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  1. #1
    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Weightlifting without without a spotter: NEED ADVICE!

    First off, I want to thank you people for visiting this thread and hopefully giving me some advice that will help me. I know what most of you might think..."You can't lose fat and build muscle at the same time" but I'm a noobie in the gym and I've heard when you first start out, that you can do both simultaneously.

    Quick overview of my stats:
    Start of 2012 - Weight: 217lbs
    Height: 6"0'
    Body fat: 26.1%

    And with some insanity/p90x workouts along with playing ultimate frisbee, kayaking, road biking, and watching my diet, I got all the way down to:
    185.6lbs
    Same height
    15.6% BF
    156.6 Lean Body Mass
    And I'm 21 years old if anyone needs to know.
    What I'm discovering is that the leaner I get, the scrawnier I'm starting to feel. I thought I had a little more muscle mass than I really do and I'm not liking it one bit haha. So as of today I decided to start incorporating going to the gym with Insanity's HIIT cardio workouts to recompose my body and hopefully let me reach my ideal body goals. My workout schedule for the past month was this:

    Diet: Around 1800 calories a day. BMR = 2050 cals.
    Sunday: Ultimate Frisbee (idk if you guys have ever played, but this sport is extremely high intensity with lots of running, sprinting, and jumping involved.)
    Monday: P90X Chest/Back
    Tuesday: Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit
    Wednesday: Rest
    Thursday: P90X Shoulders/Arms
    Friday: Insanity Pure Cardio/Cardio Abs
    Saturday: Biking or rest

    The reason I incorporated p90x in my routine was so I could maintain and perhaps even gain some lean muscle instead of lose some of it, which I hear is normal for people who are cutting. My main goal is to get at or under 7% Body Fat whilst adding perhaps 5-10lbs of muscle. I'm at a standstill, a crossroads of whether I should focus on straight cutting, or try to go on a bulk, or if i should do like a Mon/Wed/Fri gym routine along with a Sun/Tues/Thurs cardio routine. That's my plan for now at least, but I was wondering if any of yall had a better idea for me. I'm kind of scared to bulk because I've spent my whole life being fat and spent a LONG time getting to the bf% I am now and don't want to go back up. ALSO any tips on my diet? Is 1800 calories too much or too little to reach my fitness goals?

    NOTE: I don't have a gym partner available so I'm gonna be in there without a spotter, so if you have any weightlifting routines that don't require a spotter, that'd be freakin phenomenal!
    Again, thank you SOOO much for reading and chipping in your personal advice. It seriously means a lot to me, seeing as how I have been stressing about all of this for the past year. Thank you guys!
    Last edited by ehanna91; 11-26-2012 at 08:07 PM.
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  2. #2
    York Man AttyGuy's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    NOTE: I don't have a gym partner available so I'm gonna be in there without a spotter, so if you have any weightlifting routines that don't require a spotter, that'd be freakin phenomenal!
    Again, thank you SOOO much for reading and chipping in your personal advice. It seriously means a lot to me, seeing as how I have been stressing about all of this for the past year. Thank you guys!
    Dude, get a power rack. You can bench, squat and press (with the right rack) without a spotter and minimize greatly the risk of getting hurt. Those three exercises are core exercises for muscle growth.

    Good luck with your goals.
    You need a rack, bench and 300-lb. Oly set. Now, what was your question?

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    Originally Posted by AttyGuy View Post
    Dude, get a power rack. You can bench, squat and press (with the right rack) without a spotter and minimize greatly the risk of getting hurt. Those three exercises are core exercises for muscle growth.

    Good luck with your goals.
    This plus a sandwich or 2 and you are on your way.
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  4. #4
    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AttyGuy View Post
    Dude, get a power rack. You can bench, squat and press (with the right rack) without a spotter and minimize greatly the risk of getting hurt. Those three exercises are core exercises for muscle growth.

    Good luck with your goals.
    Thank you man! And I think my gym has a power rack, if not, i may need to consider going to a different one. Thanks again!
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    First, congrats on your already impressive weight loss! You are off to a phenomenal start on transforming your body.

    In addition to a power rack (or replacement if unavailable), I would also look in to dumbbell training. I have found these exercises to work well in the absence of a spotter (though you obviously still have to be careful). As an added bonus to overall strength gains, dumbbells will help to build your stabilizer muscles.
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    Thank you man! And I think my gym has a power rack, if not, i may need to consider going to a different one. Thanks again!
    Repped for being willing to actually accept the advice that is being given.
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    Registered User weisgarb's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    Thank you man! And I think my gym has a power rack, if not, i may need to consider going to a different one. Thanks again!
    The few gyms I've gone to (including my college's weight room) only had a single rack that was generally used for squats and occasionally overhead press work. You could consider doing dumbbell presses or dips if you have no way to safely perform bench presses.

    Some gyms have smith machines in lieu of power racks--I would avoid them, as they lock you into a fixed and often unnatural range of motion.
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    Registered User PaulRivers's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AttyGuy View Post
    Dude, get a power rack. You can bench, squat and press (with the right rack) without a spotter and minimize greatly the risk of getting hurt. Those three exercises are core exercises for muscle growth.

    Good luck with your goals.
    Just wanted to a +1 that this is the generally accepted consensus. The point of a power rack is to allow you to work out with a barbell, alone, without spotters - as long as you properly adjust the side safety rails (so they'll catch the bar if it goes to low).

    This thread talks about them -
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=126624063
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  9. #9
    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jtaliani View Post
    First, congrats on your already impressive weight loss! You are off to a phenomenal start on transforming your body.

    In addition to a power rack (or replacement if unavailable), I would also look in to dumbbell training. I have found these exercises to work well in the absence of a spotter (though you obviously still have to be careful). As an added bonus to overall strength gains, dumbbells will help to build your stabilizer muscles.
    Thank you jtaliani! And yes, dumbbell training is actually my main go to for workouts because I hear they are great for learning form and working on stabilizer muscles. Yesterday I actually did Incline/Flat Dumbbell Press along with Flat Dumbbell Chest Flys. I felt the soreness today hahaha

    Also, is there anyway you could give me a few good dumbbell exercises to do for each muscle group?
    My current gym routine is
    Mondays = Chest/Triceps
    Wednesday = Shoulders/Legs
    Friday = Back/Bicep

    If you have the time, could you give me a workout routine set up for those days with using dumbbells? That'd be amazing! Again, much appreciated bro, seriously!
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  10. #10
    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rlundregan View Post
    Repped for being willing to actually accept the advice that is being given.
    Haha! Well thanks man! I'm always open for any advice to help me come closer to my goals!
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  11. #11
    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=PaulRivers;985275043]Just wanted to a +1 that this is the generally accepted consensus. The point of a power rack is to allow you to work out with a barbell, alone, without spotters - as long as you properly adjust the side safety rails (so they'll catch the bar if it goes to low).



    I just visited that thread man. Thank you for linking that! All I gotta say is wow. That video of that guy stuck while doing squats was hilarious! But at the same time scary as hell hahaha! Note taken! Lol
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by weisgarb View Post
    The few gyms I've gone to (including my college's weight room) only had a single rack that was generally used for squats and occasionally overhead press work. You could consider doing dumbbell presses or dips if you have no way to safely perform bench presses.

    Some gyms have smith machines in lieu of power racks--I would avoid them, as they lock you into a fixed and often unnatural range of motion.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't smith machines the things with cables connected to the bar? Yeah I'm more of a fan of natural motion and free weights. Thank you for your input on avoiding smith machines bro!
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    Registered User KBKB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    Also, is there anyway you could give me a few good dumbbell exercises to do for each muscle group?
    My current gym routine is
    Mondays = Chest/Triceps
    Wednesday = Shoulders/Legs
    Friday = Back/Bicep
    Most of these are pretty straightforward. If you go to the exercise section of this site, you'll find dumbbell movements for each of the areas mentioned.

    Working legs with dumbbells can be more challenging, however. What are the heaviest dumbbells in your gym?
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    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Working legs with dumbbells can be more challenging, however. What are the heaviest dumbbells in your gym?[/QUOTE]

    I'll check that out! And I'm not completely sure how high the weight of the dumbbells go but I'm 100% they go over 100lbs and that's definitely enough for me. I can only bench like 150 as of right now i believe and thats with a bar, so the highest dumbbells i need for now are like 70s haha
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    I'll check that out! And I'm not completely sure how high the weight of the dumbbells go but I'm 100% they go over 100lbs and that's definitely enough for me. I can only bench like 150 as of right now i believe and thats with a bar, so the highest dumbbells i need for now are like 70s haha
    Those 100+ pound dumbbells can still be used for working your legs though. You can do a deadlift / squat with them while holding them at your sides. Or you can hold one of them at chest level with two hands to do a goblet squat. Bulgarian split squats are another possibility, especially once you max out on the dumbbells at the gym. Once those get too easy, you can start working on pistols (which is a one legged squat).
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    Originally Posted by KBKB View Post
    Those 100+ pound dumbbells can still be used for working your legs though. You can do a deadlift / squat with them while holding them at your sides. Or you can hold one of them at chest level with two hands to do a goblet squat. Bulgarian split squats are another possibility, especially once you max out on the dumbbells at the gym. Once those get too easy, you can start working on pistols (which is a one legged squat).
    DAMN! So many intense sounding squats you're naming off hahaha! And what do you think would be more optimal though? Dumbbell or barbell for deadlifts/squats?
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    I lost all my weight via deficit, Squat rack, barbell and weights, no cardio....no spotter needed
    The best part of this is, my kids are learning to live healthier because of me.
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    Originally Posted by 69cam View Post
    I lost all my weight via deficit, Squat rack, barbell and weights, no cardio....no spotter needed
    First off, congrats on your success man! Question though, Did you lose, maintain, or gain lean muscle mass during this transformation?? I'm very interested in this topic!
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    DAMN! So many intense sounding squats you're naming off hahaha! And what do you think would be more optimal though? Dumbbell or barbell for deadlifts/squats?
    If you have the opportunity to do back squats with a barbell, then do them. You will be able to use more weight and you have a lot of options with regard to stance.

    When you do dumbbell squats / deadlifts with the dumbbells held at your side, you are forced to take a fairly narrow stance with the feet forward in order to avoid interference between the dumbbells and your legs / knees. You'll also be limited in the amount of weight you can use due to limitations on dumbbell size and the ability to even hold very heavy dumbbells.

    If your gym has a trap bar, you can do a movement very much like a dumbbell squat/deadlift, but you'll be able to use more weight. You'll still need to assume a narrower stance than that typically used for a back squat, but you'll be able to place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width if you want and turn your feet slightly outward. I've been doing trap bar deadlifts in place of squats since I don't have a rack. I use 25lb plates; the smaller diameter allows for a greater range of motion than using larger plates. (Though it is possible to get the same ROM by using larger plates while standing on a three inch high platform.)

    If you don't know how to squat yet, or are having problem with the form, doing goblet squats with either a dumbbell or a kettlebell is a great way to start (or work on your form). You won't be able to use much weight, but that's not all bad as it will allow you to focus on form and flexibility (via squat depth) too.
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    Thank you jtaliani! And yes, dumbbell training is actually my main go to for workouts because I hear they are great for learning form and working on stabilizer muscles. Yesterday I actually did Incline/Flat Dumbbell Press along with Flat Dumbbell Chest Flys. I felt the soreness today hahaha

    Also, is there anyway you could give me a few good dumbbell exercises to do for each muscle group?
    My current gym routine is
    Mondays = Chest/Triceps
    Wednesday = Shoulders/Legs
    Friday = Back/Bicep

    If you have the time, could you give me a workout routine set up for those days with using dumbbells? That'd be amazing! Again, much appreciated bro, seriously!
    I'll start by noting that I am far from an expert, but I'm happy to try and help. Personally, I would swap Back and Triceps. So you'd be doing Chest/Back on Monday and Bicep/Tricep/(throw in Forearms) on Friday. Depending on equipment access, a primarily dumbbell routine might be:

    Monday:
    DB Flat Bench
    DB Incline Bench
    DB Flyes (Swapping for Incline Flyes to mix it up)
    Dips (focusing on your chest)

    Pulldowns (and/or Pullups)
    One Arm DB Row
    Seated Cable Low Row
    (Pullovers for variety)
    Hyperextensions

    Wednesday:
    DB Lateral Raises
    DB Front Lateral Raises
    DB Military Press (Mixing in Arnold Press)
    DB Shrugs

    Squats (Pick your poison from KBKB's list)
    Leg Extensions
    Glute Ham Raises (if available - if not, leg curls)
    Calf Raises

    Friday:
    Seated Incline DB Curls
    Barbell Curls (or Preacher DB Curls)
    DB Hammer Curls

    Cable Tricep Pushdown
    DB One Arm Tricep Extensions
    Dips (focusing on triceps)

    Wrist Curls (I prefer a barbell behind the back palms facing away from your body)
    Wrist Roller/Stick Rope Windup (Not sure what this is actually called but they are great for getting the reverse of wrist curls)
    DB Farmers Carry

    This routine would primarily be accomplished with dumbbells and should otherwise be fairly safe without a spotter. I'm sure others will provide critiques, but this would at least get you started. Hope this helps!
    Last edited by jtaliani; 11-28-2012 at 06:28 AM.
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    First off, congrats on your success man! Question though, Did you lose, maintain, or gain lean muscle mass during this transformation?? I'm very interested in this topic!
    Here is a thread I started on how I did it.
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=146599373
    The best part of this is, my kids are learning to live healthier because of me.
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    Walking lunges with DBs. are a great leg exercise also.
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    Originally Posted by jtaliani View Post
    I'll start by noting that I am far from an expert, but I'm happy to try and help. Personally, I would swap Back and Triceps. So you'd be doing Chest/Back on Monday and Bicep/Tricep/(throw in Forearms) on Friday. Depending on equipment access, a primarily dumbbell routine might be:

    Monday:
    DB Flat Bench
    DB Incline Bench
    DB Flyes (Swapping for Incline Flyes to mix it up)
    Dips (focusing on your chest)

    Pulldowns (and/or Pullups)
    One Arm DB Row
    Seated Cable Low Row
    (Pullovers for variety)
    Hyperextensions

    Wednesday:
    DB Lateral Raises
    DB Front Lateral Raises
    DB Military Press (Mixing in Arnold Press)
    DB Shrugs

    Squats (Pick your poison from KBKB's list)
    Leg Extensions
    Glute Ham Raises (if available - if not, leg curls)
    Calf Raises

    Friday:
    Seated Incline DB Curls
    Barbell Curls (or Preacher DB Curls)
    DB Hammer Curls

    Cable Tricep Pushdown
    DB One Arm Tricep Extensions
    Dips (focusing on triceps)

    Wrist Curls (I prefer a barbell behind the back palms facing away from your body)
    Wrist Roller/Stick Rope Windup (Not sure what this is actually called but they are great for getting the reverse of wrist curls)
    DB Farmers Carry

    This routine would primarily be accomplished with dumbbells and should otherwise be fairly safe without a spotter. I'm sure others will provide critiques, but this would at least get you started. Hope this helps!
    Wow! That workout sounds amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all out! Question: How do I focus my dips on tricep or chest? I'm not sure I understand what that means. I know what a dip is though! Thanks again man and I'm probably going to go for this workout! o

    Oh! And also, should I go for 5x5 reps or 3x8-10?
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    Registered User ehanna91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by irongrandpa View Post
    Walking lunges with DBs. are a great leg exercise also.
    Yeah? I'll have to give those a try as well! Thanks!
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    Originally Posted by 69cam View Post
    Here is a thread I started on how I did it.
    Oh my god man! That is almost unbelievable what you accomplished in just 3 months! What was your starting and ending body fat %?? And if you had to guess, how many cals did you eat a day? Congratulations on that though seriously! That is incredible. I have to show my dad because he has been wanting to lose some weight also. Thank you!
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    Originally Posted by ehanna91 View Post
    Wow! That workout sounds amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all out! Question: How do I focus my dips on tricep or chest? I'm not sure I understand what that means. I know what a dip is though! Thanks again man and I'm probably going to go for this workout! o

    Oh! And also, should I go for 5x5 reps or 3x8-10?
    Happy to help! With the focus reference on dips, I do two things differently. First, I adjust the angle of my upper body (leaning my shoulders forward allows me to focus more on my lower pecs and straight up more on my triceps). Second, I really just concentrate on pushing/contracting/flexing with the desired muscles. It still works all the same groups, but I'm able to get a solid burn in one or the other using this method.

    Rep range really depends on what you're going for. I typically do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
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