Firstly I’d like to say a big hello to everyone at T-Nation. I am a long time reader who has gained lots from this fantastic site but in all honesty contributed nothing, this is a small attempt to rectify the situation.
Now we all know that there is no such thing as the perfect program so the title is intended to be a little tongue in cheek but allow me to explain. I studied Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition at Sheffield Hallam University and the only reason I mention that is so you know Im not biased when I say that I dont think a degree counts for much when it comes to designing routines that work in the real world and actually produce results for regular people.
I’m sure every new super high-tech program that comes out is backed buy a wealth of scientific data that shows how it increased the IGF-1 of the average rat, vole, weasel or field mouse (depending on the study) by 2000% but when you need a stop watch, a razor blade, 50 feet of bungy cord and a firm grasp of quantum physics just to complete a workout consistency is always going to be a problem.
I have by no means escaped this internet phenomenon and have at one point or another tried most of the weird and wonderful routines out there with varying degrees of success or disappointment. I am fortunate in that I train with a great group of people including a relative novice a former pro heavy weight boxer and a current British Record holder in powerlifting and we all bounce ideas off each other and usually come up with decent results.
In the summer of last year I went to Thailand for 3 months to both holiday and fight Muay Thai, when I came back I was 30 pounds lighter and with the best abs I’ve ever had but a long way down on my best lifts and looking rather to much like one of the weeners who post pictures on the internet claiming they dont want to get “too big”.
I was super keen to get back on the weights and read loads of articles and played around with a few programs but nothing that really hit the spot. I decided to take a look back through my years of training and try to strip it down to its bear essentials leaving nothing but what had worked for me before. I discovered that I dont like full body workouts… or body part splits!!!
I feel there is a general misconception about full body exercises, just because a muscle is involved in an exercise does not mean it’s fatigued enough by that exercise to produce an adaptive response. The deadlift is a great exercise, its one of my favourite exercises but to me its a back, glute and hamstring exercise I would never improve my calves, quads, chest or arms from deadlifting.
This is my main problem with full body workouts I just dont feel they fully fatigue all the muscle groups and although you might work hard I dont think every muscle gets its fair share of that hard work. At the other end of the scale if you divide the body up into specific parts you can certainly blast each part but there’s a tendency to do lots of different exercises and lots of isolation stuff that im not convinced contributes much to the final result.
Its like your adding things just because you only have to train one body part that day and you’ve done the basics so why not through in some fancy stuff just to pad out the session and use up that last half an hour of your allotted 1 hour training time. I also dont think training each body part once a week is optimum.
So what to do what to do? Well its very very simple we now train Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on upper/lower splits. Monday and Wednesday are always conventional gym days, we pick one basic compound move for each body part and perform 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps no forced reps, drop sets or anything like that and we dont lower the weight at all so the weight we start with is the weight we finish with but obviously the reps drop slightly due to fatigue.
We never perform the same exercises 2 weeks in a row instead we pick from a pool of 3 or 4 “money” exercises for each body part that we like the best and rotate these. An upper body workout for one week could be;
Incline Bench Press
Dumbell Shoulder press
Rotar cuff or any re/pre hab work
The Friday and Sunday workouts are what really give this routine a lot of flexibility. They are also upper/lower splits but depending on your goals could be, another conventional gym workout using a different selection of exercises, strongman days we do tyre flipping, barrel pressing, and farmers walk on the upper days and mainly car pushing/dragging on the lower days (crazy leg pump!) or if you want to loose body fat and get fitter they can be high intensity cardio days for this we do Boxing and MMA for the upper days and hill sprints for the lower days.
I can honestly say since starting this program 6 months ago I have increased all my lifts and am now the strongest I’ve ever been after 7 years of training and whats more all my training partners have made similar gains. Simple but very, very effective and I just dont think we’ll be changing to a new routine any time soon.
I hope this article proves of some use to someone because I’ve really learnt a lot from reading all the good stuff you guys post on here. Feel free to throw in some stuff of your own regarding training and program design or anything else thats relevant, cheers guys take it easy.