Designing a gym program for maximal effect – Part 2

In the last article we saw the importance of a well-designed program and how the “design” needs to change over time. We discussed the beginners (or returning from a break) programme and how it can be speed up based on our training characteristics at that stage.

We’re moving onto more advanced routines in this article.

Designing workout programmes

Because of the nature of what we have to achieve, we will also look at the techniques and logic used in designing programmes.

Our focus is always on achieving sufficient stimulus and recovery – and recognising that as our muscles adapt, greater loads are required. Recovery is also key here – we don’t want to “recover” too much and let the muscles slip into atrophy (or just plain apathy!)

The next stage for our “beginner” who’s been on the whole-body programme for a few months, or our advanced trainee who’s returning from a break is to split the training up.

The advanced trainee returning from a break is still not likely to be ready for their previous advanced programme, so we’ll consider their training as being similar to the beginner at stage 2.

Increase volume for each body part

It’s time to increase the volume for each body part. After a couple of days, rest is advisable. For this reason, a double-split routine is a good option.

Generally, half the body is trained in one workout and the other half in the other workout. If designed properly, the training days can be consecutive without running into the problem that a body-part is either too weak from the day before and limits second workout, and/or a body-part becomes over-trained.

Recovery Cycles

An important thing to consider is the recovery cycle for each body-part. This means considering whether they have an active or assisting role in other movements besides their own specific exercises.

Some of the common workout options are:

1. “Push-Pull”

  • Split A: Legs, Back, Biceps
  • Split B: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

 

2. “Upper-Lower”

  • Split A: Upper body
  • Split B: Lower body

You can see how the “Push-Pull” gets its name with one workout being pushing exercises and the other being pulling. (Technically though, the “quads” exercise for “legs” are also pushing movements)

The workouts could look something like this:

Split A: Legs, Back, Biceps

Split B: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Body-part Exercise

A

B

Quads Squats – barbell

4 x 10 x W

Squats – Hack

4 x 10 x W

Hams Sumo squats

3 x 10 x W

Lunges

3 x 10 x W

Lower back Deadlift

4 x 10 x W

Upper back Cable pull downs

4 x 10 x W

Cable rows

4 x 10 x W

Biceps EZ curl

3 x 10 x W

DB curl

3 x 10 x W

Calves Calf raise Seated

3 x 15 x W

Calf raise Standing

3 x 15 x W

Chest Incline bench

4 x 10 x W

Flat Bench

4 x 10 x W

Shoulders Barbell press

4 x 10 x W

Dumbbell Lateral

4 x 10 x W

Dumbbell rear

4 x 10 x W

Triceps Cable Extension

3 x 10 x W

Lying EZ extn

3 x 10 x W

Time

19 + 57 = 76 mins

13 + 37 = 50 mins

Work ratio
Sets

38

26

 

And because the workouts work different muscles, they can be on consecutive days.

Day

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

M

A

A

A

T

B

B

W

A

B

Th

A

B

A

F

B

A

Sa

A

B

B

Su

B

 

There are many combinations – these are just a few.

  • Option 1 might be good for someone who wants their weekends free
  • Option 2 is good for someone who actually wants to do some killer workouts on the weekend – or simply have more evenings free for the family
  • Option 3 might suit someone who wants Friday nights free
  • Option 4 is good for someone who wants Sunday for rest and also wants some weeknight evenings free for hobbies or family.

Recovery Cycles

The recovery cycles are the critical factor. We know from our body-part and exercise design that the body-parts have minimal “overlap”.

The actual recovery cycles are:

 

Day

Option 1

A recovery

B recovery

M

A

T

B

1

W

2

1

Th

A

3

2

F

B

3

Sa
Su
M

A

4

T

B

4

W
Th

A

3

F

B

3

Sa
Su

 

 

Day

Option 2

A recovery

B recovery

M
T
W

A

Th

B

 

F
Sa

A

3

Su

B

3

M

 

T
W

A

4

Th

B

 

4

F
Sa

A

3

Su

B

3

 

 

Day

Option 3

A recovery

B recovery

M

A

T
W

B

Th

A

3

F
Sa

B

3

Su
M

A

4

T
W

B

4

Th

A

3

F
Sa

B

3

Su

 

 

You can see in all these examples, the recovery cycle is 3/4 – i.e. 3 days recovery followed by 4 days recovery. This is a reasonably ideal recovery for the work volumes given in the workout example.

In the next article, we will consider more complicated splits and how to design them, taking into account recovery cycles.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with our 5 takeaway tips from this article.

AMP Your Workout Smart Tips

  1. As you develop, greater stimulus is required for each body-part in order to prompt it to respond
  2. As stimulus for each muscle increases, a split routine may be necessary as the work for the whole body can be too great
  3. When designing a split routine, the recovery cycles are important – session may occur on consecutive days to the same body-part should not be stressed while still recovering from a recent workout – careful split design is therefore required
  4. A recovery-table helps when designing splits – to ensure that each body-part gets sufficient recovery
  5. When designing programs, you must be aware of “supporting” muscles – i.e. triceps are used when training chest, biceps are involved in training back

For more information, visit AMP Your Workout.com. AMP Your Workout provides the latest technology to optimise training and match it to our genetic strengths – for faster results.