Don't get me wrong though, there are many interesting and effective ways to manipulate training programs. However, those same programs usually have to be adapted to the individual and also properly planned by a good coach. So what is a person to do? Fortunately, the most simple programs yield the most fantastic results. What we will do is discuss how to organize such a plan.
Choose A Frequency Of Lifting
For most people a frequency of three or four days is going to work well. This will allow for enough recovery and exposure to specific training variables. With such a frequency you could use some of the below splits.
Three Days Overall Body Routine:
Day 1: Squat Emphasis
Day 2: Bench Emphasis
Day 3: Deadlift Emphasis
Three Days Upper/Lower Body:
Day 1: Upper
Day 2: Lower
Day 3: Upper
Four Days Bodybuilding Routine:
Day 1: Quad Dominant/Rotational Abs/Calves
Day 2: Vertical Pulling/Vertical Pushing
Day 3: Hip Dominant/Trunk Flexors/Calves
Day 4: Horizontal Pushing/Horizontal Pulling
Four Days Motor Qualities:
Day 1: Lower Body Speed Emphasis
Day 2: Upper Body Maximal Strength Emphasis
Day 3: Lower Body Maximal Strength Emphasis
Day 4: Upper Body Speed Emphasis
Four Days Upper/Lower Body:
Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: Upper Body
Day 4: Lower Body
Selecting The Right Exercises
This may be one of the most confusing aspects to many people. Often people think in terms of muscle groups, which causes long drawn out routines. In the end, people get frustrated because they are not getting the results they expected. They had spent too much time on exercises that were not appropriate for their goals or lifestyles.
What are the right exercises? A good rule of thumb is to stick with exercises that work the primary human movements. These movements would include squatting, lunging, stepping, twisting, pushing, and pulling. I know what you are about to ask, what about my medial deltoid!! Calm down, these exercises not only work the bigger muscle groups, but the smaller ones as well.
What happens is that you receive a more effective and efficient workout because you are stimulating the muscles to a greater degree. When implementing these exercises you also cause a positive release of specific hormones that may assist in losing body fat and gaining lean body mass.
Here is a list of some of the more effective exercises:
Deadlifts: Conventional, Sumo, Romanian, Goodmornings, Single Leg, Cable
Lunges: Splits Squats ( Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable, Back, Front, Overhead), Lunges Forward, Back, Side
Step-ups: Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable, Back, Front, Overhead, Forward, Lateral
Incline, Flat, Alternating,
Pull-ups: Chin-ups, Close Grip, Parallel Bar, Mountain Climber, Commando, One-arm
Overhead Pressing: Seesaw, One-arm, Barbell, Dumbbell, Bent, Side, Bradford
Sets & Reps
How much, how many times are two of the most common questions I receive. There are many different theories and some that seem etched in stone (not so true though). The general recommendations have always been:
Strength: Sets 3-5, Reps 1-5
Power: Sets 3-6, Reps 2-6
Hypertrophy: Sets 2-4, Reps 6-12
Endurance: Sets 2-4, Reps 15+
While this seems to be a good rule of thumb, we are now implementing even more effective methods of varying sets and rep schemes. What I recommend to people is select a core exercise. This may be the exercise that is the most complex, integrates the most muscles, or the one you are most interested seeing improvements.
From here we can manipulate sets and reps to get even more from our efforts. I like to think of all training as improving some level of functional strength so here are some methods to increase both strength and mass.
Density Training: Perform More Work In Less Time-Staley's EDT Program
Example: Squatting for fifteen minutes and achieving 6 sets of 5 with a 10 RM weight. Next workout the lifter achieves 8 sets of 5 with the 10RM weight.
Singles & Doubles with Short Rest Intervals-Wiggins' Singles & Doubles Program
Example: Bench Press 12 sets of 2 with 65% weight with a 45 second rest interval. The next workout may be performing the same routine with 40-second rest interval.
The remaining part of the routine may include similiarities or use more traditional methods mentioned above. This simple modification to your routine may offer some outstanding results without having to perform brain surgery over your current program.
Training should be fun, but should also be productive. Decide on one specific routine and give it 4-6 weeks. Don't worry about missing out on the next greatest thing. Chances are anything new is based off of the same principles are your current routine. Allow adaptation to occur and measure your results to find what you respond to and what exciting new ideas you can incorporate.
About The Author
Josh Henkin is owner of Innovative Fitness Solutions (www.ifsstrength.com) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Coach Henkin has presented nationally in the field of fitness and sports enhancement. He is also the author of High Octane Sandbag Training manual and DVD (www.sandbagexercises.com). You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.