Getting to Know Bodybuilding Workout Routines

Updated July 26, 2020

There’s no reason to be embarrassed. So you don’t know anything about bodybuilding workout routines. No big whoop. Read on, soldier. The following is a list of routines that every budding bodybuilding guru should familiarize him/herself with:

Full Body Workout. Some might not call this a routine. But it is. In fact, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (or before Joe Weider roamed the Earth), it was darn near just about the only routine. On a full-body routine, you train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, using primarily heavy compound lifts, and hammering all body parts. Sounds simple? It is. And effective.

20 Rep Squat Routine. 20 rep squats are brutal. So brutal that entire routines have been built around this single set. The routine is easy to understand. Just go to the gym, pick a weight, and squat 20 reps with it, train various other body parts, go home and drink plenty of whole milk. Rinse. Repeat. No, I am not kidding. Try it…you’ll see why I’m not joking around.

5×5. This isn’t maths. A 5×5 routine has you performing 5 sets of 5 reps on major compound lifts such as squats, bench press, deadlifts, and rows. The 5×5 program is one of the best routines for beginners – it will put you on the fast track to strength and muscle mass gains.

HIT. HIT – or high-intensity training – is a controversial bodybuilding philosophy that requires trainees to perform 1 set to failure per exercise, 3 times a week. Despite the controversy, HIT works for many – as do most training routines. The crux of the debate regarding HIT is over the principle of training to failure.

Heavy Duty. Mike Mentzer created the Heavy Duty training style in an attempt to refine HIT. Heavy Duty workouts are brief, rarely lasting over 20-25 minutes, and – not surprisingly – much more intense then HIT workouts. If you’re ever looking for a fun-filled afternoon, start a thread on a bodybuilding forum that reads, I love Heavy Duty and HIT training.

High Volume. High volume training splits were popularized in the ’70s by lifters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. A high volume routine generally has you performing 30 plus sets per body part, often multiple times per week.

German Volume Training. German Volume Training, or GVT, is the king of pain. Lifters crank out 10 sets of 10 reps, with limited rest between sets. The 2 key words to remember when thinking about GVT are shock and sore.

Max-OT. Max-OT focuses on lower rep ranges than most bodybuilding routines. When hammering a body part in Max-OT, you perform 6-9 sets of 4-6 reps. Max-OT is a modern creation, and as far as I’m concerned, isn’t exactly revolutionary.

HST. HST, or Hypertrophy Specific Training, is another modern creation. HST has you performing full-body workouts three times a week, gradually moving from higher reps and lighter weight to heavier weight and lower reps.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. For more reading on the subject, check out Muscle and Brawn’s routine section. Other notable routines include:

  • Slingshot Training System
  • Max-Stim
  • Gironda’s 8×8
  • Demon Training
  • Bulldozer Training
  • Westside Barbell system

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