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View Full Version : 30 min. free-weight workout. Possible to get stronger?


hifi heretic
12-03-2009, 05:35 AM
Having contributed comments on other posters workouts I thought I'd see what people have to say about mine. Any/ all suggestions are welcome.

Once a serious lifter, I now want primarily to maintain my strength (or increase a little) and prevent injury.

An important caveat: My free-weight workouts last no more than 30 minutes and I wish to continue this. Upon completion I spend 30 min. using a Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer (looks like an elliptical trainer but moves more naturally and with more even resistance). Generally, there is one day of rest between each workout.

Thoughts on how I might improve this?? Again, I'm looking to preserve my strength (hence, the inclusion of bench-presses) as well as prevent tennis-related injury. I'm 45 yrs old, ht: 6'0, wt: 178lbs.

Workout A - 30 mins. to complete

Triple set - complete 3 times:
Bench-Press: 185 lb. x 12 (1st set is warm-up with 135lb)
Inclined sit-ups: 30 reps holding 25 lb. plate
roman chair back extensions: 15 reps holding hold 10 lb. plate.

Triple set - complete 3 times:
Inclined dumbbell flies: 50lb. x 12
Standing cable trunk rotations (arms out): 40lb x 20 each side
Standing dumbbell presses: 45lbs x 10

Triple set - complete 3 times:
Arms out cable pushdowns: 70lb. x 15 (holding an 18" straight bar, start with arms at level, press down to legs)
Triceps cable pushdowns: 120lb x 12
Triceps dumbbell kickbacks: 25lb. x12

Workout B - 30 mins. to complete:

Triple set - complete 3 times
Squats (to parallel): 225 lb. x 12 (1st set is warm-up with 135lb)
Pull-ups (palms facing away): 10-12 reps (almost completely down, stop just before lock-out)
Inclined sit-ups: 30 reps while holding 25 lb. plate

Triple set - complete 2 times:
Dumbbell lunges: 12 reps each leg while holding two 45lb. dumbbells
Chin-ups (palms facing me): 12-15 reps
roman chair back extensions: 15 reps while holding hold 10 lb. plate.

Stand-alone set - complete 2 times:
Barbell curls: 95lb. x 8.

Any/ all suggestions are welcome.

thx.

HFH

bee
12-03-2009, 07:39 AM
Somewhat similar to my routine. I do a fair amount of cable exercises now, however: Straight armed cable twists, reverse woodchops and forward low cable swing (think I'm applying some of my own nomenclature here).

I feel it's important to not over-do the weights if you're serious about playing tennis. On some of my exercises I just do one set now. I try to progress rapidly through a series of exercises with little rest between. I use machines more than free weights because they're so quick and easy to progess through. I know a lot of folks think free wieghts are better, and they probably are.

I like the StarTrac eliptical at our gym and use that a lot. It took me some trial and error to find that one that doesn't bother my ankles.

Good week for me is:

Play singles tennis twice.
Full body weight workout twice.
20-30 minutes of StarTrac eliptical 4-5 times including sessions prior to weight workouts.

I try not to do the weigh routine the day before playing tennis. It's important to stay fluid.

Life is good!

spacediver
12-03-2009, 08:06 AM
maybe get a dipping belt so you can progressively add weight to your chinups/pullups (btw you got your definitions mixed up - chinups have palms facing behind you).

I may have missed something but I don't see any rowing motions in there. I find the one arm dumbell row to be a fantastic movement.

Also, have you considered alternating or replacing your bench press with some dumbell presses?

Don't forget to warm up properly, and throw in some arm circles to dynamically warm up your shoulders before each workout.

I'm not a fan of kickbacks or tricep extensions but I'm biased like that. I've developed a very balanced upper body physique with weighted dips, weighted chinups, dumbell rows, and dumbell presses. I also throw in the occasional ez bar curl.

hifi heretic
12-03-2009, 08:19 AM
maybe get a dipping belt so you can progressively add weight to your chinups/pullups (btw you got your definitions mixed up - chinups have palms facing behind you).

I may have missed something but I don't see any rowing motions in there. I find the one arm dumbell row to be a fantastic movement.

Also, have you considered alternating or replacing your bench press with some dumbell presses?

Don't forget to warm up properly, and throw in some arm circles to dynamically warm up your shoulders before each workout.

I'm not a fan of kickbacks or tricep extensions but I'm biased like that. I've developed a very balanced upper body physique with weighted dips, weighted chinups, dumbell rows, and dumbell presses. I also throw in the occasional ez bar curl.

Thanks spacediver for the reply - I corrected the mistake re: chin-ups/ pull-ups.

I quit doing rows a few years ago b/c my lower back became over-taxed at a weight that didn't seem to adequately stimulate my upper back/shoulders. ..So I switched to pulls/chins, and added (recently) added the roman-chair. ..Still, a good suggestion. Perhaps I'll start doing them again. ..To keep it at 30mins. I'll have to give up something, so perhaps I'll quit the roman-chair extensions on that day.

I suppose I could start adding weight to chins/pulls. ..I have at times done them with my legs straight out in a pike position to increase their impact on my core.

..I haven't done dips in quite some time. ..I recall that they hurt my shoulders. ..Was this ever a problem for you?

hifi heretic
12-03-2009, 08:22 AM
Somewhat similar to my routine. I do a fair amount of cable exercises now, however: Straight armed cable twists, reverse woodchops and forward low cable swing (think I'm applying some of my own nomenclature here).

I feel it's important to not over-do the weights if you're serious about playing tennis. On some of my exercises I just do one set now. I try to progress rapidly through a series of exercises with little rest between. I use machines more than free weights because they're so quick and easy to progess through. I know a lot of folks think free wieghts are better, and they probably are.

I like the StarTrac eliptical at our gym and use that a lot. It took me some trial and error to find that one that doesn't bother my ankles.

Good week for me is:

Play singles tennis twice.
Full body weight workout twice.
20-30 minutes of StarTrac eliptical 4-5 times including sessions prior to weight workouts.

I try not to do the weigh routine the day before playing tennis. It's important to stay fluid.

Life is good!

Thanks for the reply Bee. ..The biggest reason for not doing machines is that they don't seem to fit my body geometry very well. ..Not sure why. ..Also, at my gym the free-weight area is less busy and if one thing is being used, I can easily do something similar albeit with dumbbells, etc..

spacediver
12-03-2009, 03:39 PM
I quit doing rows a few years ago b/c my lower back became over-taxed at a weight that didn't seem to adequately stimulate my upper back/shoulders. ..So I switched to pulls/chins, and added (recently) added the roman-chair. ..Still, a good suggestion. Perhaps I'll start doing them again. ..To keep it at 30mins. I'll have to give up something, so perhaps I'll quit the roman-chair extensions on that day.

Are we talking one armed dumbell rows? Here's a vid of me doing one armed dumbell rows with 110 pounds. Badly framed but you should be able to get a good idea of what it looks like. Keep back nice and straight and maintain that arch in your lower back while doing them.

http://www.vimeo.com/7229217






..I haven't done dips in quite some time. ..I recall that they hurt my shoulders. ..Was this ever a problem for you?

I'm 32 years old and am dipping with 90 pounds around my belt (160 pounds bodyweight).

I have found 3 major factors have radically improved my shoulder health:

1: arm circles as part of warmup - I do these right after the light cycling portion of my warmup. I start with slow controlled circles with a small radius, then gradually increase to larger circles that are purely momentum driven and loose

2: using warmup reps before lifting heavy. My first set of dips is bodyweight only. Ideally you would use an assisted dipping machine so you could use an even lower weight. I then add 10 or 15 pounds for each subsequent set for a total of about 4 warmup sets. I then begin my work sets. With this weight (90 pounds) I only do about 5 reps per set.

3: Form: three things to mention. Lean forward so that your shoulders are not undergoing awkward stress. Bending the knees greatly helps with this. If you keep your legs straight the weight of the legs contributes to a more horizontal body position which is bad for dips (unless you're using low weights and want to target triceps over chest).

See this picture:

http://asp.elitefts.com/images/upload/qa/weighted%20dips%202.jpg

Secondly, don't go too deep. The depth of the dipper in the above picture is a good depth, where the upper arm is parallel to the floor.

Third, slow controlled movements, especially towards the bottom of the movement.

Another thing: I've noticed that as I age, my muscles seem to have a reduced ability to handle sudden changes in muscle tension. This is true for sudden releases of tension. At the end of the set, if you finish after the eccentric phase of the rep (with dips, this would mean ending at the bottom of the movement), your arms and shoulders are holding a lot of tension. Use your feet to gently release the tension, else you may suffer. An alternative is to end the set at the top of the motion.

If you follow these guidelines and still have issues, then perhaps dips aren't for you. I'm no biomechanical expert - I just know what has worked for me.

What I do know is that they are an absolutely incredible chest builder.

I should also mention that I only work out twice a week, and split my exercises accordingly. So I only dip once a week. Reducing the volume and frequency may be important when you start to increase resistance.

markwillplay
12-03-2009, 05:45 PM
well, it depends on what you want. I am 39 and have lifted heavy and not so heavy. I weghed 185-190 and could bench over 300 and I now weigh 170 and have no idea. The truth is that the older you get, the more your joints wear out depending on your genetics as to how fast or slow. I have found this out the hard way. I know people who can still lift heavy at my age and it does not bother them..I can't. My joints are not very durable (not the right word but I have small wrists, etc..) and just don't hold up well while lifting heavy and doing tons of other types of workouts. My brother in law is as strong as a bull but he has had 3 shoulder surgeries. He loves to lift..it's his thing..and it is eating him up. No, his technique is not bad (far from it) and he gets a good amount of rest..it's just that your hoints are on a time table (ask any ortho) and his has run out several times.

I have found that there is no need for me to do things like bycep curls or even trycep pushdowns except to gain size in those partucular areas. I concentrate more on compound movements that involve more muscles at the same time (like bench press, pull ups, etc...) and I have discovered that the more active I am with tennis, swimming, aerobig sprinting (I never jog any more), etc. the less my body will tolerate lifiting without more rest. Now I like the way my arms look when I have been concentrating on them for a few months..or even my back or chest when I really concentrate on gaining size (back in the day) but none of that has helped me with my tennis and overall fitness as much as the workouts I do now. I never lift for more than 30-40 minutes and I never take long between sets. Keep in mind that I train alone and so I don['t have to weight for a partner or talk to one either. I am more inclined now to do 4 or 5 compound exercises in a circuit that also gets my heart rate up. It kills two birds with one stone and has helped me maintain strength...anbd has absolutely helped my tennis fitness. I learned that if I really wanted to gain size and strength, I would have to cut back on aerobic activity and eat more calories and rest more. Not really a good formula for getting into tennis shape to play 3 sets of tennis at a competivive level and be able to do it days in a row. As a result of my curcuit workouts and interval earobic training, I lost weight and became quicker. I can still do about as many pullups or pushups, but I can't bench press as much weight or lift as heavy as I once could...and never will. My joints hopefully will thank me. I think the older you get, the more active rest you need to recover and if you play tennis like I do (active serve and volley and move forward) and lift weights, and do sprints, and yada yada yada,...before you know it, you break down. I have no doubt that I could get my bench press up and that my shoulder would be fine in the long run if I just concentrated on lifting weights like I did at one point..but something else would have to go. For me, I strengthen my core, make sure I do pushups, pullups, and some weighted leg stuff in all sorts of weird combos to keep my body guessing...and I am in the best shape of my life.

Although I did just have my hip scoped (uugghh) but that was for a degenerative condition that I struggled with for years and years.

hifi heretic
12-04-2009, 01:57 AM
Are we talking one armed dumbell rows? Here's a vid of me doing one armed dumbell rows with 110 pounds....

..I should also mention that I only work out twice a week, and split my exercises accordingly. So I only dip once a week. Reducing the volume and frequency may be important when you start to increase resistance.

Thanks spacediver. ..I'll give dips another try and I'll take your advice regarding form. ..And yes, I was referring to barbell bent-rows which I had given up for the reasons mentions. ..I don't recall why exactly I gave up on one-arm BR but here again, I'll give them a try too. ..Perhaps substituting them for the pull-ups. ..To stay w/in 30 mins. I need to remove an exercise if I'm going to add one. ..And I've noticed the same about the need to release tension slowly. ..In fact, I pretty much do everything a bit more slowly :)

You work out w/ weights just twice a week?? ..If you're able to maintain your strength doing that that's great. ..I may try adding an extra day of rest every three or four days as well.

HFH

hifi heretic
12-04-2009, 02:30 AM
well, it depends on what you want. I am 39 and have lifted heavy and not so heavy. I weghed 185-190 and could bench over 300 and I now weigh 170 and have no idea. The truth is that the older you get, the more your joints wear out depending on your genetics as to how fast or slow. I have found this out the hard way. I know people who can still lift heavy at my age and it does not bother them..I can't. My joints are not very durable (not the right word but I have small wrists, etc..) and just don't hold up well while lifting heavy and doing tons of other types of workouts. My brother in law is as strong as a bull but he has had 3 shoulder surgeries. He loves to lift..it's his thing..and it is eating him up. No, his technique is not bad (far from it) and he gets a good amount of rest..it's just that your hoints are on a time table (ask any ortho) and his has run out several times.

I have found that there is no need for me to do things like bycep curls or even trycep pushdowns except to gain size in those partucular areas. I concentrate more on compound movements that involve more muscles at the same time (like bench press, pull ups, etc...) and I have discovered that the more active I am with tennis, swimming, aerobig sprinting (I never jog any more), etc. the less my body will tolerate lifiting without more rest. Now I like the way my arms look when I have been concentrating on them for a few months..or even my back or chest when I really concentrate on gaining size (back in the day) but none of that has helped me with my tennis and overall fitness as much as the workouts I do now. I never lift for more than 30-40 minutes and I never take long between sets. Keep in mind that I train alone and so I don['t have to weight for a partner or talk to one either. I am more inclined now to do 4 or 5 compound exercises in a circuit that also gets my heart rate up. It kills two birds with one stone and has helped me maintain strength...anbd has absolutely helped my tennis fitness. I learned that if I really wanted to gain size and strength, I would have to cut back on aerobic activity and eat more calories and rest more. Not really a good formula for getting into tennis shape to play 3 sets of tennis at a competivive level and be able to do it days in a row. As a result of my curcuit workouts and interval earobic training, I lost weight and became quicker. I can still do about as many pullups or pushups, but I can't bench press as much weight or lift as heavy as I once could...and never will. My joints hopefully will thank me. I think the older you get, the more active rest you need to recover and if you play tennis like I do (active serve and volley and move forward) and lift weights, and do sprints, and yada yada yada,...before you know it, you break down. I have no doubt that I could get my bench press up and that my shoulder would be fine in the long run if I just concentrated on lifting weights like I did at one point..but something else would have to go. For me, I strengthen my core, make sure I do pushups, pullups, and some weighted leg stuff in all sorts of weird combos to keep my body guessing...and I am in the best shape of my life.

Although I did just have my hip scoped (uugghh) but that was for a degenerative condition that I struggled with for years and years.

I agree with much of what you say here. ..Certainly, as we get older - and I'm quite a bit older than you - you need to be more careful. ..And lifting for the sole sake of "getting bigger" is well behind me. ..I still do, however, enjoy the challenge of some of the heavier exercises like Bench Press and Squats. ..Only now, I use considerably less weight and do just two sets (and one warm-up) of each. And I realize that my weightlifting is probably not contributing much to my tennis. ..But I doubt it's hurting it. ..And I empathize about having the hip scoped. ...Several years ago I had TE surgery on both arms.

GuyClinch
12-04-2009, 03:54 AM
Briefly..

It might be there and your just not telling us but I think a rigorous through warmup routine is in order for any lifter. It might seem silly but I find it can pay dividends down the line.

I think the emphasis of your routine is probably a bit wrong. Most men (especially those with sedentary jobs) need alot more posterior work (back, glutes, hammys) as well as some what people would call "postural" work like Y's T's and Ws for their shoulders to really balance out their physique. I think that it's very easy to get hunched over without noticing it and excerbate various shoulder problems with many routines that hit the chest and shoulders hard. YMMV

Not to mention I think your "core" stuff (abs and lower back) is kind of "old school" and you could bring in more variation by doing things like planks and some of those goofy looking (but very effective) ball exercises. This isn't to say the two exercises you picked are wrong but you could pick from a series of different exercises for those muscle groups instead of just alternating between those two.

And that goes for the other muscle groups as well. I feel you get more benefits picking one muscle building exercise for each group of muscles and varying this up rather then just alternating with such a fixed routine. Again I think this is a kind of modern thing but its effective. People call it 'muscle confusion' or what have you. But it does seem to work.

Also I have no idea about your technique - you could be very strong. But I do see alot of guys in the gym doing too much weight with sloppy form. I'd really concentrate on getting the technique "right" - it seems to pay dividends far beyond what you think it should.

Finally I hope you have a good stretching routine for your lifting (that you use after you lift). Without that I think you could be looking at some lost flexibility and actually hurt your tennis game..

That's just advice for your workout so it doesn't hurt your game or cause injuries. If you wanted to improve your tennis you should work in some agility stuff into your warmup BTW. Also again if your interested in tennis performance some plyometric work like box jumps or medicine ball throws would likely help..

But yeah think about warmup, stretching, and making tweaks depending on what your body actually needs to avoid muscle imbalances.

Pete

markwillplay
12-04-2009, 05:02 AM
yea, I am with you all the way really. I am a gym rat and I love to work out. I actually do most of my workouts at home and love to go the my gym and do squats and things that you need a gym for. I love dips (weighted) as well. I think I just got caught doing too much without rest. Especially for the shoulder girdle. This summer I was swimming, playing tennis and working out with weights pretty hard. My shoulder finally started giving me trouble and I wondered why (duh).

There is no doubt that being strong helps tennis and everything else you do really so I did not mean that it was bad to be strong. I just can't spread myselkf that thin without rest any more and figured out that some of the heavier weights were hurting me.

As far as the other person saying they couod not believe that someone could maintain stringth working out 2 days a week..this is what I can say with what I believe is certainty...If you work out with intensity..I don't mean numbers, I mean reallychallenging your body...you can absolutely make gains. If anything, most people that I know that lift weights much more than that (like the cats in the gym every day) are either not really challenging their body or they are overtraining. I know you have heard it before, but working out does not build muscle...it tears it down....eating and rest is the main ingredient that many peop0le leave out. When you are younger, you can get by with overtraining more and I can even get by with it now for a short pereod of time. But eventually, gains stop.

For a practical bit of info....with all the workouts I have done ...of all the different crap I have eaten (suplements etc..) I gained the most strength when I lifted heavy (to failure) and lifted fewer sets with way more rest in between. Got much stronger....much....however, I would not have been worth much on the tennis court in those days...but I was bigger and stronger. Everyone is different. But most of the time, if someone is not making gains, I would tell them to train less often than more and find out what they are eating.

hifi heretic
12-04-2009, 05:35 AM
Pete:

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. In response:

Warmup routine: ..Um, no. I really don't do one and I probably would benefit from it. ..I do, however, make the first of the three sets on bench and squats a light one and use just 135lb for 10-15 reps. ..How quickly could I adequately warm up, in your opinion?? ..What would you recommend?

Core stuff is old school: You're absolutely right. I'm considering hiring one of the better personal trainers at my gym to walk me through some of newer exercises you mentioned. Though they're not ideal for tennis, I continue to do bench-presses and squats simply b/c I enjoy them. ..So far they don't seem to be hurting me (not that I notice anyway).

Mixing it Up: Yup. ..Will do. ..Hopefully, this thread will generate some new exercise ideas for me. Spacediver mentioned dips. I may start doing these instead of BB's for a few months.

Form: I'm kind of a "form" fanatic (tennis and lifting) so I think I'm okay in this respect. When benching I keep my butt on the bench and move the bar smoothly and deliberately (no bouncing). And this true for squats as well. In fact (forgive the boasting) Trainers have walked their teenage clients over to watch me squat because my form is very sound (knees remain over toes, all the way down, don't lean forward). I've been doing squats for years and this weight - though not light - is really quite manageable for me. Though never a gifted "bencher", I seem to have been blessed with good "squat" genetics.

Stretching/ med. balls: No, as with warm-ups, I really don't stretch - before or after either tennis or lifting. ..With tennis, I simply start slowly with half-court hitting, etc.. Is the connection b/w stretching and agility well established?? Personally, I have NEVER been able touch my toes with my knees locked yet I've always been among the most agile of my peers. Even to this day - at 45 yrs old - I can hold my left foot with my right hand, and jump right leg through! ..A silly boast, I know, but I've only known a few who can do this, yet I seem to be in the minority when it comes to flexibility.

As for medicine ball throws: ..I'd love to do them, but I really need to be able to complete my workout without relying on a partner. ..This gives me so much more time flexibility. Can you think of a similar exercise that does not require a partner?

Again, thanks Pete for your reply.

spacediver
12-07-2009, 12:40 PM
don't stretch as a warmup. Save stretching for a cooldown phase or a flexibility program in its own time.

There are at least three components to a warmup that you should be focusing on, in the context of weight lifting.

1) general warmup - light jogging or cycling - something low impact that you can use to break a light sweat and warm the body up as a whole. Depending on how stiff I am, or the temperature of the room, it can take me 5-15 minutes to get into this zone. You'll know once you get there - it feels as if your body has switched into a different mode. There's also sometimes a light euphoria that accompanies this.

2) dynamic warmup - these are things like leg swings, arm circles, etc. Focus on muscles that you are going to be using. In a sporting context, you can further tailor these warmups to mimic the actual movements that the sport requires.

3) warmup sets - you already seem to be good here. Simply start off with some light sets and progressively add a bit of weight for 2 or 3 sets until you start the working sets (full weight).