I need an exercise routine to gain weight and muscle with limited equipment
January 2, 2011 5:41 AM   Subscribe

As a part of a life-changing experience, I´m trying to get together a series of exercises and routines to make myself fit and strong. Right now, I have the following "ingredients" to make it happen: 1. Resistance band kit from GoFit (Ultimage ProGym) 2. A pair of 14 kg dumbbells 3. A foldable bike 4. A round balance board 5. A quiet neighborhood to walk on. 6. 3 hours per week

My goal is to exercise at least for one hour on monday, wednesday and friday. I had an accident 4 years ago and my left knee was injured (bone avulsion, no ligament was broken). Right now it´s ok but when I go jogging, let´s say, for two or three consecutive days (around 30 minutes) it starts to hurt, so I don´t want anything that strains it a lot. I´m a healthy latin-american guy, 1.82 Mts high, 73 Kgs.

I´ve been following the ProGym Training Program suggestions for a while (10 repetitions of each of 8 exercises: V raise, Standing Row, Lateral Raise, 1 Arm Rotational Kneeling, Standing Adduction, Standing Hip Extension, Standing Hip Abduction, Standing Hip Flexion), but the whole set takes more or less 15-20 minutes to complete, including warm-up and calisthenics. When I cannot perform these exercises, I use the dumbbells to do something similar, adding weight every now and then. The bike is used seldom, but I´d like to use it more, as well as the balance board to strengthen my ankles and legs in general. If recommended, I can also add some push-ups, walking or similar exercises additionally to my equipment usage.

So, I would like to have a defined routine to exercise using the tools that I already have and a plan to increase weight / resistance to allow muscle building and more stamina, while avoiding getting bored. My objective is to reach at least 80 kg, more on muscle than fat of course! How long will this take if I exercise, as I said before, 3 hours per week?

Last but not least, any diet suggestions would be welcome as well. At this time I have not access to a gym or instructor.

Any ideas / suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
posted by Matrod to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Long term repetition decreases the effectiveness of exercise. If three hours a week is it, cut one day a little short every few weeks for recovery and spend 30 minutes doing a little research to replace a portion of your exercises every three weeks. Planks become burpees, pushups become traveling pushups, etc. Concentrate on form.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:50 AM on January 2, 2011

Also, my wife lets people know that as a rule of thumb for results for her clients: 70% diet 30% exercise. (She is a CPT).
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:54 AM on January 2, 2011

Try pilates when you get a chance. Just buy a book and do some basic moves a couple of times a week.

Regarding diet, my approach is always to nickel and dime my calories. If I like eating a product, I start to look for similar products with slightly lower calories per serving (and make sure the serving sizes are identical - that's how food companies love to confuse things) and then I start buying the lower-calorie product. I do this for everything - milk, bread, soup, snacks, candies, etc. After a few weeks, play the same game again, find an even lower calorie version of what you like, and further lower your calories per serving.

I don't bother counting total calories for the day. I just slowly reduce the number of calories in my products.

And never, ever reward yourself for lowering those calories by having a rich treat.
posted by loosemouth at 6:16 AM on January 2, 2011

I'd can personally recommend "Weight Training for Dummies." It'll walk you through building a weight lifting program and explain the basics of periodization. It also has sections shorter sections on resistance band training, cardiovascular training, stretching and nutrition. You might also want to pick up a bench press (found a few for $20 on my local craigslist) and a pull up bar.
posted by smokingmonkey at 7:56 AM on January 2, 2011

My objective is to reach at least 80 kg, more on muscle than fat of course!

So your goal is to gain around 7kg of muscle. This will be very simple to achieve if you understand how to go about it. You could easily achieve your goal in a couple of months. Check out my answer about how to start gaining muscle here.

Unfortunately most of the equipment you mention in your question will be of limited use in achieving this goal. I'd especially recommend staying away from lifting weights on a balance board -- it's neither safe nor productive for your purposes. You'll want an Olympic barbell with plates, a power rack or squat rack, and a bench, all of which can be found in most gyms. Dumbbells could work if they were adjustable or if you had a large selection of them, but they'd still be sub-optimal. I'd recommend squatting Monday and Friday, deadlifting Wednesday, and alternating the bench press with the overhead press each session. You can do chinups and pushups whenever you want.

To gain muscle you need to gain strength. The most efficient way for a beginner to gain strength is to train with sets of 5 repetitions. The weight will be heavy enough to make you bigger and stronger, but not so heavy as to be dangerous for a beginner. With a barbell you'll be able to progress every session by making small increases in weight. You will not be advanced enough to require "periodization" for quite some time.

Since your goal is to gain mass, you'll more likely have to increase your food intake than decrease it. In particular you'll want to make sure you're consuming enough protein. I'd say you should aim for at least 200g/day.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2011

You could easily achieve your goal in a couple of months.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer here, but it would be physically impossible for you - for any human being to gain that much muscle in a couple of months.

That link includes data that suggests that kind of muscle gain is going to take more like a year - and that's assuming best practice in your exercise, and your diet.

Without equipment for a more signifcant work-out than what you have now, it will definitely take much longer than a year, unless you want the extra weight in the form of fat, water, and glycogen.

Focus less on the weight, and more on the fitness, imho. Weight is just a number; fitness, strength, and feeling good about yourself is worth a lot more. :) I'll let wiser heads than I make recommendations based on what you have available.
posted by smoke at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2011

Sorry to be Debbie Downer here, but it would be physically impossible for you - for any human being to gain that much muscle in a couple of months.

You're right that "a couple" is probably too optimistic. I should have said "several." But I assure you that it happens all the time for underweight, untrained individuals like the OP. If he already weighed 100kg and squatted 200, it'd be a very different story, but beginners can progress very quickly.

In any case, focus on getting strong and eating right and you'll get results.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2011

Hey guys,

Thanks for all your insightful answers. My problem is that I have limited space and can´t have a barbell or similar equipment in my house for the moment nor go to a gym. So I want to stick with my current gear. I know it´s limited, but it´s the only I currently have. Specifically I´m looking for a routine that lasts for more or less one hour and allows me to gain muscle and strength. I don´t care about the time that it will take. My diet is controlled by a nutritionist, so I need to concentrate on exercises and number of repetitions.

I hope this helps to clarify and focus the question.

posted by Matrod at 5:03 AM on January 4, 2011

Well, one of the most important things to understand about gaining strength and muscle is the idea of progressive overload. This means that to make gains you've got to do more than you did before. You can increase the weight you're using, or you can increase the number of repetitions. However, increasing the number of repetitions only works up to a point for gaining strength and size, because once you can do so many the weight no longer represents a high enough percentage of your max to induce continued strength gains and it becomes an endurance exercise. This is why endurance athletes don't get huge. Big legs are built with heavy squats, not endless repetitions of air squats or long-distance jogs.

So you can work with your single pair of dumbbells and do bodyweight exercises and increase the repetitions over time, and you'll make some progress, but you're not going to gain 7kg of muscle and you'll be pretty much just spinning your wheels. If you're serious about reaching your goals, you should figure out how to get to a gym with the proper equipment.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:09 AM on January 4, 2011

You certainly can do a non-gym workout and certainly gain muscle on said workout, but I've been hesistant to answer because I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for. If you want resources to look at I, or some other people here, would be more than happy to provide those. But writing up a specific workout for someone else is a bit time consuming, and if you didn't like it than it's time wasted.
Perhaps starting with ExRx would be a good place to start.
Maybe chec out some bodyweight exercises on youtube
Scott Sonnon does a lot of interesting stuff.
Here's a link to some unilateral dumbell exercises
As far as your diet goes, eat more protein.
I hope all that works out for you, if not maybe you could just specify some questions here. And I'm sorry for the non-answer you got here. I guess let it be a lesson though, A) there hard no hard and fast rules to working out and B) a good trainer will work with you and give you an answer you can work(out) with.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:12 PM on January 6, 2011

Hey guys,

Thanks again for your suggestions. I ended up designing my own exercise routine with the help of all the resources that were cited on this thread. So far, I´m using my equipment to do 3 hours of exercise (on three different, non-consecutive days), doing 4 sets of 8 repetitions each. So far, so good.

I´ll post my progress later on.
posted by Matrod at 4:51 AM on January 13, 2011

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