Here's part 1.
And here's part 2.
So 1.5 years are gone. Many things were learnt during this time, many things were tried (and not only on me but on my clients too). And here's the question: have I changed my stance on this? So are splits better? Or full-body workouts are still superior? Well, let's analyze and find out.
Pros and Cons of Full-Body Routines and Splits
Main pros of full-body routines:
- whole body stimulation, obviously. The more muscles we stimulate in workout the more effective it should be.
- greater frequency of stimulation. The more we practice the faster we will get good at something.
- no "fluff". You have limited amount of time so you choose almost only big compound lifts.
Main cons of full-body routines:
- some people just can't tolerate them. No matter how you structure everything some people just won't be able to progress on full-body routines.
- some bodyparts will lag behind. Yes, full-body routines give you freedom from "fluff" exercises but some bodyparts will grow faster then others (which shouldn't bother you if your primary goals are strength and performance).
Main pros of splits:
- lots of recovery. You just work some bodypart to total exhaustion and rest for a week or so.
- allow more volume. You'll definitely can do more work sets in split routines which can be better for building muscle.
- allow more variety. This can be important for bodybuilding.
Main cons of splits:
- sometimes not enough frequency. This is especially true for beginners who need more frequent stimulation to progress faster.
- many people end up doing ton of isolation exercises instead of compound lifts. This is totally wrong.
Well, that's just basic pros and cons of both full-body routines and splits. I may forgot something but it doesn't matter. The point is that either of them have its own usage. Use either of them in wrong situation and you may not get any training results (except bad).
What Shows Experience?
From my today's experience I can say that I'm not that anti-split as I was 1.5 years ago. There are several cases when splits are actually better than full-body routines. Firstly, it's all about recovery. I always could tolerate full-body routines and progress with them. Well, now I understand why. Because I always try to sleep at least 8 hours per night. Because I eat lots of protein and my diet is right for me. Because I rarely give a fuck about things I can't control in any way (this way you have much less stress in your life). Because I don't waste my time on crap and try to live my life fully. But that's me. You, on the other hand, can have several kids, work on two jobs you hate, have bad relationship, sleep 4 hours per night, eat junk and hate your life. In this case full-body routines are not for you. Well, in this case your only way out is to start a fight club. You got my point. If you have suboptimal conditions in life you may not be able to tolerate full-body routines. I work with many people with very busy schedules and hard lives. The harder their conditions the less they can tolerate.
Full-body routines are best for beginners. The demands of training are pretty low and they progress much faster, for example, squatting 3 times per week than just one time. But with increasing demands of training you might not be able to train your whole body every training session. This is the time to try splits. If you done Mon-Wed-Fri full body, try Mon - upper; Tue - lower; Thu - upper; Fri - lower. If that's too much try Mon - upper; Wed - lower; Fri - upper; Mon - lower.
Splits work. Let's take me as example. I trained whole body for a decent period of time. It worked like a clock. I was able to progress every session. If I wasn't able to progress I just changed exercise with its variation and everything worked again. But now I use some kind of split. Why? Because now I have access to barbell for free so I have no reasons to waste such opportunity. But this barbell is not at my home. And I totally love training at home with my bodyweight and rings. So I decided to work on bodyweight presses and rows 3 times per week at home and to squat and deadlift at the gym on different days. And this template works for me. If I had no access to barbell I would train lower body with sandbag at home so my workouts would be full-body. Now I'm using some kind of split and that's allright.
Also a note on bodybuilding. In bodybuilding you'll need decent volume. And if you want to keep intensity pretty high you'll need to cut frequency. I wrote on the theme in this article. To quote Dave Tate:
It boils down to common sense. Look at the bodybuilders winning shows – whether they're pros or amateurs or natural competitors – they all follow a basic template: 2-3 exercises per body part, 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps, each set taken just shy of failure, and each body part trained every 3-7 days.
That's basically what most of them do, so why reinvent the wheel?
Listen to wise man.
With Calisthenics Everything Is Trickier
Why? Because in harder exercises you'll need to use all your body, not just chest and triceps or back and biceps. For example, after straddle planche push-ups I clearly feel pump not only in my chest, shoulders and triceps but also in my biceps, hamstrings, lats, abs and lower back. During one-arm push-ups you should flex quads as much as possible etc. So it's much harder to program these movements conventionally because when you get to very challenging variations you should work with your whole body. So while, for example, technically it may be a press you'll feel it not only in chest, shoulders and triceps.
So what's better: full-body routines or splits? As you could already get nothing's better. Either of them has it's own place in training world. You may prefer one or another. They both work. If you can tolerate full-body routines then you should go with them. If not then use splits. Not crappy but reasonable ones. Don't use split as excuse not to squat in favor of leg press or leg extensions. Concentrate on compound lifts, get stronger in them and you'll get results. Thanks for reading. Do me a favor and share this article with your friends. Feel free to comment and subscribe.
Remember Arnold? I consider that he built one of the best (if not the best) bodies of all time. When I learned that he was training twice a day I thought like: "Holy shit! How was he able to progress?" Well, dude obviously knew what he was doing. Then I learned about Bulgarian weightlifting training methods where athletes were training for a max for that day EVERY day and even SEVERAL TIMES PER DAY. I thought this was something unreal until I read articles of Chad Waterbury and Charles Poliquin on theme. It turned out that twice a day training was in reach of natural strength trainee. The tricky point is to set everything up properly. High-frequency training is something that always worked well for me so I tried this approach approximately a year ago. What can I say? It worked awesome. I was able to progress every workout. The downside was that I didn't count calories and protein at that time and I definitely was undereating.
I can't actually recall why I stopped training this way (probably lack of time) but recently when I hit plateau in my training I decided to give it another shot. And results so far are great. The thing is I concentrated on really low reps (1-3) and high intensity for too long. Then I wanted to add a bit lighter exercises for higher reps (I don't like high rep training at all but I guess I still can benefit from it) and added them after low rep strength work. It worked but not perfectly because after low reps most of the time I was too exhausted to show results in high reps. Solution came rapidly. I decided to split my workouts and train twice a day. Well, it was right decision. Now I'm able to progress in both rep ranges. So basic scheme of my current routine looks like:
A1) Extended HSPU (between chairs, shoulders touching palms in the bottom)
A2) One-Arm Chin-Up Work
A2) Ring Pull-Ups
1) Barbell Squats
A1) Planche Push-Ups (harder version)
A2) Front Lever Pulls
A1) Planche Push-Ups (lighter version)
A2) Front Lever Pull-Ups
A1) Ring Muscle-Up (strict, no swing)
A2) One-Arm Push-Up (strict, feet together, as little twist as possible, shoulders parallel to the ground)
A1) Ring Dips
A2) Ring One-Arm Horizontal Rows (as close to the ground as possible)
That's a basic scheme. I can adjust everything as I want for that particular day. Of course I add grip and flexibility work. AM workouts generally with low reps and high sets, PM workouts are high reps, low sets. This is just a template that works for me. It's not intended to work for everyone.
So what if you want to try twice a day training and don't know how? Well, I'll try to guide you.
If you're working out with weights that would be ideal. Keep your reps in 15-25 rep range. AM workouts - more sets, less reps. PM workouts - more reps, less sets. If you can do more than 25 total reps add weight. I recommend to train every other day or 3 days a week with full-body workouts. If it's too much than you can use some sort of split routine. Keep at least 6-8 hours of rest between AM and PM training sessions.
A1) Barbell Squats 8 x 3
A2) Weighted Dips 8 x 3
A3) Weighted Pull-Ups 8 x 3
1) Dumbbell Lunges 2 x 12 (each leg)
2) Dumbbell Bench Press 2 x 12
3) Double Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 2 x 12
Day 2 - off
A1) Barbell Split Squats with rear foot elevated 6 x 4 (each leg)
A2) Barbell Military Press 6 x 4
A3) Barbell Bent-Over Row 6 x 4
1) Barbell Zercher Squats 3 x 8
2) Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 3 x 8
3) One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 3 x 8
Day 4 - off
A1) Barbell Deadlift 4 x 6
A2) Barbell Bench Press 4 x 6
1) Leg Press 2 x 12
2) Dumbbell Push Press 2 x 12
3) Suitcase Deadlift 2 x 12 (each side)
Day 6 & 7 - off
Try it and adjust from there. With calisthenics you'll have to think more to find a right balance of intensity/volume but the rules are the same so don't overthink. If you don't screw up then you should expect at least twice more gains in strength and muscle in the same period of time. Some people will be able to lose substantial amounts of bodyfat along the way.
Twice a day training is an advanced technique. If you don't have some serious training under your belt don't even think to try it. I would say you should be training consistently and getting results at least couple of years before trying this technique. It's a very powerful tool but it has its own requirements: time, dedication and lots of rest.
I'm quite amazed that people don't understand and don't use such powerful tool as sleep in their lives. Are you looking for the best pre-workout supplement? Try to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day and I guess you'll find what you're looking for. Are you looking for the best fat-burner? Try to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day and I guess you'll find what you're looking for. Don't happy with body composition and strength/muscle gains? How about sleeping at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day? Too much stress in life? Have you tried to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day? Getting old too fast? Better start sleeping at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day as soon as possible. Are you always angry without a reason? Sleep. Fuck, it's really that simple.
The only legitimate reason to skip sleep
I wasn't getting this until recently. I always try to get at least 8 hours a night. Most of the time I get them. I thought I felt awesome until I began to take a nap (20-150 minutes in duration) every afternoon. Holy shit, I've never felt so awesome before. My strength and body composition improved right away. It's definitely worth every minute. We get the most powerful growth hormone surge when we sleeping. And growth hormone in its turn is one of the most powerful fat-burners, anabolic and anti-aging agents. It's built-in. It's free, you don't have to pay for it. How stupid you are if you're not using this advantage?
Some people may say: "But I don't want to waste my life on sleep!" Well, then continue to feel like shit every day and forget about strength and best body composition possible. Maybe you will have a bit less parties but you will feel and look WAY younger than your reckless contemporaries.
Again, you'll not build any substantial strength and muscle if you don't sleep. You won't get ripped if you don't sleep. You'll die faster if you don't sleep. Sleep at least 8 hours per night and take a decent nap during the day. You will definitely be amazed with results.
Try training twice a day and sleep a lot. I almost guarantee that your gains will skyrocket. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share, comment and subscribe.
No prelude. Just straight to your face Rough Strength routine.
A1) Handstand Push-Ups - 20 total reps
A2) Front Lever Pull-Ups - 20 total reps
B) Pistol - ladders (count total reps)
Tuesday - off
A1) Pseudo-Planche Push-Ups - 30 total reps
A2) Pull-Ups with 3 sec holds at the top, 90 degree and at the bottom - 30 total reps
B) Pistol - 50% of Monday's total reps in any set-rep scheme.
Thursday - off
A1) Explosive Dips - 40 total reps
A2) Explosive Pull-Ups - 40 total reps
B) Pistol - 75% of Monday's total reps in any set-rep scheme.
Saturday - off
Sunday - off
That's it. Closing points:
- Adjust difficulty according to your current condition. If it's too hard then choose a bit lighter version. If it's too easy then pick harder variant.
- Eat a lot. On your training days you shouldn't feel hungry and especially before bed. You can experiment with off-days. Stay away from sugars.
- Ladder is a special approach to sets and reps. Here in Ukraine everybody knows this stuff. Let me explain you. You pick an exercise and perform 1 rep. Then you partner performs one rep. Then you perform 2 reps and so on. It's like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. When you feel exhausted start over. So, for example, it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (you feel that 7 would be impossible), 1, 2, 3, 4 (again you feel that 5 would be mistake), 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1. That's ladder principle. It helps you to build a lot of volume while staying relatively fresh.
- Where's core work? I'm not a big fan of it. You can add 1 core exercise after main training part is done if you wish. Bridging every day in the morning would be a good idea for your lower back.
- Don't forget about progression. Make exercises harder once thay become easy or add reps.
- "'x' total reps" means as much sets as it would take to complete 'x' reps.
- Rest no more than 2 minutes between sets.
Become a beast! Thanks for reading. Don't forget to subscribe.
Where to buy sandbag for working out?
Ultimate Sandbag by far is the leader on sandbag market. It has handles that makes it comfortable for different presses, cleans, rows, deadlifts, even snatches. You can check out my article about sandbags here. You can order one through this page or here. You can make your own sandbag if you read my article here.
Pyotr Krylov russian strongman
Check out my article on his life and lifting career here.
Best way to get ripped with kettlebells
Kettlebells will definitely help you in your pursuit of getting ripped. Pick exercises that involve whole body into action. In the other words most metabolically demanding exercises. Squats, Clean & Presses, Clean & Squats, Swings, Snatches. You can try pairing different exercises. For example, perform Swing, then Clean, then Clean & Press, then Snatch. It's one rep. Also you can try interval training. Try 15:15 or 30:30 work/rest ratio. You can alternate your kettlebell exercises with jump rope. There is no best way. All ways are acceptable and effective. If you want to get ripped then focus on your diet at first place. Drink plenty of water. Eat less carbs. Eat less overall. Implement short rest intervals in your training. Getting ripped is more a matter of discipline than using kettlebells.
Full body routine to gain muscle
Recently I received some e-mails from readers of RoughStrength.com with questions and I thought it might be useful to share the answers with all the audience. So here it is.
Rough Strength Questions and Answers:
So you believe in whole body programs over split routines yourself correct? I do not believe you can split bodyparts up period and I do not know who came up with them but in the old days that is all the old timers did and they were stronger, more powerful, better conditioned, and much more healthier back in those days then today?"