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When is the appropriate time to switch to an intermediate or advanced workout routine? A lot of articles state time as the variable, such as 3-5 years for advanced, or 1 for intermediate but I see a lot of debate. Several T nation articles state doing a beginner workout (full body 3 day workout) until your PL is 1200 (500 deadlift, 400 squat, 300 bench), but then when I look up some workouts celebrities do, it always seems to be an old school one muscle group gets trained once a week with exception of Hugh Jackman that did twice a week for glory muscles and once a week for back and biceps. Based off t nation, I couldn't see these celebrities lifting those kinds of pl numbers.. hugh Jackman made the 1000+ but didn't make it 1200.I want to build the most muscle I can efficiently. Which workout should I be?

Weight 198 with probably 15 to 20% body fat.

Bench: 245 4 rep max

Deadlift 235 6 rep max

Squat 205 6 rep max

I am currently doing a 4 day upper lower routine, with heavy and light days, on a reverse linear periodization scheme

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    I wouldn't take any advice from any celebrity programs, ever -- there's literally no reason for celebrities to not be taking PEDs and steroids. What is the split exactly? Upper, Lower, Rest, Upper, Lower, R+R? So legs twice a week and upper twice a week?
    – C. Lange
    Jul 9 at 2:34
  • Yes, with the first two days heavy, second two days light. Follow a reverse linear so every 4 weeks reps and volume increases. Henry Cavill and Ryan Reynolds stated they didn't use steroids but I suppose that could be true. I switched to 4 day due to wanting to originally focus on more muscles and the full body workout with all exercises in the 200's started to feel very hard
    – Ace Cabbie
    Jul 9 at 3:08
  • The rule of thumb that always made the most sense to me was to switch to slower/more periodized training when simpler/faster/less-periodized training stopped working even after a couple resets and efforts to eat/sleep more. Jul 9 at 13:10
  • Is that 245 on the bench correct? It is pretty irregular for bench to be even close to squat and deadlift, so to be that much better than your squat makes me think you meant 145, or you're skipping the lower part of upper lower split. Jul 12 at 18:54
  • -@thonas Markov. Yes, I had a hip injury a while ago and I did leg rehab while working out upper body. I also have a bad spine so I've had trouble building in lower body. Also due to bad spine , I never go too heavy in weight to test my max, 6 is as low as I usually go
    – Ace Cabbie
    Jul 12 at 19:21
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I think any answer to this would be highly opinionated. There are very loose definitions of what's considered "beginner", "intermediate", and "advanced" in terms of both programming and in skill.

In terms of programming, I would rate them as such (again. There's no clear-cut definition so it's only my definition):

Beginner - Linear progress meaning you can add same amount of weight every workout and/or week. Very general. Very basic. Designed to build strength while also giving the athlete a chance to learn the basics. Probably not a lot of accessory work unless the athlete needs something to rehab them in to proper lifting form. See Stronglifts 5x5 or Starting Strength

Intermediate - Non linear progress meaning you may not be able to add weight every week. Variable rep/set scheme to put more emphasis on recovery. Maybe a few accessory lifts to fill out training gaps that the main lifts don't cover. Also added accessory lifts to increase volume without a dramatic increase in fatigue. See 5/3/1, Texas Method or Candito 6 Week Program

Advanced - Non linear progress. Highly variable rep/set/intensity scheme. Usually focused on improving a single lift. Often times these can be peaking programs for meets, and add such will completely overload the CNS by the end of it. That means very high volume and very high intensity which increases risk of injury for people not ready for it. See Sheiko or Smolov.

I don't think there's a set, strict point at which someone is considered "beginner", "intermediate", or "advanced". 1200 seems like a strange cutoff as I would consider that advanced or even elite for a man competing in the 116KG category but intermediate for someone competing at 264kg. Dots or WILKS might be better suited for that, but to answer more generally, you should move on when:

  1. You're no longer advancing in your current program. If you're current program is leaving you exhausted (and it's not peaking), then you may need to consider moving to something more variable to emphasis recovery. If you're not exhausted but not making progress, then you may need something with more volume and/or intensity.

  2. Your bored. This goes for any program really. If you don't enjoy it, then you won't perform it to its full potential. Move to something you find more interesting.

Side note: don't follow celebrities when trying to decide what to do. They're usually focused on different goals then you (usually aesthetics over strength and athletic ability). They also lie about their training and drug use because the celebrity trainer they pay too much money for makes them sign an NDA to protect their "training secrets".

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    Also I suspect a lot of fitness magazines make up workout programs and pay celebrities to claim they did it. Or a studio will pay a fitness magazine to come up with something like "The Chris Hemsworth Thor Arm Blaster Workout" in order to promote their movie.
    – DeeV
    Jul 9 at 11:21
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There are no clear edges between "beginner" and "intermediate" and "advanced".

My vague definitions would be these. "Beginner" = fast progress, light to medium weight, lots of flexibility work needed even to do lifts correctly, lots of accessory lifts to strengthen subsidiary muscles

"Intermediate" = progress slows down, medium to heavy weight, technique good, accessory lifts for focus and almost for a rest!

"Advanced" = progress very slow. program could be anything depending on what's needed.

Personally I found that as a beginner three times a week was all I could do because I was so sore. And as an intermediate three times a week was all I could do because I needed the recovery time. And I will never be advanced.

Pre-covid-gym closures was deadlifting 170kg for 3 x 6-8, Squatting 130-150 for 3 x 6-8. Took 2 1/2 years to get there from weakling.

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