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ben's training journal - advice welcomed

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First day back in the gym! Before I was doing a 3-day split routine: day 1 legs, day 2 chest & arms, day 3 back & shoulders. I got stronger but I added only 5 pounds in 9 months. I plan on switching to a full-body workout, especially considering i'll probably only be able to fit in 3 or 4 days/week at the gym. I haven't been in months, so I spent today feeling out what weight levels I should be using. Here's what I did today:


5 min warmup on the treadmill


squats: 3 sets of 10 reps with just the bar, to warm up

6 reps at 145 (form not so great, my right knee was drifting inward so I decided to drop the weight, and go deeper on them)




incline bench press, dumbbells:

10x30 lbs. each arm


5x35 (went to muscle failure going for 6.. maybe 30 was right after all)


bent over rows, with dumbbells:

10x60, right side; 10x60, left side

8x60, right; 7x60, left

6x60, R; 5x60, L


seated overhead press, with dumbells:



5x20 (maybe just start with 20 next time - or try barbell instead? Never done those...)


standing calf raises, one leg at a time, holding a dumbbell in the same side arm:

20x20 right leg, same left

15x20 right, same left


and then the 2 mile bike ride home for a cooldown. Definitely felt those squats in my legs, and my triceps were shaky afterwards too - it was actually kind of hard to hold myself up on the bike handlebars on the ride home!


So I have a bunch of questions now that I have a starting place to work from. I'm thinking of doing something like this 3-4 times a week, adding in some weighted crunches to the routine and then mixing in side stuff like bicep curls or pull ups, etc. Also I forgot to stretch afterwards, I wanna make sure I do that... It seems to me like this has compounds that would hit legs, shoulders, back and chest each time. Anybody see any glaring omissions? I'd like to add in some deadlifting but it's quite intimidating to me, seems like if i did it wrong I could screw myself up easy..


Some other questions - do those warm up squats make the treadmill unnecessary? I bike to work everyday, and to run errands, 4 to 10 miles a day all told. Will that be enough cardio to interfere with weight gains? Also I notice in other people's logs that they start out with lower weights and then go heavier to finish off the exercise, is there a reason I should I be doing it that way?


Less importantly, am I doing the notation right, ie. 8x30 means 8 reps with 30 lbs.? And when I record things with dumbbells, i use the weight per dumbbell, so my bench press is 10x30 even though it uses two dumbbells and I'm therefore lifting 60 lbs total? I know, the main purpose of a log is to track my progress against myself, but I'd like to be able to show properly right once it get up there more!

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Oh yeah and the food, today I ate:

5:30 am breakfast: oat cereal with soymilk, orange juice, soy yogurt

7:30 am snack at work: bagel with peanut butter, banana, iced soy latte

noon hit the gym, spent about an hour on the workout above

1:30 pm post workout snack: banana, strawberry and sopymilk smoothie with brown rice protein, builder bar

2:30 pm snack: a couple carrots

3:30 late lunch: baked potato w/ tvp and tofutti sour cream, a multivitamin and some grape juice

5:30 pm snack: peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread

7 pm snack: clif bar

9 pm dinner: nutritional yeast mac n' "cheese", 1 cup raw spinach, grape juice


I figure it at a little over 3500 calories, 130 grams protein, 550 grams carbs.


and now I'm heading off to bed at 10pm, which will give me 7 1/2 hours of sleep...

Is there some way that eating just before I go to sleep like this would affect my gains adversely?


Well I just asked a crapload of n00bish questions, I should probably give it (and me) a rest. good night!

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Day 2, rest day


5:30 breakfast oatmeal, orange juice, 2 flaxseed toaster waffles

6 am bike to work

7:30 am snack at work: banana, clif bar, 16 oz. soymilk

11:30 am bagel with peanut butter

noon bike home from work

12:30 lunch: 2 spinach & soy baloney wraps on wheat tortillas, macaroni and yeast "cheese," smoothie with strawberries, banana, soymilk and hemp protein

3 pm snack builder bar, apple

4:30 pm peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat, a couple carrots, a multivitamin

5pm bike to the grocery store and back

7 pm dinner: spaghetti with chickpeas in tomato sauce, 2 cups steamed broccoli, grape juice

9pm bedtime shake: strawberries, soymilk, rice protein and peanut butter


just over 4000 calories, 170 g protein, 590 g carbs


biked about 6 miles today


hittin' the gym after work tomorrow!

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5am breakfast oat cereal with soymilk, orange juice, flaxseed toaster waffles

5:20 bike to work

8:30 snack: 16 oz. soymilk, banana

11 am snack bagel w/ peanut butter


1pm workout: 5 min warmup, treadmill


3x10 warmup with the bar, 3x8x125 (3 sets 8 reps 125 lbs.)

incline bench press, dumbbells: 1x12x30, 1x9x30, 1x5x30

seated overhead press, dumbbells: 1x8x20, 1x7x20, 1x6x20

bent over rows, more dumbbells: 1x9x60 each side; 1x7x60 each side; 1x5x60 each side

standing calf raises, holding dumbbell: 1x20x20 each side; 1x18x20 each side

40 crunches holding 10 lb. plate behind my head.

Remembered to stretch afterward.


2pm builder bar

3 pm lunch: avocado, tomato and soy salami sandwich on whole wheat with vegenaise; garlic sticks; carrots; banana, strawberries, soymilk and hemp protein smoothie

4:30 clif bar

5:45 soymilk, apple, multivitamin

6pm bike to grocery store & back (seems like i go there a lot now )

7:30 dinner: 3 black bean and avocado burritos on whole wheat tortillas with tofutti sour cream and hash browns; 1 cup raw spinach; grape juice

7:45 pm bike to infoshop collective meeting, 9:30 bike home

10 pm shake w/ soymilk and rice protein, soy yogurt


Around 4000 calories, 150 g protein, 570 carbs. Accidentally biked about 14 miles.


Today at the gym I was still feeling sore from the last workout, and kind of tight. Got loosened up once I got into it, but it messed with the first set of squats and i didn't go as deep as I'd like. Considering how long I was out of the gym though, I should probably take my time these first few weeks. Still sore - but feeling good to be back.

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Rest day. My original plan was to do a full-body workout every other day, but I'm thinking of switching to a 2-day split, just because my schedule is hectic and there may be weeks where the only way to get 3-4 days in at the gym is to do a couple back-to-back.


6:30am breakfast - cheerios w/ soymilk, soy yogurt, orange juice

6:50 bike to work

10 am soymilk, clif bar

12:30 bike home

1pm lunch: leftovers! mac n' yeast "cheese", black beans, 1 wheat tortilla. Smoothie: strawberries, banana, soymilk, hemp protein. And a builder bar.

2:45 flaxseed toaster waffles w/ peanut butter, grape juice

3:30 bike 2 mi. running an errand

5pm carrot and apple juice

7pm dinner: baked potato with tvp, tofutti sour cream, raw spinach

8pm shake:soymilk, rice protein, strawberries, peanut butter; multivitamin


3800 calories, 175 g protein, 540 carbs. biked 6 miles.


working both jobs tomorrow, gonna be tough to get enough meals in... gonna make some sammiches to take with me.

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I can't help you with the workouts since you can't change your schedule. It looks like you're lifting heavy and going to failure in the 4-10 rep range, which should give you the most growth. Compound exercises (bench press, dead lifts, squats, etc) are also important to growth as they involve many muscles and cause a larger release of growth hormones.


If you've been eating the same number of calories for the past 9 months and only have a 5 lb weight gain then you need to eat more. It appears that you use your bike for transportation (?), so you shouldn't add any additional cardio when trying to gain. Adding creatine to your post-workout meal may also help with gains. (You may need to up your caloric intake as you gain. Once I added 10 lbs of muscle, I needed to increase my calories by almost 500 to continue gaining). As an aside, I noted that you ingest a fair number of simple sugars with a high glycemic index (grape juice, jelly, bagel). Whole food sources of carbs with give you a much better nutritional profile. Also, you need to balance your intake of omega 6 fatty acids with more omega 3's. You can do this by adding 2 T of ground flax seed or 1.5-2 tsp of flax oil per day. If you decide to try the flax oil then make sure it's from a store that store it refrigerated. Spectrum brand has one with the addition of DHA - even better. Don't purchase one of those oils that advertise "balanced omegas" because you don't need the other oils (no money to be made on just flax oil, so they add other oils and try to convince you that you need their product). Store ground flax in the refrigerator for up to a month (freezer for longer than that) and store flax oil in the refrigerator - get the small bottle so you use it up before it gets rancid (don't heat flax oil, it needs to be used cold or room temperature).


Good luck with your gains!

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Thanks a lot for the tips DV! I've definitely upped my calories considerably in the past week, since I've been back in the gym. I think diet was the main reason i gained so little before, especially since I was making gains in strength but not adding mass.

Edited by xvx ben
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Gym day 3! Did my main exercises of squats, incline bench, rows and threw in a little extra arm and chest stuff. Still figuring out what weight to start back at with some of these.



1 warmup set 20 reps with the bar





incline bench press, dumbbells:




1x1x40 just to see if I could.


bent over rows, dumbbells:



1x6x60 (wanted to write seven but didn't quite make it all the way up)


dumbbell flies:


1x2x25 (ooops too heavy)



seated shoulder press, dumbells:





biceps curls, dumbbells:





weighted crunches:

45 with a 10lb. plate behind my head


The rest of the day, with food and accidental cardio, went like this:


5am cheerios, orange juice, toaster waffles, soy yogurt

8am iced soy latte

9am bagel, banana

12:30 hit the gym

1:30 builder bar, bike home

2pm smoothie (banana, strawberry, soymilk, rice protein), whole wheat spaghetti, tomato sauce, 1/2 can chickpeas

2:30 bike to second job

4:30 banana, pb&j on whole wheat

5:30 clif bar

7pm some grilled tofu that a picky customer sent back to the kitchen - tasted fine to me!

8pm banana

8:15 lecture from the boss about eating at work

9:30 bike from work to a meeting

11pm got a ride home from someone with a bike rack! shake (hemp protein, strawberries, soymilk)


biked about 10 miles. 3800 calories, 155 g protein, 600 carbs.

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rest day - slept in till 9:30!


9:30 breakfast - oatmeal w/ agave nectar, soy yogurt, apple juice

12:30 builder bar, banana.

1pm bike to grocery store & back.

2pm lunch - last of the macaroni & yeast cheese, soy salami & avocado on whole wheat, strawberry banana soymilk smoothie with hemp protein, multivitamin

2:30 bike to work

5:30 clif bar

9:30 apple, builder bar, bike home.

10pm dinner - carrots, almonds, strawberry soymilk shake with rice protein


3500 calories, 150 g protein, 460 carbs. Got distracted and didn't eat as much as I'm trying to. Resorted to eating 3 protein bars today - I'd rather be using those to supplement more solid food, not as a substitute!

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today's workout:



1x20x45, warmup w/ the bar





flat bench press, dumbbells:





bent over rows, dumbbells:

1x12x60 each side

1x8x60 each side

1x6x60 each side


calf raises, one leg, holding dumbbell:

1x20x20 each leg

1x18x20 each leg

1x16x20 each leg


50 crunches, holding 10 lb. plate


food: 7:45 am breakfast: cheerios w/ soymilk, soy yogurt, orange juice, toaster waffles w/ peanut butter

9:30 bike to gym, workout, bike home

11am post-workout snack: apple, builder bar, smoothie (strawberries, banana, hemp protein, soymilk)

1pm lunch: tofu scrambler w/ nutritional yeast, mushrooms, green peppers; 2 slices whole wheat toast w/ earth balance; apple juice

2:30 pre-work snack: soymilk, banana, multivitamin

2:40 bike to work

5:30 clif bar

6:30 handful of french fries

10:30 bike home

11pm wheat gluten nuggets, orange juice, some peanut butter, and a shake (soymilk ,rice protein)


3000 calories, 145 g protein, 400 carbs

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Nov. 10







incline bench, dumbbells:






seated shoulder press, dumbbells:






bicep curls:






standing calf raises, each leg:





weighted crunches: 55 w/ 10 lb. plate

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