T Nation

Dead/Squat Split



I'm looking for a bodybuilding split which would incorporate squats and deads on seperate days. I've tried looking for templates everywhere I can think of, but to no avail. I suppose that I'm looking for a 4/5 way split:

4 way - quads/calves, hams/glutes/lower back, back/bi/rear delts, chest/tri/front delts
5 way - quads/calves, hams/glutes/lower back, back/rear deltas, chest/front delts, arms/calves.

I'm stumped. I'm on the verge of designing my own program, but since I'm coming from full body workouts, I'd rather start with a template and see how that goes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



I like to consider deadlifts as back work even though the legs are used quite a bit. I simply setup my full body splits with a couple of days between back and legs to get it done.

I have seen many templates for a push pull setup that are still full body that would lump deads with posterior chain work for hammies, glutes and low back as well. I would think either would work well if there was enough time given for recovery from quad and back work days.

An example template for the full body split is below. I do the deadlifting on back day in this case.


One Arm Dumbell Row
Lat Pull
Barbell Shrug
Back fly


Bench Press
Incline Fly
Decline Dumbell Press or Chest Dips
Seated Military Press
Arnold Press
Side Shoulder Raise

Wednesday: Off


Sissy Squats
Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Reverse Lunge
Barbell Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise


Skull Crushers
Dumbell Tricep Extension
Rope Tricep Extension
Barbell Curl
Incline Dumbell Curl
Hammer Curls
Barbell Wrist Curl
Static Barbell Holds


monday back hamstrings
tuesday chest
thursday shoulders traps
friday quads


Wilderman, thanks for the suggestion. I actually like your exercise selection a lot. Another question: in a thread on sets per workout, I remember reading that most people do a pretty low number of total sets (10-15). Obviously, this doesn't apply to you, as you do about 6 exercises every workout. I'm guessing you're in the range of 20 working sets?

Anyway, on my program (stripped down hypertrophy) I was at 27 or 39 working sets. 27 are OK, but 39 were way too much. Still, I think that if I was doing a synergistic split like you're suggesting, I could easily do 20+ good sets, with 60-70% or so being compounds. Does this seem acceptable, or should I tune it down?


Your setup looks fine. Here's what I do:

Day 1: Chest/Back
Day 2:Quads/abs/calves (include squats here)
Day 3:Shoulders/arms
Day 4: Hams/abs/calves (include deadlifts here)


I thought of this the other day. The only thing thay would need to be worked on it deadlifting and squating heavy the same week.

Monday Back and Tris
1. Deadlift or rack pull 6-7 sets to 3RM
2. T-row or DB row
3. Chin up
1. Close grip BP 4x6-10
2. Skull Crusher or french press
3.Dip or overhead extension

Tuesday Chest and Bis
1. Flat BB BP 6-7 sets to 3 RM
2. Incline DB/BB 4x6-10
3.Dip or Flies
1. BB or EZ curl 4x6-8
2. Hammer or Alt Db curl
3. Rev curl or more isolation like preacher curl

Thursday Legs and Low Back
1. Squat or box squat 6-7 sets 3RM
2. Lunge or step up 3x6-8
3.GHR 4x8-10
Low Back
1.Hyper 4x6-10

Friday Delts and Traps
1 BB or DB Military Press 4x6
2 Lat Raise
3 Front raise DB/EZ bar
1. Up right row 4x6
2. BB/DB Shrug
3.Face Pull or band pull a part


I would keep it under 30 sets. That is about my limit and I am much closer to 25 most times, including warmups. Much more than that, I burn out. Plus I would have to lower the weight and rest periods to get through. That isnt going to work very well. You want the intensity as high as you can tolerate and recover from on a full body split IMO.

There are some workhorse guys out there who can get away with more. Of course diet, rest, genetics and even gear would factor into that. I do it naturally but some of my friends who use gear can recover faster it seems. they use a little more volume than I do looking at their programs.

Working sets to me include my pyrimids. But there is only one set per exercise that is taken to failure or beyond with shocks. I normally do that on the first two exercises in a program. The third or forth exercise for a muscle will be a finisher. Higher reps, pumping movements mostly.

I hope this helps you put your own program together. Be instinctive and watch for signs of fatigue early. You dont have to terminate a cycle if you catch it early enough, simply reduce the volume a bit and keep on at it.

Good luck.


DF 85, how does that setup work? It seems counterintuitive to me, at a glance. I just know that I couldn't get a chest workout in with tri's fried from the previous day - dips, pressing motions, would all be out, all I'd have is flyes :D. Really interested in that.

Wilderman, I'm very interested in the pyramiding you mentioned. I also read your post in the TBT/splits thread; thank you, it was very informative. I think I might try the pyramiding sets too, and go for one work set. Just out of interest - on your work set, how close to failure do you go? Do you do drop sets, forced reps, or any other advanced techniques? Or just up the weight and go to relative failure, and only use the 3rd and 4th exercises to finish yourself off, like you said? I'm quite paranoid about not pushing myself hard enough with one main working set.

Cheers, Forbes. That seems like a good programme.. For some reason though, the thought of doing chest and back in the same workout seems overwhelming. Upper-body pulling motions seem to give me more problems than anything else, in terms of fatigue. I might give your setup a shot, but I'd probably have to plan quite carefully.

Thanks for all the great advice so far, dudes. I'm pretty much ready to put down the first draft of my workout programme tomorrow. Appreciate it.


I dont count the first warm up sets as part of the pyramid. I typically do a full set of really light weight to get the blood flowing. Then I move into weight acclimation sets. A set of one or two reps at 60% of my first work set. Then one or two more sets at 80% or 90% for one or two reps.

After the warmup I then use 80% of the weight I will use on my third set. I dont take this to failure but it is heavy enough to really work me since I am doing all the reps. Then I will rest and do the next set at 90%, pyramiding up. The final set I will use 100% and go all out to failure. I cannot do one more rep with good form. At this point I may add in a shocking technique like rest pause or drop sets to continue the set just a little further. This really depends on my instincts but more often than not I can push this last set.

I will do the same for the next exercise but with minimal warmup or none at all. The third exercise will be more for a pump and I typically use slightly higher reps on this one. Sometimes I will push to failure on the third exercise but most times not. Depends on if I feel like I did enough work on the first exercises.

For me, anymore shocking than this will be too much. We all have our own tolerances and recovery. Too much on one day will spill over and impact the energy you have on the other days. You have to really pay close attention to that and adjust so that you keep progressing. Progress is slow for me now but it still comes. That is just how it gets once you have progressed far enough along to lift really big weights.

Good luck. Let us see what you come up with. There are a lot of really experienced guys on here who will give you a good critique.


OK, so this is what I came up with. The general idea is to recruit the muscle with the first 1-2 exercise(s), pre-exhaust it with exercise 2, and then really drain myself with exercise(s) 3/4. As you described, I think the final exercises will be "for the pump." For example - for quads,

Day 1
Front Squats - 5x5
Sissy Squats - 3 x 10
Leg Press - 1 x 20
Leg Extensions - 1 x 20
Seated Calf Raises (heavy) - 4 x 10
Standing calf raises (light) - 2 x 25

Day 2
Bench Press - 5x5
Weighted dips - 4x10
Incline DB press-fly - 2x10
Flyes (probably incline) - 3x10 (I'll need more sets of these because I seem to be very tricep-dominant).
2-handed cable tricep pulldowns - 2x10 (I believe thiese will be enough
1-handed cable tricep pulldowns - 2x10.
(The angles of action will be different on the 2-handed and 1-handed pulldowns. 1-handed more off to the side, and 2-handed downwards)
Front shoulder raise - 2x10

Day 3
Deadlifts - 5x5
Good Mornings - 4x10
Natural Glute Ham Raise with bands/Leg Curls - 2x8
Hyperextensions - 2x10
Lateral Shoulder Raises - 3x10 (My "middle" deltoids seem to do NO work in compound lifts, so I thought I might as well move them here!)
Power Shrugs - 2x10
Heavy standing calf raises - 4x10
Seated calf raises, light - 2x25

Day 4
Pull-ups/Cable Rows - will alternate 5x5 and 4x10 between the two exercises.
Chin-ups - 2x10 (I think I'll benefit from doing both pull-ups and chin-ups to pre-exhaustion)
1-arm rows - 2x10
Back flyes - 2x10
Horizontal chest-supported shrugs - 2x10
At this point, I'll probably do something light for my rear delts.
To finish myself off:
2x10 - Standing barbell curls
2x10 - Seated incline DB curls.

Well, that's it. Past the heavy exercises designed to pre-fatigue me and ensure I keep increasing my weights week-to-week, I tried to pick a pretty large selection of exercises so I could hit the same muscle from more angles. I feel that this would be right, but for all I know, this may be the worst idea in the universe, and I should stick to the same exercises for more sets/reps. Hope a few of you dudes find it in you to critique the workout :stuck_out_tongue:


This looks real nice to me. Not a lot of holes and the selection of movements doesnt look to interfere much with subsequent days. Nice work.

My advise is to do this as is for a week or two with out any shocks. Still hit failure on your big lifts but dont take it beyond. Since it is a new program you might want to see how you cope with what you have first before you push. Then again you might be the beast in your avatar and by all means hit it till the bars bend!

Good luck.


I would think that after your first 2 exercises, you'd be toast. Looks a bit much, but as I always say, give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Experience? I think not.


Cool, guys. I agree, I'm gonna start off slowly and experiment to see how much I can handle. Forbes, I don't think that maintaining intensity will be a problem. I'm pretty sure I can handle 2 compound exercises without feeling tired, and the rest should be easy :smiley: Still, you can never plan anything like this through fully, so who knows!

Wilderman, you only do a couple working sets per exercise, from what I understand.. Where did you get the idea to start doing this? I take it's working very well so far, from reading your other posts?


could always try a split like this?

Quads back biceps abs

Leg curl
Pull ups
Pull downs
Bent over row
Chin ups
Leg raises

Chest triceps

Bench press
Skull crusher
Overhead extensions

Back quads hamstrings calves

Front squat
Good mornings
Calve work
Leg raises

Shoulders chest triceps biceps

Standing military press
Barbell curl
Close grip bench press


My suggestion

Monday: Legs (Squats)
Tuesday: Chest and Bis
Wed: Cardio
Thurs: Back and LB (Deads)
Fri: Shoulders and Tris

Separate out the squats and deads by as many days as possible and you will be good to go.


You could try alternating exersizes, so you would do:

Squat and Romanian DL


Leg Press and Dead Lift

Or something like that, and alternate each day you work those muscles.

Oh.... and actually DC training splits them up so Deads are a "Back Thickness" exersize done with upper body stuff. And Squats are a "quad" exersize done with the legs stuff on a different day.


Tim, why would you put chest with bi's and shoulders with tri's? i.e. tris work with shoulders on a lot of exercises, just like tri's.. On the other hand, I can think of no exercises where bi's and chest both work. Just sayin..

Sid, I take it that's a program where you work every muscle twice a week. I appreciate the input, but I don't know if I have it in me to do front squats, deadlifts and good mornings all in one workout, to be honest :slight_smile: My core would be absolutely fried. That's the reason I don't want to have squats and deads on the same day. The plan also seems a bit imbalanced. 3 exercises on workout two, but 7 on workout one, of which 5 are compounds.

Not knocking either suggestion, but I'm interested in hearing the logic behind them, and how I could use that logic to improve my own template.


i do the front squats in a smith machine so i dont have to worry about balance so my lower back gets a rest in that bit an is recovered enough to do good mornings. its all split up a fair bit because after deadlifts my back is normally done so cant do bent over rows. and after normal squats my quads are normally done for front squats so i split it up far enough apart i think.

7 excersises 5 compounds? the squats a compound for quads an posterior chain, pull ups are a compound for the back as are bent over rows. chins are only half chins for the bicep part. i put pull downs as isolation for lats really so its not to bad i dont think?

as im not really experience i dont do a lot of isolation if i can help it i do the compounds as i have lots of growing to do


I do a five day split with legs twice. The parts i work are fried the next day but have enough recovery time.

I go-

Flat bench
finisher (pump)

ATG Squats
Calf Raises

deadlift 4x2
T-bar rows
Hammer curls
curl iso holds

3x12 lat raises (front and side)
3x6 military press (you don't have this in your routine, why?)
3x4 Push press
Shrugs-front and back
Cuban snatch rotations

Box squats
calf raises
(occasionally i'll throw in rack pulls on this day, just to work on my back some more)


You're right, I did forget military presses. I guess it's not really a question of forgetting, but more a question of, how the hell do I put in dips, benching and military press into one workout and get away with it.. One option would be doing DB bench presses, which activate my chest more, and the military press.

Another would be barbell BP and dips. A third is leaving day 2 as is, and replacing front raises and one of the tri exercises with the military press, but keeping it to 2 working sets or so. I actually like this idea quite a bit. If this isn't manageable, I'll cycle BB BP/dips and DB BP/military to keep the gains coming.

What's a front lat raise? I thought lat raises were only side raises, because front raises don't activate the lateral deltoid..

I like your general direction, though, speaking for myself, I'd probably need a lot more exercises to take it to failure. To me, I guess, the idea is that I really demolish myself so I actually need the 5-6 days of rest per muscle group.

I know that I can do a flat bench and dips in the same workout for days on end, take myself to relative failure each time, and continue making progress. Lol. Bench, skullcrushers and flyes really won't cut it for chest/tri's. Similarly thing with squats.

You probably have a specific reason for squatting 2x a week though, and not doing exercises that'll take you to absolute failure?