Advice on lifting direction

 So, I'm a big fat douche that was hit with some motivation a few months back.    I've been trying to figure out what's the best thing to maximize my time working out and feel like I'm making the biggest dent.  I do 30 mins of cardio every day on the elliptical.  I try to push it on there to really get tired or exhausted.



So one of my friends used to be a personal trainer and has recommended I do a full body work out M/W/F, which basically entails doing 1 lift for each muscle group with 2 sets of 20.  Typical day looks like:

Chest Press

Tricep pulldown

Concentration curls

Should Press

Lat Pulldown

Seated Rows

Leg Curls

Leg Press

Calf Raises

Crunchs and knee ups



Which seems like a good workout, I mean I'm gassed after I'm done, but the problem I have, is that I don't seem to sore the next day at all when doing this workout.  And I don't feel like I made real progress because the weights are so low.



Next option for me, was to meet with a personal trainer at my gym and see what he said.  Well he said to break it down by muscle groups and do a Chest/Tri, Back/Shoulders, and Legs/Bicep day and hit each muscle group with more intensity and more lifts.  Then after I did the same ab exercises.  These lifts were recommended to do 3 sets x10-15 reps.  So I worked out with him one day, he made me do body weight squats, mind you I've never done squats and am over 400lbs.  So I wasn't able to move for about 3 or 4 days.



So what am I better off doing? 

Right now I'm losing about 20 lbs per month, I'm 3 months in, my diet is clean, and I work out everyday. I have no medical conditiions, or pre existing injuries. 

I know that I'm going to lose some muscle too and that the majority of my weight loss is going to come from Cardio and my diet. 

Both are better than doing nothing, and on the whole, I don't see anything terribly wrong with either.  You're at a point where a "general" protocol (i.e. not addressing SUPER SPECIFIC attributes) isn't really that big of a deal, and in fact, will probably help you in terms of general conditioning and strength training.



Another breakdown you could use is Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, and Legs/Shoulders, but what you have posted is fine.  Just make sure that when you're lifting that you save the smaller muscles for last (e.g. don't kill your triceps before you've done your chest presses or don't do 500 sets of biceps curls before trying to do chin ups, etc.).  This goes for any level of weight training.



Also, your legs and lat muscles (the large muscles that run down most of your mid-lower back on both sides) are very large and extremely responsive to exercise, and build at a relatively quick basis, which in the end, helps with weight loss, to an extent.  As you  build more muscle, it'll help your body become more efficient in how its using calories.



Personally, I tend to lean more towards the second option you posted, but that's just me, and neither way is wrong.  IMO, at least if you do it that way, the soreness and muscular fatigue will kind of be offset by the days off you'll have between workouts (you'll have a minimum of 3 or so days before you work that same muscle group again), whereas with the full body stuff, yes, you'll do less overall work per body part (in one workout), but you'll have to work those parts more frequently (3 times a week).  Honestly, try one approach one week and the other the next week and see which one you like.

   

Also, whenever you feel like you need to skip a day because you're TOO sore or are feeling burned out, then fine, do it.



Soreness is the body's response to foreign stimuli (e.g. strenuous exercise to the sedentary individual), but sometimes, you just gotta take a pass, whether you're just starting, coming back, or are an elite pro athlete.  My advice is to start on the small side, work steadily, build your work capacity and recuperative abilities, and then come back and push more and more as your body develops the ability to handle it.

 

Lastly, make sure you're using proper technique at all times on all lifts.  If your technique is okay, then watch out for this-



If you can't safely perform a lift, you're probably using too much weight.  If your technique is compromised early on, you're probably using too much weight.  If you can't reasonably finish a set with at least 90% good technique, you're probably using too much weight.



Saving your ego will save you a couple hernias, blown discs, and other nasty, unnecessary injuries.

  

 Hey Brnur,



1st of all, congrats on getting the motivation, and doing the work.  You've overcome the biggest hurdle.  Now it's just a matter of keeping the ball rolling.  Losing 20 lbs. / month is pretty impressive, and will likely continue that way for a while with how heavy you are.  Keep up the good work man.



2nd of all - both of those programs suck.  LOL.  They're working for you now, if for no other reason than you went from doing nothing to doing nothing.  Well, though don't completely suck, but they're not what I would prescribe.



Here's what I'd recommend - stick with the full-body program idea.  Focus on trying to build some muscle, as muscle will burn a ton of calories at rest.  Don't think of losing muscle - you  wanna do the opposite.  Only, instead of a program that does so many exercises like the 1st one you listed, break it down to just compound movements.  I'd go with:



-Shoulder Press

-Pulldown

-Chest/Bench Press

-Seated Row

-Leg Press



Drop the 2x20.  That's along the lines of a high rep circuit type thing, and is just getting you moving.  That's fine (I'm a huge proponent of circuit/complex training, but done totally differently), but won't do much in the way of building muscle.  Instead, drop the reps some, so that you can start using more weight, and increase the sets so you've got more volume per exercise.  I'd go with 4-5 sets x 8-10 reps on each exercise.  Keep the total reps in the 40-50 range per exercise (which would mean 4x10 is Ok, and 5x8 is Ok, but not 4x8).



Go "heavy" (which is a relative term).  If you're trying to get 8 reps, then it should be a struggle.  You don't want to "fail" on the 8th rep, but it should be a struggle to complete it with good form.  Always strive to be adding weight (but not at the sacrifice of good form).  The main thing you need to do now is just get a good mix of volume done and heavy weight (heavy for you) lifted.



I'd like to see you do some GPP circuits (jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc.) a la John Davies, but worry about your weight.  I don't want it to cause too much harm/stress to your joints.  That is likely something better off waiting until you drop some more lbs, and then implement it later.



What kind of cardio are you doing?  If anybody tries to get you to do interval training, tell them they're a moron.  You're not in good enough shape yet (no offense meant) to do interval training with the proper intensity,  so you'll be selling yourself short by  not working hard enough with a lower volume of work done.  Worst of both worlds.



Instead, just focus on some sort of LSD (long slow distance) that will again, allow you to just get the work/volume in.  Do something that won't cause major impact on your joints again, due to your weight.  I wouldn't really recommend running until you've dropped some more weight, so go walking instead.  This can either be outside, or on a treadmill (though if you use a treadmill, think about inclining it slightly).  An elliptical trainer would work well, and a rower is an even better option.  Versaclimbers are good (though most gyms don't have them), as are AirDyne bikes (most gyms don't have those either).  I'd stay away from the rest of the machines.  I don't know how long you're going for, but a decent starting length would be 20-30 mins at a decent (again, for you) pace.  You could do say 20 mins after lifting, then if you wanted to go in on off days, and do a little more - say 35-40 mins.  You wouldn't need much more than 3-4x/week.



This is highly doubtful, but if your gym has a Prowler or a sled you can do weighted drags with, this would be a GREAT way to do some intense cardio and build muscle at the same time.  Would be great for you.  If not, then don't worry about it and just stick with the lifting and cardio.



Of course, all this will also require a clean diet, but you said you've got that in check, so good for you.



In the end, it's like I said - you've got the hardest part behind you - the getting started.  Just keep putting the work in, and you'll keep seeing results.  You've done a helluva good job so far - keep it up!



Hope some of this helps.



Wiggy - MMA Training | MMA Workouts | Cardio Workout | Workout Plans




WaltJ - Also, whenever you feel like you need to skip a day because you're TOO sore or are feeling burned out, then fine, do it.

Soreness is the body's response to foreign stimuli (e.g. strenuous exercise to the sedentary individual), but sometimes, you just gotta take a pass, whether you're just starting, coming back, or are an elite pro athlete.  My advice is to start on the small side, work steadily, build your work capacity and recuperative abilities, and then come back and push more and more as your body develops the ability to handle it.
 


+eleventy billion

Wiggy - 
WaltJ - Also, whenever you feel like you need to skip a day because you're TOO sore or are feeling burned out, then fine, do it.



Soreness is the body's response to foreign stimuli (e.g. strenuous exercise to the sedentary individual), but sometimes, you just gotta take a pass, whether you're just starting, coming back, or are an elite pro athlete.  My advice is to start on the small side, work steadily, build your work capacity and recuperative abilities, and then come back and push more and more as your body develops the ability to handle it.

 




+eleventy billion
So last week when I could hardly move for the 3 days after doing squats, I still went and did my cardio and lifting on those days. Maybe I could have skipped, but I feel really guilty, and just like a big piece of shit if I don't go do it.  Until I really really can't do it, I think I'm going to keep going.  If going to the gym everyday is a habit for me, I'll stick to it.  But if I get wishy washy and skip because I feel like it, I'll slide right back down the slippery slope of being a lazy piece of shit.

 

 Wiggy, in response to your question about what I do for Cardio.

I started out not being able to do more then 15 mins on the elliptical a few months ago, and could only do like 5 mins on the treadmill.  Well I basically challenge myself to improve every or every other day on the cardio. So this is what I've worked myself into so far.  I still stay away from the treadmill due to back pain from using it.



I do 30 mins on the elliptical, right now I'm at resistance 6, none on the crossramp. I keep it at or above 120 strides/minute.  Lately I've been trying to work in some sprinting intervals for me.  This past week I've been sprinting for 45 seconds on the 4th, 9th, 14, 19, 24th minutes of my workout.  I don't hit the 29th minute sprint cause I'm usually too gassed, and try to cooldown at the end of it, instead of finishing on a sprint.  When I do the sprint interval for 45 seconds, I try to keep it above 150 Strides/min, sometimes it dips a little lower, but always above 140.



I go do Cardio every day, I've been sticking to just 30 mins on it, but I could try to extend it to 45 minutes on non lifting days, I think I might be able to do that.  I know that if I do, I'll be pretty slow the last 15minutes.



Thanks again to you and Walt for your responses. 



Is there a way I could break down the muscle groups even more and lift on say 5 days instead of just 3?  I think I'm ready for it. 

 

I agree with what most of Wiggy and Leigh have said.  I still understand at a basic level of why your friends gave you the programs they did- they're a fair plan for for people in your situation and will bring some short term results, but as the other guys have said, will lose their overall usefulness sooner rather than later.



Personally, I would continue to stay away from the treadmill for the time being, and stick to the elliptical, which is much lower-impact on your joints and won't aggravate your back nearly as much.  I hate working on cardio machines, but the ones I do like are the ellipticals, stair climbers, cross country skiers, and bikes.  I use those, because like you, it gives me lower back pain, in addition to shin splints, sore feet, and other stuff.  In your case, 400 lbs. slamming down again and again on your joints while running on the treadmill is probably doing more harm than good, imo.  There are other machines, like the ones I've listed above, that will give you the same (or in many cases, even better) benefits with much less pain and wear on your body.



I still think that there's nothing wrong with breaking things up into body part days, though I agree 100% that compound movements are a must.  As Leigh said, a compound movement is a movement that recruits the use of multiple muscle groups at the same time.  Some examples of compound movements are lat pulldowns, bench presses, squats, pull ups, military presses, etc.  For example, when you're doing a standard pull up, the range of movement you go through stresses different muscle groups at different points.  When you begin to pull yourself up, the first things that need to work are the are the forearms, then the shoulders, then the lats.  That's a compound movement.



Doing exercises like a biceps curl or crunches, are isolation movements.  They target very specific muscles with very specific movements.  These exercises are excellent and should NOT be neglected, but as Leigh has stated, they (usually) shouldn't be the primary focal point of your routine.



"Is there a way I could break down the muscle groups even more and lift on say 5 days instead of just 3?  I think I'm ready for it. "



This is a tough one, and probably one that I'd have to say "no" to, for the most part.  The problem with straight up weight lifting that many days is that it can interfere with your recovery and burn you out quickly.  Muscle is built not by the workout itself, but by the recovery from the workout, and probably the most important aspect of that is rest.  My personal advice would be to stick to a three day deal and maybe do some light cardio on your "off" days.  Maybe just going for a walk, hitting the elliptical at low-medium intensity, some calisthenics, some sport-related activity (shooting around on the basketball court, playing handball in the garage or up against a wall, etc.).  Doing stuff like that is a good way to get exercise but also keep things fresh.  You WILL eventually get sick of going to the gym....everybody does, but this stuff will add enough variation to not drive you away permanently.



One last important question- what do your diet and overall lifestyle habits look like at the moment?  It sucks, but there's no getting around it.....if you slack off in the kitchen, all the gym work in the world won't get the job done.



   

WaltJ - One last important question- what do your diet and overall lifestyle habits look like at the moment?  It sucks, but there's no getting around it.....if you slack off in the kitchen, all the gym work in the world won't get the job done.

   
Overall lifestyle, I'm at a desk job in the corporate world.  After I get home from the gym I watch a little TV and pass out.

Here is a typical day for me:

6:30 protein shake and multivitamins/fishoil/calcium

8:00 oatmeal with a banana, whenever I get sick of oatmeal I just have 2 or 3 eggs scrambled.  Also I have a non fat organic vanilla yogurt.

10:00 A serving of fruit (apple, plum, orange, grapes, berries) and possibly 8-10 almonds.  Usually just fruit.

11:45 Lunch, Salad with mixed greens, 2 or 3 slices of cucumber, red pepper, 1/2 cup of mushrooms, 3 cherry tomoatoes, and 4-6 oz of chicken breast.  I put light ranch on it (60calories).  I can't get around the ranch yet, I tried about a dozen other dressings that were better for me, and they all suck.  I'll usually have either a steamed veggie here or some more fruit, like pineapple and some melons.

2:00 Another serving of fruit and possiby some almonds.

4:00 Another serving of fruit, or possible some baby carrots and organic peanut butter.

5-6:30 gym

7-7:30 Dinner:  They always include a lean piece of meat (Chicken, Steak, Pork Chop, Fish) a steamed veggie (peas, green beans, broccoli), and some kind of starch/grain (sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, squash).

Thats it. I don't really snack past dinner, if I do it's going to be more fruit, or possible baby carrots and organic peanut butter.  But like I said it's very uncommon.



Right now I shoot to be near 3k calories for the day.  Thats around what all this comes to, when I was keeping a journal on it.  But now I don't really think about it and still eat clean, so I quit keeping the journal.

Looks pretty good :)

Bmur -

6:30 protein shake and multivitamins/fishoil/calcium

8:00 oatmeal with a banana, whenever I get sick of oatmeal I just have 2 or 3 eggs scrambled.  Also I have a non fat organic vanilla yogurt.

10:00 A serving of fruit (apple, plum, orange, grapes, berries) and possibly 8-10 almonds.  Usually just fruit.

11:45 Lunch, Salad with mixed greens, 2 or 3 slices of cucumber, red pepper, 1/2 cup of mushrooms, 3 cherry tomoatoes, and 4-6 oz of chicken breast.  I put light ranch on it (60calories).  I can't get around the ranch yet, I tried about a dozen other dressings that were better for me, and they all suck.  I'll usually have either a steamed veggie here or some more fruit, like pineapple and some melons.

2:00 Another serving of fruit and possiby some almonds.

4:00 Another serving of fruit, or possible some baby carrots and organic peanut butter.

5-6:30 gym

7-7:30 Dinner:  They always include a lean piece of meat (Chicken, Steak, Pork Chop, Fish) a steamed veggie (peas, green beans, broccoli), and some kind of starch/grain (sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, squash).

Thats it. I don't really snack past dinner, if I do it's going to be more fruit, or possible baby carrots and organic peanut butter.  But like I said it's very uncommon.



Right now I shoot to be near 3k calories for the day.  Thats around what all this comes to, when I was keeping a journal on it.  But now I don't really think about it and still eat clean, so I quit keeping the journal.



Right now I'm losing about 20 lbs per month, I'm 3 months in

You don't give your weight and height and age, but for a person in a desk job, I'd think 3,000 calories/day is too much. BUT, if you're losing weight on that type of diet (which I find a little hard to believe) then stick with what works.



In order to lose 20lbs of fat in a month, that's a deficit of about 17,000 calories/week. (5x3500) Or divide by 7, 2,300 calories under maintenance/day. That's a big deficit. That means 'maintenance' for you is 5,300 calories per day. Nobody except guys riding the Tour de France and similar races (stage racing) eat that much to maintain.



I could go through your posted foods and calculate your calories for you to help you double check. (I'm not disputing you, just crunching the numbers).



Just looking at your diet post overall, it looks good, but be aware that above a certain level, eating fructose (fruit) is lipogenic. (it produces stored fat).



HTH



Good luck!



 

 I'm 27 420lbs now after 3 months, and 5'11"

I just plugged those measurements into http://www.freedieting.com/ on their calorie calculator to get some starting numbers.  With my current numbers it says my maintenance calories is 4250/day and for extreme weight loss the number is 3360/day.  I'm not saying I know all the answers or that this is perfect, just posting what I've been doing for someone that asked earlier.  If you have suggestions for something different, please feel free.

Per wiggy's instruction I did 5 sets of 8 reps of these lifts today:

-Shoulder Press

-Pulldown

-Chest/Bench Press

-Seated Row

-Leg Press


I then did crunches and knee raises.

Then 30 mins on the elliptical

I used as much as weight as I could use and still get through it.  Are there any other good compound lifts I could do?  Should I just do squats and go lightly till the pain isn't as ridiculous afterwards? Like 3 sets of 5?

I definitely felt better after doing this routine, thanks for the help.


Just an update.  week and half since switching up my routine to just compound lifts, and it's a great workout.  I feel a lot more satisfied when I leave the gym, and I'm a lot more sore the following day letting me know that it's working.  I added body weight squats, no bar, just squating, 3 sets of 8 this week.  I think I'll try for the full 5 sets of 8 next week.  I'm not dying from it.



So on my lifting days I'm doing 5x8 of the following:

-Shoulder Press

-Pulldown

-Chest/Bench Press

-Seated Row

-Leg Press

-Incline Press

I then did crunches and knee raises 2x20.

Squats 3x8 this week.



What are your thoughts on adding a bicep and tricep workout to the end of my routine to try to burn out these muscles?



When will I know it's time to add some weights to the squats, and quit being a pussy?

The extra arm work probably wouldn't be that big of a deal to do, so long as you work it last.  It's not going to kill you.



As far as squatting goes, there are ways to do it without having to have a 6,000 lb. barbell across your back.



You could gradually work yourself up into using elastic bands that will add resistance, or you could do what is called a "goblet" squat, where you take a single dumbbell, hold it vertical against your chest with both hands, and squat with that.







I would probably recommend more bodyweight squats and those two options for the time being.

 if you are that big, dont do anything but cardio. why the hell are you gonna waste time lifting weights, yes it helps but so does doing cardio instead. And dont use the eliptical. just run as far as you can on a tredmil. Once you think youve ran enough, run more, then when you really feel like you are dying, keep running

elypticals are for panzys, studies show that 30 minutes of walking burns less calories then 15 minutes of jogging, so why not jog? its way more demanding then those silly elypticals



do that a couple times a week and you will shed fat. Then once you start losing weight like gangbusters hit up some weight, but dont stop your cardio workouts



I hate when fat people come up into the gym, walk on a tredmil or eliptical for 30 minutes, lift some weights and then call it a day then wonder why they are still fat



the only way to burn fat is to get a better diet and to do cardio! so do it! also, good luck on the weight loss and keep up the good work