T Nation

The Right Amount of Volume for a 3 Day Split?

Hey,

I’ve recently switched to a 3 day split (chest/back, legs/calves, shoulders/arms). I train between 3 - 4 days a week. I know there’s no magic formula but how many sets per body part is generally advisable?

thanks

As much as you can without sacrificing optimal performance on that exercise.

It’s really going to depend on you. Best advice I can give is try a bunch of different levels of volume and see how it goes.

Depends on the intensity of the work performed.

Remember, you need to balance frequency, intensity, and duration.

this is what i have been doing so far. for example:

chest/back day:
Incline Press / Rows / Pull-down - - -> 3 sets x 4-6 reps
decline press / pull-ups / shrugs - - -> 3 sets x 8-12 reps

legs day:
squats / sumo press / calf raise - - - > 3 sets x 4-6 reps
split squats / good mornings / calf seated - - - > 3 sets x 8-12 reps

shoulders/arms day:
military press / ez curl / skulls - - - > 3 sets x 4-6 reps
laterals / pivot curls / rope thingies - - - > 3 sets x 8-12 reps

Plus i rotate all exercises twice.
Opinions?

Hmm, that doesn’t actually look like all that much volume.

Not sure what you mean by rotating all exercises twice though?

9-12 sets.
6 exercises each workout.
Both set and exercises is better off with a moderate selection, so you get the best out of each one.

So if you use a 3 split, with 2 muscle group trained each session, why not use 3 exercises on each muscle group and then you have 9-12 sets to use on those exercises.
Ex: Bench 4 set, 3 set incline , 3 set flies

Read more about this stuff here : http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_to_design_a_damn_good_program_part_1

[quote]Bingbeast wrote:
Plus i rotate all exercises twice.
Opinions? [/quote]

Don’t see the point with the rotating exercises stuff.
And why don’t you bench and do deadlifts?

If it was my split I would do something like this:
Chest/back :
Deadlift
Bench
Barbell row
Incline bench
Chins
Flies

day off

Arms/delts.
Seated BB press
Seated db press or arnold press
Dips
Barbell curl
Skull crushers
Hammer curl

Day off

Quads/hams/legs:
Squat
Stiff legged deadlift
Leg press
Leg extensions
Leg curls
Calf rais

chimera… it basically means i do (for example) 3 exercises for chest the first session and then the next time i hit chest i use 3 different exercises. I just like it better because I feel like I can keep increasing the weight without plateauing that way. Plus i try to train 4 days a week, so I don’t really want to do the same exact exercises twice in one week.

bob… Thanks for the info. I actually use db bench and deadlifts on my second exercise rotation.

[quote]Bingbeast wrote:
chimera… it basically means i do (for example) 3 exercises for chest the first session and then the next time i hit chest i use 3 different exercises. I just like it better because I feel like I can keep increasing the weight without plateauing that way. Plus i try to train 4 days a week, so I don’t really want to do the same exact exercises twice in one week.

bob… Thanks for the info. I actually use db bench and deadlifts on my second exercise rotation. [/quote]

Ah, thanks for clearing that up.

i’m just curious why you guys are not for the rotating exercise part?

[quote]Bingbeast wrote:
i’m just curious why you guys are not for the rotating exercise part? [/quote]

If you only train 3-4 days a week, I’d leave the rotation part out unless you are in the advanced stage already…

Now, if you were training 5-6 days a week, that’d be a different story.

Anyway… Amount of sets doesn’t say a whole lot, depends on how you go about your sets.

If I only had 3 days a week, I’d probably do either a 2-way, or, if I had to use a 3-way:

Monday: Chest+Back
-Incline Press variant
-Flat Press variant (or the other way around, whatever’s lagging. Presses can be BB, DB, machine work, smith, paused, off pins…)
-Backwidth exercise (rack “chins” probably), likely 1-2 sets of higher reps or perhaps a DC RP set 15-30RP…
-Backthickness row (would be done with scapular retraction as part of each rep, reverse that on the way down. HS low rows or kroc rows or so, kind of depends. Kroc’s on the weeks where you don’t deadlift. Krocs would be a top set of 10-25 or so… Can do them “breathing” style. Other rows depend… )
-prehab/rehab (face pulls, inverted rows or some such, broomstick stretch…)

Wednesday: Bis, Legs

Either (and yes, the order is done on purpose. But since most people are going to bitch about it, you can turn it around and do quads, hams, calves)
A)
-2 exercises for biceps/brachialis… Like pinwheels + conc. curls (elbow in the air, bent-over at the db rack) or so. I’d do these first because after the leg work there’s no way you could do them justice.
-Calf exercise
-non-low-back-heavy ham exercise (rev. hyper, lying leg curls, gh raises) probably for somewhat higher reps and using DC rest-pause… 15-30RP or 12-20RP) or whatever.
-low-back involving quad work Back squats/front squats -> 4-6 or 5-8 (either one or two sets…) followed by ~20 rep widowmaker ala DC… Or alternatively some heavy duty set/rep scheme.

or
B)
-2 bi/brach exercises
-Calf exercise
-non-low-back-heavy quad exercise (leg press, hack machine, v-squat, power-squat), and I wouldn’t do a widowmaker in that case.
-Conventional deadlift or sumo deadlift (if sumo, then I may do some back extensions afterwards)

Friday: Delts, Tris (get elbow sleeves, Tommy Konos or EFS or whatever)
exercise order depends… If doing free-weight, full-range CGP, I’d do it first in the session or else it’s pretty worthless with fatigued delts etc.

Either

A)
-free-weight CGP, elbows tucked at the bottom, flaring as you go up, grip as wide as necessary, suicide grip (that’s just me though), full pl setup (well, obviously). Set/rep schemes whatever the fuck you want. I might do thib’s style of ramping here (3’s or 4’s in my case), or again DC rest-pause for 12-20 or 11-15…
-SHIPs or HS overhead presses or some such (machine work where I don’t have to worry about balance/stabilizing)
-Dead Stop Extensions on the floor or on a bench. Do I need to explain these? Or PJR’s or Larry Scott Extensions. 1-2 higher rep sets. 8-15 or so. Be explosive (well, same as on all other exercises too… Though on the pjr’s you got to watch it)
-DB Lateral/Upright row hybrid or machine laterals.
-rehab/rear delt stuff (inverted rows/face pulls, reverse pec deck, whatever, pick one and do it).

Or, if not doing free-weight CGP:

B)
-Seated High Incline Overhead Press (note: I go from the chin/mouth, or in the case of ships, from the nose…) or High incline OHP off the pins or DB ohp… Thib’s ramping format (4’s or 5’s) or 12-20 DC RP)
I don’t lock out here. It’s a shoulder exercise, not a tricep movement.
Note: Setup is important on all presses. Mind your shoulder blades and general tightness.
-CGP off the pins (set high enough to take the shoulders mostly out… That’s 2 board height or so for me, others with long arms need 3-board height) or In-Human presses or SWRGBs (the latter two pressing towards the feet as well as up) or board CGP (2-board or 3 if you have long arms).
-Dead Stop Extensions or PJR’s or Larry Scott Extensions.
-Lateral/Upright row hybrid or machine laterals
-rear delt thing

Note: Mondays and Fridays can be switched so that you’re doing delts+tris on monday and chest+back on friday.
That may help with deadlift performance on leg day…

Set/rep schemes are totally individual, don’t listen to people telling you that you have to do X amount of reps or anything under 12 sets is too little or whatever.
YOU NEED TO PICK SET/REP SCHEMES THAT ALLOW YOU TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS. 4x12 at the same weight does not allow for fast progress, so forget about such crap. 4x8 or so ramped with larger weight-jumps is ok and fairly easy on your recovery…
Thib’s ramping style is nice on exercises which you’ve mastered technique and setup-wise, and on which you feel very confident, but I don’t like it all that much on DSE’s and such where it might become a little much for your elbows or on rows where people often get a little too enthusiastic with the weight and forget that they’re supposed to retract their scapulae each rep, or they end up involving the arm flexors too much.
DC RP causes faster accumulation of general/“CNS” fatigue over time than many other styles, but I love it.
Works somewhat better with a rotation though, imo.

Also: weighted ab work (1 exercise, pulldown abs or so for example) and EZ/Ab wheel rollouts twice a week imo… I.e. split up between those 2 sessions. Could do pulldown abs or whatever you do as your weighted thing at the end of leg day for example.

[quote]bob84 wrote:
Bingbeast wrote:
Plus i rotate all exercises twice.
Opinions?

Don’t see the point with the rotating exercises stuff.
And why don’t you bench and do deadlifts?

If it was my split I would do something like this:
Chest/back :
Deadlift
Bench
Barbell row
Incline bench
Chins
Flies
[/quote] You are tiring out your backthickness/scapular musculature before your presses. Not only does that make your setup and barpath unstable, it also means that you’re more likely to mess up your bicep tendon at the shoulder joint due to that when benching and incline pressing…
Also, after you gave your all on deadlifts… How much do you have left in the tank for other exercises unless you’re high on stimulants?
Rows after deads? My low-back would be fried if we’re talking conventional deads.
Just saying… Articles are nice and fine, but huh…

And some weighted ab work (pulldown abs or so) + rollouts 2 or so times a week, unless you want to end up with some severe back pain eventually.

wow…CC thank you very much. Great info here.
Cheers

(any type of 3-way should do the trick, of course. Just posted that example to give you some idea of exercise selection etc)

Day 1 Chest+Tris (not my fav, but yeah)
Day 2 Bis+Legs
Day 3 Delts+Back (in that order)

works as well, for example.

All up to you, just make sure you can progress at a good pace. Don’t put exercises in there that serve no real purpose, same for set-rep schemes as mentioned before.

Good luck! (the split I posted in my first post in this thread is fairly similar to the one used by Mike Ruggeria on his journey from 190 to 300, he just liked other set/rep schemes)

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:
bob84 wrote:
Bingbeast wrote:
Plus i rotate all exercises twice.
Opinions?

Don’t see the point with the rotating exercises stuff.
And why don’t you bench and do deadlifts?

If it was my split I would do something like this:
Chest/back :
Deadlift
Bench
Barbell row
Incline bench
Chins
Flies
You are tiring out your backthickness/scapular musculature before your presses. Not only does that make your setup and barpath unstable, it also means that you’re more likely to mess up your bicep tendon at the shoulder joint due to that when benching and incline pressing…
Also, after you gave your all on deadlifts… How much do you have left in the tank for other exercises unless you’re high on stimulants?
Rows after deads? My low-back would be fried if we’re talking conventional deads.
Just saying… Articles are nice and fine, but huh…

day off

Arms/delts. Why not switch this with leg day so you get a little time off between all that pressing.
Seated BB press
Seated db press or arnold press You just did an overhead press. Why do another?
Dips Even more pressing.
Barbell curl A lot of people have forearm bone/wrist, elbow, even shoulder trouble when doing these…
Skull crushers Shitty on the elbows.
Hammer curl

Day off

Quads/hams/legs:
Squat
Stiff legged deadlift And 2 days later you’ll be doing Deadlifts and BO rows again? Bit heavy on the low-back and recovery, long-term…
Leg press
Leg extensions Do you need 3 quad exercises?
Leg curls
Calf rais

And some weighted ab work (pulldown abs or so) + rollouts 2 or so times a week, unless you want to end up with some severe back pain eventually.
[/quote]

That was a loot of respond, good response thou, but i don’t really see the problem in a loot of the stuff you write. Like doing BB row after df and combining delt press movement with triceps.

But I do see your point in recovery of the lower back (that’s why I train hams same day as df myself).

And the post was meant as a change of his current split, not a brand new program (then i would change the combination of the muscle groups) :slight_smile:

[quote]bob84 wrote:
That was a loot of respond, good response thou, but i don’t really see the problem in a loot of the stuff you write. Like doing BB row after df and combining delt press movement with triceps.

But I do see your point in recovery of the lower back (that’s why I train hams same day as df myself).

And the post was meant as a change of his current split, not a brand new program (then i would change the combination of the muscle groups) :slight_smile:
[/quote]

I was just adding my thoughts to your post on things I’ve found out over time… Kind of from a longevity and maximal progression stand-point. Of course those were just guidelines I use personally and for my “trainees”, but they have served me well.

All good, man :slight_smile:

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:
bob84 wrote:
That was a loot of respond, good response thou, but i don’t really see the problem in a loot of the stuff you write. Like doing BB row after df and combining delt press movement with triceps.

But I do see your point in recovery of the lower back (that’s why I train hams same day as df myself).

And the post was meant as a change of his current split, not a brand new program (then i would
I was just adding my thoughts to your post on things I’ve found out over time… Kind of from a longevity and maximal progression stand-point. Of course those were just guidelines I use personally and for my “trainees”, but they have served me well.

All good, man :slight_smile:

[/quote]
what are the main type of people you train and also were do you train at.Also what kind of schooling,certifications,knowledge do you have in the field.