Get the latest comprehensive workout programs for intermediate bodybuilder's right here. Our forum members also explain the differences between the different levels of training. Learn more right here!

By: Workout Of The Week

TOPIC: What Is The Best Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout?

The Question:

It's easy to find workout regimens for beginners or advanced bodybuilders, but not so easy for intermediate bodybuilders. Maybe it's because people think that when they start bodybuilding they are beginners, then when they train for a while they are advanced. They skip the middle ground.

What is the best intermediate bodybuilding workout? Be specific.

What are the differences between a beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilding workout?

How long is the transition from beginner to intermediate, then intermediate to advanced?

Do you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or advanced bodybuilder?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

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      1st place - $75 in store credit.
      2nd place - $50 in store credit.

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1st Place - Blink41
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Bodybuilding has three levels: beginners, intermediates and advanced. The middle level has never been looked at much because people often refer to themselves as beginners or experienced bodybuilders. This makes it tough for intermediate bodybuilders to find a routine that suits their own individual experience.

The truth of the matter is that most people in the gym are actually beginners or intermediates. It is important to understand where you stand in the bodybuilding levels because you must use a routine that maximizes muscle gains from your own experience level.

For instance, if you are a newbie, don't do a 7-day split, those are for the experienced. Newbies should do a simple but extremely effective (for newbie only) 3-day full body routine. What if you are an intermediate? Well, keep reading.

What Is The Best Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout? Be Specific.

3-day full-body splits are meant to build muscle mass for beginners. 6-7 day isolation splits are meant to define muscle groups for the advanced. What about for the intermediates? Well, then we would have to concentrate on building muscle mass and defining the muscle groups. In order to do so, they must use this routine:

Routine For The First Two-Three Months:

  • Monday: Chest / Triceps
  • >Tuesday: Back / Biceps
  • Wednesday: Shoulder / Traps
  • Thursday: Thigh / Calves / Abs
  • Friday: Chest / Triceps
  • Saturday: Back / Biceps
  • Sunday: Shoulder / Traps
  • ** Cardio should be done 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes on medium intensity if you are bulking.
    ** Cardio should be done 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes on medium-high intensity if you are cutting.

    By using this routine, you are focusing on both building muscle mass and defining the muscles at the same time. You must combine both compound and isolation exercises into your workouts.

Chest / Triceps Days:

Back / Bicep Days:

Shoulder / Traps Days:

Thigh / Calves / Abs Days:

  • 1 Set of warm-up on Full Squats followed by 3 Sets of 12, 10, 8 Barbell full squats
  • 3 Sets of 15, 12, 8 Hamstring Curls
  • 3 Sets of 12, 8, 8 Heavy Calf raises
  • 2 Sets of 8, 8 Heavy Squats on the leg press machine
  • 2 Sets of 12, 8 Leg extensions
  • 2 Sets of 50, 50 Crunches or as much as you can do
  • 2 Sets of Hanging leg raises (As much as you can do)
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Thigh / Calves / Abs Days.

    By doing 8-12 repetitions for each set, you will stimulate maximum hypertrophy. However, this is based on the average person. Every person responds to weightlifting differently, some better, some worse. Simply try this routine and then adjust it according to your own unique body type.

    Warm-up sets require at least 12 repetitions depending on the size of the muscle and the amount of weight you are using. It is very important to warm-up and stretch the muscle group that you will be targeting before you start your routine. Failure to warm-up and stretch properly before workouts can result in severe injury.

    Another good idea is to warm-up the secondary/stabilizing muscles as well. For example, if you are going to be doing heavy barbell bench, I recommend that you warm-up the triceps and shoulders before heavy benching.

Routine For The Next Three-Five Months:

    To gain maximum muscle growth, you must keep the body guessing. Change up your workout regiment as well as the exercises. Follow this routine as your previous routine becomes stale and boring.

    • Monday: Biceps / Triceps
    • Tuesday: Chest / Shoulders
    • Wednesday: Back / Traps / Lats
    • Thursday: Thigh / Calves / Abs
    • Friday: Biceps / Triceps
    • Saturday: Chest / Shoulders
    • Sunday: Back / Traps / Lats

    ** Cardio should be done 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes on medium intensity if you are bulking.
    ** Cardio should be done 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes on medium-high intensity if you are cutting.

Biceps / Triceps Days:

Chest / Shoulders Days:

Back / Traps / Lats Days:

Thigh / Calves / Abs Days:

What Are The Differences Between A Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Bodybuilding Workout?


    A beginner's routine would typically be focused on building as much muscle mass as possible. An advanced bodybuilding routine would typically be focused on defining each muscle group for competition.

    An intermediate routine would typically be focused on both building muscle mass and defining each muscle groups. However, intermediate bodybuilders usually struggle with muscle imbalances due to lack of knowledge in the prior years.

    For example, most intermediate bodybuilders have a strong general chest, but weak upper chest. The reason is because they focused too much on flat benching when they were beginners. Therefore, they include additional sets of incline barbell/dumbbell bench on their chest days. Also, most intermediate bodybuilders train with dumbbells instead of barbells so they can balance out the biceps/chest/shoulder/traps/triceps/lats.


    A beginner's workout often takes more time than those of an intermediate or advanced workout. The reason for that is because beginners do full body workouts, which obviously take more time than splits. However, an intermediate and advanced bodybuilder must spend more time in the gym weekly than a beginner bodybuilder.

    The reason for this is because the muscles of an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder recover quicker than those of a beginner. Their body is used to the constant intense stress of weightlifting and therefore will not respond as it once did before. That is why beginners take frequent off days so their bodies can get used to the stress.

    Another reason why they might recover quicker can be because they maintain stricter diets which provide plenty of proteins, amino acids and vitamins for them to quickly rebuild their muscles.


    Unfortunately, the longer you weight lift, the slower your gains will be. Beginners get "newbie gains" when they first weight train. These gains will typically last about 2-3 months. Newbie gains include rapid muscle gains and a rapid increase in strength.

    If one consumes sufficient food/proteins and has enough active rest, then they can expect to gain at least 5-10 pounds of muscle per month in the "newbie gain" stage. The amount of muscle gained will vary among different body types. The muscle gained during this stage is permanent.

    For intermediates, they will start to notice slower muscle gain, even though they have a better understanding of the sport as they did before when they were newbie. Intermediates understand the importance of protein and amino acids and supplements in general.

    Advanced bodybuilders gain little muscle mass because their body is used to the stress of bodybuilding. Therefore, these bodybuilders try different programs/routines and different exercises to try to stimulate the body in a different approach. Basically, enjoy your newbie gains because there are long difficult days ahead of you.



    Intensity does not necessarily translate to muscle growth. Workouts with tremendous intensity can actually slow down your muscle gains. The key to gain as much muscle mass as possible actually lies in the kitchen. Always follow the old adage,

    "You build strength in the gym.
    You build muscles in the kitchen."

    High intensity workouts can hinder your gains because your body will actually overtrain if you are a beginner or even an intermediate. Beginners should not try intense workouts such as supersets or drop sets. Simply stick to basic compound movements like bench, squats and deadlifts until you think you are ready to go to the next level. To avoid high intensity, try to stick with 2-3 minutes rest periods.

Improving The Big Three! Improving The Big Three!
In the following series of articles I have discussed some of the most effective way of improving these lifts. However, this article is going to be a little different than previous articles you may have read. Science and sound training philosophy will back.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

How Long Is The Transition From Beginner To Intermediate, Then Intermediate To Advanced?

In my opinion, it takes lots of time and effort to move up a single level. A beginner would typically have 0-2 years of experience. An intermediate would typically have 2-6 years of experience. An advanced bodybuilder must have at least 6-10 years of experience.

Anything after 10 years of experience would be considered professional. However, the speeds in which you increase levels are based on time primarily, but also how much knowledge you have of the sport of bodybuilding. You must also know how the body works and how supplements work. The more you research, the faster you will move up in the bodybuilding community.

How Do I Move Up Faster?

  • Visit the forums at and ask questions
  • Read articles on
  • Hire a personal trainer
  • Learn how to appreciate constructive criticism
  • Workout with a friend who is at an intermediate or advanced level
  • Close your mouth and open your ears

What NOT To Do:

  • Do not overtrain a muscle
  • Reject constructive criticism
  • Goof around in the gym
  • Be cocky and keep looking in the mirror
  • Think you are advanced after 3 months of training
  • Open you month and close your ears

Overtraining: Signs and Solutions! Overtraining: Signs & Solutions!
Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes. Learn what it is and how to combat it right here. Check it out!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Time is absolutely essential toward building muscles. If you have patience, you will go a long way in the bodybuilding community. However, time without knowledge is useless. Therefore, I suggest you join the forums on if you haven't already.

You can feel free to ask questions to many advanced bodybuilders and even to professional bodybuilders. Before you ask a question, make sure you do a search for it first. Most of the time, the question you are about to ask have been answered at least ten times on the forum already. You can also post your picture and ask other bodybuilders to critique your physique and tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Different Body Types:


    • Hard Gainer
    • Lean
    • Small Shoulders
    • Small Neck
    • Long Arms
    • Fragile
    • Flat Chest
    • Thin Hair
    • Long Fingers


    • Round and soft physique
    • Gains weight very easily
    • Loses weight very hard
    • Fine Hair
    • High Waist
    • Large Head
    • Broad Face
    • Small Hands and feet
    • Short arms and legs


    • Athletic
    • Hard Body
    • Excellent Posture
    • Mature Muscle Mass
    • Gains Muscle easily
    • Gains fat hard
    • Muscular Body
    • Thick Skin
    • Thick hair
    • Rectangular Shaped (Male)
    • Hourglass Shaped (Female)

    Knowing your body type helps you approximate how long the transition between levels will be for your individual body type. Mesomorphs will quickly rise from the beginner stage and into the intermediate in about a year.

What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test! What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!
What body type are you? How can you tell? Take our simple test and know! Learn how to train for your body type and what the differences are.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Endomorphs will rise from beginner to intermediate in about a year and a half while ectomorphs will do so in about 2 years. There is no changing or altering your genetic makeup, you can only blame or thank your parents.

    "The Impossible:
    What Nobody Can Do Until Somebody Does."

My Level
Do You Consider Yourself A Beginner, Intermediate, Or Advanced Bodybuilder?

I consider myself to be an intermediate bodybuilder. I have been seriously working out for more than two years and I have joined the forums on for one and a half years already. I read bodybuilding articles whenever I have free time and I have a tremendous passion for the sport.

2 years ago, I would not tolerate constructive criticism but now I have learned to love it. I gained over 30 pounds of lean muscle within two years. I know, that's really not impressive but I am a creatine non responding ectomorph. I only weighted 110 pounds in the 11th grade and I weigh 140 pounds now in college at the same body fat.

I consumed 1.5 grams of protein per bodyweight and ate 6-8 medium sized meals a day totaling over 3500 calories. I kept a moderately strict diet because of my high metabolism and thus didn't gain much, if any, fat.


I experimented with different protein, creatine and nitric oxide products and found the most effective protein powder to be Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey, the most effective creatine to be Gaspari Nutrition Size ON and the most effective Nitric Oxide to be BSN NO-Xplode.

100% Whey Size ON NO-Xplode


There are three major levels in bodybuilding and each respond better to different workout regiments. Therefore, it is important to understand where you stand.

If you are a beginner using an advanced bodybuilder's workout regiment, chances are that you won't gain much muscle or strength.

If you are an advanced bodybuilder using a beginner's routine, you won't get the body that you wanted. Many people are actually intermediates thinking that they are advanced bodybuilders instead.

Ultimately, they do not gain as much muscle as they could have if they were using the proper routine. Bodybuilding takes patience, determination and most importantly, knowledge. Now I'm not talking about being good in math, but understanding how the body works and bodybuilding can benefit the body.

Good luck on your journey.

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you have learned a thing or two about yourself. Keep reading more bodybuilding articles and you will turn pro in no time.

"Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting.
That is laziness. But to keep going when the going
is hard and slow - that is patience."

2nd Place - TUnit
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

It's easy to find workout regimens for beginners or advanced bodybuilders, but not so easy for intermediate bodybuilders. Maybe it's because people think that when they start bodybuilding they are beginners, then when they train for a while they are advanced. They skip the middle ground.

This middle ground is key for making consistent gains. Beginners will often make what are called "newbie gains," because they are new to training and almost anything will work for building muscle. But as their bodies adapt, their progress begins to slow and they often resort to some advanced muscle building program that the pros follow.

This path quickly leads to overtraining, plateaus, and a frustrated lifter. The key to avoiding such situations is to follow a solid intermediate workout program to make the transition from beginner to advanced as smooth as possible.

What Is The Best Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout? Be Specific.

Before going on and describing the best intermediate bodybuilding workout, it is important to define what an intermediate trainee is.

An intermediate lifter is someone that has been training consistently for at least 1 full year and has appreciable levels of strength and size. The average intermediate trainee will be pretty well built, bench press at least 200 pounds, Squat at least 300 pounds, and Deadlift at least 325 pounds. These numbers may vary by height and weight, but the average intermediate trainee will fall into this category.

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The intermediate bodybuilding workout must be intense, of a higher volume than a typical beginner workout and focus on increasing strength in major lifts such as the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. Exercises should be mostly compound, with some isolation movements to complement the basic lifts.

The only shock methods that really should or need to be implemented are supersets and occasional tri-sets for the abdominals. Again, these methods should be using sparingly, usually to stimulate muscle growth when progress is slowing down.

Much too often trainees utilize as many shock methods as they can, which makes their workouts intense, but heeds progress. In the long run, it does not matter how many shock methods you used but how much more weight you are lifting than you were before.

Kelly Baggett explained it best when he used this example: Take 2 identical people that both squat 300 pounds. One does 4 sets of squats, 4 sets of leg presses, 4 sets of leg extensions, and 4 sets of hack squats and uses all the shock methods he possibly can - drop sets, supersets, etc.

The other only does 4 sets of squats but makes sure to increase the weight every time he goes to the gym. After 2 years, the first one is still doing the same workout and squatting 300 pounds while the other is now squatting 500 pounds. It should be obvious which one will have bigger legs at that point.

The Workout Plan - 8 Weeks

(Can be repeated with a one week rest week in between)

Weeks 1-2 (1 Minute Rest between Sets):

Weeks 3-4 (90 Seconds Rest between Sets):

Weeks 5-6 (2 Minutes Rest between Sets):

Weeks 7-8 (2 Minutes Rest between Sets):

What Are The Differences Between A Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Bodybuilding Workout?

The differences between the typical beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilding workouts revolve around a number of factors. These include: training frequency, training volume, compound vs. isolation exercises, and many more.

  • Training Frequency: Beginners usually benefit from a lower frequency. As they progress, it is important to increase the frequency because the body keeps adapting. Advanced bodybuilders may spend about twice as much time in the gym as beginners do.
  • Training Volume: Volume is relatively low for beginners and increases with intermediates. At the advanced level, volume and frequency are both relatively high, and the intermediate phase prepares the trainee by increasing the volume and frequency from the beginner stage, dramatically in many cases.

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  • Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: Beginners should be using compound exercises exclusively. Intermediate trainees then begin to use isolation movements, usually 1 or 2 per workout, to stimulate more growth. By the time the athlete is at the advanced stage, and the training routine has become a body part split, the use of isolation exercises that target muscle at different angles is vital to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible.

Typical Beginner Workout:

  • 2-3 days per week
  • 2-3 Sets x 10-15 reps per exercise
  • 5-8 exercises per workout day
  • All compound exercises
  • No shock methods used (occasional supersets)
  • Rest Periods of 1-2 minutes

Typical Intermediate Workout:

  • 3-5 days per week
  • 3-5 Sets x 4-12 reps per exercise
  • 4-6 exercises per workout day
  • Mostly compound with some isolation exercises
  • Some shock methods used when gains slow down (Supersets/Tri-Sets)
  • Rest Periods of 45 seconds - 2 minutes

Typical Advanced Workout:

  • 4-6 days per week
  • 3-6 Sets x 3-15 reps per exercise
  • 3-6 exercises per workout day
  • Usually a body part split so that maximum attention can be given to specific muscle groups
  • Balance of compound and isolation exercises (Balance still means approximately a 2 to 1 ration of compound to isolation exercises. For some body parts this is not possible, but this should be the overall ratio in a training week.)
  • Shock methods commonly used to stimulate muscle growth (Supersets, Rest-Pause, Drop Sets)
  • Rest Periods of 15 seconds - 3 minutes

How Long Is The Transition From Beginner To Intermediate, Then Intermediate To Advanced?

The transition from beginner to intermediate really depends on the bodybuilder's genetics and starting point. Someone with excellent genetics and a pretty good physique that begins weight training will quickly move through the beginner phase and into the intermediate phase, during which they will learn to train at higher volume and frequency to prepare for the advanced phases of training.

On the other hand, someone who starts out as a scrawny beginner with little muscle mass, and is forced to do everything right to gain even a small amount of muscle mass may take a year or even more to get into the intermediate phase. However, the average beginner will stay in that phase until gains begin to slow down, which takes about a year.

After a year, the trainee will go into the intermediate phase. Most bodybuilders will stay in the intermediate phase for 1-3 years, depending on a variety of factors such as a genetics, dedication and diet. During these years, the bodybuilder will see the greatest and most impressive changes in their body. Many will often begin competing towards the end of this phase.

After the intermediate phase, the bodybuilder is ready for the rigors of advanced bodybuilding. Grueling workouts, hardcore diets and supplement schedules are some of the things that await the bodybuilder.

Barring injury, most will stay in this phase for the longest period of time. There will be early advanced, middle advanced, and elite advanced bodybuilders in this phase. Going from one to the other may take years and the keys to making constant progress are dedication and staying injury-free.

My Level
Do You Consider Yourself A Beginner, Intermediate, Or Advanced Bodybuilder?

I would definitely consider myself an intermediate bodybuilder. I have been lifting for about one and a half years now and can bench press more than 200 pounds(225 pounds), squat a lot more than 300 pounds (425 pounds) and deadlift much more than 325 pounds (500 pounds).

My Body fat percentage has stayed in the 9-10% range even though I have bulked from 130 pounds to 210 pounds in the past 2 years. I should be nearing the advanced stage within a year.

I may stay within the intermediate guidelines for training for a longer amount of time, however, if my gains are not what I expect them to be.

I plan on following the advanced guidelines when I reach a 315 pounds bench press, a 500 pounds parallel squat, a 550 pounds deadlift, and a bodyweight of 230 pounds at 7 percent body fat or less.

3rd Place - Mtguy8787
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

It's easy to find workout regimens for beginners or advanced bodybuilders, but not so easy for intermediate bodybuilders. Maybe it's because people think that when they start bodybuilding they are beginners, then when they train for a while they are advanced. They skip the middle ground.

What Is The Best Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout?

For the beginner tying to pack on mass, full body workouts with low training frequency are best. An advanced bodybuilder will be quite the opposite, with varying training splits and a high workout frequency.

High Frequency Training: Avoid Overtraining! High Frequency Training: Avoid Overtraining!
Tired of training programs that want you to avoid overtraining at all costs? Then maybe you should take a look at High Frequency Training!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

An intermediate trainee will be somewhere in between these two. Many bodybuilders overestimate their training level and go overboard with complicated splits and a new training technique every week. In actuality, most of these bodybuilders are not at an advanced level and do not need 5-day split routines with six exercises per body part.

The best workout program for a intermediate bodybuilder will be a mixture of full body workouts to build overall mass, while allowing for some focus on a few body parts.

Training Fundamentals For The Intermediate Bodybuilder


    The intermediate bodybuilder will probably be able to train at somewhat of a higher frequency than the beginner. The frequency that someone can train at without over training largely depends on their nervous system adaptations.

    Many intermediate trainees can handle 3-5 workout sessions per week, depending on the specific parameters, as well as external recovery factors such as nutrition, sleep, and advanced recovery methods such as contrast showers.

Training Splits:

    The beginner lifter will be best off with full-body workouts. The main reason for this is simply that a full body workout recruits more overall muscle fibers, and better stimulates the CNS into building new muscle.

    An advanced trainee usually needs to focus on specific parts to perfect his/her physique. This is where training splits come in.

    The best intermediate routine will involve a mixture of both full body workouts and splits to focus on a couple favorite or lagging parts.


    For compound movements, the intermediate trainee should aim to get 25-35 total repetitions, per muscle group. For most extra isolation work, an extra 15-20 total reps is generally sufficient.

    As far as total reps are concerned, 9 sets of 3 is equivalent to 3 sets of 9. However, doing more sets with fewer reps allows the use of heavier weights. Heavier weight means greater muscle fiber recruitment, which is always better.

    Complete the compound movements before doing an isolation exercise for that same muscle group. Once those are completed, isolation exercises can be used to target muscles that may need a bit more volume, such as the calves or triceps. Bench press would be done before skull crushers, squats before leg extensions, etc. etc.

What Is The Best All Compound Workout? What Is The Best All Compound Workout?
What is the best all compound workout? Compound movements build the most muscle and increase strength the fastest. Our forum members share their comprehensive knowledge about compound exercises.
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Rest Time Between Sets:

    For the purpose of building muscle, the workouts should be done at a fairly quick pace. 60-to-90 seconds of rest between compound sets should be plenty. For isolation sets, less time is usually needed. Take just enough time to recover between sets. As you advance, you should be able to slowly decrease the amount of resting time you need.

How Long Do You Rest Between Sets?

It Varies Depending On The Exercise.
30 To 60 Seconds.
1 To 3 Minutes.
3 To 5 Minutes.
None. Rest Is For The Weak!


    Lift with a cadence of 2/0/X. This means to take approximately 2 seconds to lower the weight, and no pause at the bottom. There is no need to be exact, just keep the weight under control while lowering it. For the concentric, or the lifting part, lift the weight as fast as possible while maintaining good form.

    A note on 'lifting slow'

    Some trainers will tell you to focus on lifting the weight slowly, in order to 'get a longer TUT,' or time under tension, because it is necessary to stimulate the muscle. This is not a good idea for three reasons.

    • First off, sufficient TUT, or stimulation, is best achieved through performing at least 25 total repetitions, not by lifting the weight slowly.
    • Second, you will not be able to lift nearly as much weight when lifting slowly, which results in less muscle fiber recruitment.
    • Third, if you mentally count during each repetition, it will further decrease the amount of weight you can lift by decreasing neural drive to your muscles.

    The CNS, which is linked directly to the brain, controls all muscle movement. The greater the mental interference, the greater your neural drive to the muscles will be decreased. This has been clearly demonstrated in studies.

    The Central Nervous System.
    The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

    This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

    The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

    Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

    You can easily demonstrate this to yourself, as well. Try to doing a set while focusing 100% on the lift. Next, try a set while counting up by 1s. Try it while counting by 4s or by 7s. You can even try it while counting down from 50.

    While counting out the time while lifting may not affect you as much as counting by 7s, this little test should still demonstrate the point that any counting is not in your best interest.

Training To Failure:

    Training to complete failure is not a good idea for the purposes of this routine, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, training to failure can cause you to burn out before you complete your workout. For ideal muscle growth, you need to reach that threshold of at least 25 repetitions. That can be difficult to do if you barely make it past set 2.

    Secondly, training to failure places unnecessary strain on the CNS. The CNS generally takes longer that the muscles to recover, which means that consistently training to failure will be more likely to cause over training. It also means that you will not be able to workout as frequently, as the nervous system will take longer to recover.

    For the purposes of building muscle, training to failure is not the best option. Lift heavy weights, but always keep an extra rep in the hole.

Cardio & Maintaining Fat Levels:

    While building muscle mass, cardio to prevent excess fat gain is not necessary if one is meticulous in managing their calories and macronutrient ratios. However, most people, including myself, do not have the time or patience to do this well enough to prevent extra fat gain.

    If you are not one of these people, then cardio in addition to weight training can be useful for preventing too much fat gain.

    • Do no more than 3 sessions per week.
    • Ideally, do your cardio workouts separately from your weight training workout. If you do them at the same time, perform your lifts first.
    • Keep the intensity at a low to moderate level. Too much high intensity cardio, like HIIT, adds another burden for your body to handle, in addition to lifting & building muscle. This can slow recovery, and interfere with your gains.

Recovery Workouts:

    Not every single workout need be done at maximal effort. On recovery workout days, use very light, but gradually increasing weights. Work at a fast pace. You can even alternate between 2-or-3 exercises to further decrease resting times. This workout should be moderately easy.

    A low intensity workout, usually done the day after a full-body workout, can help to promote recovery. It can also help the nervous system to gradually adapt to a higher work capacity. This is important if you plan on eventually graduating to the advanced stage. Higher work capacity means more workouts without over training, which in turn equals better results.

Building Work Capacity:

    Building the nervous system's capacity must be done gradually, or you will burn out. Think of someone sunbathing to get a tan. One would not lay out for 2 hours on the first time. Exposure time would gradually be increased as the skin darkened. You can gradually increase the intensity of your recovery workouts, over a period of several months or more. Eventually, you will be able to add another full workout to your week's schedule.

Warming Up:

    Warming-up is important. Do not neglect this part of the workout. Warming-up increases blood flow to your muscles. Not only will you be able to lift more after warming-up, your chances of being injured will be much less after a good warm-up. It is always better to spend extra time warming-up, than not enough.

    Any cardio machine is a good tool to warm-up with, especially if you are going to work your lower body muscles. Dynamic movements, such as arm circles, trunk twists and even bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats, are also great to do. Doing these movements with 5-or-10-pound dumbbells is also an excellent option.

How Important Is Warming Up? How Important Is Warming-Up?
Much of the time you will see people stretching out their legs before a run, or stretching out any body part before they train it. It's also popular for people to begin warm-up sets before they really get into the workout.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

The Workout

Focus Days:

    These days will focus on either upper or lower body parts. As an intermediate bodybuilder, there are most likely a few body parts which you wish to place some extra emphasis on. Perhaps your hamstrings or calves are lagging. Or maybe your lats could use some extra size. These days are the time to work on that.

The Routine:

What Are The Differences Between A Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Bodybuilding Workout?


    A beginner's workout program will have a lower workout frequency, as their bodies have not adjusted to a higher work capacity. The workouts will ideally be full-body workouts, with mostly compound movements. Only 1-or-2 exercise will be done for each main muscle group.


    The intermediate's workout program will consist of slightly higher frequencies, as their bodies should have adapted to an increased workload. Full-body workouts are still useful for adding overall size. Some emphasis is placed on certain muscle groups which may be lagging. At the intermediate level, the bodybuilder begins to see some more variation in set/rep parameters and exercise selection.


    A truly advanced bodybuilder's workout will most likely be split into several parts. This is useful for allowing the bodybuilder to focus on very specific parts of his body in order to fine tune their physique. Perhaps they need to increase their shoulder size in proportion to their arms, or perhaps their traps need extra work to enhance their v-taper. A workout split allows for this.

Post Pics Of V Taper! Post Pics Of V Taper!
"I've always believed that one of the most awesome aspects of bodybuilding is having an awesome V-taper. Anyone got pics to show?"
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    The advanced trainee will usually workout much more often than a beginner, as their body's are able to handle a much higher frequency. Advanced bodybuilders will also use a wide variety of exercises, techniques and parameters.

    At this level, it is harder to progress by constantly increasing the weight, so they must do so in other ways. As the nervous system adapts to one set of parameters, some type of consistent progression is necessary to make consistent gains.

    As an interesting note, workout splits seem to be synonymous with advanced training today. However, during the time of the classical bodybuilders, full-body programs were much more common than isolated splits.

How Long Is The Transition From Beginner To Intermediate, Then Intermediate To Advanced?

There is no exact time for this, as everyone will progress differently, based on their lifestyle, diet, training program and body type. Most people will move into a beginner/intermediate stage after about six months of regular training.

After an additional six months to a year, most bodybuilders will have reached the beginning of an intermediate level.

I really do think that the transition from intermediate to advanced, is, by far the longest. Many intermediate levels bodybuilder tend to overestimate their level, and try to seek out more advanced programs.

Many intermediates tend to slip away from the basic fundamentals as time goes by, without even realizing it. When their program stops working for them, they may think they need a more advanced program, when all they really need is to take a step back and review the core basics of their program.

To reach an advanced level, a bodybuilder must have not only been working out for at least several years, but they must have reached a certain threshold in their neural and muscular adaptations. Someone may have been training for eight years or so, and may have a great physique, but may well still be at an intermediate level.

You have reached an advanced level when you start to near your natural genetic limit, whatever that may be. The man who is 6-foot-2, 235 pounds with 8 percent body fat may well be less advanced than the smaller bodybuilder.

My Level
Do You Consider Yourself A Beginner, Intermediate, Or Advanced Bodybuilder?

I consider myself to be an intermediate bodybuilder. I will probably not compete in the future, so reaching my maximum genetic limit is not a top priority for me. Once I reach my ideal physique, I will maintain that level. That level will most likely be at a high-intermediate level of training.

What Is The Best Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout?

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