I think you've absolutely hit the nail on the head there Steve. The popularity really needs to be taken into account of in the bigger picture. Certainly among lifters who I can describe as 'in the know'
, it is a very popular approach. Most stronger people here for example will use multiple low rep sets on the basics at some point in some incarnation.
I've written about this before, this is what I would have a rank beginner do 3 x weekly:
Overhead Press - 3 x 8
Squat - 3 x 12
Bent Row - 3 x 12
Deadlift - 3 x 8
Bench Press - 3 x 12
That done 3 x weekly would allow the trainee to build up their conditioning and form, both of which are vital to success later.
At the point where form has been ingrained and the lifter is beginning to see some gains, the workload would likely be too much to sustain so I'd simplify into 2 alternating full body routines. Something like:
A year or two on that would then allow the trainee to see where they'd like to go next. Different goals would have different paths but at that point the trainee would have a base of muscle, form and conditioning which will set them up for greater gains down the road.
Originally Posted by BendtheBar
For 20+ years all I saw was splits, splits and more splits.
And that was just Van Damme movies!