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GinBlossoms
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25 Nov 2013, 12:30 am

Designing my own exercise program:

I want to work with weights 4 days a week. At home, I have just a little "workout station" as I call it that only consists of a flexible weight bench and max 40 lb adjustable dumbbells. I will be mixing abs and cardio (stationary bike) on some workout days. I need to compile a list of the major muscle groups and one corresponding exercise for every one.

I find it hard to tell if I'm succeeding at a bench press (I also decided that palms facing is is easier). Any joint muscle exercise, really. I feel my arms rather than my chest working during a bench press. I have neuro-motor issues. When doing these exercises, I tend to let the weights fly a bit (ie I am having problems keeping my elbows at 90 degrees since I can't concentrate on seeing my elbows while executing the movement). Squats aren't that different.

Questions: Do I need to do that day's exercises in one particular order? How do I make the most out of my equipment situation with the basic framework I just mentioned? How do I make sure I hit the right muscles and using good form without a partner or trainer? (I will go at this alone, I'm short on time and connections)



Kurgan
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25 Nov 2013, 12:43 am

GinBlossoms wrote:
Designing my own exercise program:

I want to work with weights 4 days a week. At home, I have just a little "workout station" as I call it that only consists of a flexible weight bench and max 40 lb adjustable dumbbells. I will be mixing abs and cardio on some workout days. I need to compile a list of the major muscle groups and one corresponding exercise for every one.

I find it hard to tell if I'm succeeding at a bench press. Any joint muscle exercise, really. I feel my arms rather than my chest working during a bench press. I have neuro-motor issues. When doing these exercises, I tend to let the weights fly a bit (ie I am having problems keeping my elbows at 90 degrees since I can't concentrate on seeing my elbows while executing the movement). Squats aren't that different.

Questions: Do I need to do that day's exercises in one particular order? How do I make the most out of my equipment situation with the basic framework I just mentioned? How do I make sure I hit the right muscles and using good form without a partner or trainer? (I will go at this alone, I'm short on time and connections)


Technically speaking, in bench press, you're supposed to have your arms in a 45 degree angle--not a 90 degree angle. The latter places a lot of stress on your rotator cuffs, and may in the long run cause permanent damage.

If you lift heavy, don't do the same exercises for these four days. Also, be sure to eat enough protein; you won't build muscle on a typical bread and butter diet.

As far as order goes, do the base lifts first, then do the isolation exercises. The former should be your top priority, as these exercises activate the most muscle. Exercises anyone can benefit from (regardless of experience) are bench press, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bent over rows and shoulder presses. If you don't feel like deadlifting (note: contrary to popular belief, squats are far more important), work heavier on the squats and the rows. Squats should be done ass to the grass for the best effect.

For a complete guide, be sure to check out muscleandstrength.com.



GinBlossoms
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25 Nov 2013, 12:48 am

Shouldn't you squat only halfway to the ground? Do I need to chin-up as long as I'm bench pressing, because I don't even have a chin-up bar or alternative tool.



Kurgan
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25 Nov 2013, 1:26 am

GinBlossoms wrote:
Shouldn't you squat only halfway to the ground? Do I need to chin-up as long as I'm bench pressing, because I don't even have a chin-up bar or alternative tool.


Squatting halfway can ruin the cartilage in your knee. If you keep your back straight, there's very little that can go wrong if you squat all the way down, though. Bench pressing does not active your biceps and only uses your upper-back for stabilizing. A pull-up bar is a cheap investment that's well worth the money. :)



1000Knives
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26 Nov 2013, 6:01 pm

Well, benching does activate your biceps, sorta. It's the antagonist muscle, ie, it controls your descent on the way down. So if you have trouble with controlling the way down, I think curls can help that out. As far as feeling the chest muscles benching, generally the wider the grip you take, and the farther down you go, the more chest muscle you feel. Close grip bench for example, is considered mostly a triceps isolation exercise.

As far as the equipment situation, well, an Olympic barbell setup would be more ideal. A standard 10lb barbell would be OK, just you'd need more standard plates, standard plates are cheaper but once you start getting a lot of weight, you'll be better off with an Olympic bar. But with 40lbs of weight on dumbbells, honestly, compounds won't take you too incredibly far, it's just not enough weight. My theory with compounds is they mostly work because of the heavy weight stressing the nervous system/hormones, but without heavy weight, there's not enough pump and burn going on to destroy muscle fibers, thus in your situation, isolations with said dumbbells probably would be better. Then for full body exercises, look into bodyweight exercises as your body weighs more than 80lbs and it'll stimulate more muscle groups at once. Another good idea is bands, too. IE, band resisted pushups for example. You can actually make exercise bands with old bicycle inner tubes.

As far as form, honestly, mirrors do help. Also, partners and other people who know what they're doing can help, too. Also, despite how boring machines are at the gym, they're useful for showing visually spatially crappy people what the feeling of a muscle activating is like, and showing which one is activating. And for some things, I do like it better. IE, I like horizontal chest supported cable rows better than dumbbell rows. Thus joining a gym is the best option, or if not joining, at least visiting for some ideas and what equipment you'd like/want.

Anyway, the more important question is, what are your goals? Just building muscle for aesthetics reasons? Getting strong? Being more athletic? Being able to do cool tricks, jump high, etc? If you don't know why exactly you're working out except for a vague idea of it being healthy or good for you, you probably won't get much results without a clear idea of why you're doing it, for what actual goals.

So basically, think of a combination of the type of physique you'd like and/or the type of athletic things you'd like to accomplish. IE, do you want to look more like a bodybuilder, a sprinter, a gymnast, etc? Do you want to pick 400-500lbs up off the ground? Do you want to jump really high or do parkour type stuff? Do you want to be able to do gymnastics movements? That's what you have to think about. What you want your end goals to be like, then once you have some goals you'd like to one day accomplish, finding a premade plan or formulating your own will be relatively easy.

Good luck!



Pabbicus
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01 Dec 2013, 3:03 pm

Remember key principles. Supersets and pre exhaust are things to keep in mind. You also need a solid diet first off to control your body weight and make sure you're getting exactly what you need to grow.

If you're going to do bench presses, remember to do overhead dips to pre exhaust your triceps so they don't wind up doing all the work. It's isolation move for a problem area and then a combination move immediately after. Supersets is never stop moving. When you're done with one set of exercises for your arms, immediately start on another set. The rest for one exercise is during the performance of another.

Remember also to warm up. Stretches first, then jump rope or running in place until breathing is a bit labored.

To be honest, anything you do will work as long as you consistently do it and practice good form.



Kurgan
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02 Dec 2013, 2:19 pm

Pabbicus wrote:
Remember key principles. Supersets and pre exhaust are things to keep in mind. You also need a solid diet first off to control your body weight and make sure you're getting exactly what you need to grow.


Supersets are mainly used for cutting, given that they'll significantly limit what you can lift on your main sets.

Quote:
If you're going to do bench presses, remember to do overhead dips to pre exhaust your triceps so they don't wind up doing all the work.


The bench press is a compound movement and the exercise that activates the most muscle in the upper body. Pre exhausting your triceps will also limit the weight you can lift, particularly on the last ten inches.

A better choice would be to supplement the bench press with overhead presses, narrow grip bench presses (or dips if you do not have shoulder problems) and incline presses.