ELITE WORKOUT ROUTINE

I used to think that periodization was irrelevant for hypetrophy. Sure, I always saw its importance in powerlifting: programs like 5/3/1 can get people freaky strong without adding even a pound of muscle to their frame. And periodizing is definitely important for athletes at the high school level or above that are training intensely for months at a time; eventually your body needs a break.

But I never used to see how it would help with hypertrophy. If I just want to get big and look good, do I really need to "mix up" my workouts? Isn't muscle confusion a myth? Shouldn't I just pick a couple compound exercises (Overhead Press, Dips, Chin Ups, etc.) and focus on getting stronger on those?

Here's the catch: muscle confusion is a myth, but periodization isn't. Different exercises don't only target different muscle groups; they target those muscle groups in different ways. The Pectoralis Major, for example, is targeted by Flat Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Dips, and Chest Flyes, but all those exercises hit the pecs in very different ways. If you want to use a true variety of exercises, however, there simply isn't enough time in a single week to do this.

That's where this routine comes into play: it alternates with A and B weeks, allowing you to use a variety of exercises that will target your muscles from different angles.

Before you move on to this routine, you need to be STRONG. This is a routine for advanced lifters after all. You should be able to perform the following lifts or be in the ballpark of them (lifting no less than 10% below the preferred amount).

  • 1x bodyweight Overhead Press
  • 1.5x bodyweight Bench Press
  • 2x bodyweight Squat
  • 2.5x bodyweight Deadlift

At this point, getting stronger will have a minimal impact on gaining. So what do you focus on instead of strength? Well, at this point you tap more into endurance by incorporating higher reps into your workouts. You also target different movements to induce a bit more variety to round out your physique more. Here's the routine:

WEEK A

  • Day 1 - Push A
  • Day 2 - Sprints
  • Day 3 - Pull A
  • Day 4 - Sprints
  • Day 5 - Legs A
  • Day 6 - Rest
  • Day 7 - Sprints

WEEK B

  • Day 1 - Push B
  • Day 2 - Sprints
  • Day 3 - Pull B
  • Day 4 - Sprints
  • Day 5 - Legs B
  • Day 6 - Rest
  • Day 7 - Sprints

LEGS A

  • Barbell Squats
    • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
    • 5 reps
    • 7 reps
    • 12- 15 reps
  • Leg Press
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
  • One Leg Romanian Deadlift
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
  • One Leg Calf Raise (superset 1)
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
  • One Leg Glute Bridge (superset 1)
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps

PUSH A

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
    • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
    • 5 reps
    • 7 reps
  • Dip (Chest Version)
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly (superset with below)
    • 5, 5, 5+ reps
    • 12 - 15 reps
    • Lying Skullcrusher (superset with above)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps

    PULL A

    • Deadlift
      • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
      • 5 reps
      • 7 reps
    • Pull Up
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Inverted Row
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Hand Gripper (superset with below)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Barbell Curl (superset with above)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Dumbbell Curl (superset with below)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Y Raise (superset with above)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps

    LEGS B

    • Barbell Squats
      • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
      • Set #1 - 5 reps
      • Set #2 - 7 reps
      • Set #3 - 12- 15 reps
    • Romanian Deadlift
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Bulgarian Split Squat
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • One Leg Calf Raise (superset with below)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps

    PUSH B

    • Overhead Press
      • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
      • 5 reps
      • 7 reps
    • Incline Barbell Bench Press
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Push Up (Close Grip, Normal, Decline)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Flat Dumbbell Fly
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Seated Tricep Extension
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps

    PULL B

    • Deadlift
      • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
      • 5 reps
      • 7 reps
    • Barbell Row
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Neutral Grip Pull Up
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Dumbbell Curl (superset with below)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Hand Grip (superset with above)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps
    • Barbell Curl (superset with below)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps reps
    • Lateral Raise (superset with above)
      • 5, 5, 5+ reps
      • 12 - 15 reps

    SPRINTS

    • Warm Up
    • 30 second sprint
    • 3 minute rest
    • 30 second sprint
    • 3 minute rest
    • 30 second sprint
    • 3 minute rest
    • 30 second sprint
    • 3 minute rest
    • 30 second sprint

    BREAKING IT DOWN

    When I say 5, 5, 5+ it means do 5 reps, drop the weight, do another 5 reps, drop the weight again, and do at least 5 reps. That final set during your drop set should be taken to failure.

    In fact, most of these exercises are just 2 sets. Technically many of them are drop sets, but still: the majority of this routine is 2 sets per exercise. And I've designed it that way purposely.

    You don't need as much volume as you think to make gains. What's more important is taking heavy sets close to failure (stopping 1 or 2 reps before you can't do anymore) and light sets to absolute failure (literally unable to move the weight further). Furthermore, you should do these workouts in a fasted state which accelerates muscle breakdown and promotes fat loss.

    If you really wanted to, you could add a set to each exercise and see if it helps. But what's the point of that? How many sets do you really NEED to be doing anyway? Besides, exercise variety is more important than volume anyway. I'd put down money that you'd build a much better chest performing 1 intense set on Flat Bench, Incline Bench, and Dips than you would performing 5 sets of 5 reps with just Flat Bench.

    The drop sets are great in this routine too. Basically, the final set in each drop set is very light and should be taken to total failure. Even if you pull off more than 5 reps (7 or 8, for example) you need to squeeze out those final reps until you literally can't move the weight anymore.

    Rest is crucial; you should be resting between sets for 2-3 minutes. However, during the drop sets and super sets you should not be taking an rest; those movements should be performed consecutively.

    Another key is to perform static stretching at the end of the workouts. Hold your muscles in active positions based on what you were lifting for the day (for example, if you trained chest, squeeze your arms together as if you were in the middle of performing Chest Flyes).

    Finally, don't be afraid to modify this routine once you've stuck to it for 6 months or so. I personally dont' plan on lifting more than 3 days a week, but some of you might want to bring a lagging body part up to speed; in that case, you could add a 4th weightlifting day to this routine in place of one of the Sprinting workouts and focus on a specific muscle group (biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, etc.) you want to grow more.