The Colbert Full-Body Workout Plan!

Is the volume ok for intermediate natural trainees? I want to start a full body routine but i think its too much 46 sets per day. I’ve been lifting for 3 years!


Not too much for a natural, but it does take proper implementation to get the most of it. I am a natural, I’ve done the Colbert full body plan three separate times over the past 5 years, I actually went through the majority of my first contest prep on that plan! The first time I did it I wasn’t in the gym too long either. I saw great growth on this plan.

When I started in the gym I was already used to fairly high volume, so the Colbert plan was kind of the next progression. I don’t think it’s too much, but, it will seem like if not executed properly, and if recovery isn’t on point. Remember, you’re not doing 46 sets every day, it’s every training day which is only 3 days per week, M-W-F type deal, always a full day of rest in between. Since you’re training every body part every training day, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

-Make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition on this plan, especially around the workout window, like Finibars, Plazma, and Mag-10. I highly recommend being in a caloric surplus while on this plan.

-Sets should not be taken to fail ever since you’re working every body part every training day. Intensity should be high for sure, going hard, but don’t go to fail. Always leave one or two “in the tank.” Training intensity and recovery will ensure you’ll grow, going to fail is a recipe for injury and imparting your CNS/recovery/gains.

-Move quickly so the workouts don’t take two hours.

-Make sure to get a warm up/feeler set every time you start a new muscle group. Also will help avoid injury.

-Prioritize recovery, supplements, vitamins, sleep, etc.

-Be sure to select a good exercise selection and rotation over the three days to hit all the angles necessary.

It might take some getting used to the first week, but once you know your way around the program and exercises you should be able to get the entire thing done in 90 minutes. Another great aspect about this plan is it really eliminates the need for any excess cardio since it’s a long workout. Again, but sure what your nutrition is like right now, but I highly recommend being in a caloric surplus on this plan to make the most of your gains and fuel your training.

As I’ve mentioned I’ve done this program numerous times, please post back with any further questions!


You couldn’t be more specific and i thank you for that! there is nothing left now to do but to give it a try and see.

I think recovery has way more to do with the exercises you pick and if you go to failure thab the total number of sets.You could probably do 50+ sets of isolation exerices doing straight sets and recover perfectly while the same with compound movements going to failure would kill you

Some general suggestions would be:

No more than 5-6 compound exercises for starters,stopping a bit shy of failure on most sets.You can always add 1-2 more if you see no recovery issues

On isolation stuff don’t do more than 1 exercise per muscle group for starters,add a little bit if you have no recovery issues.As long as the weight’s not that heavy go to failure if you

Train your core.Yeah I know that squats and deadlifts work the core but a strong core means less lower back fatigue and faster recovery in the area

Do mini workouts the day after your main workout,just to get the blood flowing on areas that are tight.Helps me a ton

Pay attention to your work capacity.If you don’t you most likely won’t be able to get through a productive full bod workout

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I also believe with such frequency rotating exercises is smart,since you can avoid overuse injuries.For example,if you squat today,front squat on the next workout and pin squat or box squat the next time

   Exercise					Sets		Reps

A1 EZ Barbell curls 3 10
A2 Close grip bench press 3 10
B1 Dumbell curls 3 10
B2 Rope pushdowns 3 10
C1 Wide grip pullups 2-3 10
C2 Incline barbell bench press 2-3 10
D1 Bent-over underhand barbell rows 2-3 10
D2 Cable Crossovers 2-3 10
E1 Barbell Front Squat 3 10
E2 Front dumbbell raises 3 10
F1 Leg extensions 3 10
F2 Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10
G Standing Calf Raise 3 12-15
H Seated Calf Raise 3 12-15

   Exercise					Sets		Reps

A1 Incline dumbell curls 3 10
A2 Laying dumbbell tricep extensions 3 10
B1 Fat-grip hammer curls 3 10
B2 One-arm cable pushdowns 3 10
C1 Seated cable rows 2-3 10
C2 Dumbell bench press 2-3 10
D1 Shrugs 2-3 10
D2 Cable incline flies 2-3 10
E1 Static split squat 3 10
E2 Upright rows 3 10
F1 Leg curls 3 10
F2 Reverse flies 3 10
G Donkey Calf Raise 3 12-15
H Seated Calf Raise 3 12-15

what do you think about these 2 days?

Looks fine to me

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Just a few issues…

For a full body routine, putting arms at the start of the workout is a bad idea, because they will be fatigued and reduce your chest, back, and shoulder pressing capacity.
If you’re trying to prioritize arms because they are a weak body part for you, then you are better off doing a split routine.

It might be like how Leroy Colbert trained, and could a natural do it, and get good gains? A natural could definitely do it. However no matter what Leroy says about being the first natural to get 21" arms, it is a bullshit claim.
He was an awesome bodybuilder, especially for his time but he took steroids just like every other bodybuilder of the day did. Arnie and Sergio had their arms measured legitimately during The Colorado Experiment, by Arthur Jones and both of these known heavy steroid users of both oral and injectible drugs. The had both had measurements around 19 &1/2"(not 22" like was claimed in magazines of the day). Do you really think Leroy’s arms were bigger than Arnie’s or Sergio’s actual measurements? Even if they came close do you really think he didn’t use steroids?
Someone on steroids using the same Colbert type routine is going to get better gains than a natty.


Funny, I just started this particular program last week. I like doing arms first. It reminds me of an old Ian King or Charles Poliquin (I can’t remember which) trick to pre-fatigue. Yes, your pressing and pulling numbers will be down a little bit but it helps me focus on using shoulders and chest for pressing, not triceps, and using my back for pulling, not biceps. Just my two cents.

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Pre fatiuging? If it works for you keep doing it I suppose. I can’t really complain if you are getting good results. But it goes against orthodox training wisdom, wouldn’t be a smart choice for most people.
The strength a of a full body routine 3x a week, is the overall balance between body parts being worked evenly, and the metabolic response you get from working your entire body in one workout. If you start doing too many sets for a small bodypart you start to lose the advantages you get from doing a full body routine. Same again if you do too many exercises. The workouts of some of the old timer full body routine would take 2 or even 3 hrs to complete
If you need to bring up arms a focused split routine, with the rest of the bodyparts on a maintenence routine is probably better.
To maximise chest /shoulder/ back involvement in a compound exercise setting, or initiating the movement from the scapulas usually forces you to do the movement to maximise the most powerful muscles better.
Pre exhaust supersets are another option(different to pre fatigue), if you want to focus on chest, back, shoulders, or even legs. You do flyes first to maximise your chest work, then you continue immediately with a bench pressing movement, the arms are fresh and allow you to continue working the chest with more focus than if you just do the exercises seperatly, or in a different order. Once again, good for people who can’t feel their chest, back, or shoulders doing the work in a compund movement.

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He’s talking about one of those 12 Weeks to Super Strength programs by Ian King or Poliquin(can’t remember) where arms and delts are pre-fatigued prior to chest work. I haven’t done them, just remember reading them.

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King and Poliquin are generally well respected. I find much of what Poliquin says is not good for naturals(his 3x a week full body are usually pretty good though).
He trained elite lifters(on PED’s), many of whom had achieved a lot before he ever met them(but he seemed happy enough to claim their success due to his training methods). That is where the majority of his focus seems to be, which is fine, but I think he has broadly forgotten what it was like to be natural. At the very least he doesn’t spell out, try this technique or routine only if you are taking a lot of PED’s.

I had a quick look at genuine Colbert routines and couldn’t find any that started with arms, or had arms doing as much volume as a large bodypart.

I can’t find the article but there is one program attributed to Colbert on this site. It has three sets of drag curls, three sets of close grip bench press, three sets of incline curls, three sets of overhead dumbbell extensions prior to back and chest.
It does have disproportionately more work for upper body then lower body – by a great deal.

I just read the T Nation Bradley Joe Kelly article, I think its the one just mentioned.

He suggests the 3 day full body workouts, from several different old school bodybuilders, with varying amounts of volume and exercise order. With Kelly’s interpretation of a Colbert workout(not necessarily the same as Colberts actual workouts) you could start out with a weak bodypart. eg arms and goes on to give an example drag curls etc. That seems to be his reasoning, to which there might be something to it.

A different matter if you do this exact routine and don’t actually have weak arms.
It also seems arbitrary to do 6 sets /muscle group, regardless whether its a large or small group. For instance calves even if they are a weak bodypart don’t need as much volume or variation as back, chest, legs, or shoulders.
Also if you really want to bring up a weak bodypart, you are better off doing an abbreviated amount of exercises and volume for the rest of your body, to maintain what you already have yet focus more time and energy on the weak muscle group.

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Ha! Exactly what I thought of when I read the title.


My best advice would be to simply try it and see how it goes. You’ll never reach your full potential unless you push yourself to the limit.

Good luck, buddy.

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Please provide evidence that Leroy took steroids.

Plus I wouldn’t take any stock in what Arthur Jones said. He was full of shit.

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Actual proof is hard to find. To my best knowledge Leroy never admitted to using them, he did say he would have drank warm horse piss if he thought it would make him bigger. I believe he claimed to be the first person to develop a muscular 21" arm, presumably drug free. Horse piss statement could easily be interpreted as I would take or do anything to get bigger.
Most bodybuilders and athletes of the Golden Era lie until they die. Their whole image is based upon them being bigger and better than the average person, either through genetics, hard work or good nutrition, not from steroids. They don’t want it known that they might have “cheated”, and lied to build a tremendous superhuman physique, that would hurt their legacy.
Even the few that did admit to steroids down played it. Larry Scott admitted to using a dianabol tablet a day. John Grimek admitted to trying them but thought they didn’t do much for him so he didn’t continue to use them. Tom Platz said steroids were only the final wax polish on a muscle car.The fact that their whole career selling legal supplements, was based on a lie, really the steroids along with their natural talent was the reason.
Leroy after he retired from competition owned a supplement store. Do you think he would have sold as many supplements if people would have thought he built his physique with the aid of steroids, rather than just supplements?
Arnold and Sergio’s arms were measured be Arthur Jones. Neither had even 20" arms. Both these guys had massive arms, and they have both admitted to using anabolic steroids. These guys might have been measured unpumped, and in between steroid cycles at the time, then again they might have been on at the time. All the magazines said Arnold had 22" arms. 22" arms sell more supplement than the reality of nearly 20" arms.

If 2 of the greatest bodybuilders at the time, had arms that measured way under what the magazines alleged, how is Leroy Colbert going to have 21" arms without steroids. It just isn’t plausible.

P.S. Arthur Jones was full of shit, I definitely agree with that. He is just another example of marketing bullshit in the world of bodybuilding. However he never claimed any bodybuilders in his stable, like Casey Viator had bigger arms than Arnold or Sergio.
So his measurements of their arms sounds much more plausible than the BS spouted by the magazines at the time.

Hell, when I was a kid I used to believe that Santa Claus was real, the Easter Bunny is real and so is the Tooth Fairey. I grew up and realised that was bullshit. People believe lies because they want to believe, not because they are true.


Very good commentary.

PEDs are a very touchy subject, especially with those old school competitors. You had Larry Scott openly saying that everyone took them and you had Chet Yorton screaming how that wasn’t the case.

Something that Arnold and a lot of his contemporaries always explained was that they would only use them to hold onto muscle during preps,… but if you look at how much smaller Arnold was off season and how he grew into contests it really tells a very different story.



Great to see a specific topic about Colbert. Thank you for the tips here