T Nation

Want to Transition to Bodybuilding Training



I’ve just finished my second cycle of 531 BBB and I found it great, but now I want to change my training style to focus on bodybuilding. This semester I’ve got more free time, so I’ll try the 5-day template, as I’ve never done a workout for more than 4 days a week.

I’ve been reading alot about this, especially what @The_Mighty_Stu, @BrickHead and @robstein post. I always thought you need to build a good base of strength first, and after many years you would be able to transition to a bro split, but after I read what they say, that anyone can start a bro split and gain some considerable size, I’m willing to give it a go.

They suggested on some other post to try “A Tried and True Bodybuilding Program Template” from Clay Hyght, so that’s what I’ll do.

However it’d would be really appreciated if you guys could help me. This is the workout I made from the selection he wrote in the article, what you guys think?

My status:
Age: 23 y/o
Height: 1,83m
Weight: 81kg
Body Fat: Not really sure, but I guess somewhere around 15 to 20%.

Thanks in advance!


First fairly solid routine. I might switch an exercise here and there but that is just personal preference. One thing I would recommend would be lowering the volume somewhat so you have room to progress more over time. Since you haven’t done a split like this before 14 sets of chest for your first workout is not needed. 10-12 sets will do the trick. As well at 15-20 % body fat is slightly high. I would recommend trimming down a little.


Thanks. I’ll try to respond later.


Thanks! And with more size you will be stronger! Perhaps you won’t be stronger in main lifts than had you specialized in increasing them (e.g., 5/3/1) but a more muscular person is a stronger person!

However, I do think one should be on a full body, beginner’s program for some time, and maybe even an intermediate upper-lower or push-pull-legs split before a full blown body part split. I do think PPL can be used quite effectively for physique too.

I think you only need one straight leg and one seated calf exercise only.

I would arrange the back workout like this: straight arm pulldown, pull-up or chin-up, dumbbell OR T-bar row, neutral-grip pulldown. I don’t think you need five main back exercises listed. The rest of my workout friends and I usually finish off a back workout with face pulls and scapular retractions because face pulls are good for the rear delts, shoulder health, and both exercises give more detail to the mid traps.

That’s actually a good shoulder workout. Cable external rotations are junk, I believe. I think band pull-aparts, band face pulls, and band or broomstick under-overs are far better for shoulder health!

That is one brutal but redundant leg workout! This is the way I arranged my leg workouts (though I had a four-way, rotating split):

  1. leg curl variation or glute-ham raise
  2. single leg exercise (any lunge or stepup)
  3. squat variation
  4. optional leg extensions (I don’t think they did a damn thing for me, but they might be useful for others)
  5. stiff-legged deadlift (barbell or dumbbell, though dumbbells are better at hitting the glutes)

That’s not a bad hamstring workout if you are to stick with the 5-way split.

You don’t need four tricep exercises. Three would be fine.


Thank you for your answer!

Which exercise would you change, if I may ask?

You think I should take one chest exercise out, and eventually add it back?

About the body fat, yeah I know. I don’t think I’m fat, but I’m far from lean either. But I’m afraid of doing a cut because I may end very skinny as I don’t have much muscle, so I was thinking of building some muscle first, slowly bulking, and later trim down the fat.


Thanks for your answer!

Ok… so I will take unilateral DB calf raise out.

So I should take out either DB row or T-bar row, and add some face pulls at the end of the back workout? About the straight arm pulldown, do you prefer it over overhand cable row?

I will change the external rotations for the exercise you suggested!

So you think it’s either front squat or back squat? For the quads, which one is better?
And don’t like leg extensions because my knee hurts whenever I do them…

What exercise do you recommend taking out?

Thanks again for the very good answer!


Too many arm exercises, unless you are built like a T-Rex.
Not saying it won’t work for you , it is quite a big step up in daily volume from 5/3/1 BBB. Its fairly complete, like a pre contest routine, but quite a bit of work for most people, and doesn’t work as a general off season routine for many people who are not on drugs.
Progression is going to be haphazard compared to 5/3/1. Because of volume you won’t be increasing the weight on so many lifts systematically.
Are you going to be taking PED’s?


1 exercise too much on every muscle groupe


I would. But keep in mind I don’t have a picture of you. So I really don’t know what exercises would be ideal for you regarding serious bodybuilding aims. I don’t know if you’re torso dominant or arms-dominant or upper-back or lats-dominant. If you’re upper-back dominant I’d go with dumbbell row and if you’re lats dominant I’d go with T-bar rows. I use a rope for stiff-arm pulldowns.

If you’re quad dominant, back squats. If you’re glute-dominant, or simply have quads that do not have a natural sweep, then do front squats.

Now I read your post again and I see you have four biceps exercises actually. Like I said, three for each, triceps and biceps, is what most bodybuilders do. Most people I hang out with or know(natural pros) do a pushdown variation, dumbbell or bar lying extensions, and triceps or bench dips.

Again, I don’t know your whole situation and there’s only so much that can be said in posts. You can figure it on your own and make adjustments or you can seek help. Stu (@The_Mighty_Stu) and I are easy to find on the web if you want fine-tuning.


The main exercise I would switch out would be two another DB press instead of 2 diffferent kind of cable flys is excessive. A lean bulk approach for a few months could definitely help. And I would follow the exact recommendations BrickHead mentioned for legs and back.


I’ll parrot what @BrickHead and others have already said: The template seems like a bit much in places.

  1. You only need two calf exercises (one with bent knees, one with straight legs).
  2. You only need to do 3 exercises max for biceps and 3 max for triceps.
  3. I second what Brick recommends concerning leg training. He doesn’t know it, but I silently took a lot of leg training advice from him and IT WORKS. The only thing I’ve found works for ME is this:

Doing back squats followed by a variation of front squats. It seems redundant…but only if you work in the same rep ranges, which the template essentially advocates. I’ll do barbell back squats with reps anywhere from 6-10. Then I’ll put some 5 lb plates on the ground, grab a 50 db and do front squats with my heels elevated for sets of 20-25.

But Brick’s leg template is the most solid I’ve ever tried. I just added one thing to it that works for me.


There’s been some good suggestions so far. I just want to say that having actual photos of your physique, and knowing what you’ve already been doing that brought you to that point is what will ultimately be useful in making specific suggestions for improvements.



Thank you very much! I am glad the small tips work. Of course people might think what I did was Meadowsesque but it’s actually what I did in the past, before I came across Meadows’ leg training advice, which is not unique of course, but I am glad he got people training like bodybuilders again after the whole “earn your strength bones first” craze.

I think five-way splits are a bit much. I don’t think there’s an advantage versus four way splits and it seemed like too much stuff going on. With a four way split, you can still do two-on-one-off, or even three- or four-on-one off if the recovery is there, and to have a tad more frequency.

This is true in the sense that the focus will not be increasing a few lifts a la 5/3/1 but this is typical of the way bodybuilders train, with the primary aim being muscle breakdown and eating.

The progression is simple though. When one succeeds in lifting more than an intended rep range, he increases the weight for the exercise.


Thanks everyone for the help!!

Ok, this is a bit too much… I was only following what the article said, I’ll make the adjustments you guys recommended. I’ll take some exercises out, and change others.

I’ll try to post a picture of myself here later. Keep in mind that I’m a beginner, there’s only a year or so that I’ve been working out consistently(“building a strength base” as they say), so all my body parts are kinda lagging haha.

About the workouts I did up to this point: Body for Life for 3 months, Greyskull LP for 3 months, some Paul Carter workout I read here, and 531 BBB. I’ve got the most progress in terms of size and appearence with the 531 BBB I think, but nothing really considerable.

I could try the 4-day template too, but as I’ve never trained 5 days a week, I’m wanting to try it and see how my body responds.

About the two-on-one-off, or the others styles, I can’t train on fridays, and some sundays. So I prefer to have fixed days to train.

No, I’m natural and going to keep it that way haha. I will drop down the volume a little bit, as everyone suggested.

Ok, I’ll make the changes. Thank you.

Thanks. I’ll make the adjustments. I’ve never done front squats using dumbbells, I’ll try that too.

Off-topic: how do I pm someone? haha

Thanks for the help!!


@taborlin thanks for the tag! I’m sorry I haven’t responded yet, been on vacation and just got back.

Looks like a lot of other posters have covered your post with great suggestions, so I won’t add to any of that. What I will throw in, as that now that you’ve got a great training plan ironed out, if you want the best results possible, be sure to approach your training methods, meaning your MMC and how you actually execute each movement, as well as your nutrition, with the same detail you approach constructing your training plan. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, aside from training like one, performing like one, and eating like one are essential. If you’re not used to really thinking about your contracting muscle, getting a pump, and ensuring you’re using the working muscle to initiate each movement, this should be a priority. Never check out mentally, every instant that you’re executing a movement, you should really be thinking about it.

Hope this helps, be sure to keep us posted with progress, and any more questions!