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my first post - hello to all - and enough sets for lower body vs. upper body

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  1. #1
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    my first post - hello to all - and enough sets for lower body vs. upper body






    hi everybody,

    i've been an active reader on this forum for a few months now and have picked up A LOT of good info. thanks to everybody here for being so informative

    i'm 27 yrs old and have been working out regularly since 13/14 (8th/9th grade). because of that i've always been relatively strong for my weight and have had a decent physique. what slowed me down in terms of achieving pure size had been 8 years of cutting weight, starvation, and dehydration from wrestling (all this did help me looked ripped though). during my younger years, my off-season body weight would be high 140 to 150 lbs at ~10% body fat and wrestling weight was mid 120's to low 130's with unsafe levels of body fat and hydration. i'm 5'8" by the way

    while i did work out hard, i didn't always work out smart when i was younger. beginning in high school (even a little bit in college) i read misleading info from bodybuilding magazines, got bad advice from uneducated coaches and trainers, did way too much isolation work, and most likely overtrained. so i guess i should feel lucky that i was able to get strong and get decent results in spite of my non-optimal training and guidance

    fast forward to today. after working hard after college for a few years and not having much time for the gym (i did investment banking in nyc), i now am at a position in my life where i have more disposable free time to devote to the gym. over the past year and a half my weight has gone from 150 at ~12-13% BF to mid 160 at ~10% body fat. i don't dare to say i'm less than 10% because you really can't see my lower abs, my "4.5 pack looks good though and i've been told my muscles have a "hard" look, not sure that means, but i guess people are referring to striation and vasularity? my lifts have also gotten better. sometimes i think if i never wrestled, i would be a solid 180 lbs with the same body fat!! i haven't maxed out in a while, but i'm guessing my max bench is ~295, max deadlift is ~360, max squat (deep, below parallel but not ATF) is ~340. my lower body strength has been hampered by tendonitis in both knees, which has been plaguing me constantly since high school. i estimate that i have missed 1 out of 5 leg workouts due to knee pain and i'm thankful for each day that i can work out my legs pain-free.

    i have a question about my routine. for the past 3 weeks, i've been doing a push-pull-legs program with for the most part 4 sets and a 6-8 rep range (except for deadlifts, i do those in the 2-6 rep range). my first set is 8 reps with one weight, i'll up the weight on my second set of 6 reps. i'll up the weight again on my third set of 6 reps (sometimes i will get 4 or 5 reps rather than 6 depending on how much i bump the weight up). my fourth set will be at the same weight or a little bit heavier as my second set. my rest period is anywhere from 60-90 seconds. i'm doing each lift a "natural" speed if that is such a thing (not fast, not slow??). each workout is about 28 sets of exercises, not including warmup. i always manage to finish lifting in 1 to 1.5 hrs. i typically do 15 min of interval training afterwards (elliptical or treadmill) the only machine i use is the smith machine for calf raises, but i'm thinking of dropping that for standing DB calf raises

    day one - upper push with number of reps per set
    flat bench - 8/6/6/6
    incline bench - 8/6/6/6
    standing military press - 8/6/6/6
    flat/decline close grip bench (if i do BB for flat and incline bench, i'll use DB for this exercise and vice versa) - 8/6/6/6
    weighted dips - 8/6/6/6
    tricep isolation exercise superset with db lateral raises - 8/6/6/6
    15 min of interval cardio

    day two - lower push
    back squat - 8/6/6/6
    hack squat (free weight, not machine) - 8/6/6/6
    lunge - 8/6/6/6
    side lunge - 8/6/6/6
    wood chop - 15/15/15/15
    crunching ab exercise superset with standing calf raise - 20/20/20/20 for abs and 14/12/10/10 for calves
    15 min of interval cardio

    day three - "easy/off" day
    planks - 60 sec
    side planks - 30 sec per side
    bird dogs - 30 sec per side (r arm with L leg and L arm with r leg)

    day four - upper pull
    weighted wide grip pullup - 8/6/6/6
    bentover rows (wide grip) - 8/6/6/6
    one arm DB rows (with weight closer to your side versus wide grip rowing) - 8/6/6/6
    weighted chin up (close grip) - 8/6/6/6
    rear delt rows - 8/6/6/6
    bicep isolation exercise superset with shrugs - 8/6/6/6 for biceps, 8/8/8/8 for shrugs
    15 min of interval cardio

    day five - lower pull
    deadlift - 6/4/2/4
    straight back stiff leg deadlift - 8/6/6/6
    step up - 8/6/6/6
    hamstring raise - 5/5/5/5
    reverse wood chop - 15/15/15/15
    leg raise type ab exercise superset with seated calf raises - 20/20/20/20 for abs and 14/12/10/10 for calves
    15 min of interval cardio

    day six - "easy/off" day
    planks - 60 sec
    side planks - 30 sec per side
    bird dogs - 30 sec per side (r arm with L leg and L arm with r leg)

    then i start over. of the 3 weeks i have been on this program, i have gone 2 weeks with a 6 day cycle and 1 week with a day seven, which is a completely off day.

    the question i have is, on my upper days, i do 5 compounds and on my lower days, i'll only do 4 compounds (actually 3 on lower pull day since hamstring raises are isolation). is this balanced enough? my gut tells me that since back squats and deadlifts are such taxing lifts, you wouldn't need as many other exercises to properly stimulate your legs? please let me know as this has been on my mind quite a bit.

    also would guys always recommend a day seven as off day in this program? since i grew up overtraining, it's harder for me to gauge

    also, is there anything fundamentally wrong with this routine? i find that i have been able to handle the number of exercises per day fairly well so far but i'll see how i handle this in the long term, but once again, overtraining has wrongfully been the foundation of my weightlifting experience, so i'm not a great judge of this yet.

    i typically take in 150-200 grams of protein a day and about 3000-3500 calories

    any input is appreciated

    thanks

  2. #2
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    Could you summarize that?

  3. #3
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    hahaha, sorry for the long thread, i just thought i'd make a grand entrance on this forum! plus i don't post often, so when i speak i have a lot to say!

  4. #4
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    Personally I would cut the volume down some on everything, but thats just me. Others respond to other things.

  5. #5
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    i hear ya, i was initially a little concerned about the volume too. i'm in week 3and i haven't felt fatigue or lost gains on my lifts yet. but its definitely something i'm monitoring

    what do you think, maybe drop down to 3 working sets rather than 4? or i could stay at 4 working sets for now and alternate weekly close grip bp and dips on upper push day. for upper pull, i could just drop the rear delt rows. what do you think of the volume on my leg days? then i would have 4 compounds on my upper days to match my lower days

  6. #6
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    Here check this out, cut it down to something like this:

    Chest-3 lifts
    Back-3 Lifts
    Shoulders-2 lifts
    Legs-2-3 lifts
    Arms-I dont see a reason for em.

    Thats how I break it down. I promise you that by not doing arms they wont shrink, and they will probably grow. I took a coupld month off of doing curls and tricep work (And I only do like 3 sets at the end of a workout) and my arms grew about 1/4 inch (now this isnt alwaus common, but most people overtrain arms).

  7. #7
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    Everyone is different though Double D - my arms grew with high volume bi/tri work, and have not grown with very low volume.

  8. #8
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    I would just soon my chest, back, and legs grow before my arms anyways. But you can always throw in some arm work in at the end, like 3 sets or so.

  9. #9
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    am i going too overboard on the arms? i only have 4 sets of bicep isolation on my upper pull day and and 4 sets of tricep isoloation on my upper push day. and i'm not too worried about getting my arms bigger relative to the rest of my body, i would actually like to focus on catching up my legs to the rest of my body (damm tendinitis!) which is why in my first post, i was concerned about getting enough leg work relative to my upper body.

    what about thoughts on adding a 7th day which will be completely off (no exercise at all) versus my current program which is a 6 days?

    by the way, my plan is to do push pull legs in the 6-8 rep range for a total of 4-5 weeks (i already finished week 3), then to have one deloading week, push pull legs again for 4-5 weeks, maybe focus on the lower rep range (3-5 reps), one deloading week, then maybe switch to 5x5

  10. #10
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    i would cut out the ab/calf raise superset.

    and if i have a easy day, i would swim instead, it aids in recovery.

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    as long as i continue to do deads and kept my lower back strength up, would there be any dangers to continuing to strengthen my abs? my only worry is i don't wanna be one of those guys with good looking abs but can only do 10 crunches/leg raises until failure. i grew up wrestling, so i've always had a focus on getting good ab, core, grip, and neck strength. unfortunately, my neck now is constantly sore due to years of abuse but that is another story...

    are there are any negatives to having calf work in my routine? i forgot to mention that my calves are an embarrassment for me because they are skinny as hell!! my girlfriend says my leg looks like a drumstick because my quads are so big relative to my calves. that is why i have calf work. i know some guys on this forum have said they were able to get good gains in calf size through mostly squatting and deads, but unfortunately, i've been blessed with puny sticks below my knees.

    swimming sounds like a great idea. all i need now are swimming lessons cuz i'm a horrible swimmer!! i think that i'll add that to my resolutions for 2007

    thanks for the feedback

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    well, in that case, they are fine then

    i dont do those exercise because i dont care how my calfs and abs look. i rely more on doing compound exercise as a means to improve my core and overall strength. my personal philosiphy is that isolation on abs and calfs is a waste of time.

    when you say you wrestle, i just assumed that lifting for "the look" was out of the window. but if you do want to focus on gaining size on your calf and getting good abs, there is no problem.

  13. #13
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    sorry for the confusion, i wrestled for 8 years, but i haven't wrestled since i graduated college 6 yrs ago. so i guess "lifting for the look" has become a little bit more important to me than before.

    don't get me wrong, strength is still a big priority, but my daily success/failure doesn't rely on it anymore. hypertrophy is important too as this is the first time in my life that i have ample time for the gym and not have to care about how much i weigh. i want to gain as much weight as i can without having to buy a completely new wardrobe (that would not be so nice economically!)

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