T Nation

Compound Exercises Only for Max Mass?


Just wondering what your thoughts are on this routine for size. I've gotten great results from this routine after moving from lower reps and lower sets. Also, I used to do tricep pushdowns, curls, etc but they led to burnout on top of all the compound exercises. I find this routine keeps me less overtrained and has minimal overlap of muscle groups.

Monday: Squat/Press (8 sets of 10 reps)
Tuesday: Assisted Pullup (8 sets of 10 reps)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Bench (8 sets of 10 reps)
Friday: Deadlift/Shrug (8 sets of 10 reps)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

The only isolation I do is abs and calves but only 2 sets because I just want strength in those areas so that my squat and deadlift don't kill me :slightly_smiling:

The real question is, if bigger muscles and lower bodyfat produce a good looking physique (arguably), is it not logical to just hit as many muscle groups as possible at once? Isn't all this detail work unnecessary for so called "symmetry?"


If your goals are aesthetic-based, then that includes things like biceps, triceps, lateral/rear delts, upper chest... none of which would be getting hit near optimally from this. The premise of your last paragraph is quite flawed. It's not just about having the most amount of muscle and lower bodyfat, it's about gaining muscle all over, not neglecting "smaller" body parts like arms, delts, etc. The "detail" work for "symmetry" that you're talking about, is just training every muscle group. Yes that's necessary for optimal growth.

That said, if you honestly have been getting great results, and this is how you like to train, have at it.


Good point about results. Definitely not trying to step on anyone's toes here, but I just thought I'd share what works for me. I agree that symmetry is important...I think Zane is one of the best looking bodybuilders in history and the rest today are bloated monsters. But even though Zane did a lot isolation, I think from experience of being a hard gainer you just burn out doing too many exercises and sets.

All people have a different capacity to recover and in my opinion and I could be wrong, but I think if you overtrain too easily, save your energy for the biggest baddest exercises.


at the very least you should add some sort of row




If you train your body systemically and it grows systemically isn't symmetry the very foundation of what you're doing?

Now if you want to be un-symmetrical e.g. guns bigger than your neck, 'side' delts disproportionate to the other heads in order to create a visual illusion then maybe you have to move off compounds. But google Grimeck and look at the images and remember the closest he got to isolation was dumbell pressing and at times not even bothering to curl. Just low bodyfat and compounds. (this is technically cherry picking but I'm speaking casually here, not writing my master thesis.)

Actually, since this is a bodybuilding thread I just realized that to some BB schools that can seem like trolling. That's not what I meant. I just meant you've seen what happens when you drop the icing and concentrate on the cake.

On the other hand synthol is popular for a reason, though I'm not sure Frank Zane symmetry is the goal in those cases.


Yeah this is similar to what I do. Probably very productive as well.


Haha synthol is nasty stuff man. Yeah Grimek had a good physique and just goes to show that compounds may be all you need. I just have a hard time believing you are missing your biceps if you do rows or pullups. Or you are neglecting your triceps while doing a dip or bench press. Personally, I like to simply things and I don't want to have to do a million isolation exercises that eventually cover the muscle groups worked by a compound.

I think people are scared to do what the old timers did just because it isn't being touted in the magazines as the latest, trendy, 100 set workout.


The issue isn't that smaller muscles don't get stimulated with compounds, it's just that unless you are quite lucky all body parts won't be hit optimally.

This is the BB'ing section of the forums, so yes you want everything as developed as possible (minus maybe the waist area and such). Train for your goals.

I guess some people really just hate isolation work, because literally you can add in some arm/delt/calf work at the end of sessions and it takes an extra 15 mins. lol


is the yates 3 way split still considered a good BB'ing routine that used to be popular on here?


I would think so. Here's a pretty decent thread on the whole thing



Gotta disagree with hard gainers burning out on small exercises. I think most would consider me a hard gainer yet I do more volume than almost anyone yet grow fine. As long as I eat enough.


What you wrote is not a routine for size. Period. It's imbalanced, low volume, and low frequency. I don't believe that some pushdowns and curls were the actual cause of whatever "burnout" you experienced. There's certainly room in a productive and well-designed routine for direct arm work.

Not calling out out, but can you specify what "great results" you've seen? How long have you followed this program and how has your bodyweight changed? What's your current height, weight, and general fat level (just a description, not a %)?

If that was "logical", why not train every muscle in one day? Building muscle just doesn't work that way.

Like GMoore said, you're approaching this from a flawed perspective. No offense. Symmetry comes exactly from giving everything the attention needed to produce significant growth. The overwhelming majority of people will not see "maximum mass" in their smaller muscle groups (arms, shoulders, calves, etc) by doing only compound exercises. Some people with fortunate genetics may see good, maybe even impressive, growth by training with only compound exercises, but odds are that ain't you or me or most people here.

You're very mistaken if you think John Grimek avoided isolation exercises. Like every successful professional or amateur bodybuilder, he put hard work into both compound exercises and isolation exercises, and reaped the rewards.

It's not so much that you're "neglecting" them, it's that you're understimulating them by avoiding direct training. It's like putting lettuce and tomato on a burger and saying "well, I got all my veggies in for the day." Nope. Because it's simply not enough.


This is very much worth repeating. It's very hard to legitimately overtrain the human body unless you're just not eating enough or you're doing more volume and/or frequency than you can currently handle. A well-conditioned, well-adapted, well-fed body can handle a lot of work.


Yeah I would have to agree, I've trained for a little bit, but only started making decent progress in growth once I got over the 'hard-gainer' thing and using some real volume. I mean if you're a 'hard gainer', and you're body doesn't wanna grow, give it a fucking reason too!



Probably claims to have a fast metabolism too!


.....and now for something completely different!



Doggcrap is probably the best of the HIT routines


So very true. You do have to ramp up that volume. My body got used to it from the insane amount of sports I played. Normally 2 at a time since hockey was year round. Now shit 2 hrs in the gym isn't much when all I do is site on my ass and read for class or right up a research manuscript. Which I am avoiding like the plague ATM.


Yes sir