Heading back to the gym after a decade away. Please help...

Discussion in 'Basic Training Principles and Methods' started by JKD, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Once upon a time, I had no children and plenty of time and money to hire a personal trainer to work out with me and to tell me what to do every time I went to the gym. Ten years and five kids later, time and money are more limited in supply for me. :)

    Still I miss the way I used to feel, so it's back to the gym for me. This time, however, I have to develop my own workout and actually do all the thinking and planning myself. I've thoroughly read up on HST. It looks like it would fit the bill for me, but I find it confusing to figure out just exactly what exercises I ought to do. Too many possibilities. Any advice that those of you who are further down the road than me can offer would be helpful. Here are my particulars:

    • I'm 45 yrs old, 6'2", 150lbs, and nowhere near as strong as I used to be. Sadly, I can't do more than about 5-8 unassisted pullups/chin-ups/dips/pushups with proper form at this point.
    • I can fit in three gym workouts per week at about an hour per workout.
    • The gym I use has plenty of equipment of all types, but I don't have anyone on tap to spot me at this point, so I need (at least initially) to do exercises that wouldn't absolutely require one.

    Any suggestions for a three-day-per-week set of exercises that might be best for me to get started with?

    If chin-ups/pull-ups/dips/etc are part of your suggestion, please explain how it will fit into an HST routine when I cannot get anywhere near a 15RM or a 10RM with my body weight alone (much less with added weights).

  2. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Chins/pulls/dips can be a feature later once you have more strength.

    For your first cycle, do this:


    2 sets:

    Leg curls
    Flat Bench BB
    Rows - BB or cable machine
    Military Press
    Calf raises

    1 set:
    Bicep curls BB
    Close grip bench press


    2 sets:

    Leg Press
    Leg Curls
    Incline Bench BB
    Wide-grip lat pulldown
    Military Press
    Calf raises

    1 set:
    Bicep curls BB
    Close grip bench press

    Wk 1:
    Mo - A
    Wed - B
    Fri - A

    Week 2:
    Mo - B
    Wed - A
    Fri - B


    You seem to understand the cycle breakdown and the incrementation, which is good (so many times a person will understand this but then ask to confirm it about 17 times before starting) :)

    Any issues?
  3. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Thanks! I've tried to do my homework, and I appreciate that HST is a set of principles that can be adapted to my needs (as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach). Other training methods have worked well for me up to a point in the past, but gains in mass and strength (though steady) were very, very slow. So we'll see how HST does for me.

    In any case, I see the logic in what you've suggested and what it's supposed to do for me. So I'll give it a try!

    Thanks again!
  4. gbglifter

    gbglifter Member

    Dont forget to eat properly.
  5. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Good point. I've been doing my homework on that, too. But that seems a bit more straightforward to me. Plus, I like to cook healthy anyway.
  6. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    By eat properly, we mean eat enough. For the purposes of muscle growth, it doesn't really matter that much if you are eating "healthy" as long as you are getting enough calories and protein. Also, many people's definition of healthy eating is different. To my girlfriend's sister, that means eating a vegan diet. Good look building muscle on a diet like that. I'm not sure I could choke down enough black bean burgers to build any mass lik ethat.
  7. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Three slices of local pizza with the works for dinner....eating for size. :)
  8. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Got it. I've been planning on that. My wife actually hits the gym regularly (she doesn't look like she's had five kids), and I've helped her design 6-meal-per-day plans that hit specific calorie/protein counts at specific times of day using healthful foods. So I'll do the same for myself. Of course, she does it more to bounce back from pregnancy and to stay lean. I will do it more for mass gain, so I've got to re-figure the numbers.

    And since I'm nowhere near as picky about what I eat as she is, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a decent plan. :)
  9. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    You do know that you don't have to eat six meals a day, right? At your size, dividing up your calories into six meals would mean six small snacks a day. I imagine that would leave you starving all day. Just design a meal program that fits around your schedule. You have kids, you need to be able to eat dinner with them. I have four kids myself and a full time job, so I know what it is like. As long as you hit your calories and macros every day, doesn't really matter how many meals.

    How many calories, carbs, protein, fats were you planning on eating to gain size?
  10. JKD

    JKD New Member

    I was figuring I'd start at about 2,100 calories: ~260g carbs, ~150g protein, ~50g fat.

    My sedentary maintenance calorie intake is about 1,500 calories per day. I figured I'd bump it up by 600 calories/day while working out, and see what happens and adjust from there. I've read LOTS of different opinions on how someone like me ought to eat if I'm working out regularly. The numbers above are based on what seemed to me to be the most reasonable advice that I read. If you feel differently, I'd love to hear.

    Also, here are a few principles which I've read which seem to make sense to me, so I was going to build a meal plan with these in mind:

    * Get quick-digesting protein and carbs as soon as you wake up and then a regular breakfast shortly after that.
    * Eat high-glycemic carbs immediately before and after workouts. Low-glycemic carbs the rest of the time.
    * Spread the protein/carbs evenly throughout the day for best results.

    My workouts will be in the mornings, between breakfast and lunch (I work afternoons and evenings) so if you think that should affect anything about my diet, let me know.

    Ultimately, I just don't want to "waste" calories. If I'm going to go to all of the trouble to plan all of this out, I want to make the most of my efforts and do it whatever way is the best way for me.

    Thanks for all of the advice!
  11. gbglifter

    gbglifter Member

    JUst eat when you´re hungry. If you´re hungry when you wake up, eat. If not hungry until noon, sobeit. Your macro split seems fine really. If your BMR is around 1500kcal then once you´ve been at the gym you´re only in a slight calori surplus. Be prepared to up them a bit more, I´d say. You´re getting roughly 2g/kg bodyweight, that looks good. Dont fret too much about your meal-timing. Just make sure you roughly hit your macros during the 24hour period, follow your lifting plan, eat well and you´ll grow. Good luck.
  12. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    In my opinion, 2100 calories is going to be barely enough to cover what you're going to be using my becoming more active. If you were completely sedentary, i.e never moved during the day at all, you'd burn closer to 1650 calories a day. Add onto that the extra activity from lifting and the thermic effect from the increased protein and 2100 probably won't be enough to add more than a pound a month, especially if you are only eating that on workout days.

    Bryan wrote a pretty good article on eating for size. If you use the formulas he gives, you get a few different results, all way more than your projected intake of 2100 calories: http://www.hypertrophy-specific.info/HSreport/iss04/index.html#art_1

    Formula 1: 2400 calories
    Formula 2: 2463 calories if we use the lower numbers for exercising only 3 days a week with a desk job and adding only 500 on top for weight gain.

    If you really want to cycle calories, which I don't think you should, I would prefer to see you taking in closer to 2500 - 2600 the 24 hours after a workout and the 24 hours prior, take in 2300-2400. The reason I think calorie cycling like this is pointless is because your measurements of food are not going to be precise, so in reality, it is all just a estimation. A fairly accurate estimation, but still an estimation. So at the end of the day, your counts could easily be off by a couple hundred calories plus or minus. So you'd be better off just shooting for around 2400 a day, and if you end up one or two hundred north or south of that, it won't be the end of the world.

    Doesn't matter. Just eat regular breakfast when you get up. If you are going to take in protein before breakfast, only do this the day after your workout, since protein synthesis spikes 24 hours after the workout. If you lift at 9 am, it will peak at 9 am the next day. But it won't matter, if your breakfast includes plenty of protein then you will be fine. The carbs upon waking are entirely unnecessary. I know the theory is that your stomach is empty, but if you really think about it, your stomach is not empty upon waking. As long as your breakfast isn't just Lucky Charms and is actually something with substance, there is no reason to take in fast protein and carbs upon waking.

    Unless you are "carb sensitive" or diabetic or something, this won't matter. You're not going to give yourself type 2 diabetes by eating high-glycemic carbs, and if you had the sort of lifestyle where type 2 diabetes was a concern (i.e. you were alcoholic or morbidly obese) then the type of carbs you were eating wouldn't matter since the diabeetus would happen regardless due to your poor lifestyle choices.
    Some simple carbs prior to the workout can enhance your workout but you will see a more profound effect on the workout from what you ate the night before. This is why the old school wisdom came about of eating a big pasta dinner the night before the big game. It is very important to get protein prior to a workout though. You can add some simple carbs (i.e. sugar) to that preworkout protein shake, but you don't need to, especially if you got some good complex carbs around dinner time the previous night.

    Doesn't actually matter. Eat them whenever is convenient for you. Obviously trying to concentrate them within the window of increased protein synthesis in the 36 hours following the workout is better than binging some hours prior to the workout.

    There is no magic to diets. The biggest factor is always going to be how many calories you are taking in compared to how many calories you are burning. Calories in vs calories out. Adequate protein intake is important, but you won't gain weight from just adding in more protein if calories are inadequate.
    You also cannot bulk up and gain muscle without gaining at least some fat. You're going to have to learn to deal with that if you truly want to make a significant change to your body. Fat isn't some evil thing to be feared, you can always cut the fat away later. For someone like you, cutting fat should be easy when the time comes.

    Just in case this matters, I'm 6'1 and about eight years ago, I only weighed 140 lbs. Just fyi. Using the information above, I've gained 100 lbs since then, and I'm not fat right now either. So yes, this information is stuff that I've actually used to produce a radical change to my body. You can do the same thing. Notice that it did take about eight years to get to where I'm at, but I'm assuming you have the patience to do it. And if you don't want to be that big, just a slim, toned 200 lbs, well then you can get there even faster. Just remember that there aren't all these convoluted rules about diet. It's simple. Get enough protein. After that, it's calories in vs calories out. If you aren't gaining an average of 1-2 lbs a week, you aren't getting enough calories in to cover the calories out.
  13. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Just to add 3 cents... I am making the best gains of my life by following the diet advice of Totentanz. Diet is half the battle.
  14. AderynGlas

    AderynGlas Member

    I think I'd last a day if I had that level of detail in my diet (Mine consists of get to at least 180g protein/day, the closer to 200g the better and eat anything else when I'm not hungry). I find it hard enough thinking "you've not eaten for an hour or so have some nuts or a flapjack bar". Lol

    Good luck with it though...
  15. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Thanks for all of the helpful advice. Believe me, the simpler the diet plan, the better as far as I'm concerned. I don't aim to make it complicated, I just don't want to waste any effort.

    It took me YEARS of working out in my 20's and early 30's to get from 128 lbs to 154 lbs. I was lean (~8% body fat), strong (for my size), and had energy to spare. Now I'm 150 lbs, skinnyfat, weak, and tired all of the time. I used to be able to run 10 miles and barely break a sweat. Now my 8-yr-old son can outrun me around the block.

    So hopefully my gains will come much faster this go round. But even if not, I'd be happy just to be able to keep up with my kids.

    So thanks again. I'll keep you posted...

    P.S.: Any thoughts on whether it is best for me to do seated cable rows vs bent-over barbell/dumbbell rows (assuming proper form for each)? I can do heavier weights with the former, I figure that the latter offers the advantage of compound involvement and core strengthening. Same question for seated vs standing military press.
  16. AderynGlas

    AderynGlas Member

    Alternate in each work out?

    Or start with a few minutes cardio on a rower (ok, it'll never match the heavy stuff but it will obviously work the back and get your joints /muscles warmed up?) and then hit the DB rows during your workout?
  17. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    This isn't going to matter a whole lot. Lately, I prefer seated cable rows. I don't like seated overhead presses, it's harder to get the hell out of the way if things go south. Military press is the clear choice there for me.
  18. JKD

    JKD New Member

    Great! Thanks!
  19. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Cable rows ARE compound movements.

    This is how you distinguish isolation vs compound; count the joints moving. 1 = isolation, more than 1 = compound.

    The importance of isolation vs compound is arguable, what's relevant is the load and form of the movement.

    Cable are fine. BB are fine. DB are fine.
  20. JKD

    JKD New Member

    You're right. I knew that. I just didn't pay attention to the details when I was writing my question. The idea I was trying to get across was whether it was better for me at this point in my training to pick an exercise that I can do at heavier weights (seated cable row, for instance) or options that involve coordinating and balancing a greater number of muscles (bent-over barbell row, for instance).

    So if I'm understanding your counsel correctly, the distinction between the two is not as important as following the HST principle of progressive load.

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