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Bulldozer Training 3 Day Workout Split

Bulldozer Training 3 Day Workout Split

Average: 4 (49 votes)
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3 day Bulldozer Training muscle building split. Combines rest-pause sets with progressive resistance. Workouts are shorter but more intense.

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Build Muscle
Workout Type:
Split
Training Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week:
3
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Target Gender:
Male
Author:

Workout Description

For more information on the Bulldozer style of training, please read:

Several years ago I began to play around with rest-pause training. I would load up the bar, knock out a set, and rest for only a very short period of time before performing another set. It didn't take long for me to realize one thing...rest-pause style training was both brutal and effective.

I was spending less time in the gym training but waking up with an incredible amount of DOMS (muscle soreness). Limiting rest between sets was also making my workouts far more engaging. I had no time to stop and think. Every workout felt like warfare. I would crush it, rest for a short period of time (never fully recovering), and get after it again.

Bulldozer Training Basics

Bulldozer training is structured around the following principles:

  • Limited Rest Between Sets. Rest between sets is typically 15 to 30 seconds, but can run as high as 60 seconds for certain compound exercises, or for extended set schemes.
  • Shorter, But More Intense Workouts. Because of the restricted rest between sets you will spend less time in the gym on any given day, but your workouts will have a greater "per rep" intensity*.
  • Fewer Exercises Per Bodypart. You won't need 4 to 5 (or more) exercises to hit a bodypart hard. Bulldozer training uses a higher number of sets per exercise than most workouts, so you will generally use no more than 2-3 exercises for a given muscle group.
  • Weight Progression Using Rep Goal Totals. You will add up the total reps performed for a given exercise, and if it reaches a predetermined goal, weight will be added the next time you perform this lift.
  • Mini-Sets and Macro-Sets. Groups of sets for a given exercise are called mini-sets. They are distinguished with a different nomenclature because they are not performed like most sets, when fully recovered. Macro-Sets are groupings of mini-set clusters.
  • No Failure. Do not train sets to failure. Stop every mini-set when you feel like you may fail on the next rep. If you are not sure, stop the set and rack the weight.
  • Same Weight. Use the same working weight for each mini-set of a given exercise.

*Intensity in this context does not relate to absolute strength, but rather the burden placed upon a muscle as it relates to muscle fiber unit recruitment.

Bulldozer Set Example and Explanation

Bulldozer sets use the following style of annotation:

  • Bench Press x 7 with 30/30/45/45/60/60

For this example, you will perform 7 total sets using the following rest periods between sets:

  • Perform set 1, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 2, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 3, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 4, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 5, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 6, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 7. Rest, then move on to the next exercise.

Rep Goal System

Bulldozer training utilizes the rep goal system. The rep goal system is a progression approach I developed that tells you when it's time to add weight to a particular exercise.

The rep goal system works like this...you simply count the total reps performed for a given Bulldozer exercise, and when this total reaches the predetermined "rep goal", you add weight to that exercise the next time in the gym.

  • When to Add Weight - Add weight (the next time you perform this exercise) when you reach the rep goal total for a given exercise.

I do not recommend adding more than 5 pounds to a lift at any given time. There is no need to rush. Remember that muscle building is a marathon, not a sprint. Adding 5 pounds per week might not seem like much, but it could theoretically move your bench press from 135 pounds to well over 300 pounds in a given year. Obviously, this is not likely to happen, but the point remains...trust the process and add only 5 pounds per lift.

Finding a Starting Weight

When trying to find a starting weight for each exercise, pick something you could easily perform 10-12 reps with.

Workout Notes

Bulldozer training is deceptively simple. Try a moderately light day to get the feel of the system before going full speed ahead. Resist the urge to add volume or exercises. Trust the process and train with common sense. The combination of rest-pause training and progressive resistance will yield some fairly impressive muscle.

Bulldozer Training 3 Day Workout Split

Note: This can also be run on a 6 day rotation by dropping day 7.

Day 1
Back, Biceps, Forearms, Traps and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Deadlift (See below)      
Barbell Row 5 25 30/30/45/45
Wide Grip Pull Up 5 35 30/30/30/30
Standing Dumbbell Curl 4 25 30/30/30
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 4 25 30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 4 35 30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      
Day 3
Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Bench Press 5 30 30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 5 30 30/30/30/30
Seated Overhead Press 5 35 30/30/45/45
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 30 30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Flye 4 30 30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press 4 25 30/30/30
Seated Dumbbell Extension 4 30 30/30/30
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Squat (See below)      
Leg Press 5 50 30/30/30/30
Leg Extension 5 40 30/30/30/30
Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 30 30/30/45/45
Leg Curl 5 35 30/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise 5 35 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      

A Note on Deadlifts

For deadlifts you will be working with rest-paused singles instead of multiple rep sets. It is best to start with a weight that you could easily perform a 10 rep set with. Perform as many singles as you (safely) can within a 10 minutes period. Perform a rep, stand up, recover your bearings and breath, then perform another rep.

  • Deadlift rest-pause - Keeping good form, perform as many rest-pause singles as you can in 10 minutes. When you can perform 15 reps, add weight the next time you deadlift.

There is no right or wrong rest period for these singles. The key thing is to keep solid form. When you can perform 15 total reps within a 10 minute time frame, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you deadlift.

A Note on Squats

For squats you will be performing 4 total sets. The first 3 sets will utilize the same weight. You will perform as many reps as you safely can with this weight, and when the total number of reps performed for these 3 sets adds up to 20, you will add weight the next time you squat.

After completing these 3 sets, you will drop the weight and perform a 20 rep set of squats. You will most likely need to start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

  • 3 Sets of Squats - Using the same weight, perform as many reps as you can. Stop a set when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel you can fail on the next rep. When you can perform 20 combined reps for these 3 sets, add weight the next time you squat.
  • 20 Rep Set of Squats - Start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

Working the Abs

Understand that training the abs doesn't "reveal" the abs. You don't carve out a six pack by doing an endless number of crunches. For this program do whatever abs exercise(s) you prefer. I recommend using at least one weighted exercise such as weighted sit ups or cable crunches. Exercises like this allow you to and resistance over time.

Substitution Exercises

The following is a list of possible substitution exercises. These "swaps" are fairly equal, meaning compound for compound, machine for machine, etc., and will serve you well if prefer to avoid any of the listed exercises:

  • Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press.
  • Hammer Strength Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, Smith machine bench press, pec dec, cable crossovers, incline dumbbell flye, chest dips.
  • Close Grip Bench Press - Bench dips, skullcrushers, seated French press.
  • Seated Dumbbell Extension - Cable tricep extensions, one arm dumbbell extensions.
  • Barbell Row - Dumbbell Row, T-Bar row, seated cable row.
  • Pull Ups - Lat pull down, rack chins.
  • Standing Dumbbell Curl - Barbell curls, EZ bar curls, seated dumbbell curls.
  • EZ Bar Preacher Curl - Concentration curl, cable curl.
  • Seated Overhead Press - Military press, push press, seated behind the neck press, dumbbell overhead press, Hammer Strength shoulder press, Smith machine press.
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise - Arnold dumbbell press, machine side lateral raise, cable side laterals raise.
  • Bent Over Reverse Flye - Reverse pec Dec, rear delt machine.
  • Barbell Shrug - Dumbbell shrug, power shrug, Smith machine shrug.
  • Seated Barbell Wrist Curl - One arm dumbbell wrist curl, Smith machine wrist curl.
  • Leg Press - Barbell lunge, front squat, hack machine squat.
  • Leg Extension - Barbell or dumbbell lunge, hack squat, dumbbell step up.
  • Leg Curl - Stiff leg deadlift, glute ham raise.
  • Seated Calf Raise - Standing calf raise, leg press calf raise.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What can I replace squats with? Squats are considered one of the top muscle building exercises. They are certainly a proven leg builder. While I do not advocate removing them from this program, if you ignore this advice and do so anyway, use rest-pause leg presses.

What can I replace deadlifts with? Deadlifts are another potent muscle building exercise. Like squats, I do not advocate removing them from this program. If you ignore this advice and do so anyway, I recommend the following type of structure for your back workouts:

  • Barbell or dumbbell rows - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Pull ups or lat pull downs - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Seated cable rows or machine rows - 5 rest-pause sets.

Can I add more volume? No, please don't. Trust the program and the process. Push for progression of weight, and give the program some time to work as designed.

How long should I run this program? As long as you'd like. There is no urgent need to switch workouts.

How long should I rest between exercises? Rest until you are fully recovered and feel ready to go again.

When can I add cardio? You can perform cardio on off days, after lifting weights, or at least several hours removed from your weight training session. If muscle building is a priority, you do not want to perform cardio prior to lifting. Save your energy for the iron.

Can I add extra abs exercises? You can, but it won't help you create a six pack. Abs are created by losing fat. Train them the same way you train every other muscle group.

I want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Is this a good workout for me? Fat loss is mostly about diet, not exercise. If you want to lose fat, you need to cut back on what you eat. Keep in mind that it's hard to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Some may be able to do this to a small degree, but it is not optimal for packing on muscle mass.

How do I eat to build muscle? Great question. Here are some articles that can help you:

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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 (121)

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Anton
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 01:52

Great Workout! Can't wait to get started. Question: Are the mini sets basically how many times you restpause for each Excercise? Also, how come you don't recommend training to Failure?

Thanks

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 09:26

Hi Anton,

Yes, mini-sets are the number of time you rest-pause.

Failure - simply not needed. Also, too much downside. Progression is far more important that training to failure. Failure tends to over-tax my CNS and joints more than anything.

The primary goal should always be progression.

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Nijel
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 10:43

Hi Steve,

"Note: This can also be run on a 6 day rotation by dropping day 7". My apologies for sounding stupid..but what does that mean?. ie does it mean I can run this routine day1,day2,day3 then take day4 rest and then run it day5,day6 and day 7 again?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 14:45

You drop day 7, which is a rest day, and start over with the first workout.

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Shane
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 11:03

I've noticed both workouts are splits. Do you not recommend total body for this kind of workout?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 14:46

Fullbody will work as well. Going to put up a fullbody variation in the very near future.

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craig
Posted Fri, 09/06/2013 - 19:48

Hi steve.
Have you gotten around to doing up a full body version of the bulldozer program?
Cheers

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Tim
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 19:28

Hey Steve,
How should we perform warm up sets?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 08:02

For isolation moves and less taxing exercises you can perform one lighter, non-taxing set of about 10 reps. For compounds lifts, you want to not only warm up the body and muscles, but also your central nervous system. So let's say you're using 200 pounds on bench press. Warm up sets might look like:

Bar x 15 reps
95 pounds x 10 reps
135 pounds x 5 reps
185 pounds x 1-2 reps

Again, warmups should not be taxing, but simply prepare you for the work to come.

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Nick
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 21:42

Hey Steve , just a question concerning the amount of reps I should be following during each set if it says for example on the bench you say do 5 mini sets with a rep range of 30. Does this mean I would do 5 sets with a total of 6 reps or 5 sets with a total of 30 reps each set ?
Thanks man !

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 08:04

You do as many reps as you can per set, stopping each set when form starts to slip, or when you feel like you might fail on the next rep. Rep goal totals do not mean (for example) 30 reps per set. This is the goal for all sets.

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Chris Kline
Posted Sat, 02/23/2013 - 02:03

Would you recommend lowering the rep goal for lifting heavier weights if bulking is my main goal? Does it make much of a difference to lift heavy for bulking, or does the intensity that this routine requires take care of the need to lift heavy by recruiting more fast-twitch muscle fibers? Thanks!

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drew
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 16:23

can u explain more or the marco sets your talking about? so a mini set would be doing 5-6 reps the rest for 30sec then 5-6 again?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:44

Mini-sets are the total number of sets performed for an exercise. If it says "5 mini-sets", you perform only 5 sets with the listed rest periods.

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Jonathan
Posted Mon, 05/14/2012 - 14:34

Some stupid questions:

1. Deadlifts when you say total 15reps in 10min, can I perform 15reps at once or they should be spread on 10 min with heavier weight?

2. In general when you say 5 mini sets with a total 25 rep that means I can perform 5 reps on each mini set for a total of 25? example 5reps 30/30/30/30 with a total of 25reps

3. In each mini set for a given exercise the weight should remain the same right? example 10Kg 30/30/30/30

4. Abs how many exercises? reps? mini sets?

5. How can I replace wide Grip Pull-ups?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:00

Hi Jonathan,

1) They should be singles. Perform a rep, rest for a short period of time, reset and perform another rep.
2) You perform as many reps as possible for each set, stopping a set when you feel you may fail on the next rep.
3) Yes, the weight is always the same on a given day for a given exercise.
4) Whatever method you prefer.
5) Replacement exercises are listed in the writeup.

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Anthony
Posted Sun, 05/13/2012 - 23:35

Steve,

I have been working out for the last 4 months but I haven't been to serious about it just getting into the idea of it but I want to start getting into a serious workout routine and diet and for my height, weight and size I am wondering what the best workout plan and meal plan would be.

I am

6ft
160 pounds
20yrs/o

I am looking for a 3 day workout split and I was interested in this workout but I don't know if its the right one for me, what would you suggest.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:02

Most any muscle building workout on M&S is a good choice. The magic is in persistence and progression. Pick one that appeals to you and stick with it for 6 months. As far as meal plan, here is an article that can help:

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

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Rich
Posted Mon, 05/14/2012 - 23:21

About your rep goal system. Is it if you have 5 sets and your rep goal is 35, you try to do 7 sets without changing the weight between sets? So if I start out a work out with 100 lbs and do 7 reps each set and on the last set with still 100 lbs on the bar I only get 6. My total will be 34. The next week if I am able to get the final rep on the last set, that's when I add weight the next week? Right?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:04

Yes, you use the same weight for each set of a given exercise. You do not try to perform the same number of reps per set. You perform as many as possible, stopping short of failure. when you get 35 total, using your example, then you would add weight.

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Cliff
Posted Sat, 08/25/2012 - 09:33

Rich, Trust me. If you do your first set at 100 lbs and knock out 12-15 reps, that fine, because by the 7th set, you will most likely only get 2-3 reps. Thats how it works. The first set seems way too easy, but get ready. The last few sets will humble you. I love this workout and have been doing it for a while.

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Long
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 01:46

Hi Steve, how come on the Seated Overhead Press there are 5 mini sets but has 6 rest period instead of 4?

Thanks

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:05

Typo. Fixing, and thanks!

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Tim
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 15:09

Steve,
This is a really great workout. I'm having a lot of fun with it. Instead of doing standard barbell rows, is it okay to do Pendlay rows? Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 09:53

Absolutely. I use Pendlay's. Easier on my lower back.

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Jake
Posted Wed, 05/16/2012 - 16:16

Steve,

Can you perform consecutive days? For example, could I perform Day 1 on Sunday and then Day 2 on Monday and move Day 3 to Friday? I'm assuming it's best to keep "push" lifts like shoulders and chest a few days apart. Theoretically I could do Day1/Day2 consecutively and move Day 3 to a few days later, correct?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 09:55

You could, sure. The only thing that would be tough is if you split chest and shoulders and tried to work them close together.

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Paul
Posted Wed, 05/16/2012 - 19:44

Thank you Steve and muscle and Strength! This is a really nice website!
I'm planning to do these workouts one week and throw in some crossfit wods for 3 days after then resume the bulldozer and repeat!

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Rich
Posted Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:24

Hi Steve,

Great program but Im interested to understand more regarding the deadlifts.

You say 15reps over a 10min period with a short rest between reps?
You also say to use a weight that I can comfortably lift for 10reps in a 'normal working set'.

If thats the case when do you know to increase the weight?
Surely it has to be incredibly heavy weight that your are lifting so getting 10reps within the 15min timeframe is a push?

If I pick a weight I can do for 10reps in a normal set Id be done within a couple of mins probably.

Sorry to sound confused....

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 09:57

You increase the weight when you are able to perform 15 single deadlift reps in 10 minutes. If you hit 15 reps with 225 pounds, next week you use 230 pounds. If you then hit 15 reps with 230 pounds, you add another 5 pounds the following week.

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Eddie
Posted Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:46

How should I structure the rest period for squats? Keep it between 30-45 seconds like everything else? Coming up on the end of my first week "bulldozing", and I think it's a pretty fantastic routine!

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 09:59

Hi Eddie,

Thanks for the feedback.

Squats are not rest-pause. Rest several minutes between each set of squats.

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Toby
Posted Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:17

Hey Steve,
Can I do this workout doing consecutive days? like Friday, Saturday and Sunday with out a rest day in between?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:02

I recommend a couple days rest between back (deadlifts) and legs (squats).

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Toby
Posted Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:25

Steve,
Can I do Chest, biceps one day, shoulders, triceps the next day and legs and back on my third day? Also, are the listed exercises for each body part the ones that you recommend or can I throw different ones in there? appreciate the info....thanx!

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:04

Hi Toby,

No, you should not work pushing days (chest and shoulders) on back to back days. Leave several days of rest between them.

Regarding exercises, alternative exercise choices are provided in the workout description.

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anymous
Posted Sun, 05/20/2012 - 14:09

hi Steve, workout looks great. cant wait to try it out. quick question though. how much of a gain on bench press would i get in about 3 monthes, before summer starts, im...
5 foot 8,
178 pounds,
15 years old,
max rite now: 210 lbs

thnx

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:47

In 3 months you could possible add 20 to 40 pounds to your bench press. Not saying you will, but it's possible.

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Dominic
Posted Sun, 05/20/2012 - 22:54

Hi Steve.
Im going to start this routine next week after my rest week.
I've been doing 3 day splits for the past year with a goal to add some muscle.
I weighed 70kgs in april 2011 and now im 85.5kgs with minimal fat so there has been a steady growth in a year.
I've always stuck with a mon-chest, bicep. 3/4 sets
wed-legs, shoulders 8/12 reps
fri-back, triceps
obviously i pick a new workout every 2/3 months, but ive hit a wall!!!
i cant lift any heavier or get heavier since about 8 weeks ago.
Do you think this routine will help me break through my wall??
Any advice Steve would be muchly appreciated.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:51

You will experience a slowing of gains over time. That's natural. I would follow a routine like this and make sure you are eating properly. Here is an article that can help:

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

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Trey
Posted Tue, 05/22/2012 - 10:26

Hey Steve,

I am 19 yrs old, 6' 4", 305 lbs. Football player (Offensive Tackle)I have not missed a scheduled day of weight lifting since I started the summer between 8th and 9th grade. I no longer play football and I am in college. Here is my delimma. I have never worked a routine that was not perscribed by my football coach, and since I am in Pre Law, I have less time than I used to. My dad (who is a huge fan our your routines) suggested this one, 3 days a week and shorter than normal. I like the looks of it, and I completly understand the way it works. My only question....am I correct that warm up set DO NOT count toward the set total? example, do my 2-3 bench warm up sets, THEN start the 5 sets working toward 30 reps total. Am I correct in this thinking?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:53

You are correct, this does not include warmup sets.

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Neil
Posted Fri, 05/25/2012 - 11:15

Been training for a while and I feel like I've come to a dead end! Im 6 foot 2 and weigh 208 lbs. just wanna know how effective this program is and when I should start results?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/30/2012 - 09:49

Most workouts are solid choices. Results will come from progression and proper food intake. Results...it depends on what results you're expecting. Stick with weight training for 3 years and you'll see great changes to your body.

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Billy
Posted Sat, 05/26/2012 - 13:50

Looks like a really good workout but what worrys me that their Dosent look like a lot of emphasise is being put on the arms?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/30/2012 - 09:50

There is more than enough arm work in this program. Trust the process.

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BigAugie
Posted Tue, 05/29/2012 - 16:50

Thanks for this Steve. I'm glad to hear you're releasing a full-body option since that's my preference. Also, could you set his up as a push/pull split 3x/week where you include legs each day, e.g. quads and calves on the push day and glutes/hams on pull? You alternate the two workouts in an A/B format with A on Day 1, B on Day 3, A on Day 5 and then start with B on the following week's Day 1.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/30/2012 - 09:51

I'm going to be doing a fullbody and push pull variation of this program very soon.

Thanks for the suggestions!

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BigAugie
Posted Wed, 05/30/2012 - 12:01

Will keep an eye out for the 3-day fullbody and push/pull variants. I still have 2 more weeks left on Ultimate Diet 2.0 followed by a deload week and then I'm hoping to start Bulldozer. Thanks again.

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Derek Haenisch
Posted Thu, 05/31/2012 - 19:58

stiff leg deadlift is there any substitution for this exercise?

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