T Nation

Workouts and Techniques I Use


#1

The best growth I have seen in years has been by performing full body workouts 5 days a week with hard conditioning after. The way this works is Monday upper body day and Tuesday lower body day is high intensity, low reps for the major muscle groups. The basic compounds lifts are at 5x3. The rest of the body gets hit and they are done with higher rep ranges with minimal rest time between sets. I do only a little arm work; sets of three for rep ranges of 3-5.
Thursday rolls around and I go to a more conventional bodybuilder routine. Higher volume, higher rep ranges and different exercises. This isimilar to my Monday/Tuesday work with the rest of the body getting hit on both days.
Saturday is an optional day, usually working on the weak areas and performing heavy carries or sled work.

Inside of my workouts, I will utilize time under tension techniques, such as cluster sets, drop sets, 20 rep front/back squats (twice weekly) and some rest/pause work, first sets last. I vary depending on my energy levels and at times, I will not do anything else but the required lifts.

What types of techniques and workouts do you use?


#2

For bodybuilding, I am a bro-split guy all the way. That’s how I made the best changes in my physique. I did the typical two to four exercises per bodypart (five for back) for 3 to 4 sets of 6-8 reps or 10-15 reps, depending on the exercise. Obviously the rest periods for exercises will vary depending on how much they take out of somebody (e.g., squats versus curls), but I try to rest as little as possible. As soon as I can go again, I go.

I did not use rest-pause, but I liberally used pre-exhaust, both for injury prevention and activation, and to bring up my weak points. For me, pre-exhaust was a game changer.


#3

I’ve felt this way for years. Sure there are endless “intensifiers” or approaches that everyone wanting to be as hardcore as possible can choose from, but a few are actually very useful in addressing weak points in terms of an individual’s natural structure, and dominant areas. Pre-Exhaust and drop sets are just two of my personal favorites.

Plenty of the stuff you’ll read out there in terms of articles, e-books, and whatever else people use to appear on the cutting edge of training (because we all know how much human physiology and biology change from year to year) just seems to over complicate things IMO. Yes, a lot of people need a solid foundation, and not everyone can just wander into the gym and magically grow from whatever they do. Still, I love to point to how bodybuilders in the 1950’s did just fine without any complicated approaches, just hard work, good nutrition, and consistency.

S


#4

Right. I also think pre-exhaust is very good for injury prevention too and “priming” the muscle or just instilling good joint position before lifts, which I’ve learned from my physical therapist and the T-nation author John Rusin, another physical therapist.

Some examples are machine or Swiss ball hamstring curls before leg workouts, straight arm pull down before deadlift, face pull or band pull apart before back or shoulder or chest workout.


#5

What do Physical Therapists know? (Especially the one you go to ;)) You should be learning from social media “experts” like everyone else!

S


#6

I spent years strength training, I wish I would have followed my gut. I grew up inamered by huge bodybuilders, yet somehow thought strength was the answer. I’m diving in to splits and plan on having fun with training finally. The biggest negative for me was getting stuck in a negative mindset if you missed a rep or weight. Always made you question everything. With bodybuilding you can have a good session in a multitude of ways. Maybe the bench feels off but the flies torch you and you leave pumped and confident. As for my favorite techniques, I love density blocks. Just a solid way to set the timer and get busy, the key is still quality over quantity.


#7

Eric, I took a page out of Jim Wendler’s books and I give the man credit for what he’s accomplished.
Take your true one rep max on the big four and deduct 90%. Use that as your base and use percentages geared to your goal. I’ve been using this for a few years on myself and clients. It really eliminates that negativity. If you miss a lift a few times in a row, take the training max and deduct it by 90% and you’ll be moving up again.


#8

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind as a good method for my main movements.


#9

Exactly. In scientific terms, there are several different pathways to trigger muscle growth beyond simple “progressive overload”.

As a total beginner, getting stronger is often the only indicator you have that you’re progressing in some way. Once you get beyond that introductory stage, realizing that “chasing numbers” is something that Weight lifters do while Bodybuilders learn how to use the weights as a tool.

The smart BBers understand how to stimulate growth without wrecking their joints by always trying to lift heavier and heavier weights.

S


#10

Right on. The other thing people often neglect is real life stressors. I have 2 little girls, work 13 hour graveyard shifts at the shop and train when I get home at 6am. My mental willpower to PR a set or anything is gone. Sometimes it’s there and I take it, but I used to force it and boy was that dumb. Now at 36, I’m 5’11 190 and doing pretty well. I eat loose, drink when I’m home with the wife and enjoy pizza and other goodies. Years ago, before kids, I though I had it figured out. Now, I’m finally understanding the joy again of just lifting for myself.


#11

Right on man! Lifting is just a hobby for me but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the competition of it all. Sometimes you just need to step back, breathe and continue doing it for the love.


#12

I’m on the fence with pre-exhaust. It helps you zero in targeting muscle. However, I have had more results with mobility work, dynamic warmups and stretching and rolling. Perhaps because of my powerlifting background or that I need to do this because I am training at 3 or 4am in the morning.


#13

I am confused as to why you compare pre-exhaust with foam rolling and mobility drills. I do foam rolling and mobility drills before each workout. Pre-exhaust is part of the actual lifting portion of a workout. So if I were to pre-exhaust chest, it would look like this.
Warmup: 5 minutes of elliptical machine, foam rolling, stretching and mobility drills
Lifting:

  1. Incline cable flies
  2. Incline dumbbell press
  3. Flat flies
  4. Dips

#14

I was a bit baffled reading that as well. While I’ve relied on rolling, dynamic warmups, and mobility work for injury issues (rehab and prehab), and even hoping for a bit of myofacial benefit, I don’t think it’s comparable at all to an actual training (sequencing) approach that is designed as a work-around for natural structural strengths and weaknesses in addressing targeted hypertrophy.

S


#15

I don’t get the same effect or feeling when I do preexhaut. For me personally, I need to do my above mentioned protocol do that I can feel the muscle being worked. Essentially, it just works for me.


#16

i train alone in my home gym so my favorite intensity technique is rest pause. i just love it.
close second is drop sets. i always do one rest pause and one drop set. i try not to abuse them.
i do supersets here and there but they have never been my favorite.
i train my wife in superset, triset and giant set fashion because she is lifting weights to lose weight and for general health.


#17

Any love for barbell complexes? I’ve started doing them as an alternative conditioning tool and quite enjoy them.


#18

Certainly, IF, they are programmed properly. Many folks go from one exercise to the other without thinking about how it should flow back to front, vice versa or how difficult/complex the first and last exercise of the circuit should be.


#19

I have my own dumbbell complex.

Hang clean - squat - press ( in one fluid move ) 8 reps
Bent over dumbbell row 8 reps
Dumbbell curl 8 reps

3-4 rounds with only a minute between sets.


#20

Cut it down to 45 seconds and you’ll hate me