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  #1  
Unread 07-11-2014, 12:23 AM
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Rohze Rohze is offline
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Default Can 'newbs' tinker routines?

Simple question, I often hear people advocate newbs to find a routine, and don't change anything and be consistent.

I'm doing a 5x5 routine for about 5 months, and the Bench Press and BOR have been giving me issues.

On the Bench, I don't feel the activation in my chest. I find a achieve a greater mind muscle connection with dumbbells.

With regards to Bent over Rows, my lower-back and forearms give out, thus I barely feel my back activate. I have tried deloading, but once I start bumping the weight up, the same issue occurs. I like T-Bar Rows and Pull Ups for back activation.

Should I replace those exercises for ones more optimal for me, or keep trying to master the form on those two compounds, and stick with it?

For example, if I could sub in Incline/Decline DB press for Flat Bench and Pull-Ups+T-Bar Rows for BOR, my routine could look like this.

Workout A:
Squats 5x5
Incline DB Press 3x8-12
Decline DB Press 3x8-12
Pull Ups 3x8-12
Cable Rows 3x8-12
Shrugs 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Skull Crushers 3x8-12

Workout B:
Squats 5x5
Deadlifts 5x1
Overhead Press 5x5
Pull Ups 3x8-12
T-Bar Rows 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Close-Grip Bench 3x8-12

Alternate A and B, 3 times a week.

In days in between, just light workout sessions hitting calves, rear/medial delts, lower back and abs.

For exercises in 8-12 rep range, start at 8, work up to 12, then increase the weight. Or add more sets, just some form of progressive overload. For 5x5 exercises, increase weight every session or every other session.
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Last edited by Rohze : 07-11-2014 at 01:01 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 07-11-2014, 01:43 AM
noah_k noah_k is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rohze View Post

On the Bench, I don't feel the activation in my chest. I find a achieve a greater mind muscle connection with dumbbells.
That's absolutely okay. I readily encourage it. DB bp is certainly still a compound movement and like you, I find it offers better recruitment. It's not at all the same as replacing it with flies. At the same time, better form can be learned with a barbell.

With butchering a program, noobs generally overstep with what they think would better suit them. It's why those "self-tailored" programs of a little bit here and a little bit there that sound so right when you started make you bury your head in shame some time later.

However for the second scenario, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to give up on bent over rows instead of trying to perfect the form. But it is still a matter of preference, and the new setup is by no means a bad program.

But understand not all "chest" or "back" exercises are created equal and some have different target/synergists/stabilizers. http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/BackWt.html has an excellent breakdown of different exercises and their targets, as well as different targets and their exercises.

Another misstep noobs take a lot is confusing a "pump" or "burn" for induced muscular growth. My absolute best example for this is the reverse grip bench press versus any of the many tricep isolations. The former.. you certainly use the tricep, but it doesn't feel like it's entirely pushed to its extremes. Something frequently heard on intensemuscle. Meanwhile with the isolations, you can feel it ready to explode. But guess which has yielded the greatest strength and mass gains? So I tend to do both, with emphasis on the former. But a noob could optimistically just do 2 or 3 isolations since it feels so damn great.

And of course... people fail to realize the exercise pool or rep scheme of stronger athletes won't be nearly as beneficial to someone who still has lesser strength levels, who can easily put effort into rapidly accumulating the necessary strength instead of messing around with an inefficient approach.

Last edited by noah_k : 07-11-2014 at 01:45 AM.
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  #3  
Unread 07-11-2014, 03:35 AM
Salvatore Salvatore is offline
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Have you modified the ICF 5x5 novice program? If so, I am glad that you didn't say you were doing the program, when you have in fact changed the exercises.


Your lack of "feeling" the muscles activate is definitely a form issue.

With regards to barbell bench press, how is your set up and form? To feel more pec involvement, you should be retracting your shoulder blades/scapula, and keeping them in that position for the duration of your set. You should also lower the bar to your nipple line, or just below it.

Similar situation with the bent over barbell row. You need to initiate each rep with your shoulder blades/scapula. Pull your shoulder blades back together first, then follow through with your arms. I had this issue when I first started doing barbell rows too.

A video of you benching and rowing would help us out.
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Unread 07-11-2014, 04:27 AM
BigPecsPeter BigPecsPeter is offline
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Are people still going on the "feel"?? You don't have to "feel" anything as such.

Not that going by the "pump" is any better, but you can usually see if you've hit the muscle if you get a pump e.g. in your pecs. If you see the pump, you've obviously hit the muscle. It couldn't be otherwise. Though you might have felt almost nothing.

All that's baloney anyway.

The important thing is that the joint movement is one that strongly involves the muscle. Worry about this rather than the rubbish. And also worry about whether you're making progress.
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Unread 07-11-2014, 06:24 AM
SwlleSanchez SwlleSanchez is offline
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Do you post on /fit/?
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  #6  
Unread 07-11-2014, 08:05 AM
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lylemcd lylemcd is offline
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You CAN do whatever you want.

The question is should you?

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat...e-program.html
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  #7  
Unread 07-11-2014, 09:08 AM
fyodor fyodor is offline
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Are you continuing to make strength gains with this program? If so I would suggest sticking with it.

Sometimes your intuitions/feelings about the exercises aren't reliable. For a long time I did too much upper body volume because I wanted to feel burned and pumped up afterwards and I just felt kind of "blah" with more moderate volumes. After years of making no gains I deliberately ramped down the volume and started making strength gains again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rohze View Post
Simple question, I often hear people advocate newbs to find a routine, and don't change anything and be consistent.

I'm doing a 5x5 routine for about 5 months, and the Bench Press and BOR have been giving me issues.

On the Bench, I don't feel the activation in my chest. I find a achieve a greater mind muscle connection with dumbbells.

With regards to Bent over Rows, my lower-back and forearms give out, thus I barely feel my back activate. I have tried deloading, but once I start bumping the weight up, the same issue occurs. I like T-Bar Rows and Pull Ups for back activation.

Should I replace those exercises for ones more optimal for me, or keep trying to master the form on those two compounds, and stick with it?

For example, if I could sub in Incline/Decline DB press for Flat Bench and Pull-Ups+T-Bar Rows for BOR, my routine could look like this.

Workout A:
Squats 5x5
Incline DB Press 3x8-12
Decline DB Press 3x8-12
Pull Ups 3x8-12
Cable Rows 3x8-12
Shrugs 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Skull Crushers 3x8-12

Workout B:
Squats 5x5
Deadlifts 5x1
Overhead Press 5x5
Pull Ups 3x8-12
T-Bar Rows 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Close-Grip Bench 3x8-12

Alternate A and B, 3 times a week.

In days in between, just light workout sessions hitting calves, rear/medial delts, lower back and abs.

For exercises in 8-12 rep range, start at 8, work up to 12, then increase the weight. Or add more sets, just some form of progressive overload. For 5x5 exercises, increase weight every session or every other session.
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  #8  
Unread 07-11-2014, 11:27 AM
mrlakramondas's Avatar
mrlakramondas mrlakramondas is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,815
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rohze View Post
Simple question, I often hear people advocate newbs to find a routine, and don't change anything and be consistent.

I'm doing a 5x5 routine for about 5 months, and the Bench Press and BOR have been giving me issues.

On the Bench, I don't feel the activation in my chest. I find a achieve a greater mind muscle connection with dumbbells.

With regards to Bent over Rows, my lower-back and forearms give out, thus I barely feel my back activate. I have tried deloading, but once I start bumping the weight up, the same issue occurs. I like T-Bar Rows and Pull Ups for back activation.

Should I replace those exercises for ones more optimal for me, or keep trying to master the form on those two compounds, and stick with it?

For example, if I could sub in Incline/Decline DB press for Flat Bench and Pull-Ups+T-Bar Rows for BOR, my routine could look like this.

Workout A:
Squats 5x5
Incline DB Press 3x8-12
Decline DB Press 3x8-12
Pull Ups 3x8-12
Cable Rows 3x8-12
Shrugs 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Skull Crushers 3x8-12

Workout B:
Squats 5x5
Deadlifts 5x1
Overhead Press 5x5
Pull Ups 3x8-12
T-Bar Rows 3x8-12
Barbell Curls 3x8-12
Close-Grip Bench 3x8-12

Alternate A and B, 3 times a week.

In days in between, just light workout sessions hitting calves, rear/medial delts, lower back and abs.

For exercises in 8-12 rep range, start at 8, work up to 12, then increase the weight. Or add more sets, just some form of progressive overload. For 5x5 exercises, increase weight every session or every other session.
Yes, you can switch to db presses and some other type of rows. But it's a very good idea to have someone in the gym help you with technique and exercise selection.

In regards to barbell rows it is generally NOT a good exercise for beginners. Even more experienced lifters tend to butcher the exercise and feel it more in the lower back.
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  #9  
Unread 07-11-2014, 05:20 PM
Rohze's Avatar
Rohze Rohze is offline
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Location: Canada
Posts: 34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah_k View Post
That's absolutely okay. I readily encourage it. DB bp is certainly still a compound movement and like you, I find it offers better recruitment. It's not at all the same as replacing it with flies. At the same time, better form can be learned with a barbell.

With butchering a program, noobs generally overstep with what they think would better suit them. It's why those "self-tailored" programs of a little bit here and a little bit there that sound so right when you started make you bury your head in shame some time later.

However for the second scenario, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to give up on bent over rows instead of trying to perfect the form. But it is still a matter of preference, and the new setup is by no means a bad program.

But understand not all "chest" or "back" exercises are created equal and some have different target/synergists/stabilizers. http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/BackWt.html has an excellent breakdown of different exercises and their targets, as well as different targets and their exercises.

Another misstep noobs take a lot is confusing a "pump" or "burn" for induced muscular growth. My absolute best example for this is the reverse grip bench press versus any of the many tricep isolations. The former.. you certainly use the tricep, but it doesn't feel like it's entirely pushed to its extremes. Something frequently heard on intensemuscle. Meanwhile with the isolations, you can feel it ready to explode. But guess which has yielded the greatest strength and mass gains? So I tend to do both, with emphasis on the former. But a noob could optimistically just do 2 or 3 isolations since it feels so damn great.

And of course... people fail to realize the exercise pool or rep scheme of stronger athletes won't be nearly as beneficial to someone who still has lesser strength levels, who can easily put effort into rapidly accumulating the necessary strength instead of messing around with an inefficient approach.
Wow, thanks for the in-depth response. You are right in the sense of "feeling the pump" doesn't mean it's better then other exercises, I mean I could do the pec-dec for days and burn out my chest, but I'm sure some sort of pressing movement is superior.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salvatore View Post
Have you modified the ICF 5x5 novice program? If so, I am glad that you didn't say you were doing the program, when you have in fact changed the exercises.


Your lack of "feeling" the muscles activate is definitely a form issue.

With regards to barbell bench press, how is your set up and form? To feel more pec involvement, you should be retracting your shoulder blades/scapula, and keeping them in that position for the duration of your set. You should also lower the bar to your nipple line, or just below it.

Similar situation with the bent over barbell row. You need to initiate each rep with your shoulder blades/scapula. Pull your shoulder blades back together first, then follow through with your arms. I had this issue when I first started doing barbell rows too.

A video of you benching and rowing would help us out.
Yeah ICF 5X5, and FYI I actually still do those movements, occasionally on my off-days when I lift with my friends, I played around with DB presses/pull-ups, and noticed how much more activation I get.

But I do the whole scapula retraction thing, arch my back, but I think my bar placement is incorrect. The problem is, people in the gym say my form is right, but to be honest no one is really true expert on the lifts. I'm sure posting a video online would be beneficial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigPecsPeter View Post
Are people still going on the "feel"?? You don't have to "feel" anything as such.

Not that going by the "pump" is any better, but you can usually see if you've hit the muscle if you get a pump e.g. in your pecs. If you see the pump, you've obviously hit the muscle. It couldn't be otherwise. Though you might have felt almost nothing.

All that's baloney anyway.

The important thing is that the joint movement is one that strongly involves the muscle. Worry about this rather than the rubbish. And also worry about whether you're making progress.
My poor form/execution on the lift is probably the reason I have stalled on progression. I will definitely need to address the issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwlleSanchez View Post
Do you post on /fit/?
I actually made my first thread on there last night regarding the MMC issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lylemcd View Post
You CAN do whatever you want.

The question is should you?

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat...e-program.html
It's an honour to have you respond to my inquiries, you are very highly regarded in the Nutrition/Fitness community, it's cool to actually to able to interact with the guys who spit out so much knowledge for us on a consistent basis.

Another good article Lyle, and I also stumbled upon your article on using the "Pecs" on the Bench Press. I think that will help a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fyodor View Post
Are you continuing to make strength gains with this program? If so I would suggest sticking with it.

Sometimes your intuitions/feelings about the exercises aren't reliable. For a long time I did too much upper body volume because I wanted to feel burned and pumped up afterwards and I just felt kind of "blah" with more moderate volumes. After years of making no gains I deliberately ramped down the volume and started making strength gains again.
Progression is been good on all the lifts, just stalling on the Bench due to probably form, lack of calories (I've dropped 16 pounds in the last 2 months, my bench will probably drop due to lower bodyweight) and muscle activation. I'll try to focus on activating the pecs on the bench in my next gym session.

As for the BOR, I just hate how my lower back and forearms give out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrlakramondas View Post
Yes, you can switch to db presses and some other type of rows. But it's a very good idea to have someone in the gym help you with technique and exercise selection.

In regards to barbell rows it is generally NOT a good exercise for beginners. Even more experienced lifters tend to butcher the exercise and feel it more in the lower back.
What do you think of T-Bar Rows instead? Or perhaps Cable Row + Pull-Ups like I suggested in the OP? Both are good back exercises, and progressive overload can occur from adding reps, sets, and bumping the weight.
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  #10  
Unread 07-15-2014, 05:01 PM
mratner mratner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrlakramondas View Post
In regards to barbell rows it is generally NOT a good exercise for beginners. Even more experienced lifters tend to butcher the exercise and feel it more in the lower back.
This is actually quite timely, as I recently started doing it and yes, feeling it in the lower back. Is there a (good) video or an article explaining proper form? Or could you perhaps point out the common mistakes?

Thanks!

Last edited by mratner : 07-15-2014 at 05:05 PM.
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