T Nation

Which Split For Me?


Iv been lifting for roughly 4 months, im trying to put on size. Im currently 6'2' 155lbs. I'v been reading through the many helpful articles on this site, but the common problems i get is, there is either too much conflicting evidence, or i just don't know how to do some of the lesser used exercises.

This is my current routine iv been following:

Day 1:
Chest / Abs:

BB Press ? 12, 10, 8.
Incline DB Press ? 12, 10, 8.
Chest Dips ? 12, 10, 8.
Fly?s ? 12, 10, 8.
Peck Bench ? 12, 10, 8.

Decline Situp ? 12, 12, 12.
Leg Raise ?
Ab Crunch ? 12, 12, 12.

Day 2:
Back / Biceps:

Lat Pulldown, 12, 10, 8
Chinups 12, 10, 8
D.B Bent over row. 12, 10, 8 ? He suggested B.B
Seated Assisted Row. 12, 10, 8, 10. ? He suggested T.Bar.

Ez Curl. 12, 10, 8.
Reverse Cable Curl. 12, 10, 8.
Preacher Curl. 12, 10, 8.

Day 3:
Shoulders / Triceps:

BB Press (smith). 12, 10, 8, 8.
DB Press (No backrest). 12, 10, 8.
Lat Raise. 12, 12, 12, 12.
Lever Shoulder Press ? 12, 10, 8.

Lying D.B triceps extension ? 12, 10, 10.
Push Downs ? 12, 10, 8.
Lever Tricep Press ? 12, 12, 12.
Tricep Dips ? 12, 10, 8.

Day 4:
Leg Extension ?
Leg Press ?
Leg Curl ? D.B Lunge ?
Squat ?
Hip Flexors ?
Ab Crunch ?

Iv been doing it for 5 days per week, just going from the beggining. Im getting some results, but im thinking possible a 3 day split, were i go ABCXABCX would work better for me? Something like this:

Day 1: Chest/Back.
BB Bench Press ? 4 x 12
D.B Incline Bench Press ? 4 x 12
Flys ? 4 x 12

D.B Bent over Row - 12, 10, 8
Chinup ? 12, 12, 12.
Front Pull Down - 12, 10, 8.
T. Bar Row - 12, 10, 8

Deadlifts ? 3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure.

Day 2: Legs.
B.B Squat - 15, 12, 10, 8.
Lying Leg Curl - 12, 10, 8.
Decline Situps, 15, 15, 15.
Ab Crunch - 15, 15, 15.
Leg Press - 12, 12, 12 (if i'v got energy left).
Leg Extension
Streight Leg Deadlifts.

Day 3: Shoulders/Arms
B.B Shoulder Press (Smith) - 12, 10, 8.
Shoulder D.B Press (No Backrest) - 12, 10, 8.
Lat Raise - 12, 12, 12
Heavy BB Upright Row ? 3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure
BB Rear Delt Row ? 12, 10, 8.

Tricep Dips - 12, 10, 8.
Ez Bicep Curl - 12, 12, 12
Standing Tricep Extension with barbell ? 12, 12, 12
Preacher Bicep Curl - 12, 12, 12
Close Grip Press ? 12, 12, 12, 12

I'm just not sure were to go, i'd like to get one set plan and just go work on it. I don't mind going to the gym 5-6 times per week. I don't feel im ever too sore, or overtraining, but i kind of feel guilty im not getting enough rest. My diet is over 3500 calories, with 250g+ of protein, so its well sorted.

Any help would be appreciated, cheers, Mitch.


You've got too much bullshit in there. You are doing so many different exercises at such a massive volume that I can't imagine you are lifting heavy enoughfor proper strength and hypertrophy gains.

Stick to a program like Total Body Training or Big Boy Basics (both full body routines) or at least build your routine around one of them.

Above all, keep it SIMPLE.
Good luck.


I'm getting the impression, i should be focusing on the key compound movements in each muscle group, then only doing the other movements if iv got time.

Ie for chest.
Bench Press.

Front pulldown
D.B Bent over row


BB Shoulder Press
Lat Raise
Heavy BB Upright Row

Ez Curls / Dips.

I think i'll go to the gym, keep the routine but put extreme focus on these core exercises, focusing on the 3 day split. If iv got time (i limit my workouts to 60 minutes), i might move on. But still focusing on these key groups.


In my opinion thats much better. Focus on compounds and add some isolations to finish your workouts.


I'm with Der Candy all the way.

Your second suggested exercise list was much better.

When I started lifting I had about the same height and weight as you, and I started right in with crazily complicated 5 and 6 day splits.

I've got plenty of time to get to the gym and most of all, I like going. One of the hardest things for me is to limit my days at the gym to only 3 or 4, to give my muscles time to rest.

I started mixing things up, trying different splits and modifying my routine and am finding out what works best.

A few things that I've learned that help me.

  1. KISS - keep it simple stupid! Don't get crazy with your workouts. Focus on doing a few, important things and doing them right.

  2. Compound exercises. Focus on these exercises that work as many muscle groups as possible. You've only got so much time at the gym each day and so much energy, so make it count. Limit isolation exercises (you don't need to drop them altogether). Try throwing a shrug onto the end of your deadlifts.

  3. Variety. I'm a big fan of periodization. Change things up every 4-8 weeks (6 for me). Alter your rep/set ranges, or choose different variations on your exercises.

Without going to overboard, you can think about undulating periodization to vary each workout a bit (a very simple example is to do 4 sets of 10 reps one day, 5 sets of 5 the next time around, then 3 sets of 12). I don't know if he's got any articles here, but check out the Allwyn Cosgrove's undulating periodization workouts on his home page or at bodybuilding.com.

  1. For me personally, working each body part once per week didn't cut it. I have the best results with once every 3-5 days. Still, I switch things up a bit every 6 weeks or so.

  2. Try a simple upper/lower split, with two different workouts, twice per week. This is what I'm doing right now for the next 6 weeks.

  3. Do as many exercises standing as possible. Stay away from isolating machines. By standing, you get your whole body involved, stabilizing you while you do your shoulder press (or whatever exercise you are doing).

About the only machine you should use is the lat pulldown. Use dumbbells more frequently (don't avoid the bar altogether, but dumbbells require more balance and coordination and are underutilized by a lot of people at the gym).

Here are a few ideas for setting up various exercises for your splits.

For lower body, pick at least one variation of each of these exercises for your workout:
-Calf raise

For upper body, choose a variation of these movements:
-Vertical Pull (lat pulldown, pullup)
-Vertical Push (military press, barbell shoulder press)
-Horizontal Pull (Cable seated row, bent over row, rear delt raises)
-Horizontal Push (bench press, dumbbell press, fly, close-grip bench press)

Other exercises to rotate in (that don't fit in to the above category)
Upright Rows
Lateral Raises
Bicep curl
Tricep extension

Try to keep your total exercises somewhere between 5 and 8, keeping your total workout times under an hour each.

-Don't over-do it. Don't over-train.
-Focus on key, compound movements.
-Change things up every so often.
-Don't waste time with too many isolation exercises.


Your tips sound excellent, after some hours of research, i figured i need to get into deadlifting.

I still prefer the 3 day split for some reason (its just me resisting change i think), id like to let it play its course out.

Would you think it would be too much to do 3 days in a row, focusing on:

Day 1 chest/back
lat pulldown

Day 2 Shoulders arms
Smith Shoulder press
lat raise
upright row
ez curl
close grip press

Day 3:

Would there be too much muscle overlap to do these 3 times in a row? I know its pretty much the routine i suggested, but it just cuts out the shit, to focus more on the key movements.

Once i get used to the bigger exercises like deads and squats, i could incorperate them into a 2 week split (in one months time), but currently, im not confident enough to perform them correctly.

Also, doing that 3 days in a row, than 1-2 days off, would that be risking overtraining due to muscle group overlap? That is my major concern right now.

Thanks so much for the advice! Mitch.


When I started it was even more simpler -
day 1
5x5 squat, clean, press
day 2
5x5 squat, deads, bench

repeat day 1

3 times a week and add weight in small increment.

If you work hard enough, it's enough, at least for me and for quite some time.


1) Read Super Squats

2) Use Super Squats program until a beautiful woman hits on you only because of your physique. She must be beautiful.

3) Graduate to the West Side for skinny bastards program. Continue to eat the absurd amount of food that super squats demands.

4) Learn Olympic lifting if you would like to get fast and jump really high.

5) Use a 5-day split once you have gained 60 pounds of lean mass.


Your latest 3 day split seems pretty solid, but I wouldn't work out more than two days in a row. If you have 3 different workouts, A B C, I would split them up like this:

Mon - A,
Tues - B,
Wed - Off,
Thu - C,
Fri - A,
Sat - Off
Sun - B
Mon - C

Or if you'd like, take both Saturday and Sunday off.

Also, on your lower body day, be sure to throw in a lunge type movement. (Lunges, rear lunges, bulgarian split squat, step up, or something else along those lines).

I like throwing in a calf isolation exercise as well, but it's not as critical (but definitely do a lunge).



Basically a lot of people are saying things right but i think what you need to be told is that you are falling into a problem most newbies that start off with a good source, like T-Nation, have: Paralysis of Analysis. Although this is a good thing that you have a ton of great info, you have trouble sorting through it all. You are overthinking everything, if you want a split then go with something that Thib's got he has some good splits. But the main idea is to take that program and follow it to a tee.


On the advice here, i incorporated it into my new workout from this morning.

Day 1:
BB Bench Press
10 x 45kg
10 x 45kg
9 x 47.5kg
9 x 50kg

D.B Incline Bench Press ? 4 x 12
10 x 2/30lbs D.B
10 x 2/30lbs D.B
10 x 2/30lbs D.B
7 x 2/35lbs D.B

Flys ? 4 x 12
7 x 2/25lbs D.B
8 x 2/25lbs D.B
8 x 2/25lbs D.B

D.B Bent over Row
12 x 30lbs D.B
10 x 35lbs D.B
8 x 40lbs D.B

Chinup ?
10 - 5kg assistance
12 - 5kg assistance
12 - 5kg assistance

Front Pull Down -
12 x 40kg
10 x 42.5kg
8 x 45kg
6 x 47.5kg

Day 2 will be shoulders/arms
Day 3 legs, including deadlifts, squats, and lunges as you suggested.

I'll tell you tho, day 1 is killer, the weights (to you guys) dont seem like much, but going 4 sets of exercises like bench presses / front pulldowns / pullups hurt very much. Which is good.

Im not sure if i should do legs as day 2, or not, i'll try to follow the 2 on 1 off style if possible. :slight_smile:


Hi Mitchtj,

Regardless of what routine you choose, don't overlook the diet aspect of training. If you're not consuming enough calories, you won't make optimal gains, even with the "best" routine out there.

Basically it all boils down to:
1) Train intensely- no talking on your cell phone between sets, staring at the gym bunnies on the step mill, etc...

2) Progressively overload your muscles- you must lift more total weight than you did the previous workout (that may mean lifting the same amount of weight more times, more weight the same amount of times, etc...) unless you are taking a deloading week

3) Rest- if you're not getting enough sleep at night, or you're not giving your muscles time to recover from your last workout you won't progress like you should.

4) Eat- once again you need a surplus of calories if you want to gain muscle. Hypertrophy can be loosely translated to mean "an excess (hyper) of nourishment" (from the greek trophy meaning to nourish).

Good luck and good training,



Read this and No. 1 as well



The confusion continues to build with these whole upper body / whole lower body splits. I promised myself i'll stick to this new routine i just begin this morning for 4 weeks (which is the recomended time), i'v been doing much to much switching.

I think i'v pretty much got my diet under control. I'm putting on weight, which is good, how much muscle is yet to be seen, i guess it depends on how effective my routine is.

Here is my log. Im pretty accurate with it.

I checked out your link altered beast, it looks good, i think once i get the hang of deadlifts i will incorporate one of those routines next month.

Sentoguy, one point i had a question on. Is today i done chest, back, but in the end its my arms which give out on my when trying to do the press's / pullups. Tommorow will be my shoulder/arms routine, is 24 hours enough rest between these sets? Or would it be better to do:

Upper Body 1
Upper Body 2

To let myself recover? Most routines tend to put the upper body workouts together on day 1 and 2, followed by rest, than lower body, followed by day 1 again. I'm just not sure if you could get adequate rest from this?

I'm not quite sure how serious overtraining is, i feel fit to workout most days, but sometimes im quite concerned im not doing the right thing, which really kills your enthusiasm. On the other hand, doing those full body routines, i often dont feel the individual muscle group is getting worked hard enough for my liking, which is why i moved to the split routine.


Hi Mitchtj,

Well, that depends. If on your second day (arms and shoulders) you are lifting more than you did on the previous workout, then you're probably okay. If you aren't going up, or even worse, you're performance is declining, then yes, it may be wise to add in another day of rest between the two workouts.

Personally, when I do split training I prefer to do a "push/pull/legs" split. This means that I work out all of my upper body pushing muscles (chest, anterior and medial delts, and triceps) on one day, then all of my upper body pulling muscles the next day (middle and upper back, biceps, rear delts, and forearms).

Then the third day is dedicated to the lower body. I suppose one could even split the lower body into two days one being a quad dominant and calf day, and the other being a hip dominant day.

This split means that I can hit my muscle groups hard without having to worry about using them in a later workout. Which in turn gives them more recovery time between workouts. Honestly, switching to a push/pull/legs split might not be a bad idea for you, especially if you're going to use a format like the one you proposed (1,2,3,off,1,2,3,off,etc...).

That format would mean that you would be training your arms 5 times a week during some weeks. That's a lot of volume and might be too much frequency considering the intensity that you're using in each workout.

Hope this helped.

Good luck and good training,