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A Great Design Needs Great Tools

Posted Jan 07 2009 2:44pm
"Hey James,
"I recently read your article, Body Contract 2.0, and loved it. I read it, because though I know a lot about great exercises, I know almost nothing about creating a program. I love using difficult body weight exercises, I have a nice dumbbell weight set and some jumpstretch resistance bands. Since you know so much about putting together programs, how can I put together a program with bodyweight exercises and resistance bands and what would be some resources were I could learn how to put together programs. I appreciate you taking your valuable time to help me out."

From,
A 16 year Old Basketball Player


My Answer: A strength training program is only as good as its equipment. If you have an effective weight training program but only have access to calisthenics, stretch bands and dumbbells, then that's like having the architectural designs of I.M. Pei, but you only a hammer and nails to work with.

It really depends on what your goal is with weight training. If you're looking to have a nice trim physique with muscle tone, then dumbbells, stretch bands and calisthenics should do fine. If you're looking to gain muscle mass, then what you have won't cut it. Truly effective programs require heavy phases, and unless you have some heavy dumbbells, then you're limited as far as effective programs.

If you're sticking to dumbbells, calisthenics and stretch bands because of space and inexpensive cost, then I suggest you get a "power tower," something that will allow you to do pull-ups and dips. Those are heavy bodyweight exercises when you first start out. Later on you can hang weight on yourself. Plus, your dumbbells should be heavy enough so that you'll pressing and curling at the 4-8 rep range.

If you're truly interested in program design, I go over the topic in detail in Strength and Physique Volume One and Volume Two. Strength and Physique Volume One goes over exercise selection and split routine design, while Volume Two goes over the nuts and bolts of designing a program that cycles through all of your body's natural anabolic hormones.
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