Workout 5: Intermediate, 4-day split

July 17th, 2008  |  Published in Workout ideas  |  5 Comments

A word on split routines: I prefer to split routines by movement types (e.g. “pushing”, “pulling”, etc.) or by intensity (e.g. heavy, medium, light), not “body parts”.

The body doesn’t really understand “parts”; it understands kinetic chains — a sequence of events designed to achieve an objective. The body will use whatever “parts” it thinks it needs to get the job done, in the appropriate order. Thus, for example, when throwing a ball, the body doesn’t think “OK, first, I’m hitting the rear delts and forearm extensors, then I’m totally recruiting the external obliques…”

It just thinks: Throw ball.

So don’t get all fussy about which body parts a given exercise “works”. Just get as many pieces moving as possible, as smoothly and precisely as possible. Let your body figure out the rest.

routine 1: conventional split

This routine should be done either every other day, or as a Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday kind of split, if you have to fit it into a 7-day week. Don’t do more than 2 days in a row. I include lower back and ab work twice weekly. This helps a great deal in developing torso stability. Rest about 60-90 seconds between sets (you might want a little longer between squat sets).
Notation: Exercise sets x reps
For example: bench press 3 x 8 is 3 sets of 8 reps per set

day 1 – legs

  1. squat
    3 sets of 6-10 reps
  2. split squat or lunge
    3 x 6-10
  3. stiff-legged deadlift
    3 x 8-10
  4. calf raise
    3 x 6-10
  5. back hyperextensions
    3 x 8-10

day 2 – chest, triceps, abs

  1. bench or dumbbell press
    3 x 6-10
  2. dips or assisted dips (if you can)
    3 x 6-10
  3. incline bench or dumbbell press
    3 x 6-10
  4. close-grip pushups
    2 x 8-10
  5. ab crunches or swissball crunches
    3 x 8-10

day 3 – back, biceps

  1. deadlift
    3 x 6-10
  2. pullups OR lat pulldowns
    3 sets of as many as you can do for pullups (if you can do more than 6-8 pullups at once, put a 5-lb plate between your knees and do them), 3 sets of 6-8 reps for lat pulldowns
  3. row of choice
    3 x 8-10
  4. biceps curl
    2 x 6-10
  5. back hyperextension
    3 x 8-10

day 4 – shoulders, lower back

  1. standing shoulder press or one-hand side press
    3 x 6-10
  2. power shrugs
    3 x 6-10
  3. lateral raises
    2 x 8-10
  4. ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches
    3 x 8-10

routine 2: push/pull, light/heavy

This routine should be done either every other day, or as a Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday kind of split, if you have to fit it into a 7-day week. Don’t do more than 2 days in a row, and try to have a heavy day follow a rest day. Rest about 2 minutes between sets on heavy days (you might want a little longer between squat sets), and about 60-90 seconds between sets on light days.

day 1 – heavy push

  1. squat
    3 x 5
  2. dips or assisted dips (if you can) or standing shoulder press
    3 x 6-8
  3. calf raise
    3 x 6-8
  4. ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches
    3 x 8-10

day 2 – light pull

  1. power shrugs
    5 x 3, with light weight (i.e. don’t use the weight you’d use for a 3-rep max; use about 70-80% of that)
  2. one-arm dumbbell row
    3 x 12-15
  3. biceps curls
    2 x 8-10
  4. lower back extension
    3 x 12-15

day 3 – light push

  1. front squats
    5 x 3 with light weight (i.e. don’t use the weight you’d use for a 3-rep max; use about 70-80% of that)
  2. standing shoulder press or one-hand side press
    3 x 12-15
  3. pushups
    3 sets
  4. close-grip bench press 2 x 10-12
  5. ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches
    3 x 8-10

day 4 – heavy pull

  1. deadlift OR hang clean pull
    3 x 6
  2. pullups OR lat pulldowns
    3 sets of as many as you can do for pullups (if you can do more than 6-8 pullups at once, put a 5-lb plate between your knees and do them), 3 sets of 6-8 reps for lat pulldowns
  3. horizontal pullup OR wide-grip row Horizontal pullups: 3 x as many as you can; wide grip row: 3 x 6-8

Responses

  1. Carmen Frieda says:

    June 12th, 2009at 3:40 pm(#)

    Hello!
    I need you advise on my workout routine and calorie intake. First, I am 4’11, 33 years old, and I weight about 95 pounds. I had a sedentary life until last year that I started going to the gym for cardio and very light weight lifting classes. On January I started weight lifting by myself because I want to gain strength a muscle. Since then also I have been eating 6 little meals a day, a total of 1500-1700/day. My workout is a 4 day split with 2 sessions of cardio (on my rest days).
    My first, concern: I haven’t been able to gain weight. I am still 95 pounds. Should I eat more?
    Second: I haven’t been able to lift more since I started, and that is driving me crazy! I just feel like I can’t do one more rep at certain point (it doesn’t hurt), and it has been on the same rep every time.

    I would really appreciate any info you can give me on the matter! I am sure it is me doing things right, but I am willing to learn and change! Thanks!

  2. Mistress Krista says:

    June 13th, 2009at 9:36 am(#)

    I’d say eat more. For sure. Check your protein intake — make sure it’s around 0.8 g per lb of bodyweight (so, for you, around 75 g daily). Eat a nice big meal especially after training.

  3. Christina Arasmo says:

    August 9th, 2009at 3:49 pm(#)

    From what I gathered from News Rules of Lifting for Women is that even if it’s only 3-4 reps at a heavier weight (increasing weight every time you do that set), you increase muscle and strength. It’s logical and it’s true. It will be a struggle and it will hurt and though he’s a “nonwoman” he doesn’t recommend going to failure. Why do that? Not necessary. If you keep lifting the same weights over and over, then you’re just training your muscle to lift the same weights over and over and you’re building endurance, but not strength. Read more about building muscles/bulking for weight gain (mostly in the dude realm), eat more (a lot more) and lift heavy. You’re an Ectomorph it sounds. I’m on a quest to find some stuff on gaining muscle without gaining fat.

  4. Matthew JW Smith says:

    August 18th, 2009at 8:13 am(#)

    Krista,

    I just wanted to say thank you very much. I’m a man that has been using your site for years and has found that it works fantastically after it was reccomended to me by a good female friend. Your site really cuts through the BS and I’ve used it to quell stupid arguments from many people (many of whom were women) who are brainwashed into believing that weights aren’t for girls and aren’t the best way to get into shape. I tell them that it worked for me and it cut through all the hype and stupidity. I’m currently trying to help my girlfriend start a regimen as I think she looks great but she doesn’t feel so hot. We are actively using your website to get started. So as I’ve been revisting your Training/Routine section here, (cause I’m finding that I would like to jazz up my routine a bit as I’ve been using a variation of your Beginner Full Body Split for about 3 Years now) I’m clicking on the above links and unfortunately they don’t work. I think they are supposed to take one to the Dork/Diva section to demonstrate the excercises (Which would be of great help to my lady) but there is an Error Type 404 message that comes up. In fact, when you click on the ‘Day 2 Lower back extension link’ you get taken to this site…

    http://www.jeanpaul.com/?404=Y

    As much as I enjoy Jean Paul Gaultier’s Sartorial majesty I’m afraid that it wasn’t what I was hoping to find. Help! Both myself and her will benefit greatly from this and are hoping that this minor problem can be fixed. Other than that, Keep on doing the great job that you do and I’ll keep on spreading the Stumptuous Gospel!

    Cheers!

    Matthew J.W. Smith

  5. Victoria Ferauge says:

    March 23rd, 2011at 11:46 pm(#)

    Dear Krista,

    I’ve been doing routine 1 for three months now. Very nice. Enough variety every day so that I don’t get bored. I found also that concentrating on a different “part(s)” every day seems to improve my form. Also, mentally, I find it easier to say “OK, body, today we do legs. So work ‘em!” This has meant much higher weights than I usually lift. I’m really pleased. Thank you.

    Victoria


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