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Old 04-05-2011, 12:19 AM   #1
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Workout questions? Ask a Bodybuilder/Personal Trainer

I don't see any threads dedicated to professional advice for health & fitness questions so I decided to make one since it's been my life for almost 10 years. I rarely come across a question that I don't know the answer to, but I don't know everything, so if I don't know the answer I have great resources to use and will be sure to find the right answer for you.

A little bit about me, I started working out when I was 15, started competing in bodybuilding when I was 17, and got certified and started working as a personal trainer when I was 18 and have been doing that ever since.

I've competed 8 times in bodybuilding and have won two state titles as a teen and adult, and I've set state records in raw powerlifting also.



winning my weight class and overall for the entire men's jr. division at the state championships - 3.25% bodyfat @ 175 lbs.



raw deadlift 550 lbs. @ 198 lb. weight class



squatting 550 for 3 reps @ 198 lbs.



350 lb. bench press @ 198 lbs.

I won the amateur bodybuilder of the week award once on bodybuilding.com and the article outlines my workout routine and pre-contest diet:

http://www.bodybuilders.com/alex_morrison.htm

So feel free to ask me anything and hopefully I'll be able to help!
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:23 AM   #2
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You are freaking crazy man! What workouts would you recommend for just getting stronger in general. I've been working out for almost 2 years now, and I just want to look buffer and just be overall stronger in the upperbody. Any exercises you recommend?
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:35 AM   #3
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Hey alex. Just looked over that link and looks pretty good.

Im not trying to become a body builder or anything, but do want to get into great shape. Ive been to the gym 6 days a week for the past 2 weeks. I do 1 hour of cardio, and probably about half hour to 45 minutes weight lifting a day. My main goal right now is to shred fat.

I am about 6'1" and 200 pounds. Would really like to see some results quick in the abs arms and chest. I also stopped eating fast food and soda, and drink a bottle of water with 2 scoops whey in it before every workout.

Like i said i want results fast. Any advice on what to eat, and what to do at the gym and when to drink protein? Thanks alot
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by brettb View Post
You are freaking crazy man! What workouts would you recommend for just getting stronger in general. I've been working out for almost 2 years now, and I just want to look buffer and just be overall stronger in the upperbody. Any exercises you recommend?
X2
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by brettb View Post
You are freaking crazy man! What workouts would you recommend for just getting stronger in general. I've been working out for almost 2 years now, and I just want to look buffer and just be overall stronger in the upperbody. Any exercises you recommend?
well first, what kind of workout routine do you follow now? have you been using the same one for the whole two years? do you ever change it up?

for STRENGTH, you generally want to train in the lower rep ranges, around 6 to 8 at the most, powerlifters do a lot of singles, doubles, triples, and occasionally they'll go up to 5, 6ish reps maybe when doing speed work for explosive power but basically heavier weights and lower reps is good for strength but I personally don't like to train that heavy all the time, I do more of a pyramid style of training which starts out with a light set of 15-20, then increase the weight and do 8-10, increase again and do 6-8, increase again maybe for around 3-5, then start decreasing the weight and increasing the reps the same way you went up, for example something like 15, 10, 8, 6, 3, 6, 8, 10, 15 etc. and that may seem like a lot of sets but I would only recommend doing that many sets on the big compound lifts like bench, squats and deadlifts, those 3 lifts are the main compound lifts that put the most stress on the body and force your muscles to grow the most

the whole idea is to overload the muscle you're working that day, so if you do 3 or 4 sets of the same weight, same reps, how much are you really exhausting that muscle? if you start light, and increase for 4 sets, then come back down for another 3 sets or so, you're really calling on every muscle fiber which puts more stress on the muscle and forces it to grow and get stronger

for example on my leg day, I'll start with squats or leg press and work my way up and down in weight, then move to more isolating movements like leg extensions and leg curls to further burn more muscle fibers, because you don't want to just do 1 or 2 exercises, you want at least 3 or 4 to really hit that muscle from as many angles as possible, so when you're done that muscle is completely exhausted and ready to absorb your post-workout nutrients to grow and get stronger
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by toyotadude5 View Post
Hey alex. Just looked over that link and looks pretty good.

Im not trying to become a body builder or anything, but do want to get into great shape. Ive been to the gym 6 days a week for the past 2 weeks. I do 1 hour of cardio, and probably about half hour to 45 minutes weight lifting a day. My main goal right now is to shred fat.

I am about 6'1" and 200 pounds. Would really like to see some results quick in the abs arms and chest. I also stopped eating fast food and soda, and drink a bottle of water with 2 scoops whey in it before every workout.

Like i said i want results fast. Any advice on what to eat, and what to do at the gym and when to drink protein? Thanks alot
a full hour of cardio is a little much to start out with, but I do agree with the 6 days a week routine and weights for at least 45 minutes every day, ONLY if you're working different muscle groups every day, AND if you're getting adequate amounts of protein to prevent over-training

you've taken some great first steps as far as diet goes like taking out fast food and soda and increasing your water intake and adding protein shakes, but I would get more than one shake a day, maybe one in the morning with breakfast or in between your other meals, and then one POST-workout, not right before, because AFTER your workout is when your body needs those nutrients the most and that's when they need to get absorbed

what kind of diet are you following now? 5-6 small meals a day? high protein, medium to low carbs? because eating 1-3 big meals a day makes it hard on your body to tap into your fat stores to use for energy because it keeps your metabolism on a roller coaster instead of keeping it high all day long, which can be achieved by eating every couple hours, whether it be a small meal of chicken, brown rice and veggies or a protein shake, as long as you're getting something in your system every couple hours, your metabolism will stay high, and your body will let go of more calories, which will come from body fat

so as long as you're eating CLEAN, eating OFTEN, keeping your protein high and training every day, you will see results

oh and as far as your cardio goes, the thing is, your body responds most to CHANGE, and if you start at an hour of cardio, sure you'll burn a lot of calories at first but your body will eventually get used to that, and will stop burning body fat and start using other things for energy like carbs that you've ate that day, to prevent from losing too much body fat, so if you don't keep things changing, it's hard to get the body to keep responding to it, so I would start light on the cardio, 30 minutes 4 times a week or so, and every week or two, add a day a week until you're at 5 or 6 days a week, then from there add 5 minutes every week or two, until you're at 45ish minutes a day, then start doing two cardio sessions a day, one in the morning on an EMPTY stomach, which is better for tapping into your fat stores, and then another session of cardio after your weight workout, two shorter sessions are better than one big one
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
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I know I didn't ask anything but that was some good info my friend. I need to change up some things a bit
+ 1 rep for u
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:58 AM   #8
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good stuff.

ive been working out seriously since mid september. at the start i was 6'3'' 177, now i am up to around 191. gaining is going well, but ive noticed my gains have really slowed almost to a screeching halt...i guess ive hit the dreaded plateau. ive attempted to switch my workouts around, and still get a pump when i lift, but am not seeing results as fast as i was. i have been eating decently, trying to consume 3000-4000 cals/day and taking whey/vitamins, and cycling creatine every 4 weeks (4 weeks on, 4 weeks off).

any suggestions? how can i really throw my muscles off/see those big gains again before summer rolls around??? right now, ive been going every other day: shoulders/horizontal back, chest/bis, legs/vertical back, tris/abs.

also, since gaining the 15ish lbs. since fall, ive noticed my abs getting cloudy. i am by no means fat and definitely am filling out, but i was hoping to keep them defined. im not doing much cardio (playing hockey 3x a week) because ive heard its 'wasted calories' for a hardgainer. is this my problem?

thanks a ton!
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:59 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice. I try to snack all day. On fruits and some almonds and stuff. The reason whty i was doing so much cardio is to burn off the fat then actually start lifting to gain muscle.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:11 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by hamNswiss on rye View Post
good stuff.

ive been working out seriously since mid september. at the start i was 6'3'' 177, now i am up to around 191. gaining is going well, but ive noticed my gains have really slowed almost to a screeching halt...i guess ive hit the dreaded plateau. ive attempted to switch my workouts around, and still get a pump when i lift, but am not seeing results as fast as i was. i have been eating decently, trying to consume 3000-4000 cals/day and taking whey/vitamins, and cycling creatine every 4 weeks (4 weeks on, 4 weeks off).

any suggestions? how can i really throw my muscles off/see those big gains again before summer rolls around??? right now, ive been going every other day: shoulders/horizontal back, chest/bis, legs/vertical back, tris/abs.

also, since gaining the 15ish lbs. since fall, ive noticed my abs getting cloudy. i am by no means fat and definitely am filling out, but i was hoping to keep them defined. im not doing much cardio (playing hockey 3x a week) because ive heard its 'wasted calories' for a hardgainer. is this my problem?

thanks a ton!
when you say switch workouts around, does that mean just a different order of exercises, different things on different days, or are you increasing weight, number of sets and reps, or intensity? those things will help you move past plateaus in your training

are your calories clean? is your protein high enough? you also don't need to cycle creatine, and the best way I've found to take it is 5 grams or a tablespoon of basic creatine monohydrate powder in your post-workout shake, which should come right before a meal that should contain some good complex carbs to spike your insulin which will pull all those nutrients and creatine into the muscles

as far as your training, I'd try to get more days in the gym and do maybe one muscle group a day, so you can isolate that muscle better, because when you do 2-3 muscle groups together in one session, you can't do as many exercises for each muscle because you would get too tired, so if you're doing one muscle group a day you can really hit it hard and from every angle possible, which is the best thing to do for growth, strength and moving past plateaus, so try a back day, leg day, chest day, shoulder day, and arm day, or maybe even a bicep day and tricep day instead of both on the same day, you may be different but I've found that when I hit bis and tris in the same day, I can never get them BOTH sore the next day, the one that gets sore is the first one I hit, because I can't put as much energy into the 2nd one

cardio wise, if you're gaining weight but losing your abs, you're clearly gaining some body fat which will come from eating a ton of calories and carbs which is essential when trying to put on mass, but when you want your gains to be completely clean, gaining only lean muscle and not any body fat, then your diet needs to be cleaner, and cardio must be done, now granted it's going to take longer to see gains eating cleaner and doing cardio when you're a hardgainer, but you will eventually build muscle and that takes a while but it's better to focus on lean mass instead of gaining lean mass AND body fat, and then having to take the body fat off later
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by toyotadude5 View Post
Thanks for the advice. I try to snack all day. On fruits and some almonds and stuff. The reason whty i was doing so much cardio is to burn off the fat then actually start lifting to gain muscle.
that's good but keep in mind that the more muscle you have, the more calories you're going to burn, so never start with cardio to "lose the weight first" then add weights later on to build muscle, you want to do BOTH because doing weights increases the effectiveness of your cardio and will get you leaner faster
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Morrison View Post
that's good but keep in mind that the more muscle you have, the more calories you're going to burn, so never start with cardio to "lose the weight first" then add weights later on to build muscle, you want to do BOTH because doing weights increases the effectiveness of your cardio and will get you leaner faster
ok that sounds good. The problem is i just dont know what to do when i get to the gym I usually just do upper body stuff and a ton of abs every day. It would be better if i had a set schedule to follow on certain days.

So ill start lifting more and ill keep doing cardio also. And protien after workout
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:18 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Morrison View Post
when you say switch workouts around, does that mean just a different order of exercises, different things on different days, or are you increasing weight, number of sets and reps, or intensity? those things will help you move past plateaus in your training

are your calories clean? is your protein high enough? you also don't need to cycle creatine, and the best way I've found to take it is 5 grams or a tablespoon of basic creatine monohydrate powder in your post-workout shake, which should come right before a meal that should contain some good complex carbs to spike your insulin which will pull all those nutrients and creatine into the muscles

as far as your training, I'd try to get more days in the gym and do maybe one muscle group a day, so you can isolate that muscle better, because when you do 2-3 muscle groups together in one session, you can't do as many exercises for each muscle because you would get too tired, so if you're doing one muscle group a day you can really hit it hard and from every angle possible, which is the best thing to do for growth, strength and moving past plateaus, so try a back day, leg day, chest day, shoulder day, and arm day, or maybe even a bicep day and tricep day instead of both on the same day, you may be different but I've found that when I hit bis and tris in the same day, I can never get them BOTH sore the next day, the one that gets sore is the first one I hit, because I can't put as much energy into the 2nd one

cardio wise, if you're gaining weight but losing your abs, you're clearly gaining some body fat which will come from eating a ton of calories and carbs which is essential when trying to put on mass, but when you want your gains to be completely clean, gaining only lean muscle and not any body fat, then your diet needs to be cleaner, and cardio must be done, now granted it's going to take longer to see gains eating cleaner and doing cardio when you're a hardgainer, but you will eventually build muscle and that takes a while but it's better to focus on lean mass instead of gaining lean mass AND body fat, and then having to take the body fat off later

ive tried to change the exercises around, trying to do more full body stuff life deadlifts, squats, military press, etc.

i get plenty of protein, usually do a shake in the am, and a shake with creatine post workout before i eat a big dinner. lots and lots of chicken breast, probably 5x/week.

going with 1 muscle a day would be tough for me, cause i dont know any great isolation exercises. with things like deadlifts, for example, would i put these with my back day or legs day? i dont want to overtrain, but have been told that bigger exercises like this are an absolute must in every workout regimen.

also, any specific workout style youd reccomend? i mean, ive heard high reps (12-15?) for mass, but how many sets? i try to superset often, and do strip sets with bigger exercises.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:22 AM   #14
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Well good to see we have some folks on here who can give out good advice. I recently started a weight loss competition with a family member. Starting at 241 and would like to get down to 180.

On a side note, nice job on 550 squat/3 reps. Back when I lifted and was in shape, I did 515 at 3 reps, and then proceeded to blow out my knee. I weighed 190 at that time, wrestled 189 in high school.
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:11 AM   #15
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Jesus, I need to start working out..... in a bad way. 5'11", 244lbs.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:07 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by toyotadude5 View Post
ok that sounds good. The problem is i just dont know what to do when i get to the gym I usually just do upper body stuff and a ton of abs every day. It would be better if i had a set schedule to follow on certain days.

So ill start lifting more and ill keep doing cardio also. And protien after workout
doing abs does not burn belly fat lol it works the abdominal muscles, which burn calories, which come little by little from everywhere on the body, but you don't burn that many calories working abs, you burn a LOT of calories doing cardio if your diet is right, and you burn a lot of calories doing the major compound movements like squats, deadlifts and bench press, so focus on the bigger muscle groups and cardio and a good clean diet, small portions, more often, 5 or 6 small meals a day keeps your metabolism high, 2-3 big meals a day keeps it shut down which makes it nearly impossible to burn body fat, and as far as what to do on what days, I mentioned in a post above about one muscle group a day as being very effective, for example monday back, tuesday legs, wednesday chest, thursday OFF or some light shoulders, abs, lower back, friday biceps, saturday triceps

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamNswiss on rye View Post
ive tried to change the exercises around, trying to do more full body stuff life deadlifts, squats, military press, etc.

i get plenty of protein, usually do a shake in the am, and a shake with creatine post workout before i eat a big dinner. lots and lots of chicken breast, probably 5x/week.

going with 1 muscle a day would be tough for me, cause i dont know any great isolation exercises. with things like deadlifts, for example, would i put these with my back day or legs day? i dont want to overtrain, but have been told that bigger exercises like this are an absolute must in every workout regimen.

also, any specific workout style youd reccomend? i mean, ive heard high reps (12-15?) for mass, but how many sets? i try to superset often, and do strip sets with bigger exercises.
I do deadlifts on back day, and as long as you're taking in enough cals, especially from protein, you won't over-train as long as you're not doing the same muscle groups all the time or too often, and if you don't know many exercises for various muscle groups then check out bodybuilding.com they'll tell you which ones are great and have pictures/video to show you how they're done, I could give you a big list on here but you might not know what they are

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Well good to see we have some folks on here who can give out good advice. I recently started a weight loss competition with a family member. Starting at 241 and would like to get down to 180.

On a side note, nice job on 550 squat/3 reps. Back when I lifted and was in shape, I did 515 at 3 reps, and then proceeded to blow out my knee. I weighed 190 at that time, wrestled 189 in high school.
sounds good man good luck with the competition! and that's awesome on the squats, were you going down to parallel? I see guys in the gym all the time squat real heavy or leg press with every plate on the gym on there but they'll go down about 2 inches lol I set the safety bars exactly at parallel so if I didn't almost touch them with the bar on the way down I wasn't satisfied
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:17 AM   #17
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Wow tons of great info. What do you suggest for good snacks during the day? Nuts and fruits?
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:28 AM   #18
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I know I didn't ask anything but that was some good info my friend. I need to change up some things a bit
+ 1 rep for u
thanks bro, I could use some more little green boxes so thanks for the reps

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Wow tons of great info. What do you suggest for good snacks during the day? Nuts and fruits?
nuts and fruits are good in-between meal snacks, but I suggest moving more towards small meals instead of snacks, and a "meal" should consist of a source of protein, carbs, and fats, so a good small meal would be say a container of chicken, brown rice, and veggies. good lean sources of protein are going to be chicken, turkey, fish, protein shakes, etc. good complex carbs are oats (oatmeal in the mornings) brown rice, and sweet potatos, and any green vegetable will provide you with the necessary fiber that you need for digestion and excretion lol
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:41 AM   #19
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sounds good man good luck with the competition! and that's awesome on the squats, were you going down to parallel? I see guys in the gym all the time squat real heavy or leg press with every plate on the gym on there but they'll go down about 2 inches lol I set the safety bars exactly at parallel so if I didn't almost touch them with the bar on the way down I wasn't satisfied
I would go down to just below parallel. I had safety bars, set one notch below parallel. I never touched the safety bars, though, so I could keep all the weight on me all the time. And none of that go down and bounce it up, either haha.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:45 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by gtrotter View Post
I would go down to just below parallel. I had safety bars, set one notch below parallel. I never touched the safety bars, though, so I could keep all the weight on me all the time. And none of that go down and bounce it up, either haha.
yeah that's good I hate when people bounce the weight off their chest when doing bench or squatting down and bouncing back up, none of that shit is legal in meets so it shouldn't count in the gym
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