I only weightlift at home since we have a bench press with a preacher, bicep curl, leg extension, and leg curl. And also stationary bike with elliptical for cardios.

Morning (Fasting):

  • Cardio: Biking/Elliptical for 30 mins.

Evening or night:

  1. Machine Bicep Curls (50 lbs.) - 5 sets X 15 reps
  2. Leg Extensions (65 lbs.) - 5 sets X 20 reps
  3. Lying Leg Curls (45 lbs.) - 5 sets X 15-20 reps
  4. Flat Bench Press (60 lbs.) 10 sets X 8-12 reps

-Rest 15 minutes-

  1. Dumbbell Upright Rows (20 lbs.) - 5 sets X 15 reps
  2. Overhead Triceps Extensions (20 lbs.) - 5 sets X 15 reps
  3. Dumbbell Wrist Curls (20 lbs.) - 5 sets X 10 reps
  4. Dumbbell Rows (20 lbs.) - 5 sets X 15 reps

I avoid lifting that puts pressure on the spine because of my scoliosis. I also tried the Bicep Concentration Curls on dumbbells but everytime I do it the next day my friends tell me I seem to become shorter so stopped doing it

My Goal is: Gain Muscle Mass

My stats (bodyweight, height, build) are: 5ft6 120lbs

  • 3
    Sufficient for what? What are your goals?
    – pushkin
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:23
  • For gaining muscle mass? I am 5'6" - 120 lbs btw
    – user20316
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 5:15
  • 4
    No, it's not sufficient. If you just do the same amount of reps and sets, with the same amount of weight forever, you won't be getting anywhere.
    – Alec
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 6:32
  • fitness.stackexchange.com/a/24596/7091 cliff notes: use a program created by a professional coach, don't try winging it. You'll get hurt and won't make good progress. You'd take advice from a qualified instructor before you tried flying a plane, do the same for your fitness.
    – Eric
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:46

4 Answers 4


In my opinion, this plan is not efficient and therefore you should change it. There is a couple of reasons for that:

  • Your program should be progressive and not static. There are a few ways of making progress from one workout to another:

    • Increase weight per set

    • Increase reps per set (or adding sets)

    • Reduce rest time between sets

    Every single gaining-mass program out there is progressive for a reason; If you follow the same workout with the same numbers over and over, your body gets accustomed, the exercises become easy and eventually you will fail to damage your muscles, which means the workout becomes useless.

  • Most of the sets are too high in reps. The general rule is that for gaining muscle mass, especially in single-join exercises, you should aim for 8-12 reps per set. As I mentioned, it's a general rule and shouldn't be blindly followed, but in my opinion your reps amount is too high in most of the exercises.

  • This plan puts focus on the wrong muscles. It's nice and visually-effective to work on your arms a lot, but it's bad in the long term. I'm currently facing a serious deficit in legs power to due unbalanced plans in the past. When ranking the commonly trained muscle groups in order of "how important it should be in your plan", arms come in the end after legs, lower back, upper back, chest & shoulders, maybe inline with calves and the rectus abdominus.

  • Following the previous reason, you should consult your doctor about how to start adding lifts that put pressure on your spine to your regular workouts, because they are vital to your overall strength. Sooner or later you'll be willing to add squats, deadlifts, etc to your plan (I suggest sooner).

In a side note, as your goal is getting muscle mass, remember that nutrition is crucial, and almost no gains will be made with a bad diet. Good luck!


Short answer: no, not really, especially not unless you have a decent way of incrementally loading these exercises with more weight. Long answer...

You wish to gain muscle, and, I assume, some strength. The two go hand in hand anyway. This requires inducing an adaptation in the body. You must produce a stress that your body is currently not equipped to handle without requiring recovery. That does not mean you must overexert yourself or exceed your capacities to the point of injury, but it must be enough for your body to notice that its current state would not suffice if the stress would be repeated frequently, so it will produce adaptations: better neuro-muscular efficiency, adjustments of present muscle tissue and hypertrophy. As it catches up to the imposed stress, the stressor must be increased to continue to drive adaptation. For a beginner the weights used are such that recovery can fully complete from workout to workout (assuming 3 workouts per week), meaning a simple linear progression works best.

You get the most bang for your buck (meaning: best return on your time investment) with the big compound lifts that work multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. They allow you to train the largest number of muscles with the most weight and will progress the quickest. These are the squat (back squat, low bar or high bar, is a good starting point), deadlift, bench press, overhead press, pull-ups or chin-ups, rows and possibly some explosive movements. Sets of 5 are great strength builders; enough to allow you to get a feel for form and adjust as necessary, and not so many that heavy loads can't be used. The rep ranges you are using are mostly in the hypertrophy and endurance range, which aren't good choices to start with since your primary focus at first should be building strength. Even if you use such rep ranges it would be best to do so in a cyclic program along with strength development or as assistance work.

However, you have an obstacle in the form of your scoliosis. I'm not a doctor or physical therapist and don't know if it's congenital or acquired in some other way, so I'll refrain from making recommendations directly for that. If you have a physical therapist or see some other specialist, express your desire for gaining strength and ask what would be realistic in terms of exercise. Maybe, however, a strengthening of the muscles in the back and surrounding the spine could actually benefit you. But that's for a specialist to determine.

So let's assume spinal loading is to be mostly avoided for starters, and also that you want to work out at home. Let's see what could be done or substituted.

Back squats are inherently loading the spine. But there's an alternative: hip belt squats. If you get a dipping belt, some weight plates and boxes to stand on, you could do squats with the weight hanging from the hips rather than being loaded at the top of the spine and could get linear progression. It's not gonna be the same movement as a barbell squat and the biomechanics will be different, but it would still be a good leg builder.

Deadlifts require a bar and weight plates, so I'm not sure you have the equipment. Since these stress the back quite a lot, this exercise may not be safe for you. Then again, with light enough weight they could strengthen the erector spinae. Perhaps something to discuss with a health professional.

Bench presses use the upper back and clavicles as a platform. This avoids direct vertical spine loading, but keep in mind that performing them with correct form will still require quite a bit of tension all across the upper body. They are a great chest and triceps builder provided you have the means to do them safely with enough weight. If done using a bar and no safety pins, get a spotter.

The overhead press would definitely load the spine. In fact, a standing overhead press requires a very rigid upper body for correct execution. My favourite exercise (and strongest one) is the deadlift yet I still tend to feel it in my back if I launch an overhead press with some backward tilt. Doing the exercise seated would be a better option. Perhaps using a slight incline on the bench could be even better, although it changes the biomechanics and leans towards an incline bench press. Using dumbbells for a seated shoulder press might be a good option for you. But again, you'd need to be able to incrementally load the exercise, so get adjustable dumbbells with weight plates.

Pull-ups and chin-ups are great exercises. Once you manage to do a good number at body weight, you can use a dipping belt with weight plates to load these and make linear progression. This presents the reverse challenge of the overhead press and squat: you're hanging from your hands and the weight would be pulling on your hips, effectively stretching the spine. Whether this is beneficial or dangerous for you is, again, not within my capacity to judge. Check it with a professional.

Rows, when done with a barbell, also require a rigid core and keeping the back tight. Allowing your back to curve outward on these would be a bad idea, just as with the deadlift. A better choice for you is to do dumbbell rows with one hand, with the other hand and leg on that side on a bench for support. This will isolate the lats without as much stress on the lower and upper back as a barbell row would.

Some other observations regarding what you posted: the overhead triceps extension can also be done lying. You start with your arms vertically over your shoulders, neutral grip on the dumbbells, then bend your elbows to lower the weight towards your head. You can also let the upper arms move back a bit to move the weight just over the top of your head, then move them back and stretch the arms again (like you're throwing the weight towards the ceiling). The triceps are a two-joint muscle and work not only elbow extension but also the shoulder adduction. If you happen to have an EZ-curl bar, it's very good for this. As for the wrist curls, not sure if these serve much of a point for you right now. I'd focus on strength development in bigger muscle groups.

So, overall, try to focus on heavy weights on compound exercises where you can complete sets of 5 or 6 reps, using linear progression in increasing the weight. Isolation exercises such as bicep curls and leg extensions are better kept in the higher rep range, say 8 to 12. This will let you build strength, and with strength will come size. Make sure to consult a professional regarding the safety of exercises concerning your condition.

Good luck!

  • By the way, I just came across this and it might serve as inspiration. Lamar Gant was a world record holder for the deadlift (and managed to lift 5x his own body weight) though he suffered from scoliosis. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamar_Gant
    – G_H
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:45

Taking a slightly different tact, given your lack of equipment, why not go for a mostly bodyweight workout?

I trained exclusively with bodyweight for a few months when I was really concentrating on my climbing, and I was amazed at the amount of muscle I gained (and the amount of fat I lost).

There are some very good resources for bodyweight workouts, some of my favourite at from Gold Medal Bodies, Al Kavadlo and Paul Wade (no link, but you can read an interview with him.

If you just want something you can do in the short term, then pick one exercise from each category below (given in roughly ascending order of difficulty) and if you can do a 2 solid sets of the progression reps or time (in brackets), move onto the next exercise in the list for your next session.

Lower body 1:

  • Wall sit (30 seconds)
  • Bodyweight squat with assistance (use something to pull on gently to give some assistance with standing up, 30 reps)
  • Bodyweight squat (25 reps)
  • Assisted pistol squat (use something to pull up on for assistance, 10 reps per leg)
  • Pistol squat (keep reducing the amount of resistance until you can do these)

Lower body 2 (start with your weaker side first)

  • Split squat (15 reps per leg)
  • Reverse lunge OR Bulgarian split squat (15 reps per leg)
  • Shrimp squat (5 reps per leg)
  • Shrimp squat from a bench

Pull (this assumes you have something to pull on, do more than 2 sets of these, they're important)

  • Inverted row (20 reps)
  • Negative chin up (basically, let yourself down from the top of a chin up over a 5 count, 10 reps)
  • Chin up (10 reps)
  • Pull up


  • Press up with hands on bench (30 reps)
  • Press up with hands on floor (20 reps)
  • Press up with feet on bench (20 reps)
  • Press up with hands close (15 reps)
  • Press up with one hand elevated (start with a low block and keep elevating the block until you're doing an elevated 1 handed arm press up)
  • One arm press up

Core / Abz / Stomach area

  • Lying knee tuck (15 reps)
  • Lying leg raise (15 reps)
  • Hanging knee raise (15 reps)
  • Hanging leg raise

Feel free to also throw in some handstand work, because it looks cool, and some bridging work ONLY if you can (basically, I'm not familiar with scoliosis, so I don't know if bridging is a good idea or not).

Note: Some of this is based from my personal experience, some is from what I've read in various books. It's a guide, not a bible. I'd highly recommend looking into some of the resources I mentioned above.

Note 2: If you're worried about your arm gainz (there is a LOT of arm work in your proposed routine), then you can do some curls at the end of each workout.

Note 3: If you don't have anywhere to do inverted rows or pull ups, then you can do one arm dumbbell rows off the bench, do sets of 10, when you can do 4 sets of 10, increase the weight. This may lead to a situation where you can row more than the dumbbell handles will hold, in that case, use the barbell to do one arm rows.

  • You say core, but include no movements for the lower back ...
    – Alex L
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 17:56
  • Bridging, if possible, works the erector spinae pretty well. Pushups, unilateral lower body exercises, and most of the core stuff will work it to some degree. Admittedly it's not as much as something like sandbag or stone lifting, or even deadlifting, but given the available equipment, those aren't possible
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:52

Quick answer:

No, not a good routine, you probably won't get much stronger or bigger.

I recommend HST training and eating 30g of protein within 30 minutes of each time you lift, and lift every other day.

You will gain strength and mass and will not plateau.

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