If you take a look across the weightlifting world, there are millions of workout programs.
You have the 5x5 program.
You have the Instagram celebrities telling you to do four sets of 20.
And that's not counting the millions of other outlets telling you how you should train.
The question you should ask yourself is, "what's best for my goals?"
This program is meant to be a low volume, high-intensity split. Meaning your total amount of volume (sets and reps) is going to be towards the lower side. Meanwhile, the intensity (% of your 1RM) is going to be higher.
You will be using heavier loads and going all out with the sets you are given. Often times I see people doing the four sets of 20, but just simply “chasing the pump”. If your goal is to gain muscle in the gym, chasing the pump is not going to get you where you want to be.
The idea of this program is to keep your total WORKING sets, around a certain amount for the total workout. There will also be a range of working sets per exercise. The number of reps will have a guideline for each set as well.
Working sets are the key phrase in what is above. Working sets mean you do some serious work on that set. It is not just another regular set of 10, it means you’re struggling after 7 or 8, and you push yourself to 10. That’s the high-intensity playing in.
I don’t expect any of you to walk in the gym and squat 500 lbs, so obviously there will be warm-up sets. With this being said, the main focus of this style of training is to save your energy during your warm-ups. Use your warm-ups to get your form down and get used to the weight.
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Workout Guidelines and Split
Below there will be a certain guideline for each muscle group, along with a sample workout for each. The specific workouts are not set in stone, as some people prefer certain exercises/machines over others. I agree with finding what's right for you and riding those movements out to see results.
The rep ranges for each set will always be kept between 6-12. Not to say there isn’t a time or place for other rep ranges, but for this program that will be what we work between. Really try to use a weight that pushes you during those 6-12 reps.
For each exercise, there will be two working sets per exercise. The first set will be your heavier set, aiming for six to eight tough reps. The next set you will drop the load roughly 10-15%, and aim for 8-12 reps.
Once you’re done with the two working sets, you move on to the next exercise. No drop sets. No pump work. Learn how to give your all to those two sets, then move onto the next. The mental part of this program may be just as important as the actual exercises and reps.
Monday: Chest & Triceps
The chest is a bigger muscle group. So for this muscle group, aim for eight to ten total working sets per workout. Triceps should be six to eight working sets per workout.
|Smith Machine Incline Bench Press||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Machine Flat Press||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Pec Dec Fly||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Cable Fly||2||6-8, 8-12|
|1 Arm Tricep Pushdown||2||6-8, 8-12|
|V Bar Tricep Pushdown||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Dip Machine||2||6-8, 8-12|
Tuesday: Back Thickness
The back will be trained twice a week. The first day in the week will be mainly focused on thickness. These days will focus on elbow drive. The goal through this workout should be to drive your elbow out and up. This will emphasize the upper back and thickness. Aiming for eight to ten total working sets.
|Activation Rows||1||Warm Up|
|Hammer Strength Low Row||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Incline Bench Dumbbell Rows||2||6-8, 8-12|
|High to Low Machine Row||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Rack Pulls||2||6-8, 8-12|
Legs will also be trained twice a week, splitting up between quads and hamstrings. Both days will call for calves as well. These two days should be just as, and honestly more intense, than any other day in the week. Work to push your limits. Aiming for eight to ten total working sets for quads, and two to four for calves.
|Leg Extensions||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Front Squat||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Hack Squat||2||6-8, 8-12|
|1 Leg Leg Press||2||6-8, 8-12 Each|
|Walking Lunge||2||6-8, 8-12 Each|
|Seated Calf Raise||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Donkey Calf Raise||2||6-8, 8-12|
Thursday: Shoulders & Biceps
Remember with shoulders, it is more than just moving the weight. When you’re pressing, press it, don’t just use momentum and move from A to B. Shoulders should have eight to ten total working sets.
With biceps, I would really emphasize keeping your shoulders back during all movements. Also, contracting through the concentric (on the way up) and the eccentric (on the way down) is crucial. Don’t perform half reps. Biceps should be done with six to eight working sets per workout.
|Seated Machine Press||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Standing Barbell Press||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Cable Side Lateral Raise||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Bent Over Rear Delt Fly||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Machine Preacher Curl||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Barbell Drag Curl||2||6-8, 8-12|
|1 Arm Cable Curl||2||6-8, 8-12|
Friday: Back Width
This will be the second back day of the week and is focused on developing width. The thought process here should be driving the elbow down and back, into your side. Eight to ten working sets again.
|Activation Rows||1||Warm Up|
|1 Arm Hammer Strength Low Row||2||6-8, 8-12 Each|
|1 Arm Cable Row||2||6-8, 8-12 Each|
|Dumbbell Pullovers||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Underhand Lat Pulldown||2||6-8, 8-12|
This is the last day of the split, yet it’s no time to let off the gas. Hamstrings will be trained in both functions. Those functions being hip extension, and knee flexion. Focus on controlling the eccentric phase. Calves will be added as well. Eight to ten working sets for hamstrings, two to four for calves.
|Lying Leg Curl Machine||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Seated Hamstring Curl||2||6-8, 8-12|
|Barbell Glute Bridge||2||6-8, 8-12|
|1 Leg Elevated Calf Raise||2||6-8, 8-12 Each|
|Standing Calf Raise Machine||2||6-8, 8-12|
It’s what we all care about right? Getting progressively better. Your main goals for this program should be either progress and increase the weights each week/two weeks or increase the reps for the weight you have.
If you are doing 225 bench press for six, consider trying to progress the reps until you can perform 12. Then, after you progress to that, pick 240 for 6 reps, and continue that cycle. On the other side, if you’re getting 225 for 10, try 230 for 10 next week, then 235, as you see the cycle here.
This program will not wow you with drop sets, or rest pause sets, or crazy volume. That is the exact point.
Master the basics and master how to take a set to failure. These workouts should roughly take you about an hour.
Make all those minutes count, push yourself, progress, and reap the benefits.