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Workout planning help...

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning' started by Dan_ntx, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. I will keep this short, I'm looking for good ideas and this looked like a good place to start.

    I'm 42 and have been lifting on a 5x5 powerlifting program for a few months. 3 core exercises with 5 sets/5 reps. Squat, overhead press (sub incline or straight bench press on light workouts) and alternating low cable rows and high seated rows.

    Currently I have a heavy day (+ 5% is the goal), 2days off.
    A medium day (working weight only), 2 days off.
    And a light day ( set to failure), 2 days off.
    The next week your working weight = your last heavy day.

    It's fast, and builds strength... But I've hit a roadblock. Simply put, my lower back sucks. I had a back surgery that removed scar tissue and most of the disc between L4/L5 a few years back after disc problems. I feel 100% good to go, but just shouldering 315 lbs in the squat rack sends tingles and numbness down my right leg and's time to stop.

    I have no experience other than strength training like what is above...I played baseball through college and team workouts were either strength based or aerobic...I'm lost when looking at a traditional split workout.

    Basically I can workout 2-3x weekly and my gym has 7 of every conceivable machine and a stunning array or free weights...I just don't know where to start. Reading, soliciting advice from club trainers, and asking around has me going in 3 different directions. Trainers want me to take a spin class and do high reps of 8-10 different exercises each workout...reading has me all over the place...and asking around has led me to believe that nobody is doing their own workouts...just one they read about here and there.

    Does anyone use a 2-3 day split that they like and feel works?
    I want to be strong, I probably should not load a bunch of weight on my back (no squats), and I get my cardio playing racquetball, swimming, and on a bike if need be. My current/soon to be former program has me in and out in 40 min...but I am open to whatever. I just want to keep my strength gains and not blow my lower back out.

    Thanks in advance... I anxiously await the wisdom of GT, and I'm off to the gym to try something new.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  2. Unsure how wise I am but I know what it's like to have a point where your back, or neck, is the weak point. Can you
    reduce the squat poundage and increase the reps?

    A few years ago I was fine with 225 on the squat but more than that caused my neck and back to present problems so I stuck with 225 and simply increased the reps. One day I did 12 reps, deep, with no problem and my spotter said "dude. 225? deep? 12 times? No problems? You need to increase the weight." I told him I wouldn't and why; it was all good.

  3. Good point...and I have been static after backing it down to a comfortable weight. The tingles start up again, just not as strong. I kind of feel like I can't un-ring that bell now.

    I had the realization that my workout was not one I could do going forward. Maybe at 32...definitely at 22...but at 42 my fitness goals werenot in sync with what I have been doing. I just don't have experience doing anything else.

    I did talk to one of the trainers today and he made some suggestions for me to transition from my basic 3 lift program into a 3 zone split I could use indefinitely. We found 16 exercises I could split into 3 days 4 exercises per workout with 4 that could interchange every other workout. I tried arms and back today...will try chest and legs Sunday, then shoulders and core on Monday. Normally I would have more rest days in between but my schedule is strange this month. I liked the arms and back workout, but I left the gym feeling like I didn't do much. On my old program I would barely make it to the locker room...relax in the sauna...then use all my strength to get to the car. I was 100% spent. This one, not so much. Maybe this is the easy day.

    I went working weight for 10x, up 10lbs for 10x, then back to working weight to failure. I established working weight as approx 70% of 1 rep max. Example is ez curl 1 rep max was 95lbs, working weight was 60lbs. 10x 60lbs, 10x 70lbs, 22 at 60lbs to failure. Not a exercise I am used to performing, and not being able to cheat really affects how much you can lift.

    Today I went ez curls, triceps rope pull down, seated low rows, and some back extension machine that was basically a reverse sit up with resistance...I wanted to add more exercises but was warned off that idea until I get through a couple of full weeks.

    Chest/legs will be seated chest press/incline press, pect deck, seated leg press, leg extensions.

    Shoulders and core is high rows, overhead press, some kind of light jump squats or weighted lunges, and ???.

    I will see how it goes, but I am open to suggestions if anyone has a program they have personal experience with. I feel a little lost doing this merry go round workout.
  4. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    Can you do front squats or overhead squats? Can you DL?
  5. DL should not be an issue. I think what I need to avoid is having a load compressing my spine. I did some light squats this morning with no problems...I just don't think a strength program is effective when squats are limited to 135 lbs or so.

    I am thinking of adding DL on my core day, that will be tried Monday. That fits the bill and allows me to have a inelegant lift that I enjoy. Working biceps and triceps yesterday didn't feel like a felt more like a tune up. Hopefully I can get in a groove and expand the "easy" workouts so I get more out of it mentally and physically.
  6. wrenrj1


    May 22, 2002
    What are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal? Sounds like you do a lot of stuff, but what what is your overall fitness goal?

    If you've got back problems, you need to get it diagnosed. Don't press it. I'm 49 and have lost about 50+ pounds the past year, basically by running, but the same premise is there, if you're hurting, you need to back off.
  7. If you are doing only a few and not taxing your system. If you are doing a set of 50 the effect will be different. If you can crank out a righteous set of 25+ @ 225-250 or so most everyone around will be fairly well impressed; I know I would be.

    The "real" question though is as asked by another; what are your goals? Answer that and you know where to go. Personally I'd by happy to limit my weight to a respectable amount and increase the reps if it meant being pain free. Finally, have your back checked before it becomes worse.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  8. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    If you can DL and either front squat ir overhead squat you should be good.

    Anyone that can OHS body weight or 15 reps is a stud.
  9. ancient_serpent


    Jun 6, 2008
    IOT improve lower back and some core strength, maybe body bridges, kettle bell windmills or other, similar exercises would help?
  10. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    The reason it didn't feel like a workout is because it is wasn't. Workouts need to be centered around compound movements. Anytime you work parts you start focusing on isolation movements, a waste of time.

    Base your workouts on compound lift days not parts days or else have full body workouts.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  11. BCR

    BCR BIGASS!!!!

    Dec 8, 2002
    New Hampshire
    I'll mirror what my buddies GreenMan and Jack said.

    Instead of going for more weight on squats, go for more reps. Maybe stick with 225 and just keep adding reps when possible. You have a legit excuse to not go overly heavy (for yourself).

    If that still hurts your back try front squats. And if that causes issues then you may have to leg press.

    Or you can fire up some Bulgarian Split Squats and really torture yourself. (google/youtube it). These are humbling.

    Add the deadlift in if it doesn't hurt your back. Its a great lift.

    Stick with basic compound movements if possible. Like your original plan.
  12. California Jack

    California Jack Millennium Member

    Aug 2, 1999
    Wow! A BCR sighting! How and where ya been buddy Brad?