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I lift weights about three times a week, I don't do splits, always full-body.

Here's what a typical lifting sessions looks like for me:

  • 5 min warmup
  • 4*5 pullups
  • 10*3 or 5*5 bench press
  • 3+3+1+1+1+3 heavy deadlifts, shifting hands, increasing weight from 100 kg to 130 to about 150 at most, then back down.
  • 10*3 cable rows
  • 10*3 Either squats or leg curls + knee extensions
  • Some ab exercise, like leg raises or folded knee dragon flags.
  • Some isolation exercise I feel like doing
  • Then we usually do some boxing on pads, maybe 5 min.

Time-wise, this will usually be about 60-80 minutes depending on how crowded the gym is, I don't rest a lot between sets, rarely more than one minute.

I see some programs like starting strength recommending doing 3 out of 6 basic exercises at 5x5 at each session, but this seems too little to me. I also see a lot of people saying you "can't" do squats and dead lifts in the same session.

I have been weight lifting a few years so I guess I can't expect incredible amounts of gains, but I'm still a bit dissapointed by my meager gains. Should I cut down a bit on my volume? I'm 28 years old btw.

  • Big question: What are your goals? More muscle? More strength? Fat-loss? After a a few years of lifting most people will need to start focusing in on specific goals in order to progress. – john3103 Oct 9 '14 at 20:12
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Your program seems like a decent beginner strength training program. You'll find that different approaches to programming involve trade-offs to emphasize one aspect of training over another. Programs like Starting Strength are designed around the philosophy of taking someone who hasn't really worked with a barbell to reasonably strong in as short a period of time as possible. Every time the trainee does an exercise on that program they have to increase weight. That doesn't match training to emphasize hypertrophy for example.

There are tell-tale signs that the volume is starting to get too much (for now):

  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks throughout the day due to "fatigue fog".
  • Energy levels and motivation are down as you go in the gym. A general sense of dreading the training.
  • Starting to miss reps you would normally make.

If you are not experiencing any of these symptoms, then the training volume is something you can adequately recover from. The truth of the matter is that whether your goal is strength or size, over time you need to keep increasing the volume of work you are doing. There's several strategies to doing this, and that's where the concept of training splits come in. A training split can be concentrated around muscle groups (bodybuilding emphasis) or specific primary compound movements (strength emphasis).

There are several training tools that you can use when your current plan starts to no longer work. However, it's a good idea to keep doing something that's working as long as possible. A few things to consider for your training:

  • Have a plan for progression. This can be more weight on the bar, more reps per set, doing the same amount of work in less time, etc. If it feels like adding more weight is going to cause you to start failing, then work on reps for a little bit.
  • Have a schedule for progression. It's perfectly valid to increase weight when you feel like you "own" the weight. It's also valid to say you'll increase it weekly or monthly. The idea is that you don't plan on staying with the same weight/sets/reps forever.
  • Have a backup plan for when you have a bad day. These happen from time to time. You might be dealing with a lot of outside stress, poor sleep for too many nights, no food due to a hectic schedule, etc. If you are having trouble finishing your primary work, you might want to skip the assistance. Or you might want to work with a 5-10% lighter load for the day.

Best thing is not to over-think the training, which is easy to do with many opinions out there that seem to conflict on the surface, when in fact they are arguing about very minor details. If what you are doing is helping you achieve your goals, and you enjoy the process, keep at it. If you aren't progressing toward your goals any longer, then change something.

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I think you have a wrong perspective , like many, that gains come from exercise, which is to great extent wrong. Exercising in the gym is only simulating the muscles , the growth comes from providing enough nutrients to the muscles to grow, and from resting enough for the muscle to repair . In the end muscular development boils down to only two things , break and repair . Said that , if you are providing enough food, carbohydrates , protein to the body to support full body exercise three times a week , please continue with this program . What you can do to increase the gains , is to increase your diet, have more protein . Or if you think that you are not having enough nutrients, then please decrease the volume .

Personally , I think that doing one body part is better than multiple body parts , or whole body in the same session , as I believe its better to concentrate on one body part at a time , achieve maximum stimulation, and after that I don't really have enough energy to do any other body part, and if I do have energy to do any other body part, then I am not training the intended body part correctly . You can try splitting body parts on different days for some time , and see how that works for you .

  • How would cutting affect this in your view? I'm currently planning to cut a bit of weight which will limit my repair ability. On the other hand, maybe I'm not even near the point where I need to reduce the volume... Regarding splits, I would probably do splits if I got to the gym more often, but with only 3 times a week I wouldn't be able to bench more often than once a week (gasp!) – Mårten Sep 12 '14 at 11:35
  • Cutting is like rowing into a headwind. You'll make progress, but it's a bit more effort. How deep a cut corresponds to how strong the headwind is. – Berin Loritsch Sep 12 '14 at 13:19

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