Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sometimes the Basics are All You Need....For Now

Question: Hi John,
I'm 23 years old and traditionally have been a runner. I don't have a lot of muscle mass and would like to begin more training to build more mass and strength. I have been doing mostly circuit workouts with dumbbells in the home. I'm really wondering how often I should work out a week. I've been doing the same circuit basically every other day. I'll do curls, upright row, push press, bent row, tricep press, and squat press from the floor. This is just a routine I learned from an old running coach. I was wondering if this is too much to do every other day. I feel fine in between workouts and tend to recover quickly from least I think. Is this a good plan? I'm planning on adding a bench day when I get my new house. I also throw in a leg heavy workout once a week after the circuit. I've considered adding a day a push up exercise to change things up as I'm also concerned about my muscles only training to these specific exercises. Obviously, I have lots of questions and would appreciate any help you can give. Thanks.
-Travis from Minnesota

Answer: Your routine seems fine to start off with. Every other day is adequate, as long as you give your body a day to rest and recover. The most important thing to consider is load. Make sure you use weights that "challenge" you and you are able to control. Compound movements such as your push press and bent over rows are key to muscle development. Include some other giants like the bench press, squats, deadlifts and chins. If the goal is to add more muscle mass to your frame, than I suggest taking a hard look at your dietary intake. You will need to develop a base caloric intake level based on your body mass. Although this is basic, try out this calorie calculator to figure how many calories you should be ingesting into your body to support your training and goals. Eating wisely will be the most important factor in your program.

Your program is basic, but sometimes the basics are good enough to get you started. I think, in time, your body will adapt to this routine, and mentally, you will become "bored" of it. That is common. In order to beat the monotony of a basic program is to try to vary exercise components, rest periods, rep schemes, workout times, and workout music.

There's alot that I can suggest with a basic program like yours, so I am going to defer to some other guys that have taught me. My advice is to look into more advanced programs possible at your bookstore. Some books that I may suggest to help you out include: Functional Training Companion Guide Manual by JC Santana and Maximum Strength by Eric Cressey. As with any program, consistency is the key.
- John Izzo


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