This is a push/pull/legs split (a 3-way split) mainly geared towards hypertrophy but will work well for strength gains for newer to intermediate trainers as well. I’d like you to train 4 days per week, something like Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday (only have two back-to-back days). The days will rotate around a bit because of it’s a 3-way split over 4 training days per week (i.e. one week you’ll train chest on Monday, then train it again on Saturday, the next week you’d train it on Friday and the following week on Wednesday).
Always make sure you’re thoroughly warmed up, and use good form on all exercises. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is VERY important that you remain injury free; even a minor tear or rupture can set your training (and progress) back for quite some time. In bodybuilding, as with most things in life, longevity is much more important than quick gains. The trainer who plugs along at 90% for 10 years will always beat the trainer who pushes things 110% for 3 years, gets injured and/or burned out, and quits.
Pec-dec (to pre-exhaust): 3 sets of 12 reps
Arch your sternum high, and on every rep, hold the contraction for 1 second.
Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets; 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps (all to failure – pyramid up in weight)
Use whatever grip is most comfortable and that you feel most in the chest. I personally prefer my elbows pointing down at about a 45-degree angle from my body, and I hold the dumbbells about midway between a pronated (palms down) and a neutral (hammer) grip.
Dips: 2 sets to failure (add weight if you can)
Lean in on these and get a good stretch in your chest on all reps.
Seated Dumbbell Laterals - 3 sets of 12 reps
Go up to shoulder level and return under control. I personally like using wrist straps for these. Relax your traps (think of “sinking” them) to minimize their recruitment during the movement.
Bent-over Dumbbell Lateral - 3 sets of 25 reps
Keep reps under control. Use wrist straps if you like. Rest 30 seconds between sets. High reps are great on rear delts.
Barbell Overhead Press – 3 sets of 8 reps
Use controlled form and flex hard at the top for 1 second on all reps.
Rope Pushdowns: 3 sets: 15, 12, 10 reps (pyramid up in weight)
Flex hard on every rep. Rest about 45 seconds between sets.
Upright Dips (or dip machine) – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps (add weight if needed to get target rep range)
Use a shoulder width grip and go down until your upper arms are parallel with the ground.
Ez-Bar Skullcrushers: 3 sets of 15 reps
Extend bar up and back away from your head (not directly above your head) and at the bottom, let the weight really stretch you out, every rep.
Wide Grip Pulldown: 4 sets of 15 reps
Use a wide, overhand grip. Squeeze at contraction for 1 second on every rep.
Dumbbell Row Deadstops: 4 sets of 10 reps
Regular db rows, but rest the db on the floor for a second on every rep. Work hard on these! Crank some weight.
Dumbbell Shrugs: 3 sets of 12 reps.
Squeeze every rep at the top for 3 seconds.
Floor Deadlifts: 3 sets: 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3
Work up to a heavy set of 5, then add a little weight and do 4 reps, then a little more weight for a final set of 3 reps.
EZ-Bar Curls: 4 sets: 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps (all to failure – pyramid up in weight
Use a fairly close grip and don’t swing the weight. Bring it up to your chin and squeeze for a second on every rep. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
DB Curls with 3-second Negatives: 3 sets of 8 reps
Keep palms up the entire time. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
Machine Curl: 1 set of 20 reps
Use a machine preacher curl if you have one that you like, or if not, then use standing cable curls.
Lying Leg Curls: 4 sets: 15 reps, 12 rep, 10 reps, 8 reps.
Keep your feet close together, with your toes pointed (like a ballerina on tippy-toes). Get a good 1 second contraction at the top of all reps. On the last set, after the 8 reps, drop the weight in half and knock out 20 reps (this is a dropset, do the 20 right after the 8).
Leg Press: 3 sets: 1 x 20, 1 x failure, 1 x failure
First set is a HARD 20 reps, then keep same weight and do 2 more sets to failure (you’ll probably get 15 reps on the second set, and 10 on the third). Use a shoulder width stance. Each rep should be fluid, don’t stop at the top. Go deep, but not so far that your butt and lower back lifts off the pad.
Squats: 1 set of 20 reps
Use a shoulder-width stance. Always squat BELOW parallel. This is when the crease of your hips breaks parallel with the top of your knees. Basically, ass to grass. This set should be a ball-breaker. Use a weight you could normally do maybe 12 or 13 reps with, but get to 20.. no matter how many breaks you need to take at the top. Go balls out… train like a champion.
Smith Machine Lunges: 4 sets of 10 on each leg
Do all reps on one leg, then immediately do the other leg, then rest 45 seconds, then repeat 2 more times for 3 x 10 total.
Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts: 4 sets of 10 reps
Get a good stretch on all reps.
Standing Calf Raises (or Calves on Leg Press) – 4 sets of 12 reps
Don’t bounce reps – hold stretched position for a count of one before starting next rep. Take 1 minute rest between sets.
Seated Calf Raises – 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Hold stretched position for a count of one before starting next rep. 1 minute rest between sets.
- DO NOT move up in weight if you’re training sloppy – that will only result in injury. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you train safely and remain injury-free.
- With all the exercises, go to complete positive failure (assuming proper form). This means you cannot complete another full rep with good form. Training past this point (by doing incomplete reps, forced reps, etc.) will only over-stress your central nervous system, which is not a good thing.
- For every movement on every exercise, always EXPLODE on the concentric, and control/resist on the eccentric.
- It is imperative that you keep a logbook and always try to beat your previous weights or reps, while remembering to always use impeccable form. On smaller bodyparts like biceps it will be hard to add weight all the time, so try to add reps there first. When you can get the upper rep range with a certain weight, then try adding a small amount of weight (if you can get magnetic “Plate-mates” that come in 1.25-pound or smaller increments, those would be best).
Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.SYMIPHOTOGRAPHY.com