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Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:48 am UTC
by infernovia
So I am kinda stagnating, and I need some help. Especially on my pushups. I am sure that a lot of this is due to the way I planned my workout:

Running (variations between length, hills, speed)

Alternate between:
Bicycle crunches
Dumbbell chest press (why? Because I can't do pushups for some reason, but I have enough energy to do dumbbell press...)
Straight leg raise
Jumping squats

Bicep curl
Bent over rows
Leg Raise
Jumping Squats
Bottoms up
Shoulder press

Short term goal:
Run 3 miles at 10 min/mile pace. Current: 2 miles at 10 min/mile.
3 sets of 30 pushups. Current: 3x20 pushups (stagnated for like ages)
3 sets of 6 pullups. Current: 3x4.
+ general fitness (I want to climb and do some rowing).

Quick issues to note: Sprained (?) shoulder and left knee. The shoulder issue can intefere with the pushups as it "pops out" or makes a weird noise if it has too much pressure. I have been doing some basic rotator cuff exercise to strengthen that.

Other information that might be useful: I am using a really simple gym that has treadmill/elliptical and dumbbells. There are no "power chairs" or pull up bars. There is no dipping station. There are no inverted seats. The treadmill is nice to run on (less shock for the knee), and the mats are nice ab workout, and to do pushups. However, I do have access to a park where I can do pullups, dips, and other park type things.

So the basic issue is that I feel like I need to develop my cardio, as I hear it makes you more chill. But I feel like it's interfering with my strength gains. I need to split my workout days, and I have gained enough fitness to workout more often. The only issue is, I don't know how to split it properly. Why the ridiculous focus on abs and legs if I just want to gain some miles? I sprained (?) my knee really badly 2 years back so I am super careful about ramping up my exercise routine. This is why I have been going really slow. I am developing my quads and abs so that I can absorb more shock from running. Back when I destroyed my knee, the issue also transferred my lower back, my other knee, my ankles. I do not want to repeat that again.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:45 am UTC
by Nath
How are you programming your strength work? (Set and rep schemes, loading, progression.) Are you loading your lunges and squats? If not, they aren't going to do much for strength.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:25 pm UTC
by infernovia
So far I have added no weight to any of my leg workouts. Weight progression for Bicep curls and Bent Over Rows and Dumbbell press will go 20*8 -> 20*10 -> 25*8 -> 25*10-> 30*8 -> 30*10 etc. as much as my body will allow me. Lunges I have been making sure I have my form down (knee). Basically my rule is that if I can do 15 reps easily, it's time to add 15 lbs and start at 12. For squats, no. Jumping squats are hard enough you know? Also no weighted vests... maybe I should buy one of those.

That said, I could probably bring that down to 8 or 5 reps, and work that in a non-cardio day. The lack of barbells kinda sucks in that front because holding heavy dumbbells suck for my shoulder.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:44 pm UTC
by Nath
That seems like a reasonable enough progression for the upper-body lifts, given the constraints of dumbbell loading. Three sets?

Jump squats are probably not the most useful exercise at this stage of your training. They may be of value once you've built some more leg strength, and are trying to improve your ability to recruit it quickly (i.e. power training). But they are not an efficient way to build maximal strength in their own right. My suggestion would be to do some sort of weighted compound hip/leg exercise every workout -- lunges, Bulgarian split squats, goblet squats, Romanian deadlifts -- one or two exercises along these lines. Most of these can be done with the weights held like suitcases, so they'll probably be easy on the shoulder. You can even use straps if you really need to.

P.S. you might also want to look into Turkish get-ups. I don't usually suggest them in threads like this, because they are kind of elaborate. But they are good for shoulder health and midsection strength, both of which you seem interested in, so they might be relevant to you.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:22 pm UTC
by infernovia
Dang, you aren't kidding about elaborate!

Edit: Yeah, 3 sets.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:37 am UTC
by infernovia
So, I decided not to count any pullups if I didn't them in the perfect form. This means that I don't know how many pullups I can do right now, but it's not a lot.

Walk 2.5 mile. Run 0.5 mile with windsprints (probably shouldn't have, but bored)

3 sets
4 pull ups (cheating with knees curling forward, so doesn't count)

3 sets
4 inverted rows on swings.

Oof, my back is still tender.

Run 2.5 mile on the treadmill. 26 min run, heart beats around 180 - 190 bpm.

3 sets
8x 35 lbs dumbbell press.
10x straight leg raise
12x 15 lbs lunges (held it like glom squats).

3 sets
5x tricep extensions on a bar, about hip height
10x lying hip swing (note, I probably did these really badly)
10x 15lbs glom squat

1 min plank.

My shoulder cramped up/game me sharp pain in the middle on the second set of the lunges because of the way I was holding it (maybe pinched a blood vessel? don't know), alternated to holding it behind my head stretching my triceps. Had to take a break after that. Lunges make me seriously light headed, but because of the lengthy break the last set of the dumbbell press was much easier. Might have to transition to suitcase hold (2x10 lbs) so that it doesn't happen again.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:54 pm UTC
by infernovia
I am upping my protein intake. Maybe that will help me improve gains?

2 hours of tennis. This was brutal as I think my calves were too short (probably cuz I don't stretch, ever) and my hamstrings were weak. Plantar Fascitis and what not. I stretched both that specific muscle and the calves in hopes of mitigating those issues. This was a huge change for the body because I haven't trained my short bursts/changing directions. I ended up "twisting" my knee. Not in the sense that the knee was actually twisted but my ligaments were too short and I wasn't able to change directions as smoothly as I wanted.

I definitely need to work out on more days tho. No progress on the bicep curl, although everything else seems to be building ok.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Mon May 06, 2013 1:40 am UTC
by infernovia
So aside from my strength gains, I wished I built my workout differently because I am getting chicken legs again. I tried to shift to heavier lunges, but I my knee took a while to recover out of that when I messed up there.

That aside, my weight has been kinda sorta dropping, but it's mostly stabilizing around 149-151 lbs. Well, so I hope. I have been hiking in my off day (saturday), and right now I feel good hiking 9 miles in 3 hour. I am hoping that I can add 2 miles per week/two week or something like that. I also kinda achieved my first goal of running 3 miles in under 30 mins, but that's because it was on the treadmill. It doesn't count unless it's outside.

I have an appointment set up with my doctor and hopefully I will be able to see what's wrong with my shoulder. Dipping aggravated it beyond belief, even though I really only noticed it the next day.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 2:26 pm UTC
by infernovia
So my lunges are tiring out my wrist before my calves because of the arm swinging when I push back. Any hints?

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 4:09 pm UTC
by philsov
load the dumbbells onto your shoulders and treat em like a faux barbell.

Odds are you'll need to clean them up there, DB weight pending.


From this position you're also able to do a front squat, if you so choose.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Wed May 08, 2013 2:16 am UTC
by infernovia
I was never any good in that maneuver in the past, we will see how I do.

I have to seriously think about getting a gym membership. The dumbbells only go up to 50 lbs and my bench press is at 45 already...

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 1:47 am UTC
by infernovia
A lot lighter workout this week, but that's kinda needed cuz they were taking 1.5-2 hours. Trying to get that under an hour.

Finally went to the doctor, pretty happy with my health/cardio. Really great numbers all around. Seems like I have tendonitis on one of the ligaments on the rotator cuff and he doesn't want me to do any overhead press or overhead activity in general. I seem to aggravate it when doing overhead press, dips, tricep dips. I also think it's affecting my pushup numbers as well, but it does not get inflammed by it. Also might have tendonitis on the front portion of the right ankle (top part of the foot where it joins with the shin) and I might need to do daily stretches to get some flexibility there. Finally he thinks my left knee issue isn't much of a tendon issue (hard to believe) as much as an overdeveloped quad so it tracks diagonally instead of straight. The outside muscle is bigger than the inside. Not really sure how I can fix that, and I might have to stop lunges. I think glom squats are still fine?

Also, when I run, I keep track of my breaths and try to count to 60 or a 100. I was breathing so slowly and deeply that even at the fastest "normal" pace I have gone yet (7.0 mph), it still took me 4 min to finish 100 breaths, which I am pretty proud of. By the end I was at 185-190 bpm of course... but still whatever.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 12:44 am UTC
by infernovia
Hit one of my goals this week: 50x8 dumbbell bench press. I couldn't finish the 50x10 friday, probably due to a calorie defecit, but also because I wasted a lot of energy trying to get the dumbells to the proper position (failed a couple of times). The first push is the hardest and for some reason I had a really hard time yesterday. Regardless, I will have to graduate to a heavier bench set soon.

Mile numbers haven't been improving, but that's because I am trying to cut down on my 3 mile time. Last time was just under 26. Goal is to get that to 24. I still need to do some longer distance running but running on a treadmill is sooo boring. I really need to work on my overhead musclegroup (overhead press etc.), but I don't know how to do that without aggravating my tendon. But yeah, I am seeing overall improvement across the board. I got away with a lot more in tennis than before and my overall stamina has definitely improved. I feel like my knee isn't as bad so I will start up doing weighted leg exercises again.

Hiking: 14 miles. Cooler weather and flatter land helped a lot in pushing my mile number up. Still, my flat feet tired out my ankle which eventually made the stop necessary, I will have to buy one of those arch support things.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 2:40 am UTC
by Nath
infernovia wrote:Hit one of my goals this week: 50x8 dumbbell bench press. I couldn't finish the 50x10 friday, probably due to a calorie defecit, but also because I wasted a lot of energy trying to get the dumbells to the proper position (failed a couple of times).

Congrats on the PR!

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Tue May 28, 2013 9:08 pm UTC
by infernovia
That's a good video, the main reason I haven't kicked it up with my thighs is I am afraid I will go off balance.

Sigh, I just read through a lot of Rippetoe's stuff. Damn it, now I want to switch off of cardio again, but so far a lot of my goals have been aligned with cardio. Rippetoe is kinda biased (way too much hate on endurance, a marathon runner/endurance is still going to be fine with 95% of the modern activities, as they are much less labor intensive than the old world), but he makes a good case. I guess a lot of it will depend on if I can endure the squat when I finally get a gym with a barbell station.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Tue May 28, 2013 9:50 pm UTC
by philsov
Afaik Rip is all for cardio, provided it doesn't interfere with your recovery/workout. He is certainly against cardio as a means for fat loss (when coupled with diet) because it means minimal muscle gains which counters the purpose of his program. That said, train to your goals. If part of your cardio is for the exact purpose of increased cardiovascular capacity (ie, being a better runner), it's fundamentally different than cardio as a means for fat loss (mostly due to the diet factor).

Can I do cardio for fat burning while on this program?
Cardio is something that should be done by everyone on the planet, just for general health. If you are a chronic chubb-dogg (like me!) then cardio should be a daily habit at least once, sometimes twice a day.
The key is in modulating the intensity and duration so as to positively affect your barbell training, rather than negatively affect it. The chronically chubby will notice a DRASTIC difference in the body's ability to process calories, especially carbohydrates, if consistent cardio training is added to a consistent weight program. Frequently, the chubbage will melt away while the muscle gets packed on. It is a natural characteristic of the endo-meso somatotype to be able to add muscle while losing bodyfat if calories are clean, protein is relatively high, and cardio is performed daily. In many cases, adding some cardio will actually enhance barbell progress because of the positive "CHO-useage" effect cardio has on many naturally bulky trainees.

Skinny dudes REALLY need to be careful of this, however. A brisk walk is all that is needed, just enough to keep the heart healthy. Mesomorphs, being the bastards that they are, can probably get away with very little cardio at all, and they will burn bodyfat simply by switching from 2% to 1% milk (Yes Hola, I'm talking about you...bastard!)

The biggest mistake a novice can make is to undertake a new barbell training routine and then add in a ton of high intensity cardio. This will exhaust the trainee far earlier than what would normally occur, and the hindered muscular progress will be reflected in hindered metabolic increases. More muscle = faster metabolism = more calories and fat burned during the day.

Burning calories through exercise is 1 way to get leaner. Adding muscle, which increases BMR, is another. Since the novice will experience the most rapid muscular bodyweight increases, it makes sense for them to focus on barbell training rather than excessive cardio, even if they are chubby. ... _Materials

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:44 am UTC
by infernovia
Well, time to graduate to a new gym! Finally hit the limit in bench press and gotta get under some barbells.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:57 am UTC
by infernovia
Ok, so I fell off the workout regiment and ended up just doing some running every week. After a while I tried to "fix" my running because I was hunching over (not running tall) but ended up having significant pains on my front ankle and also my knee so I had to stop. I chalked it up to pre-existing injury but I realized just last week that I have pretty bad duck feet. Been cycling in the mean time (I am trying to work up to a mini-triathlon) but trying to focus on correcting that. I am actually getting some progress on understanding my feet now (I also have terrible terrible flat feet) but I wanted to see if there was someone here that could point out something I could do. Everything so far has been self diagnosis.

These are the videos I have watched:
This one has been amazingly helpful on understanding the biomechanics of the knee joint and really helpful overall. I know it's working because it feels good and even standing/walking feels like it's activating my feet muscles (it also sweats way more than normal). But I worry that I am compensating for a weak muscle or tightness with a different problem on the knee. My knee has been "popping" (it's like cracking your knuckle) when I am biking as well, and I get an endorphin rush out of it.

I also realized I am getting pains on the outside of my feet faster than the inside, and I don't really know how to fix it (I seem to roll pinky to toe). I did some barefoot running on a treadmill because I forgot my shoe and my toe next to my big toe got a burn faster than my toe... and I thought your toe was supposed to take a lot of your support when running.
This situation seems really similar to me (weak inner thigh muscles):
I don't think I have this, but helped me understand some ankle mechanism (my neutral position for my feet beforehand was similar to his).

And something for the shoulder (I have really bad shoulder flexibility on my right due to a bad injury while doing pull ups)

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:12 am UTC
by infernovia
Oh, and it happens on my backfoot when I am doing lunges too. Even if I am consciously focusing on it, I can't correct that unless I really really slowdown the heel drop. This is exhausting and I am not sure if I am fixing it the right way.

And second question with lunges... I have been training my forearms using this exercise: I am actually happy with this, but surprisingly it has not increased my ability to hold dumbbells while doing lunges. I can actually go heavier on the exercise shown in the video. Is there a forearm muscle that specifically works with swinging motions or something?

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:52 am UTC
by Nath
What do you mean by 'swinging motions'? There isn't really much swinging going on in lunges: ... Lunge.html

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:05 am UTC
by infernovia
Like the arm swinging forward and backwards. I know it's not supposed to, but I do notice it move while I am doing lunges and I can exaggerate the exhaustion if I start swinging back and forth. It feels like the muscle connects to my ring finger, but I am not sure. I thought it was the muscle that allowed your wrist to move the wrist up and down thumb/pinky side (if you rotate your wrist so that your thumb is pointing up and you rotate your fist up/down that's the movement I am talking about), but that's not the muscle that gets tired when I am doing lunges.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:40 am UTC
by infernovia
On second thought, that's probably centripetal force. So seems like a weak muscle that runs down the underside of my forearm to my ring finger.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 7:58 am UTC
by Nath
How heavy are your dumbbells, and what set and rep scheme are you currently using? Are you keeping a good, neutral wrist position during your lunges?

In general, I find the sort of dynamic wrist exercises in the video you linked to pretty irrelevant to grip endurance. Heavy deadlifts good things. Chin-ups/pull-ups are also very helpful. Heavy farmer's walks are another thing to try, as the last exercise in the workout.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:17 pm UTC
by infernovia
Not heavy at all, 20 on each. I try to keep my wrist->forearm straight with no bend, I don't know if this is neutral.

I have generally really pathetic forearms and it has been one of my limiting factors on doing heavier bench presses and such, so it seems worthwhile to train it specifically, at least to a certain "basic" level of strength so that I don't have to worry about it. I can't do farmer's walk and such because, as I have already explained, I need to fix my feet first. Chinups and pullups are definitely on the table, and I used to do hanging leg raises, but even there forearms usually gave out quickly. I might just try holding onto heavier weight and just stand though.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:58 am UTC
by infernovia
Well, here is my plan so far:

Tuesday: Biking 40-50 min. Biceps/Triceps/Shoulder as well.
Wednesday: Lifting (Bench-Deadlift-Squat-pullup 5x5 besides pullup)
Thursday: Swimming 650m Biking 20 min (if I can fit it)

Saturday: Lifting (Bench-Deadlift-Squat-pullup 5x5 besides pullup)
Sunday: Swimming 650m Biking 20 min if not done Thursday.

Still suck at swimming so it has a lot of breaks. Current status is Bench @130, Deadlift @155, Squat @145, pullup 5-5-4-4-4 with the last 2 sets being chinnies. I am following the "so you think you can... " youtube series and I hope my form is good and I don't have more issues! Still have some weird feeling on my shoulder when I bench, and I think there are still some stuff to fix with my squat which is why it's still really low comparatively (or maybe I am just not giving it time to recover). Gotta buy some lifting shoes tho as I notice my feet pronating.

Re: Help building a workout

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:11 pm UTC
by infernovia
Well, after some incredibly long sickness (2.5 months) and pulled muscles, plus just general laziness I haven't really progressed that much. However, my forearm is no longer pathetically weak like before. 5x5 deadlift really helped with that. However, I pulled a small muscle in my mid back, felt kinda like Spinalis Thoracis, but it could be the Longissimus. Not sure why, but after some advice, I have decided to lower the deadlift down to 1x5 reps. My guess is there was an imbalance on my positioning causing a twist? I never had an issue with my upper back rounding before, but it could be that too.

I finally found a way to solve some of my squat issue, it's called the hise shrug. Due to my relatively low shoulder flexibility (it's terrible, I can barely get my hands around the edge of the barbell in my first set), combined with my lack of any muscle in my back to shelf the bar, squatting was a very painful and nerve wracking experience. I hope after I finally get this figured out, I will be able to actually add weight back to my squat and progress in a linear manner. My last sets usually goes well as my body heat increases my shoulder at that point and I don't feel like I have to worry about the bar rolling off of my back.