Well, I stumbled across this site about 2 years ago and signed up one night and never came back, don't ask me why cuz I don't even know...but, I'm back now and I figured I'd maybe post this and see if some of you can hold me accountable. I seem to start working out and working out good, then I get to a point to where I plateau and I get really discouraged. I usually workout efficiently for about 2 months and then end up stopping due to lack of encouragement or lack of accomplishment. Right now I'm in school and I'm trying to work out as much as I can, but I try to work out with my roommates and they don't usually want to lift as many days as I want to, so I know I need to stop getting them to lift with me and just go for myself. I get discouraged when I don't see results and when I see much bigger guys in the weight room using less weight than I am doing the exact same thing and it's not a "bad form" issue. I dont know what the problem is. I've been trying to gain weight since high school, so obviously I'm doing something wrong since I'm 22 now. I weigh 166lbs and I'm about 6'2. So I'm made fun of for being a skinny guy more often than not. I hardly ever work out my lower body because its so weak, which I know should be more of a reason to work on it so I definitely will be starting this week.
Current Weight: 166
Current Bench Max: 250
Current Squat Max: Probably 225
Today I did bi's and this was my workout...
Barbell Curls Warmup: 1x10 50lbs
Barbell Curls: 3x8 80lbs
Dumbbell Curls: 3x8 35lbs
Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 2x8 35lbs, 1x8 45lbs
Cable Curls: 2x8 40lbs (pretty heavy for some reason)
Tried Something new- Barbell Curls: 5x2 100lbs, 3x2 110lbs
Dumbbell Curl Negatives: 1x8 25lbs, 1x8 35lbs
Is this a decent workout? I felt pretty pumped but I'm sure there are some things I could do that I didn't. I also did another workout but I don't know what to call it. It's on the cable machine, basically just doing a "front double bicep" pose with about 40lbs on the cable machine.
Here are some pictures...if they work. I've never posted pics before.
As you can see, it looks like I'm gettin back into shape, then I've lost it if you look at the most recent pictures.
Thanks for lookin, any advice would be appreciated!
You have a typical beginner problem. You want to get huge, but you dont work out half of your body and you dedicate a full day to your arms. Your workout for today is pretty bad and i would be surprised if your arms are willing to grow after you destroy them with 40 different curls.
I have two things for you:
Starting Strength: there is a sticky at the top
GOMAD: google this term or search on the forum
Welcome. Start doing the big lifts; squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, rows, and chin-ups. Also, focus your attention on the biggest muscles; legs, chest, shoulders and back. Read the articles and stickies to find out what most of us recomend for lifting and diet for beginners.
Diet is going to be more important than training when it comes to gaining mass, but how you train is also very important. As others mentioned above you should focus on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, chins, rows, and military press in the 3-8 rep range. Along with that work you can perform isolation movements in the 8-12 rep range as accessory work for increased hypertrophy.
There are plenty of example programs on here that outline effective routines, diets, and supplement regimens.
Find a pre-defined routine that's proven to work and make sure you're eating enough.
Last edited by BigTallOx; 09-14-2009 at 08:10 AM.
You dedicated an entire workout to one relatively tiny muscle in your body.
Start reading and educate yourself on a proper workout and nutrition.
Starting Strength, whole milk, and steak.
Read all the above posts and then read them again. Read the stickies for routines, Starting Strength is an excellent beginner routine. Eat alot and eat clean. Find a good, reliable workout partner so that the two of you can hold each other accountable for diet and lifting. Good luck and keep us posted.
Give chalk a chance.
49 years old
Your first post tells the whole story. Its a very popular story, but the ending never seems to change. You sound EXACTLY like me from the time i was 15 to the point where i finally gave up on trying to accomplish anything in the gym at age 30. I had the 'three month curse'. I'd get a gym membership every year, and every year it was going to be different, i was armed with all new ideas and material from Hustle & Fiction. Probably wasted ten good 1-2 year memberships at good gyms because i gave up after three months (or less in many cases). It was easy to give up, if i'm not seeing gains... and i mean ANY gains, then its a lot easier to do something else on training night. First i miss one session, next its two, soon its four or five in a row. Next thing i know, i'm that stupid shmuck making the gym owner money by paying him every month while i sit at home and watch TV or do something else for the remaining 9-21 months.
My LAST DITCH at hitting the gym (read: 'if it doesn't work this time, i'll never bother again'...), i tracked down a local powerlifting guru. Told him i've benched 195-205lbs for the last 15 years. My arms have been 14-15" the last 15 years. I'm THE grandaddy ov all hardgainers and cannot gain muscle like others, or bench press anything over my obvious genetic limit. I told him i'll give him a year... just one year... to get me to a two-plate bench. He laughed. I nailed it 5 weeks later. Five years later i've nailed over twice my starting bench, and i weigh 55lbs more, and i'm 3-5% leaner (and i wasn't fat when i started), not to mention more than doubling my starting total.
Powerlifting. Thats all it was. Not the sport, mind you... just heavy squats, bench and deadlifts, along with heavy assistance with an eye towards getting bigger/building a good base. I'd did deep squats, flat bench (literally, lying flat, no set-up) and high volume deadlifts. Tons ov assistance for each. More like power-building actually. In fact, when training other powerlifters, or even my own bench, i tend now to train more like a bodybuilder than a powerlifter.
Stick to the big stuff. Find the movements that you can use the heaviest weights on. Find the hardest ways to do an exercise, not the easiest. The fuller the ROM, the better the effect. Learn simple nutrition (its NOT hard) and dedicate yourself to it. EAT. SLEEP. Get adequate recovery. Be patient. Learn from those who have done what you want to do.
And another thing... there are no "probably" maxes. Test your maxes, dont assume, and dont use formulas either. And if you can already bench 250 at 166 and at your build you're doing better than most. Is that to your chest without spotters hands on the bar? is that squat breaking parallel? If you're going to use lifts as a comparative measure then they must be to a certain standard.
I've not hit a plateau in five years that was not caused by some stupid overlooked issue, and i dont see any in my near future either. Train smart!
To the OP, don't be afraid to keep things simple, you do not need all that isolation stuff, it's not doing anything for you ( you've proven that ).
Last edited by BigTallOx; 09-14-2009 at 09:59 AM.
Well to start off, I want to thank everyone for their responses and advice, especially Judas, cuz it made me want to go to the gym and start lifting (right after i post this) To begin with, this is never my typical workout, usually I do back/bis 1 day, chest/tris the next, then (Which i don't even do) legs/shoulders. And I usually do 3-4 different exercises on each muscle group. And I guess I never felt like I was a beginner in weight lifting because I feel like I do it so much, but now I think that I am. Unlike Judas, when I quit after the 2-3 month period, I usually will quit for about 2 months-ish. So i basically don't gain anything. I will definitely be reading the posts that were suggested. A usual chest/tri work out would be something like this ( so I don't look like a complete dummy working out only bi's)...
Bench Warmup: 1x10 135lbs
Bench: 1x8 190, 1x6 205, 1x4 215, 1x2 235
Dumbbell Incline: 3x8 70lbs
Dumbbell Decline: 3x8 65lbs (tired by this time so I go down in weight)
A set to failure of pushups
Tricep Pulldown: 3x8 170lbs
(idk the name so Ill make it up)
Behind the head (1)dumbbell press: 3x8 80lbs
Dips: 2x12, 1xfailure
(sometimes) Skullcrushers: 3x8 70lbs
That's a typical chest/tri workout for me. I rotate between chest and tri exercises, such as bench then tricep pulldown, etc...Maybe this looks a little better or maybe I still look like a noob. Either way, I think the first post was a little misleading to my usual workout.
Thanks for the advice and the encouragement, I'm gonna read those sticky's then get to pumping some iron!
It seems like you are on the right track, and you may actually be overthinking things a bit. As long as you are training to failure, working with heavy weights, eating, and getting enough rest - you will grow. There is no magic workout routine or exercise, but there are some that are more effective than others.
Consistency is key and so is hard work. A lot of people get so caught up in trying to find the perfect routine or trying to follow advanced rep schemes that it actually hinders progress. Just find a routine that you like and experiment with some different methods to see what works best for you.
Keeping a training journal here may be a good way to track some of your progress with regard to strength and bodyweight. It is also a good way to have some ongoing feedback in case there are ways to optimize your program.
I cannot emphasize enough how much you should listen to the above posters. When I started I was 6' 145 lbs, 3 years later I am 217 lbs at about the same bf%. Make this the time to do it right, i PROMISE it's worth it.
Height: 6' weight:197
bench: 280 x 1
squat: 370 x 1
dead: 360 x 1
goal: 225 @ < 10% bodyfat
I think I will start a Journal. And I don't know if the "Starting Strength" is right for me, but I guess if a number of you think I should then I definitely will take your advice. The only problem with it is, that I know that I won't progress in bench because I don't think I'm a beginner in that area, the other two exercises I believe would work wonders, so maybe I should do a regular chest workout and then do the other exercises. Just let me know what you guys think
As long as you are including squats, deadlifts, chins, rows, and pressing in your routine then you are fine. I have done periodized programs for years with great results.
There are plenty of effective ways to combine these movements; 5/3/1, Westside, Periodization, Starting Strength, etc.
But Tom, why would you ever put a novice on a routine too advanced for them? ie 531, WS, periodization etc... Thats putting the cart way before the horse.
Last edited by ZenMonkey; 09-14-2009 at 01:25 PM.
Saying that Periodization and 5/3/1 should only be reserved for "advanced" trainees would not be an accurate assessment in my opinion. Both of those routines are very simple; and WSB is only slightly more complex. You do not have to classify a routine based on the complexity since in many cases that has little to do with the requirement of the athlete, other than simply knowing the correct form for all of the exercises.
If you are looking for a simple program that can be performed with basic equipment and is quite demanding / challenging then Starting Strength is great. In fact I would recommend it to a lot of people.
The reason why I do not recommend Starting Strength to advanced athletes is simply because of the loads that they would be using. If you are squatting let's say double your bodyweight for 5 reps, then this program would be extremely taxing on the CNS and your recovery abilities. Chances are that the 2.5% week to week increase would be very difficult after only a couple of weeks and you could even risk injury due to overtraining.
Periodization can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be:
Monday: Pressing (Bench Press, OHP)
Wednesday: Lower Body (Squats, Deadlift)
Friday: Back (Power Cleans, Rows, Chins)
This would incorporate all of the movements from Starting Strength into a simple program where each exercise is performed once per week. These programs allow you to train with a higher intensity and volume if you would like, though the overall program is less demanding.
5/3/1 can be adapted in the same way:
Monday: Bench & Accessory work (OHP)
Wednesday: Deadlift & Accessory work (Deadlift)
Friday: Rows & Accessory work (Power Cleans, Chins)
*This routine has different rep ranges / intensity from week to week.
Both the 5/3/1 and periodization are programs that can be used for long periods of time. And can be adapated for virtually anyone's goals - athletic performance, strength, hypertrophy, weight loss, general fitness, etc.
Starting Strength is somewhat of a 'shock program' and is a great way to go after some aggressive gains when first starting out.
I just wanted to show that there is more than one option when you are looking for a program and plenty of people have even made gains on programs that are inferior to all of those discussed here.
Of course SS cannot be used for advanced athletes and of course there are other ways to train, but if a novice can add weight to the bar 2-3 times a week with the same rep scheme and same movement then it seems he should do so rather than progressing once a week or less. SS (or something similar) for a novice is one of the most efficient ways to train. It just seems hard to argue against adding weight to the bar more often than not. Isnt that what we all want? If an elite lifter could add weight to the bar 2-3x a week would he? Hell yes he would, but he cant, which is why more complex splits are used for advanced athletes and less complex for novice athletes. Many routines work, some just better than others. Thats my take, at least.
Last edited by ZenMonkey; 09-14-2009 at 05:42 PM.
I'll try the SS, I just don't think that I will be able to add to my bench at all. Definitely will give it a shot tonight though!
If you decide to do Starting Strength, and your bench stalls, you could sub it with incline bench or dips or something similar.