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  1. #1
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Answers to Common Questions

    Q: What exercise should I do for (insert body part here)? I don't know how to do (insert exercise here).
    A: Do a Search, please, before creating a thread. Also go here: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html


    Q: Should I use a full body routine or a split routine?
    A: Generally speaking, new lifters can benefit more from a full-body routine done multiple times per week, and based around compound movements. Advanced lifters, who have the strength, intensity, and mind-muscle connection to handle higher workloads need more recovery time and so will benefit from a multi-day split. Try this as a starting point:

    0-18 months lifting: Full-body routine done 3 times per week based around compound movements.
    18-36 months lifting: Upper Body / Lower Body or Push / Pull split done twice per week (4 lifting days)
    36+ months lifting: 3 or 4 day split routine

    Here's a more in depth discussion on Full Body vs. Splits: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=139911893


    Q: I want to work out intelligently and make steady progress. How should I proceed?
    A:
    - Do some research and select your routine (see thread listed above as a starting point).
    - If you've selected Starting Strength, HST, or some other established routine, follow it exactly for a least the first time through.
    - Keep a journal detailing each exercise, how many reps you completed, and what weights you used.
    - Each week, focus on making "progression" from the previous week.
    • Example: If you were supposed to bench press 180 lbs for 3 sets of 8, then note in your log what you did.
    • If you did 180x8, 180x8, 180x5 (you couldn't complete the last set of 8), then the next week try to complete all three sets of 8.
    • Once you have hit 180x8, 180x8, 180x8, then add 5-10 lbs. the next week.
    - Every 6 weeks or so, de-load by dropping all your weights by 50% or take a week off entirely. The following week, pick up where you left off. This lets you recover from accumulated fatigue of your muscles and central nervous system.

    - Be honest with yourself. If you can't complete a rep with good form, then don't count it. Don't add weight if it only means you're compromising your form. You're only cheating yourself, not impressing anyone else.


    Q: What's the difference between Compound and Isolation exercises and which should I do?
    A: Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once (Example: squat, deadlift, bench press). Isolation exercises work a single muscle or muscle group. (Example: preacher curls, leg extensions, tricep pressdowns). Try to use compound exercises as the core of your routine to add mass, and then add specific isolation exercises to further your specific goals. A common mistake by beginners is to ignore the majority of the compound exercises and focus too much on isolation exercises for their "mirror" muscles (biceps, abs, etc.).


    Q: Why are squats and deadlifts recommended so often?
    A: Compound movements, which work multiple muscle groups at the same time, promote overall strength and hypertrophy and are very efficient in terms of gym-time. Squats and Deadlifts are the ones most beginners shy away from since they can be "intimidating", but they are very beneficial. The primary compound lifts are:
    - Squats
    - Deadlifts
    - Bench Press
    - Rows (barbell, t-bar, etc.)
    - Pullups, Chinups, & Dips
    - Military Press / Seated Overhead Press

    You can and will get big by doing these exercises. Please learn and use good form on these exercises!


    Q: How many sets and reps should I do of each exercise?
    A: There is no perfect answer, and there is a place for a great variety of set and rep ranges. Different people and different muscle types respond to different stimulus, so you should experiment to see what works for you. However, general guidelines are as follows:

    Do 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps to build strength
    Do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps for hypertrophy
    Do 4-5 sets of 12-15+ reps for muscular endurance

    Your best bet is to vary your set and rep ranges, since the above is not any sort of "absolute". You will gain some degree of size and strength by following the rule of progression with any rep range.


    Q: How long should I rest between sets?
    A: This depends on your goals and the exercise in question. Whatever rest period you choose, try to keep it constant week to week. This will help you ensure strength gains are not just the result of longer and longer rest periods. Very generally:

    90-120 seconds for heavy, compound exercises (or more as necessary)
    60-90 seconds for heavy isolation exercises or medium compound exercises
    30-60 seconds for medium or light weight endurance type sets

    Adjust these based on your own needs once you gain experience.


    Q: Is (insert exercise here) necessary?
    A: No. No exercise is necessary.


    Q: I've been working out regularly and am getting stronger, but I'm not getting any bigger.
    A: Eat more. Seriously.


    Q: I've plateaued on (insert exercise here) what should I do?
    A: If you've been stuck on at a certain weight on a certain exercise for 3-4 weeks in a row then try this:

    - Take a week off, either entirely or of any work on the muscle group in question.
    - Drop your weight about 20% from where you were stuck
    - Each week add back 5-10 lbs to your lift until you've reached and exceeded your sticking point.
    - Also make sure you are eating enough and resting enough.


    Q: How do I get visible abs?
    A: You have to drop your body fat to see your abs. Forget about mindless repetitions of crunches. You can't spot reduce fat, you have to drop your overall fat level through proper nutrition.


    Q: What do I do if I can't do a pullup/chinup (or only a few)?
    A: Set a chair under your pullup bar and place one foot on the chair. As you do a pullup, assist yourself with your leg just enough to enable you to do the exercise. After you reach the top, stop using your leg and lower yourself with only your arms (this is a negative). Repeat. Lat pulldowns will also help, but are not a complete substitute for practicing with the chair and negatives.


    Q: Should I train to Failure? What does that mean, anyway?
    A: Training to failure means performing an exercise until you cannot physically complete another repetition. There are many different takes on training to failure. Generally, this technique works better for advanced lifters, and when used selectively. It is not necessary to train to failure to grow. If you are training a muscle group multiple times per week (such as on a multi-day full-body routine), you will be better stopping 1-2 reps shy of failure and focusing more on progressing your weight and reps week-to-week. Leave failure training to those who are advanced enough to know if it works for them.


    Q: What's all this stuff about "Overtraining"?
    A: When you train too often, at too high of an intensity, and don't allow enough recovery time, you can enter a state called Overtraining. You've essentially over-taxed your system and need to take a break to recover. Symptoms include: stalling out on your progression, no desire to train, illness, fatigue, etc.

    If you think you're overtraining...don't worry - you're probably not.
    If you still think you're overtraining...don't worry - you're probably not.
    If you still, still think you're overtraining and are too tired to even worry about it - maybe you are. Deload.


    Q: I may have an injury. (State nature of injury). What should I do?
    A: Give it some rest, ask your mother, or see a doctor. Nobody can diagnose you over the internet and you're likely to hurt yourself further by listening to bad advice.


    DISCLAIMER: Many people have made strength and size gains with almost any type of program, split, rep range, program frequency, etc. Nothing is absolute, and no strategy is perfect for everyone. Don't be afraid to research, ask questions, and experiment to determine what's right for you.
    Last edited by VoxExMachina; 06-26-2013 at 03:58 PM.
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  2. #2
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by -Lucifer View Post
    WTF are you doing, man? Now the trolls will have to stick to the MISC.

    lol just kidding. Another nice post.

    Among all the stupid questions, trolling, and good-natured sarcasm, I think sometimes it's easy to forget that people do come here looking for good answers to legitimate questions.

    So I'm just trying to do my part to actually be helpful.

    Now, back to picking on trolls...
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  3. #3
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    Thumbs up

    Solid post, Vox.

    If this keeps up, I'm going to have write more commonsense articles...

    ...which, unfortunately, will probably be ignored. Like this one you've just written, and it's a good one. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink; you can lead a student to knowledge but you can't make him (or her) think. (You can, however, hold their heads UNDER water 'til the bubbles come up!---Got that from All Pro).

    I really think that all newbs, clueless or not, should read what's been Stickied and not just throw out the ol' "How's this routine?" which they've taken from some mag or some dude they met at the gym. Granted, we all have to go our own way(s) in training at some point, but would it hurt any newb just to READ the good info here? NOT!

    Like I said, great post, Vox!
    "Don't call me Miss Kitty. Just...don't."--Catnip

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    Check out my links to Catnip and Death Bytes at DevineDestinies.com/Amazon.com and The Tower at Untreedreads.com/Amazon.com. Twisted and Lindsay Versus the Marauders are available from RegalCrest.biz/Amazon.com.
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  4. #4
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    I just started lifting 3.5 months ago, and have been doing a chest, back, legs, shoulders routine..
    4 days a week, and have jad great strength and size gains...

    So a routine focusing on a muscle group per workout isn't only for advanced lifters..

    As long as one deadlifts, squats, benches, rows, shoulder presses, he or she will see results.
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  5. #5
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    Forward Shoulders

    What type of excercise should one do to prevent / reverse shoulders that curb towards the front of your chest vs keeping them back? Would it be one excercise or a combination?
    "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning form failure. - Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by VoxExMachina View Post
    Among all the stupid questions, trolling, and good-natured sarcasm, I think sometimes it's easy to forget that people do come here looking for good answers to legitimate questions.

    So I'm just trying to do my part to actually be helpful.

    Now, back to picking on trolls...
    I have to agree, Vox. I work with a lot of trainers and exercise physiologists to basically dumb down all of the finer points of strength training, weight loss and such, and I think you've done an excellent job (that's probably better than many experts I've spoken to, to be honest) in locking down all the basics here in a very smart and serviceable way.
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  7. #7
    Registered User PushingTheLimit's Avatar
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    Overtraining

    I have been training for 9 weeks straight 5 days a week. I feel fine and still have plenty of energy to hit the gym. Do you suggest a deload week or can I just keep going?
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  8. #8
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PushingTheLimit View Post
    I have been training for 9 weeks straight 5 days a week. I feel fine and still have plenty of energy to hit the gym. Do you suggest a deload week or can I just keep going?
    If you feel fine, you can keep going. Personally, I think there is nothing to be lost by doing scheduled de-loads, however, even if you don't show signs of overtraining. It's a nice week of "active rest", and many times people set new personal records the next week.
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  9. #9
    Registered User PushingTheLimit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by VoxExMachina View Post
    If you feel fine, you can keep going. Personally, I think there is nothing to be lost by doing scheduled de-loads, however, even if you don't show signs of overtraining. It's a nice week of "active rest", and many times people set new personal records the next week.
    Thanks, im going to take a deload week and then hit it harder than ever
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  10. #10
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    I like this post. good job. Im gonna have to keep reading it until its religion.
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  11. #11
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    Wow very nice post.
    I've been working out for a year straight and this even helped me some.

    But question, since I started working out using a split routine, should I keep it split or do you suggest I switch over to full body now? It's only been 12 months for me.

    (Repped.)
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  12. #12
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    yup
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    nice
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    Great stuff VEM. But without sensationalistic claims, it'll never sell LOL. I'd rep you if I could!
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    Thanks for this : )
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    Great post.
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    Very nice post man, thanks
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  18. #18
    Registered User Supreme617's Avatar
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    Bulking questions

    This question may already been answered, but i read so many post that the answer to my question never came up. How can i maintain my six pack when im bulking?.... Im not doing slow bulking im trying 2 bulk heavy, like 1/2-1 pound every week, and i dont want to bulk and have a high bf to the point where my abs become invisible. Should I try to consume foods that are high in calories and low in fat?.....and I get nervous of trying to do High intensity cardio, because I want to have a low body percentage fat, but I dont want to lose weight, because one of my main goals is to gain weight. If anyone can help me I would appreciate it..... please help
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  19. #19
    Registered User goodelleric's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Supreme617 View Post
    This question may already been answered, but i read so many post that the answer to my question never came up. How can i maintain my six pack when im bulking?.... Im not doing slow bulking im trying 2 bulk heavy, like 1/2-1 pound every week, and i dont want to bulk and have a high bf to the point where my abs become invisible. Should I try to consume foods that are high in calories and low in fat?.....and I get nervous of trying to do High intensity cardio, because I want to have a low body percentage fat, but I dont want to lose weight, because one of my main goals is to gain weight. If anyone can help me I would appreciate it..... please help
    You can't have the best of everything. Either bulk slow, or lose the 6 pack, unless you have a FLAWLESS diet, which I somewhat doubt, since very few people (myself included) do, even then a pound a week is asking quite a bit. If you eat reasonably good food, you can probably keep the bf around 12% or so, which means you'll see the top 2 sets of abs or so.

    edit: oh yeah, "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to VoxExMachina again" If only I'd listened to the guys on the forums who are actually trying to help when I first started.....
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  20. #20
    Registered User LibertyLux's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for posting this. I'm new (and frankly a little intimidated to jump in), so this was some great insight
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  21. #21
    This is CNN, CNN, CNN.... J.X's Avatar
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    Great Post!!
    I'm sure on some planet your style is impressive but your weak link is: This is Earth.
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  22. #22
    Registered User new_builder's Avatar
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    very much helpful
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  23. #23
    Registered User aboogie2001's Avatar
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    Front Delts w/Chest Routine

    Originally Posted by new_builder View Post
    very much helpful


    Would it be okay to isolate my front delts in my chest routine?

    I am looking to develop my front delts more and thought I can incorporate them with my chest routine?

    I noticed Charles Glass isolates his clients delts in his back routine.
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  24. #24
    Registered User T.I.M.M.I.N.S's Avatar
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    -this is actually an awsome post i agree with almost everything here, btu are you sure that the 4-6 rep range is strength? cuz the lower the reps the more weight, thus more muscle tear, if done correctly, meaning muscle hypertrophy
    -i especially liek the fact that you said you cant spot reduce fat like for your abs for instance, you must reduce you total body fat
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  25. #25
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by aboogie2001 View Post
    Would it be okay to isolate my front delts in my chest routine?
    I am looking to develop my front delts more and thought I can incorporate them with my chest routine?
    Yes, it is fine to do shoulders on the same day as chest. This is largely a matter of personal preference. However, the larger issue is to first make sure you have good exercise selection and a smart overall routine.

    Originally Posted by T.I.M.M.I.N.S View Post
    -this is actually an awsome post i agree with almost everything here, btu are you sure that the 4-6 rep range is strength? cuz the lower the reps the more weight, thus more muscle tear, if done correctly, meaning muscle hypertrophy
    -i especially liek the fact that you said you cant spot reduce fat like for your abs for instance, you must reduce you total body fat
    Generally speaking, most find that a low rep range like 4-6 reps promotes strength more than hypertrophy - though remember that any reasonable rep range will result in gains in both areas for most people (especially beginners). There are many factors which promote hypertrophy including total muscle fiber recruitment, time under tension, etc. Here's a place to start your research: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/topicoftheweek8.htm
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  26. #26
    Registered User addcomex's Avatar
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    Good body tips

    Become fit doesn?t end when a person becomes a senior citizen. In fact, many older people start up their fitness regimen when they hit retirement age. However, to do so, it is important to first talk to a doctor to get an idea of what can and cannot be done at different age groups. For most healthy senior citizens, though, the sky is the limit when it comes to fitness and body building.

    The Internet is an excellent place to start gathering information and knowledge on different fitness routines, exercising, body building, and better health. At LovetoKnow, older adults can learn about weight training, nutrition, training, and supplements. For informative articles on fitness subjects, go to Stanford and BodyBuildingMax. At Fitness Equipment Solutions, seniors can learn about the newest exercise equipment, and methods for fitness and body building. Those who like to participate in message boards can enjoy talking to others at NationalGym, a message board directly related to senior body builders.

    For articles on diets, supplements, workouts, and other tips, the websites HowToGainMuscleMass and ExoticExercises can help with tons of helpful tips and information. At MuscleBlitz, seniors can learn about weight training and muscle strengthening and how to incorporate it into everyday life. Those who like to view pictures for inspiration will enjoy the website Wisdom, featuring pictures of men over 45 who are bodybuilders. To order informative body building books, the websites GrayIronFitness and RudeDudeFitness offer two great options.

    Many senior citizens who get into the sport of body building will need supplements to help them increase their muscle and stay healthy. To learn more, go to Disabled World and Ezine to see what should be taken and when. For a diet and nutrition video aimed towards seniors, watch the video at eHow, and then click over to SeniorJournal for 29 expert tips for physical fitness and seniors.

    The website About offers dozens of facts on exercising safely, and gives great advice on how to exercise safely here and here. Seniors-Site talks about the many benefits of exercise, and SeniorFitness offers readers an extensive collection of articles. For seniors who want to get physically fit from their chairs, the website StrongerSeniors can help with tips and tricks.
    ...
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  27. #27
    Registered User Gemini80's Avatar
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    So if I do just those compound moves, three days a week I will eventually see some results? I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I should be doing, and this seems so simple. Almost too good to be true.
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  28. #28
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gemini80 View Post
    So if I do just those compound moves, three days a week I will eventually see some results? I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I should be doing, and this seems so simple. Almost too good to be true.
    Yes. If you began with 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise done 3 times per week you will definitely see results. Start here for a guide on each exercise: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=118920551

    Eventually, when you feel that you are strong enough and lifting enough weight that 3 times per week seems too much, then it will be time to divide up the exercises into a split (upper body, lower body, etc.)
    Last edited by VoxExMachina; 12-19-2009 at 12:42 PM.
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  29. #29
    Registered User kilika61's Avatar
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    Training

    Great post! I started back in the gym December 1st. Your post has cleared up some points for me. I have researched quite a bit to get info on training as it has been sometime since I was in the gym. I have always kept myself in pretty good shape, but have done so at home. In my training I am looking for more size, strength and conditioning. I am presently working chest/triceps for day 1, back/biceps for day 2 and legs/shoulders on day 3. I start off every workout with 15 miniutes on the bike and finish my training session with abs and stretching. On my off days I am doing kick boxing, nautilus (whole body) and surfing when ever there are waves. Diet is my next part of my fitness equation. I am planning to keep the weights the same for the first 8 weeks to get used to free weights again and then start adjusting from there on! Appreciate any input you may have on my routine, good and bad! I want to live life to the fullest as I enter my fifties which is only 2 years away!

    Aloha...Kilika

    "The only easy day was yesterday!"
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  30. #30
    Registered User RippedAchilles's Avatar
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    +1 very good post
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