Protein Synthesis, Muscle Growth And Training Frequency

Full body workouts are outdated, right? Wrong. Find out what science tells us about protein synthesis, and how we can improve our gains by training more frequently.

The topic of protein synthesis isn't brought up much on muscle building forums. Because of this, you might be tempted to click away from this article, or dismiss it as unimportant.

Don't.

The topic of protein synthesis, as it relates to muscle building, is extremely important. Why is it important? Because protein synthesis tells us exactly how frequently natural lifters should train if they want to build muscle at an optimal rate.

Here is what we know. Research reveals that when you train a body part, protein synthesis remains elevated generally no longer than 48 hours. In most cases it is elevated approximately 36 hours, after which time it returns back to a baseline level. This science is not "new" news either. We have known this scientific reality for decades. 

What does this mean from a practical standpoint? An individual muscle will only "grow" during this protein synthesis window. So, if you use a body part split, you are repairing and rebuilding for up to 2 days, and giving that muscle 5 days off each week. Though this will build muscle, it won't lead to optimal muscle growth rates.

You can bomb, blast, blitz and annihilate your muscles into extended periods of muscle soreness, but this will not extend the protein synthesis window. This notion that "more" soreness equates to "more" growth is off base. A muscle can experience growth without undergoing any noticeable degree of muscle soreness.

A study by Crameri et al (2007) looked at two different groups - one undergoing ES, or electrical muscle stimulation, and a second group undergoing voluntary muscle contractions. The DOMS experienced by both groups were fairly equal. What this study revealed was that muscle soreness was the result of extracellular matrix inflammation, which is the connective tissue that binds muscle fibers together.

So DOMS does not appear to be an indicator of muscle soreness, or muscle tissue damage, but rather pain derived from connective tissue inflammation. Therefore, training for soreness is a misguided concept. To grow we need to experience more muscle protein synthesis, and make sure this surpasses the level of muscle protein breakdown. It would also make sense to make sure we maintain a heightened level of muscle protein synthesis as much as possible.

Protein Synthesis and Optimal Training Frequency

As we have established, you can have DOMS in a muscle without it currently being in a state of protein synthesis. Take German Volume Training for example. I experienced mind-numbing muscle soreness for 8 days after a GVT squat session. Despite this, my quads were only in a state of protein synthesis for up to 48 hours.

The obvious question in all this becomes: how then should we train for optimal muscle growth?

The answer: with a greater training frequency.

Instead of bombing a muscle group each day with endless volume, you are better off targeting muscle groups several times per week with a smaller amount of volume per day. By training a muscle group 2-3x per week with a more moderate volume, you will experience a greater degree of weekly protein synthesis per muscle group, and as a result, more optimal gains.

Therefore, as a natural you are better served using a full body workout or an upper/lower split.

Muscular back

If you are natural and want to build as much muscle as possible, consider switching to a full body workout. On the average this will keep your protein synthesis levels higher.

Why Are Body Part Splits So Popular?

Good question.

For a very long time bodybuilding magazines controlled the information given to those seeking to build muscle. Because of this, natural lifters began to emulate the body part splits being used by top IFBB pros. What you aren't told is why these workouts are effective for "enhanced" lifters, and why they won't be as beneficial for natural trainees.

Enhanced lifters maintain elevated protein synthesis levels through the use of insulin and other anabolic drugs. You rarely hear this discussed on forums or in magazines, but it is the reality of the situation. People tend to only discuss the topic of steroids when it comes to bodybuilding, but the chemical soup being used is far more than simply steroids.

By using insulin (and other drugs), a lifter can maintain elevated protein synthesis levels, therefore negating the need to train a muscle frequently. The added recovery benefits they receive from steroids (and other chems), along with the increased receptor stimulation that comes from intense contractions, which could be derived from volume training, makes a body part split a "natural" choice for non-natural bodybuilders.

But So and So Made Optimal Gains!

I know what you're thinking. You've met plenty of guys who made quality gains using body part splits. They certainly did! The point of this article isn't to tell you that gaining on splits is impossible. It is obviously possible. In fact, guys can make very good gains on body part splits.

The question though is this: are these gains optimal? Generally not. If you are only experiencing protein synthesis for up to 48 hours each week per muscle group, there is still some optimization that is possible. Let's look at an example.

Let's say that Lifter A is using a body part split, and Lifter B is using a full body workout or upper/lower split. We will also pretend that all things are equal: training consistency, diet, supplementation, rest, etc.

During his first 3 years of training, Lifter A, Mr. body part split, experiences the following muscle gains:

  • Year 1 - 14 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 2 - 7 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 3 - 3.5 pounds of muscle.

Lifter B on the other hand, might experience the following gains, which are a tad bit more optimal:

  • Year 1 - 16 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 2 - 8 pounds of muscle.
  • Year 3 - 4 pounds of muscle.

Big arms

Whatever you do, don't rush into a full body workout using a ton of volume. Frequency training is a completely different beast.

When Lifter A posts his body transformation pictures on the web, it is jaw-dropping! He looks amazing, and appears to be making optimal results. 24.5 pounds of muscle is a huge amount, and changes his physique dramatically. But, it was not optimal.

If he would have went the route of Lifter B, maximizing his protein synthesis by elevating it every 48 to 72 hours with a new workout that is re-targeting the same body parts, his gains would have been even more impressive.

Now obviously the above examples are just that - examples. The numbers provided are not expectations for everyone, though they are realistically based on the gains curve and how natural muscle building works from year to year.

Natural lifters tend to experience a decreasing of gains by about half per year, give or take. This can certainly vary if someone is starting underweight, or did not experience near-optimal gains during their first several years of training.

How Frequently Should You Train?

If you want to build muscle as rapidly as possible, consider switching to a full body workout. By targeting each muscle group 3 times per week, you will keep protein synthesis levels higher, on the average, which will lead to more optimal gains.

For intermediate lifters who have already built a quality amount of strength, training on an upper/lower split might be a better option. Heavy weight can take it's toll on joints and connective tissue, so a few extra days of rest per week might be beneficial.

Whatever you do, don't rush into a full body workout using a ton of volume. Frequency training is a completely different beast. The point of full body workouts isn't to cram in a ton of body part volume per day. Instead, you will hit each body part with a moderate to lower set volume, and train it more frequently.

Many guys fail to make the transition into full body training simply because they try to do too much each day. Start with a lower amount of volume, and evolve your training by adding more sets if you feel it's necessary. I recommend 3 to 5 sets per day for larger muscle groups, and a max of 6 to 9 weekly sets for smaller muscle groups.

Some of you will simply not like full body work. If this is the case, stick to body part splits. You are going to see far better results doing something you like, than using a training style you hate.

Have a question regarding this article, or the muscle building process? Please visit the Muscle & Strength Muscle Building Forum.

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70 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 05/25/2015 - 09:25
Perry

Steve, do you have any info, references on how much protein we need on off days?

Do we need as much protein on off days as during the first 48 hours?

I know we need protein to keep healing, but how much is the question.

I ask this because I am also trying to keep my calories down because I'm a desk jockey.

Thanks in advance.

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Posted Tue, 12/23/2014 - 08:05
Slayter

Great article, I've learned this couple of years ago, I was one of these gym rays always on bro split with minimal gains( non gifted gym rat :)
But all of the sudden, with HF trainings my strenght increased and later my mass followed. After all those years I have finally started to make some gains. Problem is to learn not to do too many work in gym. Just hit the sweet spot and go home. More important for natty gym goers is a diet and rest. Training is just a stimulus.
Once again thanks for this article, one of the most important information here for natty lifters.

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Posted Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:42
CZ

Steve, love your articles and am currently following one of your full body workouts (the grind) with noticeable increases in strength.. You're advice is absolutely valued and appreciated.. My question is this: I don't drink a lot by any means, occasionally a beer or two on Saturday night, but have read a little about alcohol shutting down protein synthesis. Is this something I should be concerned about affecting the gains of my Friday workout?

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Posted Wed, 07/09/2014 - 20:16
Dave Whitacre

Steve, absolutely love this! I've been following your example from your previous article: Forget Steroids- 5 Full Body Workouts for Serious Gains. It's bookmarked on my IPad! Seeing results and love the work out routines. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/forget-steroids-5-fullbody-wo...

Dave

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Posted Wed, 07/09/2014 - 20:53
Steven

Awesome! Stay strong.

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Posted Thu, 03/20/2014 - 21:18
jay sea

I have recently been going to the gym every single day, on a two day cycle. Day 1-Biceps Chest Shoulders Abs(For sarcoplasmic hypertrophy), and Day 2 - Triceps Back Legs an Abs
I am doing two day cycles because it wraps around the protein synthetic cycle.
You have mentioned above that Insulin is used to maintain protein synthesis. My question is do you have any references to this? I have looked all over the net and have not found any adequate resources on this topic.
Another question, If I were to bulk up on carbs and raise my insulin levels so that my protein synthesis would continue elevated for over 48 hours, and continued to workout every two days, would it be beneficial? I mean, If I worked out while my protein synthesis was still elevated, does the protein synthesis elevate to a limit, or will it go higher than if I were to work out with baseline protein synthesis?
One more question, is there any proof that insulin raises protein synthesis? Aside from maintaining the elevated levels
Thanks

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Posted Wed, 02/12/2014 - 22:31
jacopo

yeah, full body for hypertrophy...if you look closer at phisiology you can see that for hypertrophy is optimal to train with short (for maximal hormonal response), intense and INFREQUENT (7+ days for recover) session but with VOLUME. It's pointless to continually say that ''protein synthesis in natural athlete stop after 48-72h'' and so he needs to train more frequently: if the muscle grow only for 48-72 hours it doesn't mean that it had fully recuperates! Disruption of muscle calcium balance, recovery of muscle energy (glycogen accumulation), decrease in muscle protein content and last, but not less important, connective tissue recovery. All of this factors reduce the production of strenght, necessary for the next session that will come. AH, last thing, i'm talking about of strictly HYPERTROPHY (that include at least controlled eccentric and training to concentric failure), not strenght training and not power training or what also, for that is another story.
(sorry for the bad english)

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Posted Thu, 10/17/2013 - 16:03
l3olton82

If protein synthesis is elevated for approx. 48 hours will the muscles still be repaired after this time just at a slower rate or is muscle protein synthesis so low that nothing happens unless it is elevated by resistance training.
Thanks

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Posted Sun, 09/01/2013 - 16:25
Philippe Orlando

Steve,
Very nice site. I just stumbled on it doing search online.
I have a question.
I'm not super strong, not a pro, 51 but in very good shape, I'd like to grow a little bit, still.
Thanks for your input.

If you had to pick up one routine, which one would you pick up, or are they both valid?

ROUTINE-1
MONDAY HEAVY DAY.
3 sets of squats, 5-8 reps
3 sets romanian deadlifts 5-8 reps
3 sets of bench press 5 reps
3 sets incline dumbells 5 reps
3 sets of some biceps exercise.

TUESDAY HEAVY
pull ups wide 3 sets, body weight to failure, usually less than 8
Chin up, biceps grip, 3 sets, body weight to failure, usually less than 8
Some form of rowing, 3 sets 5 reps
Biceps one big drop set failing every 5 reps until reaching 20 reps

Wednesday sprinting outside on track + Shoulder 3 sets of OHP, 5 reps.

Thursday is a repeat of Monday with weight allowing 10-15 reps
Friday is a repeat of Tuesday with weights allowing 10-15 reps
Saturday, shoulder

ROUTINE-2

3 sets of all the exercises mentioned above organized in a full body workout on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, alternating TOUGH/lighter/TOUGH/lighter across the week.

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Posted Sun, 07/28/2013 - 03:24
Pete

Nice article mate, but u forgot one thing, a sample full body program, could you please put that up,will appreciate it.

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Posted Thu, 07/11/2013 - 17:28
abraham

Hi Steve. I have made most of my gains now I have been consistently been lifting for13 years on splits and been doing 5 day power muscle for a few months and enjoyed it, Should I stick to splits or do full body? Can you recommend me a workout. Thanks

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Posted Sat, 06/08/2013 - 11:22
Michael

Why are people disliking this info? This man is posting the most refreshing and intelligent article on Resistance training ive seen in a while, great info sir. Full body, heavy compund lifts with a few isolations for every body part, every 2-4 days (after 5X5 sometimes my joints need an extra day or two), mixed with HIIT cardio is the best and only way you should be lifting. Lift only two or three days a week, and the days in between I train for speed, power, agility, and flexibility. I'm a self defense instructor and martial artist. I don't have time for the ridiculously long workouts, almost every day, training only one of two body parts at a time. Why would you waste your time with that crap? Lol. Mr. Steve knows his stuff; respect the wise. God bless.

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Posted Fri, 05/31/2013 - 19:03
Rogier

Steve,

Do you have any good resource which discusses the time of the elevated protein synthesis?
I've done a quick research and I can find plenty of articles saying the same 48 hour thing, but I can't really find the source/raw data for this.
I'm especially curious if there's any graph / data available about the protein synthesis over a span of time after the training. I am wondering if there is something like a great spike in synthesis in the night following the work-out and rapidly decreasing the day after, or if it is more like a gentle decrease in the 48h period.

The reason I'm asking this is the following.. If like 75% of the protein synthesis happens in the first 16 hours (=33% of the total synthesis time of 48h), it maybe would make sense to try to be as anabolic as possible during this first 16 hours and for the other 32 hours it wouldn't matter that much if a person is most of the time in anabolic state. Or maybe something like the first 16 hours as anabolic as possible followed by 16 hours of balancing between anabolic and catabolc and the last 16 hours slightly catabolic. Maybe this is a way to maximize muscle synthesis with minimizing fat gains?

Whats your view on this? Thanks

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Posted Sat, 03/23/2013 - 01:52
JM

If the article suggests working the same muscle groups multiple times a week is the optimum route then why does the website have so many body part split routines where you work a muscle group once a week? For instance, your Power 8 workout (located here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/power-8-workout-3-day-split) only has you working your chest and tris once a week. What gives?

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Posted Sat, 02/16/2013 - 12:23
abhi

hi steve,
i was skinny but after gaining i found that it is hard to get muscles.
is insulin responsible for it ?
if no what should i do ?

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Posted Tue, 02/12/2013 - 15:06
Nathan

Hi Steve,

I really enjoy your articles and thought I would ask you a question as I have tried combining a few of your concepts. Prior to marriage and kids I worked out quite a bit and was in fairly good shape....usually hit the gym 6 days a week. Life got busy and with kids and work working out got benched. 5 years later my wife and I decided we wanted to get back into shape so we bought a treadmill and freeweights (dumbells and barbell). Needless to say I was shocked how weak I had become benching less than half the weight I used to, even my first workout ended with me stopping half way through because I couldnt finish! I found this website and began doing a full body workout 5-6 days a week and cardio in the am. It goes as follows:

Leg ext 3 sets
Leg curls 3 sets
Deadlift 3 sets
DBell bench 3 sets
Overhead press 3 sets
barbell Row 3 sets
One arm Row 3 sets
Skull Crusher 3 sets
Bicep Curl 3 sets
Calf Raises 3 sets

I began with light weights attempting 10 reps per set and began adding weight and did this for a month, then read your artcle about focussing on hitting a desired number of reps for all sets combined ie in 3 sets hitting 25 reps once this is accomplished add weight to the bar. I really like this concept as I found it more engaging. I decided to make the switch and am going to take your advice as you stated in the article and try this for 90 days.

Two questions -
1. Do you suggest keeping to the same exercises each work out or would switching them up be ideal ie having 2 different fullbody workouts and alternating between them.
2. When would you suggest switching to a split workout?

Some extra info I am 5'10 160lbs 31 years old. Goal is to gain muscle and stregth. Plan on buying a cable system to maximize exercise options. Currently take Weightgainer 2 x a day and Iso whey protien pre and post work out, also a long acting protien at night.

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Posted Sun, 02/10/2013 - 17:54
Dan

Great article. What do you think to two small workouts a day. For example 30 mons or so of chest Monday lunch then a 20 min blast of the legs after work followed by 20 mins or so of cardio. I'm a fit lad and been bodybuilding for a while now (90 kg and pretty lean at 6 ft1"). I could shake this up throughout the week so that my lagging parts definitely get hit three times and with only 30 mins or so per workout I should definitely be able to maintain high intensity and kind of keeps a split.

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Posted Tue, 02/05/2013 - 23:18
Thomas

Steve, I have just started a new job and unfortunately I will only be able to lift 3 times per week. Well I thought this was unfortunate until I read your article, now I am thinking it won't be such a bad thing to go down to 3 days per week (I have been doing 4 and 5 day splits more recently). My question is, would your "Pull, Squat, Press" workout be a good candidate for a full body workout 3 times per week that would maintain the level of intensity that I am use to with the 4 and 5 week splits? My fear is that I will not get the same benefit from each workout since I will no longer be targeting a specific muscle group, like in the 4 and 5 day split workouts, but instead the entire body. What are your thoughts?

Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 02/04/2013 - 18:25
Josh

1 A) Bench press 3x5
1 B) Med ball up and over (plyo push ups) 2x10
Supersetted.
2 A) Barbell Bent Row 3x8
2 B) Renegade Row 2x8 reps each arm

"Super hero shoulder work"
Batman = Later raise x15
Superman = Front raise x 15
Aqua Man = Using same DB"s Keep arms mostly straight and moving arms like you are dramatically running x 15
Bizzaro's = Lay flat on bench on stomach with 2.5's to 5's in hands. Palms facing down hold Hands out in front like you are superman, then making a "field goal", then form a T or a cross and then straight back like Iron man hold each position for 15 seconds for a total of a minute. (Bizzaro is the evil superman btw)
it's a big giant set!

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Posted Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:47
Scott

Steve,

Thanks for this article. It makes good sense, but it has me wondering if I might need a change in program.

I'm a beginner, and I am currently in the 2nd week of the "10-Week Mass Building" Program listed under Workouts. It is a Mon-Tues-Thurs-Fri program that hits each muscle group ONCE a week. It seems to be going okay, but I want some ARMS & PECS!!! And I want them YESTERDAY!!! LOL Should I maybe switch to a full-body workout (I saw a simple one listed under Beginner Workouts) and do it every other day, or maybe alternate an upper/lower split over 6 days each week?

Thanks!
Scott
Victoria, TX

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Posted Wed, 01/30/2013 - 15:02
john

I am starting this workout that I have put together based on some of your articles Steve, I like to be able to stick with a core program but keep it versatile ***The staple lifts use the total reps across sets approach, with a strength and a density focus. Focus is on progression of course. Is it a solid approach?

- Tuesday - Chest, Shoulders, Tris
Incline BB Press ***(3S = Total 15/22R) ,Floor Press (2S = 16R), Floor Cable Fly (2-3*10) , Arnold/DB Press (3S = 18/25R), Upright Row (2*8-12), Rear Lateral (2*10-15), Skullcruncher/FP (3S = 18/25R), Close Grip Press Variation (3*6-10), Abs
- Wednesday - Quads, Lats, Bis
Squat (3S = 18/25R), Lunges (3*16) SS w/ Stepups (3*16), Seated Calf Raise (2*10-15), Weighted Pull-ups (3S = 18/25R), DB Rows (3*6-10), Cable Pullover/Strt Arm Pd (2*8-12), BB or DB Curl (3S = 18/25R), Pinwheel Curl (3*6-10)
- Friday - Chest, Shoulders, Arms
DB Bench (3S = 18/25R), Military/Seated BB Press (3S = 15/22R), Weighted Dips (3*6-10), Standing Cable Fly (2-3*10), Front to Side Laterals (3*6-10), Cable Face Pull (2*10-15), Cable Preacher Curl SS/ Cable Tricep Variation (2*8-12), Cable Cross Curl SS/ one Arm Cable Tricep Variation (2*10-15), Pushup burnout
- Saturday - Deadlift, Rows, Hammys, Traps
Deadlift (3*5 progressive), BB/LandMine Row (3S = 15/22R), Hammer/Seated Cable Row (3*8-12), Leg Curl (3*8-12), RDL or One Leg Press (2-3*8-12), Power Shrug (3S = 18/25R), Haney or DB Shrug (2*10-15), Abs, Pullup Burnout

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Posted Wed, 01/30/2013 - 14:29
Scott

Steve,

Thanks for this article. It makes a lot of sense and has me questioning if I might need a change. I'm pretty new to all of this workout business -- 52yo, 6'2", 199# -- lost 100 pounds a couple of years ago through gastric bypass and lost a good bit of muscle with it. My goal is to build some muscle now that it's not covered up by all that fat! :-)

I'm currently in the 2nd week of the 10 Week Mass Building Program listed under Workouts. (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...)

"The program works each muscle group hard once per week using mostly heavy compound exercises. You will train on a 4 day split routine, resting on Wednesdays and the weekends."

The program seems to be going well, although I'm not capable of very much weight yet. I'm wondering if I should maybe switch to a full-body workout and do that every other day (there's a simple one that is listed under Beginner Workouts), or maybe an upper/lower split and do that 2-day routine over a total of 6 days per week (3 times through the 2-day routine in a week).

I WANT SOME ARMS AND PECS -- and I want them YESTERDAY!!! LOL What's your best advice?

Also, as a newbie, I don't know if I'm supposed to use the SAME weight for all three sets of an exercise -- or am I supposed to increase the weight for each set?

Thanks!
Scott
Victoria, TX

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 07:41
Dustin

I found this very informative and well-written. Thanks :)

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Posted Sun, 01/27/2013 - 14:27
Nagels

Excellent practical article as always Steve , I'm currently looking at competing in a classic bb comp after an absence of 16 years.Been on a reduced calorie diet for the past few months to shed some fat and need to hit some lagging bodyparts for a six week clean bulk , will then cut for eight weeks.
How does this workout sound?

Sat Close Stance Front Squats 3 x 8 , Hack Squat 3 x 10, RDL 3 X 10 to 6, Leg Curls 2 x 10, Standing Calf Raise 3 x 12 , Donkey Raises 2 sets to failure

Sun- BB Rows 3 x 6, Lat Pulldowns 2 x 12, Shrugs 3 x 8 , Upright Cable Rows 2 x 12 , Neck Press 4 x10, Rope Pushdowns 3 x 8,8.12 , Short Bar Pushdowns 3 x 10

Tue-Leg Press 3 x 15 , Rear Lunge 3 x 10 , Sissy Squats 2 x 15, Leg Curl 2 x 8 , Calf Press 2 x 20 , Seated Calf Raise 2 x 15

Wed - Pull up 3 x 10 , DB Rows 3 x 8 , Lateral Raise 4 x 10 , DB Shrugs 3 x 8 . Upright Cable Rows 2 x 8 , Preacher Curls 2 x 10, Skullcrushers 3 x 8.

Plan is to develop more quad sweep , higher traps and widen out upper lats. Aged 46 now so three times a week per bodypart is going to wipe me. Will hit 2100 calories for six weeks(have been on 1800) and hopefully gain a few pounds (spend eight weeks cutting to make 165 pounds in early May.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:31
Steven

Thanks Nagels.

On paper the workout looks pretty good. You don't have enough quality pressing work though. I strongly recommend the addition of some form of heavy bench press, and a heavy overhead press variation.

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:48
Nagels

Thanks Steve, will switch from neck press to incline bench , I might try some push presses for high reps altho my rotator cuff gives problems on overhead pressing. I'm open to suggestions though.....will train chest and shoulders only once a week as they're reasonably well developed.

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Posted Sat, 01/26/2013 - 05:35
daniel taylor

steve,
do you lift to failure on all sets then if your doing low volume each day?

also is there an exercise routine that works best?what i mean is do you start with chest and say go onto shoulders......each workout or do you mix it up each day?

do you just do one exercise per workout on each body part or can you say for shoulders do one exercise for rear delts and one for front delts?

thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:27
Steven

I don't recommend training to failure. I lift until I feel like I might fail on the next rep, then stop. This is a sufficient stimulus to trigger maximal muscle fiber involvement.

There is no best workout, no. progression on compound lifts is your best overall option.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 23:55
Suliman

Good Article Steve,

There is a good workout plan in this website that is Full Body 2 Day intense workout. Do you think this is also a good fit for what you discussed about protein synthesis?

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/2-day-intense-workout.html

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:13
Jim

Good article, I want to switch to a FB or UB/LB workout, but most of these workouts are designed for beginners and/or focussing on fat loss. Is there a FB workout that you can recommend for intermediate experienced guys that are aiming for mucle growth? Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:25
Steven

I am going to be putting up some new options in the very near future.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:37
Scott

Hey Steve,

Great article and website...I am 35 years old and weighing in at 236. I have probably 30% body fat. I am currently taking a 24 day challenge for weight lose and a 3 day full body workout for muscle mass and weight loss. Can you tell me what supplements and diet I should take for optimal muscle growth? I been reading alot about workouts and supplements. It is really getting confusing. My goal is to 190 and solid!. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

mnsjason's picture
Posted Fri, 01/25/2013 - 18:43
mnsjason

Hey Scott! Building muscle mass while trying to shed some unwanted weight is counter productive. I recommend that you focus on cutting to your desired weight before worrying too much about adding muscle mass. The reason for this is that you'll need to operate on a calorie surplus for optimal muscle mass growth. You see the problem. This flies in the face of fat loss, which requires a calorie deficit. That being said, weight training is a great calorie burner, and you'll see some strength increases while on a cutting diet.

As far as supplements go, I typically recommend the following:
1) Multivitamin
2) Fish Oil (Omega Fatty Acids)
3) Whey protein for post workout
4) Creatine

I consider these to be "staples." Also, check out this tool: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

It will help you determine how many calories you should be shooting for to cut some weight.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:21
Shane

Nice article Steve. On this topic, I have really enjoyed your Bulldozer Workout. Do you have any plans to create a full body Bulldozer?

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 12:04
Garrett

Can't wait for the workout routine!!

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 10:22
John

Great article, I started the 3 day intermediate full-body split from one of your older articles last summer, and instantly started getting stronger and bigger. Varied in Mark's 2 day 100 rep full body every few weeks and then switched to an upper/lower 4 day split (Insane Like Bane). Works great, reached my goal of a solid 200 pounds at 5'11" (was 190 with a gut little over a year ago)and am now using John's Density Giant Set 4 day upper/lower split to start dropping a few pounds of fat before the summer. Plan on using the 3 day full body as my summer program again (easy to find the time and can vary the rep ranges), but wouldn't mind seeing some new ones to consider in a couple of months. I recommend these types of splits to anyone who is a natural and just trying to be strong and fit, it fits into everyday schedules fairly easy. One tip if your hesitant, if your favorite chest exercise or arms exercise isn't present, switch it in for something else, try to view the week by body part and spread each of your normal one day muscle group workout across the week, comboed together. Just wanted to share my support for what Steve is advocating here.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 03:47
Alvin

Hi Steve, great article and thanks a lot! Do you mind to share a workout plan just like what you did in 4 Day Power Muscle Burn Split for this upper/lower body split? Thanks for the help.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:18
Tim

Thanks for the help

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:13
Steven

Hi Tim,

You will need to get stronger. Progressive overload is the key to gains. I would definitely try a full body workout, and find a way to train with a focus on progressing in weight. If you can't do the bench press at home, use the dumbbell bench press. If you can't squat, use dumbbell step ups and lunges.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:11
Tim

I am 5 foot 8 and a bit (174cm), weigh 62 kg (still light but i have only 7% bodyfat as i eat healthy and play AFL and cricket. I currently bench 50kg for 3 sets of 8 reps and squat 40kg for 3 sets of 8. I could go heavier but am training on my own and cannot go to failure due to risk of injury

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 23:56
Tim

Hey steve great article!!
just a quick question. I have been training for around a year with dumbells, barbell, bench press and curl bar at home. I have made good gains, putting on around 10 kg (22 pounds). Most of this happened in the last 6 months, when i realised i was under eating and starting recording what i eat exactly. I was just wondering what i should do next. I have done your power-muslce-burn workout and recently completed the 4 week HIML workout twice. I think i am at an intermediate level, having good form and strength. I was thinking maybe try a full body workout?? I am nearly 18 years old

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:01
Steven

What is your current height and weight, and where approximately is your bench press and squat strength?

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:06
Tim

i am around 5 foot 8 and a bit, 62 kg (still pretty light but have only 7% body fat as I play footy and cricket). I can bench press 50 kg for 8 reps and squat 40kg for 8 reps. I could go heavier on both but am always training by myself and dont want to injure myself and dont go to failure on those exercises

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 23:36
Matt

Hi Steve,
Glad to read another great article. I'm about to come off of a GVT routine in three weeks and wanted to shift to attacking my muscles in varied rep ranges rather than only the 3-5 rep range I did prior to GVT. Would it make sense (in a full body 3 day/week routine) to work heavy Monday, medium Wednesday, and light on Friday? An example:

Monday
Deadlift 1 x 3-5
Squat 3 x 3-5
Bench Press 3 x 3-5
Dumbbell Curls 3 x 8,8,15
French Press 3 x 8,8,15

Wednesday
Squat 3 x 8
Leg Curl 4 x 8,8,15,15
Incline Bench Press 3 x 8
Pull ups 3 x 8
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 x 15

Friday
Leg Extension 3 x 15 superset with Lunges 30 seconds continuous
Seated Calf Raises 3 x 15
Chest Flies 3 x 15 superset with Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 10
One arm cable row 3 x 15 superset with One arm dumbbell row 3 x 10
Weighted Sit-ups 3 x 15

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:03
Steven

I would do heavy, light, medium. That seems to be your best bet overall.

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 08:52
Matt

Thanks

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 20:02
Ahmad

Great article Steve,
I actually started a full-body workout this week after a year or so of body part splits. the first day was hard. I'm mainly focusing on compund movements, here's what I did:
Squats: 4 sets 5 reps
Cable row: 3x10
Dips: 3x10
pull ups: 3x10
dumbbell press: 3x10
abs air bike: 2x until tired
I was too exhausted to do the air bike, so I did only five exercises.
Wednesday:
Bench: 4x5
Romanian deadlifts: 3x10
chin ups: 3x10
clean press: 3x10
bent over row: 3x10
standing calve raise: 3x10
Friday:
Deadlift: 4x5
incline bench: 3x10
hanging leg raise: 3x10
bar curl: 3x10
close grip bench: 3x10
reverse dumbbell flyes: 3x10

what do you think about this routine? Is it too much or am I just not used to full body workout?
what would you change?
Thanks much

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 00:05
Steven

If it feels like too much I would drop the sets to 2 per exercise and give it a month. After this point I would try to build back to the volume of the program. No need to rush, as progression is the key thing you want to aim for.

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 19:41
Brent

great article!.. i just switched back to a full body workout the beginning of the month after split workouts for the last couple of years.

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 19:12
Craig

Hi Steve
I'm doing your 4 day Power/Muscle/Burn workout split

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-day-power-muscle-burn-worko...

Does this fall into the category of the workout you discuss in this article?
Whilst it is a split it does revisit other muscles in a secondary way to the primary muscle group....if that makes sense!
By the way, I love that power/muscle/burn program!
Cheers