There are several key components one must consider when designing a weight training routine. I will attempt to briefly discuss these with you now, but first, I would like to dispel a common myth. Many people believe that a pro bodybuilders' routine can be performed by anyone. This is not true!
Let me tell you why. For starters, although the pros have amazing physiques, which are why they are olympia contenders, there is one thing that most people neglect to remember. The Pros juice, take steroids, shoot the sh!t, you get the idea.
I know it's sad to think that the guys we look up to as bodybuilders are doped up on steroids, but it's true. For this reason, the pros can handle A LOT more volume than the typical bodybuilder.
If a natural bodybuilder follows a pro routine, he will quickly discover that he is over training, and is in fact losing muscle because of this. For these reasons, please do not buy into the hype and decide that because they are supposed to be the best, what works for them will work for you.
Designing A Routine
Now, the first part of designing a routine is to look at your experience level. An absolute beginner will have different requirements than an intermediate or advanced trainee. I will give some advice for beginner and intermediate trainees.
Basically, you need to lay the foundation for your body to grow on. Take a house for example, you can't just throw up some walls on the ground, you have lay a solid foundation for the house to stand up on. Beginners should stick to big, major movements, which require a lot of muscles.
I recommend that beginners use some basic olympic lifting as well. You will find that nothing taxes your muscles quite like olympic lifting. I know what you're probably saying, "Olympic Lifters don't have abs, or great bodies!" This is true, but it's because Olympic lifters train for power and explosiveness, not for size and muscularity.
I also recommend that ALL trainees, even advanced, spend at least 8-12 weeks out of the year doing power-lifting style workouts. These will not give you a lot of muscle size, but they will increase your strength, which will translate to more size later, and, most importantly, they will give you incredible thickness.
You will be flat looking if you don't do power-lifting at least part of the year, and muscle size with no thickness just looks stupid.
Step One: Routine Variations
I still recommend that you spend at least 8-12 weeks doing power-lifting workouts. When you switch back to regular bodybuilding routines, you can start adding more volume, and more advanced exercises. Intermediate bodybuilders can go into more elaborate training splits as well, just as long as they don't start over training.
Step Two: Training Duration
The second fundamental of a training program is how long you spend in the gym. It was believed in the past (due to people following pro advice) that the longer you spend in the gym, the more muscle you will produce for your efforts.
Training for hours on end in the gym is ridiculous, and a complete waste of time.
Bulgarian research discovered that training this long impedes your recovery, which in turn may cause you to LOSE muscle rather than gain it. What these researchers discovered was that after 55 minutes of training, the body's testosterone levels would decrease by up to 80%!
Testosterone serves two functions for the bodybuilder: first, it is the main substance involved in recovery. Second, it is also the main substance involved in creating lean muscle.
What this means is if you train past 55 minutes, yo
Step Three: Training Frequency
How often you train each body part. Research has shown that a muscle starts to atrophy (shrink) after 72 hours of remaining dormant. What this means is your muscles need to be trained with 72 hours after they were last stimulated or else they will go to waste.
This does not, however, mean that it takes 72 hours for a muscle to recover. Another factor I would like to talk about is muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is NOT a gauge of recovery! Don't let a sore muscle keep you out of the gym. Now don't confuse my words, I said don't let muscle soreness keep you out of the gym, not injury.
If you are injured, then you need to see a doctor, do rehab, and recover the best you can.
Step Four: Exercise selection
This is where a lot of people mess up! Beginning and advanced lifters should have basic compound movements as the basis of their training routine. Every session should start with the movement you will use the most weight for, for instance, squats.
Most people, following the typical pro routine, will have too many isolation movements involved. A compound movement crosses at least two joints, for instance, in a squat you move your hips, knees, and to a lesser extent, ankles.
An isolation movement crosses only one joint, for instance, in a leg extension; you move only your knees. I will now list what I believe are the best exercises for beginning and intermediate lifters.
Step Five: Correct Resistance
You need to find out what weight range works best for you, for instance, I prefer to work in the 6-8 range for upper body movements, and 10-20 range for leg exercises.
Beginners should start off light to get the feel of the movement, then alter their weight until they find what particular rep range gives them the best results. Don't be afraid to try really low, and really high reps, as everybody responds differently to different rep ranges.
Step Six: Rest And Recovery
How long you rest in between sets depends on your goal. There are three types of energy systems that the body uses to power itself. The first is ATPPC; you use this energy system when you do short bursts of intensity, followed by long rest periods, such as in a power-lifting workout.
The second is Lactic Acid; this is when you rest in the 1-2 minute range. This is the typical resting range for bodybuilding workouts. The third energy system is aerobic, which entails doing long bouts at a lower intensity, and really cutting down the rest times, where you're huffing and puffing.
Experiment with all of these rest and energy systems to see what works the best for you.
Now, for all of you who have scrolled down here to just see what routine I'm going to lay out, you're going to be disappointed. I'm not laying out a routine, that will be a different article. With the skills I've taught you here, you should be able to plan a solid weight training routine for yourself. Until next time.