Another Workout Update

~ 750 words, ~4 min reading time

Some experiments just don’t work, even if they seem to make sense at the time. That was the case for my last workout update.

Turns out there were two fatal flaws in this routine:

(1) The circuit routine made me run out of breath – not like I was gasping, but breathing was placing limits on performance that were totally unrelated to strength limits.

(2) Progression was basically impossible. By grouping exercises, it meant that I could only progress on, for example, floor presses – if I ALSO progressed on rows. Of course, these two are pretty unrelated. There’s no reason for the two to progress at the same rate. Also, there was a regression bias built in – if I failed, I decreased weight. But, this applied to ALL of the exercises with the same weight.

These two ended up slaughtering my motivation, so, even though the routine was quite short, I didn’t do it consistently, and was looking for excuses not to do it.

Some current thinking:

(1) Full Body Routine is out. Doing them the way I had for quite a while takes too long. Doing it the circuit way was also not workable. Consistency was dead for both.

(2) I like the idea of a 2 day split. I hate the idea of an Upper/Lower split for a simple reason. I hate legs. I know they’re important, so I’ll include them. But, *only* legs for a day is just a way to guarantee I stop. So, “Push”-“Pull” as the basic breakdown. Each composed of 3 main exercises. Push: dumbbell squat (legs), floor press (horizontal push), overhead shoulder press (vertical push). Pull: pull ups (vertical pull), dumbbell deadlift (legs), rows (horizontal pull).

(3) After some reading, it seems that 6-8 sets per workout for a muscle group is good for most exercises. This required adding some additional isolation exercises. (Though I didn’t do this for legs for purposes of motivation.) So, I do 5-6 exercises in each routine. (Generally, “more is more” is true, but there seems to be diminishing returns that set in pretty quickly, with the potential for negative returns.)

(4) There’s some evidence that going very high volume may help if you have a muscle group that is behind. At the moment, that’s my upper arms (also forearms, but I’m focusing on upper arms first). So, I’m planning to workout both biceps and triceps every day, either as part of compound movements or isolation, for a total of up to 30-40 sets a week. So, on those areas that need particular work, use “more is more” to your advantage.

(5) Long rest times (2 min) are beneficial. So, I’m implementing those for the core compound exercises.

(6) However, there’s good evidence that drop sets (without rest!) are nearly as good as regular sets. So, I’m using drop sets for isolation work to help save on time. Basically, a drop set is one where you drop 20% of the weight and immediately do another set as much as you can. Then, drop another 20% and do it again.

(7) Each exercise will progress individually and based on performance.

(8) There’s pretty good evidence that the number of reps don’t matter that much. So, I’m going with a fairly high number of reps (10-12) so that I can skip warmups, saving time.


Push: Squats 3×10, Floor Press 4×10, Overhead Press 4×10, Flyes 4×12 (3 drops), Curls 4×12 (3 drops), Lateral Raises 4×12 (3 drops) Muscle group breakdown: upper legs – 3 sets, chest – 8 sets, shoulders – 8 sets, triceps – 8 sets, biceps – 4 sets

Pull: Pullups 5 sets – varied reps (I have a pull up program I’m following), Romanian Deadlift 3×10, Rows 3×10, Calf Raises 6×12 (5 drops), Tricep Extensions 4×12 (3 drops) Muscle group breakdown: upper legs – 3 sets, calves – 6 sets, back – 8 sets, biceps – 8 sets, triceps – 4 sets

Progression Rules:
For core exercises, do as many reps as possible on the final set, maxing at 20. For drop set exercises, AMRAP the first set. If I beat the prescribed reps by 2, increase weight 1 step (step depends on exercise). If I beat it by 5, increase weight by 2 steps.

Deload rules:
For core: if I fail on set 1 or 2, drop weight 2 steps. If I fail on set 3+, drop weight 1 step. For isolation: if I fail on set 1, drop weight 1 step.

I tried both of these routines over the past couple of days. They each take about 45 minutes. Not too terrible. Here’s hoping that I manage to adhere, and see actual progress!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *