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Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split

Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split

Average: 4.4 (57 votes)
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4 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:
4
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Dumbbells, Machines
Target Gender:
Male & Female
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 4 Day Workout Split

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

Day 1
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Bench Press 5 20 30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 5 30 30/30/30/30
Dumbbell Flye 5 35 30/30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press 5 30 30/30/30/30
Seated Dumbbell Extension 5 35 30/30/30/30
Day 2
Back, Biceps 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 5 35 30/30/30/30
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 5 35 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      
Day 4
Shoulders, Traps and Forearms
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Seated Overhead Press 5 25 30/30/45/45
Seated Arnold Press 5 30 30/30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Flye 5 35 30/30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 30/30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 5 35 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 Curl 5-7 40 30/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise 5-7 50 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.
  • Dumbbell Flye - 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.
  • Seated Arnold Press - Hammer Strength shoulder press, Smith machine press, dumbbell press.
  • 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.
  • 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 (189)

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Matthew
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 13:58

Pardon my question if this is already covered in the article; however, when aiming at a "rep goal total" are the set reps meant to be equal? In other words, do you rep out as many of a certain weight for the first few sets and essentially burn out the last few? I know you don't always agree with training to muscle failure from reading your other articles so I am curious to see if this is supposed to be an equal progression or the only thing that truly matters is the rep total.

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 14:08

Hi Matthew,

No, sets are not meant to be equal. You do as many as you can for each set, stopping a set when either form starts to slip or you feel you may fail on the next rep.

When I do 7 sets for bench press the reps tend to look something like this:

8/5/4/3/3/3/3

Sometimes you will find you gain back some strength on the last couple sets, and are able to add an extra rep.

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Matthew
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 15:52

Thank you, that definitely helps and I am looking forward to trying this program. One more quick question... Do you add a set(s) if you miss your rep total? Say you aim a certain weight and hit 2-3 reps below your total rep count and your form starts to slip, do you add one more set to complete it? Or simply make that your goal as far as weight/rep total for the following workout?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 15:56

No don't add sets. The rep goal is only used as a method to determine when you should add weight to a lift.

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Shane
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 14:51

Oh, I must have read it wrong then. I thought I should be doing 7 sets of 5 reps to get to my 35 reps.

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 15:04

You want to hit 35 total reps, but it's with sets where you do as many reps as possible, so it could be:

10/7/5/4/3/3/3

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Sheldon
Posted Fri, 05/04/2012 - 17:08

So simple..yet so brilliant. ;-)

Ive been hitting it like wilson for the last couple of months..10++sets of squat and deads..great results (none of my clothes fit :(((!). Ready for something different now;)

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Shane
Posted Sat, 05/05/2012 - 13:44

So, if I was to do 7 sets for each exercise, would you recommend only 2 chest exercises and 1 tri exercise, 2 back 1 bi, 2 shoulder 1 forearm, 2 quad 1 calf?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/05/2012 - 22:20

Yes, that's how I generally run 7 set variations.

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Steve Szczek
Posted Sat, 05/05/2012 - 20:52

It's not clear in the instruction, but do you progressively add weight after each mini set? Or do you only add weight the next time you do that training day?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/05/2012 - 22:19

Sorry for the confusion...use the same for each of the mini-sets.

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Liam
Posted Mon, 05/07/2012 - 15:04

Hi steve, I'm liking the look of this workout but have a question. I am unable to workout weekends and on thursdays. Could having a 4 day split being mon, tues, weds, and fri? so thursday being a rest day? Thanks

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/07/2012 - 19:15

That could possible work. You might have some pretty sore triceps for shoulder day though. Check out the 3 day variation. It might be a better fit for you:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/bulldozer-training-3-day-worko...

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Slippery Matt
Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 17:11

Hey i was wondering if you could explain this workout. explain to me the different type of rep goals i dont understand what that means and how many reps to do.

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Ricardo
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 13:55

Hi Steve,

Thank you for posting this. I was planning on hiring a personal trainer, but decided not to after finding your website. I am 5'10, 165 lbs, and want to be stronger, with more definition. Id like to definitely have more muscle. I will give your 4 day workout a a serious try. I do want to know what eating plans you recommend. Any suggestions or websites you like?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:36

Hi Ricardo,

Check out this article I wrote and let me know if you have any questions:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/power-muscle-burn-bulking-diet...

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Barnes
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 23:06

Gday Steve keen to try this one out.
I see there is a lot of confusion. I tried to discet the other question so forgive me if it seems to be asking the same question.
1) What are these mini sets? Are they the goal where you want to hit before adding weight meaning if I can complete a total of 20 reps within 5 sets for bench press I then add weight?
2)This total confuses me "•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."

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:38

Mini-sets are groups/clusters of rest paused sets performed for a given exercise. A macro-set is a group of all mini-sets for one specific exercise.

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Patrick
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 02:44

Can I also add abs workout on days 1 and 4?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:40

For this program do whatever abs exercise(s) you prefer.

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Patrick
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 02:53

I still dont quite understand the concept of mini-sets? is that the number of sets you do for a given exercise, say example for a bench pres, or what?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:42

Mini-sets are the total number of rest-pause sets you perform for a given exercise. They are differentiated as "mini" because for most heavy compound exercises you will be "only" performing 3-6 reps rep set, except for possibly the first set.

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Patrick
Posted Sat, 05/12/2012 - 10:02

Sorry still new to this kind of terms. So, for example on Bench press, it says 5 Mini-Sets and a total of 20 rep totals. How many "sets" do I need to accomplish the 20 rep totals?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:17

You perform 5 sets. Do as many reps as possible for each set, stopping a set when you feel you may fail on the next rep.

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Charlie
Posted Sat, 05/12/2012 - 20:11

I started this workout today and I love it!!! I have been doing the Power Muscle Burn 5 Day Powerbuilding Split for about 4 months and love it too! Thanks for sharing the workouts with us!!

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:18

You bet, and best of luck!

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Tommy
Posted Tue, 05/22/2012 - 15:22

Im doing the exact same routine. Starting day one of this Bulldozer routine today. Did the 5 Day Powerbuilding split for 2 months, first month on pre workouts and creatine, second month off= GREAT results. Doing the same pattern for this one can't wait!

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Eddie
Posted Sun, 05/13/2012 - 09:23

Hi Steve,
I have two questions for you. The first is about the bench press. Should I be doing 5 mini sets for a 20 rep total, or 7 minis for a 35 rep total?
Also, can you walk me through how to execute the deadlifting portion of this program? I can't wrap my head around the value of pursuing a 15 rep total in a 10 minute time frame with a rest after each rep. Is it possible that I'm not thinking heavy enough? Or have I totally misunderstood what you're saying?
Finally, why not the mini sets with the deadliest?
Thanks in advance for your help

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:24

5 sets.

For deadlifts, perform a rep, stand up, recover, then perform another rep. Only do singles, and rest as long as you need to between each single. You want to feel mentally and physically ready.

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Mike
Posted Sun, 05/13/2012 - 23:01

Hi Steve,

Could you please expound on the deadlifts? Also, I broke my ankle, would stiff legged be ok? One other thing, I'm not finding any soreness in my chest.. Might I add an additional exercise?

Thanks,

Mike C

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:27

Deadlifts...For deadlifts, perform a rep, stand up, recover, then perform another rep. Only do singles, and rest as long as you need to between each single. You want to feel mentally and physically ready.

Soreness...if you're not getting sore, you're using nearly enough weight. This program should leave you brutally sore. Reread the workout details. You should be pushing every set for maximum reps.

Do not add exercises.

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Ken
Posted Thu, 11/07/2013 - 00:05

This was my second night using this program, last night was chest & triceps and my chest is ridiculously sore still, gonna have to add some weight to tris they were burning but no real soreness

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Josh
Posted Mon, 05/14/2012 - 08:42

Hello Steve -
I'm a linebacker in football and am looking for a new routine to give the bulky muscle I have some more definition, while maintaining/adding more strength. I've been on the same workout for the past 3 months, and needing a new routine.

Would you recommend this workout for creating muscle definition, or is there another you'd point out for me?

Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:32

This workout is a good choice for muscle building. If it interests you, give it a try.

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Kevin
Posted Mon, 05/14/2012 - 18:42

Hi Steve,

I am a little confused when i came to deadlift and squat. it seems like those two are not the traditional mini/macro sets. for deadlift it seems like instead of using the rest pause system it is how many i can get in in 10 minutes. and for squat it is essentially 3 mini sets and if they reach 20 then add weight, plus 20 "Burn" reps as the 4th set?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:34

You are correct. For deadlifts perform as many singles (safely) as possible in 10 minutes. Squats, the final set is a 20 repper. It's much more than a burn set.

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Barnes
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 06:22

Sorry Steve can you give some examples of mini sets vrs macro. Havin trouble grasping it. Many thanks for the reply and have already started from what I understand. Liking it a lot so far. Very different to normal routines I have used.

Cheers
Brad

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:35
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Rayan
Posted Wed, 05/16/2012 - 10:43

Hey Steve,
I'm trying out this routine and was wondering how long you anticipate an average gym session (following the given example routine) would take. Is 45mins too short, should I be aiming for over an hour etc.
Thanks

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:06

Don't be concerned with workout time. This is a brutal system. Progression of weight, dedication and proper diet are what really matter.

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Rayan
Posted Wed, 05/16/2012 - 10:46

Also Steve, I'm working out at home, and so increasing the weight on a regular basis isn't particularly easy. I was wondering whether increasing my goal reps would be a suitable alternative in that I am doing more of the same weight

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:07

No, unfortunately not. Progression is key. You will need to either purchase more weight or buy a gym membership.

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Marvin
Posted Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:35

Hi Steve, I like the looks of this routine, but her is my question. How far along should you be before you attempt a program like this? At the end of May (which is when I was planning on starting) I will have been lifting for 4 months, 2 months of 3 day a week full body, and 2 months of 4 day a week push/pull split, each body part twice a week. So far I have not missed a single workout. Is it too early to use this routine?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:09

Hi Marvin,

How have your gains been during this time? And have you established a reasonable eating plan with plenty of daily protein?

You don't need to be strong to start this program, but I do recommend a solid grasp of exercise form, and a good eating approach/plan.

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Marvin
Posted Sun, 05/20/2012 - 09:39

Hey Steve,

I just posted some before and after pics under 'Critique my Physique" Look under the post titled "6 1/2 months, down 92 lbs" I realize you have a lot more to do than check out my everyone's pics, but I cannot explain how fired up I am to change my body around. I had a mini stroke, and was forced to sell my business because of my poor health. I have given myself a second chance at life, and I will NEVER go back to the fat, lazy guy I used to be. I don't know how long "newbie" excitement lasts, but after 4 months, I am still bummed out on rest days that I cannot work out.

I am using a self made program, but I feel I need to use a program designed by someone who has a better understanding of what exercises work, and how many to do. Your routines are the only ones I have found that actually got me excited to try.

Now, having said all that, I am really leaning toward your "Strength & Bulk Beginner Workout, Linear Progression" I think the 4 day Bulldozer might be a LITTLE advanced at this point in my long, long, bodybuilding journey.

Your thoughts?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/20/2012 - 11:43

Hi Marvin,

Glad to hear my workouts are getting you motivated. That's what it's all about. I would probably advise doing the strength and bulk for 4-6 months, learning good form, getting a little stronger, and then re-assessing your direction at that point. If you are making good gains, staying dedicated and eating decently, then after a few more months a more intermediate program wouldn't be a bad idea.

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Adam
Posted Fri, 05/18/2012 - 18:18

Hi I was wondering if you could direct me towards a good beginner workout program I have weight lifted on ad off for football and did some recreational lifting so it makes me wonder if I am a bigner or intermidiate lifter so I figured if I am questioning it I am probably a beginer so any help would be great!

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Steve
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:10
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dan
Posted Mon, 05/21/2012 - 17:40

hi steve i was looking for something to get me back training something to push me not exactly sure how this pgogramme goes do you do all the workouts den take a reat like supersetting them or do you like bench press rest for the 30 seconds den go again and when finishing move onto the next workout?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:45

You perform all sets for an exercise as detailed in the workout, rest, and then move on to the next exercise.

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