This article's online already, but I like it so much I wanna put it here.
Chronic Routine Changing --
The Bane of the Young and Inconsistent Lifter
If there is one constant with young guys I talk to on the interent or in real life, it's that they sweat all of the small stuff in training and never worry enough about the simple shit.
And because of this, they're consistently changing their routine. I don't know if it's a "grass is greener" thing or if they see some other kid bigger and stronger than them and want to do his routine, thinking it will do the same for them.
But there are very few kids who stick with a program long enough to see if it actually works or not. I've read guys write, "I did that program for two weeks, and it did nothing for my bench."
Two weeks? So a few workouts probably. And because he didn't turn into a young Bill Kazmaier in those two weeks. the routine must be crap.
Supplements are the other part. Don't get me started on that. Most young lifters don't eat enough and worry far too much about throwing something that sounds like it goes into the failed transmission of a race car down their throat. "It gets me pumped, man!" I bet! It's probably also causing your body to grow a fat baby's arm inside your small intestine.
Every legit guy I know who has a good training program out there gets asked the same questions over and over again by young guys sweating small details that in the big picture of training aren't very relevant. Or they want to use a program and call it a "hyrbrid" routine, but they bastardize it all to hell until it isn't even close to the original program anymore. When it doesn't work so well, they say, "I tried that routine for two weeks. It didn't work for me. I'm using something else now, except instead of doing it exactly like it's laid out, I'm gonna . . ."
Round and round they go . . .
Your Training Ritalin = Progression
I believe one reason that many young lifters are all over the map in their lifting is because they read a lot of bodybuilding material and believe they need to hit every muscle from every angle in order to look massive and get strong.
This simple isn't the case.
Now, I do believe there is some merit to hitting body parts at different angles for the advanced competitive bodybuilder (if you don't fit that description you shouldn't be worrying about such things). To have a very full, completely developed physique capable of winning competitive bodybuilding shows, you can't really narrow down your entire lifting to squats, benches, deadlifts and chins.
You have to do calf raises too.
But to quote someone (I don't know who, but I bet they're smart!), you can't carve a giant sculpture from a pebble. You have to get the mass in place before you start worrying about side laterals and concentration curls.
Your routine should be made up of the usual basics -- squats, deadlifts, presses, benches and incline benches, dips, chins, rows, and curls.
Lifting for Mass
The real key to hypertrophy is getting stronger but within a specific repetition range. This is something sometimes lost on younger lifters and skinny guys (these terms will be used in a synonymous fashion throughout this article by the way).
Getting bigger from a training standpoint is about pushing heavier weights for medium to high repetitions. Doing singles, doubles, and triples will most definitely get you strong, but it won't get you big. Gaining mass is a byproduct of moving the heaviest weights you can within the 8-20 rep range (and sometimes higher for legs). Yes, sets of five will build mass as well but not quite as well as sets that go to eight reps and above in my opinion. The only exception I will add in here is the deadlift. Many guys will continue to pull well after their form has broken down and grind out reps. I advise against this for injury prevention purposes. When you feel you can no longer MAINTAIN YOUR ARCH, that's it. End the set.
The other common pitfall young lifters fall into is that they believe they need to train 5-6 days a week. I have no idea why. Training three times a week is plenty and very ideal.
The split I recommend to a young lifter trying to gain as much mass as possible is as follows:
Workout A (warmups are included)
- Squat. 5 x 10 reps to a top set of 10.
- Deadlift. 5 x3 reps up to a top set of 3.
- Dips. 4 sets of as many reps as possible for each set. If you can't do 8 reps per set, have someone hold your legs. If no one is there to hold your legs, set your feet up on a bench behind you. This works for both dips and chins as well as deeps and cheens.
- Chins. I don't care how many sets it is, but equal the number you did for dips. Yea, I know dips are easier than chins, but almost everyone has shitty chinning strength so remedy that early on. An easy way to do this is to do a set of dips followed by a set of chins. Don't go back to dips until you total the number you did for that set of dips.
Rest 1-2 Days Between Workouts.
Workout B (warmups are included)
- Bench press / incline press (alternate these two from workout to workout on this day. 6 x 8 to a top set of 8.
- Clean & Press. Clean every rep (so clean, press, lower, clean, press lower). 5 sets of 6 to a top set of 6.
- T-bar rows. 6 x 10 to a top 10.
- Curls. 3 x 8.
Rest 1-2 days and repeat.
When you start the program, a "top set" for the first week should be something where you still have 2 or 3 reps left in the tank. If you go too heavy early on in the cycle, you will stall early and the program won't work to its potential. Be patient and start light. You will understand why you must do this in the next section.
Log all of your workouts in a training log.
Spare me the crap about how you can't do squats and deadlifts in the same workout or how it's too much work for your lower back. Squats work as a great warmup for the deadlift, and plenty of world class powerlifters squat and deadlift in the same workout.
The 2/5/10 Progression Scheme
So now that you have a training plan in place, understanding how to work some simple progression is the next key.
Some guys don't really understand when to up the weight or what to do when a lift goes stale or stalls for too long. I will make this simple for you. Add a rep each week to your top set until you're getting 2 reps more than listed. Then up the weight by 5% for the next workout.
For example, let's say you squat 225 x 10 in your first workout, 225 x 11 in the second, and 225 x 12 the third. Up the weight by 5% (roughly 10 lbs.) and start over at 10 reps. Continue with this progression until you stall for three consecutive workouts.
In other words, you get to 275 x 10 and can't get to 11 reps for the next two workouts. At that point, reduce the weight by 10% and start over. So, it could look like this in your training log:
245x12 (increase by 5%)
This is why it's important to start off and work up to something where you know you have quite a bit left in the tank. The more conservative you are in the beginning, the longer the gains will come.
This plan will work. If you're a skinny and weak stick dude and you work up to handling 315 x 10 in the squat, 405 x 3 in the deadlift, and d275 x 6 in the bench and can do a crapload of dips and chins and deeps and cheens, you will be significantly bigger, especially IF YOU'RE EATING ENOUGH, which brings me to my next point . . .
Eating for mass is simple, but it's very difficult at the same time. You have to be willing to endure some pain. Let me add that even if your goal is just to add 10 lbs., this will still need to be done.
Skinny guys tend to have out of this world metabolisms.
I don't even advise counting calories.
I just advise eating every three hours as much as humanly possible.
If you need a plan, here's a quick and dirty plan that even a young kid in school could work:
large bowl of cornflakes or cereal with whole milk.
two breakfast bars
Mid-morning: Pick an option or have all three; I don't care:
peanut butter and jelly sandwich
two Snickers bars
two or three chocolate milks
If you bring lunch, bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some apples and fruit. If you're eating school lunch, see if you can get double servings or load up on as much whole milk as you can and drink it with your lunch. Finish every lunch off with dessert if you can.
Same as mid-morning.
Approach this each day like it's the last meal you will ever eat before a long starvation diet. That's the only way I can explain it. You might not feel hungry, but you had better chow down. If you have a lot of siblings and one of them is eating more than you, eat that sibling. That's a two for one right there.
Two Hours Post-Dinner:
peanut butter and jelly sandwich (see a trend here?)
A skinny guy with a Ferrari-fast metabolism isn't going to gain mass on chicken breasts and rice. Calorie dense foods are the key. I won't get into the whole cholesteral/fat debate on this. If you're obese, worry about it. If you're young and a stick, don't.
One thing I used to do to gain weight was use my insomnia to its advantage. I sometimes wouldn't sleep for 24-30 hours at a time (not because I didn't want to sleep, but because I couldn't). During those times, I would make a plan to eat every two hours. And I'm not talking just potato chips either.
I would eat all the leftovers that were there were.
Then I'd go through sandwiches of various kinds.
Peanut butter on crackers and vanilla wafers.
A gallon of milk with cookies.
Packages of ramen noodles.
Hot dogs, and
more . . . More . . . MORE!
I don't recommend this unless you have insomnia. I was just using it to my weight gain advantage, and there's always ways for you to adapt any weight gaining plan to your own special circumstances too. If you're going to be awake, eat. If not, sleep is more important. I grew far more the summer I made sleep a real priority than the other years where I winged it on sleep. Just make sure to get in plenty of food before you do crash for the day.
I'm not talking about that crap you put on your hair after you shampoo. I'm talking about conditioning as in running, pulling a sled, pushing a Prowler or car around, running hills, and doing sprints.
After each squat/deadlift session, pick one and do it.
Not for time. I hate that.
Do it until you feel done or pick a number of sprints/hills/pushes that you want to do that day. This will vary depending on your wellbeing that day. Just don't be a sissy and talk about how worked you are from squats and deads. There are bigger and stronger guys then you who move more weight than you and still do plenty of conditioning on wobbly legs.
Your lifts, especially your squat and deadlift, will take a bit of a dive at first. Don't fret this. They will come back once your legs harden up to the running and conditioning work. You will actually get stronger over the long run.
You don't have to go crazy and throw the hell up all over the high school football field or in front of your mom's house.
I mean, you can, and this is cool, but it isn't a requirement. But do some hard conditioning. When you're done, you should be able to say, "That was hard."
There . . that's your gauge.
And don't lie to yourself about it.
Gaining mass and strength isn't worth anything if you become a fat lard ass tjhat breaths heavy sitting on the couch. Don't be that guy. The lifting world is full of those guys.
Be better than that.
Get big and strong while keeping a solid level of conditioning under your belt. Your work capacity will improve more quickly this way, your body absorbs Snickers better this way, and when you have to throw down after school over a "he-said-she-said" incident, you'll have the upper hand over the fat ass, or at least feel damn good about your chances. And if you're not still in high school, it doesn't matter.
The feeling of being in shape AND being strong is unbeatable.
Strive for the whole package.
Enjoy Your Lifting!