My aim is to train as little as possible, while still getting a little stronger every year. I have focused on strength the last five years but have started to think about maximizing muscle mass instead, going forward.
Currently, I work out on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the following "split":
- Benchpress, Pendlay rows, Biceps curls
- Squat, Overhead press, Chins, Abs, (Deadlift)
- Deadlift, Biceps curls, Dips, Abs
- Benchpress, Back, Biceps, Cleans, (Deadlift)
My bench routine consists of approximately 3-5 warm-up sets and 3-5 work sets. Mondays are my "real" bench days and Saturdays just complementary. On Mondays I typically do 3x5 or 5x5 or 4x3 or 3x4 and sometimes 3x3 or 4x4 or something similar, as heavy as I can, to positive failure (not being able to do one more rep). Even if I don't do 5x5, I tend to call this "5x5" for short.
On Saturdays I try to vary my bench (any kind of variation seems to be better than just sticking to the same routine everytime, unless you manage to increase the weight):
- Speedwork (as fast reps [concentric, up, phase] as possible, with good form, and short rests; 30-60 seconds) at 65-80% of my 1RM, sometimes as much as 8x5, 8x4, 6x3 and sometimes just 4x3 or even 4x2.
- Heavy (85-95% of 1RM): 3x3, 2x2, micro reps or static hold >1RM (for mechanical stress and micro damage)
- Stop sets: stop/pause at the bottom and/or part-way up or down (variation and weak "sticking points")
- Prolonged excentric (down) phase (micro damage)
- On Mondays and Thursdays I usually do 5 sets of 5-15 reps (to failure) with fairly short resting time (60 seconds). This is to cause metabolic stress, which should make the muscles fuller when they try to store more fuel for the next time.
- On Saturdays I have just begun to try heavier sets with longer resting time. I'm aiming for something like 4x4, including some cheating and focus on the excentric [down, negative] phase. This is to cause mechanical stress as well as micro damage. The latter is said to stimulate satellite cells create new muscle cells.
Deadlifts have proven hard to master for me. Sometimes I think I've got it, like just doing one heavy 1x5 per week. Other times that doesn't work at all, and I try applying the Russian Squat Routine for Deadlifts, deadlifting three times a week. Right now, I am trying this:
- Thursdays, main deadlift session: "5x5", i.e., sometimes 3x4, 4x3, 3x5, 4x4 or similar and sometimes the full 5x5, as heavy as possible, positive failure, sometimes actual failure
- Tuesdays and Saturdays, assistance training, technique: 6x2, 6x3, 4x4, 4x2, 4x3, 3x4, 3x3, 5x3 etc, lower weights, should be quite easy and no problem despite having gone to positive failure 4-5 times squatting earlier in the session. I don't want to exhaust myself by deadlifting for real 2-3 times per week, but I still want to train the movement, the technique.
Pendlay rows: once a week, assistance training and muscle mass building: 1-3 warm-up sets, 1-2 heavy sets of 5-10 reps to failure, 2-3 lighter and longer sets of 10-15 reps to failure. Maybe I'm going to failure too often, but I'm counting on being too weak mentally to actually reach real failure; I just think I do.
Overhead press: like pendlay rows
Dips: assistance training, hopefully preparing my triceps and chest for heavier benchpressing. I do 3 sets of weighted dips just once a week on Thursdays, as far away as possible from my main benchpressing on Mondays
Abs: 2 times a week, variations of crunches with straight legs pointing to the ceiling, as well as "gymnast's V-clips" on the floor. In total I do 3 sets per session, two times a wek, i.e. 6 sets per week, with 10-30 reps per set.
All in all I do about 100 "sit-ups" a week and that's my total abs routine. You shouldn't need more if you have correct form in the other compound exercises.
What I'm trying to achieve is a strong deadlift and benchpress, big biceps, shoulders and back, defined abs and just normal, fit looking legs - in just 4 hours per week. It seems to be working.
In addition to the above, I do mobility exercises about 5 minutes per day and occasionally a set of 50 unweighted calf raises, e.g., when waiting for my morning espresso.
Next up: Bodybuilding according to science (I'm simply going to translate this article)