing some DB pressing for chest? How heavy are you getting with those? Also, this is a nice DB pressing variation. I prefer it to barbell bench press.

He’s giving them a hard squeeze as he goes up (DB Squeeze Press), but you can also just press them, and work you way toward heavier DBs. It’s called a DB Neutral Press with Contact. It’s protective of shoulders and wrists, and I love it for training chest and tris.


It’s not the worst thing in the world but not ideal. It’s not good to be locked into a pattern on bench. If you watch someone bench from the side the bar moves in an arc or J pattern (upside down J) because your elbows track down to your sides but your lockout takes the bar over your upper chest. The Smith either forces your elbows to go wide or keeps the bar too low/close to your waist on lockout. That would mean your arms aren’t going straight up; they’re angled slightly towards your feet.

DBs are the best option in your case. They allow the best range of motion and will lead to the best muscular development. The only reason to do bench is to get good at bench; it’s not actually the best chest exercise.

In regards to your other lifts, go heavier!


There is a certain type of wisdom to shutting out the noise and just follow a program.

Give it a hard, honest go and don’t give another thought to the noise for a solid 6 months. Program hopping and second guessing one coach or school of thought by comparing it to another is basically toxic to making progress.


Thanks so much for confidence, praise and advice. I think i will try that db version and add it to my incline db.i have had injuries, thanks for asking, like i hurt my lower back doing aerobics, and hyperextensions and leg lifts. I also have a shoulder pain that i feel when i put the bar back into the rack for example. So with all these little pains, i get scared, dont want surgery. I had to take a week off with back and it still isnt 100% right so deadlifts and hip thrusts are still light. I had to quit cable pull throughs because the ends of the rope thing was hurting my hand bones and hyperextensions were hurting my back. I can hip thrust 130 pounds, and my squat form is super in need, my weakest part.


Feel free to make changes to your routine in order to work around injuries, but as SkyzykS has already mentioned, program hopping is a really bad habit that people get into, my (old) self included (So don’t completely sack everything off and jump ship).

This guy’s good for form tips (skip to a couple of mins in), and also has a link to Mark Rippetoe’s form:


well my point is that if you are happy with how things are going, why change?

And yes - benching in the Smith is fine


Oh, you’re very welcome. If you’d have said, “Hey, I’ve been running this same rotation of exercises for 9 months and I’m not having any pain or mobility issues, and I’ve progressed the weights so I’m lifting much more challenging weight now, what’s next?..” That’s very different than hearing you say, “I’ve been vexed by injuries and problems, and have had trouble getting heavier because I’ve get injured or have mobility or form issues.” Being gradual about it and backing away from things that hurt is smart. It takes time to build up strength in ligaments and tendons. That’s not time wasted, even if you’re just learning the movement patterns and getting your body used to weight training. I’m going to tag Aragorn here for you, so he’ll see this, although I know he’s really busy with work right now. @Aragorn.

Really, don’t loose heart. Physique wise, you’re in a good place. Just loosing a bit of post-baby fat around your mid-section, and attempting to add a bit of muscle are very achievable goals. You don’t need to Bench Press or do barbell squats to do that. The DB exercise I put up is MUCH more protective of your shoulders than BB bench, and you don’t have to work so hard to control the DBs (like when doing flys) since pressing them together helps keep everything stable. It’s a great beginner move. Also, pushup variations are really challenging for most women and perfectly good for chest and arms.

Another nice back exercise for beginners is a body weight inverted row.

A lot of people lean WAY back at the top of a hyper. Like they’re trying to really lock it out. To maintain tension on your glutes and hamstrings, you really don’t need to come all the way up. What she’s doing is fine. Certainly you don’t need to lean WAY back at the top so your low back is doing some kind of back bend. You see people making that mistake all the time at the gym.

Hey, that’s a great hip thrust! Well done. If your goal is to build your glutes, then that’s one of the best things. I know you had some advice regarding squat form in your other thread, when you were just starting. If you want to put up another video here, that might help.

FYI, I didn’t do heavy squats for years because I have a hyperflexible back and had an ab surgery after pregnancy so I was concerned about really bracing my core and keeping my back in a safe position. I prefer single leg stuff like walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, step ups. And I like like RDLs, weighted hypers, trap bar DL variations, Hack machine squats, cable kickbacks, you get the idea. Unless you want to be a PLer, you can train legs and glutes without doing barbell squats.


Thanks again, very informative. One thing I want to mention is that my hyperextension machine is not parallel to the floor like in that picture. It is at an angle, so it forces you to arch when you come back. DARN! Any alternatives, because i do like doing those weighted. I hear ya on squats. I will maybe post some videos later on, . . .too bad you can’t do private messages here, so that I could let you know when I post a video.


Does you Hyper stand look like this one?

Here’s a good video that shows what NOT to do. If you’re experiencing pain, I’d suspect that you’re leaning too far back.

Here’s one that shows it as more of a GLUTE move. This is how I do hypers. I’m NOT working my low back, I’m getting glutes and hammies. @ Doing them weighted, I like to hold a plate at my chest, and I don’t even come up to neutral like she does in the first video.

About squat form checks, there are lots of people here who would be better than me at coaching your squat form, but if you put an @ sign in front of someone’s user name, it will tag them so they can see that you’re asking a question. @bulldog9899 would be another good person to ask about squat form if Aragorn is busy. A lot of people here can help you with that if you decide to put a form check video up.



Yes that’s how my hyperextension machine is, so I will look at those videos. You are very very helpful And I can’t wait for arm day to try off those new moves. I will send shortly here a video of my RDL, with light weight because of my back, I"m not back yet to my 70 pound deadlifts. THanks all and I hope you can look at my deadlifts, I’ll do two angless.


It’s an overall awesome exercise for ANYONE.

Ditto back raises.