Question: Need to simplify things to its core due to time constraints (working 12 hours a day, 13 hrs if including travelling time). Been doing weighted dips, weighted pushups, and weighted pull ups 3x per week on alternate days.
I run 5 km on rest days for legs and to shave off bodyfat (I’m obsessed with maintaining my abs all year round for egoistical reasons).
Main goal is to gain size. Am I wasting my own time doing this?
Answer: These are great upper body mass builders! You are not at all wasting your time.
In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, Arnold states that he and his training partners would perform 30-50 sets of pullups for their back workout.
He would also finish his chest workouts with a max set of dips and pushups.
So you are on the right track!
On top of that, you are able to add on the weight.
I do, however have a few suggestions for your routine:
#1 – Perform Weighted Carries
Loaded carries are essentially walking with weights. There are a few ways to do this:
- Keep weights in your hands, such as the farmers walk.
- Carry a bag or box or object in front of your hand.
- Wear a weighted vest, or place a sandbag across your shoulder.
Loaded carries train your entire body, and depending on what kind of weight you are using and how you are carrying the weight, will emphasize a particular muscle group.
Carrying something heavy up and down a staircase is a great way to train your legs. You can work these before and after work if you have a staircase in your home or living in an apartment.
#2 – Sprint for Legs
Running to cut up your legs is one thing but if you truly want to build muscle, then do sprints. In his book Anabolic Running, Joe Logalbo goes into exactly how much of a muscle builder sprints are.
In fact, he offers a great plan which only takes 16 minutes per week. How’s that for a minimalist approach?
#3 – Vary your Grips
Not only will boredom kick in at some point but doing the same movements over and over again will lead to overuse injuries.
Plus, you can train different parts of your back, chest, arms, and shoulder which you vary grips. The following are some suggestions:
- Dips to Leg Raise – Perform a dip followed by a leg raise. Make it harder by holding the top position for a few seconds. You will essentially be doing an L-sit at top.
- Side to Side Dips – Very difficult to get the rhythm right. You are essentially shifting your weight from one side to the other side.
- Ring Dips – Performing dips on gymnastic rings will force you to engage a whole slew of stabilizer muscles.
- Bulgarian Ring Dips – With these your rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing away from you in the top position, and towards in the bottom position.
- Muscle ups – the combination of a pullup with a straight bar dip. This is a killer movement which will train your entire upper body in one go.
- Around the worlds – pull your body diagonally to one side of then rotate your torso over to the other side, then lower diagonally back down. In short – go around the world.
- Clapping pullups – violently pull your body up and past the bar. Let go, perform a clap, then grab the bar and catch yourself on the way back down.
- One arm pullup – grab the bar with one hand, and grab the wrist of that hand with the other hand. Now pull. This isn’t a pure one-arm pullup, but a precursor to it.
These are the types of movements gymnasts use often in their training. In fact, there’s a progressive plan known as Calisthenics Academy that shows you to perform these movements: Calisthenics Academy
#4 – Cycle your Workouts
Constantly vary the rep ranges, sets, and weights. This will help you work all aspects – mass, strength, and endurance.
Here’s one way of doing it:
- Weeks 1-3, perform 5×5-6
- Weeks 4-6, perform 4×8-10
- Weeks 7-9, perform 3×12-15
When you return to the 5×5 program, strive to perform with heavier loads.
#5 – Do lower body exercises (optional)
If you have time, then add in Bodyweight Squats, Bulgarian Split Squats, and Lunges. These three should be enough to train your lower body. If you have no additional time, then stick to the loaded carries and sprints.
If you need to choose between loaded carries and sprints, choose sprints.
Use this as your blueprint for minimalist training.