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Thread: weight training advice?

  1. #1
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    Default weight training advice?

    I'd like to get back into lifting weights after a number of years, and I was hoping some of you guys could give me or point me in the direction of some advice on a couple of things.

    First, I've always been under the impression that all things being equal, free wights are better than machines. I presume that's still the thinking?

    Second, assuming I'm right, I'd like to set up a workout plan using entirely or predominately free weights and body weight along the following lines:

    A. It will encompass the major muscle groups in one workout. I don't want to do upper body one day, lower the next, etc.
    B. That said, I would like to be able to complete the workout in under one hour, at most.
    C. I'm interested in general fitness, toning, etc. rather than building bulk, so I assume we're talking higher reps and lower weight.
    D. I'd like it to be able to do it without a spotter.

    Does anyone have any ideas for such a workout or a recommendation for a good book or website? I don't want to pay for personal training at this point. Although it's been a while, there was a time in my life where I was in outstanding shape and did a fair amount of lifting, so I think I can get back into it without a trainer if I'm careful about it. (If I feel like doing cleans again for the first time in over 15 years, I'll get a trainer, but don't hold your breath on that!)

    Thanks guys.

  2. #2
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    I recently changed direction radically.

    I'd been doing a full body HIT type work out 5 times every two weeks, off and on (three months or so straight, then get bored or distracted and lay off for a few months, etc., etc.. ) Plus I got really annoyed with the Bowflex especially - changing exercises is a pain and breaks the flow of the work out.

    So now I've started a body weight work out with the very specific goals of being able to do:

    - a full planche push up/hold a planche for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - a full front lever pull up/hold a front lever for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - a full free handstand press-up/hold a handstand for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - move from a planche to a handstand.

    The workouts are three days a week (with 10 minute jumping jack sessions or sprints on the in between days) and involve body weight squats, dips, chins, diver bomber push ups, static 'iron cross' holds (side and back) with dumbbells for the shoulders, and the progression exercises for the above movements.

    Right now I can hold a frog stand for almost 10 seconds and a hanging tuck for a little longer. I need to shed my fat (hence the sprints and jumping jacks) and I need to really increase my strength, but hey that's the point. But now I've got goals besides getting 'bigger' or 'cut' and I can work towards them without having to count reps or track poundages. And I'll end up with some pretty cool skills if I reach the end.

    my .02 FWIW.
    Last edited by patrisVII; 04-10-2009 at 08:10 PM.
    Cogito ergo doleo

  3. #3
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    Absolutely right, machines won't work the stabilizing muscles you need to strengthen, and they can screw you up by forcing you into odd patterns of movement.

    I cannot recommend stronglifts.com enough. I recently started the beginner's program there, called 5x5, and it's really been incredible. It's all free weights and body exercises, easy to pick up, 3x a week and I'd be done in well under an hour if I weren't adding cardio at the end. The site is great, it has a ton of info on lifts, forms, nutrition, etc., and they have a great online community that's very welcoming. I've gotten a ton of support and advice from the boards there.

    Seriously, well worth your time, I think that program would work extremely well for you.

  4. #4
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    Well, if you want a slightly different perspective on it, try:

    http://www.amazon.com/Just-Say-No-Ca.../dp/1599320819

    Also, http://www.bodyweightculture.com/

    And my personal favourite, what we endured daily in the army and now available for free download:

    http://www.gettingfitagain.com/5bx.php

  5. #5
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    Focus on compound exercises. The main ones are:
    - squats (works the abs/core, upper/lower legs)
    - deadlifts (lower back, upper/lower legs)
    Squats are a pushing exercise and deadlifts are a pulling exercise, they work roughly the same muscles. They should be combined in any plan to maximise benefit.

    - benchpress (chest)
    - bentover rows (back)

    I would start with these for general health then add some isolated stuff for definition if you feel the need ie. bicep curls, shoulder press. Don't go too heavy but also not too light. I'd say for general health you will only need to be lifting about 80% of your heaviest lift for each exercise. Some days train hard, some days take it easy depending on how you feel

    The bodyweight stuff like push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups and bodyweight squats can be done when you can't get to the gym. This should be plenty to get you started and keep you going. Just google any of these terms and you will get plenty of info.

    - Aaron
    Last edited by Azza; 04-10-2009 at 11:28 PM.

  6. #6
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    Lots of good advice so far so I won't add much. Reg Parks 5x5 system works great; focus on compound movements (squats, presses, cleans, and deadlifts). If interested in general fitness, I'd go heavier weight and lower reps. That is what the 5 x 5 system is all about anyway; getting stronger without adding bulk. You can of course go lighter with more reps, but it won't get you as strong.

    Previously mentioned sites are great, also check out crossfit.com for instructional videos on the basic movement patterns. Add some gymnastics moves and you will have a great program.
    “The things you used to own, now they own you.”

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoreSaltThanPepper View Post
    And my personal favourite, what we endured daily in the army and now available for free download:

    http://www.gettingfitagain.com/5bx.php
    Funnily enough, we're seeing that in the US Army as well right now. A lot of those exercises, or similar, were the standard "Conditioning Drill" we used during PT at basic a couple of years back.

    Now, thankfully, I haven't seen that crap since. Would that the Army, any Army, went to a standard lifting and HIIT-style PT regimen instead of pushups and distance runs.

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    Guys, thanks for your replies. I've been planning to write a more detailed response to a number of the above posts but haven't had a chance. I do appreciate the advice and information.

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    Mark Rippetoe:

    http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Stren...9683594&sr=8-1

    The man will teach you anything you need to know (at this point) about strength training. He has a DVD now, it's a wonderful supplement. Read his books, as you can tell by the reviews they're priceless.
    [SIZE="1"][FONT="arial narrow"]I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed - MJ23[/FONT][/SIZE]

  10. #10

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    Before you jump into all the squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses... get someone to show you the proper way to do them. It has been my experience that most personal trainers etc at places like Bally's don't have much of a clue about truly functional and effective training. Have someone you know (athlete, strongman, even just an experience and dedicated gym rat) take you to the gym and show you EXACTLY how to squat, deadlift, bench, and press things over your head. You'll make tons of progress much quicker and you'll save your back/knees/elbows/shoulders by learning and executing proper form.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm03c View Post
    Mark Rippetoe:

    http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Stren...9683594&sr=8-1

    The man will teach you anything you need to know (at this point) about strength training. He has a DVD now, it's a wonderful supplement. Read his books, as you can tell by the reviews they're priceless.
    He's a pretty good guy, as well. He used to train my mom. As stated, he really knows his business. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone to show you better how to squat.
    Andy

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    Change is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

    "Now, we can do this easy, or we can do this [I]real[/i] easy. Your choice Bub."

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by theboi-phrend View Post
    Before you jump into all the squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses... get someone to show you the proper way to do them. It has been my experience that most personal trainers etc at places like Bally's don't have much of a clue about truly functional and effective training. Have someone you know (athlete, strongman, even just an experience and dedicated gym rat) take you to the gym and show you EXACTLY how to squat, deadlift, bench, and press things over your head. You'll make tons of progress much quicker and you'll save your back/knees/elbows/shoulders by learning and executing proper form.
    But as a caveat, many experienced gym rats have awful form and have internalized a lot "facts" about lifting that are shockingly wrong. Make sure you educate yourself first, as well. Rippetoe is absolutely a good place to start.

  13. #13
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    Again, thanks for all the replies. I think it's interesting that a number of you recommended workouts using compound exercises like squats, etc. That makes a lot of sense to me both in terms of efficiency and building useful strength. Although it's been quite a while, I have done squats, deadlifts, and cleans, so I know how good they are. I also know how important proper form is, so I won't be rushing into anything, and I'll probably stay away from cleans altogether. (It's been over twenty years since I did deadlifts and I still remember how much my back hurt when I did them wrong.)

    Hopefully my prior experience and the reputable sources of information out there will enable me to discern good advice at the gym from bad. I'm definitely going to pick up the Rippetoe book, which I see is also recommended on the StronLifts website. I figure I can study various resources on technique before I start a program, and in the meantime do some things like bodyweight squats, push-ups, flexibility work, etc. to lay the groundwork. (Sadly, I've let myself get pretty out of shape.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrisVII View Post
    So now I've started a body weight work out with the very specific goals of being able to do:

    - a full planche push up/hold a planche for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - a full front lever pull up/hold a front lever for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - a full free handstand press-up/hold a handstand for 10 seconds or more.vid
    - move from a planche to a handstand.
    Cool videos, although they made me feel even more out of shape than I did before!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxJ View Post
    Absolutely right, machines won't work the stabilizing muscles you need to strengthen, and they can screw you up by forcing you into odd patterns of movement.

    I cannot recommend stronglifts.com enough. I recently started the beginner's program there, called 5x5, and it's really been incredible. It's all free weights and body exercises, easy to pick up, 3x a week and I'd be done in well under an hour if I weren't adding cardio at the end. The site is great, it has a ton of info on lifts, forms, nutrition, etc., and they have a great online community that's very welcoming. I've gotten a ton of support and advice from the boards there.

    Seriously, well worth your time, I think that program would work extremely well for you.
    This could be a long slog - I did 5 sets of 5 body weight squats yesterday to work on form, etc., and my legs are sore. Yikes! Well, I gotta start somewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessed View Post
    Cool videos, although they made me feel even more out of shape than I did before!
    I don't know if I'll ever get there (especially the planche!), but it's a solid set of goals that don't require intense record keeping. My sitting and standing posture has already improved from less than a month of the core exercises (front and back 'hollow') and I can hold a wall supported handstand for over 10 seconds.
    Cogito ergo doleo

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    Here's something I'm coming up against;

    I've been doing the strong lifts 5x5 routine for a while now. My bench press is starting to really hurt my right elbow. I wear a soft brace for support but many times my arm almost gives out on me. I don't know what to do about this other than go down in weight and not have any gain.

    Any ideas?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Z View Post
    Here's something I'm coming up against;

    I've been doing the strong lifts 5x5 routine for a while now. My bench press is starting to really hurt my right elbow. I wear a soft brace for support but many times my arm almost gives out on me. I don't know what to do about this other than go down in weight and not have any gain.

    Any ideas?
    Try keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible. Parallel to your torso rather than out wide and perpendicular. This also focuses much more on the triceps. Pain is an indication that you should stop, that and clicking noises.

    Maybe google 'proper bench press technique' and see if that brings anything up that you have failed to take into account.

    - Aaron

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Z View Post
    Here's something I'm coming up against;

    I've been doing the strong lifts 5x5 routine for a while now. My bench press is starting to really hurt my right elbow. I wear a soft brace for support but many times my arm almost gives out on me. I don't know what to do about this other than go down in weight and not have any gain.

    Any ideas?
    You can try dumbbell presses, handle push-ups or dips so that you can use a palms-parallel grip rather than the palms-out grip required for barbell press. This grip can lessen the stress on both the lateral and medial epicondyle (the bony bumps at the sides of the elbow) tendon attachments, which is a common source of elbow pain.
    Cogito ergo doleo

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