T Nation

Routine Check Request


Hello, all

I'm a rather puny 160lb. human (5'10") and looking to pack on some substantial mass. I understand this must strike you all as very novel, but please bear with me as you temper your surprise.

After poring over an abundance of articles on this site and elsewhere (as well as the beginners' stickies), I've hit upon the following routine. If it contains any egregious errors I'd be very grateful to whomever would correct them. Is the volume acceptable? Have I structured the routine sensibly? Should I replace or lose any of the exercises? Is a 4-day split ideal (I'm a student with a great deal of time on my hands, and have no trouble managing a 5-day split, if it's superior.)? Many thanks!

3 Sets of 8-12 Reps. for all exercises; 3 warm-up sets per muscle group

Monday: Chest/Triceps

(performed in the following order)

  1. Flat BB Bench
  2. Incline DB Bench
  3. DB Flys
  4. Dips
  5. Skullcrushers or Pull-downs

Tuesday: Back/Biceps

  1. Deadlift
  2. Pull-ups
  3. BB/DB Rows or T-Bar Rows
  4. BB Curls
  5. Hammer Curls

Wednesday: Off

Thurday: Legs

  1. Squat
  2. Lunges
  3. Leg Press
  4. Glute-Ham Raises
  5. Standing Calf Raises

Friday: Shoulders/Abs

  1. Seated DB Arnold Press (or Military Press)
  2. DB Lateral Raises
  3. Bent-Over DB Lateral Raises (Is this unnecessary?)
  4. BB Shrugs
  5. misc. Ab work

Sat./Sun.: Off

As for nutrition, I intend to consume a minimum of 3000 calories/day.


Well my opinion is that is suited more to intermediate trainer, but it would still work.

If I were you:


3 sets of 5-8 reps

Squats (back)
Benchpress (flat)
Military press
Deadlifts/widegrip-chins: Switch these two around from workout to workout so one week you deadlift twice and the next week you widegrip-pullup twice.

Basic and concentrates on compound lifts. Something like this or something similar for first 3-12 months would prepare you're body better for your above workout. But you will still get results with yours, I just think you would get better results after some foundation work first.


Cheers, man. I absolutely appreciate the advice, but perhaps I should have prefaced by saying I have no interest in Starting Strength-style squat-based strictly full-body routines. Despite being a beginner, limited experience as well as the opinions of several well-established members on this board, have taught me the folly of not following a basic bodybuilding split from the off. I've essentially followed the advice of the "Bodybuilding Bible" thread, as well as Christian Thibaudeau's Newb articles.

I've no problem exercising 3 days a week with an emphasis on compound lifts, but I do strongly object to squatting 3 days a week, to the exclusion of direct arm work or any isolation exercises. Having attempted SS in the past, I know that whilst my strength steadily increased, my muscular gains were comparatively slight (arms remained pitifully spindly).

At any rate, thanks for the feedback.


The problem is not in your split, its pretty good by the way, I wouldn't change it much. The problem is YOU wouldn't really have the strength to lift enough weight to fatigue your muscles for an entire week of healing between each body part workout. Your bodies CNS is not set to work hard enough yet to get the full benefit of your routine. Its not to say it wont work, of course it will provide some benefit, shit lifting any weight on a regular basis will work, but at your height to weight ratio, your obviously weak and skinny (not being rude mate, just saying to make a point). You should be focused on strength and general mass before you focus on mirror muscle. And remember, just because someone has a thousand posts on here, don't mean they know shit about building muscle.


+1 to rambodian's advice. when you can rep out your bodyweight in bench/squat/deadlift/pullup, then worry about a more detailed split. a more detailed split would bring up specifically lagging body parts. however, since you're lagging everywhere, you need to subject your whole body to some considerable load and get some prohormones flowing in addition to building muscle memory.

as for your original routine, IMO there isn't enough pressing movement in there. keep pressing until you can't press anymore, then pick a movement for that bodypart that uses a different secondary mover (ie standing overhead press -> seated overhead press -> machine overhead press -> upright row -> lateral raises).


Your routine looks good. I personally wouldn't do "glute-ham raises" and would opt instead to just do standing or lying leg curls, but obviously if you can do them effectively then go ahead.

My only advice would be to count your protein each day and swap the legs and shoulders days in that routine (chest/tris, back/bis, shoulders, legs) so that you can train at the highest frequency possible. Don't be afraid to do chest/tris again on Saturday or Sunday and just keep the cycle going, resting once a week or whenever you actually feel you must take a break. Your body has no idea what a "week" is supposed to be, and most muscle groups will be fully rested and ready to go a few days after training. It's just a chance to grow a little faster in my opinion.

If you've never done this before, I suggest starting with 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight and slowly increasing that number until you're at 1.5grams per pound (that way no stone will be left unturned, so to speak, in your body's process of finding the nutrients to heal itself and grow).

As for the two clowns giving retarded advice above me, congratulations on not listening to them, you're doing the right thing.


Seriously, kinda neat to see that you have clearly done a lot of reading. mr popular is right. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, train like one, and for that your routine is pretty solid. I would echo his advice about switching the shoulders and legs, and training with as much frequency as you can. Definitely make sure you're getting at least 1 g/lb of protein (this was plenty for me to make progress when I first started) and increase it over time to maximize your gains.

As for your program, just a few comments/suggestions:

On chest/tris day. There's nothing wrong with dips, but depending on the individual, and how you do them, they often involve chest heavily. Nothing wrong with that, but you might try switching them out and doing both the skullcrushers and the push-downs. I didn't really focus on my triceps much for the first years of my training, and I think they're comparatively small now.

Back day looks good.

Only comment I have on legs day would be more calf work. I generally only did 1 calf exercise, at the end of my legs day, for years. I would often half-ass it, if I did it at all, because I was tired from the legs day. My thighs have made pretty good progress, but my calves suck, not on par with the upper legs at all. I would add in at least 1 more calf exercise, and I would advise you to make sure you train them with the same intensity that you are training everything else.

Shoulders day: I'd say yes, the rear-delt work is necessary. Again, going on personal experience, I never really did anything for my rear-delts (and had such bad form with my lateral raises that my lateral head didn't get much work either) and you can tell by looking at me. My front delts are much bigger, and it looks goofy, and I'm working hard to fix it now. So yes, I'd say you should make sure you train all 3, and do it with good form to make sure the target head is actually doing the work.


For the dips, I find foot position is important bent legs behind and leaning forward emphasises chest. Feet pushed forward more upright emphasises tris.
For calves it depends how good his calves are naturally..... Mine were rubbish so had to focus a lot of effort.


sorry, I don't quite follow. what's wrong with putting more emphasis on compound movements?


Nothing, until you start excluding other lifts, quite like the first guy trying to change OP routine did.

Mr. popular is right, you and the other dude are not. While your advices and teh other dudes advice to do a SS or stronglifts routine is good for some, it is not good for OP.

A trainee's goals will determine their approach.


Thanks for the advices, everyone.

Mr. Popular: I agree on switching leg and shoulder day, sounds good. Do you have any suggestions as far as "ramping up" the weight on every set? I reckon I'd be more comfortable sticking to a manageable though sufficiently heavy weight for all 3 working sets.

frovlan: Countingbeans said it all, really. Progressive loading with compound lifts is the foundation of my proposed routine, supplemented with a bit of isolation work. I see no good reason why anyone pursuing bodybuilding would deliberately exclude the latter.

rambodian: "Your bodies CNS is not set to work hard enough yet to get the full benefit of your routine."

I confess I don't understand the strange species of logic which asserts that a beginner is too undeveloped to benefit from a balanced, varied routine consisting of compound and accessory exercises, though somehow capable of adequately recovering from multiple heavy, low-rep squatting sessions per week.


The idea there is that the squat is a proven full body mass/strength builder. I used to not squat because I was a lazy bastard. Starting squatting and added roughly 10 pounds of lean mass, and 60ish pounds on to my bench press.

That being said, as a beginner, you will see nice gains with any decent program. The one you have might be ideal for you, or Starting Strength might be, or something else. Only one way to find out.

You have done your homework, now go do your training. Your routine looks more than good enough to start with, imo.


I like this guy.


My suggestion is honestly to not think too hard about things like "ramping up". Yes it is important to start light and warm up the muscles before you use your heaviest weight, but whether you keep the reps the same, or pyramid them, or use percentages, or do straight sets... I don't believe these things matter at all.

What matters is that you're using the heaviest weight you can handle for 8-12 non-stop repetitions, and adding weight to the bar whenever you can (staying inside your rep range). I personally start with about half of whatever my intended "working weight" is going to be and get 15-20 repetitions, and just add weight and decrease reps over the course of however many sets it takes to warm up (2-3 for small stuff, 3-5 sets for bigger lifts), then I go to failure with a heavy weight for 8-12 reps (warmup sets all just near-failure). After that, if I feel like it, I might go heavier and try to get 4-6 reps for a set or two, but it's not something I do all the time. Just for fun.

Some guys warmup and then do "straight sets", DylanJ from this website would be an example of that off the top of my head, but most bodybuilders do not. If you're working as hard as you can with a heavy weight, you simply aren't likely to stay inside your ideal rep range for a second or third set. My advice, if you want to do multiple sets to failure on an exercise, is to adjust the weight on the bar to match the rep range you want to be in. Using the same weight for multiple sets always seemed kind of futile to me... but as I said, it works for some.

You have a good head on your shoulders and it seems like you will figure out the little things with time, just keep the bigger picture in mind. Adding 50, 100, 200lbs to your bench, squat, curl, bb row, etc. is going to yield greater results than anything else. Programs, supplements, specific set/rep schemes, quirky exercises, these things are all secondary to progressive overload on the basic bodybuilding exercises (ALL of the basics, not just a handful).

Things you do along the way like using stretching exercises, training with a full range-of-motion, not neglecting areas like lower lats or calves, yes these will have an impact. But the BIG PICTURE is what you shouldn't lose sight of (gaining weight and getting stronger).


excluding other lifts such as? i never said anything about excluding isolation movements, just to add more compound movements. OP's original goal is to add "substantial mass" to a "puny frame". compound movements will place more load on the target muscles than isolation movements and provide more stimulus to grow overall mass. you seem to be advocating a greater focus on a movement like tricep pushdowns when a close-grip bench press or upright dip would subject the tricep to a greater load.


I didn't say you were. I was simply answering your question. Why are you getting so defensive?

Why? Where is his split lacking so much that you need to add more.

Yeah, and diet is going to play a much larger roll than routine. A newb can do pretty much anything short of retarded and make significant progress if he eats appropriately.

Okay. Who is telling him NOT to do the big lifts lol?

Getting strong on the big lifts and doing some arm work, contrary to popular belief on the internet, are not mutually exclusive.

You seem to be projecting and putting fucking words in my mouth.

I said no such thing. You need to get your imagination in check. I, like Mr. Pop, am saying DO BOTH, work everything, get stronger everywhere and enjoy the results.

But again. If OP doesn't eat right, this is all irrelevant.


my apologies, I made inferences incorrectly. I do agree that OP could simply lift and put down a 100 lb box 100 times a day, eat and grow thanks to being a true beginner. I let my own approach cloud that perception.

that being said OP, stick to it for a good 4-5 months, eat eat eat grow. your split gives you plenty of time to rest. don't go too crazy partying on the weekends, drinking heavily and staying up late on Fridays can still impact you negatively on Mondays and the rest of the week.