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The Ultimate Muscle Building Split Reference Guide

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A complete guide. Learn which splits are effective, and which workouts to avoid. Included are numerous workout and training splits examples.

Training splits can be a mystery. With so many available options and possibilities, it's easy to be confused about which splits are effective, and which are poorly structured. If you've ever wondered just why and how training splits are designed, and just what some of the best training split options are, you've come to the right place. So grab a protein shake, sit down and start reading.

Before we dig in, I want to explain a few simple rules. These rules will help you to understand the reasoning behind many popular workouts on Muscle & Strength. Keep in mind that rules are meant to be bent, and in some cases broken. Some individuals recover more quickly than others, or have learned from experience that they can break a few of the rules and make great progress. For this reason, some of the splits you see used by experienced natural bodybuilders might break the rules.

In general, it's best to stay within the boundaries of the routines presented in this reference guide. Many trainees mistakingly believe that adding volume or additional workouts is the secret key to rapid growth. This is far from true. Muscle building isn't simply add more sets, make greater gains. There are more factors involved with progress than the number of sets you perform.

Trust in the process. Believe in the conventional wisdom used by the muscle building community. The workout splits in this reference guide are effective choices. Use them, learn your body in the process, evolve your training, and smash your goals!


Quick jump to the sub-sections on this page:

  1. Training Split Rules
  2. A Look At Weekly Training Volume
  3. Sets Per Body Part
  4. 2 Day Muscle Building Splits
  5. 3 Day Muscle Building Splits
  6. 4 Day Muscle Building Splits
  7. 5 Day Muscle Building Splits
  8. Notes
Bodybuilder

Training Split Rules

  1. Chest and Triceps. Don't train chest the day after triceps, or vice versa. The triceps are heavily involved with pressing movements used to hit the chest. If you work triceps the day before chest, your triceps will be fatigued and could limit your chest workout productivity. If you work chest the day before triceps, your triceps will be fatigued and will receive a pounding two days in a row.
  2. Back and Biceps. Don't train back the day after biceps. The biceps are heavily involved with pulling/rowing movements used to blast the back. If you work biceps the day before back, your biceps will be fatigued and could limit your back workout productivity.
  3. Squats and Deadlifts. Don't train squats and deadlifts on back to back days. Both squats and deadlifts utilize many of the same muscle groups. These lifts are considered posterior chain movements, meaning they both target the lower back, spinae erectors, glutes, hamstrings, etc. It's best to have a few rest days in between these lifts.
  4. Don't train biceps before backTraps. Don't obsess about direct traps work. The traps are worked hard when deadlifting, and also during overhead pressing and other shoulder exercises such as laterals. Do not assume that you need an excessive amount of direct traps work to build big traps. In fact, if you are deadlifting and using a form of the military press, you may not need much direct trap work at all.
  5. Forearms. Don't obsess about direct forearm work. As with traps, the forearms are worked hard by numerous other lifts. The mere act of gripping barbells and dumbbells day in and day out is often enough to stimulate quality forearm growth. Do not assume you need an excessive amount of direct forearm stimulation.
  6. Rear Delts. Don't overwork the rear delts. The rear delts are hit hard on back day, and during some shoulder exercises for front and side delts. If you look at the rowing/pulling motion of most back exercises, you will notice that they are in the same family tree as rear laterals (bent over reverse flys). Some rear delt work is good, but you do not need an abundance of rear delt exercises to have great looking rear delts.
  7. Front Delts. Don't overwork the front delts. The front delts are aggressively hammered when using pressing motions for chest and shoulders. These pressing movements should be the core of your front delt work. While it is a good idea to add in an additional isolation exercise (such as front laterals) for your front delts, you do not need an abundance of front delt exercises to have great looking front delts.
  8. Abs. Incorporate some form of a heavy ab exercise. Far too often the abs are worked the same way day in and day out, with no added resistance. Make sure you incorporate some form of progressive resistance into your ab routine to help build a thick, amazing looking six pack. These exercise include, but are not limited to: weighted situps, crunches and leg lifts, and cable crunches.
  9. Arm Work. Stop obsessing about direct arm work. Working your arms hard each week is good. Believing that you need to work your arms with 30 sets, three times per week is obsessive compulsive. Big arms are built with heavy rowing and pressing movements. Direct bicep and tricep work helps to build big arms (obviously), but you do not need to overkill the amount of sets you perform.
  10. Legs. Work your legs! Don't be a chicken-legged gym rat who avoids hard leg exercises. Not only do muscular legs look impressive, but strong legs will also improve athletic performance, helping you to jump higher, run faster, and explode out of the gate on sprints.
  11. Isolation Movements. Don't overuse isolation exercises. Isolation movements have their place in weight training. But with that said, it makes no sense to perform 5 sets of dumbbell flyes or tricep kickbacks if you are not working your chest and triceps hard with a battery of heavy pressing movements.
  12. Dips and Pull Ups. Don't discount the power of dips and pull ups. Though these exercises are bodyweight exercises, the dip is known as the upper body squat for it's overall muscle building effectiveness, and pull ups are an amazing back blaster. If these exercises get easy, use a weight belt and add resistance.
  13. Lower Back. Don't overwork the lower back with too much direct work. The lower back is taxed hard enough as it is. A few additional sets for lower back is good, but overworking your lower back can often result in muscle fatigue, weakness and strains which can lead to further injuries. Do enough lower back work to stay strong, but not so much that you aren't able to function for several days.

Training a body part more frequently is a viable option for many.

A Look At Weekly Training Volume

Training a body part twice, or even three times a week is a viable option for many. Small muscle groups can often be trained more frequently. In fact, large muscle groups can be training twice or even three times a week if the daily volume of sets is kept in check.

One of the mistakes that many trainees make when working a muscle group multiple times per week is that they try to keep the volume high on each day. This is a misguided approach. Regardless of how often you train a muscle group, a good guideline is to use the same weekly amount of sets. Let's look at a few examples:

  • Twice a Week Training. If you are currently working your chest once a week for 12 sets and want to work your chest twice a week for extra stimulation, do NOT perform 2 weekly workouts of 12 sets each (a total of 24 sets). Instead, work your chest with only 6 sets per workout, for the SAME weekly total of 12 sets.
  • Training Three Times Per Week. If you are currently working your biceps once a week for 9 sets and want to instead work them three times a week for extra stimulation, do NOT perform 3 weekly workouts of 9 sets each (a total of 27 sets). Instead, work your biceps with only 3 sets per workout, for the SAME weekly total of 9 sets.

A Note About Hardgainers

For many hardgainers, training a muscle group more frequently, but a lower daily set volume will be more effective. If you are having a difficult time building muscle on a training split, and believe yourself to be a hardgainer or ectomorph, it is well worth your time to experiment with more frequent training. Training each muscle group twice, or even three times per week with a limited volume might be the key to building more muscle.

Factors That Impact Training Frequency

Muscle soreness, and a muscle's ability to recover, are not the only factors involved when trying to decide how often you should train a muscle group. You also have to consider the strain that frequent training places on your joints, connective tissue (ligaments and tendons), CNS (central nervous system), etc.

If you've never trained a muscle group more than once a week, and want to try a more frequent approach, don't rush into this approach with heavy weight. Take a few weeks to allow your body to adapt to the demands of this new training style.

Also, keep in mind that the heavier weight you lift, the less likely you are to benefit from high frequency training. Heavy weight taxes the CNS, joints and connective tissue to a much greater degree. It's not that a higher training frequency won't work, but more so that it may take a much longer period for your body to condition itself to this style of training.

In addition, many advanced lifters that do utilize a more frequent training approach often cycle their workout intensity. Some workouts may focus on heavy weight for low reps, and some on moderate or a relatively lighter weight for 10-15 (or more) reps.

Sets Per Bodypart

Don't rush into advanced splitsWeekly Sets Per Bodypart

As a general rule, stick with the following weekly sets per muscle group. When uncertain, always start with the lowest amount of sets, and only add sets if this approach is ineffective.

  • 9 to 15 weekly sets - Large Muscle Groups. These groups include chest, back, shoulders and quads.
  • 6 to 9 weekly sets - Small Muscle Groups. These groups include biceps, triceps, calves, abs and hamstrings.
  • 0 to 3 weekly sets - Minor Muscle Groups. These groups include lower back, forearms, rear delts and traps.

Sets When Training a Bodypart Twice A Week

When training a bodypart twice a week, use the following number of sets per workout:

  • 4 to 8 working sets - Large Muscle Groups. These groups include chest, back, shoulders and quads.
  • 3 to 5 working sets - Small Muscle Groups. These groups include biceps, triceps, calves, abs and hamstrings.
  • 0 to 3 working sets - Minor Muscle Groups. These groups include lower back, forearms, rear delts and traps.

Sets When Training a Bodypart Three Times A Week

When training a bodypart three times a week, use the following number of sets per workout:

  • 3 to 5 working sets - Large Muscle Groups. These groups include chest, back, shoulders and quads.
  • 0 to 3 working sets - Small Muscle Groups. These groups include biceps, triceps, calves, abs and hamstrings.
  • 0 to 3 working sets - Minor Muscle Groups. These groups include lower back, forearms, rear delts and traps.

Note: When using a three times per week training system, you may choose to avoid working smaller and minor muscle groups each day. Because of the weekly set volume restrictions, it might be more convenient to train biceps and calves 1-2 times per week. You certainly can train these muscle groups three times a week. Minor muscle groups should be worked only once a week unless they are a weak bodypart in need of extra work.

Important note: Certain splits will have unique limitations, such as a 2 day split, and therefore will deviate slightly from set per day recommendations.

The following muscle building fullbody workouts and splits are provided for example purposes. Feel free to alter them to fit your individual needs. Exercise selection is based upon the most effective lifts for each muscle group.

2 Day Muscle Building Splits

While 2 day splits are rarely used, they are a very viable option for adding muscle and strength. In fact, natural strength trainer and author John Christy used them successfully on thousands of clients. Consider using a 2 day split if you live a busy life, or need more recovery days per week. Make sure to stick with compound lifts for each major muscle group. Here are some recommended compound exercise choices:

  • Quads - Squats, Leg Press, Front Squats, Hack Squats.
  • Chest - Bench Press, Dips, Dumbbell Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Close Grip Bench Press.
  • Back - Deadlift, Barbell Rows, Pull Ups, Dumbbell Rows, T-bar Rows, Seated Cable Rows.
  • Shoulders - Push Press, Military Presses, Seated Behind The neck Press, Seated Dumbbell Press, Seated Arnold Press.

Note on deadlifts and squats: If you plan on using both deadlifts and squats on a 2 day split, it may be beneficial to use squats on day 1, and deadlifts on day 2, instead of performing both exercises on the same workout day.

Choose the most effective exercises for each muscle group

2 Day Fullbody Workout

You may choose to add in traps, forearms, direct hamstring, lower back and rear delt work if needed.

2 Day Fullbody Workout Example
Day 1 - Monday
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3-5 5-12
Bench Press 3-5 5-12
Barbell Row 3-5 5-12
Military Press 3-5 5-12
Barbell Curl 3 8-12
Abs Exercise of Choice 3 10-25
Day 2 - Thursday
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3-5 5-8
Dips or Dumbbell Bench Press 3-5 5-12
Leg Press 3-5 5-20
Upright Row 3-5 5-12
Close Grip Bench Press 3 5-12
Seated Calf Raise 3 10-25

2 Day Upper Lower Split

You may choose to add in traps, forearms, and rear delt work if needed. Triceps are worked hard on the upper body day, and do not require much direct (isolation) work. Try to limit working sets to 24 or fewer. You may need to drop an exercise or two, or lower sets per exercise, to accommodate additional work.

2 Day Upper Lower Split Example
Day 1 - Monday - Upper
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 5-12
Dips or Dumbbell Bench Press 3 5-12
Barbell Row 3 5-12
Pull Ups 3 5-12
Military Press 3 5-12
Side Laterals 3 8-15
Skullcrushers or Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 5-12
Barbell Curl 3 8-12
Day 2 - Thursday - Lower
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 3-6
Leg Press or Leg Extension 3 5-20
Hack Squat or Barbell Lunge 3 5-12
Romanian Deadlift 3 5-12
Leg Curl 3 5-20
Seated Calf Raise 3 10-25
Abs Exercise of Choice 3 3-6
Hyperextension 3 8-12

3 Day Muscle Building Splits

Pull ups are great mass builders3 day splits are an excellent choice for natural muscle building. They offer a quality mix of time in the gym, and off days for recovery. 3 day per week fullbody workouts have a long and illustrious track record. Prior to the modern era, fullbody workouts were the norm. Many bodybuilders of the early 70's utilized fullbody workouts early in their careers, including Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The 3 day push, pull, legs split is also a very effective option. It allows you to concentrate on a similar group of muscles each training day, and provides a week of rest before working them again.

3 Day Fullbody Workout

For major body parts, it can be beneficial to use a different exercise on each training day. This can keep the program fresh, and provide maximum muscle stimulation. You could also use the same major exercises on Monday and Friday, such as squats, bench press, etc. If you are performing both squats and deadlifts, it is recommended that you perform squats on Monday and Friday, and deadlifts on Wednesday.

As with 2 day workouts, it is best to focus on compound exercises for each major muscle group. You may choose to make Wednesday a slightly lighter training day, in which case it's completely acceptable to focus more on isolation exercises.

You may choose to add in traps, forearms, lower back, direct hamstring work and rear delts if needed.

3 Day Fullbody Workout Example
Day 1 - Monday
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3-5 5-12
Bench Press 3-5 5-12
Barbell Row 3-5 5-12
Seated Dumbbell Press 3-5 5-12
Barbell or Dumbbell Curl 3 8-12
Skullcrushers or Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 5-12
Day 2 - Wednesday
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3-5 5-8
Dips 3-5 5-12
Pull Ups 3-5 5-12
Military Press 3-5 5-12
Seated Calf Raise 3 10-25
Abs Exercise of Choice 3 10-25
Day 3 - Friday
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3-5 5-20
Dumbbell Bench Press or Incline Bench Press 3-5 5-12
Dumbbell Row or Seated Cable Row 3-5 5-12
Upright Row 3-5 5-12
Barbell or Dumbbell Curl 3 8-12
Skullcrushers or Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 5-12

3 Day Push Pull Legs Split

This 3 day split allows you to incorporate a wider selection of exercises per bodypart. Muscle soreness (DOMs) will generally be greater than when on a fullbody workout, but you will have plenty of recovery time. You may choose to add in forearms, lower back, or more ab work if needed.

3 Day Push Pull Legs Split Example
Day 1 - Monday - Push
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 5-12
Military Press 3 5-12
Dips or Dumbbell Bench Press 3 5-12
Upright Row, Arnold Press or Side Laterals 3 5-12
Dumbbell Flye or Pec Dec 3 8-15
Skullcrusher or Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 5-12
Cable Tricep Extension or French Press 3 5-12
Day 3 - Wednesday - Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 5-12
Leg Press 3 5-20
Leg Extension or Hack Squat 3 5-20
Romanian Deadlift 3 5-12
Leg Curl 3 5-20
Seated Calf Raise 3 10-25
Abs Exercise of Choice 3 10-25
Day 3 - Friday - Pull
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 5-8
Barbell Row 3 5-12
Pull Up 3 5-12
Barbell Curl or Dumbbell Curl 3 8-12
Concentration Curl or Preacher Curl 3 8-12
Barbell or Dumbbell Shrug 3 8-15
Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flye 3 8-15

4 Day Muscle Building Splits

Four and five day muscle building workouts are much more complicated than two and three day workouts. There are far more possibilities, and combined with the complexities of exercise selection, you are left with a substantial number of training variations. Because of the numerous amount of variations, these sections will not list sample workouts. Instead, you will be provided with popular split variations.

A commonly asked question is: which split or workout is the most effective? Many natural lifters will respond best to working out only 3-4 days per week. Never try a 5 (or 6) day split before you have put in some time with a 3 or 4 day split, and have gained an understanding as to how your body responds to that amount of training volume. But to answer the original question, there is no magic split.

Pick a workout that motivates you to train, and stick with it. Never jump around from workout to workout. It takes time to learn your body and its limits. Jumping around each week will limit your progress.

Many lifters will respond best to working out 3-4 days per week.

4 Day Split Examples

The following are examples of 4 day splits from the Muscle & Strength workouts database. When designing your own 4 day split, please keep your total workout set volume inline with the guidelines presented above.

4 Day Split #1 - Chest and Triceps, Back and Biceps

  • Monday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
  • Tuesday - Back and Biceps (Forearms may also be added)
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
  • Friday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #2 - Chest and Biceps, Back and Triceps

  • Monday - Chest, Biceps and Abs
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
  • Friday - Back and Triceps (Forearms may also be added)
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

There are no "magic" splits4 Day Split #3 - Shoulders and Biceps

  • Monday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Back, Traps and Abs
  • Friday - Shoulders, Biceps and Forearms
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #4 - Chest and Back

  • Monday - Chest, Back and Abs
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
  • Friday - Triceps and Biceps (Forearms may also be added)
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #5 - Leg Focus

  • Monday - Quads, Calves and Abs
  • Tuesday - Chest and Triceps
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Back, Biceps and Traps
  • Friday - Hamstrings, Shoulders and Abs
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #6 - Arm Focus

  • Monday - Chest, Triceps and Biceps
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
  • Friday - Back, Triceps and Biceps
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #7 - Chest Focus

  • Monday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Chest, Shoulders and Abs
  • Friday - Back and Biceps (Forearms may also be added)
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

4 Day Split #8 - Upper Lower

  • Monday - Chest, Back, Shoulders and Arms
  • Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Chest, Back, Shoulders and Arms
  • Friday - Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Muscle Building Splits

5 day splits are very popular, especially in the realm of mainstream bodybuilding magazines. It is quite common to see a novice trainee jump right into a 5 day split used by their bodybuilding hero, only to find out that they are not gaining muscle as fast as expected. 5 day muscle building splits are generally best used by intermediate and advanced lifters who know their body's limits. Beginners need to not only learn how to build muscle on a basic program, but also need to dial in their muscle building diets before they add in additional training volume.

Muscle building takes years. Are you willing to pay this price?

5 Day Split Examples

The following are examples of 5 day splits from the Muscle & Strength workouts database. When designing your own 5 day split, please keep your total workout set volume inline with the guidelines presented above.

5 Day Split #1 - Arm Day

  • Monday - Chest and Abs
  • Tuesday - Back and Traps
  • Wednesday - Quads and Hamstrings
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday - Shoulders and Calves
  • Saturday - Triceps and Biceps
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Split #2 - Chest and Back

  • Monday - Chest and Back
  • Tuesday - Quads, Calves and Abs
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Triceps and Biceps
  • Friday - Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
  • Saturday - Shoulders and Traps
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Split #3 - Abs Focus

  • Monday - Quads, Hamstrings and Abs
  • Tuesday - Chest and Forearms
  • Wednesday - Back, Traps and Abs
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday - Shoulders and Abs
  • Saturday - Triceps and Biceps
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Split #4 - Arm Focus

  • Monday - Chest and Triceps
  • Tuesday - Back, Biceps and Abs
  • Wednesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday - Shoulders and Triceps
  • Saturday - Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Split #5 - Chest Focus

  • Monday - Chest and Shoulders
  • Tuesday - Back, Traps and Abs
  • Wednesday - Quads and Hamstrings
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday - Chest and Triceps
  • Saturday - Biceps, Forearms, Calves and Abs
  • Sunday - OFF

5 Day Split #6 -Squat and Deadlift Focus

  • Monday - Quads (with squats) and Calves
  • Tuesday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
  • Wednesday -OFF
  • Thursday - Deadlifts and Hamstrings
  • Friday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
  • Saturday - Back and Biceps
  • Sunday - OFF

Notes

As stated earlier in this reference guide, the rules for designing muscle building workouts can be broken. Nothing on this page is presented as a hard and fast rule. But, that does not mean ignoring all the rules and designing a counterintuitive program is a smart way to go.

There are many camps when it comes to training - HIT, volume, fullbody, those that fear overtraining, and those that think overtraining is a joke. One consistent theme that runs through ALL of these camps is the following reality:

Everything works.

While this sounds impossible, it's true. The most important aspects when it comes to muscle building are:

  1. Training consistency. Don't miss too many workouts. Muscle building takes years. Are you willing to pay this price?
  2. Evolution. Start slow and evolve your training. Begin with a simple approach, and add pieces as needed.
  3. Know your body. A training split is no good if it pushes your body in ways that put you at risk for strains, overtraining and injury. Just because someone is making gains by training to failure, or performing rest-pause training, doesn't mean you should do it too - regardless of the cost.

I want to wrap up this guide with some important wisdom: while it's ok to bend the rules, don't smash the rules! Bodybuilding splits, including training volume and exercise selection therein, is the cumulation of decades of anecdotal and scientific evidence. Simply put, workout splits are structured the way they are for a reason! They are not a result of some random toss of the dice.

You do not see pro natural bodybuilders working biceps 4 times per week with heavy volume. You do not see pro natural bodybuilders avoiding difficult exercises. You do not see pro natural bodybuilders lifting weights seven days a week. More is not better. Make sure you focus on quality workouts, and a quality eating plan. Stay humble, keep your mind open and trust in the process.

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  • About The Author
    Steve is a powerlifter who has also spent 20 years training in bodybuilding. He is a national level competitor training for an all-time over 50 raw world record.
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Comments (118)

Add a comment

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Michael
Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 17:40

Monday: Chest/ biceps

Tuesday: Legs(squats)

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: shoulders/triceps

Friday: back(deadlifts)

Saturday: rest

Sunday: rest

Do you guys think this is a good routine?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 17:45

Hi Michael,

Yes that is a very good split.

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Chuck
Posted Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:24

That's good that u have a day of rest after working two major muscle groups back to back, chest and legs. Youre also giving your biceps a good rest after working back. Include some cardio and abs and you're good to go!

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Murphy
Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 22:11

Hey steve, I've beeen lifting for about a year and i've been using the 2 year mass building workout from M&S and i go up in weight/reps every week yet i dont feel that the workout is intense enough for me.Is it beneficial to just go into the gym and workout the body part you have to workout that day as much as possible until you practically cant feel it? Because that is the only way i feel i will see massive gains.

Thank you

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 07:18

Hi Murphy,

Keep adding weight when possible. That is the correct focus. Destroying a bodypart with set after set until a muscle is numb is not the way to go, and a good recipe for injury. If the 2 year plan isn't intense enough, you haven't stuck with it long enough. That plan has you performing heavy squats and deadlifts, and has 20 rep squats involved. If you are adding weight each week on these lifts and it isn't intense, I fear you might be doing something wrong.

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Kakos
Posted Sun, 12/05/2010 - 10:36

Hi Steve. I'm an expirienced lifter and i want to work out 4 times a week, but now i can't work out on Weekends or Thrusdays so my split would go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Could you suggest a split i could use?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 08:31

Hi Kakos,

I would use one of the following:

* Monday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
* Tuesday - Back and Biceps (Forearms may also be added)
* Wednesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
* Thursday - OFF
* Friday - Shoulders, Traps and Abs
* Saturday - OFF
* Sunday - OFF

* Monday - Chest, Triceps and Abs
* Tuesday - Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
* Wednesday - Back, Traps and Abs
* Thursday - OFF
* Friday - Shoulders, Biceps and Forearms
* Saturday - OFF
* Sunday - OFF

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Murphy
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 06:33

Hi again steve,i recently switched my workout to a more intesnse on which has me using about 10 lb lighter weight on all my workouts because of the intensity will using lighter dumbbells cause me to lose muscle mass even if the workout is more intense then the last one where i used heavier weight and less sets??? thank you!

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Steve
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 08:35

Hi Murphy,

No matter what style of system of training you use, you will need to find a way to challenge yourself or your gains will stagnate. Using a slightly lighter weight won't automatically cause a muscle loss, especially with intense training, but if you continue to use that weight and don't challenge yourself for more reps/weight eventually, you will stagnate.

Pick a style of lifting that fits your personality, and then keep the mindset that you want to beat your last workout by at least one rep.

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kevin
Posted Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:13

mon legs abs
tues chest
wed back abs
thu shoulders
fri off
sat arms +dips/pull ups
sun off

any comments on that split?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:49

Hi Kevin,

Looks good to me. Tricep and bicep rest is maximized. Dips and pullups are great choices. Thumbs up!

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Trung Le
Posted Wed, 12/08/2010 - 19:32

Monday Chest
Tuesday Back and Abs
Wednesday Arms (fore arm bicep and tricep)
Thursday Legs and Abs
Friday Shoulders

How's that?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:49

Hi Trung,

That should work well.

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alvin
Posted Fri, 12/10/2010 - 14:05

hi steve can i use these split workout

Monday - Chest and Abs
Tuesday - Cardio and Abs
Wednesday - Back and Abs
Thursday - Legs,Shoulder and Abs
Friday - Cardio and Abs
Saturday - Biceps and Triceps
Sunday - Rest Day

what do you think?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 12/15/2010 - 13:27

Hi Alvin,

Thumbs up, as long as you're not deadlift on back day and squatting on leg day. That might be too much on back-to-back days.

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Mike
Posted Fri, 12/10/2010 - 22:42

Another great 3-day split:
3 excercises per body group 4 sets
Either 10-8-6-4 or 10-8-8-6

Mon. 10 min cardio warm up then: Chest / Back
Abs: Crunch 3x15 Knee-Ins 3x15

Tue. Off- Or endomophs-cardio 1/2hr

Wed. 10 min cardio warm-up. Legs / Shoulders add a trap set 3x10-8-6
Abs: Machine Crunch with weight. Hanging leg raise 3x15

Thur. Off or repeat Tue.

Fri. 10 min. cardio warm-up. Biceps / Triceps add a forearm 3x10-8-6
Abs. Rope Crunch 3x15, Lying leg raise 3x15

Sat. Sun OFF

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Charlie
Posted Sat, 12/11/2010 - 10:44

I was thinking about a new split

Day1 Chest/Back/Abs (low reps)
Day2 Legs (quads/hams/calves) (3 week cycle)
Day3 Rest
Day4 Shoulders/Traps/Abs (higher reps)
Day5 Biceps/Triceps/Calves (low reps)
Day6 Rest

Day1 Chest/Back/Abs (higher reps)
Day2 Legs (quads/hams/calves) (3 week cycle)
Day3 Rest
Day4 Shoulders/Traps/Abs (low reps)
Day5 Biceps/Triceps/Calves (higher reps)
Day6 Rest
(repeat)

No day 7, just start over
What do you think?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 12/15/2010 - 13:28

Hi Charlie,

Looks very good.

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Chris
Posted Mon, 12/27/2010 - 14:04

Steve,

Using the routine posted below (5-Day Chest Focus Split), do you recommend 9-15 Working Sets for Chest during each workout or do you recommend 4-8 Working Sets for Chest (since it will be worked twice per week.)

5 Day Split #5 - Chest Focus
Monday - Chest and Shoulders
Tuesday - Back, Traps and Abs
Wednesday - Quads and Hamstrings
Thursday - OFF
Friday - Chest and Triceps
Saturday - Biceps, Forearms, Calves and Abs
Sunday - OFF

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/03/2011 - 13:30

Hi Chris,

I would start with 6 chest sets on each day, and add a bit if you feel it is needed. It's generally better to start small and build.

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stuart
Posted Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:19

Hi Steve,

On the three day full body workout,it say's 5-12 reps,does this mean you start with 5 reps(heavy)then work up to 12 reps,getting lighter?..

Stuart

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 09:44

Hi Stuart,

Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

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Julian
Posted Fri, 01/07/2011 - 15:16

Hey Steve i used to work a little bit for a while just getting back into it with a friend im basically going work out mon wed fri. with my workout schedule going along the line of

mon Chest/Triceps

wed legs( and something else not sure yet any sugestions)

fri biceps/back (maybe shoulders)

also finish up the each day with an ab workout

my 2 questions are if that is a good workout schedule,and my second question which is a bit more important my right arm is severly stronger than my left arm where i can continue lifting weight with my right my left just gives in what would be the best way to offset that and have my left arm catch up to be even again please and thank you

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 09:47

Hi Julian,

Overall it looks good. You are missing direct shoulder work. As far as arm strength, it's normal to have a strength discrepancy. As you train you will strength not only the primary muscle, but also the stabilizer muscles. This should help to even up strength some, but it won't sure the issue. It can take years and years of hard training to minimize a strength difference like this. The only thing you can really do is to keep training hard.

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Mike
Posted Sat, 01/08/2011 - 14:33

Hi Steve,

I would like a workout with Bicep focus.
I have been working out for a year.I am 43 yrs old, 180 lbs. and 5'9".

Mon - Chest, 60 incline situps and 40 min cardio
tues - Back and Biceps, 60 incline situps and 20 min cardio
wed - off
Thurs - Legs, 60 incline situps and 20 min. cardio
Fri - Shoulders and Triceps, 60 incline situps and 20 min. cardio
Sat - Biceps 60 incline situps and 20 min cardio
Sun - off

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 09:49

Hi Mike,

Looks good!

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Mike
Posted Sat, 03/12/2011 - 06:52

Using this workout, I'm doing 12 sets of biceps per week is that too much. I always use 3 sets per execise.

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Kennedy Muthoka
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 06:55

Hi,

I am restarting gym after a year or so. My workout routine is as follows:
Mon: Chest, Abs
Tue: Back, Abs
Wed: Quads and hamstrings, Abs
Thurs: Shoulder,Abs
Fri: Biceps, triceps, Fore arm
Sat: Off
Sun: Off

What do u think?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 09:41

Hi Kennedy,

Looks good!

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sam
Posted Sat, 01/15/2011 - 23:40

Hi,

I've been working out on and off for 12 years. I recently joined a new gym and I decided I can make it in the gym on the following days:

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chuck
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:05

how much time do wait between each set

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:09

Hi Chuck,

A general rule is 90 to 120 seconds rest between most sets, and longer for heavy, taxing sets of deadlifts, squats, etc.

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Daniel
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 21:58

hey steve my name is dan, im looking to get bi like john cena big an i ned a good exercvise which one of these do you think is god for me or if any. any suggestions would help thaks steve

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 13:30

Hi Daniel,

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Mike
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 16:05

Ahter my muscle building workout I do 20 minutes of cardio. By the time I have my Whey protien drink it would be 30 minutes after my muscle building workout. Am I wasting my time with cardio and losing the potiency the protien drink would give my muscles?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 13:31

Hi Mike,

In general no. With that said, I would recommend taking a product like Scivation Xtend immediately after weight training, and before your cardio session.

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Dave
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 21:25

Hey Steve,

For the 3 day push pull legs split, do you think it would be OK to switch the cable tricep extension with tricep pushdowns? Also, would it be a bad thing if I did the squats on a smith machine? There aren't any squat racks in my gym(Planet Fitness). One more question: I'm trying to focus on strength more than size, so what would be a good protein for me to take?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 14:26

Hi Dave,

Cable tricep extensions and tricep push downs are the same exercise.

I am not a big fan of squats on Smith machines. They change the natural dynamics of the lift. I would rather see you performing leg presses, or finding a new gym.

As far as protein, I would start with one of the best selling brands form the store like Muscle Gauge or Scivation.

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Chris
Posted Mon, 01/31/2011 - 18:47

Do you think this a good split?

Mon: chest/legs
tue: bicep/tricep
we'd: cardio/abbs
thur: shoulders/traps
fri: back/lower back
sat: cardio/core
sun: rest

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Steve
Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 14:03

Hi Chris,

I might suggest swapping back and shoulders to give triceps a bit more rest. You also want to avoid training traps before back day if you can.

Mon: chest/legs
tue: bicep/tricep
we'd: cardio/abbs
thur: back/lower back
fri: shoulders/traps
sat: cardio/core
sun: rest

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Erik
Posted Thu, 02/03/2011 - 16:57

I've been using the 3 day full body workout example provided above for a solid month. More or less following it to a tee. I like it alot. Pretty much going to the gym every other day. I'm starting to see good results, more so in strength and gains then appearance, BUT I know it's working.
My question is:
How long should I follow this routine before switching and can you recommend another workout to follow? (I do like the split and a full body routine.)
Also, my gym doesn't have any bars, closest we have in a Smith machine. Can you recommend a compariable replacement for dead lifts? (I've been replacing them with weighted lunges??)

Thank you for your time!
Erik

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Steve
Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 13:51

Hi Erik,

You can really stick with a workout as long as you'd like, evolving your training around specific needs.

Deadlifts are primarily a back exercise. i would replace them with dumbbell deadlifts if you can. If nor, try barbell or dumbbell rows.

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Erik
Posted Tue, 02/08/2011 - 23:36

Hey Steve,

I've been following the 3-day full body pretty religiously for about a month. I'm making pretty good gains with it. How long should I continue doing that before I need to switch? Do I even need to switch to something else? Say a split routine?

Also, is weighted lunges a good substitute for dead lifts?

Thanks for your time,
Erik

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Britt
Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 11:16

Steve, I am currently working on this scedule do you see anything that needs to change
Mon - bis tris
Tues- Chest
Wed- Legs
Thurs- shoulders and Back
Friday- Fun wierd exercises (abs, rolling the tire, jumping)
Off on the weekends

I also try to put in an hour of cardio each of these days. My body is telling me this is a good routine but I want to know if i need to move things around for better performance.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 12:42

Hi Britt,

You will want to move chest and triceps around. Triceps are heavily involved with chest work, so performing chest day with fatigued triceps isn't the best approach. I recommend:

Mon - Chest
Tues- bis tris
Wed- Legs
Thurs- shoulders and Back

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jeff
Posted Fri, 02/18/2011 - 17:19

On the workout below, how many sets per body part and what rep range do you recommend doing?

Monday: Chest/ biceps

Tuesday: Legs(squats)

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: shoulders/triceps

Friday: back(deadlifts)

Saturday: rest

Sunday: rest

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Johnny John
Posted Mon, 03/14/2011 - 16:39

On the 3 Day Push Pull Legs Split is there any reason on Monday you switch back and forth? Chest, shoulders, chest, shoulders, chest, triceps, triceps. Is there any reason I couldn't rearrange Monday to be chest, chest, chest, shoulders, shoulders, triceps, triceps? The flow just seems weird switching back and forth like you have it. Especially since Wednesday and Friday don't switch back and forth (ex., Wed: quads, quads, quads, hams, hams, calves, abs, Fri: lower back, upper back, upper back, biceps, biceps, traps, rear delts).

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Craig
Posted Fri, 03/18/2011 - 10:31

Hi Steve

Im after a workout for a natural trainer who tends to adapt very quickly to workouts, does not progressively overload that much and has troubles with recovery. Iv been lifting for 5 years now but gains have stagnated big time and i never really progress on my weights like i did in the first year.Iv not built muscle for a long time. Could i have been overtraining? I do know from experience that i do not recover too well especially between sets etc. My diet is fine as i eat around 3500 - 4000 cals a days (5ft 4 tall) and can gain weight easily. Protein intake is high etc . I get enough rest etc.

Can you help, recommend anything?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Korey Washington
Posted Fri, 04/01/2011 - 21:24

Hi steve, i am in the process of getting my CSCS and i wanted some advise. How would you set up a program for a college football player who can only workout 3-4 times a week, has games on saturdays and has a hectic schedule. I want to incorporate Olympic lifts and accessory exercises, regular strength/hypertrophy templates and Bicycle cardio.

so far this is what i have:
Day 1:Heavy
Snatch/Cleans: 10reps total up to 90% max
snatch/clean pulls
Deep squat
RDL
Bench Press 5x5
Incline Press 3x5

Day 2: Med
Snatch/cleans 15 rep total up to 70@ max

Deadlift
Cable pullthrough
Shoulder Press
Seated Row
Dumbell Hi-Arch Row
Bench Press 3-4x8-12
Military Press 3x8

Day 3: Light(explosive speed/game prep day)
Snatches/Cleans 10 rep total up to 60%
(Lost here, usually i will have the athlete do only the olympic lifts but they want more and I am not getting any help from my fellow trainers.)

Any insight would be awesome sir.

Rangers Lead The Way

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PS
Posted Mon, 04/11/2011 - 08:16

Steve:

Thanks for this article.

In your workout examples you recommend lower numbers of sets per muscle group than what you recommend under the "Sets Per Body Part" section. For example, the 2 Day Upper Lower Split Example has you doing a total of 6 sets of Bench Press/Dips/DB Bench Press per week for chest. But if I read your "Sets Per Body Part" correctly, you recommend doing 9 to 15 sets per week. Can you explain the disparity?

Thanks!

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