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  1. #1
    Registered User Kakashidinho's Avatar
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    Skull crusher or isolated exercises' progression strategy

    Hi,
    I'm a newbie in resistance training, having been worked out for 4-5 months. I want to train for hypertrophy.
    Currently I'm able to do skull crusher with 8kg DB (each hand) for 10 reps max. I try to do as strict form as possible.
    When I increase the DB to 9kg, i can only do 7 reps max. So if we count volume: 8x10 > 9x7, which means even though i increase the weight, the total volume is less.
    Should I come back to 8kg and stay there until i can do 12 reps or continue using 9kg and work my way up with reps?
    I afraid even if I achieve 12 reps with 8kg, when I increase the weight the volume would still be less.
    Yes, in the long run, overtime I can increase the reps to make the total volume higher, but the 1st week after the weight increase, the volume will be less, will it make muscles smaller? Idk, something like, muscles would think "oh, this week the volume is less now, we don't need to be big anymore" etc?

    FYI, I mostly workout at home, my area has poor gym accesses. Currently, I'm doing a lot of weighted pushup, weighted one leg squats, DB RDL, and chinups/pullups at home. I do progressive overload them. Most people say they are more important than iso works. But I also want to progress my isolated exercises. What is the best strategy to progress them?

    Thanks,
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  2. #2
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    When I increase the DB to 9kg, i can only do 7 reps max... which means even though i increase the weight, the total volume is less.
    Doesn’t this concept apply to all your exercises if you increase weight, not just skull crushers or isolations?

    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    the 1st week after the weight increase, the volume will be less, will it make muscles smaller? Idk, something like, muscles would think "oh, this week the volume is less now, we don't need to be big anymore" etc?
    Your muscles don’t have a brain, but also don’t change drastically every week. What matters is what you do over an extended period of time.

    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    I do progressive overload them. ... But I also want to progress my isolated exercises. What is the best strategy to progress them?
    What is your current routine and how do you progressively overload the compounds, and can this also be applied to your isolations? There are lots of beginner routines which lay out both exercises and progression schemes so you don’t have to make up your own.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Kakashidinho's Avatar
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    This is currently my routine which I make up based on equipment I have, also it depends on my work schedule.
    I'm using weighted vest for my push ups (currently it's 16kg). The vest also is used for squats. I add 1 kg to the vest every week or every other week depends on my performance but only after i can do 8 reps+ every set.
    In addition to the vest, squats uses 2 additional DBs, and they are shared with curls exercises. Whenever I can curl 10 reps+ in 1st set, I increase the weight by 1kg. Ultimately, adding 2 kg to the squats exercises.
    Triceps exercises use lighter DBs than curls. Idk, seems like my triceps are weaker even though I work them more. When I can do 10 reps, I increase the weight.
    Shoulders raises use even lighter DBs.
    I'm 67kg.
    This is the routine, 3 months ago I do full body workout 3 times a week, now switch to split routine to increase my volumes. Idk, hope it doesn't contain too many iso works?:
    Mon:
    - break
    Tue: Triceps, biceps, forearms
    - Weighted close grip push up. 4x8
    - DB Skull crushers. 4 sets until failure (<13)
    - DB curls. 4 sets until failure (<13)
    - Overhead one hand DB triceps extension. 4 sets until failure (<13)
    - (Reverse) wrist curls. 4x8.
    - Sit up. 3 sets
    Wed: Legs
    - DBs RDLs (4x12 heavier weight). I also wear weighted vest in this exercise, not sure if it helps with the resistance much.
    - weighted calf raises 3x20,18,15
    - weighted split squats. 3x12
    - DBs RDLs (3x10 lighter weight).
    Thur: Back, biceps, forearms.
    - Chin ups. 4 sets until failure
    - DBs bent over row. 3 x 15 (it is high reps due to DBs is not heavy enough). Using same DBs as curls.
    - Hammer curls. 4x8,7,6,5
    - Wrist curls. 4x8
    - Reverse crunches. 3 sets
    Fri: Chest, shoulders, triceps.
    - Weighted push ups. 4x12,11,10,9.
    - Triceps push down. 4x10,9,8,7. My apartment's gym has a cable machine.
    - Cable chest fly. 4x12,10,9,8.
    - DBs overhead press. 4x9,8,7,7.
    - Skull crushers. 4 sets until failure (<13)
    - DB lat raises. 4 sets until failure.
    - DB reverse fly. 3x12
    Sat: Legs, forearms.
    - Weighted split squats. Heavier weight. 4x12. Straight back to emphasize quads.
    - Weighted calf raises. 3x20,18,15.
    - DBs RDL. 3x12.
    - DBs calf raises. 3x15.
    - Weighted split squats. Lighter weight. 3x10. Lean forward to emphasize glutes.
    - (Reverse) wrist curls. 3x8.
    - Hanging leg raises. 3x12,10,8. Actually, I am only able to do knee raises atm.
    Sun: Chest, back, shoulders
    - Pull ups. 4 sets until failure.
    - Weighted Decline push ups. 4x8.
    - Cable chest fly to hit upper chests. 4x10,9,8,7.
    - Cable lat pull down. 4x9.
    - Cable face pulls. 4x10.
    - DBs lat raises. 3 sets until failure.

    Compound exercises are generally ok, when I add 1 kg, I usually can maintain the same reps, or only 1 less rep.
    Triceps and DBs iso works progress very slow. My DB curls have been stuck at the same weight for 2+months.
    I'm working as a software programmer, it's quite stressful, sometimes I don't have enough sleep, maybe this routine is a bit too much? At least it's working for me atm. I have gained some beginner muscles. Push ups and split squats are my strongest exercises. Hamstrings exercises I think don't have enough weight. DBs are not enough, unlike squats, I cannot do 1 leg DL (balance issues)
    Last edited by Kakashidinho; 09-15-2019 at 11:54 AM.
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    There are some that argue total volume is a bad thing. If you go to 2 or 3 sets you will work harder and give better growth stimulus with less volume (therefore easier recovery),.
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    Are you doing skull crushers for strength or hypertrophy. You can do double progression for both, but my numbers on SC depend on what I did earlier in the work out. So I look at progression on a yearly basis. As long as I do 1rir or failure on each set I dont care about progress.
    160 lbs and jacked is about as impressive as D cups on a 300lb woman
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    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    When I increase the DB to 9kg, i can only do 7 reps max. So if we count volume: 8x10 > 9x7, which means even though i increase the weight, the total volume is less. .... in the long run, overtime I can increase the reps to make the total volume higher
    To answer your original question, this sounds fine. The lower volume initially is at a heavier weight and as long as you keep increasing reps at that weight and then moving to heavier weights incrementally, that will work.

    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    Triceps and DBs iso works progress very slow. My DB curls have been stuck at the same weight for 2+months.
    The volume may be a bit much, but if overall you feel you're progressing and it's working for you, then just adjust where you feel you aren't making good progress. Working with what you have (without re-working your entire routine, some things you may want to experiment with:
    - You say you use lighter dbs for triceps. Maybe for SCs and triceps extensions, instead of 4 sets each time of <13, do 3 sets w/ heavier dbs for lower reps. Whether for hypertrophy or strength, you don't need 13 reps esp if you feel your triceps aren't progressing in that range. Same idea, but maybe try less sets overall for triceps as you go heavier, so you can make each set count.
    - Same considerations for db curls as above for triceps. Maybe add a few more sets of curls... like 3 db + 3 hammers twice a week, instead of 4 one day and 4 another (or 2 + 2 if you want to keep volume same). If you do the same movements twice a week you might be able to progress better w/ it (if you're stuck at same weight for over 2 months). If you want to keep overall routine volume same drop some of wrist curls (you have 11 sets for forearms).
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  7. #7
    Replies in 1/2 hr - 3 day GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Volume is more a matter of how many sets you are doing, not total calculated workload of mass x distance.
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    Registered User fitfanatic93's Avatar
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    I would mix them all for best results, the muscle usually words best with them both as you can shock them for better growth. If I had to choose i would go for a larger variation of isolated exercises.
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  9. #9
    Registered User Kakashidinho's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    To answer your original question, this sounds fine. The lower volume initially is at a heavier weight and as long as you keep increasing reps at that weight and then moving to heavier weights incrementally, that will work.



    The volume may be a bit much, but if overall you feel you're progressing and it's working for you, then just adjust where you feel you aren't making good progress. Working with what you have (without re-working your entire routine, some things you may want to experiment with:
    - You say you use lighter dbs for triceps. Maybe for SCs and triceps extensions, instead of 4 sets each time of <13, do 3 sets w/ heavier dbs for lower reps. Whether for hypertrophy or strength, you don't need 13 reps esp if you feel your triceps aren't progressing in that range. Same idea, but maybe try less sets overall for triceps as you go heavier, so you can make each set count.
    - Same considerations for db curls as above for triceps. Maybe add a few more sets of curls... like 3 db + 3 hammers twice a week, instead of 4 one day and 4 another (or 2 + 2 if you want to keep volume same). If you do the same movements twice a week you might be able to progress better w/ it (if you're stuck at same weight for over 2 months). If you want to keep overall routine volume same drop some of wrist curls (you have 11 sets for forearms).
    Thanks, I will try to do 2 sets but 2 times a week for biceps iso exercises. Are 2 sets per exercise per workout enough for grow?
    Last time I did 3 bicep iso exercises per week, but it seems my recovery was hindered. So I drop the volume to only 2 bicep exercises per week.
    I only started wrist curls recently, since I feel my forearms are weak. Hence high wrist curls volume for now.
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  10. #10
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    I will try to do 2 sets but 2 times a week for biceps iso exercises. Are 2 sets per exercise per workout enough for grow?
    It's enough if it works - you'll have to see how it goes since it depends on your overall workout routine and how you specifically respond to it.

    Originally Posted by Kakashidinho View Post
    Last time I did 3 bicep iso exercises per week, but it seems my recovery was hindered. So I drop the volume to only 2 bicep exercises per week.
    It's more about # of sets/reps than # of exercises, but if more than 8 biceps sets/week was too much for recovery, then stick w/ 8. Keep in mind your chinups and BORs should be hammering your biceps pretty well, so if you're progressing on those it may be pre-frying your biceps (which is not a bad thing) and affecting your progress on the isos.

    Some people w/ huge arms don't even do many or any biceps isos, they just hit them hard w/ heavy rows, weighted chinups, pulldowns, etc. They measure biceps progress by looking in the mirror. You have to see what works for you.

    If you get to the point where you feel your overall routine isn't working, you can still switch to a beginner routine w/ an established progression scheme and might see better overall gains.
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