There are very few things in the world of fitness, more specifically bodybuilding, which are more hotly debated than that of training programs. It seems like every time I pick up a magazine it says that there is something new and better to do, and to add to the confusion, this “new and better” training regimen is usually in direct conflict with the prior months training fad.
Training regimens are a dime a dozen, all seemingly impressive in their own respect, you as an athlete have to be able to listen to your body and pick the one that works for you;
KEY WORD: YOU!
What works for some will not work for others. Some programs might be entirely too much or too little volume or intensity for one person, but perfect for another. Once again, this comes down to just trying different programs and finding one you like, or altering an existing one to better suit yourself. In the end, I believe it comes down to optimizing your “intensity equation” for lack of a better term.
Your intensity through a workout is going to equal your volume (reps and sets) , times your weight used, divided by your rest time. Below is an illustration of what I am trying to relate to you:
Intensity= (Volume x Weight used)/Rest time
I have been training on a push/pull style regimen almost exclusively since I started lifting, with all of the trial and error coming by way of the volume and intensity I used.
Using this regimen I have been able to gain over 100-lbs of muscle over the last 5 years.
Starting out, I embodied the age old mantra “more is better” and would do entirely too many sets, sometimes upward of 25 sets for my larger body parts. While I initially got great gains, they quickly slowed despite my good nutrition, supplementation, and rest.
What I at the time didn’t realize, and many people still don’t, is that in no way shape or form do you grow in the gym, in fact it’s the opposite! In the gym, you incur tears and trauma on a microscopic level, breaking down your precious muscles you have spent so much time, and usually money, to make. If the tears and trauma you incur are too great, or these tears and trauma are not given proper time to recover, you are doing yourself no favors!
Do not take this as me saying that you should not get sore or feel like you did something taxing the day after your workout, but at the same time you should not feel like you got hit by a freightliner 3 days after your workout either!
I personally have experienced my best success doing 12-15 sets per large body part (chest, back, legs) and 8-10 sets per small body part (shoulders, bis, tris) using a moderate 8-12 reps. What I stress though is my intensity while actually lifting, i.e. going to failure and using techniques such as forced reps and long negatives, and decreasing my rest time, or time in between sets.
As an example, lets take my chest and triceps workout. If one week my chest and triceps workout takes me an hour and 10 minutes (which is typical for me), and next time it takes me an hour and forty five minutes, I will feel like I did significantly less work. And you know what, fact of the matter is I did, despite me doing the same exact workout. There is a reason why something is a lot harder to do after resting a minute compared to five. Once again, this goes back to our “intensity equation”.
So, now that you are armed with this knowledge, let me challenge you to increase your intensity in some way during your next workout. That increased intensity is what makes muscles grow. But remember, avoid getting hit by the freightliner!
My Sample Bodybuilding Workout
Below I have included a sample week of my training program for those that are interested:
Day 1- Chest/Tris
Incline DB press 4×8-12
Incline hammer press 4×8-12
Incline DB Fly 3×10-12
Cable crossovers (light, used to get as much blood as possible in chest for pullovers that follow) 3×15-20
DB pullovers 3×12-15
Weighted dips 3xfailure
Tricep pushdowns (vary the handle used) 3×8-12
Seated Overhead skull crushers 3×8-12
Day 2- Hams/Calves
Seated calf raise 6×12-15
Standing calf raise 6×12-15
Laying hamstring curl 5×10-12
Stiff legged deadlift (standing on platform for extra stretch) 4×10-12
Walking Barbell Lunges 3×20 (10 on each leg)
Day 3- Off/Cardio
Day 4- Back/Bis
Weighted chins 3×8-12
Underhand pulldown 4×8-12
Bentover underhand row 5×8-12
T bar machine rows 4×8-12
Hyper extensions or deadlifts-4×10-15
Straight bar curl 3×10-12
Hammer strength curl 3×10-12
Hammer curl alternating-3×20 (10 on each arms)
DB shoulder press 4×8-12
Standing side laterals/machine shoulder press super set-3×15(laterals)x15(machine press)
Seated side laterals 3×10-15
Rear delt pec deck fly/bent over lateral superset-3×15(peck deck fly)x15(bent over lateral)
Behind the back shrug 4×15
DB shrug 4×15
Leg press or hack squat 4×10-15
Leg extension 4×20
Seated calf raises 6×15-20
Standing calf raises 6×15-20
While I am working on a full nutrition article, for now know that little results can be achieved without the proper nutrition. Thus, be sure to follow a program similar to the one in this page: sample diet programs.
About the Author
Hunter Labrada, amateur bodybuilder and fitness author, who got started in bodybuilding via football and now does it with the end goal of being at the Mr. Olympia stage.
For additional tips, tricks, and view into Hunter’s everyday training and meal prep check out his:
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