Readers' E-mail!

Big Red's Teen Bodybuilding Reader's E-Mail and responses.
Q & A

Welcome to the page where I will answer your questions that you have sent to me by e-mail. E-mail me at jcho0809@postoffice.uri.edu with your question!

QUESTION:

Hi Red, I've been reading some of your articles and you seem to really know your stuff about bodybuilding and training. I'm writing this because I need your advice, I'm 5'9 and weigh around 185-190 pounds. I don't consider myself too fat, but I want to look much better. I recently started going to the gym (a month ago) but I've not been able to keep up with my weekly exercises due to some unexpected events. Anyways I'm going at it 100% starting on Monday. I'm on a 3 times a week routine:

  • Monday: Chest and Triceps
  • Wednesday: Back and Biceps
  • Friday: Legs and Shoulders

I do a 25-30 min cardio session before every weight lifting session and always finish with 200 sit ups. I'm also going to try Tae-Bo on Thursday or Tuesday, I've heard it is a great way to lose fat, but I gotta try it first and see if I like it or not. I do about 4 exercises for the big muscles (Chest, Back and Legs), and 3 for the smaller ones (Biceps, Triceps and Shoulders), 4 x 15 reps each, from what I've read from your site, I think I'm doing too much reps but that's what the trainer at the gym told me to do and seeing that he's bigger than me I thought he must be right. Is he? He said it's what I must do to lose weight/burn fat. I don't know the names for the exercises I do, but if you need to know I could describe them to you.

As for the nutrition part, I'm completely lost. I'm trying to cut back on the carbs and I stopped eating white bread, white rice, sugar (candy, ice cream, etc...), junk food, pizza (that hurts) and I'm trying to eat stuff like whole wheat bread, salad, lean meats (which is not a problem because I love meat), skinless chicken (I don't like that as much), and some other stuff I consider "healthy" but I can't remember anything else. I eat 3 times a day, well, sometimes I skip dinner. What would you recommend? I also heard that 70% of the way you look like is because of what you eat, is this true? And could you recommend some healthy snacks? I hate it when I'm watching TV and I'm hungry but I can't eat anything because all I can find is stuff like potato chips.

I want to lose the fat and gain muscle, my goal would be to look like Locke, but that's long term, my first short term goal would be to lose the fat. I'm willing to take natural supplements, but none of that weird chemical shit, no steroids either (I know you don't use them but I just wanted to make that clear). Well Red, sorry for this long e-mail but I really need your advice...

ANSWER

Hey, seems you're at least on the right track. Forget what your trainer is telling you, most trainers hired by gyms are a joke. High reps do not burn fat any more then lower reps, and the burning feeling is only lactic acid building up. I'll set you on the right path to building a better body.

Training:

I like the split you have. I think you should pick your exercises more wisely though. Train for strength and size, your diet will decide whether you gain weight or loose it.

Drop the 200 sit-ups. Abs should be trained like any other muscle; Intense! There is no need to train them every day either; they require recovery time like any other muscle. Train them at the end of your workout using 2-3 weighted sets on Monday.

Cardio is great, but you should never do cardio before lifting, unless it is for like 2-3 minutes as a warm up. If you want cardio to serve for fat burning, do it after you have trained, when your blood sugar levels are a their lowest, so you rely on body fat. Keep it to under 20 minutes if it's after a weight training session. Try the Tae-Bo, you may just like it.

With all that being said, give this routine a shot:

Mon:

Bench press 2 x 6-8
Dips 2 x 6-8
Incline press 2 x 6-8
Tri press 2 x 6-8
Lying tri press 2 x 6-8
Abs work

Wed:

Chins 2 x 6-10
Rows 2 x 6-10
Dead lifts 2 x 4-6
Shrugs 2 x 6-10
Barbell curls 2 x 6-10
Dumbbell curls 2 x 6-10

Deadlifts: Proper form prevents injuries.
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Fri:

Squats 2 x 10-12
Leg curls 2 x 10-12
Leg extensions 2 x 10-12
Calf raises 2 x 10-12
Military press 2 x 6-10
Dumbbell side lateral raises 2 x 8-10

Squats: The Right AND Wrong Way To Do It.
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Make sure you go to failure on all your working sets. The working sets are the sets listed above. Use warm up sets as you see fit. This means pick a weight that will allow for no less then the lowest number reps, but no more then the higher one.

Diet/supplements:

Your diet will make or break you. If you don't have a diet that is geared toward your goals, you will go no where.

Try to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day, each with a portion of protein, carbs and healthy fats.

For example:

7am: 4 egg whites, oatmeal, olive oil
10am: protein shake in milk, apple
12pm: turkey sandwhich on whole wheat bread
3pm: can of tuna, small portion rice, olive oil
6pm: 6oz steak, veggies
9pm: protein shake in milk, olive oil

Try to get the majority of your carbs from whole grains and beans. Avoid refined foods.

Good sources of fat are olive oil, flaxseed oil, deep-sea water fish and their oils, walnut oil.

For protein, stick to lean cuts of beef, chicken breast and fish.

I can really only recommend a few supplements to you. I think ephedrine based fat burners are too dangerous for people under 18-20 to be using. A multi-vitamin is a must. There is no way you can get enough nutrients out of today's crops. The soil's been stripped and they are all genetically engineered. I think glutamine will help you too. Take about 15 grams a day, this will help preserve muscle while you diet. A good protein powder is also always a must. I like Optimum's 100% Whey.

The last few key points I need to mention will greatly effect your success, and they depend entirely on you. Consistency and discipline. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your body. Give it time, stick with it and you will get results.

QUESTION:

"Hey Jay, how's it going? Lately I've been researching a lot to find out some tips and exercises for my workouts, and to tell ya I think your articles have been a big help to get me off on the right foot. But I really need your help in getting that total body look, and getting some gains. I'm 15 years old, 5'8", and 155 lbs. I have been training for about 8 months( in which the first couple months I didnt know what I was doing) and I started off at about 170 lbs. and chubby. My fat has decreased a bit since then but I really want to gain some more muscle,and drop down my fat some more until I can see a six pack, and get ripped. My Exact goals: I want to get down to about 6-8% body fat, and gain some more muscle especially on my arms and upper body, so that i can go around without a shirt without being embarrased. It may take a while for it to happen but I am willing to work hard to achieve it. I wanna look like sort of like you and other guys on the site.

Now I will give you some details about my workouts and what I eat, so you can help me make some adjustments. I workout at my house where I have a bench and a machine but not everything that there is at a gym. Here it is:

Monday: workout before hockey practice
Tuesday: aerobic activity
Wednesday: workout before hockey game
Thursday: workout
Friday: rest
Saturday: workout
Sunday: hockey practice

For aerobic activities I run on the treadmill for about 20 minutes. Lately I have felt weak and sometimes I cheat myself out and take the day off and just go sit my ass on the couch and watch T.V. I don't know how to get myself more motivated to do this even though I really want it bad.

I do three sets of every exercise.

Monday: Chest/Shoulders

Chest:
Machine bench (8 reps)
Bench with free weights (10 reps)
Incline with free weights (10 reps)
Butterfly (10 reps)
Dumbbell flyes (15 reps)

Shoulders:
Front Raise (11 reps)
Lateral raise (10 reps)
Military press (8 reps)

Abs:
Giant set: weighted crunches(25 reps)
Ab crunch on machine (15 reps)

Wednesday: Arms

Biceps:

Standing barbell curl (10 reps)
Preacher curl (12 reps)
Hammer curl (9 reps)
Cross hammer (10 reps)

Triceps:
Overhead triceps extension (20 reps)
Tricep extensions (10 reps)
Lying french press (15 reps)
Kneeling french press (13 reps)

Forearms:
Giant set: Wrist curl (12 reps)
Reverse wrist curl (12 reps)

Abs:
Giant set: weighted crunches (25 reps)
Ab crunch on machine (15 reps)

Thursday: Legs

Hamstrings:
Lying leg curl (10 reps)
Deadlift (10 reps)

Quads:
Leg extension (11 reps)
Squat (12 reps)

Calves:
Giant set: toe raise (15 reps)
Seated toe raise (15 reps)

Abs:
Giant set: weighted crunches (25 reps)
Ab crunch on machine (15 reps)

Saturday: Back
Lat pull-down (11 reps)
Seated row (11 reps)
Giant set- bent over row narrow grip (12 reps)
Bent over row wide grip (11 reps)
Giant set- upright rows (10 reps)
Barbell shrugs (15 reps)

Abs:
Giant set: weighted crunches (25 reps)
Ab crunch on machine (15 reps)

I also heard if you vary the intensity and exercises that you do that results come faster. Is this true?

Diet:

I try to stay low in fat in whatever I eat. My main sources of protein come from chicken, tuna, and turkey. I try to stay away from red meats although they do have a lot of protein but I think to much fat. I get a decent amount of carbs and they come from whole wheats, bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. I don't eat many vegetables but I do eat lots of fruit, like apples, bananas, and oranges.

I eat a lot of foods that are processed and are fat-free, but is it good for me to eat that kind, or natural?

I drink water, but I don't think enough. How many cups should I have per day? Other than that I drink fruit juices and blends.

I take about 2 protein drinks per day and I take the Nitro-Tech kind. Do you have any other suggestions for protein drinks or foods? Also when should I supplement, and when should I do my aerobic work to best burn the fat? I also take creatine, which does help me, but I do feel tired a lot of the time, so what else do you recommend I take to get my energy back up?

My schedule goes as:

6:30 am- wake up
7:30 am- 3:00 pm school
4:30pm or after- time for workout
10:30-11pm: go to sleep

I'm giving you my schedule so you can help me out in when to eat, work out, and supplement. Also what should I buy at school to eat? I spend about 45 minutes to an hour training per day and I've stuck to my routine for the last couple months. I'd just like for you to tell me what I can do to see some more improvements, and help me make some adjustments to my routine and diet so I can reach my goal some day. PLEASE HELP!"

ANSWER

Rich, I'm going to break this down like I do all my other readers emails, into three categories: training, nutrition, and supplementation.

I think the first things we need to take into consideration are your goals. It is very, very hard to gain muscle and loose fat at the same time, in fact, I think impossible if you are doing it naturally. With summer right around the corner, I think it would be best to begin by trying to burn fat. Later on in the fall, drop all the cardio and increase your calories, but keep your weight training the same.

Training:

I think the workout you laid out for yourself is pretty decent, but needs some changes. First, I think you're volume is too high and you have too many exercises. Its time you start training with intensity. By this I mean carrying out each set until you can no longer do another rep, or even bring the weight down slow. Check out my article called "Going Heavy" for more insight.

The sets listed below are working sets. You should pick a weight that will allow you to fail (not be able to achieve another rep) in the listed rep range.

The * indicates that warm up sets are needed.

Take 1-3 minutes rest between sets. Bigger exercises like squats and dead lifts will require more time then barbell curls.

Mon: Chest and shoulders

*Bench press: 2 x 6-8
Incline press: 2 x 6-8
Dumbbell flyes: 2 x 8-10
*Military press: 2 x 6-8
Side lateral raises: 2 x 8-12

Tue: Arms

*Straight bar curls: 2 x 6-8
*Over head triceps extension: 2 x 6-8
Dumbbell Curls: 2 x 6-8
Triceps press: 2 x 6-8
Static Farmers Walk: 2 x failure (pick a weight that will allow you to hold it for 60-90 seconds)

Thur: Legs and abs

*Squats: 2 x 10-15
Straight leg dead lift: 2 x 10-15
Leg extension: 2 x 10-15
*Calf raises: 2 x 10-15
Crunches: 2 x 12-15

Sat: Back

*Chins: 2 x 8-10
Barbell rows: 2 x 8-10
*Dead lifts: 3 x 5-7
Shrugs: 2 x 8-12

I think with the amount of hockey practice and your hectic schedule, this will fit just fine. There is no need to add any extra cardio, because you are getting plenty at hockey practice. Make sure to have your post workout shake right after training.

Diet:

You mentioned that you eat a lot of fat free processed foods and asked if they are bad. Yes, they are horrible for you. It's time to get over the idea that if you don't eat fat you won't gain fat. If this were really the case, there wouldn't be thousands of fat secretaries running around mowing rice cakes.

Too many calories will make you fat, not excess dietary fat. In fact, I believe that bodybuilders far too over look dietary fat. Omega-3 (an essential fatty acid) is so vital to so many roles in the body, and I'm willing to bet that nearly 80% of the bodybuilding community doesn't get enough. Protein synthesis, proper testosterone production, immunity, brain function, thyroid hormone production and energy are just a few of its roles in the body.

With that being said, here's how I suggest you break down your daily intake:

Protein: 160g
Carbohydrates: 175 grams
Fat: 110 grams

This will put your caloric total at around 2350 k/cals. Every 10 days reduce calories by 200. Take an equal amount away from fat consumption as carb consumption. For every 1 gram of fat you subtract you should subtract 2 grams of carbs. Keep your protein the same.

Now, you can't get this fat from any sources, it must come from polyunsaturated sources high in omega-3. Some examples are salmon and salmon oil, flax seed oil, walnuts and olive oil. Try to eat salmon once a week.

Your carbs should come from whole grains like wheat, brown rice and oatmeal.

Your proteins should come from lean sources like lean beef, poultry, fat free diary, protein powders and fish.

Supplementation:

I can really only suggest a few things to you in this department. I mostly want to look out for your health and well being at your age.

First I suggest you get a good whey protein powder, Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey is one of my favorites.

Next, because today's soil is so stripped of nutrients, over fertilized, and most of the crops are genetically altered, they lack vitamins and minerals, for this reason I suggest a good multivitamin.

Lastly is glutamine. When your body is in a calorie deficit, you are unable to make enough glutamine to supply the needs of the body, so you start to break down your own muscles for glutamine. For this reason I suggest supplementing with 100mg per pound of body weight.

Good luck and LIFT ANGRY!!

BiG RED

QUESTION:

Hey Jay, how's it going man? First off I would like to tell you that all the articles you have been posting are great and I honestly give you the best of luck in earning that degree in biology, because you seem to know your stuff. The reason I come to you is after reading your posts and articles I came to a conclusion that you seem to say what's down to earth, and somethings aren't exactly what people are willing to hear but it's the truth and I admire that. So anyways hears a little about me. I'm 16 years old, 5'7, 120 lbs extremely underweight, trying to put on some weight... wait let me rephrase that "alot of weight" because I'm an actor/model and I feel if I want to really make a career out of this I need to bulk up. I hired a personal trainer about 7 months ago but I fired him becuase he really had no idea what he was doing and I made no progress what so ever with him in the last 6 months or so. I'm telling you "some" personal trainers here in NY are a bunch of jerk offs, but that's beside the point. So I decided that I'm going to do this on my own and I know it's gonna take alot of hard work, but hopefully with your help I can get through this. I want to know if you can give me a descriptive routine on what to eat (is eating fast foods once a day good for you?), supplements (I just bought Prolabs N Large 2 when should I take that?), training (here is my current routine, any add ons/take offs or just re-shaping the whole thing whould be great).

Monday
Shoulders, Biceps

Upright Rows
Concentration Curls
Preacher Curls

Wednesday
Chest, Triceps

Bench Press

Incline Bench
Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions

Friday
Legs, Back

Squats
Deadlifts
Leg Extensions

Also, here is my timing schedule for Monday-Friday:

8AM WAKE UP
11:45 AM HEAD FOR SCHOOL
12PM-4PM SCHOOL
4:15PM COME BACK
ANY TIME AFTER 4:15 PM I CAN WORKOUT
AND I SLEEP AT MIDNIGHT

The reason I give you the schedule is just for you to help me out on when to eat and when to workout. Also should I buy any type of sandwiches or drinks from a deli when I head to school, since I don't got lunch at school.

P.S. I have alot of patience and I know this is gonna take a couple of years, but once again I am committed to do this.

Thanks alot for the help man, and take care!

Justin

ANSWER:

Justin, glad your ready to work, its all about blood, sweat and tears, I'm gonna hook you up with what you need, but the rest will be up to you. I have a strong feeling though, that you have what it takes. Take some before shots, because you will never look the same.

I'm going to make a bold statement here, and many will probably disagree, but a I've got to say, that a lot of personal trainers haven't a clue what they are talking about. Most are given the information needed to train novices who are out of shape, but few cater to the needs of teens and bodybuilders. Also, the tests given to become one are usually based on old theories and ideas that very seldom hold true.

From your stats it appears that you seem to be a hard gainer so I hope your ready to eat. It's important that you get quality nutrients into your body every 2-3 hours. A quick example of a daily diet would be something like this:

8am: breakfast
11am: lunch
2pm: 1 serving n-large in 2% milk
5pm: dinner
6pm: train
7pm: serving of n-large in water
8pm: dinner (again)
11pm: Whole meal

For your whole food meals, try to get at least 35 grams of protein, 10-15 grams of fat and 60 grams of carbohydrates.

Good sources of protein include dairy, meat, fish and protein powder. On average, a 3oz (about the size of a deck of cards) portion of meat contains about 20 grams of protein.

Good sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, rice, pasta, cereal, bread, weight gainers, potatoes, etc.

One thing I have found is that hard gainers often get great results using HIT and other forms of abbreviated training. It's about quality, not quantity. You may be a little surprised with the workout I am going to give you, but if you complete each set to absolute failure, you will have great results from it. I suggest that you check out my article entitled "Going Heavy" to get an idea of what absolute failure is. I also suggest you experiment with rep cadences. Try using a 2/2 cadence (2 seconds up, 2 seconds down) for a month and then switch to a 2/4 and then a 4/4 and then even an 8/4 to find which allows for the highest intensity.

The star represents the sets that you should use warm up sets on. I suggest for warming up, 2 Very light sets of 10-12 reps and one heavier (say about 3/4 of the weight you will use to workout with) for 4-5 reps. Then do the real set as I outlined below.

Monday:

*Bench press 1 x 5-8
Weighted dips 1 x 5-8
Dumbbell flies 1 x 6-10
*Chin-ups 1 x 7-9
Barbell rows 1 x 7-9
Military press 1 x 6-8
*Dead lifts 1 x 4-6

Thursday:

* Squats 1 x 12-18
* Straight legged dead lifts 1 x 10-12
* Calf raises 1 x 10-12
* Preacher Curls
* Triceps Press

Every three to four weeks you should make slight variations in your routine to keep things fresh. For example, switch bench press with incline press, dumbbell press, or incline dumbbell press. Switch squats with hack squats, leg press or even sissy squats. Switch chin-ups for wide grip pull downs and so forth. This will not only keep you from getting bored, but will also shock your muscles.

If you are ready to work, then you are ready to gain. Hopefully this answers all your questions. Good luck.

QUESTION:

Ok, I am 16 almost 17 and I weigh about 220-225 lbs. I am not real fat but I am not in shape either. I am starting back to school in about 3 to 4 weeks and I want to start a program and start to get back into shape before then. I know it will take longer than that but I want to start now. I want to get down to right around 200 pounds. I have Protein Shakes, Myoplex, Hydroxycut, and a multi-vitamin. I don't really know when to take which one and when to work out and when to eat and when to get up to start my day. I just want a schedule of when to do everything. I run 3 times a week and work out 3 times a week, but I need to know when and that sort of thing. I hope you can help me cut the weight because it would be very much appreciated.

Thanks,
Josh

ANSWER:

Josh, I'll break this down like I do almost every other email I get into diet, training and nutrition. We'll start with the most important factor first, nutrition.

Nutrition:

I'm not sure what your diet is like now, but if you want to see results, you're going to have to make some sacrifices. No junk food, white breads, saturated fats, sugars, etc. Since your target weight is 200, we'll assume that you'll be around 8% body fat at this weight. This means your lean body mass (LBM) is about 184. I'm going to start you out on a regular maintenance diet, it should be a change from the way you are eating now, and your body will adjust very nicely to it so that you can lose fat. When school starts, you probably will have adapted to it and it will be time to go on a cutting phase diet (check out my latest cutting article when that time comes). Until then though, we'll use the maintenance.

Maintenance calories can quickly be estimated by multiplying your LBM by about 15-17. I estimate your daily calorie expenditure to be around 3000 calories. We'll break this down into a 40/30/30 diet for now to make things easy.

This is about what you should take in per day:

Carbs: 300g
Protein: 225g
Fats: 100g

Spread your calories out over 6 meals. All 6 should contain protein and fats, while only the first 5 will contain carbs. Carbs should also taper off gradually as the day goes on. In essence, your macronutrient breakdown should look like this over the course of one day (of course it doesn't have to be nearly this exact).

Meal 1: 100 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat
Meal 2: 80 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat
Meal 3: 60 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat
Meal 4: 40 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat
Meal 5: 20 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat
Meal 6: 38 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat

Try to get your protein from lean meats, egg whites, fat free dairy products, protein shakes, and meal replacements. Your carbs should come from low-glycemic carbs such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, yams, and whole meal pasta. Try to keep saturated fats as low as possible. Some good sources for healthy fats are nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and fish fats. If you find yourself still hungry after a meal, fill up on salad and other green vegetables. Peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, and spinach should make up the bulk of your meals, especially later in the day. These foods are practically calorie free, and loaded in nutrients. Allow yourself one day per week to "cheat". Eat like a normal person on these days, perhaps go out to eat with friend, drink if you do so (I'm not advocating drinking, but save it for your cheat day), etc.

Supplements:

Multivitamin: Depending on the potency, you should be taking these 1-4 times per day. If it is a regular "One-A-Day" multi, then take it 3-4 times per day. If it is a super potent multi-vitamin that contains more than 300% of the US RDA, then you only need take one serving per day.

Meal Replacement: Take this as the name implies. You may have to add more carbs or fats to it to reach what you need in that meal, but it's a very economical and convenient (I live off these things during a work day of construction) way to get in the calories you need. Let's say you don't have time for breakfast and you want to make Myoplex your meal. Slam a shake of Myoplex mixed with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, a glass of OJ and bring a whole-wheat bagel along with you for the ride. Breakfast in 5 minutes flat.

Protein Powder: You can combine this into many of your meals to help you get the protein you need quickly and effectively, much like the Meal Replacement. It's often hard to get enough protein on its own without taking in extra carbs or fats. Let's say you don't have time for a meal, supplement with protein powder, mixed into 8 oz of skim milk, with a table spoon of extra virgin olive oil and an apple; Meal 5.

Hydroxycut: Normally I'd recommend a more economical fat burner (plus I don't support Muscle-Tech with their absurd ads) such as AST's Dymetadrine Xtreme or Xenadrine NRG, but since you already have some of these, I'll tell you how to use them. Take 4 capsules (or if using another fat burner, an amount that will equal to 20-25mg of ephedrine) first thing in the morning either before cardio or breakfast, than another 4 capsules either mid-afternoon or before your weight training session. Use it for 4 weeks, then take 4 weeks off, then you can use it again.

Training:

It's good to see that you lift three times per week. This is usually what I recommend for people trying to lose fat. Most people think you should workout more when you are cutting to burn more calories, and while this does burn more calories, it also cuts into your recovery time and often causes people to loose muscle.

With all that being said, we'll move on to your training:

Monday:

Dumbbell press: 3 sets x 6-10 reps
Incline press: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Dumbbell flyes: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Close grip bench press: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Triceps press: 2 sets x 6-10 reps

Make sure to warm up your chest properly by using 2-3 light sets for the dumbbell press. Stretch well in between each set, and make sure (this is VERY important), go to failure.

Wednesday:

Chin ups or wide grip pull downs: 3 sets x 6-10 reps
Pulley rows: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Dead lifts: 2 sets x 4-6 reps
Straight bar curls: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Preacher curls: 2 sets x 6-10 reps

Here you will have to warm up twice. First do a warm up using wide grip pull downs. This will warm up your lats and biceps. Then do a couple warm up sets of dead lifts to prepare you for your heavy sets.

You'll notice I've put either chin-ups or wide grip pull downs. Chin-ups are a much better mass builder, how ever, you may not be strong enough to get at least 6 reps. In this case, use wide grip pull downs until you have built up your strength enough to do chin-ups.

Friday:

Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
Leg extensions: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Leg curls: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Calf raises: 2 sets x 10-12 reps
Military press: 2 sets x 6-10 reps
Rear dumbbell raises: 2 sets x 6-10 reps

Here you will warm up on squats to warm up your legs, and then on military presses to warm up your shoulders. Make sure to do squats in perfect form, this means going all the way down. Make sure to squeeze hard at the top of all your exercises.

This routine will work great for you during the first couple month's, but then will need to be switched around. We'll address this issue though when your maintenance diet starts to plateau.

Lastly, to burn fat you need to burn off more calories then you take in. This is where cardio comes into play. The two best times to do cardio are first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and directly after working out. For the sake of convenience, I think doing 20-30 minutes of cardio directly after working out will suit you very well.

I am very confident that this plan I set up for you will work very well to help lean you out and get you back in shape. Follow it all correctly and you will get fantastic results. I hope I have helped.

The bar is now in your hand, what will you do with it?

QUESTION:

My exact goals: My goals are to get down to around 6-8% body fat. I want to gain more muscle and lose the fat so I am able to put on a t-shirt and show that I work out hard. I know it takes years to achieve goals like that, but I'm ready to work hard for it... I want to look something like Locke or Big Red.

Stats:

Age: 15
Height: 5'8
Weight: 185

Okay, I will give exact details of what I do and eat everyday. Here it goes:

I have karate 3 days a week.

MONDAY: Lift before karate
WEDNESDAY: Lift before karate
SATURDAY: Lift before karate

On those days I also go to the gym to lift and run which is getting my energy levels down. That's because I work in the morning those days but not on Saturday (off-day). On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I work in the afternoon. I work in a Cuban restaurant that my grandfather owns, so I have no problem with eating meat there. I will explain in detail what I've been eating these past few weeks...

This will differ from what I eat while in school but it's summer now and we don't have to worry much about school now.

(*EDITOR'S NOTE: The full workout and meal plan was detailed below. We have shortened it because it is not necessary for each reader to know the exact details in order to understand the answer below. Follow Big Red's advice below to get the main ideas.)

MONDAY: Chest and Triceps day

WEDNESDAY: Biceps then Back

SATURDAY: Shoulder/neck, Legs

My metabolism rate would be a 5 out of 10.

Should I also want to lose weight should I run more? What supplements should I take or do you recommend that will be safe for me at this age.

Thanks bro!

ANSWER:

Glad you went into detail, this will make it much easier to assess your needs and answer your question. I think it will be best if we break this down into 3 parts, and take it one step at a time.

I'll start off with your workout routine. You have your muscle groups split up nicely, working like muscles on the same day, and you have plenty of rest between your workouts, however, I think you are over doing it with the volume.

Monday

First off, ditch the pushups. These are great for endurance but will do very little for muscle growth or strength. You are mostly burning out when you do these, and burning out is a waste of time. When you burn out, you simply burn off your remaining glycogen stores, and often if these stores are already depleted from an intense workout, you will be burning muscle.

Next, I have a huge problem with pyramiding. Pyramiding is when you start out at a lower weight, lift it for a set amount of reps, and then on the next set move up to a higher weight. Many people will move up 30 to 40lbs over the course of 4 sets. To properly cause hypertrophy in a muscle, you need to work it to failure with the heaviest weight that fits your best-suited rep range. By doing a lighter weight first, you are simply fatiguing the muscle, making it harder for you to train it properly for strength and mass gains. What I suggest doing is picking a weight that will allow you to fail in your desired rep range.

The chest can be properly worked with only 3 exercises. They are a flat press, an incline press, and a flye movement. The key here (as I have said countless amounts of time) is intensity. You really need to work as hard as possible at hitting failure. Push for as long as you can stand to achieve that last rep, even if it doesn't come, this is where you are working your muscle the most, this is in my opinion, the most efficient way to cause hypertrophy. To keep things fresh I suggest you rotate your routine every three weeks.

Looking at your triceps workout I see you have too many isolation exercises in your routine. Kickbacks and one arm pull downs are great to shape the muscle with, but right now we want to concentrate on building a base. You can shape later on. For Monday's chest and triceps workout, I suggest this.

Weeks 1-3:

Use a rep range of 6-10 for all exercises. Pick a weight that will allow you to fail in that range for all sets.

Flat barbell press 3 sets
Incline barbell press 3 sets
Dumbbell flies 2 sets
Close grip press 3 sets
Triceps press 2 sets

Weeks 4-6:

Flat dumbbell press 3 sets
Incline dumbbell press 3 sets
Incline dumbbell flies 2 sets
Over-head dumbbell extension 3 sets
Reverse grip triceps press 2 sets

Weeks 7-9:

Weighted dips 3 sets
Decline dumbbell press 3 sets
Pec Deck 2 sets
Reverse grip press 3 sets
1 arm triceps press 2 sets

Repeat.

There is no way you can do over 30 reps of crunches if you are doing them properly. You should be going slow and squeezing hard at the top of the rep. They shouldn't be cadenced, quick reps, but rather slow and grueling. Try to lift your ass off the floor to make them even harder on the abs.

Abs are like any other muscle and must be broken down and then repaired to sculpt them properly. I suggest you train them 2x per week, Wednesday and Saturday.

Since you are trying to lose fat, you'll need to do some cardio. The two best times to do cardio are either first thing in the morning or right after weight training. The reason is because in both cases, your glycogen is low and so are your blood sugar levels. This means your body will have to tap into its fat stores for energy. Since you are already doing cardio after working out I suggest you keep it that way. Start off with doing 20 minutes of cardio at around 50% intensity, and move up each week until you are at about 70%.

Wednesday

Working your biceps before back is a big mistake. You should never work the smaller muscle first, especially when it is used in the secondary when you work the bigger muscle. Most people's biceps fail before their back any ways, by working them first you are severely hurting your back training. I think you are also over doing it on the biceps work.

As with chest, you really only need 3 movements to work your back effectively. Dead lifts are great overall mass builders and will do wonders for your lower back strength. A rowing movement, whether it is bent over barbell rows, pulley rows, or t-bar rows is needed to hit the inner lats. Lastly, a pull up movement is needed to widen the lats and target the belly. Again, I suggest you rotate every 3 weeks to keep your body guessing.

Weeks 1-3:

Dead lifts 3 sets (4-6 reps)
Wide grip chins 3 sets
Barbell Rows 3 sets
Barbell curls with straight bar 2 sets
Preacher curls 2 sets

Abs: 2 sets of crunches to failure

Weeks 4-6:

Dead lifts 3 sets (4-6 reps)
Wide grip pull downs 3 sets
T-bar rows 3 sets
Dumbbell curls 2 sets
Concentration curls 2 sets

Abs: 2 sets on the crunch machine to failure

Weeks 7-9

Back extensions 3 sets
Narrow grip pull downs 3 sets
Pulley rows 3 sets
Cambered bar curls 2 sets
1 arm cable curls 2 sets

Abs: 2 sets of pulley crunches to failure (pick a weight that will allow 20-25 reps)

Again, after each workout do cardio, starting with 20 minutes at 50% intensity the first week and eventually working up to 75%.

Saturday

Again, you are making the mistake of training the small muscle first. Your shoulders can be properly worked with only a couple movements. You should do some form of a shoulder press and a side lateral raise to help target the outer head (this will help broaden your shoulders and enhance the 'V' taper).

For legs I suggest a form of squats for quads and straight-legged dead lifts or leg curls for your hams. Calves can easily be hit with a form of calf raises. You'll notice that I'm placing squats and dead lifts in different weeks. You should never do squats and dead lifts in the same week since both movements are quite similar and put quite a bit of strain your body and lower back. I don't think your body can repair in time to be able to do both in the same week. Again, we'll rotate your routine every 3 weeks to avoid hitting a plateau.

Weeks 1-3:

Leg press 3 sets
Leg curls 3 sets
Donkey calf raises 2 sets
Barbell military press 2 sets
Dumbbell side lateral raises 2 sets
Dumbbell shrugs 2 sets

Abs: 2 sets of leg lifts to failure

Weeks 4-6:

Hack squats 3 sets
1-legged leg curls 3 sets
Standing calf raises 3 sets
Dumbbell military press 3 sets
Up right rows 3 sets

Abs: 2 sets of hanging leg raises to failure

Weeks 7-9:

Squat 3 sets
Stiff legged dead lifts 3 sets
Sitting calf raises 2 sets
Machine military press 2 sets
Rear dumbbell raises 2 sets
Shrugs on bench press machine 2 sets

Abs: 2 sets of roman chair lifts to failure

Cardio as suggested above.

You still with me? And on to diet we move.

As you probably know, diet plays a really big part in how much progress you make. It appears you got a good grasp on eating clean and have the will power to stick to a strict diet, so this should be quite easy for you. There are a few changes I would make in your diet though:

1. Stick to lower glycemic fruit like pears and apples. Bananas are too high in sugar for cutting.

2. Stick to getting around 185-200g of protein per day. You really don't need much more than at your size and bf%. Try to get around 35-40 grams of protein per meal. A can of tuna will do just that.

3. Add some fiber to your diet. A bowl of All bran in the morning, some broccoli and spinach at night, etc.

4. Get some EFAs. Essential fatty acids are needed for many operations in the body. Proper hormone production and keeping the metabolism high are just a few of them. Some good sources are wall nuts, flax seed oil, and olives.

5. Lower your carbs at night. As the day closes, your body starts to slow down its metabolism in preparation for sleep. It doesn't burn carbs as efficiently as in the morning. For this reason, let your carbs taper off around 3-4 PM.

You may need to lower or raise carbs depending on your metabolism. If it really is a 5 as you say, then chances are you will need to lower your carbs. A good way to tell if they need to be lowered or raised is by weight loss and strength gain. If you are loosing weight but your strength is either going up or staying the same, then your carbs are good. If you constantly feel weak and you're losing strength, then you should raise them a little bit.

At 15 I can't really recommend too many supplements for you. I think you are too young to take an ECA stack. There is one that I think you should look into and that is glutamine. When you bulk up glutamine is not needed since your body can make it, but when you diet it becomes harder for your body to produce enough glutamine. Glutamine enhances your recovery time greatly, and since you live a pretty active life, I think it will help you out quite a bit.

This is what you need to do to lose fat. After you have gotten down to where you can see your abs, email me back and we'll work on a bulking diet and routine that will allow you to gain mass and keep fat gain to a minimum.

Keep pumpin bro.

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