T Nation

Imbalanced Routines: TBT


Sorry Chad but... (lol)

I don't want to simply bash all those routines which are good for beginners (e.g. starting strength/5x5/TBT), I'd rather understand the logic. When I say good for beginners, I mean good in that it helps them to be more focussed (not something that should be remained on for bodybuilding purposes).

It would be good to have a discussion. I know that this topic raises a lot of debate (e.g. full body training).

Can anyone explain/show me a person who developed a balanced physique utilising mainly the basic movements (e.g. around 5 exercises or so)? Steroids or no steroids...

One of the only benefits I can think of is to natural lifters and maybe better hormone profile. And the fact that full body training indirectly trains body parts more frequently.

It just makes me think because there are some really intelligent coaches (e.g. Chad W.) who absolutely insist on training in this way, even for bodybuilding purposes. And even Chad himself build a decent physique utilising his own methods...

I just don't get why some body parts seem to be completely neglected, and yet it is recommended by some coaches. I know for sure, that when I don't train upper chest, it shrinks (doesn't matter if I do over-head presses or some olympic move). Same applies for delts, when I take out side laterals they shrink, doesn't matter if I'm already doing loads of horizontal pressing movements.

Has anyone actually done much of Chad's routines and built themselves up ALL over? No disrespect intended...



  1. Chad doesn't really do bodybuilding. That isn't what he is all about.

  2. TBT and concentrating on basic movements are 2 different things.

  3. I'm not aware of anyone advocating neglecting anything. There are generally tweaks you can make on the main lifts to stress certain body parts.

  4. BBers using common splits also are going to get the frequency increase from compound movements. If a guy does chest one day and benches, then does tris a separate day, he hits the tris twice.

There are also a lot of big strong guys that train TBT, but few that I know of that look like BBers.

Most strongmen who I have read something on their training seem to use TBT.


Isnt this a matter of excercise selection, like doing a flatpress on manday, incline press on wednesday and a OH-press on friday? + isnt it possible to add some isolation work for weak points( like side laterals ) at the end after the big compounds? I know I am a beginner, but wouldt doing it like this make it more balanced? or am I far off in idiotic-newb-oblivion.


Chad Waterbury, a decent physique?

I suppose he is large, but his proportions from what I can tell are absolutely awful. The guy looks like he is in desperate need of isolation exercises... that alone is reason enough for me to avoid ever doing his programs.

Someone like Alpha does train fullbody and is very big and strong, but would he win any decent bodybuilding competition? Likely no.

If you want to bodybuild, there is no substitution for bodybuilding training. I feel like people don't worry about this so much in any other area... no powerlifters want to find a reason to do a 6-way split, basketball players don't try to train like olympic lifters, and sprinters don't try to train like marathon runners...


I don't think he ever actually did a Waterbury routine? (I may be wrong)

Mostly just did some of the set/rep combos ala 10x3. His full body sessions (those I can remember) looked way different compared to Chad's... Way more work, less restrictive.

And even then... One guy. Who is ten times as bad-ass as most other people on the planet to begin with.

A lot of injuries too... I hope he's okay these days... I think he writes for 500block or something like that.


Edit: Scratch that, I don't want to discuss this on the boards actually. Too much potential for another big argument if the wrong people jump in.

I'll send you a mail Dan.


Edit: scratch this one too.


Yeah I didn't realize TBT was a specific program, not just a generic full body routine description.


^Good stuff right there


Here's an example of why Alpha is successful in what he does and I agree with his reasoning compared to what you see a lot of guys like Chad preach:

-I do supersets and giant sets not because it is the most advantageous way to gain muscle...I do them because things need to get done...My time is limited, and I don't like most of the idiots at the gym. So I get in, get it done, and get out. I hate walking into the gym, but love walking out soaked and spent...results aren't a bad thing either.

There. Logic. Not theoretical reasoning, but practical. No marketing BS.

Quite a few article writers will go on and on about muscle-fiber recruitment, supersets making you stronger than regular work (bwahahahaha), hormone reactions and whatnot, and how you MUST do supersets blah-blah.

All the shit that does not work as advertised in reality/actually takes care of itself anyway/does not matter in terms of what you need to think of when constructing a routine.

And none of those guys look or perform anything like Alpha either. Or like the guys they keep calling stupid directly or indirectly.

The same goes for how to construct your program.

Don't let yourself be held back by theoretical crap and unnecessary restrictions. Do what's the most practical and useful towards your goals (+ injury prevention, and there many of chads ideas go right out the window for many, especially considering that you can get similar or better strength/size results from less "rebel" methods).

How you organize your routine is just how it all comes together in the end... Whether it's a Full body program (arbitrary classification in most cases imo) or a split or whatever isn't the important part and it's not what should be on your mind first/what to base everything else around... Because there is absolutely NOTHING magical about either.


I hope this thought makes sense to you all, as it's something that I've been thinking about lately:

I know this is only tangentially related to your post's primary topic, but I feel like it's related insofar as it's dealing with what is necessary in the beginning (...or at least what happens in the beginning, which may not be the same thing) for most people who end up with impressive physiques.

It seems like most who now have impressive physiques started out with some variation of a push/pull+legs or push/pull/legs split. I've read many (if not all) of the "how you train etc) posts, and I just can't think of any that actually started out with a split like the "Do this routine instead of that dumb one." Then, after a few years, they transition to a body part split and treat it like an "Aha!" moment. It seems like then the logic extends to, "I should have been doing this all along!" when that might not really be the case.

I guess the other point would just be that I have a really hard time believing that a beginner wouldn't benefit from a routine much higher in frequency than a weekly body part split.

The overall point I'm trying to make, though, is that it seems like most impressive guys have some story about crazy stuff they were doing that they wouldn't advise others to do--marathon workout sessions, tons of volume with tons of frequency, etc--at the beginning of their serious training. Are those periods really as regrettable or crazy as the impressive guy later claims, or it is a part of the path to where they're currently at?


I started out with a 4-way.

PX started out with a 4-way.

Bauer started with a split pretty much I think.

I don't know how MM started training, actually...

Mind you, that doesn't mean everyone must or anything. But the whole "starting strength makes you stronger than a split" only works that way if you do the split thing wrong and eat wrong for it.

Even as a beginner (hell, especially as a beginner) you ought to be able to make great progress on both kinds of routines. Whether it's split or full body is not the important part at all.

If you want higher frequency, you can get that with both types of routines.

For beginners, unless you downright do shit "wrong" (and many do) and if you eat okay, you should be able to make very fast progress even on fairly sub-optimal routines.

It's true that some people switch to something new and simply forget what got them there in the first place etc, but I'd like to say the vets here are smarter than that.

High frequency can work very well, but it's not a requirement for great progress at all. Not even for learning the lifts properly. For beginners I find it far more important to actually pay some damn attention when you lift, film yourself etc, and start out with manage-able weights rather than going too close to your max multiple times a week for a ton of sets. That can just as well breed bad habits and get you injured faster.


Also, the whole "benefit from" thing... You can make a higher frequency work. You can also make a lower frequency routine work (though I wouldn't go lower than each exercise once per week, i.e. no DC) for beginners.


Thanks for the feedback everyone. I've just been reading up a lot on CW, and other similar authors (hence the recent interest). I take away some good stuff, but the routine set ups just don't make sense to me

Double D:
1) if someone writes a book, which includes in large part bodybuilding, they better at least know what they're talking about even if they don't like it lol (there's enough misinformation on bodybuilding floating around already) 2) sorry, by "tbt" i mostly meant a title or the standard tbt of 2-6 exercises/session, besides, there is a limited amount of exercises you can reasonably fit in tbt sessions 3) telling someone to do mostly 1 exercise per bodypart and sometimes no exercise at all for some bodyparts is advocating neglecting bodyparts (e.g. "Anti-Bodybuilding Hypertrophy" doesn't get you to train delts once, not even an overhead press for the whole 4 weeks...and that's just one example)

Yeah you could do that but then you're doing 1 exercise per bodypart/week (not good for those who need more exercises/higher frequency bodypart training). You could also add exercises (which would be to just about every bodypart, because most need to be done from different angles etc with enough frequency for fuller development), but by the time you're done, you have a routine with well over 8 exercises/session...basically the whole reason why splits were invented lol

mr popular:
Haven't seen shirtless pic of CW so I can't comment much on balance, just know that he built some decent size

Thanks for the advice. Can you pm me what you said originally in those posts? Been ages since I exchanged pms since your messaging service was down for ages


Pretty much every Mr. America competitor up until the early 1950s, and every physical culturist/bodybuilder of the early 1900s (such as Sandow and Strongfort).

Guys like Steve Stanko and John Grimek were competitive Olympic lifters (which required full body workouts) before focusing on bodybuilding.

Steve Reeves, Clancy Ross, and Jack Delinger used full body routines with multiple exercises per muscle to build their physiques either initially or throughout their career.

So, there are diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks and it's pretty pointless to argue about the "best" way to do anything in the sport (eat, train, pose, whatever), but full body training has been used by successful bodybuilders.

EDIT: If we do want to address the "Waterbury isn't jacked, so let's not listen to him"-line of though, what should we think when guys like Reg Park and Arnold, who've built their bodies primarily without total body sessions, often recommended full body routines for beginners? Should those influential guys not be advocating full body training like Park's 5x5 or Arnold's "Golden 6" plan?

As I said, it's a nutty argument to be making in the first place because so many different strategies have been shown work.


"if someone writes a book, which includes in large part bodybuilding, they better at least know what they're talking about even if they don't like it lol (there's enough misinformation on bodybuilding floating around already) 2) sorry, by "tbt" i mostly meant a title or the standard tbt of 2-6 exercises/session, besides, there is a limited amount of exercises you can reasonably fit in tbt sessions 3) telling someone to do mostly 1 exercise per bodypart and sometimes no exercise at all for some bodyparts is advocating neglecting bodyparts (e.g. "Anti-Bodybuilding Hypertrophy" doesn't get you to train delts once, not even an overhead press for the whole 4 weeks...and that's just one example)"

I'd just point out that TBT doesn't mean that you do the same exercises every session or that you do all your exercises every session. It also doesn't mean that you can't shift the focus of your workouts. You can pretty easily have 3 or 4 different exercises for a body part and rotate them from workout to workout. You can also split up the focus of your sessions. Something like Lowerbody hard/upperbody easy. So you could add in some extra exercises on the focus.

There are a lot of options with TBT, it's a broad category. And there are big strong guys that have success with it. I made progress that way for a number of years.

As for Waterbury, it's apparent I don't know enough about him to really have commented.


Just e-mail me, check my profile.


What people think Reg Park did and what he did by his own admission are very different things though. He did indeed train full-body, but not at all like the:
DL (?)

All for 5x5...

That some people claim he did... I don't even know where they got that idea.

I've posted this before... But here goes... His actual training approach was beyond ridiculous (same for his diet, really... Pretty much all carbs)... Way more extreme than Arnold's if you think about it, at least Arnold didn't try to do it all each training day.

This was his older routine:

No squats either.

And then later on (up to four days per week now):

Yeah... Not quite what one might expect.
He pretty much did what others might have done on a bodypart split (hell, more pressing and WAY more work sets, though it isn't clear whether he was really doing them all at the same weight... he occasionally mentions stuff like "5x5 working up to x lbs"...)... But condensed to one day.

I found this pretty interesting. Completely different from what some authors have claimed, too... Now we know where Arnold got his crazy volume idea from.

Mind you, I'm just posting that as an interesting bit of trivia... Others didn't go to such lengths.

Anway... Full body or split... Who cares... It's just a classification... Not a factor to base the entire routine around in the first place...


yes 8+ exercises in one session would be overkill( at least for me ), I was thinking more in line of 3 compounds and 3 isolation exercises pr session. ( bench, row, squat, lateral raises, bicepcurl, calves raises as an example ). you would be able to hit everybody part with 3 different tbt session a week, but as you said probably not ideal if you need more variation and volum pr bodypart. So splits would be a better solution in that regard.
And I guess it depends who uses it, a person like me would be ok on a routine like that aslong diet was good offcourse, but a person with the goal of competing in bodybuilding I doubt would do such a routine, much easier to just use a basic split. but fuck my opinion LOL
because C_C`s post where pure BB wisdom.