T Nation

Bodybuilding Routines from Time to Time?


I was just re reading Dave Tate's articles and when i got to his bbing article he mentioned that it wouldnt hurt / may even be benifical to take 3 months off and do a bodybuilding program. Has anyone done this? and to what success?

obvisouly it isnt gonna help your 1rm out much.


no, but it is gonna help with your size.


I have just recently done this. I tore my hamstring in April and took a month where all of my max effort work was for no less than a 5rm, all of my assistance work was very general and for either very high reps or for a certain length of time, and all of my dynamic efforts were lactate tolerance training (somewhere around 50-60 total reps in as short a time as possible).

With no real change in diet, I gained about 10lbs in a month. I think this was somewhat extreme because I have never really trained for "size" before and responded to it very well.

When I went back to singles for max efforts, I was beating old records left and right. Including a 40lb bench reocrd on one variation. All things being equal, a bigger muscle will be a stronger muscle... it's just hard to get out of the meathead mentality of smashing weights all the time.


I think it works the other way too. I just went from bodybuilding to a powerlifting type format and it seems I'm hitting pr's every week...at an age where I thought pr's were all behind me.


I think you benefit more from the break from constantly handling near-max weights all the time. Too much of that for too long and you'll eventually break down in some way.


Like everyone else said it is a good idea and for multiple reasons. You won't necessarily get weaker from doing this. Also don't just stop at 3 months if everything is going well, if your making progress keep going then switch back to PL when that progress stalls out.


sounds like it is pretty common practice. evening out the muscel imbalances sounds like that is the greatest benifit from doing it. Thanks for the opinions


Did any of you guys follow a specific 'program' when you did the bodybuilding. Or did you just do a general body part split?

I am interested in putting on some upperbody size and was looking into programing. I guess I am so used to strength training programs and how they need to be relatively precise...is BB the same thing or just go with moderate-high volume and hit each body part each day (generally speaking)?


I followed Dogg Crapp for a few months. In 2 months I was able to add 10lbs to my frame, and my bench and deadlift make some good progress, but it killed my squat.

If I could do it all over again, I'd start my lower body day with the heavy squat, and then save the high rep squat for my last set of the day.


I hurt my shoulder, so heavy benching is out for some time. Currently I am still pulling and squatting heavy, but essentially bodybuilding otherwise.

Honestly, its fun for a while, you can use the time to get health back on track (if you need to), and get MEGA JACKED AND BECOME THE VOLUME KANG!


The squat is fine where it is in the routine... If everything else progressed alright, it should have gone up too unless:
1) there was a problem with your exercise rotation
2) you did not progress enough to make a dent in your 1RM
3) you should be replacing any exercise that you don't improve by +2reps and/or a weight increase in 2 times in a row. (should not have happened to your squat in that short time though, I'm guessing it's the rotation).
4) of course going from doing squats first to doing them last will impact your numbers at first, it will take a little time to get back up and beyond your previous bests. You only did 4 cycles (4 chances to increase the weight), might not have been enough... Did you start at the top or over the rep range, adding weight every time (unless reps fall below range) until the end of the blast? (that has always improved my 1RM's without fail)

Considering your other improvements, I'm guessing diet wasn't the issue...

I'm mentioning all that because yours is quite the irregular case... Generally people either do incredibly well on the routine all over, do it wrong by taking it slow with the diet etc and thus make slow-ass gains, or simply mess up completely because they start doing it too early, don't eat, etc.

I've virtually never encountered a mixed case... If you don't mind, would you share the rotation you used (complete rotation, back work too)?


In general: You can divide "bodybuilding" routines into roughly 2 categories (I suppose) for the purpose of this discussion:

-Power-building, which focuses on increasing strength over any other factor... Many different routines here, from Hoornstra to Coleman to Yates and so on... The guy in the 600lb raw bench thread was doing this as well, though with quite a lot of extra volume in the form of drop sets after his heavy work each exercise...
Large differences in volume possible, some go very low rep on main movements, others stick with medium reps for strength work).

These would not necessarily be good as a "break" from powerlifting though, some of them basically look like a Westside ME + bbing split. Usually one has to take time off or deload every now and again... Coan and Kazmaier routines also roughly fall into this category...
Those that have you do low rep work on the main lifts (and then whatever) make perfectly fine PL routines as long as you're not restricted to one of the lower weight classes for whatever reason and you don't mind eating a good amount.

They ought to work fine for drug-free guys as long as you know your limits, and you can find many of the top drug free BBing pros (the strong ones, anyway) do them for example.
If you see a very strong bodybuilder, that's what they're likely doing.

-"pure" bodybuilding? I can't think of a proper name here... Basically those would have very little impact on your maxes unless you do them for years... I guess this is what most people think when they hear "bodybuilding"... Lots of misc. lifts that are difficult to progress on... Only higher rep stuff, not much focus on strength progression... You don't see this being done successfully as a complete routine by drug free guys past the beginner stage usually... It's heavily reliant on "help" to provide gains... Does not create strong people, usually.

I guess it's what you get when you take what some guys do for assistance work (i.e. 5 sets of 10, same light weight for all sets) and make an entire routine out of just that stuff.

That would certainly provide a break for the joints and tendons though...


bodybuilding routime doesnt mean just increasing the volumen


I just kept doing Westside but just changed my emphasis from strength-speed-size to size-speed-strength. Does that make sense?


Yeah I don't change my days at all either, I just go higher on reps for the main lifts and do more assistance volume.

If your training philosophy is worth anything it should be easy to accommodate many different goals without changing too much.


Yea absolutely, can you give me a rough example of an upper body "ME" day. Did you still do the dynamic work? Or just do the repetition method? Thanks!


I'll have to dig through my logs to find out what my rotation was, it's been a while, but what would be the detriment of squatting heavy for a single set at the beginning of the workout and then doing the WM at the end of the workout? I understanding not doing a WM first thing so that you have energy through out the rest of the routine, but I can recover from a heavier set much easier than a high rep set.


Here is exactly what I did

ME Day: No bands or chains, only 5 rep maxes, don't fail on anything.

DE Day: Lactate Tolerance Training- 50% of your current competition max for 25 sets of 2 for squats, 20 sets of 3 on bench, and 25 sets of 2 on deadlifts. Only do squats OR deadlifts on DE lower day. No bands or chains. Rest as short as possible. Change the bars every week. Keep track of your total time and beat it every week.

Assistance work: 4-5 general exercises (no barbells pretty much) for either 3 timed sets (anywhere from 30-45 seconds) with only 30 seconds of rest or try to hit 60 total reps in as few sets as possible.

I did this for about 4 weeks and gained about 10lbs. The lactate tolerance stuff is brutal.


That does sound brutal. I am going to try that. It looks like a good amount of volume. I am going to incorporate tempos too for assistance


man i thought i was doing LATT good. What id do is after main sets on dynamic day id just load barbel up with 5 kg extra and go to failure if i was on bench press. For squats id just just drop 5 - 10 kg and do as many reps as possible then move unto accessories. but the 25 sets sounds insane haha.