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Early this year, I asked a question to make an uncomplicated plan/program that requires me minimum effort to remember the schedule. That is, I don't need to open a schedule to check the plan. I understand that this is a trade-off, and I have made up my mind that it will take me years to get toned. At that time I had this answer: every 2nd day do dips, squats and pull-ups until failure. It has upvotes and no criticism so I have thought that someday I will see the result (1).

However, yesterday I was informed that it is not (2). I would like to know why. If you have a better plan for me, I think it is better for everyone if you answer it in the first question.



(1) Is there a simple program that I don't have to look up at all?
(2) How should I do when doing the “minimum” program?

  • I think in (2) they were referring to the concept of a simple minimal program. Which makes sense, since it's minimal and simplistic. It's better to do a more complete program – Aequitas Jun 17 '16 at 9:28
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1. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

The fact that you are working out regularly makes you already far ahead of someone who doesn't. Your plan is way better than no plan.

So once that is understood, now we can look at how good this workout actually is.

2. What effect does your workout have?

Assuming you are using bodyweight only, and your method of progression is number of reps you can get before failure (progression is vital, no progression = no gains).

If the reps you can do is under 10, you'll build good size and strength. Once the reps you can do get over 15-20, you're building muscle endurance.

Since you care about "toning", the effect of size and strength is good for you. But the effect of muscle endurance is not going to help you look much better.

Conclusion: No matter how long you do this workout, if you only use unloaded squats/dips/pull ups, once you get above 15-20 reps you are not going to get appreciably bigger and stronger any more (depending on genetics).

3. Will I progress on this program?

(Remember, no progression = no body improvements. This is always the case)

Depends on you. If the number of reps you can do are increasing, you are progressing. But if you do the same workout every day, your body will adapt and you will stop progressing. You CANNOT do this workout for a few years and progress.

Also remember, if that progression is with reps over 15-20, you won't gain much visible improvement.

4. What can I do to reach MY goals?

Your goals are aesthetic, you want to progress in the 5-15 rep range (mostly 6-12). You want to use a heavy enough load that you reach failure in that rep range, and you want to increase the load you can use over time.

What does this mean? It means you're going to have to use loaded movements. The best thing you can use is a barbell in a gym.

Notes: You do NOT need a fully planned out 30 day workout where every workout is different, that's the most garbage thing I've ever seen. You want to get into a gym and learn to squat, deadlift, press and row. You can then incrementally add load to every workout.

This will keep you progressing for size and strength, which combined with a good diet will get you that "toned" look you want. You won't get "too muscular", unless you take drugs or are gaining kgs of bodyweight every month.

5. Give me a plan!!

Check out StrongLifts. Super simple workout, don't need to remember much, even has an app telling you exactly what to do.

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    StrongLifts is also quick to perform in the early days, which helps you set a routine. Once you start having to spend more time in the gym, you have seen a lot of progress and you are looking forward to your next visit. – Yousend Jun 17 '16 at 15:02
  • so I read the weight is important since it increases my intensive for each rep. Does it mean that it is ok to only add more weight? Is it necessary to do each exercise more than a set? – Ooker Jun 18 '16 at 15:12
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    @Ooker The main thing is that the amount of weight you are using is increasing over time. That's your main measure of progress, and will be for a long time. Now the reason you do multiple sets is because if you only do one set you won't be able to keep increasing the weight. So you will have to add sets. In general, more sets = more progress, as long as you can recover. Your recovery needs to be trained too. This deserves a full explanation to be honest, but all you need to know is that 3 sets of each exercise is a good starting point, make sure it is difficult, and you need a progression plan – hamza_tm Jun 18 '16 at 20:25
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    @Ooker About your first question: You should try it, you will quickly find out why. It's because you always need to do a certain amount of work to cause your body to grow stronger. And that amount of work you need to do actually increases as you get stronger. In the beginning only doing one set will make you stronger, but at one point your body will just get used to it and you'll need to do more work to get yourself to grow. – hamza_tm Jun 20 '16 at 15:29
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    @Ooker You should really make another question to discuss this. But yes, just add weight once you reach 15 reps. The limit is approximately 15 (a few reps more or less isn't an issue, there's no magic number) because for most people, using a weight that allows over 15 reps is not heavy enough to signal growth and strength. It builds muscular endurance which probably won't help you much. Reps between 5 and 15 means you are using a weight that is good for producing growth. – hamza_tm Jun 20 '16 at 15:32
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In a sense your program isn't that bad. Here's some good points I see with it.

  • Squats as the lower-body exercise. The squat is one of the most effective builders for lower-body strength. While deadlifts would make a good addition, if you're going to do only one thing, squatting would be the best choice.
  • Dips and pull-ups are quite complementary. Dips will work the triceps and, depending on form, the chest. Pull-ups will work the biceps and back (particularly the latissimus dorsi).
  • Assuming you are a beginner, 48 hours between workouts and making each a full-body workout is a good approach. Beginners can recover in that time frame so 3 full-body workouts per week, or every 2 days, is good.

But there's some flaws as well, going by the information you gave here and in your other questions.

  • No equipment. Without any barbells or other methods of increasing the weight, your only options are to increase the reps and/or lower rest times between sets. Especially for squats that will quickly exhaust the potential for stimulating strength gains and muscle growth. Even with pull-ups and dips you should be considering doing weighted versions once you can do 15 with good form.
  • Very limited exercise selection. You'd do well to add in some deadlifts, bench presses and rows. While you could do push-ups instead of benches and inverted rows from a bar or something else you can grab onto (for example, edge of a sturdy desk) you'd face the same problem with progressive overload.

If I may be honest, I think your whole approach to training is flawed. You want to use minimal or no equipment at home, instead of going to the gym. And you don't want to keep a schedule, even though this is very easy and these days facilitated by websites and apps.

Not wanting to use equipment or go to a gym is like only spending time in a driving simulator on a PC with a keyboard, and then expecting you'd do fine in actual traffic behind the wheel of a real car. Sure, it's better than nothing, but don't expect anything but minimal results and grinding to a halt in your progress soon.

Not wanting to keep a schedule or notes seems like a bad mindset as well. It really doesn't have to be complicated.

There's no shortcuts in decent training. You do what is necessary or spend your time running on the spot, going nowhere fast. Sorry pal, but hobbies take an investment of time, effort and quite usually some money.

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