Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 10/25/2003 7:36:21 PM EDT
I'm getting in much better shape and I'm definitely putting on muscle and losing fat (25-30 lbs of fat since Feb. and I think 3-5 lbs of muscle since then (even though I missed 2 1/2 months to abdominal surgery).

My problem is I'm not adding much strength (not much more weight on the bar the last month) and I think it's because I have nobody to spot me. I'm concerned about dropping the weight on my face or something while bench pressing and I can't go up in weight on the dumbell presses because I have to lift them to my chest and then lay down because I have no partner to hand them to me after I lay down.

If I'm being clear enough maybe some of you guys (Hi Ed, you've helped me a few times already how about another freebie?) can give me advice on how to move up in weights while having to do it myself.

I work out at 5 a.m. and everybody is serious at that hour trying to get it in before work. The only exceptions are a few chicks who I don't know how much help they would be if I had a problem.

Oh yea, maybe it would help to put down what my end goals are. I want to gain as much brute strength as possible because I am trying to get into law enforcement and can see myself having to fight people from time to time and I don't want to lose because of a lack of strength.

I'm working out 3-4 days a week. Day one cardio, chest/tricep abs. Day two cardio, back/bicep/shoulders and abs. repeat and rinse.

Thanks in advance.
Link Posted: 10/26/2003 10:58:19 AM EDT
Do your barbell bench presses inside a powercage - set the safety bars at a height that will stop the bar if you can't lift it to the racks. For dumbbell presses, you only need to lift the dumbbells up to your thighs as you stand at the edge of a bench. Sit down and the dumbbells will come to rest on your thighs; lie back on the bench and kick the dumbbells up into position.
Link Posted: 10/26/2003 5:32:55 PM EDT
I second the sit down with dumbells on thighs and kicking them toward the chest as you lay down technique.

As far a the bench press goes, there is someone working in the weight room who spots people for a living at the gym I go to. I think that you will find that they will be more than willing to give you a spot, as tehy have nothing better to do.

Other than that you have to know your limits. That is one think that I love about working out with out a partner. It is only myself V. the weight.
Link Posted: 10/26/2003 7:09:19 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/26/2003 7:18:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TLK:
Do your barbell bench presses inside a powercage - set the safety bars at a height that will stop the bar if you can't lift it to the racks. For dumbbell presses, you only need to lift the dumbbells up to your thighs as you stand at the edge of a bench. Sit down and the dumbbells will come to rest on your thighs; lie back on the bench and kick the dumbbells up into position.



thanks for the tip on the dumbbell presses and what's a powercage? Is that the thing I see people using to do squats? It has a track the barbell runs on vertically and you can set a safety on or twist the bar and it locks in a spot. I guess that would work if I dragged a bench over to it.

Thanks again.

I don't mind working out by myself, I have to go get a sip of water from the fountain inbetween sets to keep my time between sets down, but otherwise I think it's fine besides the no assistance problem.
Link Posted: 10/27/2003 7:10:52 AM EDT
Hello!

You do not need a spotter to gain strength and going to failure during every workout will lead to overtraining.

Here is what has worked for me...

1) Make your workouts more "official" by keeping a training log. In that log, list the date, time you started, time you finished, and weight, reps, and rest for each exercise. Here is what mine looks like...

1. Exercise <XXX>
80 x 8 x 3
80 x 8 x 3
80 x 8 x 3

(The above means that my first exercise was <XXX> and I did 3 sets of 80lbs with each set totalling 8 reps. I rested 3 minutes between sets.

2. Superset. That means alternate exercises that work opposing muscle groups. For example, bench press and cable row. What this does is allows you to rest 30-60 seconds less than if you did the same exercise back to back.

So, for example...

1. Bench Press / Cable Row

100 x 8 x 3 (this is the press)
110 x 8 x 3 (this is the row)
100 x 8 x 3 (press)
110 x 8 x 3 (row)

3. Carry a stop watch or use the stop watch function on your wrist watch to keep track of your rest time. The minimum amount of rest should be 30 seconds and the max could be as much as 10 minutes. For most people, 90sec to 2.5min is good for bodybuilding while 3min to 5min is good for strength gains. Adhere to the watch.

4. Increase your load in a "wave" or "step" pattern. For example...

Workout 1 (Monday)...100lbs
Workout 2 (Wednesday)...102lbs
Workout 3 (Friday)...104lbs
Workout 4 (Monday...102lbs)
Workout 5 (Wednesday)...104lbs
Workout 6 (Friday)...106lbs
etc...

Now, at most gyms you can only move in 5lb increments so you may need to drop 2-3 reps when you increase the weight. Note, you can hang a 5lb weight on a machine weight stack by putting the end of the pin that goes into the weight stack through the middle of the 5lb plate first...before putting the pin into the weight stack.

Note: at this point you pretty much are working out by "math." You are *not* working out by "feel." The only feeling you should trust is pain and overtraining--both of which should tell you to stop or lay off (or see your doctor).

This is how you formalize your routine or make it "more official."


5. Periodize. I see a lot of people at the gym do 4,5,6 different exercises per bodypart. However, they do the same workout for months on end. I do 1 to 2 exercises per bodypart but only do them for 3 to 9 weeks. I interoduce variety by changing the routine much more often. Your gains will usually look like the pinstriping on a 1970's car---from low in the front--to an "S" in the middle--to high in the rear (drivers side). Once you go through the "S" section (rapid gains) and have plateaued and you will get little future gains. It is time to change.

The first thing you should change is the exercise you perform. My changes revolve around three exercises for the legs (squat, deadlift, lunges). So, for the first period, I squat. After 6 or so weeks, I change and deadlift. After another 6 or so weeks I change again and lunge.

For upperbody, you can also alternate between dumbells and barbells. So, for example...

6 week period #1: Flat dumbell press
6 week period #2: Incline barbell press
6 week period #3: Decline dumbell press
6 week period #4: Flat barbell (bench) press
6 week period #5: Incline dumbell press
6 week period #6: Decline barbell press
etc..

In this case, I would not repeat the same exercise (flat dumbell press) for another 7-9 months after the previous time.

6. Do compound^2 (compound-squared) exercises. By compound-squared, I mean exercises that use multiple muscle groups and/or (preferably and) exercises that move both sides around the fulcrum.

An example of a compound muscle use is the bench press (either dumbell or barbell). You are using your chest, shoulders, and triceps to move the weight. An example of the opposite (isoloation) would be bench dumbell flyes which really only work the chest.

An example of a compound movement (fulcrum) exercise would be close grip, palms facing each other chin ups. Bicep curls are an isolation movement since your upper arm stays put while your lower arm moves (your elbow is the fulcum). By doing bicep-intensive chin ups, both your upper and lower arm move and the exercise becomes a pulling with the arm rather than a curling. Altering "nose breakers" to be more like "chin breakers" creates a pressing motion for the triceps.

If you are going to do multiple exercise per bodypart, make sure at least one exercise is compound or (preferably) compound^2.

What doing these "big lifts" does is allow you to move more weight yet still maintain strict form. More weight = more strength.

7. Move away from machines and towards dumbells (best) and cables or barbells (second best). For many people, their limiting factor is the set of support muscles around the main mover. So, they can barbell press 100lbs on a smith machine but can only dumbell press 30lbs. Inequal strength on either their left or right side also limits them. Working with dumbells may be humbling but after doing a period with those, you should see a 10 to 15 percent increase on your barbell work. So, if you work up to 50lbs on each side with the dumbell press, then the next time you barbell press, you should be able to do 110lbs (50 * 2 * 110%).

Exercises that force you to stabilize (i.e., exercises using dumbells, cables, or barbells) will contribute greating to "functional" strength.

That is it for now. Hope this helps. I am experimenting with moving my splits to be "intraday" rather than "interday." So, instead of...

(Interday Split)
Monday (Lower Body)
Tuesday (Upper Body)
Wednesday (Rest)
Thursday (Lower Body)
Friday (Upper Body)
Saturday (Rest)
Sunday (Rest)

(Intraday Split)
Monday--AM (Lower Body)
Monday--PM (Upper Body)
Tuesday (Rest)
Wednesday--AM (Lower Body)
Wednesday--PM (Upper Body)
Thursday (Rest)
Friday--AM (Lower Body)
Friday--PM (Upper Body)
Saturday (Rest)
Sunday (Rest)

-or-

(Intraday Split)
Monday--AM (Lower Body)
Monday--PM (Upper Body)
Tuesday (Cardio/Aerobic Work)
Wednesday (Rest)
Thursday--AM (Lower Body)
Thursday--PM (Upper Body)
Friday (Cardio/Aerobic Work)
Saturday (Rest)
Sunday (Rest)

But the jury is still out on that.

HTH,
James
Link Posted: 10/27/2003 8:51:58 AM EDT
You gave so much advice that I want to quickly respond to some of them to you personally.

I was already thinking of starting the diary, I used 15 years ago and it was helpfull, and the reason I didn't from the start was twofold.

First, I was out of shape enough that even a non maximally efficient routine was going to show results rapidly, and second, I wanted to make working out a part of my daily life schedule without making it so regimented that in 3-4 months I would burn out on the rigidity of the whole thing.

This makes me, in my opinion, more likely to stick with it longterm as I'm now a regular in the gym and weight room and can add stuff and tweak my workout regimen more easily without it being a huge change in my life.

You advised to stay away from the machines and use the free weights. I do that already with the exception of lat pull downs, assisted pull ups (wide grip for my back) and the occasional seated row.

I know dumbell flys work great for the chest but I can't do them without getting a tremendous pain in my right collarbone where it connect below my kneck. I injured it in while doing them in the Navy and havnen't been able to do them since. Now when I tried assisted dips the other day it flared up and the other collar bone was plenty sore as well so I just find other ways to work my triceps and shoulders that don't pain me, which is easy.

Here is an example of what my chest/tricep day entails. You can tell me if I'm doing too many different excercises.

Cardio for 10 minutes (now on the treadmill instead on the trackbecause of the utter darkness and many days of rain), doing my 1 1/2 mile run that I must do for my LEO physical test. I rest about two minutes or until my heart rate drops from the 170 range to the 120-140.

I then do the pushups, max, anywhere from 40 to 55 depending on how I feel that day (required for the test to max points is 35), then a short rest like after cardio and then I go to the 1 minutes situps. I'm at 33-35 now and need to get to 38 to max the points.

I then go back for a sip of water and then hit the chest first.

bench press with barbell 5 reps, no weight to loosen up. Then I go with 185lbs 6-8 reps, rest for about 2 minutes ( I measure my rest periods by walking to the water fountain and checking my BPM, if they are over 120 I wait if they are under 120 I get back to work. I keep my heart rate at that level and it seems to have helped me lose the weight and extend my cardio time), if 8 reps I leave the weight the same and do at least 6 reps if it was 6 then I take 10 lbs off and repeat. I do another set under the same parameters and then switch excercises.

tricep pull downs on the machines 3 sets, 10 -12 reps max weight.

dumbbell presses 60lbs each 8-10 reps, 6-8 reps, drop to 55lbs 6-8 reps.

tricep work with a 60lb barbell, two hands behind head, lifting straight up and holding briefly at top, 6-10 reps, 3 sets.

incline bench press barbell or dumbbell (alternate on different days) same system as bench press but less weight.

Seated military press with dumbells, 60-70 lbs, 3 sets 6-8 reps.

My rest periond has remained the same as I described before.

Decline bench press (just added a month ago) w/ barbell, 3 sets, 6-8 reps.

I then go to ab work, which I do every day that I go to the gym, and work out as my wife (she's a physical therapist) has shown me.

I'm not sure what they are called but you sit on your tailbone feet raised, hands and arms pointing towards your toes and then draw your knees to your stomach. 3 sets of 20-25.


Pelvic tilts 3 sets, max time or about 30 seconds (until my hamstrings start to cramp up Hahaha)

Crunches on the ball 30 reps, altnernating to the center, to left, to center, to right, to center to left. 3 sets.


That's it.

What's the over/under on what I doing wrong?

Thanks, your advise on the interval training really paid off so I really respect your opinion on these matters.

I forgot to add I just put the treadmill on 2% incline to make up for the fact that I'm not running for real with wind and moving my big ass over terra firma.

Link Posted: 10/27/2003 3:01:00 PM EDT
You've got a pretty good routine there. The 6 to 10 rep sets are great for building strength. The only thing that I would change is to do most of your cardio after doing strength training. It's good to do a little first to warm up but you'll burn up alot of the fuel that would be used for your chest workout. Also, I do pushups at the end of my workout. It's a compound exercise and will give you the most advantage if done at the end of the work out. You can also try doing incline before flat bench for a while. That helped me add about 20lbs to my bench in about 5 weeks. You've just got to keep changing things up every couple of months. But your using to perfect rep range and try to do the high rep stuff(i.e. push-ups) after the low rep stuff.

These things helped me get my bench up to 415 lbs and I'm not saying that they are perfect or that they will work for you but this is what helped me.



Willis.
Link Posted: 10/27/2003 7:16:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Willis1fit:
You've got a pretty good routine there. The 6 to 10 rep sets are great for building strength. The only thing that I would change is to do most of your cardio after doing strength training. It's good to do a little first to warm up but you'll burn up alot of the fuel that would be used for your chest workout. Also, I do pushups at the end of my workout. It's a compound exercise and will give you the most advantage if done at the end of the work out. You can also try doing incline before flat bench for a while. That helped me add about 20lbs to my bench in about 5 weeks. You've just got to keep changing things up every couple of months. But your using to perfect rep range and try to do the high rep stuff(i.e. push-ups) after the low rep stuff.

These things helped me get my bench up to 415 lbs and I'm not saying that they are perfect or that they will work for you but this is what helped me.



Willis.



I just prefer to do the cardio stuff first then the pushups and situps stuff then the lifting because that's the physical test I have to do to become a Police Officer/Sheriff. I need to know that I can pass the test (not like the last time I tried because I wasn't training for the test, in the exact order of the events for the test) in the order they have the events.

I understand what your saying and I guess after I pass the tests for the several agencies I will change my routine to combine the tips from James and you. (most of James' tips I will be able to implement now.)
Link Posted: 10/27/2003 11:29:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By bigern:


thanks for the tip on the dumbbell presses and what's a powercage? Is that the thing I see people using to do squats? It has a track the barbell runs on vertically and you can set a safety on or twist the bar and it locks in a spot. I guess that would work if I dragged a bench over to it.

Thanks again.

I don't mind working out by myself, I have to go get a sip of water from the fountain inbetween sets to keep my time between sets down, but otherwise I think it's fine besides the no assistance problem.



What you are describing is the smith machine. I personally dont recommend using them because it locks your bar into a fixed path. The powercage I believe is the cage that has the safety pins you can set at different heights according to the holes that are drilled 1" or 2" apart depending on the particular one you have. Where I live we call it the Squat Rack. I've also heard it called "The Rack" and the "Power Rack." If you are still having trouble PM me and ill find you some pictures.
Link Posted: 10/29/2003 4:05:40 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/29/2003 8:38:23 PM EDT
Thanks Ed. I think I found a solution. There is a really georgous chick that works out early now and she will spot me when I'm working the outer edges of my abilities. Just don't tell my wife why my chest is getting bigger so fast. LOL
Link Posted: 10/30/2003 3:28:54 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/30/2003 10:28:05 PM EDT
Hello!

Apologies for the delay...will answer tomorrow!

James
Link Posted: 10/31/2003 9:54:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By James4:
Hello!

Apologies for the delay...will answer tomorrow!

James



Okay, I'll check back tomorrow James. It must be bad news if you can't type it all out in one day.LOL
Link Posted: 10/31/2003 10:09:03 AM EDT
Eat Massive amounts of PEANUT Butter, Throw Hay bales all day.
Link Posted: 10/31/2003 12:38:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chaos4570:
Eat Massive amounts of PEANUT Butter, Throw Hay bales all day.



My name ain't baby huey or jethro.
Link Posted: 11/3/2003 2:53:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By James4:
Hello!

Apologies for the delay...will answer tomorrow!

James



Is it tomorrow yet?
Link Posted: 11/3/2003 11:06:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/3/2003 11:07:37 PM EDT by James4]
Hello!

Okay, I apologize...I have been helping a friend do some home remodeling and we had a deadline before the professionals came in.

Okay, first I am going to count the sets...

1 (Pushups)
1 (Situps)
3 (Bench Press)
3 (Tricep Pull Downs--is it the cable tricep extensions? Or the suping (laying on bench) pullovers? I have always heard "press" associated with triceps, let me know.)
3 (dumbell presses)
3 (overhead tricep press)
3 (incline bench press / dumbell press)
3 (seated military press)
3 (decline barbell press)
3 (knee rock backs)
3 (pelvic tilts)
3 (swiss ball crunches)
------------
31 sets

I am going to number these for my sake (not to be condescending).

#1) I think that is too much. 24 (maybe 26) would be a better maximum sets per workout.

#2) I would work from the center of the body outward. That means moving the tricep work to the end of your routine.

#3) If you are doing shoulder work on day 2 , you might want to move the military press to day 2.

#4) Even better than #3, move the shoulder work to day 1 and add lower body to day 2. If you are wary about squatting or deadlifting, try the leg sled (were you push the weigh up at about 45 degrees).

#5) I think you are doing too many exercises. Instead of trying to work in every exercise, concentrate on a few and switch them up.

Suggested...
Week 1:
Mon: Max Testing: Chest & Shoulder & Abs
Tue: Max Testing: Legs & Upper Back (Lats)
Wed: Rest
Thu: Chest & Shoulder & Triceps
Fri: Legs, Upper Back, & Lower Back
Sat: Rest
Sun: Rest

Weeks 2-5:
Mon: Chest & Shoulder & Triceps
Tue: Legs, Upper Back, & Lower Back
Wed: Rest
Thu: Chest & Shoulder & Triceps
Fri: Legs, Upper Back, & Lower Back
Sat: Rest
Sun: Rest

Week 6:
Mon: Max Testing: Chest & Shoulder & Abs
Tue: Max Testing: Legs & Upper Back (Lats)
Wed: Rest
Thu: Rest
Fri: Rest
Sat: Rest
Sun: Rest

Write down your new maxes so you know where to start your testing the next time you try that exercise (maybe in 3 to 9 months).

Week 7: Same as week 1 but a different set of exercises.

So, for week 1-6, I would try something like this...

Weeks 1-6
1 (Pushups)
5 (bench dumbell presses)
5 (seated military dumbell press)
3 (bent over rear delt flys)
3 (tricep press downs with palms facing floor)
--------------------
(17 sets)

Abs Day 1 (Chest day)
1 (Situps)
3 (knee rock backs / swiss ball crunches--superset)
3 (pelvic tilts--do with lats and legs)
---------------------
7 sets (24 with above)

Abs Day 2 (Lats day)
1 (Situps)
3 (have your wife recommend a lower back exercise)
3 (pelvic tilts)
---------------------
7 sets (24 with legs and lats)

Weeks 7-12
1 (Pushups)
5 (decline barbell press)
5 (incline dumbell press)
3 (laying on side rear delt flys)
3 (tricep press downs with palms facing ceiling)
--------------------
(17 sets)


1 (Situps)
3 (pelvic tilts)
3 (different back exercise)
---------------------
7 sets (24 with above)

Abs Day 2 (Lats day)
3 (knee rock backs)
3 (swiss ball crunches)
---------------------
7 sets (24 with legs and lats)

Etc...the point is to alternate exercises between cycles rather than lumping every possible exercise into the same cycle.


Weeks 1-6, 13-18, 19-24: "A style"

Slowly work from 6-8 reps down to 3-5 reps. Keep the rest 2 minutes or longer as needed. Keep the weight the same throughout the day's workout (dont do drop sets). Add more rest to ensure you hit higher weights (do the wave I mentioned above).

Weeks 7-12, 25-30, etc.: "B style"
Decrease the weight by 10-15% or 5-10lbs each set. Work on reducing the time between sets and manage fatigue (meaning you may rest 25 seconds between sets 1 & 2, 45 seconds between sets 2 & 3, etc. These are your drop sets.

Note that with the 3rd time you do 2 A styles in a row so you change from doing dumbell work in the A style to dumbell work during the B style (note the alternating between dumbell and barbell work).

Dumbell work is good to put up front because it has a high neuralogical input (meaning it is difficult to steady the weights). This is good since your stabilizer muscles will give long before your main muscles in a practical environment that an LEO might face.

As for getting the dumbells in place. What I do is sit upright on the end of the bench with the dumbells on my thighs. I kick the dumbells up as I lower my torso to the bench so I end up at the top of the rep before I begin. When I am through, I lay the dumbells on my chest so I can read the poundage on one end of the weights and either sit up or carefully let them roll to the side slowing them down as they hit the floor.

Hope this helps and, again, sorry for the delay.

James


Link Posted: 11/9/2003 7:39:52 PM EDT
I'm still digesting that info James.
Link Posted: 11/9/2003 8:22:59 PM EDT
Inbound I.M.
Link Posted: 11/14/2003 11:10:41 AM EDT
Bumping this so it doesn't disappear while I'm on vacation.
Link Posted: 11/19/2003 3:15:16 AM EDT
another bump before I get back.
Top Top