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Newbie Routine, please critique


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As I mentioned in my introduction post over in the, oddly enough "Introductions" forum, I am a newbie to wt training and fitness in general.

 

Please critique my weekly routine and let me know what you think, as I need all the help I can get.

 

my goals: to get in better general physical shape, and to gain some muscle.

Right now I am pretty scrawny and have some love handles, with a tiny gut (which has been going down since I started eating better and exercising beginning in January.

 

I am a 30 year old male, 5'7 and about 148 lbs currently (down about 10 from the beginning of the year)

 

My routine:

I do 60 min of light to medium cardio daily, either on the elliptical or the recumbent exercise bike. Keeping my heart rate between 60% and 80% of my max.

 

I use a bowlex and dumbbells on weight days: Mon, Wed, Fri(or Sat)

(i'm not sure the exact name of the exercises, they are ones that my roomate that own the bowflex showed me)

 

Bench press - 3 to 4 sets of 12

Chest Flys - 3 sets 0f 12

Seated back rows - 3 sets of 12

Bicep Curls - 3 sets of 12

"tricep kickbacks" - 3 sets of 12

military shoulder press - 3 sets of 12

leg extensions - 3 sets of 12

lunging squats - 2 sets of 24 (12 for each leg)

 

 

any suggestions? should I split my workout into upper and lower days?

is the hour of cardio detrimental to muscle gain progress?

 

On this routine I really feel great after a month, and I'm starting to tone up a bit, but I would like to bulk up some and get really fit.

 

thanks, it seems like a great board!

 

Rick

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If you're concerned about keeping muscle, you might try some HIT cardio on non-training days. Endurance cardio is great for overall health, but if you do a lot of it, your body has some sort of function that inhibits muscle growth. I like your program; I am a big fan of full body workouts. Personally, I think it would be good to add another back exercises (some type of pull-up or pulldown would be good, or you could do some dumbbell rows). I think it would also be good to do something for your hamstrings- maybe some dumbbell Romanian deadlifts. You could always do an upper/lower split and add abs to the lower body days. Just my humble opinion. I'm glad to hear you've already made such great progress over the past month.

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If you're concerned about keeping muscle, you might try some HIT cardio on non-training days. Endurance cardio is great for overall health, but if you do a lot of it, your body has some sort of function that inhibits muscle growth. I like your program; I am a big fan of full body workouts. Personally, I think it would be good to add another back exercises (some type of pull-up or pulldown would be good, or you could do some dumbbell rows). I think it would also be good to do something for your hamstrings- maybe some dumbbell Romanian deadlifts. You could always do an upper/lower split and add abs to the lower body days. Just my humble opinion. I'm glad to hear you've already made such great progress over the past month.

 

Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately the bowflex machine doesn't have a lat bar, but I'll try adding in some dumbbell rows.

I did forget to mention that I do some crunches on workout days, and just started doing them with some *very light* weight.

I'll have to look up the dumbbell Romanian deadlifts, as I'm not familiar with that exercise.

 

what would be a good HIT cardio routine for an elliptical or a stationary bike?

 

Thanks again.

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One HIT set would consist of 20 seconds where you go all out as fast as safely possible. Then for 40 seconds, you go at a really slow pace to give yourself some rest. Then repeat for as many sets as you're doing. If you were running, which you aren't but it makes the example easier, you'd sprint for 20 seconds and then briskly walk or slowly jog for 40 seconds. You can't stop during the 40 seconds; you have to keep moving even if it's very slowly. So that would be 1 "set." I would try something like this:

 

5 minute warm up (slow pace)

5 sets of HIT (20 seconds fast, 40 seconds slow; 5 minutes total)

5 minute cool down (slow pace)

 

It doesn't seem like much, but you'll be cursing me (in a good way) after the first few sets. You can also google HIT cardio and you'll find TONS of info. Do you know anyone who is familiar with Romanian deads? It would be great if you could have a friend or trainer show you how to do them, because they can hurt your back if done improperly. They're actually a great exercise for strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, which helps teach your body the "correct"way to lift heavy objects without injury, but they have to be done right. The important thing is that you don't round your back at all. You should have your knees bent a little as well. If anything doesn't make sense, please let me know. I hope that helps .

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I would suggest also Hammer curls with your bicep curls. Lateral front and/or side dumbell raises for the Delts/Shoulders. Rear delts could be done with the dumbells, but make sure when you bend over that your back is solid as you do a chest flye looking down at the floor. Overhead dumbell tricep extension for the long head of the tricep needs to be done also. Leg curls should be done to balance the leg extensions. Maybe standing up, or bent over holding the seat, lifting the leg extension one leg curl at a time, kind of a reverse leg extension facing the seat (though I don't know if that will work). And you need to find a way to do lat pulldowns for the tapered V look of the back. Maybe facing the seat again, bend over and do a pulldown that way.

 

Muscle gains are when the weights you are using keep going up. Set goals to increase your weights in increments, realistic and reliable increments. I also think weights being lifted heavily should be in the 6 to 8 rep range (4 if you are playing around and don't want to hurt yourself. . .terribly ) for growth and safety reasons. Push for intensity in the lifting of the weight. Feel it as you lift it up and as it goes down. It doesn't have to be slow, but be mindful of it (try not to just throw it out there and let gravity bring it back down fast). Oh yeah, and have fun!

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One HIT set would consist of 20 seconds where you go all out as fast as safely possible. Then for 40 seconds, you go at a really slow pace to give yourself some rest. Then repeat for as many sets as you're doing. If you were running, which you aren't but it makes the example easier, you'd sprint for 20 seconds and then briskly walk or slowly jog for 40 seconds. You can't stop during the 40 seconds; you have to keep moving even if it's very slowly. So that would be 1 "set." I would try something like this:

 

5 minute warm up (slow pace)

5 sets of HIT (20 seconds fast, 40 seconds slow; 5 minutes total)

5 minute cool down (slow pace)

 

It doesn't seem like much, but you'll be cursing me (in a good way) after the first few sets. You can also google HIT cardio and you'll find TONS of info. Do you know anyone who is familiar with Romanian deads? It would be great if you could have a friend or trainer show you how to do them, because they can hurt your back if done improperly. They're actually a great exercise for strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, which helps teach your body the "correct"way to lift heavy objects without injury, but they have to be done right. The important thing is that you don't round your back at all. You should have your knees bent a little as well. If anything doesn't make sense, please let me know. I hope that helps .

 

Thanks, that HIT cardio sounds like it will be a pain in the... well...

I'll give it a try. Should I do it in place of my regular 1hr cardio, or in addition?

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Muscle gains are when the weights you are using keep going up. Set goals to increase your weights in increments, realistic and reliable increments. I also think weights being lifted heavily should be in the 6 to 8 rep range (4 if you are playing around and don't want to hurt yourself. . .terribly ) for growth and safety reasons. Push for intensity in the lifting of the weight. Feel it as you lift it up and as it goes down. It doesn't have to be slow, but be mindful of it (try not to just throw it out there and let gravity bring it back down fast). Oh yeah, and have fun!

 

Thanks for the recommendations on the other exercises. I'm glad you mentioned that heavy lifting should be in the 6-8 rep range. Trying to do 12 is what has been keeping me stagnant on weight increases. For my benchpress I can usually do 3 sets of 12 at 90 lbs (I told you I was scrawny and out of shape) fairly easily. Increasing to 100 seems like a b*tch, but I did reps of 8 today at that wt. There was no way I was going to make it to 12.

 

For a beginner, what is a safe, realistic increase? should I be pushing to increase the wt every session? every week?

Thanks.

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One HIT set would consist of 20 seconds where you go all out as fast as safely possible. Then for 40 seconds, you go at a really slow pace to give yourself some rest. Then repeat for as many sets as you're doing. If you were running, which you aren't but it makes the example easier, you'd sprint for 20 seconds and then briskly walk or slowly jog for 40 seconds. You can't stop during the 40 seconds; you have to keep moving even if it's very slowly. So that would be 1 "set." I would try something like this:

 

5 minute warm up (slow pace)

5 sets of HIT (20 seconds fast, 40 seconds slow; 5 minutes total)

5 minute cool down (slow pace)

 

It doesn't seem like much, but you'll be cursing me (in a good way) after the first few sets. You can also google HIT cardio and you'll find TONS of info. Do you know anyone who is familiar with Romanian deads? It would be great if you could have a friend or trainer show you how to do them, because they can hurt your back if done improperly. They're actually a great exercise for strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, which helps teach your body the "correct"way to lift heavy objects without injury, but they have to be done right. The important thing is that you don't round your back at all. You should have your knees bent a little as well. If anything doesn't make sense, please let me know. I hope that helps .

 

Thanks, that HIT cardio sounds like it will be a pain in the... well...

I'll give it a try. Should I do it in place of my regular 1hr cardio, or in addition?

 

Yeah, HIT is a drag, but in a good way... much like squatting as I'm sure Chris would agree . How about this type of set up:

 

Week 1:

Mon: Upper body weight training

Tue: Elliptical HIT

Wed: Lower body/abs weight training

Thur: 1 hour on bike

Fri: Upper body weight training

Sat: 1 Hour elliptical

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Week 2:

Mon: Lower body/abs weight training

Tue: HIT with bike

Wed: Upper body weight training

Thur: HIT elliptical

Fri: Lower body/abs weight training

Sat: 1 hour on bike

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Alternate between weeks 1 and 2.

 

This routine is loosely based on Body-for-Life. Basically, with the cardio, I'm just alternating the exercise and the way the exercise is performed to add variety. I think there are benefits to 1 hour cardio and HIT cardio, so why leave one out? PLus, as anyone who's come across my "anti-routine" thread can tell, I'm a sucker for variety

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Realistic goals are what is right for you. Listen to your body. I usually increase a weight in which I am sore the next day (because you have micro tears in the muscle tissue) or sometimes it doesn't hit me till 2 days after I have blasted the muscle. I make sure that I am not sore when I go to lift again. I will then warm up the muscle with a light weight set and then try to lift what I did last time. I will try to push more reps into the set at that weight. So now I have gone from the 6 rep range to the 10 rep range. That is when I think my muscles have repaired sufficiently and can take the next higher weight the next time. So then I will increase the weight and go back into the 6 rep range (OK sometimes it may be 5 and the last one is not strict form , but I at least used the muscle at a heavier weight to the best of its ability).

 

Now what to increase the weight is up to you and what body part/muscle you are increasing the weight on. Like legs, I go up in increments of 25 lbs plates, chest and back are 10 lbs plates, while arms are 5 lbs, and shoulders are only 5 lbs cause you can really hurt yourself going up heavy with shoulders. (Also with shoulders, they can be tricky. I have noticed on myself that with lateral side raises I go heavy in the reps instead of weights, while I go heavy with the weights in the military press. The first is an isolation move, while the latter is a compound move).

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Yeah, HIT is a drag, but in a good way... much like squatting as I'm sure Chris would agree . How about this type of set up:

 

Week 1:

Mon: Upper body weight training

Tue: Elliptical HIT

Wed: Lower body/abs weight training

Thur: 1 hour on bike

Fri: Upper body weight training

Sat: 1 Hour elliptical

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Week 2:

Mon: Lower body/abs weight training

Tue: HIT with bike

Wed: Upper body weight training

Thur: HIT elliptical

Fri: Lower body/abs weight training

Sat: 1 hour on bike

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Alternate between weeks 1 and 2.

 

This routine is loosely based on Body-for-Life. Basically, with the cardio, I'm just alternating the exercise and the way the exercise is performed to add variety. I think there are benefits to 1 hour cardio and HIT cardio, so why leave one out? PLus, as anyone who's come across my "anti-routine" thread can tell, I'm a sucker for variety

 

thanks Mike.

So, on weight training days should I do no cardio? or perhaps just a reduced, say 30min, version of my 1 hour cardio?

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I'm not familiar with the bowflex, but you can do "standing one-leg calf raises" on stairs, a plate, or whatever you can find. Hold the DB in the right hand if you're working the right calf, and use your left hand to grab something in order to stabilize yourself (wall, railing, rack, etc.).

 

Reverse everything to work the other calf.

 

hth,

Chris

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Great suggestion, Chris. I once got such bad DOMS with those that I was walking on my toes and people thought I pulled a muscle . You shouldn't be worried about that happening to you though, Rick. Based on what I know about your current routine, you should have minimal soreness. As far as cardio on weight training days, I think it would be best to do no cardio on weight training days or maybe very light cardio such as a nice, slow walk. If you prefer to do cardio on your training days, I would do it at a different time of day than your weight training (cardio in the morning, weight training in the evening). Also, I would keep the weight training sessions down to 50 minutes or less, an hour tops.

 

Have fun

 

Mike

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Yeah, HIT is a drag, but in a good way... much like squatting as I'm sure Chris would agree . How about this type of set up:

 

Week 1:

Mon: Upper body weight training

Tue: Elliptical HIT

Wed: Lower body/abs weight training

Thur: 1 hour on bike

Fri: Upper body weight training

Sat: 1 Hour elliptical

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Week 2:

Mon: Lower body/abs weight training

Tue: HIT with bike

Wed: Upper body weight training

Thur: HIT elliptical

Fri: Lower body/abs weight training

Sat: 1 hour on bike

Sun: eat a lot and rest

 

Alternate between weeks 1 and 2.

 

This routine is loosely based on Body-for-Life. Basically, with the cardio, I'm just alternating the exercise and the way the exercise is performed to add variety. I think there are benefits to 1 hour cardio and HIT cardio, so why leave one out? PLus, as anyone who's come across my "anti-routine" thread can tell, I'm a sucker for variety

 

I actually did upper body yesterday (as I knew I would have more time) and your suggested HIT cardio routine today.

At first I was like, oh this is no big deal. But by the 5th "set" I was definitely feeling it! I went ahead and did one more set just for fun.

 

some questions:

would it be productive to up the HIT cardio to 30 sec. fast/ 30 sec. slow?

I like the pace, but I feel that I could up it, if i'm only doing 15-20 min. cardio.

 

Also, a buddy just gave me his "15 Minutes of Hell" DVD and it seems to be a good fast paced cardio/body weight/calisthenics routine that I might like to incorporate into mine.

 

Would something like this be okay to do on non-weight training days, or would it likely be too much on recuperating muscles?

 

thanks

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From my experience, so far, is that I concentrate on building muscle in the winter. I also look very fat during the winter (20 extra pounds comes very easily on me when I eat what I want). I then concentrate on losing the fat in four months (5 lbs a month) with cardio, smaller portions, and supersetting my weight training routine (maturing the muscle I call it).

 

You want overall fitness level up and looking good, so I would say go for whatever you can do for your own experience. Just make sure you watch out for the signs of overttraining! You have to listen to your own body. If the weights are not going up, maybe not every week, but at least every month, then that is a sign you are eating up your muscle mass for energy for everything else, or it doesn't have time to repair it . . . properly for the next onslaught of weights. Being tired of course is a given sign. Not feeling energetic to do stuff is another. An achy flu-like feeling in your body is another (cortisol levels are too high). And if you are getting sick. . more than normal, is another sign. There are other signs too, but I can't remember what they are.

 

Feed the muscles, give them time to repair with sleep and less mental stress (cortisol levels go up with mental stress). You can balance it so that alot of repair is needed (lifting heavier means more time to rest) or you can maintain the weight already done, do it faster, and add some aerobic cardio to the routine, and lose the fat (how well the balance is will reflect in your weights staying the same and the bodyfat going down). It is your own balance. Keep notes like I do! Then you can figure out what works for your body and what you want it to look like.

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I actually did upper body yesterday (as I knew I would have more time) and your suggested HIT cardio routine today.

At first I was like, oh this is no big deal. But by the 5th "set" I was definitely feeling it! I went ahead and did one more set just for fun.

 

some questions:

would it be productive to up the HIT cardio to 30 sec. fast/ 30 sec. slow?

I like the pace, but I feel that I could up it, if i'm only doing 15-20 min. cardio.

 

Also, a buddy just gave me his "15 Minutes of Hell" DVD and it seems to be a good fast paced cardio/body weight/calisthenics routine that I might like to incorporate into mine.

 

Would something like this be okay to do on non-weight training days, or would it likely be too much on recuperating muscles?

 

thanks

 

 

Well, B3, you're gonna hate me for saying this but if you feel you can do 30 seconds of high intensity cardio with only 30 seconds rest, you're not moving fast enough during the first 20 seconds. The idea of HIT (or HIIT as it's also called) is to reach a level of exertion that is so intense that it can't be maintained for very long. So, if you're moving at 7 miles and hour during the first twenty seconds and you feel like you could do 30 seconds, then you should up the speed to 8 miles an hour. You might also be careful not to be too laid back during the 40 seconds of low intensity. You want to reduce your speed to about half (give or take) the speed you were doing during the intense 20 second phase.

 

As far as the DVD, that sounds awesome. If the calisthenics leave you tired in a cardio kind of way but don't leave your muscles hurting the next day, I would say do it on Saturday so you have an extra day of rest before training on Monday. If the calisthenics seem to really work your muscles, I would lower body on Monday, upper body on Wednesday and the DVD on Friday- with cardio done on the off-days.

 

Have fun !

 

Mike

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Well, B3, you're gonna hate me for saying this but if you feel you can do 30 seconds of high intensity cardio with only 30 seconds rest, you're not moving fast enough during the first 20 seconds. The idea of HIT (or HIIT as it's also called) is to reach a level of exertion that is so intense that it can't be maintained for very long. So, if you're moving at 7 miles and hour during the first twenty seconds and you feel like you could do 30 seconds, then you should up the speed to 8 miles an hour. You might also be careful not to be too laid back during the 40 seconds of low intensity. You want to reduce your speed to about half (give or take) the speed you were doing during the intense 20 second phase.

 

As far as the DVD, that sounds awesome. If the calisthenics leave you tired in a cardio kind of way but don't leave your muscles hurting the next day, I would say do it on Saturday so you have an extra day of rest before training on Monday. If the calisthenics seem to really work your muscles, I would lower body on Monday, upper body on Wednesday and the DVD on Friday- with cardio done on the off-days.

 

Have fun !

 

Mike

 

Thanks. Maybe I'll try upping the resistance on the bike when I do HIT. My legs are literally moving as fast as they safely can. It's not that it's not taxing, because it is. I just wanted to push a bit harder.

I'll up the intensity and try the 20/40 split.

 

I think I will try to add in the calisthenics/DVD and see how I feel. I've watched it, and it really does look like 15 minutes of hell...

 

Again, I just want to thank you and everyone else for all the help and support for a guy who is trying to get back into shape (or actually, get into shape in the first place).

This board is great!

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You're very welcome, man. I think you're wise to ask questions before jumping into anything. When I started working out, I wasted a lot of time doing unproductive workouts because I didn't know where to get good advice. Thank God I didn't hurt myself!

 

I hope that DVD works out for you; it sounds brutal . I'd probably do it on Saturday since it's your first time trying it out. The extra resistance on the bike sounds like a good idea. Otherwise, you might pedal so fast that sparks start flying .

 

This is off-topic, but what is b3 studios? I only ask because I'm a guitarist, so my ears perk up when I hear the word studios.

 

Mike

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I hope that DVD works out for you; it sounds brutal . I'd probably do it on Saturday since it's your first time trying it out. The extra resistance on the bike sounds like a good idea. Otherwise, you might pedal so fast that sparks start flying .

 

This is off-topic, but what is b3 studios? I only ask because I'm a guitarist, so my ears perk up when I hear the word studios.

 

Mike

 

I'll post a review of the DVD after my first workout. I've watched the exercise instructions, and each one seems easy enough, but when you combine them all together, it's going to be rough (but in a good way, I hope).

 

I will wait until Sat. to try it out though. Well that depends on how exhausted my arms and such are after weights on friday.

Lower body is tomorrow, so I'll see how ready I feel on thursday to try some HIIT again with increased resistance.

 

As for the b3studios, its something that I've used for a while. Basically it's the moniker that I do all of my artwork (drawing, painting, sculpting, digital, photography and design) under.

 

I've quite been able to do any of the musical stuff (as my wife likes to tell me, I'm tone deaf with no rhythm), but have a great respect for anyone that can play.

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Right on! I have great respect for artists of all types (and it looks like you are an artist of "all types"). I can barely draw stick figures . I just got to thinking, since you're handling the HIIT so well, you could do what I usually do for my high-intensity cardio:

 

5 minute warm up

10 sets of HIIT (ten minutes)

5 minute cool down

 

20 minutes and you're done! I would only do that much if you're completely comfortable with it, though. I wouldn't do any more than 10 sets. I really wouldn't recommend anyone doing more than ten sets.

 

Mike

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Right on! I have great respect for artists of all types (and it looks like you are an artist of "all types"). I can barely draw stick figures . I just got to thinking, since you're handling the HIIT so well, you could do what I usually do for my high-intensity cardio:

 

5 minute warm up

10 sets of HIIT (ten minutes)

5 minute cool down

 

20 minutes and you're done! I would only do that much if you're completely comfortable with it, though. I wouldn't do any more than 10 sets. I really wouldn't recommend anyone doing more than ten sets.

 

Mike

 

Thanks Mike. I love to do visual art stuff, as it just relaxes me.

Do you have particular genre of music that you play?

 

I'm scheduled to do some HIIT cardio tomorrow, so I may try your routine. First i'll try increasing the resistance and see how bad it kills me

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