PERIODIZED HYPERTROPHY 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?

Well, 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

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. 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

  • Squats
    • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
    • Set #1 - 5 reps
    • Set #2 - 7 reps
    • Set #3 - 12- 15 reps to failure
  • Leg Press
    • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
    • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
  • One Leg Romanian Deadlift
    • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
    • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
  • One Leg Calf Raise (superset with below)
    • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
    • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure

PUSH A

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
    • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
    • Set #1 - 5 reps
    • Set #2 - 7 reps
    • Set #3 - 5 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
    • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
    • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
  • Dip (Chest Version)
    • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
    • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
    • Push Up (close & normal grip)
      • Drop Set - 5, 5+
      • Drop Set - 5, 5+
      • Lying Skullcrusher
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure

      PULL A

      • Deadlift
        • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
        • Set #1 - 5 reps
        • Set #2 - 7 reps
        • Set #3 - 5 reps
      • Pull Up
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
      • Inverted Row
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
      • Dumbbell Curl (super set with below)
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
      • Barbell Curl
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure

      PUSH B

      • Overhead Press
        • Warm Up (stretching and sets)
        • Set #1 - 5 reps
        • Set #2 - 7 reps
        • Set #3 - 5 reps
      • Incline Barbell Bench Press
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
      • Dumbbell Flye
        • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
        • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure
          • Incline Tricep Extension
            • Drop Set - 5, 5, 5+
            • Normal Set - 12 - 15 reps to failure

            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.

            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).

            So get out there, try this routine, and wait until your body starts looking like a superhero's!