On Training Splits
We all know that Monday is international chest day in the gym. Everyone and their “bro” is worried about how much they can bench, then they go tan and do their laundry. Now don’t get me wrong, chest on a monday isn’t always a bad thing. The origin of not being able to find an empty bench in the gym on Monday comes from the Weider Priority Principles – one of which stated that you want to train a lagging body part after a day of rest and adequate calories. So, if your chest is a weak body part (very rare on the “bros”) then Monday is certainly a time crank out some chest work (note, i did not say test your bench press strength.)
But who says you have to train a body part on monday though? It seems like everyone under the sun is preaching a 5 day body part split like its the only way of getting your workouts in for the week, not true! This blog will explain several different approaches to structure your weekly training – all of which will have performance and cosmetic benefits without being “traditional.”
Full Body workouts
A full body workout is a great place for beginners, but don’t be fooled because advanced trainees can benefit just as much. The reason I typically recommend full body training for my clients that are new to working out is so that they have plenty of time “under the bar,” learning proper form and progressively overloading the muscles. Someone that is untrained requires much less volume to overload the muscle – so by performing 1-2 exercises per body part you will elicit plenty of response. These routines will typically be performed 3 days per week, but can sometimes be done 4 if programmed properly. Compound lifts like the bench press, deadlift, squat, and military press should be emphasized with proper attention to form. This program will serve as the foundation for all future programs so proper form is essential to establish at such a young “training age.”
Advanced trainees can still perform full body training, but when I prescribe such workouts to my higher level clients they are typically in a metabolic workout. By using each muscle group and each plane of motion, you can build FUNCTIONAL muscle – something that traditional uniplanar exercise does not offer. An example of such a workout would be:
set 1 – 3 rounds
barbell squats x8-10
SB leg curls x 15
one arm cable punches x 15 each arm
band rows for speed x 30 seconds
set 2 – 3 rounds
bulgarian split squat x 12 each
side crunches on SB x 15
SB knee ins x 20
one arm lateral throw x 10 each
set 3 – 3 rounds
deadlifts x 8-10
barbell high pulls x 12
rotational sit ups x 15 each
walking lunges x 12 each leg
As you can see this workout will tax the entire body but because of the multi planar movements and metabolic circuit set up – the results will be much more functional than traditional methods. This can serve as a great shock to someone who has been training for a long time and can give their body a new stimulus to spark new growth. Obviously by looking at it you can tell that your body will become a fat burning machine so I won’t worry about explaining that part.
I have purposely not included a picture of a powerlifter here, so please don’t think that training like a powerlifter requires you to look like one. However, in terms of programming, powerlifters are some of the smartest people in the training industry. Their schemes have been adapted for sports performance, and are now being utilized by those looking for cosmetics effect as well.
Lets look at how powerlifting can help you no matter what your goals are.
For those trying to lose weight, training should serve in attempt to help you preserve every ounce of lean tissue that you have worked so hard to build. Remember, lean muscle is the most metabolically active tissue you have so training to preserve it is essential. Besides just lifting heavy, a powerlifting workout will take into account things like progression and recovery. Powerlifters have very strict weight periodizations they use when getting ready for a meet. You can apply this to your workout by realizing that failure each week is not necessary, and in many cases it is harmful to your progress. If a workout program is designed properly, some trainees may even experience an increase in strength while decreasing body fat to achieve the desired cosmetic effect.
Now for those trying to gain weight, being stronger over the course of more sets will lead to more hypertrophy. As mentioned above, powerlifters are meticulous in planning their workouts in order to increase strength over a period of time. If you are reading this, you are probably thinking to yourself – well I train my ass off and kill it in the gym everyday, i work hard too! Please don’t get me wrong – thats awesome! But in all honesty your extreme enthusiasm could be causing your lack of growth. You see, most of what is talked about in reference to recovery is muscular recovery, but what powerlifters have realized is that Central Nervous System recovery is just as (if not more so) important than muscular recovery. So your “balls to the wall” attitude might make you hardcore to your friends, but by dialing it back a notch on some days you will probably see greater results than ever before.
Recently I have been using a 5/3/1 (credit Jim Wendler) with great success on myself and several of my clients – male and female! The progression has kept my CNS fresh and the goal to lift heavier each week provides lots of motivation (regardless of whether leaning out or growing.)
As I have spoken about before, true (competitive) athletes train to perform in their given sport. Cosmetics are a byproduct of this training, but never the purpose. If success leaves clues, we can conclude that by training to improve performance in certain areas that we will reap cosmetic benefits.
“Performance training” is a pretty broad term, so to create a template to suit your needs you need to decide what your individual performance indicators will be. Do you want to sprint faster? Lift more weight? Tackle harder? Jump higher? Decide – then take action accordingly.
Joe Defranco (a man I will always look up to) created his Westside for Skinny Bastards Template. While this was originally designed for his football players, he has used the basic template and revised it to suit the needs of his other athletes – including WWE star Triple H! We can all agree that Triple H looks like a badass, but when you look at his training you will see that he trains to PERFORM, not to look good!
Obviously there are many ways to skin a cat. The man that started it all, Arnold, trained one body part a day for several years and had great results – I am not denying that results can’t be achieved with that method. However, to think that this is the only way to train is foolish at best. Try something new, stimulate your muscles in a new way, enjoy your workouts again and watch your results go through the roof!