The Hercules Workout
A Three-Days-Per Week, Full-Body Program With a Twist
Old-school training brings to mind the likes of Steve Reeves and company performing full-body workouts three times a week. Today such a routine is often passed on in favor of more “advanced” training splits—training the body over four or five days. Whether that’s really more effective, though, is open to question.
Supposedly the advanced split enables your body to recover over a longer period of time and lets you perform more sets for each bodypart; however, that approach to training frequency isn’t better than the other. The full-body workout has its place in bodybuilding. It’s stood the test of time and can be used by beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilders alike.
Remember, Reeves had an awesome physique, one that is still considered great, so he must have been on to something.
Why the Hercules Workout Works
1. Overall Muscle Balance And Conditioning:
A total-body workout, performed three nonconsecutive days a week—for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday—is efficient. Working the entire body in one session enables all bodyparts to develop at about the same rate, which is essential for beginners seeking to build overall muscle mass and strength. Too often beginners perform endless sets of barbell curls and bench presses four times a week. In the end they either burn out or are injured because of muscle imbalance.
The full-body routine encourages—perhaps forces—you to devote an equal amount of effort to developing each bodypart, since it would be virtually impossible to do 12 sets of chest exercises, followed by squats, lunges, dips, deadlifts—you get the picture.
In addition to encouraging overall muscular development, a full-body approach forces you to learn different exercises. Even for advanced athletes, the reduced volume on each exercise encourages more concentration and proper form because you have to get the job done with fewer sets. You automatically train harder.
2. Better Ripping Results:
When you’re dieting hard, the reduced carbohydrate intake means your glycogen stores are low. Consequently, your muscles often appear flat, and you feel like crap when you work out. The last thing you want to do is 15 to 20 sets for back at one workout.
The main goal during a fat-loss phase is to lose fat. Your workouts should therefore be geared more toward muscle maintenance, not extreme hypertrophy. Performing a full-body workout with reduced rest time between sets—45 to 60 seconds—keeps you in the fat-burning zone, adds to the cardiovascular effect and boosts your metabolism after you train. In fact, full-body workouts may enable you to do cardio to two to three times a week instead of the usual five to six.
Get the rest of the article in the April 2010 Issue of Iron Man Magazine.