Last week, Sarah and I went to Garden City, South Carolina for Memorial Day weekend. Sarah’s family has a beach house down there and its a good time to see everyone during the year. It was a fun time, except I got a pretty bad case of “sun bumps” from a sunburn. The first day I got burnt, even with sunscreen on. We were out for a good 6-8 hours though. The second day I played it safe and wore a shirt, but the sun bumps are still going strong a week later. Not fun.
After a busy week at work, we had some really good friends over for a cookout on Friday night. My dad bought us a grill, so we figured a cookout would be a good idea. As soon as they got to our house, it started pouring rain. 😦 So we “cooked-in” instead and had some burgers. Saturday would have been a much better day for the cookout, but oh well. There will be several more weekends we can do it.
I was finally able to see Avengers Endgame yesterday. Holy $H!T that movie was great. I think it may even be in my top ten. I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to spoil it, but it was extremely entertaining and it did not feel like a 3-hour movie. They tied a tremendous amount of interconnecting storylines together which is not an easy task. I will say Hawkeye or I believe he went by “Ronin” in this movie was one of my favorite characters. He had some awesome scenes with the katana. This movie definitely had some emotional scenes as well that were pretty powerful especially for a superhero type movie.
Throughout the week, I have been racking my brain to figure out how I want to change my routine up. I considered going back to full on bro-split, but settled for something a bit different. I think I’m going to like this setup a lot:
Bench Press 4 sets of 8 reps / Dips 4 sets to failure
DB Rows 4 sets of 8 reps / Chins 4 sets to failure
OFF or Incline Walk
Inc DB Press 4 sets of 8 reps / Dips 4 sets to failure
Trap-bar Deads 4 sets of 8 reps / Chins 4 sets to failure
Pushups 8 sets (25 each)
Chinups 8 sets (10 each)
*Main Moves – Rep Goals:
3 sets of 24 reps – Avg – 8 reps
4 sets of 30 reps – Avg 7.5 reps
5 sets of 35 reps – Avg – 7 reps
Once achieved increase the weight by 5lbs
As you can see, simple just like I like it. However, this routine has a large amount of volume (*24 sets for Push and Pull Muscles each week, including some lighter stuff ) and I have also brought back an old concept called Rep Goals. Rep Goals literally mean once you a specific number of reps over a certain number of sets (WITH THE SAME WEIGHT), you increase that weight by 5 pounds the next workout to drive progressive overload. It’s a very simple method. No pyramid schemes. Use the same weight that gets increased when you achieve the Rep Goal. It is basically Push / Pull every other day. The trap-bar deads introduces some legs into my routine and I may make the off day a leg day, but not sure yet. The dips and chins are literally there to annihilate the rest of the working muscles. After some heavy benches or rows, dips/chins don’t feel so light anymore and they also light my muscles on fire. I take these to failure and get as many as I can. This not only drives up my volume on the working muscles but helps to act as a finisher and I can knock them out very quickly.
I was thinking about doing 2 isolation moves after the main lifts each day instead, but I liked the simplicity here and I think I will enjoy it more with bodyweight finishers. I’m also working more total muscle as well this way. However, the isolation moves may certainly be something I try in the future.
New Monster flavor – Ultra Paradise. Tasted like a gummi bear. 7 out of 10. The orginial is still the best.
So I’ve been hitting a calorie deficit for about 2-3 weeks without really cheating in awhile. I’d have a day where I would eat more, but not really a cheat day. Yesterday I decided to have a large cheat meal of whatever I wanted. I decided on Cheese Fries from Kickback Jacks along with a Chicken Ceasar Salad and some wings. I woke up this morning looking much fuller than I have in awhile. I actually look like I lift again! It’s amazing what flat looking muscles can do to your physique and mind when cutting. Not fun.
I was really pumped to get back into a higher protein / lower carb way of eating, but realized I was overdoing it on high fiber / low carb food items. This really can wreck your digestion and make you bloated. I always love how Nutritionists latch on to certain ideas like “Fiber is the best thing you can eat” or “It’s almost impossible to get too much fiber, because it’s good for your gut bacteria.” Um yeah, actually it’s extremely easy to get too much fiber and getting too much can literally wreck you. When you add in high fiber tortillas/bread on top of fruits and vegetables and high fiber protein bars (almost all of them in today’s world), then you have just very easily hit well over 50-60 grams. I think I even hit 80 grams one day. I swear it felt like it took me 3 days to clear my bowels and just to feel like I didn’t have a full stomach all the time. After it finally was clear, I decided to go on a very low fiber diet and I felt very good and I looked even better. My stomach was consistently flat all day. I used to wake up with a flat stomach and go to bed looking like buddah. With low fiber, it’s always flat. It’s easy to overlook factors in your diet that you associate with being healthy when in reality they can be a problem. High fiber leads to almost constant distension and a not very aesthetic appearance.
Some foods I have found to be very beneficial to this way of eating AKA non-bloat:
I’ve really been into wings recently. A little bit higher fat, but I always save some room for fattier items in my diet.
Doesn’t bloat me at all.
Mainly eating Tyson chicken strips, but digests well.
Can make you a little gassy, but not overly bloated.
Small handful. Berries don’t bloat me like other fruits.
Well cooked and only small amounts at once.
Bought these last week. 6.5 out of 10. The mix we get from Aldi is a lot better and cheaper.
Pancakes. Ate this about 4 times this week for breakfast.
Veggie burgers, Turkey Bacon and 1/3 of a bag of broccoli.
Chicken and Potatoes.
Blaze Pizza. 5.5 out of 10. Very plain and nothing worth remembering.
Homemade Chicken teriyaki – Chicken, Broccoli, White Rice
I missed my post last week due to my 27th birthday. Sarah took the day off and we hung out and ate a lot of food. I ended up taking a rest day from the gym and we went to Whole Foods for lunch. We split a plate of food from their food bar, which cost about $15 a plate. Good thing we shared. I tried mochi for the first time, which apparently is Japanese ice cream and it did not disappoint. It tasted like a doughnut hole with ice cream in it. After Whole Foods, we went to Vitamin Shoppe and got some Birthday Cake Quest Bars and a Pumpkin Pie Halo Top. Both were as good as they sound. My parents came over after work (this was last Tuesday) and we all drove to Stellas in Richmond. It’s a very authentic Greek place that is pricey, but worth the money. I was so stuffed at the end of the meal, all I wanted to do was lay down ;). We had hummus, tzataki, pita bread, homemade bread, tiropita (one of the best foods ever made), a greek platter, baklava and coffee to end the meal. I ate so much, I think I’m still working off that fat gain haha.
I recently decided on a more organized workout routine. I stumbled upon FST -7 after watching some random documentary on Netflix. It’s a very high volume “Bro Split” that apparently many bodybuilders use to increase their size. The main focus is staying in the hypertrophy range with a mix of compound and isolation movements. The goal is to stretch the fascia tissue of the muscle, which can lead to more growth. So far I have done the Chest and Back workouts and I have been very sore afterward. I took about 4-5 days off before my first serious lifting workout because I wanted to change what I was doing in the gym. Since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I wanted to be fresh when I finally figured it out. These workouts are actually fast enough to complete on my break. This is mainly because your only working one major muscle a day. This is far from a strength program, so I’m interested to see what happens to my current 210lb bench if I lay off of it for awhile. I also plan to do about 30-40 minutes of cardio on my 3 rest days. I haven’t done a bro split in a while, but I think I’m really going to enjoy it as I have in the past. May not be “optimal” but doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, I have stated in my previous article The Bro Split.
BB bench press 3×8-12 (normal rest)
Machine Flys 3×8-12
Incline DB Press 3×8-12
Cable Flys 7×12 reps (30 seconds rest)
Sun – Cardio
Mon – Shoulders / Abs
Wed – Arms
Fri – Chest
Sat – Back/Traps
My diet has been pretty high protein and low carb following my birthday. My energy has not been fantastic on it, but I was mainly trying to cut some of the bloat, which is basically gone. I plan to move back to a balanced diet to get through these workouts. Trust me if you don’t eat enough going to into these workouts, your intensity will die out somewhere between the end of the second and the beginning of the third exercise. The volume is way higher than I’m used too and the food is needed to not only get through the workout but to recover. It’s a shame I didn’t do one of these workouts on my birthday ;).
Other Life Stuff:
The Hokies really don’t look great right now. We won on Saturday, but it was not very impressive. Our offense looks very stagnant and predictable. I also have a coworker who is an extreme UVA fan, so I really want the Hokies to dominate them when they play on Friday.
The Giants finally won! It wasn’t a very high scoring game, but the game was actually more entertaining than the score would lead you to believe. Eli led the team to a win in OT. I really hate McAdoo, but he seemed to show a lot of emotion in this one and I’m sure it felt good for him to beat a good team.
I start my Taltz injections today. I really can’t wait. After reading some reviews, the medicine seems to work pretty quickly for the vast majority of people. The only time it doesn’t seem to work is if they have a long history of using other injection type of drugs. It would be really nice to have clear skin again and get rid of this nasty problem.
My plan worked. I did nothing, but run this week and made sure to kept it between 30-40 minutes max. I actually had the urge to lift by Wednesday, but that’s when I realized I haven’t lifted in over a week. My last lifting day was Tuesday of last week, which means it has been 11 days of no lifting.
The goal of restoring my urge to lift has succeeded though. I stumbled on an article I read in the past called Grow Like a New Lift Again by Greg Nuckols. The article presents reasons why you can and should periodize your training to include a good week to a month off training every 6-10 weeks. You should then follow this with a month of heavy volume for each body part (bro split) and then a month of high frequency (full body) training. This not only provides variation but also prevents burnout (which I have experienced recently).
The whole thing looks like this:
12 days to a month
Week 1: 3 sets of 5-12 reps and 3-4 exercises per body part. The frequency for each muscle is done once a week.
Week 2: Same but do 4 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise
Week 3: Same but do 5 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise
The Idea is to increase in intensity each week.
Week 4: Deload. Use the same exercises and layout, but do higher reps and light weights.
High Frequency Traning
Week 1: Hit muscles/movements 3 times a week at least
Week 2: Same, but increase intensity
Week 3: Same, but increase intensity
Week 4: Deload
As for the nutrition for this program, he really only stated to be in a calorie surplus during the lifting phase. This means a small deficit during the layoffs and deloads would be a good idea to balance out the fat gains. So if the layoffs lasted 2 weeks the whole cycle would be 10 weeks. 4 weeks in a deficit and 6 weeks in a surplus.
I can see myself doing this. I tend to get very bored doing the same routine over and over and this provides a very simple template to structure training in a way that can provide ongoing gains and variety. I will probably start this at the beginning of next year.
I’m also 99% sure that I will cancel my Gold’s Gym membership and join Crunch Fitness. This is a new gym in my area and they are all new. It’s also very close to where I will live next year and what you get for the money (only $25 a month) is well worth it.
Thursday – 30 minutes of cardio / Shoulders and Traps
Friday – 20 minutes of cardio / Arms
Saturday (Today) – 30 minutes of cardio / high rep lifting
Average Nutrition –
Last Week – 2600 Calories / Protein 140g / Carbs 300g / Fat 85g / Fiber 40g
This Week – 1952 Calories / Protein 150g / Carbs 225g / Fat 63g / Fiber 52g
I missed last week’s post due to Thanksgiving and lots of travel. I went to North Carolina on Wednesday, down to South Carolina on Thursday and then back to North Carolina on Friday. We stayed most of the day Saturday and returned to Virginia Saturday night. I had a lot of errands and football watching to do on Sunday, so I didn’t have much time to post.
The eating was a straight up feast though for 4 days last weekend. Saturday was by far my lowest calorie day. Wednesday through Friday was full of all kinds of junk. Cheese dips, crackers, taco dip, apple crisp, deep fried turkey, stuffing, and countless desserts. The average nutrition I posted below was a simple estimate. It was most likely far worse.;)
This week I really wanted to clear some bloat and water weight, which I more or less did. 4lbs of scale weight, but I also look way better than last week. I ran at least 3 miles every day, except for yesterday. The only reason is because I went Christmas shopping and had a ton of walking already and hit the gym late, so I just felt like doing one mile. The reason I didn’t have a chest day this week was because I hit it on Saturday of the previous week.
I haven’t been going to the “real” gym expect for a couple days a week. I have mainly been using Sarah’s apartment gym in the mornings out of convenience. For shoulders and arms this is very doable, but chest and back workouts can get very limited in this gym. I may just start driving to Gold’s early so I can get some better lifts in again.
At the moment I have been doing a bro split with one muscle group a day. The main reason for this is because I want to run 3 miles a day and this is the only way I can squeeze a lifting session into a 30-minute block of time to keep the workout at a total of one hour. I have been reducing rest periods and lifting quicker. I always lift after I run due to personal preference. I haven’t been feeling the super heavy weights and greatly prefer the volume of 8-12 reps right now. The great thing about this range is you need way less down-time between sets and can move fast. I’m usually drenched after my workout and after I take a shower feel like a million dollars.
Loaded Nachos – Bakers Crust
Cobb Salad – Bakers Crust
Shortpump Towne Center
Shrimp and veggies
Shrimp, eggs and potatoes
Berries with almond milk and coffee creamer on top (very good)
Thanksgiving Plate 1
Supersmash Bros – I’m Cloud
Sarah’s Family home gym
Panera Cobb Salad
Chicken thighs, potatoes, veggies
Berry Almond Milk dessert with coffee creamer (powder) and greens powder
Pretty good week in terms of lifting. Didn’t have any trips this week so it was a rather normal week in terms of eating and lifting. I have been enjoying my bro split a lot in terms of feeling like I have organization and progressive overload back into my routine. I have also been really sore this week all over my muscles. It doesn’t mean everything but it definitely feels good. I do miss the huge pump I would get all over my body with lifting everyday, but doing pushups and pullups in between sets can help remedy this on a bro split. I notice though that even with bro splits, there is a lot of carry over to other muscles so the frequency is much higher than people think. So yes you hit a muscle directly once a week, but there are a lot of carryover to other days that must people don’t realize. Also its a very nice feeling very fresh when its time to lift. With lifting everyday this feeling kind of goes away.
Sunday – OFF or Cardio for 30 minutes
Monday – OFF or Cardio for 30 minutes
Tuesday – Chest and light Triceps
BB Bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps
INC 30 deg bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Dips bodyweight 3 x max reps
Flys 3 x 8-10 reps
Skullcrushers 3×8-10 reps
Cable Crunch – 3 x 8-10 reps
Wednesday – OFF or Cardio for 30 minutes
Thursday – Back and light biceps
DB Row 3 x 6-8 reps
Close-grip pulldowns 3×6-8 reps
Chinups bodyweight 3xmax reps
Hip Extensions (lower back) 3x 10-15 reps
Seated Incline Curls 3 x 8-10 reps
Cable Crunch 3 x 8 -10 reps
Friday – Shoulders and Traps
BB Press 3×6-8 reps
DB shoulder press 3×8-10 reps
Upright Row 3×8-10
DB Laterals 3×8-10
DB Rear Laterals 3×8-10 reps
Weighted Ab Machine 3 x8-10 reps
Saturday – Arms (For some reason this is one of harder more sweat inducing workouts)
DB Close-Grip Bench Press 3×6-8
Alternating DB Curl 3×6-8 reps
EZ Skullcrushers 3×8-10 reps
EZ Curls 3×8-10 reps
Rope Pushdowns 3×12-15 reps
Cable Curls 3×12-15 reps
Cable Crunch 3×12-15 reps
Very fun routine. No legs at the moment, but trying to divert most of my muscle growth toward the upper body. Also still doing a decent amount of running mainly as a recovery tool and sore a** legs don’t help with this process. Also to be honest, I never thought overly developed legs looked good at all.
Diet is still very unorganized. It contains way more carbs and fats then I have eaten in the past however. Also still backloading most of my calories. Consuming on average over the week 2300 calories 250g carbs / 60-70g fat / 120-180g protein. After reading some more blogs on optimizing testosterone for muscle growth, I may start consuming protein toward the lower range and eat more carbs and fat. I may also replace Quest bars with a Lenny and Larry’s Cookie (taste amazing by the way) to lower protein a bit. I also really like the Combat bars a lot. I have been eating a lot less vegetables here recently and noticed my stomach has been super flat almost all the time. I used to get some pretty bad bloat from veggies. I very rarely get bloated now unless I eat a huge meal and I attribute this to a faster metabolic rate. I must say it is very nice feeling like your body is just using everything you eat for energy. Scale weight is roughly 172-173lbs almost everyday. Occasionally going down to 169lbs and up to 175lbs, but rarely outside of these marks.
Longhorns – Napa Grilled Chicken, Fries, side salad and half a loaf of bread
Plaza Azteca Salad
Applewood smoked new flavor. Taste like bbq.
Egg white grill fro Chick-fila. 6 out of 10
Delicious. Probably the best cinammon roll flavor I have tasted.
3 packets of oatmeal
Rest day meal – Chicken, avocado, sausage, broccoli
Free bowl due to Chipole rewards card. Half chicken and steak, white rice, veggies and salsa. Sour cream on side.
Kickback jacks – Chicken salad with extra croutons
On Monday morning, I woke up with a really nasty hip flexor strain. At first I had no idea why, because its not like I was playing a sport and felt it immediately after it happened, but anyway I woke up with some really bad pain. It limited my mobility so much that I could barely lift my left leg or knee up without some pretty bad pain. Considering the split I was doing had two leg days, I knew it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to resume that for the current week.
I think what it was though, was two leg days, walking everyday and 2-3 long steady state runs that did it in. I guess it was just more than my legs and hip flexors were used to doing. I decided to do a pretty basic bro split this week of chest day, back day, rest, shoulders/traps day, arms day and possibly do legs if my hip flexor felt better. As of this morning it feels a lot better than it did, but not good enough for full leg workout. I also can’t do abs because that hurts it pretty bad as well. I did manage to get some walking in this week, even though earlier in the week I had to limp most of the way haha. I noticed if I go for more than 15-20 minutes at a time without a break then the hip flexor starts to get inflamed and hurt pretty bad. Icing it and taking frequent breaks had helped tremendously though.
I was a little concerned by Wednesday if it was something more serious, because it didnt feel better at all. I mean stepping up into my car felt like overkill for it. But luckily by Thursday and Friday morning the pain was way less. Advil liquid gels also helped reduced the inflammation. Not going to lie, when it comes to headaches and pain, Advil liquid gels give relief and it gives it fast. These things go to work in under 20 minutes for me.
So basically stuck to a very basic and balanced upper body bro split and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. Workouts were done in 30-40 minutes, 3 sets of 8-12 reps on everything and made sure form was really good on each exercise. I had felt pumps in the target muscle that I havent felt in awhile. Maybe I wasn’t doing enough volume or reps to achieve the effect with the upper/lower split. I also made sure to hit at least 8 reps on each exercise. I did not go super heavy on anything this week.
I really love nutrition. I can listen to podcasts and read articles about it all day. A hidden gem happened to come my way this week with Jacob Wilson talking about Ketogenic VS high fat diets. He basically compared TRUE keto diets (75% fat 25% protein and 5% carbs (under 30grams) VS very high fat, but low carb diets with either 104g of carbs or 60 grams of carbs. The protein was sufficient and the same in all of the diets. The results were that the Keto diet lost more fat and held onto all muscle, but the other groups that were not quite ketogenic actually lost muscle mass. Their exercise performance was also much weaker.
Basically this study shows that unless your truly ketogenic (which is very restrictive for a lot of people), than you would do better by eating more carbs to spare protein. Its either you go under 30 grams or you go much higher and try to hit at least 1 gram per pound of carbs.
This was also in a deficit, so it probably doesn’t matter as much in a surplus of calories, but still the moral of the story was that your either ketogenic or your not. Meaning for most people carbs need to be higher than 100 grams and some starches should be eaten at some point in the day as they provide benefits that dietary fat does not.
My goal is to hit somewhat of a zone based diet. I know from the past the lower fat and high carb diets don’t do well with me. For me it led to some blood sugar issues and cravings, because dietary fat was too low per meal and carbs were too high. I ended up becoming hungry and not satisfied after meals, even if the meal was 6-700 calories. Just because 200 grams of carbs are good, doesn’t mean that 400 grams will provide magical benefits. The only thing that will provide is some extra body fat.
My goal is to hit roughly 40/30/30 for carbs, protein, fat. Considering my calories need to stay moderate without adding body fat, having protein at 30% shouldn’t be an issue. If I had to consume 4000 calories a day, than that would be way too much protein.
No matter what macros you use, this is a very good site to track with: Calorie Calculator.
Also watched a bodybuilder I follow on Youtube, has gone Vegan. I must admit his reasons for doing so, were very interesting and got me thinking a bit about most peoples over consumption of meat. I will by no means be going Vegan and never plan to because I think some of the videos that people use are extreme to persuade you, but not all farms and slaughterhouses are that cruel. Also giving up meat isnt a long term solution and reintroducing it into your diet can be a nightmare after a diet like that. Vegans complain that meat makes them sick after they started the diet. But before the diet they could tolerate it just fine. Too me this is unhealthy. A human can digest meat just fine and losing the ability to digest certain foods isnt healthy. A perfectly healthy human should be able to eat whatever they want without issue. Giving up foods will not solve this problem.
But nevertheless is was though provoking and made me consider some of my habits. In my opinion though I really dont eat that much meat. I mean I will eat 4-5oz of meat for lunch and dinner, but a lot of my protein comes from dairy, which can be obtained from a cow without mistreatment. I mean I could obtain all the protein I need from plant sources, but doing so would lead to some massive bloating due to all the beans I would have to ingest. And yes protein is overrated and you dont need that much, but it has a lot of other benefits that the minimum threshold doesnt seem to accomplish, especially in regards to hunger control.
In my opinion, it comes back to common sense. Vegan is too extreme for most people to follow and ketogenic diets are the same. Both diets are very interesting when you delve into them, but too follow for the rest of your life would involve getting rid of a lot food that I enjoy. Some people try to go middle ground and become some weird version of vegetarianism, but that basically just becomes “I don’t eat animal meat”, but will eat everything else. That is fine, if you don’t want to eat meat, but I don’t see the need for the label. Also pescatarian is basically veganism with the addition of fish, because fish are somewhat different than animals. But the main problem with this is there are a lot of toxins in fish. I mean a lot. Fish is not a safe choice in high amounts. If pollution didnt exist then it would be fine, but trust me pollution exists and its all over the ocean.
If I had to elect the king diet, it would probably be the Mediterranean diet. Very balanced and doesnt involve extremely high carbs or low fats or vice versa. It has a broad selection of foods and even allows alcohol of up to 2-3 glasses of wine a night. Fish, meat, grains, vegetables, fruits are allowed. The recommended macro split is roughly 40/30/30. The body likes balance, so this would have my vote if I had to pick a best diet and also a diet that I could for the rest of my life. A lot of peoples ethnicity also come from this area at some point, so it makes sense that they are well adapted to a diet such as this.
The “Bro Split” is a typical bodybuilder split that has been used for decades to enhance the physiques of many. Today many people claim you shouldn’t do them at all unless you’re on steroids because they don’t work for the average recreational lifter. Another common complaint is that muscles should be worked twice a week and anything less than this and you’re missing out big time. I actually disagree with some of these statements and I’ll also outline some major benefits that only a “Bro Split” can offer.
First I want to outline what the typical “Bro Split” is. The way I set mine up would look like this:
Day 1 – Chest
Day 2 – Back
Day 3 – Legs
Day 4 – Shoulders
Day 5 – Arms
Day 6 and 7 – Cardio or Off (these days can also be scheduled during the week in between sessions)
Note – Abs done every other day or 3 days a week
Very simple and easy. The plan allows the lifter to hit one muscle group a day and then not hit that muscle group directly again for another week. (Although some overlap always exists regardless of what split you use.)
Let me tackle the first complaint against these, which is the split only works if you’re on steroids. The reason that people say this is because most steroid using bodybuilders use this split and do incredibly high amounts of volume (sets and reps) that most people can’t recover from. I agree that if you use a ridiculous amount of volume not only would you not gain muscle, your workouts would actually begin to make you smaller. But this example is taken out of context and is an extreme example that people frequently use to make a point. This split will work awesome for an average lifter if the volume is controlled. Here is a perfect example of a good volume to shoot for, for each body part in order to ensure enough volume is used to break down the muscle, but not so much that regression begins to take place:
Chest Day (example)
Barbell Bench Press 4×6 reps (strength focus)
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x 8,10,12 reps (pyramid) (size focus)
Dips 3 x 8,10,12 reps (pyramid) (size focus)
Cable Flys (isolation movement) 3×15 reps (blood flow and endurance)
Simple, effective, and not excessive. Tell me what exactly is wrong with this rep scheme? … – About 90% of intermediate lifters would progress just fine on this and maybe even better than hitting a muscle twice a week, which brings me to my next point.
Hitting a muscle twice a week can be effective if done correctly. For this to be done correctly you have really get you’re volume correct or you really risk overtraining and not allowing enough recovery. Let’s say the lifter lifts on Monday and hits Push muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps). First of all, in order to complete this in a single day, you would need to drastically reduce the volume for each body part, which if not chosen correctly could lead to under-stimulating each muscle. So the lifter uses two exercises for each body part and lifts with a heavy rep range of 6-8 reps for each exercise. The next day he’s sore the workout went great and he doesn’t have to use these muscle groups again until 2-3 days from now when most of the damage is healed from the previous workout. So Thursday comes around and its time to hit those muscles again. The lifter doesn’t feel too sore and repeats the Push workout with a very similar workout template, expect today the lifter doesn’t feel nearly as strong and his poundages are either the same or worse. What gives? – Well in my experience its due to the muscles not getting enough recovery time.
Another thing no one tells you with hitting muscle groups twice a week is the fact that you have to have one heavy day (4-8 reps) and one light day (10-15 reps) or you’re doing it wrong. They fail to distinguish that if you lift heavy for the same muscle group twice a week then you’re probably not going to get very far. The light day is more of “recovery day” to stimulate blood flow from your previous heavy day. To be fair the “Bro Split” actually does hit your muscles group more than once a week, but it’s more indirect. For example, Dips on arms day is a heavy chest mover and also close-grip chin-ups is as much a back movement as a biceps movement.
And my final favorite criticism is the if you hit your muscles twice a week then you will have 104 workouts per year vs 52 from only hitting a muscle twice a week, which is far better for growth and elevates protein synthesis. Under this logic, you might as well say “Just hit all your muscle groups every day so you can fit in 365 workouts a year for maximum growth.” An extreme example, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Also, while elevated protein synthesis is a good thing, it’s not the only thing needed for a muscle to grow.
Those are the main points I wanted to make. I still think hitting muscles twice a week can be used effectively if you program it right. If you stay on them too long you will plateau and switching to a “Bro split” may actually increase your muscle growth due to the extra rest you receive.
One thing to caution here is that a “Bro Split” can also be ineffective if you don’t structure your days correctly. Let me give you an example of a terrible split:
Day 1 – Arms
Day 2 – Shoulders
Day 3 – Chest
Day 4 – Back
Day 5 – Legs
Always structure bigger muscles first in the week and finish with smaller ones.
Put legs in the middle in order to prevent the upper body from being used too many days in a row.
Separate shoulders away from chest to prevent the muscle from being sore the day you workout.
Its wise to stick a rest day in between every 2-3 days of lifting (not absolutely necessary, but helpful).
Now I want to outline some of the benefits of the “Bro Split”:
Allows the user to dedicate maximum focus and intensity to each target muscle group (try shoulders after heavy bench presses and you’ll see that intensity drops way off).
Allows maximum rest for each muscle group and only hits each muscle directly once a week.
Takes much less time each day and allows user to finished between 30-45 minutes if lifting intensely.
Prevents overtraining that many plans that attempt to hit two-three muscle groups a day frequently do.
Its easier to program. Most lifters don’t want to program every last detail. Tell them to hit their chest hard once a week and then let it recover vs tell them to hit their muscles twice a week with a heavy/light scheme and the questions start to pour in.
It’s Proven. Take a trip over to Bodybuilding.com and look at some of the transformations people have done, especially in regards to gaining mass. I’d say at least 80%+ of them used some sort of split routine that hit a muscle once a week vs. a full body or upper/lower split. The results speak for themselves.
It’s fun. These splits allow for intensity techniques (drop sets, high rep finishers, rest pause sets) that would be almost impossible to do while training 3 muscle groups on the same day.
It’s easier to push your limits. Example – Lifter gets 200 x 6 reps on a barbell bench press the previous Monday. This Monday he shoots for 205 x 6 reps or even 202.5 for 6 reps. Trying increasing like that every 3rd day and I guarantee you it will not happen.
It allows for maximum breakdown of the muscle. This is an important one, but sometimes an annihilation workout to each muscle can actually be very effective from the standpoint of getting in enough volume for growth provided the recovery is there.
Allows for cardio to be done each day. Some may see this as HUGE negative, but cardio is really important for building mass. Insulin sensitivity, more mitochondria of the cells, wakes up the CNS to prepare for heavy lifting, increased blood flow and removal of waste products to name a few. Only 5-15 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is needed to stimulate these benefits.
Allows for more lifting days overall. By only going in and hitting one muscle a day it allows the lifter to lift more often (almost every day if programmed correctly) without burning out.
Psychological reasons. This is more of rehash, but sometimes going into a lifting session only having to hit one muscle is far more mentally refreshing than going in having to hit 3 or more muscles in the same day and making sure each is sufficiently worked.
Targeting different areas of the muscle. The shoulder has three heads. While you don’t need a ton of volume to stimulate each, only doing compound shoulder presses and ignoring lateral and rear delt raises is a mistake that could prevent optimal development of that muscle.
As you can see the “Bro Split” may get made fun, but has tons of benefits and an impressive track record that speaks for itself. If you have been plateauing on a “new-age split” that has you hitting muscles twice or more each week, a “Bro Split” may be a game changer.
*Bonus – Sample routine for size and strength:
Day 1 Chest
Barbell Bench Press 3×6-8 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press 3×8-10 reps
Dips 3 sets of AMAP (As many as possible)
Cable Chest Flys 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Day 2 Back
Dumbbell Row 4×6-8 reps
Chinups 3 x AMAP
T-bar Row 3×12-15 reps
Lat Pulldowns 3×12-15 reps
Day 3 Legs
Barbell Squats 4×6-8 reps
Dumbbell Lunges 3×10 (each leg)
Leg Extensions 3×12-15 reps
Leg Curls 3×12-15 reps
Day 4 – Rest
30-45 minutes of cardio
100 pushups throughout the day
Day 5 Shoulders
Barbell Shoulder Press 4×6-8 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3×10 reps
Lateral Raises 3×10 reps
Rear Delt Machine 3×15 reps
Shrugs 3×15 reps
Day 6 Arms
Close Grip Chinups 3×6-8 reps
Close Grip Dumbbell Press 3×6-8 reps
Two-handed DB curl 3×10 reps
Skullcrushers 3×10 reps
Cable Curl 3×15 reps
Rope Pushdowns 3×15 reps
Day 7- Rest
30-45 minutes of cardio
100 pushups throughout the day
* Can easily put both rest days back to back at the end of the week
Progression Scheme – 3 sets of 6-8 reps means you should get all 3 sets for 8 reps before adding weight. Once you hit 8 reps on all 3 sets then you should add 5lbs to your current lift. This is much easier if you are using barbells.
This routine prioritizes the main lift at the beginning of each workout. This is the lift you want to increase over time. The next move is a compound moderate rep exercise geared towards size gains. The last two moves are high rep, pump style that are isolation or machine moves that are there for blood flow and finishing off an already tired muscle for the week.