Dec 5, 2012

This is part 2 of the “Simplifying Your Training Program” series. If you haven’t read Part 1 check it out here. In this installment we’ll dive into training 4 days per week.

If you’re a raw beginner to intermediate and even advanced lifter, training full body 3 days/wk will keep you going for a while or provide you with a nice break. Moving into a 4 day/wk, upper/lower split is a great option for advancing your training. The main difference is that 2 entire days are devoted the upper body and 2 are devoted to the lower body. We will also utilize a very basic A-B-A-B template. This means you’ll be hitting the same 2 workouts twice per week with the only difference being the rep ranges. The outline will look something like this:

Same as Day 1
Same as Day 2
Single Leg Dominant

Days 1 and 2 will focus on strength while days 3 and 4 will focus on muscle-building. Keeping with the simplistic theme, the strength and muscle-building rep ranges, as well as the exercises, will remain the same as in Part 1.

As easy as it looks there are a few caveats that need mentioning:

1. Pairing Up the Exercises

When you decide on what exercises you’re going to use you have to choose wisely. But that doesn’t just mean picking great exercises. You also have to know how to pair them up. Think equal, but opposite. This means choosing a push/pull or squat/bend combination that compliment each other. On upper body if you choose a horizontal pressing movement (bench variation, dip), make sure you pair it with a horizontal pulling movement (row variation). Same goes for vertical pressing (standing press variation, handstand pushup) and vertical pulling (chinup/pullup variation, rope climb).

For the lower body pair a squat variation with a bend (deadlift variation, good morning). This bears some deeper explanation. If you’re back squatting or zercher squatting I suggest not deadlifting from the floor, but rather hitting an RDL, good morning, hip thrust, or rack pull. This is because of the strain on the low back during the first 2 lifts. If you’re front squatting or overhead squatting (depending on the weight) your lower back won’t be getting hit too hard so pulling from the floor won’t be such a detriment.

2. Supersetting Exercises on Muscle-building Days

Supersetting exercises is a great idea in general, but even more so on days 3 and 4. Taking a 30-60 second break between push/pull, squat/bend, and single leg dominant/trunk combinations will make the training session move faster and provide an added conditioning component. Everyone can use some added conditioning.

You’ll perform one set of the prescribed reps for the first exercise, rest, one set of the prescribed reps for the second exercise, rest, and repeat the cluster until all of the sets are completed. An example would be to push, rest, pull, rest, rinse, and repeat. The only reason I didn’t suggest doing this on days 1 and 2 is the weight you will be using for the exercises. How to tweak the supersets even further is for another article.

3. Rest Between Training Sessions

I failed to mention how much rest to take between training sessions on the 3 day/wk split in Part 1, so now I’ll explain both. If you’re training full body, 3 days/wk, get at least one day of rest between sessions. This, most often, will leave you with Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat (non-consecutive days).

Training with an upper/lower split, 4 days/wk, gives you a little different scenario. In order to get enough rest and not have an ill-effect on the lifts, get one full day of rest between strength days and perform the muscle-building days back to back. Here you’ll have Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat or Tue-Thu-Sat-Sun.

Short, simple (not easy), and sweet.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll toss some basic conditioning into the mix using one of my favorite pieces of homemade equipment – the tire sled.

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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