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The Colbert Full-Body Workout Plan!


I dont have time for a split routine. I enjoy a full body routine and getting the rest day in between workouts. It works best for my schedule. I have always been curious if a steeve reeves or leroy colbert full body could be done 3x a week with the rest day in between on a first time gear cycle and make even better gains. Or if it would be a waste of the gear. Must you work out everyday to get the full effects of the gear? Or can you make serious gains on gear doing a full body routine 3x a week with rest days in between?


This might sound harsh: you having such basic questions shows you shouldn’t even start taking roids!

Many roided people have used full body routines, including elite powerlifters.


Quite a few of the old timers were taking steroids(low dose by todays standards), and doing a 3 day a week, full body routine, so yes it would work.


If a 3x full body routine works for your schedule, and you don’t have time to get in more frequently, then it seems like that’s the plan for you. IMO while a 3x per week full body plan can certainly build mass and strength, 5-6 days of weight training per week would yield better results for bodybuilding purposes.

I am strictly natural and have 0 experience with gear. That being said, I would imagine that doing any type of workout program on gear would yield more muscle gains than not, if that’s the only variable that’s different.

I agree with @BrickHead that based on your questions you have not come even close to maxing out your natural genetic abilities, and you should focus on learning how to really train and eat like a bodybuilder, be extremely consistent for many years, and then if you still want to hop on gear for whatever reason, you’ll be in a better place to do so.


Rob, you mentioned that in your opinion you feel that 5-6 days per week provides better results for bodybuilding purposes than a 3x per week plan. I’m interested in what your reasoning would be for that. In case anyone has thoughts, this isn’t to try starting a debate on full body versus anything else.

That being said, I’ve done the Colbert routine in the past and had great results. I used it because it fit my schedule. I really did enjoy it. If I was interested in extrapolating this type of training volume of the Colbert full body routine out over 5-6 days, how might I go about doing that and how would that benefit me over sticking with the 3 day full body schedule?

Anyone else, please feel free to weigh in.


By doing what he said: a bro split. Most are split in four to five days and can be repeated without off days, making it so that someone is training six days per week. I never trained more than five days per week. I usually did four until I did a contest.

It depends what benefit we’re talkinh about. Of course there is a benefit in a full body program. The benefit of a bro split is that it allows for a more symmetrical physique, which many gym goers don’t care about and isn’t necessary unless someone simply has that goal of is stepping onstage.


That’s a lot of stuff to get done and would take time. Full body imo wastes time past beginner. Warming up is a bitch with totally different parts.

You might be better served with a ppl. Some people like full body. I prefer having more of a focus for the day.

An upper lower 3 day might be up your alley. Either rotate thru u,l,u,l or just do it joe defranco style with one leg day you unleash on


Yes, I think if the goal is to build mass and a symmetrical physique and build as much muscle as possible, it takes a certain amount of muscle damage, time under tension and frequency to do so. A full body routine can certainly have benefits, I spent the first half of my first contest prep on the Colbert full body plan because it worked for my schedule. Ultimately, I switched to a 5 day split, because I wasn’t getting the results I needed on the full body plan.

If you do a 3x weekly full body plan, you need to limit volume per muscle group, and of course whatever you do first will get the most “bang for your buck” and whatever you do last will still provide some gains, but not as much as what you worked in the beginning, especially with how long it takes to get through the Colbert plan (I remember workouts always took at least 90 minutes). On a 5 or 6 day split, you can structure your plan directly to each specific muscle grouping, hit the variety of rep ranges and angles necessary to maximize growth and strength, and get enough TUT and damage so recover over the week so you can grow.

As a suggestion, I always, always, highly recommend this type of program as the foundation for training:

You’ll want to start with the preceding articles first:

Structure your plan, stick to it for 6-8 weeks, and from there you can start switching out exercises and learning how to continue making adjustments within this blueprint to continue improvement and not stall your progress.

I wouldn’t recommend deconstructing the Colbert plan into a 5 or 6 day plan, the articles I posted above are just a different type of plan, a standard, “Tried and True” bodybuilding program.

As @BrickHead mentioned, and in my opinion, you’ll have a better physique and put on more muscle with a typical bodybuilding plan.

Now, I have no doubt there are a lot of folks out there who will say something like “naturals should do full body workouts and bro splits are dead.” I would counter by saying go to ANY natural bodybuilding competition, and 95% of the competitors there will say they use standard bodybuilding splits, and have incredible physiques. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, train and eat like a bodybuilder.

A 3x per week plan can absolutely be beneficial if:
-It fits your schedule and you literally can’t get to the gym more frequently
-As a brief change up from a normal split routine (but again, I would not recommend a 3x per week full body plan as a foundation for training for someone who wants to look like a bodybuilder)

@coreman73 - What are you goals for your physique?


Thanks Brick, wrkethic and Rob for your responses.

Rob, I’ll definitely be reviewing those links. To answer your final question, my goals for physique are to look like a bodybuilder. Due to age (45) and family considerations, this may not even be a realistic goal to have any longer. My reasoning behind using a 3x per week full body routine is that it gives me the ability to get in the same volume I’d have on a bro-split (i.e. bro-split chest day total 18 sets versus full body 18 total chest sets with 6 sets spread out on M, W, F). Training each bodypart 3 times per week takes care of the frequency. Proper progressive overloading should take care of ensuring I’d be getting the proper muscle damage and TUT. So logically such plan should work. I’m ok with being in the gym 1.5 hours 3 days per week.

Then again as you and Brick mentioned, there’s a reason why bodybuilders attempting to maximize size and symmetry do not train using a 3 day per week full body program. I probably just need to accept that rather than understand why exactly a bro-split is the universally accepted way to train for bodybuilding.


Happy to help.

The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. While you may not have the time to dedicate to getting on stage, or to 5% body fat, you can absolutely make great progress with your physique and attain something you never thought possible.

This is the problem that many people encounter. The vast majority of data we have on bodybuilding is anecdotal. It may be, that hypothetically, you’re doing the same number of sets and reps split up over 3 days that you would with a 5 day split. However, clearly, something is happening with a 5 or 6 day split that gets more consistent progress. My estimate would be more stimulation and damage to the same muscle group in one go, rather than spread it, is better for bodybuilding purposes of achieving as much muscle mass as possible while maintaining great symmetry and proportions.

Possibly, but not necessarily or definitely. It depends on how you train, and your mind muscle connection. I don’t just mean, on paper, are you doing everything you should do maximize your gains. I mean how you train. Do you have a strong mind-muscle connection? Are you really using the working muscle properly, or moving weight? Are you adjusting your range of motion to keep maximal tension in the muscle at the top and bottom portion of your reps? Looking like a bodybuilder doesn’t come only from doing a bodybuilding style training plan, (which is of course essential), it also comes from executing your training like a bodybuilder. Everyone in the gym does a lot of the same exercises, yet few look like bodybuilders. The ones who make progress in their physique know how to establish a great MMC, and execute their training and plan in a way that is conducive to gaining muscle. Personally, while I always want to get stronger, I care less about progressive overloading, and more about what weight will get the job done in the rep range I want for that set. If it’s lighter than I anticipated, fine, but if I can’t get a great pump and connection with the muscle, no amount of progressive overloading will help me look like a bodybuilder.

I think a combination of both. Understanding will come as you apply these principles to yourself. I know it did for me when I transitioned from a 3x per week bodybuilding plan to a bodybuilding split routine, which I did to look more like a bodybuilder.


Rob, thanks again for taking the time to respond with more great information. It’s always nice hearing directly from guys that have actually done it all before. I definitely agree that there’s a lot more to it than simply moving the weights or overloading at the expense of the details you mentioned. These are things I will make sure to keep in mind as I move forward with my training.

Your statement, “The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves” is so true. I probably sounded a bit pessimistic but was really just trying to be more practical than anything else. You can only do what you can do.


Happy to offer any input! Always!

Strictly to take this thread in a slightly more philosophical direction, and not meant to be disparaging in anyway, I believe the “you can only do what you can do” isn’t necessarily a pessimistic point of view, but more of a self-limiting point of view. I truly feel there are no limits to what one can do. Have you ever heard the phrase, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right?” If you take the mindset that you can’t do something, or can “only” do something, then you will guaranteed never, ever exceed that.

What we are capable of can, and should evolve over time. 10 years ago I said, “I can only do what I can do, I’ll never have abs, my body just isn’t meant to,” until I decided to take control, stop being fat and do whatever it takes. Eventually I lost 80 pounds and had a little six pack. At that point, I said, “Wow I never thought I could do that. But I’ll certainly never, ever step on stage as a bodybuilder. No way can I do that.” Eventually, after reading more T-Nation, people’s prep logs, etc., I decided to make it happen. 2 years later and 4 shows later, and suddenly I’m a natural bodybuilder.

I used to be a teacher, with dreams of being a rock star composer. Other teachers said, “you can only do what you can do,” trying to justify why they personally could not imagine doing that or putting forth the effort. Few years ago I left teaching and have a great composing career.

Two years ago I decided to have the best quality of life I possibly can for my me and my family, I want to be extremely wealthy, and decided to dive in to real estate investing along with my music. I’m not there yet, but I have no doubt we’ll get there in the next few years. I’ve learned I can do anything I want if I’m willing to do it, and stay focused and obsessed on my objectives, and will never again place any limits on my beliefs.

None of this is to toot my own horn, just illustrating my personal experiences, and I’m sure many folks reading this can relate.

Again @coreman73 this is not to be disparaging in any way, just talking about personal beliefs. Truthfully, we can do anything we want, we are all capable. Will we is the question.

For you specifically, it’s entirely possible that you could indeed look like an on-stage bodybuilder, that possibility exists. Is it feasible in terms of the sacrifices it would take away from your family and rest of your life? Possibly not, but recognizing that the possibility exists is an important step to achieving your goals. I think it’s entirely possible that after a 2-3 years of consistent bodybuilding style training and eating, you could absolutely have a physique that makes you look and feel like a bodybuilder, especially with the experience you have training. There are many guys at the natural shows in the masters devision, 40+, 50+, 60+ that have amazing physiques.


Rob, you’re a great example of someone that believes you can do anything and never places limits on yourself. That’s awesome. I didn’t take anything you said as disparaging. When I said, “You can only do what you can do”, I didn’t mean it as a limiting factor for myself. I’m a practical guy and meant for that statement to actually be taken literally as written. Even if I give it my all, truly believe I can, stay focused and obsessed, there’s literally still only so much I can do each day to reach my goal. That’s my mindset and I do believe I will do this. It really is great to hear from experienced and positive guys like yourself that live like this each day!