~700 words, ~4 min reading time
So, it’s been a little while since I described my workout routine, and I’ve made some changes to it. So, let’s get into it.
Trait #1: Full Body Split
So, there are a number of ways to do splits – though the science seems to have come around to 2-3x a week per muscle group being the most effective. So, that basically means you want to do full body 2-3 days a week, upper-lower 4-6 days a week, or push-pull-legs 6 days a week.
I have other things to do, so that means full body 2-3 days a week.
Though the reason I switched back to this from other routines was simple: I can’t guarantee getting time to workout 4+ days a week, so if I miss a day, that pushes things way off schedule if I’m in a U/L or PPL routine. However, with a full-body routine, it can just mean that I take an extra rest day. I likely won’t end up accidentally having 5 days between training a particular body part.
Trait #2: 6 x 12 as my target set/rep scheme
The science seems to suggest that you get maximum hypertrophy (that is, muscle growth) from doing 40-70 reps over 6-10 sets in a workout for a specific body part. You can do this using one or two exercises. To minimize rest time, six sets makes sense. So, that means we should do 7-12 reps in a set. So, I target 12, and if I fall short odds are good that I’ll still get at least 7.
I also use this 40-70 rep scheme to add sets (up to a max of 10) if I do fall short. Basically, if I’m failing to hit my 12 reps per set, I continue doing sets until either I hit 40 reps total OR 10 sets total.
However, the last set is special. More on that further down
EXCEPTION: I do 3×12 as my target for squats and deadlifts. Because I hate them, and find doing more to be excessively fatiguing and terribly demotivating.
Trait #3: A/B workouts
This is the most recent change. For a while, I was just doing the same full body routine 3 days a week (ideally). But, I realized that I kind of wanted to do both rows AND pullups – both back exercises. But, I didn’t really want to do more than 6 exercises in a single workout. So, I alternate between these now:
Workout A: Dumbbell Floor Presses, Dumbbell Squats, Lateral Raises, One-Arm Dumbbell Rows, Standing Tricep Extensions (though I do a dumbbell in each hand to force the two arms to work independently), Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Workout B: Dumbbell Flyes, Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts, Dumbbell Shoulder Presses , Pull-ups, Lying Tricep Extensions, Hammer Curl
Trait #4: Autoregulatory Progression
Progression is a key element of an effective routine. I’m of the opinion that a reasonable progression scheme can cover up a number of other errors – in particular about “how much to lift” when you start out. There are lots of ways to do this, but I finally came across something I like: Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance.
I mentioned above that I target 6 x 12. Now, often, I will fall short of this. That’s fine. But, on the weeks that I manage to get 12 reps in each of the first 5 sets, I do as many reps as I can in the 6th set. This determines if I progress the weight. If I get 13 or fewer in that set, I keep the weight the same. If I get 14-17, I increase weight by ~5%, if possible (for curls, for example, I’m lifting so little that I can’t really increase by less than 10%). If I get 18 or more, I increase weight by ~10%.
In the event that I don’t hit 12 reps per set, then I just try to do better the next time, with no strict progression scheme except that I want to improve the first set that fell short of 12 reps by at least one rep next time around.
Based on this article which summarizes research from others, cited there.