I am fairly new at training, and I have some questions, concerning my routine, and diet.
So first, some background informations about me so you know the context of my questions. I'm 22, I weight 163.9 lbs (74.5 kg), for 5'11" (1m80). Bench: 126lbs, Squat: 126lbs (yeah, I'm reaally a beginner)
4-5 months ago, I was 147 lbs, and decided to stop being skinny, and put on some muscle. I started doing silly useless curls and machine exercises during 3 months with little results before starting to read articles here and there and starting a better routine.
So far, I'm pretty glad with the results: I put on 15 lbs in a bit more than 6 weeks, and I definitely gained much muscle. But now I think it may be time to change a little bit my routine, as I am kind stagnating on the press.
My routine is made of 3 major exercises: Squat, Bench, Row, (5*5 for each major exercise) along with some abs and pull-ups. I train 3 times a week.
I've been said it was important to have an objective. Well I don't have a defined objective concerning the weights I want to lift, but I'd say the most important for me is strength. Volume is also nice but secondary (that's why I'm on 5*5?)
Ok, now here are my questions:
1) Concerning the reps and sets. I am currently doing all my sets with the same weight, that is about 85 % off my 5 RM, as suggested in the stronglift program (stronglift.com). Now I have seen that many programs (in particular Bill Starr's and Rippetoe's) suggest ramping to your max. I would like to know in which case ramping is better than keeping the same weight, and if I why should I (or not) switch.
2) So far, I have added much variation to my routine. In particular, I have never substituted Bench with Incline Bench. Should do some incline bench (like once a week)? I mean, given my current level, is it useful to do some incline press, or should I just work my ass on the basics before thinking of it?
3) I just ended a bulking phase. It was my first one, so I did not put as much weight as I could have (I was a bit afraid of putting to much fat). The thing is that I read one should not bulk for more than 6 weeks in row, and no more than twice a year. Is it accurate or B.S from your experience? The thing is, I am currently ripping off the fat I got from bulking, but I wouldn't mind starting bulking again in a couple month (I really want to add at least another 5 kilos of lean strong muscle). Does it sound reasonable?
4) About cutting. Given that I'm not very heavy (163lbs), is it really useful to create a caloric deficit, or can I just eat for maintenance with more cardio to lose some of the fat I have (I'm probably around 20% bf now)
That's it for the moment, thanks for taking the time to answer