T Nation

Critique this Program

My goal is to gain as much size as possible naturally, and to look intimidating before leaving to uni at the start of October. Having read a fair amount and asking the big lifters at my gym, this is what I’ve come up with:

Monday - Legs
Squats 5x3
Leg Press 3x8
Leg Curls 3x8
Leg Extensions 3x12
Calf Raises 3x12

Tuesday - Chest
Bench Press 5x3
Incline DB Press 3x8
Decline DB Press 3x8
Pec Deck 3x12
Pullovers 3x12

Wednesday - Back
Deadlifts 5x3
Pull-ups 3x8
Barbell Rowing 3x8
Seated Rows 3x12
Lat Pulldowns 3x12

Thursday - Arms
Barbell Curl 5x3
Close-Grip Bench 5x3
Preacher Curls 3x8
Decline Tris Extension 3x8
Incline Hammer Curls 3x12
Tricep Pressdowns 3x12

Friday - Shoulders
Military Press 5x3
Upright Row 3x8
Incline Side Raises 3x8
Shrugs 3x12
Reverse Flyes 3x12

Currently I’ve been training 15 months, started off with full body training 3x week, moved on to upper/lower 4x week, progressed from 133lbs to 160 @ 5’9, 18 years old. Over the summer I’ve got alot free time to lift, eat and sleep, so a 5 day split seems best for mass despite not having lifted very long.

How can this be improved?

IMO you have too little hamstring specialization on your leg day and then the hamstring exercise you DO have is such an ineffecient one. i mean you have squats, leg press, leg extension for quads and then just throw in leg curl for hamstrings. Have a “mass-builder” or something for hamstrings, something more effective than curls like romanian deadlifts, or good mornings, etc.

I personally don’t like bodypart-a-day splits, because i think there should be an even balance between intensity and frequency and i think one should workout a muscle at least twice a week if your goal is hypertrophy, but just throwin that opinion in there, wouldn’t be the first time people had differing opinions on what works best for hypertrophy.

Most importantly, just make sure you bust your ass in the gym, get your recovery and nutrition in check, and make sure you progress as often as possible.

You need to combine some of this work, so you can have Wednesday as a rest day too.

For starters, let’s just look at Mon & Tue. You are doing as much volume for your chest as you are for all three parts of your legs! Does that seem right to you?

You also want to insert legs between some upper body work instead of legs followed by 4 days of upper body in a row.

In addition to 4 days of upper body in a row, all 4 of the upper-body days work your shoulder girdle to some extent. Let’s roll your delt wok into the chest and back.

[quote]Monday - Chest, Front & Side Delts
Bench Press 5x3
Incline or Decline DB Press 3x8
Pec Deck 3x12
Military Press 5x3
Upright Row or Side Raises 3x8[/quote]

Pullovers are way more a back exercise than a pec one. Yes there is some pec work in there, but the beauty of pullovers is a way to work the back without the biceps and forearms as weak links.

[quote]Tuesday - Legs
Squats 5x3
Leg Press 3x8
Leg Curls 3x8
Leg Extensions 3x12
Calf Raises 3x12[/quote]

Looks pretty good as is. One option is to possible do some stiff-leg deadlifts or good mornings in place of the leg curls from time to time — of course you would drop the DLs from your Back workout during this time.

[quote]Thursday - Back & Rear Delts
Deadlifts 5x3
Pull-ups or Pulldowns 3 x 8-12
BB or Seated Rows 3 x 8-12
Pullovers 3x12
Reverse Flyes 3x12
Shrugs 2x12[/quote]

A cool change is to do Pullovers and then immediately follow with a set of Pulldowns or Rows. Rest and repeat.

I dropped back on the shrugs since DLs hit the traps good too. If you ever move DLs into your leg workout, take that opportunity to do more sets of Shrugs. A few heavy sets followed by a light -rep-out set.

[quote]Friday - Arms
Barbell Curl 5x3
Close-Grip Bench 5x3
Preacher Curls 3x8
Decline Tris Extension 3x8
Incline Hammer Curls 3x12
Tricep Pressdowns 3x12[/quote]

IMO, two exercises each are plenty for your upper arm work. I like to avoid redundant emphasis in upper arms exercises. For example, both Preacher Curls and Incline Hammers emphasize the stretch position of the biceps and there’s no need to do both in the same workout. Decline Triceps and CG Bench both emphasize the stretch position of the triceps.

Here’s two alternate workouts:
A
BB Curl (narrow grip) 5x3 (Medial Emphasis,Outer)
Close-Grip Bench 5x3 (Stretch Emphasis)
Incline Hammer Curls 3x12 (Stretch Emphasis)
Tricep Pressdowns 3x12 (Contraction Emphasis)
Wrist Curls or Reverse Wrist Curls 3x8

B
Preacher Curls 3x8 (Stretch Emphasis)
Decline Tris Extension 3x8 (Stretch Emphasis)
BB Curl (wide grip) 5x3 (Medial Emphasis,Inner)
Bench Dips 5x3 (Contraction Emphasis)
Reverse Curls 3x10

As you see I added some forearm work to round things out.

All the workouts are pretty even in volume:
Mon - 19 sets
Tue - 17 sets
Thu - 19 sets
Fri - 19 sets

Best of Luck on your Goals!

Regards,
Scott

P.S. I myself am a proponent of lower volume, but I didn’t drag that into my critique and do NOT want to start a war.

However, if you find yourself stagnating on this routine, then consider dropping a set here and there.

For instance, I would consider 5x3 more of strength protocol than a hypertrophy one — though getting your strength UP is certainly very important when putting on size. After a few months, I would hope that you’ve increased your poundages a bit and can then change to more hypertrophic protocols, such as 3x7 or perhaps 2x10.

As you get stronger, the same number of sets has a tendancy to “take more out of you” than your lesser poundages of the past.

From time to time, you might consider following your heavy initial exercises with a single set of 15-25 reps on a secondary exercise. The DoggCrapp boys call this a “widowmaker” set. It will hit all the ST fibers left out by your heavier work.

Just some more tools for the box.

Later,
Scott

[quote]That One Guy wrote:
IMO you have too little hamstring specialization on your leg day and then the hamstring exercise you DO have is such an ineffecient one. i mean you have squats, leg press, leg extension for quads and then just throw in leg curl for hamstrings. Have a “mass-builder” or something for hamstrings, something more effective than curls like romanian deadlifts, or good mornings, etc.[/quote]

Agreed. More hamstring emphasis would be good. I already brought up the SLDL and Good Morning stuff.

Disagree — at least partially. I agree with the twice-a-week recommendation. I disagree that your bodypart split does NOT provide that, because it does — in fact it’s built-in!

Chest & Delt day work the Triceps pretty well. The triceps work includes Chest assistance. Back day hits the biceps and forearms.

The back will be hit on Legs day too, if he follows you DL and GM recommendations. Cross-over comes in other, non-obvious places too:

  • Pullovers - Back with some chest and triceps
  • Tri Pushdowns - the lats hold your arms in place
  • Upright Rows - Delt move with Traps and Upper Back too
  • BB Curls - Biceps with rhomboids and lower traps holding your arms in place
  • Squats - Quads, Glutes with varying degrees of Lower Back (depending upon your structure and how low you go)

[quote]Most importantly, just make sure you bust your ass in the gym, get your recovery and nutrition in check, and make sure you progress as often as possible.
[/quote]

TOTAL AGREEMENT.

Progression is key. If you cannot improve weights and/or reps every week, then something is off:

  • Too much Volume
  • Not enough Sleep
  • Poor or Insufficient Diet
  • All of the above

With that being said, I think a break may be needed some time between now and October. I would think somewhere towards the latter half of August and Labor Day.

Take a week off of heavy lifting. You can spend the week doing BW stuff or calisthenics. Perhaps you can take some new exercises for a test drive.

After this light week, you can return to your program with a vengeance and take it into the home stretch. That last week befroe you break in Oct should be an all-out assault!

This is excellent feedback, thanks.

My quads are my best bodypart but my hamstrings are poor in comparison so I’ll switch out leg extensions for romanian deads.

Scott, your suggestions are great, I’ll mix in delt work with chest and back and take your arm workout. However, considering I have alot of time to devote to trainging/eating, is an extra rest day optimal or would an extra day of training be beneficial? Even if that means a lower workload on wednesday.

[quote]azc wrote:
This is excellent feedback, thanks.

My quads are my best bodypart but my hamstrings are poor in comparison so I’ll switch out leg extensions for romanian deads.

Scott, your suggestions are great, I’ll mix in delt work with chest and back and take your arm workout. However, considering I have alot of time to devote to trainging/eating, is an extra rest day optimal or would an extra day of training be beneficial? Even if that means a lower workload on wednesday.[/quote]

Be careful doing Rom DLs and your standard DLs in the same week. You may find lower back burnout lurking nearby if you do. There are other non-lower back things you can do for your hams.

One good is Sumo Leg Presses. When you do your leg presses, put your feet up near the front of the platform with feet wide and pointed out. This will bring more hams and glutes into the movement.

Glute-Ham raises are another good exercise, with a bit of lower back. Do a SEARCH on this web site for plenty of good descriptions, pictures, and videos.

As to your last question: When in doubt, REST. With the all the volume you are planning, a mid-week rest day will be crucial.

Always remember: You grow when you rest, not when you train.

Scott