Help me design a home push/pull routine
August 8, 2007 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me design a good home push-pull workout with minimal equipment. Goals: Mass and definition

I'm trying to get a good weight-training workout set up in my new apartment, but have fairly limited moneys to invest in it. As such, I'm planning on getting some adjustable dumbbells, maybe a balance ball, and if I can find a used workout bench, that too (suggestions on cheap equipment appreciated).

My current push/pull is as follows: (basically all upper body, as I have shitty knees. Will be walking/biking quite a bit, so not too worried about leg atrophy) Please feel free to comment, and then help me find replacement exercises that will be effective at home.

Push (8-12 reps, 2-3 sets)
-Incline bench press (any good replacements when lacking an incline bench)
-Barbell Pull-overs (tried this with dumbbells, which works, though it's fairly taxing on the wrists)
-Assisted Dips (I guess chair dips or reverse incline bench press?)
-Fly Machine (How many variants on dumbbell flys can I do?)
-Dumbbell bench press(works fine at home)
-Dumbbell fly(works fine at home)
-Shoulder press(works fine at home)
-Side raises(works fine at home)
-Front raises (works fine at home)
-Barbell skullcrushers
-Cable pushdown
(Anything missing from a full upper body push routine?)

-Assisted Pull-ups (how do I replace this, as I need 100 lbs of assistance to do 8-12 reps x 3)
-T-Bar Row (Replace with 1-arm row?)
-Lateral Puil-down (Still not sure what to do)
-Cable row (More 1-arm rows?)
-Reverse Fly Machine (Could use some dumbbell versions of this.)
-Reverse curls (works fine at home)
-Hammer curls (How do I better isolate my biceps? When using a bicep bench, I can only curl about half the weight, so I'm clearly using a decent amount of back in my current form)
-Back extensions
posted by sirion to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh yeah, forgot:
Pull: Bent over raises (works fine at home)
posted by sirion at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2007

I can't recommend specific exercises, but two things I've found helpful are ExRx and the Men's Health Home Workout Bible.
posted by djgh at 6:53 PM on August 8, 2007

Mass is difficult to develop without serious weight; if you'd like to cut what you've got, try

The best way to get inclines is to do push-ups with your feet on a chair.

To reduce your effective weight on the pull-ups, set up a loop about ribcage height, hanging from the ceiling about eight feet away from your pull up bar.Support your weight on the loop so that you're pulling your body weight up at a 45 degree angle.
posted by notsnot at 7:05 PM on August 8, 2007

Invest in a chin-up bar to install in your home. They are cheap, and pretty much take care of all upper back movements, depending on your grip. Also, until you can do them on your own, the easiest thing to do is long, slow eccentrics. Basically, put a chair under the bar, jump up, and then -slowly- lower yourself down. Over time, you'll be able to do the concentric portion of the lift.

Also, a general comment, it seems like you are doing a lot of lifting all covering the same muscle groups. Too much, in fact. I'd focus on each muscle group with only 36-42 reps total, splint into sets however you'd like. For example, you don't need reverse curls and hammer curls. Same with lat pull down and pull-ups.

Finally, having bad knees won't prevent you from working legs. In fact, it will help strengthen your knees as long as you are very careful with your movements. If you can, talk to a trainer about this as they may have specific recommendations.

And yeah, just look up the muscle groups you need exercises for on ExRx and then choose dumb-bell as your modality.
posted by Loto at 7:05 PM on August 8, 2007

Consider looking in to crossfit. It's not designed to make you big, but I've put on more size in the 6 months or so I've been doing it than I did in years of more typical gym work.

A chinup bar and a barbell with some plates will get you through 90% of the workouts.
posted by markr at 9:10 PM on August 8, 2007

Trying to gain mass while not working your legs is counterproductive. Heavy leg work stimulates your hormones in a way that causes everything to grow. Bad knees are no excuse, you can still deadlift (which is an excellent pull), and it is quite likely that working your legs with proper form will improve your shitty knees. It definitely improved mine.
You are doing a lot of reps and a lot of exercises working the same muscle groups over and over. You're wasting a lot of time with that routine and I bet your results will be sub-optimal. I would look at either a 3-day full body along the lines of this or perhaps one of the HST routines.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:28 PM on August 8, 2007

What Loto and ch1x0r said, and also:

"Goals: Mass and definition"

One or the other, my friend. If you eat enough to gain significant muscle mass, you will gain fat too. If you exert yourself enough to lose fat, at best you will hold on to the muscle mass you have. The only exceptions to this rule are people who have never lifted before, or who have had a long layoff.

The workout is only half the strategy for achieving your goals: diet is the other half. Decide whether you are going for bigger or smaller and eat accordingly (lots of protein in either case, more or less calories from carbs and good fats depending).

Also, while some people do lose fat just by weight training and dieting, some aerobic work would be damned good for you and make it easier. In fact some aerobic work would be good for you anyway.

Re your workout: that is way way way too many sets for one workout. 6-10 exercises, 2-3 sets, 8-12 reps is plenty. If you love the variety, have 2 or 3 workouts and alternate them. Again, what ch1x0r said.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:33 PM on August 8, 2007

For example, here is the workout I do three times a week in the gym. I'll also note alternatives you can do at home. I have gained, and continue to gain, strength and muscle mass using this plan.

Sets: 3, Reps: 8 (if I can do more than 8 on the last set, I up the weight next time)

Barbell Bench Press --> Dumbbell Bench Press
Cable Seated Row or Barbell Bent-Over Row--> Dumbell Bent-Over Rows
Barbell Back Squat --> Dumbbell Hack Squat or Dumbbell Single-Leg Squat
Barbell Military Press --> Dumbbell Military Press
Pull-Up --> Pull-Up
Barbell Deadlift --> Dumbbell Deadlift or Dumbbell Single-Leg Deadlift

I also do situps/crunches until exhaustion for three sets, and random rotator cuff work as needed. The single leg work is an excellent strength and muscle builder, and I do it myself about once a week in lieu of my normal lift.

The two most important things when lifting are diet and intensity. Without a good diet your gains will suffer, and without proper intensity for every rep of every set, you won't gain nearly as much as you could.
posted by Loto at 10:26 AM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

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