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Old 10-07-2011, 11:10 PM   #1
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Default Designing a full body routine

I was going through my list of links on classic threads, and here's an excerpt from one of the threads in forums. An excellent "must read" post for full-body enthusiasts. Possibly this has been covered already in this forum, but there are points worth bringing up.

Advanced Full-body routines would be a topic for an entire book, so it isn't easy to cover in a post, but I'll try to cover the basics as I see them. Keep in mind that this is just one implementation of advanced full-body training - there are many others.


1) Muscle protein synthesis returns to baseline within 36-48 hours of even intense, high-volume training, though the processes of muscular damage and repair may extend beyond this. Muscles can, however, be trained even though they may not be finished recuperating from previous training. Therefore, muscles can be trained successfully three times per week.

2) Connective tissue recovery is much slower than muscle recovery. Nervous system inhibition may also last longer than 48 hours. So most people, even though they may be able to train the muscle three times per week, will not be able to train the same exercises heavily three times per week.


1) Select one major exercise for each of the body's major motions - pressing, pulling, and squatting - for each training session. This core work should consist of basic, free-weight, compound movements. Accessory work can be added after this part of the training is done, but it is to be just that - 'accessory work', not the main event.

2) Perform different reps on the different days of the week. Perform the heaviest, lowest reps on the first training day, the lightest, highest rep work on the next training day (48 hrs later) and the moderate, medium rep-range work on the last training day of the week (48 hours after light day). Rest two full days and repeat the cycle with slightly heavier (even by only a pound or less) weights, or performing at least one more rep on at least one of your sets of an exercise.

3) Take longer breaks of 2-3 minutes between sets on your heavy days, shorter rests of a minute or less on your light days, and 2 minutes rest between sets on your medium days.

4) At the more advanced stages select major exerciess that are significantly different from each other for each of the training days.

5) Place the exercises that apply the heaviest loading on the first day of the week. Place the exercises that apply the lightest loading two days after that. Place the exercises that apply medium loading on the last day of the week. In other words arrange your workouts in a heavy, light and medium fashion.

6) Even though you call the days "heavy, light and medium" you actually train hard on all three days - it's the loading and the rep range, not the effort, that determines how 'heavy' an exercise is considered.

Sample Strength/Bulking Routine

Bench Press 5x5-7
Bent-Over Row 5x5-7
Squat 5x5-7
Barbell Curl 5x5-7
Abs 3x12-15

Press Behind-Neck 4x10-15
Wide-grip Pull-Up 4x10-15
Sissy Squat 4x10-15
Forearm work 4-6x12-20
Neck work 4-6x12-20

Incline Press 4x8-12
Power Clean/High Pull 5x5-7
Front Squat 4x8-12
Decline Triceps Extension 4x8-12
Calves 3x12-20

That's a basic strength/bulk oriented advanced routine - very good for anyone looking to gain overall muscle mass.

Purely for advanced bodybuilding purposes I usually structure things something like this...

Incline Press 5x5-7
Bent-Over Row 5x5-7
Clean and Press 5x5-7
Squat 5x5-7
Barbell Curl 5x5-7
Abs 3x12-15

Cross-Bench DB Pullover 4x10-15
Wide-grip Pull-Up 4x10-15
Overhead Squat 4x10-15
OR DB Lateral Raise 4x10-15
Sissy Squat 4x10-15
Forearm work 4-6x12-20

Chest Dip 4x8-12
Power Clean/High Pull 5x5
OR Stiff-Legged Deadlift 5x5
Behind-the-Neck Press 4x8-12
Front Squat 4x8-12
Decline Triceps Extension 4x8-12
Calves 3-4x12-20

These workouts should take about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, with Wednesdays being about an hour or less.

For someone who's very advanced and/or training with upcoming competition in mind the heavy day might look like this...

Incline Press 5x5-7
Chest Dips 5x5-7
Moderate-grip Pull-Up 4x8-10
Bent-Over Row 5x5-7
Clean and Press 5x5-7
DB Lateral Raise 4x10-15
Squat 3-5x5-7
Front Squat 5x5-7
Abs 3x12-20

That would take about 1:35 to 1:45 and would demand a heavy food intake afterwards for recovery and to take advantage of the huge growth stimulus delivered to the whole body ...a very Park-ish day.

Light Day might be...

Cross-Bench DB Pullover 4x10-15
Close-Grip Pull-Up 4x10-15
Seated Bent-Forward DB Lateral Raise 3-4x10-15
Sissy Squat 4x10-15
Preacher Curl 4x8-12
Triceps Pressdown 4x8-12
Wrist Curl 3-4x12-20
Calf Raise 3-4x12-20

Friday - Medium Day
Bench Press 4x8-10
Parallel Grip OR 2-DB Bent-Over Rows 4x8-10
Behind-the-Neck Press 4x8-10
Roman Chair Squat 4x8-12
Stiff-Legged Deadlift 4x8-10
DB Curl 4x8-12
Lying Triceps Extension 4x8-12
Reverse-Grip Wrist Curl 3-4x12-20
Seated Calf Raise 3-4x12-20

Obviously, the heavy day in this case is pretty brutal, so the light day contains no heavy pressing, rowing or back squatting to allow for recovery. Also, as the routines get more complex the underlying principles appear to get lost, but if you look closely they're there. I might have left something out too, because much of this is off the top of my head and my mind is getting muddled after typing all this. This a very intensive routine and the vast majority of genetically typical trainees would gain muscle and strength much quicker on the two routines listed before this one.

In all routines, the days can be rearranged so that some body parts are trained 'light' while others get hit 'heavy' and 'medium' on the same day. For instance, Monday might be 'heavy' for legs (Squats 5x5) but 'medium' for chest (Incline Press 4x8-12), etc.

Having gone through all that I have to say that Reg Park, Steve Reeves, Eiferman, Ross, Kono, etc would actually not perform different exercises on each of the training days - they'd simply do the same routines but adjust their effort level by how they felt. That ability to instinctively know what their bodies needed and could handle was not only critical in allowing them to train full-body three times per week, it's also what made them champions.

The cycling ideas I've presented here (heavy, light, medium - different exercises on different days) were pioneered by people like Bob Hoffman (who began prescribing something similar in the 1930s) and Bill Starr (who wrote about it extensively from the 1960s to present). Marvin Eder and Doug Hepburn also cycled their training loads to different degrees, with Hepburn being very structured about it and eventually winning the World Weightlifting Championship as a result. Most of what went on to become the Soviet system of periodization was taken from Hepburn's concepts. Kono cycled his loads, but more instinctively. Park went for broke all he could, ate like ten men and slept like a newborn to support that. Most of Park's routines, up to his peak condition of 225 pounds and Bench Pressing 500 pounds and Squatting 600 (with no support gear and years before the 'invention' of the first anabolic steroids), would be considered 'beginner' routines by today's 'standards'. Park felt it wasn't the level of sophistication put into a routine, it's the level of work and how strong you get - he became obsessed simply with lifting more weight on the barbell.
The poster? Casey Butt.
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