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Old 04-12-2010, 08:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Body For Life

Beth, If you saw the post I had in the 5-15 pound club you will know this question is for you, but if anyone else who has done Body For Life happens to read this, feel free to comment as well.

I just am finishing up my first 12 weeks, and I knew not to expect results like in the book, but I got to certain point about 3 weeks ago and it is like my body adjusted and stopped changing. I think part of the problem may be that I am stuck in between weights. For instance, on standing biceps curls, I do 15 lbs for the first set which feels too light, then do 20 lbs for the next two set and then 25's for the last set (of 6 reps). I can't do more than about 8-10 reps with the 25's if I try so going up to 30 isn't an option, yet 20's are starting to feel too light as well. There are other exercises where the same thing happens. I am trying to vary my routines. Some days, I have to do a set of biceps and then not take the minute rest and go to a set of triceps and go back and forth, just because of time constraints. They are opposing muscle groups, so I didn't think that would make a difference in the results. Sorry for the long post. I am just trying to figure this out so my time in the gym isn't wasted.
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Mambo. This is a fairly common complaint. Before I forget, have you ever visited hussmanfitness.org ? It's a site dedicated totally to BFL by a physician who answers a gazillion of questions in lawmen's terms. Very good!

Here's what I would do concerning biceps curls (I'm assuming your gym doesn't have 17.5, 22.5 or 27.5 pound dumbbells):

Either:

Set #1 12 reps at 15# (should feel easy-just trying to get bloodflow to the working muscles)
Set #2 10 reps at 20# (should feel the muscles activating, but again not hard)
Set #3 8 reps at 25# (should feel like you at working pretty hard, but not failing)
Set #4 6 reps at 30 (should feel like there's no way you can complete more reps after 6 reps)
Set #5 as many reps at 25# while maintaining proper form, so if you get to #7 and you start swinging your body to get weight up, switch down to 20# dumbbells for remainder of reps.
Then finish up with a set of hammer curls @ maybe 15#.

OR (if the above was way too taxing or impossible to keep good form)

Set #1 12 reps at 10 or 12.5#
Set #2 10 reps at 15 or 17.5#
Set #3 8 reps at 20#
Set #4 6 reps at 25#
Set #5 12 reps at 20#
Then finish up with hammer curls @ maybe 15#.

Or you could scrap dumbbells for this exercise and use a straight bar on the cable column using both arms for assistance. Or try supinating biceps curls. See exrx.net for lots of ideas.

Now my opinion is you should spend most of your effort on compound exercises which work more than one muscle group such as chest press, (works chest, shoulders and triceps), Shoulder press (works shoulders, triceps & back), Pullups or Lat pulldowns (lats, biceps, and many other stabilizing muscles). It's no wonder that by the time you hit isolation exercises which usually work just one muscle group such as biceps curls and triceps extension that you run out of steam. Those muscles have already done alot of work with the compound exercises you already did. So I don't think it's a big deal to adjust weights downward on biceps or triceps isolation exercises if you're running on empty. Just go down in weight if you're losing form.

This isn't to say that isolation exercises are useless but with compound exercises you'll burn many more calories and transfer that strength over to real life movement more than with biceps curls (which make for a nice pump if that's your goal

Hopefully this makes sense...long day.
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Beth, Thanks so much for the help. My gym doesn't have the in between weights like you said (17.5, 22.5), but I will try your other suggestions. Thanks for the websites too. There are so many out there it is hard to know which ones to look at. I am enjoying the weight lifting, but I also want to make sure I am getting the most out of it.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In the bodybuilding world weight lifters often stagnate from doing the same exercises at the same weight. To combat this many bodybuilders use try to incorporate 'muscle confusion' into their routines. This is simply varying the weight and repetitions from one workout to the next. For example workout one may consist of 3 sets of an exercise with a weight that acheives muscle failure (the inability to perform another rep without assistance) in 6-8 repetitions. The next time workout would be performed with a weight that would allow 10-12 reps. A third routine may be performed performing incorporating drop sets, where the weight is reduced each time muscle failure is reached. (Starting with 20# until muscle failure then immediatly swithching to 15# then 10# then 5#.)

Some will perform the same routine for 4-6 weeks before moving to the next routine. Some change everyday. Hope this helps you get past your road block.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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rpmc: I agree that changing up reps and weights is a great way to break past strength plateaus. I've completed a few BFL challenges and used to participate on the Body for LIFE website forum. Unfortunately, there is a cult-like mentality on that forum wherein if anyone states they are deviating from the plan as outlined in the original book during their 12-week challenge (i.e., the pyramid style outlined above or fasted state 20-min HIIT cardio), the forum community (including past champions) will advise that they are "doing Body for LIFE" wrong and that failure to follow the exact training protocol will lessen their results. That's one of the reasons I much prefer this forum--no one size fits all mentality.

How refreshing to read your post!!! Thanks for posting
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