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Instinctive Training?


I've been spending the last several weeks researching different Full Body routines.

I've read routines advocating 3x10,10x3,5x5,1x20,20x1 etc.....the thing is they all seem to work if you train hard enough.

It makes me wonder I really need to lock myself into a rigid set/rep routine. Maybe I should just shut up and train, while listening to my body.

Has anyone here had any success with full body instictive training?

What I mean is:

Picking 2-3 compound movements per workout and training as hard as possible each set, but switching the set/rep scheme from workout to workout.


I do this every workout. I'd be hard pressed to go back in my training journal and find any two workouts that were exactly the same as far as exercise selection, and set and rep schemes.

Don't forget isolation exercises though. They are important too.


Look up xcelticx in the archives. He was bigtime instinctual. Just kidding, but it's worth a laugh.

I tend to anhialate myself if I don't follow a set program, especialy when working heavy compound lifts, but if you are realy cued in on what you are able to do and how you are responding to the excercises, it's an option.


What does "instinctive training" mean to you?

For me it's a combination of having clear goals, letting go of ideas of what your body SHOULD be capable of and listening to your body's natural signals that tell you "noooo I've had too much" or "hit it hard as hell today!"

Although I don't think it is possible to get to that point without first trying some routines and learning how your body responds etc...


Ive been doing it for some time now, about a year, and loving it best move I made.

I make it simple and like you say pick 2-3 compounds and give them each a time limit like EDT say its squat and bent over row day. I go and I squat and thats it for 20 minutes, then a row for 20 mins. My usual aim is to go heavy working to multiple double and triples but thats variable some days arent feeling it ill go higher rep, or just for a change.

Some days ill be warming up and just FEEL its a great day to go for that PR, Do it. Then I fill in what ever the hell I want to make it full body if doing 3 days a week or say upper lower hell Ive even done 6 short days a week giving each day just one movement.

I just figure get in the big compounds and do them the rest is icing. Kind of took what I liked and found work from all the programs I tried over the years.

Ive hit PR's and hell didnt even realise it by doing this until I get home and compare the log.

just be sure to set SOME guidlines as for exercises to get a balanced routine and address your goals and also through in that rep scheme from time to time you tend to stay away from for me thats high rep squats etc...

Give it a whirl.


I do "a press, a pull and a squat" which changes every time.

Press- push, military, jerk, incline, db, bnp, etc.

Pull- DL, RDL, hang/power snatch/clean

Squat- Olympic, overhead, wide stance.

5 sets of 3-5 reps MWF.

I go by feel mostly.


Thanx for the replies, it sounds like I'm not alone.

My basic goal is to include high-medium-low reps each workout.

I am making a serious comeback after 4 years of sporadic, half-assedness.

I hate it when I finish a workout and feel like I could have pushed harder.


What is the deal with "full body routines" and why does everyone think they need to be doing this all of a sudden?


They feel good and they work great for some guys.

I don't have anything against split routines

They obviously work great for you.


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I agree that there seems to be a bit of an over abundance of full body workouts here, but I do think that training methods are cyclical and we will see a switch back to splits (in general). I think that a lot of people (some authors included) feel that splits are inefficient and are more useful for guys using AAS.

Personally, I stick with a split routine and switch to a 3-day/wk full body when my schedule gets too busy to effectively execute a split. I have always gotten good gains on bodypart specific workouts and see no reason to change.

I know a lot of guys on the site are BB oriented, and for the record some of the biggest guys I have ever known (natural and chemically enhanced) would laugh if some one told them to switch to a full body routine.


What I was getting at, is that in the midst of turning your thinking towards "instinctive training", you also seem to be stuck on certain training protocals. Is it really "instinctive" if it only falls within certain training perameters?

I think I train "instinctively". I trained biceps today and that was all I trained. There have been days where I do other body parts grouped together as well. It just seems that many get more "stuck" the more they try to open up to more info from different sources. It would seem to me that "instinctive training" would involve learning the skeleton and then moving on to adding the meat once you understand how the parts are supposed to work.

Instead, beginners seem to get bogged down by 3x3's, 5x5's and the like before they get the basics down well enough.


instinctive training is the way to go once you've developed a good understanding of training principles, and are in touch with your abilities/needs/strengths/opportunities for developments/etc.


there's nothing wrong with training instinctively within certain parameters, given the parameters are broad enough to freestyle within.


Also given the person claiming to be training instinctively has even trained long enough to know what works for their body and what doesn't. I am of the solid opinion that someone ready to train that way wouldn't even be concerned about training specifically with 3x3, 5x5 or things of that nature. They would be able to change up as needed. In other words, if you have to ask, you probably aren't ready.


I actually find both of these very true. The use of parameters and not being stuck on 3x3 or 5x5 or what have you.

I have very flexible parameters really and they are more of the training WEEK variety, Just get in this stuff this week and in general lift heavy. some days that means I do a ton of doubles some days I will go high rep just to torture myself. a lot in the middle somewhere or pyramiding up/down.

Same with the days and what I do that day. This boils down to the time I have and also just what I FEEL like doing. a few months ago it was 6-7 days a week. then recently I was doing three full body sessions due to time issues. Now Im doing two upper two lower for three weeks now and considering going back to the 6-7 days. Just feels like what I may want to do now.

It for sure is about getting a vocab and what works for you. I mean I can take peices of EDT, peices of frequecny, 10x3, all of the crap over the years and fit it into MY lifting as I see fit and feel it will be effective.

But like Pro.X kind of elludes to (I think) a lot of poeple may not have the time under the iron yet to really train instinctively. Know what works takes time and you have to actually DO the stuff not once but give it a fair run weeks months and see what the hell it does. Heck I am and always will be learning and trying new stuff. Stuff that I may or may not add in on a regular basis. Thats what its all about.

Ok I think that may make some since. Maybe,


Dirty Tiger: What you laid out in your first post is not instinctive training. It variable but not instinctive. It would be instinctive if you wandered into the gym and thought "I feel like legs today" and did legs regarless of when you did them last. Further if you just decided you felt like squats then while you were at the rack front squats then some curls(since you're already in the squat rack :wink: and so on. If you quit when you felt tired and lifted whatever weight you felt. That is instinctive training, it's not very effective.
What you are talking about is a variable set/rep scheme within a workout, that can be very effective. It makes each workout a little different. Your body has to adapt some after each time.

Prof X: The reason a lot of people are turning up with full body routines these days is because they are en vogue. This site has pushed them for a year or more. A lot of sites are getting into olde tyme routines which were often full body. It's also a part of the anti-weider backlash that has been occuring in slow motion for at least 5 years and probably more. They have their place but you are right, they are not the magic bullet.


I've never been a fan of the concept of instinctive training. If you 'listen to your body', I'm pretty sure it's gonna tell you to lay on the sofa and do alternate Krispy Kreme curls instead of going to the gym. Bodies are funny that way.

Full body workouts likely have more use for athletes than bodybuilders. I do them for 3-4 week stretches occasionally, but I think if someone does them constantly with no variation, they're really limiting their strength and size gains. They're great for getting lean, though.


This site also hyped (overhyped) kettleballs and the like for way too long. I find it funny that a web site that was originally known for attracting people who went against the grain in some aspect with regards to lifestyle and training now seems to mostly attract followers and those looking for the latest fad.

As far as your definition of "instinctive training", however, that is incorrect. It is very effective...IF YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO HAS TRAINED FOR A LONG TIME AND KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES FOR YOUR BODY TO GROW. The skinny newbie probably doesn't need to even consider it. However, to tell the guy who looks like he is carrying more muscle mass than some competitors that his approach isn't very effective will get you laughed at.

For example, how much does someone who has been driving for 20 years really need to think about the act of driving? Are they really paying attention to the "10 and 2" position on the steering wheel or trying to stay 2 full seconds behind the car in front of them? Probably not. They could probably drive home half drunk and not even remember how they did it. That is because it has become instinctive.

If you have been training for 10+ years and your arms are now bigger than some people's legs, I would surely hope that you don't need to put that much advanced thought into your training. It should be natural to you by then and changes can be made instantly on the fly as needed. Nothing could be MORE effective than knowing your own body.