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I was am about o change my routine (next week), and wish to try a Push/Pull split. I never trained in this split, but would like to try, I have looked for online routines, but it seems target to those who hit the gym 4 times a week, or put the legs on separate days, wich I wouldn't like to do.

I have the days Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only, so i would be Mon: A, Tue: B, Thu: A, Mon: B, and so on... My goals are to improve posture and get bigger arms. I also know I'm overweight and a bit high on BF, I will correct my diet, as currently I'm eating too much junk.

My stats are: I'm 24yo, have 5'9 (1,75m) and 213lbs (97kg), more or less 22%BF (measured about 2 months ago)

Day A:

  • Deadlift 12/10/8/5/5/5 (will try to do linear weight progression)
  • Lying Hamstring Curl 4x10
  • Wide-grip seated row 3x10
  • Dumbbell unilateral row 3x10
  • Chin-up 3x6
  • Inclined Dumbbell Curls 3x8
  • Scott Dumbbell Curls 3x8
  • Plank 3x30 secs

Day B:

  • Squat 10/10/10 (lightweigth due to fear and knee problems in the past)
  • Leg Press 10/10/10 (will try to do linear weight progression)
  • Bench 12/10/8/6/6 (will try to do linear weight progression)
  • Peck Deck 3x10
  • Push-up 3x10
  • Lying Triceps Extension (H-Shape Barbell) 3x8
  • Pulley Triceps 3x8
  • Standing Calves Extensions 4x12
  • Sit-ups 3x12

My concerns are about the routine balance, volume and order/selection of exercises. For example, I may be missing some shoulder work, and is it okay to do planks on A and Sit-ups on B?

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2 Answers

I also have some concerns about the volume here. There are some really strong folks who have a bit more economy in the weight room--even if their goals are size. Some of the guidelines that I've read from more than one source and I quite like are:

  • No more than 5 exercises per training day
  • 1-2 main lifts for strength, with 2-3 assistance/body building lifts
  • Abs every training day
  • Assistance work should be 2-5 sets with 8-15 reps each. (lower sets with higher reps and vice versa)

For abs, planks and decline weighted sit ups are very effective. Also would be laying leg raises to candlesticks progression.

In your split you have a number of exercises that overlap considerably. Each one on their own are perfectly fine, but the combination is likely to cause excessive fatigue. It would be better to rotate through them week by week. I think the routine would be better using a structure more like this:

Day A:

  • Overhead Press 3x5 (ramping up in weight)--you can vary the forms of overhead pressing
  • Deadlift 3x5 (ramping up in weight)
  • Chin Up / Pull Up 3xF, when you get to 8 add weight
  • Biceps: rotate between barbell curls, hammer curls, scott curls, etc. 5x10
  • Abs: rotate between planks, leg raises, decline sit ups 5x10 (or 30s for planks)

Day B:

  • Bench Press 3x5 (ramping up in weight)--you can rotate with incline press
  • Squat 3x5 (ramping up in weight)
  • Rows 5x10: rotate with dumbbell, barbell, yates, cable
  • Alternate Leg Press / Leg Curl: 5x10
  • Abs: rotate between planks, leg raises, decline set ups 5x10 (or 30s for planks)

When approaching your split, think about what you want to work on. If there are several exercises that hit the same muscle groups then rotate between them. Heavy deadlifts are great for stimulating testosterone and human growth hormone, but they don't really directly build mass and they really add to the fatigue. That's why it's better to keep the reps lower and the weight higher on those.

Another variation than straight 3x5 is to do 2 all out sets to near failure. You'd start with a weight you can do for 8-12 reps, and try to add 1 rep per week until you hit 15-20 reps on the first set. The second set your goal is to get half the reps you did on the first set. So if you can do bench 200lbs for a set of 8, the second set would be 4. You would work with that until you can hit a set of 15, and attempt 7-8 reps on the second set. Then you can increase the weight and go from there. I made some good progress with that approach for squats and bench--and it added about an inch to my arms.

Good that you are working on getting your nutrition in order. That's the best way to see definition in your shoulders, etc. This article may help with the process.

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Just of interest, why do you always give more reps / set to rows in your answers, rather then the standard 3x5 for other lifts? –  LazyMan Dec 9 '13 at 4:24
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@LazyMan, rows are an assistance exercise. The goal is to build your back musculature. With some of the rep ranges at higher numbers, it serves dual purpose: better hypertrophy (building energy systems), and keeps your joints healthy. You'll never be able to row as much as you bench, and it's not important to. Just build it up and progress as you can. –  Berin Loritsch Dec 9 '13 at 14:00
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@LazyMan, the OP was also asking about a body building template. There are lower rep ranges to build general strength, but the higher rep ranges are for the hypertrophy necessary for body building. –  Berin Loritsch Dec 9 '13 at 16:55
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I like this program style. I think your volume and selection is right on. I think your ab routine is fine as well. You will have fun doing this as long as you utlize a progressive loading sequence. Your shoulders are getting worked in the following: Bench, Pec Deck, Tricep extension, incline curls, deadlift, planks...

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