Be Careful What You Wish For

Q: "My name is Alessandro, and I'm 17 soon to be 18. I've been working out for about a year but properly maybe 6-8 months. I weigh anywhere between 160-165. I'm somewhere between 6'0 and 6'1. In the past few months I've put on a decent amount of muscle. My arms probably measure in around 14.5-15 inches, and my chest about 42-43. 

"I was wondering if I should be using the Workout for the Ectomorph you wrote an article about. Everybody seems to tell me I look big, but in my own eyes I still can't see the physique I want, I don't know if this email will reach you, but a response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance."

My Answer: Don't listen to your friends, because the measurements you're giving me indicate you still have lots of growth to go. I don't know what sort of program you're doing now, but chances are you will benefit from the 10-8-6-15 progam. Most beginners train like the pro bodybuilders (split routines, high volume), when they should be doing the exact opposite in nearly every training parameter. You're not big yet and you're not on steroids, so why train like a pro bodybuilder? The Hypertrophy Training for the Ectomorph article outlines everything that you should be doing as a beginner, but you need to unlearn this BS that muscle mags have been feeding you about how to train.

Q: "I read your articles on and was very impressed. It's great to have someone that understands how difficult it can be for officers to find time to work out. I work at Alamance County Sheriff's Dept. in North Carolina as a Correctional Officer. I liked the workout that you provided on, but noticed you recommended powerlifting for correctional officers, but I could not find a recommended workout for us.

"I have been doing everything I can to try to cut down on my body fat, to no avail. I adapted a strict low carb/high protein diet, and began doing everything I can to eat healthy foods. In the first 2 weeks I lost 10 pounds, that was 2 months ago, and I haven't lost anything else. I don't seem to be losing any inches or gaining any muscle. I am seriously starting to give up hope of trimming down.

"I can not stop working out though. I am also in the National Guard, and will be deploying back to Iraq for my second tour in a few months. So being in shape is a great concern for me right now. I also have attached a recent snapshot of myself, so you can see just why I want to transform out of this flabby body that I have. My typical workout is as follows:

Day 1 Chest/Biceps
-Flat bench press 4x4-10
-Incline Dumbbell Flies 4x6-10
-Cable Crossovers 3x15
-Standing E-Z Bar curl 4x4-10
-Hammer Curls 4x10
-Preacher curls 4x10
-Standing Cable curls 3x15
-30 minutes of cardio, either stepmill or elliptical (treadmills kill my joints)

Day 2 Back/Triceps
-Pull-ups 4x5 (trying to build more reps)
-Bent over rows 4x10
-T-bar rows 4x6-10
-Pulldowns 4x10
-Close grip press 4x3-10
-Nose breakers 4x10
-Overhead Dumbbell press 4x10
-Cable kickbacks 3x12-15
-Superset triceps with Dips and pushups after every triceps workout

Day 3 Shoulder/Abs/Cardio
-Upright Rows 4x6-10
-Dumbbell Shrugs 4x10-12
-Lateral raises 4x10
-Front Raises 4x10
-Haven't found a steady ab routine, usually do Swiss ball crunches and leg raises.
-30 minutes cardio

Day 4 Legs
-Have to admit, I have to force myself into legs. They get neglected a lot.
-4x10 Hack squats
-3x10 Lunges
-4x30 standing calf raises

"If you have a free minute, could you glance at this and tell me where I'm going wrong? I notice that no matter how hard I work myself, I'm not even feeling sore after I workout. I even tried switching recently to a Chest/Triceps and Back Bicep routine, and still did not feel sore the next day. 

"I'm so confused about the whole Push/Push or Push/Pull theory on muscle groups, everyone has a different opinion on that. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time."

-Adam R.

My Answer: I don't give much credence to the push/pull split routines, so don't worry about those. You can switch back and forth between push/pull routines and non-push/pull routines, and it wouldn't make a difference in your gains.

Anyway, I didn't give a powerlifting routine in the Return to Copland article, because 1) that would have been a very distracting side note to the article and 2) there are plenty of powerlifting routines out there to choose from. But if you're focus is losing fat, then a powerlifting routine isn't good for you anyway.

It sounds like you want to lose fat and stay fit for deployment. If that's the case, then a good training program to follow is the one outlined in the Building a Bigger Engine article. You better start working out your legs more, because those bad boys will burn more calories than your upper body. If you want soreness, then working out the legs with low rest will bring it. Be careful what you wish for.
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