I remember hesitating abut using the title that appears on the top of this page.
I can hear the “oohs!” and “aahhs!” and I can see the looks of astonishment and disappointment on your faces: “Steiner – IRON MAN’S feature-writer, advocating, a split routine? Why, this guy’s flipped his wig. He’s been hollering so much about the importance of avoiding too much exercise, and the fact the three workouts a week are plenty for gains, that I’ve been afraid to even look at a a barbell more than three times a week – for fear of over-training – and now?? – what gives? – has Steiner gone the way of the Iron Game’s more unscrupulous money-grubbers? – is he too going to blabber about quadruple-zipping and double-popping, and marathon, three-hour schedules? – Oh man! What’s going on???
Well, hold your horses a second, Charley, and cool your jets – because I haven’t flipped my wig (I don’t wear one, in fact) – I haven’t turned phony – and I’ll strangle the first “builder of champions” I meet, who claims that super schedules will build shapely bulk, strength and health.
This is simply an article which elaborates upon a particular program of training – a program BASED ENTIRELY ON THE PRINCIPLES OF LIMITED HEAVY, BASIC-TYPE SCHDULES that I’ve been pushing down your throat since the first day I started to write for IRON MAN. “Okay,” you mumble skeptically, “so what’s the “split routine” hogwash doing in your so-called “program?” I shall explain.
I use the term NOT IN THE SAME SENSE THAT IT IS COMMONLY USED IN BDOYBUILDING CIRCLES TODAY. “Split routines” are understood to be schedules which employ severe training for the bodybuilder over a six-day-a-week-period. The upper body is worked for perhaps two hours on one day – and another two hours is spent on the lower body the following day. As a general rule, the slaves who employ this type of system are either (A) crazy or (B) extremely advanced powerful men, with tremendous endurance and almost super-human recuperative powers. Powers that permit them to enjoy progress with such self-inflicted torture-sessions.
I’ll even concede that for a very, very few of the big-boned, easy-gaining monsters, these schedules might be necessary at times – to whip their very large and over-bulked physiques into more pleasing shape for serious competition. For ninety-nine out of a hundred weight men however, the SPLIT ROUTINE AS IT IS USED TODAY, is suicide as far as building up goes. What I am speaking of, gentle reader, is something quite different. And here, assuming that you’re still with me, I’ll explain:
As you know, if you read my stuff, I regard the pumping and light, muscle-spinning exercises as a waste of time for almost ALL bodybuilders. I think that very few exercises are needed in any one schedule, in order to induce gains – provided the exercises are the heavy-duty BASIC MOVEMENTS. I wrote, some time ago, a complete series on what I consider these basic exercises to be – and if your read the series, then you know that these exercises are simple, very heavy movements; that work PRIMARILY the leg, back and shoulder areas. Here –
- Press or press behind neck
- Bench press
- Bent-rowing or power cleaning
- Deadlift or bend-over
- Abdominal exercise
That brief synopsis of some of the “Essential Exercises’ should acquaint you with the kind of work that I advocate, if you happened (poor wretch!) to have missed my series. You can see that, when one employs routines organized along those lines, it is hardly necessary (or even possible!) to train on more than six to eight movements – MAXIMUM – in a single workout. Limit training of this type will hospitalize you if you attempt to overdo it. So, I really don’t blame you for reacting suspiciously to my contention that a kind of split routine can be set up with these exercises, that will induce gains, instead of triggering rigor-mortis.
I ask you to remember these facts:
- Muscles absolutely must be given sufficient rest BETWEEN exercise sessions, if they are to GROW.
- NO MAN can work his entire body to its absolute limit – physical and psychological – more than two or three times a week, without suffering a breakdown.
- When a bodybuilder becomes advanced, it is possible for him to include more exercises in his training. IF HE CAN KEEP HIS WORKOUTS WITHIN AN HOUR TO AN HOUR AND A HALF in length – and IF he can maintain sufficient psychological and physical determination to DO FULL JUSTICE TO THOSE ADDITIONAL EXERCISES.
It is this last point that is central to the theory underlining the routine-arrangement that I shall describe in this article. And this is a very good place to mention that I am advocating the routine outlined in this article ONLY FOR TRAINESS WHO HAVE MADE SOME GOOD PROGRESS, HAVE INCREASED THEIR ENDURANCE, AND HAVE DISCOVERED A GROWING RESTLESSNESS AND AMBITION TO “DO MORE” IN THE WAY OF EXERCISES. If you are satisfied with your present 3-day-a-week program, and if you feel a reluctance to train more than three times a week then, in all honesty, I’d have to advise you to skip the routine set up in this month’s IRON MAN.
The Split Routine about which I am speaking might better be described as a “Divided Workout Schedule’ since, in reality, this is what you will be doing if you follow the routine: dividing a TOTAL BODY workout, not actually employing the conventional split method of training.
Here’s how the routine works: On three alternate evenings (or afternoons, or perhaps mornings) per week, you follow THIS schedule of exercises:
- The bench press
- The bent over barbell row
- The stiff-leg dead lift
- The squat
- Any abdominal exercise that you happen to favor. (I like leg raises, with iron boots strapped to my feet for resistance)
On two ALTERNATE days a week (days on which you do NOT employ the above-mentioned schedule), you do this:
- The press behind the neck
- The standard, two-arm barbell curl
That’s the whole bit. You do NOTHING ELSE on those tow days buy the behind neck press, and the curl. That – if yo work as you must – will be plenty.
I want to call your attention to the fact that even though your exercises have been divided between two workouts, the FIRST routine (i.e. the first five exercises( comprise a COMPLETE overall power muscle building schedule. You could follow it exclusively, if you so desired – and, assuming that you put forth the necessary effort, you’d pack on muscles like Hercules. Legs, back, shoulders and chest as well as arms and mid-section get a terrific workout i this routine – and THOSE SIMPLE FIVE EXERCISES will insure that you build heavy, solid muscle, and a powerful body. So why am I tossing in those other two movements? Simple.
As I have said, this schedule is for the man who has already made some satisfactory gains – and or the guy who is SUPER-AMBITIOUS. To encourage these men to adopt the conventional “peaked biceps’ garbage-routine would be, to my mind and way of thinking, a crime. They can take a bit more work, sure, so let’s give it to them in a way that will insure continued gains in REAL MUSCLE and STRENGTH. The heave duty, two hand curl will take care of any pair of arms that feels rarin’ to go after the preliminary three workouts per week on heavy, bent rowing – and the shoulder and triceps development will be given the absolute maximum of benefit with the grand old Press Behind Neck. This schedule of seven exercises – IF WORKED AS HARD AS I’M GOING TO INSIST THAT YOU WORK THEM – would be all but impossible to complete within a single workout period. In fact, if you can walk and breathe normally after your five-exercise schedule is completed, then you’re definitely loafing. And if your entire shoulder assembly, triceps and biceps aren’t worked to the point of near-collapse, on your two-exercise workout days, then don’t bother to continue on this routine. Your ambition isn’t keen enough.
The press behind neck and the barbell curl work the upper body’s muscles in a different way than the first five-exercise routine works them – so you really won’t have to worry about those body areas being over trained. This is very important. Also, despite the fact that you will be working out more frequently than usual – this schedule still does not call for SIX sessions a week – it requires five. Yes – five is a lot – but I’m convinced that, if the workouts are handled as I’ve described, the trainee will not overwork his body to the point where he’ll fail to make gains.
Only you as an individual can of course, determine whether or not you’re ready or willing to go at barbell work this severely. The choice is yours to make – but please understand that I recommend this type of training ONLY for the very AMBITIOUS, and for the trainees who have sufficient training behind them. This routine can – when employed correctly – produce and incredible will-muscled and rugged physique.
Of uppermost concern, of course, is HOW these exercises are to be employed – and this question may be answered as follows:
- Do not attempt to set up a pre-planned schedule of either sets or repetitions. Body recuperative powers and varying degrees of daily energy levels prohibit this sort of “self programming.” DO THE MAXIMUM OF SETS AND THE MAXIMUM OF REPS ON EVERY EXERCISE, EACH TRAINING DAY. IF YOU FEEL VERY TIRED OR LETHARGIC, SIMPLY SKIP THE WORKOUT. This is a mature attitude – and it requires a mature, dedicated barbell man to adhere to a schedule on these terms.
- ALWAYS DO set a fixed poundage that you will employ for each exercise, REGARDLESS OF THE NUMBER OF SETS OR REPS THAT YOU DO. Heavy weights are needed to progress – and you must strive constantly to make them progressively HEAVIER! Try to add a few pounds to each exercise after every week or so.
- After FIVE weeks of steady, progressive training, STOP! Take a week’s rest no matter how good you feel, and no matter how certain you are that you’ve become another Grimek! you must have adequate rest – and a week of no training after every five weeks of working out is MANDATORY.
- Change the schedule a bit after every two five-week sessions. Rest seven days. now do the routine for another five weeks. Rest. Repeat for five weeks again. Rest. Continue in this manner. You can juggle the exercises around all you want – so long as you never deviate from the tried and proven BASICS. Don’t go off on a “cramp-curl spree”! ONE EXERCISE THAT MUST ALWAYS REMAIN IN YOUR PORGRAM IS THE REGULAR SQUAT. When you stop squatting you can kiss your gaining days goodbye.
- be sure that you adhere to an adequate program of nutrition. eat lots of good wholesome foods. If you train on a program like the one outlined in this article and neglect your diet – then I warn you that you may be seriously endangering your health.
Those are the important things you need to know and to follow for the best gains on this schedule. The system we’ve talked about this month most certainly had merit. Whether or not it will work for YOU, only YOU can ultimately decide. I am a physical training instructor, not an oracle or seer. Good luck to you!