T Nation

A-B Split Critique


Hey all,

As an "overskilled" yet "undertrained" mountain biker i have started to lift to get stronger and get better at riding. Having read SS, PP and many others i have decided on a split as follows:

A-bulgarian split squat, overhead press, deadlift
B-Front squat, dips, chin ups/dumbell swing superset
I recently began this and generally start each session with various ab work (nothing crazy but i need the extra activation there) and will be adding some Tabata at the end.

Maybe some prehab stuff for my shoulder as needed
I try to aim for 25 total reps weight i can lift 4-6 times (a la Chad Waterbury) and add i bit each session for the the BSS, use 3 x 5 for the squats and presses, 3xF for bodyweight, deads for 1x5 and usually swings for about 10 reps or so.

Any thoughts on this, whether good, bad, or "just do SS" or whatever would be appreciated.
I also started to enjoy running and head out about 3 times a week for about 24 minutes or so. Nothing crazy more for recovery and that i think it actually helps my posture.

Not trying to reinvent the wheel with this program, i just feel these exercises are the most beneficial for the movements when mountain biking and also address some postural/muscle imbalance issues i have always had from life and riding- tight hip flexors get stretched with the BSS, weak core and upper back get help with FS while the Db swings help explosivness and the dips allow my scapula to move freely unlike the bench.

Also, i am going to be 28yo this February and weigh about 190lb. at 6'2 for what it is worth.


I would advise you to just do SS, but as your needs are different from that of a high-school athlete, you would probably see good results from the routine you posted above.

In short, it sounds good. Make sure to make progress on your lifts, eat healthy, and you're good to go.


Regarding progression, SS is pretty specific about how much weight gets added each workout with the assigned lifts. Since mine differ, and i obviously will not be adding 15lbs to my BSS each A session, what should i am for? I recall reading about 2.5% or 5 pounds each workout. About right? Does that apply to volume as well? For instance, split squats with DBs do not lend themselves to micro -loading with lbs but i could add reps until i advance to a barbell.
Also, about what you mentioned about SS, is that the main thing with it-to address the needs of a high school/young athlete? It seems many recommend it for any beginner/novice that wants to get strong regardless of age. However, I cannot help but feel it may not have the same application when you are a bit older, have a desk job, history of injuries etc. but i may be wrong. Any thoughts?
Thanks again


You are wrong :slight_smile: Although I'm not old, I'm not a kid either. I did SS last year when I was 29 after having done a year of HIT style workouts. My strength and size really increased.

I had long term success by adding 5 lbs each workout as opposed to the 10 prescribed.

You would only use the exercises in the program - military, bench, power clean, deadlift, and squat.

"I run six plays. Just like novacain. Give it time it always works."


As long as you're a beginner, it will work, and work well. However, if you're slightly older, you will have to a bit more time to warm up, stretch, etc. Depending on your injury history, you may need to do some rehab/prehab work for a few weeks first. However, you would have to do the same things with any program.


This is also a great beginner's program. I think it's as good as SS. Really good explanation too.



if i was to do SS and just cannot get low-bar squats to feel right would it be o to use a high-bar position and follow the same protocol? I know i would be giving up some posterior chain involvement but from what i have been reading it is not as big as it is made out to be; the important is to just squat,period, in a way that feels comfortable (according to glenn pendlay who seems to know what he is talking about). I would ask if front squats would be ok but do not want to push it :wink:

In short, yeah, i have a really hard time with low back squats and it has sort of turned me off to the program. getting the bar in position is fine but sitting back and bending with such a flat back angle does not seem to work for me at all.

An interesting thing to add to this and something that has kin of got me thinking: i went to a Rolfer today for some myofascial work and while working near my pelvis he commented on how tall it was, quite tall actually, and how that affects my lower backs tendency to round when i squatted (he had me squat prior to the session to check for ROM).

When i got home i googled "tall pelvis movement" and got links to a bunch of studies pages basically saying males with taller pelvis', not tall height overall, tend to have more frequent lower back pain and have a harder time bending forward without going into flexion. It seems the movement has a tendency to come from the lumbar area and not the hips when one has a tall pelvis. Kind of interesting and MAYBE why i have had such a hard time with a squat that has my torso with such a forward bend.


It shouldn't matter that much. I started off going ATG with highbar squats, but eventually I switched over to the low bar position. However, if you have a mobility issue which is preventing you from getting the low-bar squats to work, you should try to address it. Do the high bar squats for now, but do some mobility work as part of your warm up or on your off days to fix the issue.


If you really want to do an a-b split I would do..

-Flat or incline bench
-dumbell shoulder press
-db rows

-curl of some sort
-front or back squats
-SLDL or GHRs if your lower back is too beat.