T Nation

So Lost: Periodization, Split vs. TBT


So... I am at a loss of what to do. I've been working with CW's programs for about a year now. I've seen decent progress, but maybe I'm jaded in what "decent" is.

I am currently 190 lbs., ~16% BF, 5'6". The last time I tested my maxes, they were as follows:

Flat BB Bench: 265
Standard Mixed Grip DL: 365
Low Bar Med Stance BB Back Squat: 305

Recently I've been reading that Total Body Programs are really kinda crap and that traditional splits are the way to the "promised land". I must admit that I've been considering going from CW's programs to CT's programs in the near future, but this just seems to confirm my suspicions.

My goals are to develope a moderately heavy frame (Maybe 190-195 lbs. with 8-10% bf in the near future), and really develope a high level of strength.

I've been searching for split programs by CT, but I think after I go through a few of them, I'll be at a loss of what to do.

I have heard that guys here design their own programs, is this true? I just get so utterly confused about periodization, what will/won't cause you to lose strength/size over time (linear vs. undulating), what is enough variety, what is too much variety.

I think I'm going to re-read CT's article on how to build a damn good program, but can someone un-fuck me here?

I was considering moving to Joe DeFranco's WS4SB3 when I'm done with my current routine (Waterbury Method).

I think that if I figure this out, I'll be on my way to my goals... I just get caught up on "the little things" sometimes and am unable to see the big picture.

Thanks in advance,



Read Cephalic_Carnage's How do you train thread or Professor X's A request thread. Sound info from some of the most experienced guys on here. Also ws4sb3 is a nice upper/lower body split!!! I'm currently doing a dorian yates inspired routine.


Thanks Carlito... I'll check those out, but am I on the right track with my thinking?


Quoted for truth. Everything you should ever need is at the sticky at the top of the BB Training Section.


If you want a "moderately heavy frame" with a ton of strength, you don't have to switch to a split- although you certainly can do that. I'm not disagreeing w/ anyone in particular, just adding my own thoughts here in light of your recent training experience. A full body program using heavy weight (as a % of your 1rm) w/ a fair to high amount of volume WILL do the trick. Just because you've "been doing TBT" doesn't mean that TBT isn't ideal, or that you've been doing it right. Merely "switching to a split" doesn't necessarily = outrageous gains. Not all TBT programs are the same just like not all split programs are the same. So, you are going to have to figure out a way to add more weight to the bar, get in more volume/work and/or do it more often to trigger growth (assuming your are eating enough to increase your bodyweight).

The "problem" w/ some of CW's programming is that it emphasizes "3 full body sessions per week". Well, I think that training 4-6 days per week is better...esp. for strength. What is correct about what CW says is that volume + frequency + heavy weights are supreme, and that when done correctly, working the entire body over a few sessions per week is better than breaking things up into bodyparts and doing more volume per session. Also, it's harder to fuck up full body to acheive that- you have to do lots of everything, do it often, and do it heavy/intensly. Not training to failure is part of this, by the way.

C_C and Professor X are strong as shit and have serious physiques, so you can meet your goals doing what it outlined in their threads. However, you specifically didn't say that you were training for bodybuilding, just being strong as shit and under 200 lbs. If you like also being very highly conditioned, you could do worse than looking into Alpha's thread- he is lean as shit, very strong, under 200 lbs. He trains using full body routines.

Or, you could check out a blog on blogspot called chaosandpain (google it). That guy trains 6 days per week, squats 2-3 times, uses full body, has insane lifts, hovers around 5-6% bodyfat and is around 180 lbs.

That sort of program would be a lower, upper pull, upper push compound every M-W-F from a selection of exercises- the obvious ones plus some olympic lifting. Use very heavy weight and get the volume in by increasing the number of sets. So lots of singles, doubles, triples. On Tuesday and Thursday do a shit load of arms, calves, abs, neck, whatever. On Saturday, just do clean+press with a light weight for time...whatever gets in some extra work. You could rest all weekend if you wanted and weren't as interested in the leanness/conditioning aspect.

Just to be clear- you are doing arm stuff and isos out the ass on Tuesday + Thursday. Plenty of direct arm work. For example, superset CGBP and weighted chins for 3-4 sets, then do curls with tri pushdowns back and forth for 10 minutes. By taking the arms, calves out of the "full body" sessions you get in more work and aren't AS destroyed by having to accomplish everyhing in every session and you also avoid the pitfall of relying on compounds to give you the complete package.

The bottom line is that your weights should go up quicker if you are trying to increase your 1-3 rep max than if you are working in the 8-12 rep range. You get the volume/work in by, you guessed it, doing more sets. So more of your reps will be at 80+% of your 1rm than if you did, say 4 sets of 8 the usual way.

For me, I like switching to a split (a 3-way or something) for periods of 3-4 weeks from time to time, but I simply grow more and get more work done per session over a week by not doing the "8-12 reps for hypertrophy" thing or working shoulders twice every 8 days with 12 sets per session, etc.

8x3 involves more work and volume than 3x8.

So, maybe try a split. Maybe read over those resources I mentioned and think about your loads, frequency, etc. and up things a bit.

Maybe continue your full body sessions 3 days per week (using the higher rep ranges and heavier loads) but just give arms there own days w/ calves and abs or something.

The reality of this whole thing is that it's really neither a split or full body, because you would have an arm day, and not work arms directly on your "full body" days. So, you spread things out over more days, get in more volume and more stimulation.


Any more opinions?


I'm a noob myself, but it's often said that the best program is the one your not doing- if you have been doing TBT for a year then switching it up will probably help you keep on growing. I have been using a routine written by Vince Delmonte which has me changing the set/sep pattern every three weeks and alternates from a TBT to a split after 12 weeks. I have found my most intense growth has been in the first week of each new phase.

Then again I am training to get as big as possible and don't really care about strength beyond its contribution to getting me bigger, so our goals are slightly different. There's some very solid advice in Carlitosway's and trextacy's posts.


Calm down.

Just pick 2-4 exercises per muscle group (the ones that work for you), and make sure that each week, you try to do more weight or more reps on those exercises.

You can do your muscle groups once a week, or four times a week, whatever. Just make sure you do the exercises for each muscle, and progress on them.


Big picture: If you get a lot stronger, you are going to be a lot bigger.


According to his profile, Alpha is well over 200 lbs. His physique is pretty much where I'd like to be in the future.


you are right- i was thinking he was a lot lighter than he appears (he does to me at least) but he is over 200lbs.


I thought his log was deleted?


it was, but his profile is still here and he posts on the "alpha how do you train" thread in this subforum. look on this page or page 2 and it should be there.