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Guidelines for designing your own routine for beginners

guss

guss

MuscleHead
Aug 11, 2010
380
179
#1
I'm posting this as a guide for people just getting started and need a push in the right direction as for workout program design. It is a very complex issue that much research is done on, and ithere is much more to it that throwing a bunch of random exercises together and hoping to grow. Please give me feed back on this.

Guidelines in designing your own workout routine

Do not just post some random stuff together and ask us to critique it. If you are going to design your own routine, make sure you are doing it properly in order to yield maximal results.

Step one. Decide to yourself which stage of training you are at. Be honest with yourself here. In order to make your program optimal, you want to be at the newest stage you can consider yourself. Beginners make faster gains than intermediates and intermediates make faster gains than advanced trainees.

So how can you tell? Well if you have to ask yourself this question, you are probably a beginner. I don’t care how long you have been training. Instead, think about where you actually are. How much do you weight? How much can you lift on the big exercises? If neither of these are impressive, then how or hard you have been training is irrelevant. Assume you are a beginner and if you stall quickly, work up to an intermediate routine.

Step twp. Decide which exercises you are going to be focusing on. You want the exercises that will give you the best bang for your buck. If you are a beginner, almost everyone’s exercise selection should be very similar: Squats, deadlifts, an Olympic lift variation, BB rows or chin-ups/pull-ups, bench press, and overhead press. You may also, if you wish, add some accessory work. But whether you plan on being a bodybuilder, powerlifter, football player, or ballet dancer, those exercises will give you some solid overall strength, and if you eat more than you burn, they will put on some solid poundage.

If you are an intermediate or advanced athlete, then things are a little different. You may perform more exercises than a beginner because you body will generally adapt better to more of a variety of exercises. You have already built a foundation of strength. So you want to focus more on exercises that are relevant to your sport. If you are a bodybuilder, your exercises would probably closely resemble the exercises you used when you were a beginner, but now you can use different variations of exercises and do more isolated work. If you are a powerlifter, you will want to focus on exercises that will help you increase your poundage on the Big 3.

Step 3 Decide how you are going to set up your routine. Your plan is progression. I don’t care if you’re a bodybuilder or whatnot. You want to progress on the main lifts you have specified, regardless of what stage you are at. So how do you set it up? Well, there are a multitude of ways.

Now, that we’ve established your stage of training, we’ll need to decide how it’s going to be set up. If you are a beginner, you are going to set it up on a single factor basis. This means you are working from workout to workout. Each workout will be executed with the progression to next workout in mind. Meaning you will increase as often as you can. If you get 3 sets of 5 reps with 160lb on bench press, your goal is to accomplish it with 165lb next bench press session. If you fail next time, then you’ll keep trying until you get it. Easy enough right?

If you are in an intermediate stage, you will set it up on a week-to-week basis. Meaning you will set up the entire week so that next will you may increase on you lifts. At this stage, your body is too efficient at adapting and you can no longer increase by simply working out and hoping to get stronger by next workout. Your body now needs a more complex stimulus. So you will set up your program in which you will not max out on everything every day. You will max out on one day (max out meaning perform with as much weight as you can),and everything else with submaximal weights so that you can perform more sets, and provide with the same stimulus, but it would be considered a more complex training style for it to adapt to. A great example of this is Bill Starr’s 5x5:

Monday -

Squat - 5x5 (35%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% of attempted 5 rep max)
Bench Press - 5x5 (35%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% of attempted 5 rep max)
Power Clean - 5x5 (35%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of attempted 5 rep max)

Wednesday -

Bench Press - 5x5 (35%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% of attempted 5 rep max)
Power Clean - 5x5 (35%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% of attempted 5 rep max)
Squat - 5x5 (35%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of attempted 5 rep max)

Friday -

Power Clean - 5x5 (35%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% of attempted 5 rep max)
Squat - 5x5 (35%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% of attempted 5 rep max)
Bench Press - 5x5 (35%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of attempted 5 rep max)

As you can see, you are only performing 3 exercises. You are maxing out on each exercise once per week. Then working with submaximal weights on the other 3 days for that exercise in the hopes that that will be enough of a stimulus to have to increase by the next week’s max day.

If you are at an advanced stage, then congratulations fist of all! You are now having your program set up so that you are periodized on a month-to-month or possibly a quarter-to-quarter basis. At this point, the training style you use will be highly individual to yourself and your training goals. Everything you do will be in the hopes of increasing by the next months or whatever. This training style is extremely complicated, so I wont get into it since most people at this stage know what they’re doing anyways.

Step Four Decide the frequency of training and how intense. At this point, you should hopefully know basically how you will set up the program, but how about how often? Well, the best two ways to set it up for beginners and intermediates, in my opinion, is a 3-day fullbody routine, and an upper/lower split. This allows for a lot of frequency in hitting the entire body. Set it up so you may increase on everything as frequently as you can. And don’t think in terms of bodyparts. Think in terms of movements.

You will want to set it up so you are squatting almost every training day (unless you are doing an upper/lower obviously you wouldn’t do squats on upper). Set it up so that you are providing yourself with enough stimulus to increase by 5lbs by next workout. Remember you won’t increase this often on many of the exercises except squat and deadlifts, so purchasing microplates may be a good option. Or you can just stay on the same weight for a couple-few workouts, and eventually just make 5lb jumps. Think about it like this (I got this idea from the book Practical Programming):

Not enough stimulus = not enough workload to require your body to adapt = no results
Too much stimulus = too much workload for your body to be physically able to adapt to = going into super-survival mode and no adaptation occurs, AKA “overtraining”
The correct stimulus = the correct workload that requires your body to adapt to the stress by making itself stronger = you’re training right

So you want to induce the correct stimulus that makes your body have to get stronger (which will in turn make you bigger when eating enough),then by next workout once you’re stronger, it will have to adapt again by making it even more stronger (not and English master here). This is called linear progression.

Don’t want to get too off on this, but that will determine how often you will hit each movement and how hard/how many sets you will perform.

Step Five Deciding how many reps. Different amounts of reps will accomplish different things. So where should you be training in? Well, this is highly individual, despite what some may say. Everyone has different genetic make-ups, and different muscle fibers, etc, etc. Therefore what may be optimal for one may not be for another. I am of the opinion, along with others, that 5 reps is optimal for most beginners on the main compound movements, regardless of what the trainee is training for. Why? Well because 5 is a good inbetween. Getting strong on a 5RM will translate to almost anything else. If you decide to focus on powerlifting following the beginner stage, having a strong 5RM on the main lifts will translate perfectly to the one rep max, which is what you are training for. If bodybuilding is your thing, then having a strong 5RM will translate to a strong 6-12RM, which is considered optimal for bodybuilders by many.

In Practical Programming, Rippetoe explains in a chart which rep ranges accomplish which things in the intermediate and above stages. The 1-3 rep range is best for pure strength, Myofibrillar hypertrophy, ATP storage efficiency, neural adaptation, and bone density. The 3-5 rep range is best for power and explosiveness, 20 is best for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and extremely high rep ranges are best for pain tolerance, and lactate production. Catch all that? Don’t worry about it. Basically, 1-5 is best for pure strength (I wouldn’t recommend anything lower than 3 reps for anything lower than intermediate due to neurological demands),anywhere from 6-15 could be best for hypertrophy (highly individual),and really any rep range can be best for endurance, depending on how much endurance is required. Anything over 20 reps I probably a little much. But one mistake people make is thinking that like 8 reps won’t do anything other than hypertrophy for strength and endurance. Wrong! 8RMs will make you good at things that require the endurance of something that replicates an 8RM.

IN CONCLUSION

I hope this has helped you design your own routine. Don’t just put a bunch of random crap together that comes off the top of your head. I assume most people reading this are beginners. Focus your routine entirely around solid compound exercises and focus on getting stronger on them as frequently as possible. Everything else should work around that. Don’t do too many exercises. For a beginner, 5-6 compound exercises with a few accessory lifts is optimal IMO. Hit the lifts hard enough to progress for the next workout, but not so much that the body cannot adapt to it. I know this contradicts what you’ve read in Muscle & Fitness, but please, throw it away. Don’t let it sway you in your thinking! The advice they give may be good for accomplished bodybuilders, but it is useless info that will make no difference in the beginner or intermediate athlete that shouldn’t even be considering entering a bodybuilding competition yet.
 
bgptbull81

bgptbull81

MuscleHead
Aug 26, 2010
407
16
#2
thats a good post bro... i wish i could have seen that when i started working out at 15... that would of helped me a lot... i was kinda clueless when i first started...
 
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MuscleHead
Sep 9, 2010
3,441
643
#3
thats a good post bro... i wish i could have seen that when i started working out at 15... that would of helped me a lot... i was kinda clueless when i first started...
I think most guys are clueless unless you play a sport in high school like football. Even then most of the lifts are geared toward strength and speed. Clean and Jerk, etc.
 
bgptbull81

bgptbull81

MuscleHead
Aug 26, 2010
407
16
#4
yep and our coach didnt know shit about lifting.. we did the same shit day in and day out...
 
T

THE-DET-OAK

Senior Member
Sep 11, 2010
135
9
#5
great read..........i recently just totally changed my workout. I use to do only 1 muscle a day. now im doing chest/shoulders/tris back/bi's legs

its weird for me cause im used to doing a lot more exercises per muscle. i promised myself i would stick to it for 6-8 weeks though, cause it was time for me to totally revamp.
 
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MuscleHead
Sep 9, 2010
3,441
643
#6
Change is good every once in awhile, just to keep you interested at least
 
T

THE-DET-OAK

Senior Member
Sep 11, 2010
135
9
#7
yea its time for me to up my endurance-i put on too much weight too fast
 
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MuscleHead
Sep 9, 2010
3,441
643
#8
yea its time for me to up my endurance-i put on too much weight too fast
That's what happened to me with Oral Tren recently....that shit is brutal! I literally couldn't stop putting on weight, even at 2,000 cals a day!
 
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