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Weightlifting & Exercise/Advice on a workout routine and gaining muscle mass


Hello. I am a 31 year old man looking for solid and sound advice. I am looking to gain both strength and muscle mass.

I am going to be as detailed as possible to let you know where I am now and what my current routine is.

Right now, I do strength training 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I have 2 25 pound free weights and a pull up bar. I usually lift free weights, do push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and squats on a workout day.

I can only do between 2-3 pull-ups at once, and around 8-10 push-up at once. I know that isn't good but that is where I am at.

That said, can you help me to form a solid workout routine? For example, how many sets/reps of each exercise should I aim for on a workout day? Should I do all the exercises every workout day? Or should do specific workouts on a specific day (for example, only pull-ups and push-ups on Wednesdays)?

I am willing to work hard and stay committed to get to where I want to be. But I am unsure on forming a solid routine.

If you need any more information from me, please let me know.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Hi Lee,

Thanks for writing in.  I'm assuming youíre a novice to lifting.  In the beginning, you want to start slowly, ensuring that you get the proper lifting form down cold.  This is very important, and if you donít have the money to get a personal trainer to help, there are plenty of good articles / videos on the net where you can learn about it.

In the first few months of lifting, you will notice quick increase in your strength levels.  You will begin noticing size increases around the 3 month mark (and your strength levels will still be increasing, too).  Keep in mind this is if you are lifting properly, eating a good diet, and getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  These are the 3 staples to success.  Those, and determination, of course.

If you only have a pair of 25 lbs dumbbells, it will be tough to progress beyond a certain level of fitness to reach a larger muscular frame.  However, you can still see noticeable growth results indeed.  As for the pull-up bar, do not get discouraged about not being able to do many pull-ups (same as for push-ups).  Just try to do as many as you can, and the next time you do the exercise, try to achieve 1 more than you did the previous time.  This is called "progressive overload" Ė gradually increasing the weight over time.  This will lead to gains in the long run.  (Aim to get in the 10-15 rep range for both.  This range can be adjusted.)  

In terms of lifting speed, aim to lift a weight (dumbbell or your own bodyweight) with about 1-2 seconds to raise the weight, briefly pause, and then allow 3-4 seconds to lower the weight.  NEVER let your form be compromised by the weight.  If you cannot complete a rep with good form, it doesn't count.  Lifting with proper form will help you avoid injury, so donít cheat!

The actual lifting part of the exercise can be broken down into 4 parts:

#1 Lifting phase (1-2 secs):  Raise the weight

#2 Brief pause (1 second): after you have raised the weight, pause.  This helps avoid using momentum, which is cheating

#3 Lowering phase (3-4 seconds): Lower the weight under good control back to the starting position.

#4 Brief pause (1 second):  after you have lowered the weight, pause.  This helps avoid using momentum, which is cheating

Now while I could custom design a workout plan for you, there are so many on the internet for free which you can look at.  If youíre just starting out, have a look at this website:

I think it is a pretty comprehensive website with a lot of useful information.   Make sure you read as much as you can to understand many of the questions which you are asking.   This website covers lifting frequency, set / rep ranges, and number of times a week to lift.

As a beginner, here is a suggested page:

What you should do is read over the information, and formulate any specific questions which you still have that aren't covered here or that which confuses you.  Iíd be happy to answer them as much as I can.

Once you understand more about lifting, types of exercises, lifting form, and the progression of adding weight, you will be well on your way to gaining both strength and size.  I can help you with tailoring the exercises using the weights which you have, but get a good understanding of what you are going to be doing, learn proper lifting form, and set a plan first.


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The following types of questions are fine: overall benefits of exercise, bodyfat reduction / weight loss, interests, training for specific bodyparts, order of exercises and reps/sets, routine suggestions, general questions. The following types of questions I will NOT answer: questions about physical therapy training post-injury, questions about training after medical treatment.


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I have worked with and trained clients of many ages, both teenagers, college students, and adults. Many are just starting out, while others are looking to get in the best shape of their life. I've often seen that it's the one-two combo of exercise and diet which really makes an impact in seeing overall results. Every client needs to make a commitment to the lifestyle in order to see real results.

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