How do you choose your exercises?

  • I am just finishing up my first challenge! The physical, and more important mental changes have been just phenomenal, but I fell short on some of my goals and am not yet nearly where I want to be. So I am preparing for Challenge 2, after 2 weeks of active rest. I was wondering, for anyone who cares to comment, how did you decide from the myriad of exercises shown at the end of the book for each muscle group which ones would be optimal for you?

    For the first challenge I didn't really know what I was doing, so I used the exact same Upper and Lower Body Workouts that Bill shows in the sample forms in the book on page 73 and 77. But I think for variety's sake, and to keep myself motivated and interested, I would like to change things up for Challenge 2.

    So guys and gals, did you just follow the examples in the book, or did you pick and choose a custom workout from the list of exercises in Appendix C?

    Also, I'm a little apprehensive about toying with what has worked in the past. You know the old saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." So I would also like to know, for anyone who has completed multiple challenges, did you change up your routine from one challenge to another, or just stick with what worked the first time?

    I'd really like to hear all your thoughts on this. Orrin? Jacium? BDMom? I'd especially like to hear from you guys.



  • Hi James, I know I am not one of the above mentioned people but I will add my 2 cents :)

    I would definitely change things up. Go to the library tab and go to exercises. There you will find exercises listed by body part. Choose 2 for each body part and set it up just like Bill did in his example... 12, 10, 8, 6, 12, and 12 etc chest, shoulders, bis tris, legs, abs etc

    It is always good to change things up after a bit as muscles adapt and it is good to "surprise" them and work different fibres and angles. You will definitely see positive changes when you change your workout.

  • I agree with you, ayummymommy. I definitely felt that some of the "by the book" exercises were more effective than others, and would like to adapt the workout to what works best for me. I'm just a little apprehensive about going out and choosing on my own, so I was asking for some insight into other people's choices. Thanks very much for your comments!

    Oh, and everybody out there? I didn't mean to make it sound like I only wanted to hear from those three individuals! It's just those members have posted extremely good, insightful info to me and others in the past. ANYONE is free to comment and I welcome ALL your opinions!


  • Oh, no prob!

    I find if you stay with the basic moves like squats, deadlifts, rows, presses etc. as the core of your program you will make changes.

    I also find the moves we like the least provide the best results ;).

    I have made many different effective programs with variations of the core moves as mentioned.

    Hopefully others will chime in!

  • James,

    For your next challenge try changing exercises every 3-4 weeks.   Use the charts provided at the Tools tab above on this site.  Scroll down to download the progress sheets.

    Check these two websites and based on the muscle group on the progress sheet pick an exercise.  That's how I've always done it and it was a painless way to plan my weekly exercises every Sunday.

    Here are the sites: (my personal favorite site)

    Hope this helps.

    Love you some you...PERSEVERE!

  • By the way, congrats on completing your first 12 weeks!

    Love you some you...PERSEVERE!

  • Thanks Wonder Woman! I already use the Body for Life Success Journal to record everything. I like the inspirational messages each day. So I will probably pick up a fresh copy and start a "Volume II." I do like the two websites you provided (especially the first one!) and will bookmark them for future reference. I especially like the videos showing proper form on any given exercise.

    Ayummmymommy — I agree that the exercises that you find yourself disliking the most are the most productive. Usually the reason you avoid them is because they are hard! That's why I think I'm going to keep Dumbbell Lunges in my next challenge. I hate those damn things! It's very difficult for me to do them with proper form on every rep.

  • Glad to help James.  By the way, I have completed more than 5 challenges (I've lost count).  Not all of them were official, I just call them challenges because I'm used to how BFL works.  I'm just living it right now. :-)

    Love you some you...PERSEVERE!

  • "Ayummmymommy — I agree that the exercises that you find yourself disliking the most are the most productive. Usually the reason you avoid them is because they are hard! That's why I think I'm going to keep Dumbbell Lunges in my next challenge. I hate those damn things! It's very difficult for me to do them with proper form on every rep."

    Ya, exactly!! I HATE cross over step ups with a 60 lb barbell on my shoulders but darn it they get rid of them hips I can't seem to lose! Your going to do amazing! And I agree with SWW, I am only doing my first 12 weeks cycle but I am only having a challenge with myself physically and mentally. I am living the BFL way. I have been training heavy for years and done many different nutrition plans...been very successful to a point with many, but I have to find the one that lets me rid myself of the last 10 lbs and live my life at the same time. I feel I have found that in BFL. Balance and normalcy.

  • I have found that it's not necessarily the exercises choosen but the intensity at which you bring to them.

    Overload your muscles! By that I mean, you have to lift more weight to push yourself out of your comfort zone. (use caution here and be safe) When you do that, your body adapts by becoming stronger and building lean muscle tissue.

    The problem is that we all slack a little when it comes to weight training and pushing beyond our comfort zone. Lifting heavy weights is hard work,can  feel uncomfortable, and tests our inner strength. But, if you want to add a little excitement and intensity to your workouts, why not test your limits to see what you can do?

    You want to be safe and protect your body from injury, so use good form. But, if you've been lifting the same amount of weight for a long time, the idea here is to go heavier.

  • My method for chosing was to do one that i think of as an overall movement and one that is more detailing/focused... for example for quads - Squat (or Set-ups) and Extension; for Hamstrings - lunges (or Deadlifts) and curls.

    like ayummymommy said the exercises I dislike the most are the ones I found most beneficial (for me it's lunges and set-ups).

  • KimC has a sound approach.  Get a combo of excercises such that some work multiple muscle groups and others isolate specific muscles.  No. 1 priority is to work the muscles to fatigue.  IMHO it is easier to do this for the UBWO than for the LBWO once you're lifting some serious weight.  I use dumbbells whenever possible for UB, combo of machines and dumbbells for the LB.

    For chest, you basically have 2 excercises -  flys and presses.  One way to get variety is to do them flat, inclined, or declined.  Now you have 6 choices.  I've added in pectoral machine from time to time.  For shoulders, any of lateral raises, front raises, seated press, and shrugs can be selected, and varied in subsequent workouts.  For quads, I do seated leg raises on a machine, and wind up with the deadlift.  The deadlift works a lot of muscles - calves, hamstrings, quads, lower back, plus helps strengthen your grip.  Once you're gripping 50 lbs. or so in each hand, it is a very demanding excercise.  Lunge is also excellent for this.  For the back, you can do a combo of rows on machines, or with a bench (single-handed, flat or in both hands, inclined).  For triceps I use standing extensions and then lay on the bench to do single handed extensions, including a cross extension.  For calves I pretty much stick to machines, as the weight I'm doing would be tough with step-ups.

    Hope this helps!


    Once I discovered the joys of weight training, all other passions were transcended.


  • Thanks lorig2727, you're right of course, and that is excellent advice. And after checking out your profile, I see that you are more than qualified to dispense advice. Nice job! Did you achieve that over one transformation or several? And how did the Body for Life Challenge allow you to overcome vocal chord paralysis? That is amazing!

  • I like this approach, and I will take it into consideration when planning my next challenge. Thanks Kim. BTW, what are set-ups?

  • Jacium, thanks. I've read many of your posts and you always have something of quality to say. I noticed that lunges with dumbbells (which I hate, so I will continue to do them, really works your grip. In fact, the amount of weight I can do is often limited by my grip. Many times I've had to put the weight down before completing a set or risk dropping the weights.

    Obviously my grip is the weak link here. I'm hesitant to use lifting straps as I feel that is a crutch, and keeps you from developing natural strength in your grip, even if your leg poundages do suffer a little. Can you recommend other ways of developing grip strength?

    Ideally, I'd like to not add any more exercises to my routine, so I was thinking what I could do outside the gym. I was looking at getting some old style grip squeezes or possibly one of those motorized torque ball things that are supposed to improve your grip. Do you know if either of these is effective?