Tom's Weight Training Page
Beginner and Intermediate routines.
The reasons for doing split routines rather than full body workouts.
Beginners routines are meant, to teach neuro-physiological intensity, to
teach good form for the compound exercises, and of course to grow --
gain muscle and lose fat. (I never use the word t*ne, as I don't know
what is means.) When all of the is learned, you can progress to a
routine that does all of these things better.
After lifting about 1 month to about 6 months is best to switch over
to a split routine, where each body part is trained once (or perhaps
twice) a week.
Intensity is learned, and mostly neuro-physiological. After intensity
is learned, you can train with an intensity that does not allow full
recovery in a day or two. Even though you are not training (say)
chest only once a week, the total time spent training the chest does
not in fact go down. What was previously (say) 10 o r 15 minutes 3
times a week becomes (say) an intense 30 or 40 minutes once a week.
The increase in intensity is a real shocker to the system. Therefore
The body does not like to change, and will get used to almost
To create change you have to shock the body into changing.
(Corollary: After you start a split routine, you should still change
your routines at least once every three months or so. Switch around
the exercises, change the split, go heavy (5 sets of 5 reps -- for a
month or two) go GVT (super setting 10 sets of 10, only two exercises per
body part), -- doing 4x10? try 4x8 with heavier weights. Pyramid the
weights. (There are 100s of ways to doing for instance 5 sets, increase
weight on each set, and decrease reps, end with a low weight, high rep
sets.) Always change. Otherwise the body adapts and no change happens.)
Why once a week? How can I make progress by training (say ) chest just
once a week? He is a obvious fact: your (say) pecs do not grow while
you are exercising (pump notwithstanding, this is not permanent).
Your pec grow in between the times that you are training them. The
harder and more intense you train, the longer you need for recovery.
Train hard enough and intense enough, and once a week will work
Some Example of Split Routines
Here is an example of a chest /triceps routine that I did for a while --
(4x6 means for sets of 6 repetitions each).
The weights were chosen so that the last rep of the last set was
impossible. When I could complete the whole 4x8 one week, the next week
I upped the weights. Try this -- and see of you can do the same weights
two day later. If you can then you are not lifting heavy enough.
- 4x8 flat chest press
- 4x8 incline chest press
- 4x8 chest flys
- 4x10 dips (weighted, if you can, otherwise 4x to failure)
- 4x8 close grip chest press
Here is an example of a back/biceps routine that is very similar to
one that I've used:
- 4x to failure medium to wide grip pullups (if you can do 4x10,
add weight. Pullups are with the palms facing away.
If you can't do pullups, do chinups -- palms towards
you, or lat pulldowns to the front. Avoid lat
pulldowns to behind the neck, as they can cause
rotator cuff problems)
- 4x8 cable rows (Keep the back relative motionless,
pull with your lats, not your lower back)
- 4x8 bent over barbell rows
- 4x8 deadlifts
- 3x8 standing biceps curls
- 3x8 dumbbell hammer curls (Hold the dumbbell like a
hammer) OR 3x8 incline dumbbell curls
-- alternate weeks.
Lets see, what left: shoulders and traps:
These you can do with back, (you'd have to drop something -- shrugs
probably aren't necessary if you do deadlifts the same day, cut
out or alternate the two rows, etc., etc.) Or have a light day
of say, shoulders, traps, and (relatively light) biceps and
triceps. If you do this you can add things like high pull
(row) or power cleans.
- 4x8 seated barbell or dumbbell press
- 4x8 shrugs.
- 4x8 lateral raises
Legs. A leg routine I did for a while is simplicity, and brutal.
If I can still stand after doing these, then I sometimes finish
my legs off (literally) with some leg presses and leg curls.
- 1x10 squats low weight
- 2x8 squats heavier
- 2x6 squats heavier and heavier. The last set should be brutal.
- 1x15 squats back to light weight
(Note on squats. Use good power lifting legal form,
that is on the bottom of the movement, the top of
the thighs should be below the knees -- in
simple terms, somewhat exaggerating,
ass to the floor.)
- 5x8 Stiff legged dead lift. Increasing weight on each
set if possible.
- 4x13-15 calf raises
Some general principles for constructing split routines
- Work each group of muscles once (or at most twice) a week
- Each workout should be no more than 60 minutes.
- The basic groups are:
- Legs (and calves)
- There are many different splits. See which one works for you.
In addition to the one mentioned in the above examples:
others are certainly possible:
- Shoulders/Abs and misc.
- Legs and calves
- If you do deadlifts on back day, and still legged deadlifts on
leg day, then make sure that these days are far emough apart that
the muscles in common in these exercises have time to rest.
- Chest exercises work the triceps indirectly. Back exercises
work the biceps indirectly. If you do the split of chest/back one
day, and arms another day, make sure that these days are far enough
apart that recovory is possible.
- Never work legs more than one a week.
- Some people insist on doing (say) arms twice a week. If you
do this, make one day rather light.
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