- Hypertrophy focused progression system.
- Full Body 4 times a week. (Modified PPL to avoid dedicated leg days)
- Great for lifters of all experience levels.
- 6 weeks of training followed by a deload.
- No dedicated leg day. Legs are performed with other muscle groups.
- Versatile and easily customizable.
Because these workouts are full body, you never have to deal with a dedicated leg day as legs are done on the same days as other muscle groups. For many, this alone can be a big motivator to hit the gym each workout day - it's common to dread dedicated leg days and lack motivation to hit the gym on those days. This is actually the reason I created and follow this routine myself. I began to lack motivation on leg days and didn't look forward to hitting the gym, so I decided to formulate a routine that allowed me to get in the same amount of volume without ever having a day completely dedicated to legs alone.
- Sunday: Rest (Optional: Pull / Posterior Chain Weak Points)
- Monday: Workout A1 (Push + Quads)
- Tuesday: Workout B1 (Pull + Posterior Chain)
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Workout A2 (Push + Quads)
- Friday: Workout B2 (Pull + Posterior Chain)
- Saturday: Rest (Optional: Push / Quad Weak Points)
Workout A1 (Push + Quads)
- Bench Press 3|4|5x6
- Box Squat 3|4|5x8
- Low To High Cable Crossovers 2|2|3x12
- Seated Dumbbell Press 3x8-10
- Leg Extensions 3x10-12
- Calve Raises 4|5|6x15
- Cable Tricep Pushdowns 3x10-12
- Barbell Upright Rows 3|4|4x15 *
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3|3|4x15
- Dumbbell Reverse Flyes 3|4|5x15
Workout B1 (Pull + Posterior Chain)
- Weighted Chin Ups 3|4|4x8
- Single Arm Lat Pulldowns 3|3|4x12
- Seated Cable Row 2|2|3x10
- Romanian Deadlift 2|3|3x8
- Reverse Hypers/Hyper Ext. 3|4|5x12
- Cable Crunches 3|4|5x15
- Barbell Curls 3|4|4x10
- Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3|3|4x15
- Snatch Grip Barbell Shrugs 3|4|5x12
Workout A2 (Push + Quads)
- Barbell Overhead Press 3x8-10
- Close Grip Bench Press 3|4|5x8
- Incline Cable Flyes 2|2|3x12
- Back Squat 3|4|5x6
- Dumbbell Lunges 3x12-14
- Calve Raises 4|5|6x20
- Cable Lateral Raises 3|4|4x12
- Single Arm DB Lateral Raises 3|3|4x12
- Cable Tricep Overhead Ext. 3x10-12
- Dumbbell Reverse Flyes 3|4|5x15
Workout B2 (Pull + Posterior Chain)
- Bent Over Barbell Row 3|4|4x10
- Dumbbell Row 3|3|4x12
- Pull Ups 2|2|3x10
- Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3|4|5x6
- Weighted Crunches 3|4|5x12
- Reverse Hypers/Hyper Ext. 3|3|4x20
- Dumbbell Curls 3|4|4x15
- Rope Hammer Curls 3|3|4x15
- Dumbbell Shrugs 3|4|5x15
The progression system of this routine is hypertrophy focused and thus focuses on increasing volume (total sets) over a period of weeks. The routine consists of six week cycles of training followed by a deload. The six weeks are divided into two separate three week "sub cycles". During each three week cycle, the amount of sets you perform each week increases. At the end of each three week cycle, the amount of sets you perform will reset back down to week one levels, but you then add weight and/or repetitions to your exercises before increasing the sets over the next three week cycle again. After the second three week cycle you are to take a deload before repeating the process all over.
When you see an exercise listed in a way such as "Bench Press 3|4|5x6", the three numbers separated by | refers to how many sets are to be performed on that week, with the first number being week one, then week two and finally week three. In the example given, you would perform three sets on week one, four on week two and five on week three.
It's important to note that you'll likely be unable to add sets to every single muscle group and every single exercise, as this will result in volume levels that are too high to recover from optimally. Because of this, some exercises that will instead focus on a rep progression system that you can read about after this section.
- Week 1: Bench Press 3x6 @ 200 lbs
- Week 2: Bench Press 4x6 @ 200 lbs
- Week 3: Bench Press 5x6 @ 200 lbs
- Week 4: Bench Press 3x6 @ 210 lbs
- Week 5: Bench Press 4x6 @ 210 lbs
- Week 6: Bench Press 5x6 @ 210 lbs
- Week 7: DELOAD
Adding sets to every muscle group can easily begin to feel overwhelming, so some exercises should not have their sets increase, but instead should be progressed via adding load and repetitions while maintaining sets. This is where the second progression system comes into play, which is rep progression. For exercises that use this progression method, you will simply add reps each week, but maintain the amount of sets you're doing on that exercise. This allows you to maintain volume levels, but increasing training intensity over the weeks (since adding a rep each week will likely result in getting closer to failure as the weeks progress).
It is recommended that if you're feeling overwhelmed by the amount of sets you're doing, follow this alternative progression system on exercises that target muscles that are your strong points and that grow easily. This can help reduce the amount of weekly sets you're doing without hindering muscle growth for the muscles you really want to grow maximally. As you can see in the routine above, I chose to focus on rep progression for triceps, shoulder presses and quad exercises, rather than adding sets to those movements, because those are my strong points and do not require much additional volume to grow well.
To follow this progression system, do the following:
- First choose a rep range such as "6-8" or "10-12" (or use the one provided). Preferably this rep range is a range of 3 repetitions in order to fit better into the two three week training cycles.
- Once you choose a rep range, choose a load that will allow you to perform the lower end of the repetitions at an RIR of 4-3 (RPE 7-8). In the example of 10-12, you would choose a weight that allows you to perform 10 reps at an RIR of 4-3 (RPE 7-8) for week one.
- Each week, add one repetition. This should lead up to you hitting the high end of the chosen rep range at an RIR of 2-1 by week three.
- If you were able to comfortably hit the high end of the rep range at an RIR of 1-2, add weight to the bar for the next three week cycle and repeat the process again, starting from the low end of the rep range once more.
- Week 1: Barbell Curls 3x10 @ 100 lbs
- Week 2: Barbell Curls 3x11 @ 100 lbs
- Week 3: Barbell Curls 3x12 @ 100 lbs
- Week 4: Barbell Curls 3x10 @ 105 lbs
- Week 5: Barbell Curls 3x11 @ 105 lbs
- Week 6: Barbell Curls 3x12 @ 105 lbs
- Week 7: DELOAD
For exercises that are difficult to add load to, such as dumbbell movements, it's okay to use a larger rep range, such as "10-15" rather than "10-12". I would also recommend using fractional plates, so you don't have to increase load in 5 pound increments and can instead make smaller jumps.
Unless otherwise stated, all exercises should be performed within a certain RIR (Reps in Reserve) range. While you do not need to follow this exactly, you should aim for an RIR of 4-3 on week one, 3-2 on week two and 2-1 on week three; you can reduce this RIR range by 1 for easier isolation movements to train closer to failure. While it's difficult to always hit RIR perfectly, this just acts as a rough guide for how difficult your training should feel over the training cycle. Start off with relatively "easy" sets on week one and slowly increase the sets and RIR over the weeks. Since you're adding sets weekly, this RIR range is determined by averaging the RIR across all sets performed for a given exercise, meaning it's okay if the latter sets of that exercise slightly exceeds this range.
RIR is more important than rep range
Maintaining the RIR range mentioned above is more important than staying within the prescribed rep ranges. What this means is that if an exercise is prescribed 3 sets of 10 and you reach 10 repetitions but feel like you have more than 4 reps left in you, it is more important to get a few extra reps so that you hit the target RIR range than it is to stop at the prescribed rep range. This also holds true if you have to get too close to failure in order to reach the prescribed rep range; in this case you would simply stop the set a few reps early in order to avoid getting too close to failure. The reason for this is because muscle growth occurs only within a certain proximity to failure, so if you fail to reach this point during a set just for the sake of stopping at a given rep number, you'll lose out on progress.
It is best to adjust the load for an exercise to one that allows you to hit the prescribed rep range while also falling into the proper RIR range.
The rep ranges prescribed are place holders and are less important than simply maintaining proper RIR (as mentioned above). That being said, you can choose any rep range for a given exercise as long as it falls within the 6-30 rep range and you maintain an RIR of 4-0. Studies have been done in this range of repetitions and have shown that muscle hypertrophy is similar across all rep ranges. However, it is important to note that strength progress is faster in the lower rep ranges, which is why I typically like to prescribe lower rep ranges for the big compound movements such as bench and squat. This is, however, not mandatory if your only concern is muscle growth.
Exercise selection and customization
The exercises listed in this routine can be replaced with similar movement patterns if you wish. However, I would recommend not changing them unless you are confident in your ability to understand which exercises are similar enough to the ones prescribed in this routine to act as replacements. Make sure that the movement you're using as a replacement can be performed with a full range of motion with minimal to no discomfort and falls into the same exercise category. For example, pull ups can be replaced with lat pull downs because they are both "vertical pulls". Bench press can be replaced with floor press because they're both horizontal pushing movements, as well as bench press variations.
Choosing the right volume levels for yourself
The amount of volume (sets) prescribed here is simply a place holder, but is modeled after a training cycle that I personally ran myself. The amount of volume that a given person needs to make progress is highly individual.
I recommend adjusting these levels to those which allow you to have relatively easy training on week one while getting near your recovery limits on week three. Towards the very end of each cycle (week six), you can adjust volume levels to those which are slightly over what you'd normally be able to recover from in order to take advantage of the following deload.
If you're familiar with Mike Israetel's philosophy on training volume which uses the concepts of MEV and MRV, you can find a general guideline for how much volume each body part needs for different levels of growth in the image below. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, I'd recommend reading my article that touches on it here.
Use this chart as a starting point and then experiment with different volume levels. Once you've discovered how much volume each body part can handle, then you can more easily determine how many sets to program for each three week cycle. Basically, start week one near your MEV and slowly move towards your MRV by week 3.
Additionally, you may want to opt out of increasing sets on exercises that target muscles that are your strong points, and instead use the rep progression method outlined above for those movements.
It's also important to note that you do not have to increase sets every single week. For example, you could do 3 sets on week one, 3 sets on week two and then 4 sets on week three. This can be useful when you perform more than one exercise for a certain muscle group since adding a set to both exercises each week means you're adding two full sets for that muscle every week; this can be a bit too much too fast. By maintaining sets for at least one week on one exercise, you can increase sets on another and still be increasing volume for the muscle group being hit without volume levels becoming overwhelming.
Rotating exercises and rep ranges
After each training cycle, I recommend rotating exercises and/or rep ranges to keep things fresh, reduce the chances of overuse injuries and to make sure you're targeting your muscles in a variety of ways and angles to maximize muscular development. Performing the same exact exercises and rep ranges week in and week out can potentially lead to injury, boredom and sub-optimal progress.
Why Stiff Leg Deadlifts over Conventional Deadlifts?
The second reason for using Stiff Leg Deadlifts is because of the fact that in this routine you are performing lower body two days in a row, but each lower body day is split between quad focused and posterior chain focused (glutes, hamstrings, lower back) the following day to avoid too much overlap between the muscles trained. Conventional deadlifts hit the quads pretty hard, which may be difficult considering the day prior to deadlifts you will be focusing on the quads via squats and other quad movements.
If you want to get in additional volume for muscle groups that you consider weak points and prefer not to make your workout days even longer, you can do so on your rest days. However, be sure to plan these weak point days strategically around your workouts and the muscle groups they target. Each workout day consists of certain muscle groups, so when performing weak point training, do so on a rest day that does not fall immediately after or before a workout day that targets those same muscles.
For example, if you perform bicep exercises on workout B2 on Friday and you want to perform additional workouts for biceps on a rest day, you would avoid doing so on the rest day that lands on Saturday and instead use the rest day on Sunday, since this day is not adjacent to any workout days involving biceps.