Note: my goal is hypertrophy

I have stopped for half a year working out. Now I lost practically all of my muscle I had built up before. I'm trying to get back into fitness, preferably 3-4 times a week. I wanted to start off good so I searched a bit on the internet and found a lot of different schemes to train muscle groups for 3x a week. F.e. a 2-split scheme and not being restrained by 7 days in a week, and that training 1 muscle group once a week wouldn't cut it. (source: bodybuildingforum url unknown)

Because of this inconsistency I was wondering, what theoretically (for a 19-year old male who just started training again), would be a correct scheme for training 3x a week and what would be a correct scheme for training 4x a week?

My current scheme is for 3x:


  • Legs
  • Shoulders


  • Chest
  • Biceps


  • Back
  • Triceps

Is this an optimized workout-plan or should I edit something? And what would be an optimized plan for 4x a week?

  • There is no perfect plan because each of us is an individual and respond to training stresses differently. You should try your plan, see if it gets the results you want, and, adjust it if it doesn't.
    – rrirower
    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


Considering you have not trained for 6 months, and you state you've lost "practically all your muscle", I think you should consider yourself a beginner again. There are many workout plans out there suitable for beginners. The ones that work well are those which keep certain aspects of the novice trainee in mind:

  • A focus on strength development, which will have the greatest potential during the novice phase.
  • Training each muscle group every 48 to 72 hours, since for novices this is sufficient time to recover from each training.
  • Linear progression for the weight lifted.

rrirower commented that there is no perfect plan since much depends on individuality. This is true, but tuning a plan requires plenty of experience with one's own strengths and weaknesses, with training in general, and a knowledge of the theory behind programming. Instead of doing some homebrew program without really knowing if it would benefit you, it would be better to go with one of the beginner programs that are highly popular, because they tend to be so for a reason. Good choices for 3 workouts per week would be Starting Strength, or StrongLifts 5x5. A good choice for 4 workouts per week that I have (positive) experience with is Johnny Candito's linear program. There are 3 variations for a focus on form, explosive power or hypertrophy.

Some problems I see with your program is only training your lower body once per week, which neglects a lot of development potential. In the worst case this infrequent stimulus would not be sufficient to drive the adaptation needed for linear progression. In the best case it's a lot slower than it could be. Also, as Noshii mentioned, triceps might be better to combine with chest and biceps with back, since you tend to use triceps on chest exercises (like the bench press) and biceps on back exercises (like rows and pull-ups). It's also more convenient from a warm-up perspective. However, if at least 48 hours are allowed for recovery between workouts you could mix it up the way you did.

Rather than take a wild guess at what might be optimal, rely on the experience of professionals out there and follow a well-designed program for novices. You'll find a large set of reviews for programs in this link: http://www.powerliftingtowin.com/powerlifting-programs/ This is with regard to how well they would benefit a powerlifter, but you should find some useful information regardless of your goals. If multiple programs seem suitable and you're wondering which one to choose, go for practical considerations: does it look like you would enjoy the exercises, does the program's layout appeal to you and is it feasible for you to follow it? For example, if you don't care that much about explosive power because you don't need it for some particular sport, and your gym is highly unsuitable for olympic lifts, maybe avoid programs involving them.

  • Ok, I'll check out some programs, but you mean training legs twice? Would you still have an entire day for legday(s) or mix it with other muscle groups?
    – Ivaro18
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:45
  • @Ivaro18 With three workouts per week, you'd have to mix it up with other muscle groups. The programs will provide some inspiration regarding how this can be done. With four workouts per week, you could do an upper/lower split: two lower-body workouts per week, two upper-body workouts per week. Candito's linear program is an example of that.
    – G_H
    Apr 13, 2016 at 18:38

Your plan looked similar to the one i was starting with, except 2 things:

  1. I like to do a leg-only-day, so you can first of all focus fully on the one half of your body and second, i'm always so exhausted after legs, i can't train shoulders then. So if you are not that fit atm, you might consider this. I trained shoulders on chest day, because your shoulders get involved in chest-movement either way, so why not train them then?
  2. I splitted chest / triceps and back / biceps, the reason for this was to get enough rest for each muscle group. If you train chest, you triceps gets activated so you use him passiv, that's why i trained triceps active on chest-days.

These are just some things from my experience, the changes i would make. Hope it helps in any way :)

  • This was what i meant by inconsistency haha, a lot of people are saying like, "you need to work out your muscle groups twice a week, this is why you train chest, shoulders and triceps seperately because they will be involved in the other days so you train them 2 times"
    – Ivaro18
    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:41

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