After years of trying different routines (DF, HST, DC, Upper/Lowers, Max-OT, Ultra High Volume, Low Volume High Frequency, Full body splits, etc. the list goes on) I have decided to put together my own routine that takes the things that have shown me the most benefit and puts them all together in a nice solid dual phase routine. This routine takes advantage of the benefits of load/deload phases, failure and sub-failure training, rest-pausing, weight load progression, wave progression, high frequency combined with moderate volume, and more.
This routine is compromised of advanced training techniques, an unnatural amount of volume, and components that work for ME. I am not going to put money down that this routine will be all you hoped for and more, but I think you will not be disappointed. You will need a few things to do this routine successfully: experience, dedication, an above average recovery rate, the guts to want to train to failure, and the willingness to try some nasty volume work.
This routine is broken up into two eight-week phases.
The first eight-week phase focuses on a split that hits body parts twice every seven days, while employing a “3 workout” rotation that hits multiple body parts each session. The eight-week phase is broken up into two mini-phases, four weeks each, that focus on going from a low volume/moderate intensity effort, to a high volume/high intensity effort. This phase utilizes a 3-6 rep range that encourages failure in weeks three and four, and encourages using your heaviest weights, with constant progression. The purpose of this phase is to start in a ‘deconditioned’ state then rapidly accelerate to the fine line of overtraining, push slightly past it in weeks 4 and 8, and then reset.
The second eight-week phase focuses on a low-frequency split (one body part per week, one body part per session) that uses wave progression for four core lifts (for example: squats, deadlifts, bench, and shoulder press), and steadily increasing volume as you lower reps and increase weights each week for 3-5 other exercises for that body part (i.e.: 3 sets of 12 one week, 4 sets of 10 the next). Failure is not utilized in this phase, but heavy weights are. Volume will end up being very high with very heavy weights and low reps, but the buildup is gradual so your body will become accustomed to it, rather than overtraining like you would with the first phase’s rapid buildup in volume/intensity.
This phase is meant to gradually build strength on core movements with wave progressions, as well as produce great hypertrophy by constantly forcing your body to adapt by starting with high reps/low volume in week 1 and progressing to heavy weights/high volume in week 8.
Phase 2 Week by Week Plan Overview
This routine has a whole different plan of attack from Phase 1. You will pick four core movements that you want to improve (i.e.: I will be using squats, deadlifts, incline db presses, and seated db presses). You will take your current max and add on 20-40 pounds (desired max) and plug it into the spreadsheet I have provided HERE. This spreadsheet will tell you the volume and weights to use for these 4 exercises each workout over the course of eight weeks. You will work towards that desired max in two wave progressions, peaking at weeks four and eight. In addition to these movements you will be choosing 3-5 more exercises per body part to work on during these eight weeks. The volume on these movements will start at 12 reps per set, for 3 sets, and gradually increase to 8 sets of 4 reps per exercise at week eight.
Week by Week Plan – SAMPLE WORKOUTS
Leg Press / Hack Squats
Core: Incline DB or Incline BB
Incline Cable Flyes
Flat DB Flyes
Core: Seated DB or Seated BB Military
Front Laterals or Smith Shoulder Press
Standing Cable Curls or Hammer Curls
Strict Elbows in, no leaning Dips
Overhead EZ Extensions
SAMPLE WEEK 8 WORKOUT
Core: Deadlifts 1 set of 2, 3 sets of 3
DB Rows: 8 sets of 4
CG Pulldowns: 8 sets of 4
Weighed Chins: 8 sets of 4
Seated Rows: 8 sets of 4
Shrugs: 8 sets of 4
TOTAL SETS: 44
Tips and Other Things
Regardless of what phase you are using core work should be done 2 times per week (I prefer Mondays and Fridays). Nothing fancy, I typically do cable kneeling crunches, weighted leg raises, ab and back extension machines. Two sets each at 10-15 reps.
If you think the listed volume is too much, or know that you will not be able to recover properly simply drop an exercise or drop sets on some exercises to suit your body’s needs. The set amounts noted here are what I work around, and does not mean you cannot do more or less.
I would suggest taking a deload week, or a complete week off, after you complete phases 1 and 2 back to back. A deload week would be like the baseline week of phase 1, except you use poundages at 60% of your normal usage.
I am not super anal about what exercises you should use. If you are choosing to try this routine you probably already have the experience to know what movements work for you, and what ones do not. I am going to save my breath here. The exercises I use listed above are either ones I like, or ones I am limited to doing.
I recommend keeping form strict as possible on nearly all exercises. Loose form can be a good thing for some movements – like laterals and curls – where strict movements cannot consistently overload your muscles like a looser movement can. Exercise caution, however, when trying loose form on movements like these. Never use loose form on core movements – like squats, deadlifts, sldls, etc.
Overtraining is a topic of avoidance for most gym-goers. Overtraining is NOT bad when you plan it into your routines, utilize it infrequently and follow it with a planned recovery period. The first phase of this routine will force you to slightly overtrain and then allow you to recover. The second phase of this routine should not induce overtraining. Although the volume will be very high in the final weeks, your body should be accustomed to the workloads since you will be starting at a relatively moderate volume with high reps/moderate weights and progressing slowly each week by dropping reps and adding weight/sets.
If you feel you are overtraining simply take an active recovery week, then resume where you left off. If the sheer volume is simply too much, and you recognize this early on in the phase, drop an exercise or two for each body part, or rotate them in with others instead of doing them all each workout (i.e.: for your shoulders, alternate between side laterals and lying side laterals each week rather than performing both in a single session).
Credit is given where it is due. I have employed ideas that I found useful and successful from Dante’s DC routine, HST, Max-OT, and various other routines. The wave training program used in Phase 2 was derived from the Phillipi-Coan power lifting routine, and the 8 week volume pattern for Phase 2 was adopted from FortifiedIron’s hypertrophy routine.