Full body workouts are outdated, right? Wrong. Find out what science tells us about training frequency, increased gains, protein synthesis, and optimal muscle growth.

The topic of protein synthesis as it relates to muscle building, is extremely important because It tells us exactly how frequently natural lifters should train if they want to build muscle at an optimal rate.

Research reveals that when you train a body part, protein synthesis remains elevated generally no longer than 48 hours. In most cases, it is elevated approximately 36 hours, after which, it returns back to a baseline level. This science is not "new" news either. We have known this scientific reality for decades.

What does this mean from a practical standpoint? An individual muscle will only "grow" during this protein synthesis window. So, if you use a body part split, you are repairing and rebuilding for up to 2 days and giving that muscle 5 days off each week. Though this will build muscle, it won't lead to optimal muscle growth rates. You can bomb, blast, blitz, and annihilate your muscles into extended periods of muscle soreness, but this will not extend the protein synthesis window. This notion that "more" soreness equates to "more" growth is off base. A muscle can experience growth without undergoing any noticeable degree of muscle soreness.

A study published in The Journal of Physiology looked at two different groups - one undergoing ES, or electrical muscle stimulation, and a second group undergoing voluntary muscle contractions. The DOMS experienced by both groups were fairly equal. What this study revealed was that muscle soreness was the result of extracellular matrix inflammation, which is the connective tissue that binds muscle fibers together. 1

So DOMS does not appear to be an indicator of muscle soreness or muscle tissue damage, but rather pain derived from connective tissue inflammation. Therefore, training for soreness is a misguided concept. To grow, we need to experience more muscle protein synthesis and make sure this surpasses the level of muscle protein breakdown. It would also make sense to make sure we maintain a heightened level of muscle protein synthesis as much as possible.

Protein Synthesis and Optimal Training Frequency

As we have established, you can have DOMS in a muscle without it currently being in a state of protein synthesis. Take German Volume Training for example. I experienced mind-numbing muscle soreness for 8 days after a GVT squat session. Despite this, my quads were only in a state of protein synthesis for up to 48 hours.

The obvious question in all this becomes: how then should we train for optimal muscle growth?

The answer: with a greater training frequency.

Instead of bombing a muscle group each day with endless volume, you are better off targeting muscle groups several times per week with a smaller amount of volume per day. By training a muscle group 2-3x per week with a more moderate volume, you will experience a greater degree of weekly protein synthesis per muscle group, and as a result, more optimal gains.

Therefore, as a natural, you are better served using a full-body workout or an upper/lower split.

Woman doing deadlifts in CrossFit-style gym.

Why Are Body Part Splits So Popular?

Good question.

For a very long time, bodybuilding magazines controlled the information given to those seeking to build muscle. Because of this, natural lifters began to emulate the body part splits being used by top IFBB pros. What you aren't told is why these workouts are effective for "enhanced" lifters, and why they won't be as beneficial for natural trainees.

Enhanced lifters maintain elevated protein synthesis levels through the use of insulin and other anabolic drugs. You rarely hear this discussed on forums or in magazines, but it is the reality of the situation. People tend to only discuss the topic of steroids when it comes to bodybuilding, but the chemical soup being used is far more than simply steroids.

By using insulin (and other drugs), a lifter can maintain elevated protein synthesis levels, therefore negating the need to train a muscle frequently. The added recovery benefits they receive from steroids (and other chems), along with the increased receptor stimulation that comes from intense contractions, which could be derived from volume training, makes a body part split a "natural" choice for non-natural bodybuilders.

Full Body Workouts Lead to Optimal Gains

I know what you're thinking. You've met plenty of guys who made quality gains using body part splits. They certainly did! The point of this article isn't to tell you that gaining on splits is impossible. It is obviously possible. In fact, guys can make very good gains on body part splits.

The question though is this: are these gains optimal? Generally not. If you are only experiencing protein synthesis for up to 48 hours each week per muscle group, there is still some optimization that is possible. Let's look at an example.

Let's say that Lifter A is using a body part split, and Lifter B is using a full-body workout or upper/lower split. We will also pretend that all things are equal: training consistency, diet, supplementation, rest, etc.

During his first 3 years of training, Lifter A, Mr. body part split, experiences the following muscle gains:

  • Year 1 - 14 pounds of muscle
  • Year 2 - 7 pounds of muscle
  • Year 3 - 3.5 pounds of muscle

Lifter B on the other hand might experience the following gains, which are a tad bit more optimal:

  • Year 1 - 16 pounds of muscle
  • Year 2 - 8 pounds of muscle
  • Year 3 - 4 pounds of muscle

When Lifter A posts his body transformation pictures on the web, it is jaw-dropping! He looks amazing and appears to be making optimal results. 24.5 pounds of muscle is a huge amount and changes his physique dramatically. But, it was not optimal.

If he would have gone the route of Lifter B, maximizing his protein synthesis by elevating it every 48 to 72 hours with a new workout that is re-targeting the same body parts, his gains would have been even more impressive.

Related: The Optimized Volume Workout (O.V.W) Program

Now obviously the above examples are just that - examples. The numbers provided are not expectations for everyone, though they are realistically based on the gains curve and how natural muscle building works from year to year.

Natural lifters tend to experience a decrease of gains by about half per year, give or take. This can certainly vary if someone is starting underweight, or did not experience near-optimal gains during their first several years of training.

Shirtless man doing pullups.

How Frequently Should You Train?

If you want to build muscle as rapidly as possible, consider switching to a full-body workout. By targeting each muscle group 3 times per week, you will keep protein synthesis levels higher, on average, which will lead to more optimal gains.

For intermediate lifters who have already built a quality amount of strength, training on an upper/lower split might be a better option. Heavy weights can take their toll on joints and connective tissue, so a few extra days of rest per week might be beneficial.

Whatever you do, don't rush into a full-body workout using a ton of volume. Frequency training is a completely different beast. The point of full-body workouts isn't to cram in a ton of body part volume per day. Instead, you will hit each body part with a moderate to lower set volume and train it more frequently.

Related: 5 Recovery Tips to Help You Build Muscle Faster

Many guys fail to make the transition into full-body training simply because they try to do too much each day. Start with a lower amount of volume and evolve your training by adding more sets if you feel it's necessary. I recommend 3 to 5 sets per day for larger muscle groups, and a max of 6 to 9 weekly sets for smaller muscle groups.

Some of you will simply not like full-body work. If this is the case, stick to body part splits. You are going to see far better results in doing something you like than using a training style you hate.

Posted on: Sun, 07/09/2023 - 08:01

Fascinating article many thanks. Considering that larger muscle groups require a longer recovery than smaller ones, could it be that the size of the muscle group also determines the duration of protein synthesis, or do all muscle groups share the exact same 36-48 hour protein synthesis window ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 07/22/2023 - 12:56

Hey Nick, same 36-48 hour window regardless of muscle size.

Posted on: Sat, 07/22/2023 - 14:05

Good to know! Thanks Roger

Bob Wermer
Posted on: Wed, 04/05/2023 - 17:22

I'm 63 and 3 months ago converted to every other day arm sessions and twice a month back and chest. I've grown my bicep/triceps to 18"s a gain of over 1/2" in those 3 months. I'm doing on average 40 bi and 40 tri sets per week. Understanding the science behind MPS was hard for me to incorporate but now that I have I'm on my way to 18-1/2" guns this year by age 64. Yes, they are big!!!

Posted on: Fri, 09/22/2023 - 19:44

That's quite the gain, Bob. Well done! A couple of years ago I cracked the 50" chest barrier, for good, through daily pushups over 2 weeks. Closing in on 62, your success gives me hope.

Posted on: Sat, 03/20/2021 - 15:47

Hi, great article. But what should i do when i dont can do Squats and Deadlifts. Is the Full Body Workout than the right thing for me?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/22/2021 - 09:50

Hey Christian - there are different variations of both the squat and deadlift that can be done if you aren't able to do conventional squats and deadlifts.

Brian DeGraw
Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2017 - 15:54

Does this really matter if the main lifts are compound lifts? Deadlifts work legs. Bench press works lats. Delts effect chest.

Everything effects core.

I will have to give this a go for three weeks. I have been a natural for years on splits, but only kind of bought into the whole push, pull, lower and upper/lower.

There is just so much with depedancies. As long as you hit the major lifts each week, I don't think it matters much.

Diet is a much bigger issue for most people. Alcohol on the weekends too.
80/20 ppl

Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:16

Best article ive ever found on this topic. Thanks!

Erik Castruita
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2016 - 22:56

Hey guys, so I'm a 15 year boy. I weigh 100 pounds and I'm 5'2, I play varsity soccer as starter and have always been fast and shifty. It's just that I'm always the smallest and weakest one out there. It get rough sometimes always being picked on and constantly getting knocked down like a feather. I'm sick of it I want to get bigger gain muscle, but I don't know how I want help and I'm serious about gaining muscle. I willing to do what it takes. There's so much sites and articles on all of this stuff it's hard to know on where to start.

Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 10:56

First off, Erik, don't make it complicated.

You don't need to eat a lot of calories, nor do you need to do a bunch of complicated exercises and routines.

Do a full-body workout twice a week, three sets of 5-6 reps. Rest about a minute or so between sets. And you should work hard at doing those reps, too.

And eat one gram of protein per pound of lean weight.

That's basically it, right there.

Keep it simple, and stay away from the dumb hype you read out there.

Posted on: Fri, 08/21/2015 - 11:12

Hello Benjamin.

Yeah, the one gram of protein per one pound of lean pound is too much. But it may not be for those who do a full-body workout.

I'm thinking that the more torn muscle, the more protein that is needed.

All of the studies that were done were just on those who did half of their body (split routines).

What is another myth is that you need a lot of calories (protein and carbs) to put on muscle. Nope. Just as long as we get in enough carbs on workout days for energy, and enough protein, we are just fine.

But I'm still trying to find out how much protein we need on the days when the synthesis has gone down.

I workout full body twice a week, so there is no reason to have a lot of protein every single day.

Oh well, the search goes on.

Thanks again, Benjamin, I appreciate it.

John A Hilderbr...
Posted on: Fri, 01/05/2024 - 22:31

I just wanted to say that protein would be important whether you are In protein synthesis or not. if you are not in protein synthesis you would actually be wise to eat more protein so that your body does not go Catabolic rather than anabolic,cause you're only in 1 of 2 states either your muscle is building or your muscle is being ripped apart( As we don't store protein other than like this in a Anabolic/ Catabolic effect) for its proteins to be used for other cellular development that's how our bodies work. every cell is made from protein... I Aim At least a 150,but between 150 and 200 g of protein on synthesis, And at least 200 if I'm out of protein synthesis since I have been doing this for 3 months my pumps are sticking around way longer than they ever have I'm basically retaining 25% of the pump that I get when I lift until I hit the muscle again 3 to 4 days later... So for sure if you want to look big that's a good idea. Couldn't see that even being a problem for power lifters as you have plenty of protein so your body's not trying to utilize it for other cellular development. For reference I am 40 years old 100% natural, 6'2, 193 pounds, Skeletally ectomorph and I don't really carry a lot of muscle tissue if I don't lift for years, Fluctuate between 11 and 14% body fat( There is excess skin and a little bit of fat on my belly but abs are still clear). And my calorie intake varies between 1900 and 2800 My overall monthly average of calories is 2350. Fast pace job 12 hour days hour-long lifts, And I take 1 or 2 sometimes 3 days off I basically lift as soon as I am recovered, That means no soreness in the muscle is still sore that will overtrain (With heavier weight this can lead to serious tendon injury/ And/or muscle tear) and you won't get as good Hypertrophy in your current session... Just food for thought

Posted on: Mon, 05/25/2015 - 09:25

Steve, do you have any info, references on how much protein we need on off days?

Do we need as much protein on off days as during the first 48 hours?

I know we need protein to keep healing, but how much is the question.

I ask this because I am also trying to keep my calories down because I'm a desk jockey.

Thanks in advance.

Posted on: Thu, 08/20/2015 - 19:35

I'm not steve, but I am a graduate in exercise science and nutritional science, if that means anything to you. When your body is going through protein synthesis it is important to be providing your body with the essential amino acid chains your body needs. Whereas the 1g of Protein per 1 Pound body weight is a myth, as a lifter you should be trying to elevate your protein as much as you can personally sustain financially while also not putting on too much unwanted body fat om. More protein doesn't hurt, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will make you better gains. Hope that was helpful.

Posted on: Tue, 12/23/2014 - 08:05

Great article, I've learned this couple of years ago, I was one of these gym rays always on bro split with minimal gains( non gifted gym rat :)
But all of the sudden, with HF trainings my strenght increased and later my mass followed. After all those years I have finally started to make some gains. Problem is to learn not to do too many work in gym. Just hit the sweet spot and go home. More important for natty gym goers is a diet and rest. Training is just a stimulus.
Once again thanks for this article, one of the most important information here for natty lifters.

Posted on: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:42

Steve, love your articles and am currently following one of your full body workouts (the grind) with noticeable increases in strength.. You're advice is absolutely valued and appreciated.. My question is this: I don't drink a lot by any means, occasionally a beer or two on Saturday night, but have read a little about alcohol shutting down protein synthesis. Is this something I should be concerned about affecting the gains of my Friday workout?

Dave Whitacre
Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2014 - 20:16

Steve, absolutely love this! I've been following your example from your previous article: Forget Steroids- 5 Full Body Workouts for Serious Gains. It's bookmarked on my IPad! Seeing results and love the work out routines. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/forget-steroids-5-fullbody-wo...


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2014 - 20:53

Awesome! Stay strong.

jay sea
Posted on: Thu, 03/20/2014 - 21:18

I have recently been going to the gym every single day, on a two day cycle. Day 1-Biceps Chest Shoulders Abs(For sarcoplasmic hypertrophy), and Day 2 - Triceps Back Legs an Abs
I am doing two day cycles because it wraps around the protein synthetic cycle.
You have mentioned above that Insulin is used to maintain protein synthesis. My question is do you have any references to this? I have looked all over the net and have not found any adequate resources on this topic.
Another question, If I were to bulk up on carbs and raise my insulin levels so that my protein synthesis would continue elevated for over 48 hours, and continued to workout every two days, would it be beneficial? I mean, If I worked out while my protein synthesis was still elevated, does the protein synthesis elevate to a limit, or will it go higher than if I were to work out with baseline protein synthesis?
One more question, is there any proof that insulin raises protein synthesis? Aside from maintaining the elevated levels

Posted on: Wed, 02/12/2014 - 22:31

yeah, full body for hypertrophy...if you look closer at phisiology you can see that for hypertrophy is optimal to train with short (for maximal hormonal response), intense and INFREQUENT (7+ days for recover) session but with VOLUME. It's pointless to continually say that ''protein synthesis in natural athlete stop after 48-72h'' and so he needs to train more frequently: if the muscle grow only for 48-72 hours it doesn't mean that it had fully recuperates! Disruption of muscle calcium balance, recovery of muscle energy (glycogen accumulation), decrease in muscle protein content and last, but not less important, connective tissue recovery. All of this factors reduce the production of strenght, necessary for the next session that will come. AH, last thing, i'm talking about of strictly HYPERTROPHY (that include at least controlled eccentric and training to concentric failure), not strenght training and not power training or what also, for that is another story.
(sorry for the bad english)

Posted on: Thu, 10/17/2013 - 16:03

If protein synthesis is elevated for approx. 48 hours will the muscles still be repaired after this time just at a slower rate or is muscle protein synthesis so low that nothing happens unless it is elevated by resistance training.

Philippe Orlando
Posted on: Sun, 09/01/2013 - 16:25

Very nice site. I just stumbled on it doing search online.
I have a question.
I'm not super strong, not a pro, 51 but in very good shape, I'd like to grow a little bit, still.
Thanks for your input.

If you had to pick up one routine, which one would you pick up, or are they both valid?

3 sets of squats, 5-8 reps
3 sets romanian deadlifts 5-8 reps
3 sets of bench press 5 reps
3 sets incline dumbells 5 reps
3 sets of some biceps exercise.

pull ups wide 3 sets, body weight to failure, usually less than 8
Chin up, biceps grip, 3 sets, body weight to failure, usually less than 8
Some form of rowing, 3 sets 5 reps
Biceps one big drop set failing every 5 reps until reaching 20 reps

Wednesday sprinting outside on track + Shoulder 3 sets of OHP, 5 reps.

Thursday is a repeat of Monday with weight allowing 10-15 reps
Friday is a repeat of Tuesday with weights allowing 10-15 reps
Saturday, shoulder


3 sets of all the exercises mentioned above organized in a full body workout on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, alternating TOUGH/lighter/TOUGH/lighter across the week.

Posted on: Sun, 07/28/2013 - 03:24

Nice article mate, but u forgot one thing, a sample full body program, could you please put that up,will appreciate it.

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2013 - 17:28

Hi Steve. I have made most of my gains now I have been consistently been lifting for13 years on splits and been doing 5 day power muscle for a few months and enjoyed it, Should I stick to splits or do full body? Can you recommend me a workout. Thanks

Posted on: Sat, 06/08/2013 - 11:22

Why are people disliking this info? This man is posting the most refreshing and intelligent article on Resistance training ive seen in a while, great info sir. Full body, heavy compund lifts with a few isolations for every body part, every 2-4 days (after 5X5 sometimes my joints need an extra day or two), mixed with HIIT cardio is the best and only way you should be lifting. Lift only two or three days a week, and the days in between I train for speed, power, agility, and flexibility. I'm a self defense instructor and martial artist. I don't have time for the ridiculously long workouts, almost every day, training only one of two body parts at a time. Why would you waste your time with that crap? Lol. Mr. Steve knows his stuff; respect the wise. God bless.

Posted on: Fri, 05/31/2013 - 19:03


Do you have any good resource which discusses the time of the elevated protein synthesis?
I've done a quick research and I can find plenty of articles saying the same 48 hour thing, but I can't really find the source/raw data for this.
I'm especially curious if there's any graph / data available about the protein synthesis over a span of time after the training. I am wondering if there is something like a great spike in synthesis in the night following the work-out and rapidly decreasing the day after, or if it is more like a gentle decrease in the 48h period.

The reason I'm asking this is the following.. If like 75% of the protein synthesis happens in the first 16 hours (=33% of the total synthesis time of 48h), it maybe would make sense to try to be as anabolic as possible during this first 16 hours and for the other 32 hours it wouldn't matter that much if a person is most of the time in anabolic state. Or maybe something like the first 16 hours as anabolic as possible followed by 16 hours of balancing between anabolic and catabolc and the last 16 hours slightly catabolic. Maybe this is a way to maximize muscle synthesis with minimizing fat gains?

Whats your view on this? Thanks

Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2013 - 01:52

If the article suggests working the same muscle groups multiple times a week is the optimum route then why does the website have so many body part split routines where you work a muscle group once a week? For instance, your Power 8 workout (located here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/power-8-workout-3-day-split) only has you working your chest and tris once a week. What gives?

Posted on: Sat, 02/16/2013 - 12:23

hi steve,
i was skinny but after gaining i found that it is hard to get muscles.
is insulin responsible for it ?
if no what should i do ?

Posted on: Tue, 02/12/2013 - 15:06

Hi Steve,

I really enjoy your articles and thought I would ask you a question as I have tried combining a few of your concepts. Prior to marriage and kids I worked out quite a bit and was in fairly good shape....usually hit the gym 6 days a week. Life got busy and with kids and work working out got benched. 5 years later my wife and I decided we wanted to get back into shape so we bought a treadmill and freeweights (dumbells and barbell). Needless to say I was shocked how weak I had become benching less than half the weight I used to, even my first workout ended with me stopping half way through because I couldnt finish! I found this website and began doing a full body workout 5-6 days a week and cardio in the am. It goes as follows:

Leg ext 3 sets
Leg curls 3 sets
Deadlift 3 sets
DBell bench 3 sets
Overhead press 3 sets
barbell Row 3 sets
One arm Row 3 sets
Skull Crusher 3 sets
Bicep Curl 3 sets
Calf Raises 3 sets

I began with light weights attempting 10 reps per set and began adding weight and did this for a month, then read your artcle about focussing on hitting a desired number of reps for all sets combined ie in 3 sets hitting 25 reps once this is accomplished add weight to the bar. I really like this concept as I found it more engaging. I decided to make the switch and am going to take your advice as you stated in the article and try this for 90 days.

Two questions -
1. Do you suggest keeping to the same exercises each work out or would switching them up be ideal ie having 2 different fullbody workouts and alternating between them.
2. When would you suggest switching to a split workout?

Some extra info I am 5'10 160lbs 31 years old. Goal is to gain muscle and stregth. Plan on buying a cable system to maximize exercise options. Currently take Weightgainer 2 x a day and Iso whey protien pre and post work out, also a long acting protien at night.

Posted on: Sun, 02/10/2013 - 17:54

Great article. What do you think to two small workouts a day. For example 30 mons or so of chest Monday lunch then a 20 min blast of the legs after work followed by 20 mins or so of cardio. I'm a fit lad and been bodybuilding for a while now (90 kg and pretty lean at 6 ft1"). I could shake this up throughout the week so that my lagging parts definitely get hit three times and with only 30 mins or so per workout I should definitely be able to maintain high intensity and kind of keeps a split.

Posted on: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 23:18

Steve, I have just started a new job and unfortunately I will only be able to lift 3 times per week. Well I thought this was unfortunate until I read your article, now I am thinking it won't be such a bad thing to go down to 3 days per week (I have been doing 4 and 5 day splits more recently). My question is, would your "Pull, Squat, Press" workout be a good candidate for a full body workout 3 times per week that would maintain the level of intensity that I am use to with the 4 and 5 week splits? My fear is that I will not get the same benefit from each workout since I will no longer be targeting a specific muscle group, like in the 4 and 5 day split workouts, but instead the entire body. What are your thoughts?


Posted on: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 18:25

1 A) Bench press 3x5
1 B) Med ball up and over (plyo push ups) 2x10
2 A) Barbell Bent Row 3x8
2 B) Renegade Row 2x8 reps each arm

"Super hero shoulder work"
Batman = Later raise x15
Superman = Front raise x 15
Aqua Man = Using same DB"s Keep arms mostly straight and moving arms like you are dramatically running x 15
Bizzaro's = Lay flat on bench on stomach with 2.5's to 5's in hands. Palms facing down hold Hands out in front like you are superman, then making a "field goal", then form a T or a cross and then straight back like Iron man hold each position for 15 seconds for a total of a minute. (Bizzaro is the evil superman btw)
it's a big giant set!

Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:47


Thanks for this article. It makes good sense, but it has me wondering if I might need a change in program.

I'm a beginner, and I am currently in the 2nd week of the "10-Week Mass Building" Program listed under Workouts. It is a Mon-Tues-Thurs-Fri program that hits each muscle group ONCE a week. It seems to be going okay, but I want some ARMS & PECS!!! And I want them YESTERDAY!!! LOL Should I maybe switch to a full-body workout (I saw a simple one listed under Beginner Workouts) and do it every other day, or maybe alternate an upper/lower split over 6 days each week?

Victoria, TX

Posted on: Wed, 01/30/2013 - 15:02

I am starting this workout that I have put together based on some of your articles Steve, I like to be able to stick with a core program but keep it versatile ***The staple lifts use the total reps across sets approach, with a strength and a density focus. Focus is on progression of course. Is it a solid approach?

- Tuesday - Chest, Shoulders, Tris
Incline BB Press ***(3S = Total 15/22R) ,Floor Press (2S = 16R), Floor Cable Fly (2-3*10) , Arnold/DB Press (3S = 18/25R), Upright Row (2*8-12), Rear Lateral (2*10-15), Skullcruncher/FP (3S = 18/25R), Close Grip Press Variation (3*6-10), Abs
- Wednesday - Quads, Lats, Bis
Squat (3S = 18/25R), Lunges (3*16) SS w/ Stepups (3*16), Seated Calf Raise (2*10-15), Weighted Pull-ups (3S = 18/25R), DB Rows (3*6-10), Cable Pullover/Strt Arm Pd (2*8-12), BB or DB Curl (3S = 18/25R), Pinwheel Curl (3*6-10)
- Friday - Chest, Shoulders, Arms
DB Bench (3S = 18/25R), Military/Seated BB Press (3S = 15/22R), Weighted Dips (3*6-10), Standing Cable Fly (2-3*10), Front to Side Laterals (3*6-10), Cable Face Pull (2*10-15), Cable Preacher Curl SS/ Cable Tricep Variation (2*8-12), Cable Cross Curl SS/ one Arm Cable Tricep Variation (2*10-15), Pushup burnout
- Saturday - Deadlift, Rows, Hammys, Traps
Deadlift (3*5 progressive), BB/LandMine Row (3S = 15/22R), Hammer/Seated Cable Row (3*8-12), Leg Curl (3*8-12), RDL or One Leg Press (2-3*8-12), Power Shrug (3S = 18/25R), Haney or DB Shrug (2*10-15), Abs, Pullup Burnout

Posted on: Wed, 01/30/2013 - 14:29


Thanks for this article. It makes a lot of sense and has me questioning if I might need a change. I'm pretty new to all of this workout business -- 52yo, 6'2", 199# -- lost 100 pounds a couple of years ago through gastric bypass and lost a good bit of muscle with it. My goal is to build some muscle now that it's not covered up by all that fat! :-)

I'm currently in the 2nd week of the 10 Week Mass Building Program listed under Workouts. (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...)

"The program works each muscle group hard once per week using mostly heavy compound exercises. You will train on a 4 day split routine, resting on Wednesdays and the weekends."

The program seems to be going well, although I'm not capable of very much weight yet. I'm wondering if I should maybe switch to a full-body workout and do that every other day (there's a simple one that is listed under Beginner Workouts), or maybe an upper/lower split and do that 2-day routine over a total of 6 days per week (3 times through the 2-day routine in a week).

I WANT SOME ARMS AND PECS -- and I want them YESTERDAY!!! LOL What's your best advice?

Also, as a newbie, I don't know if I'm supposed to use the SAME weight for all three sets of an exercise -- or am I supposed to increase the weight for each set?

Victoria, TX

Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2013 - 07:41

I found this very informative and well-written. Thanks :)

Posted on: Sun, 01/27/2013 - 14:27

Excellent practical article as always Steve , I'm currently looking at competing in a classic bb comp after an absence of 16 years.Been on a reduced calorie diet for the past few months to shed some fat and need to hit some lagging bodyparts for a six week clean bulk , will then cut for eight weeks.
How does this workout sound?

Sat Close Stance Front Squats 3 x 8 , Hack Squat 3 x 10, RDL 3 X 10 to 6, Leg Curls 2 x 10, Standing Calf Raise 3 x 12 , Donkey Raises 2 sets to failure

Sun- BB Rows 3 x 6, Lat Pulldowns 2 x 12, Shrugs 3 x 8 , Upright Cable Rows 2 x 12 , Neck Press 4 x10, Rope Pushdowns 3 x 8,8.12 , Short Bar Pushdowns 3 x 10

Tue-Leg Press 3 x 15 , Rear Lunge 3 x 10 , Sissy Squats 2 x 15, Leg Curl 2 x 8 , Calf Press 2 x 20 , Seated Calf Raise 2 x 15

Wed - Pull up 3 x 10 , DB Rows 3 x 8 , Lateral Raise 4 x 10 , DB Shrugs 3 x 8 . Upright Cable Rows 2 x 8 , Preacher Curls 2 x 10, Skullcrushers 3 x 8.

Plan is to develop more quad sweep , higher traps and widen out upper lats. Aged 46 now so three times a week per bodypart is going to wipe me. Will hit 2100 calories for six weeks(have been on 1800) and hopefully gain a few pounds (spend eight weeks cutting to make 165 pounds in early May.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:31

Thanks Nagels.

On paper the workout looks pretty good. You don't have enough quality pressing work though. I strongly recommend the addition of some form of heavy bench press, and a heavy overhead press variation.

Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:48

Thanks Steve, will switch from neck press to incline bench , I might try some push presses for high reps altho my rotator cuff gives problems on overhead pressing. I'm open to suggestions though.....will train chest and shoulders only once a week as they're reasonably well developed.

daniel taylor
Posted on: Sat, 01/26/2013 - 05:35

do you lift to failure on all sets then if your doing low volume each day?

also is there an exercise routine that works best?what i mean is do you start with chest and say go onto shoulders......each workout or do you mix it up each day?

do you just do one exercise per workout on each body part or can you say for shoulders do one exercise for rear delts and one for front delts?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:27

I don't recommend training to failure. I lift until I feel like I might fail on the next rep, then stop. This is a sufficient stimulus to trigger maximal muscle fiber involvement.

There is no best workout, no. progression on compound lifts is your best overall option.

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 23:55

Good Article Steve,

There is a good workout plan in this website that is Full Body 2 Day intense workout. Do you think this is also a good fit for what you discussed about protein synthesis?


Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:13

Good article, I want to switch to a FB or UB/LB workout, but most of these workouts are designed for beginners and/or focussing on fat loss. Is there a FB workout that you can recommend for intermediate experienced guys that are aiming for mucle growth? Thanks!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:25

I am going to be putting up some new options in the very near future.

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:37

Hey Steve,

Great article and website...I am 35 years old and weighing in at 236. I have probably 30% body fat. I am currently taking a 24 day challenge for weight lose and a 3 day full body workout for muscle mass and weight loss. Can you tell me what supplements and diet I should take for optimal muscle growth? I been reading alot about workouts and supplements. It is really getting confusing. My goal is to 190 and solid!. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 01/25/2013 - 18:43

Hey Scott! Building muscle mass while trying to shed some unwanted weight is counter productive. I recommend that you focus on cutting to your desired weight before worrying too much about adding muscle mass. The reason for this is that you'll need to operate on a calorie surplus for optimal muscle mass growth. You see the problem. This flies in the face of fat loss, which requires a calorie deficit. That being said, weight training is a great calorie burner, and you'll see some strength increases while on a cutting diet.

As far as supplements go, I typically recommend the following:
1) Multivitamin
2) Fish Oil (Omega Fatty Acids)
3) Whey protein for post workout
4) Creatine

I consider these to be "staples." Also, check out this tool: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

It will help you determine how many calories you should be shooting for to cut some weight.

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:21

Nice article Steve. On this topic, I have really enjoyed your Bulldozer Workout. Do you have any plans to create a full body Bulldozer?

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 12:04

Can't wait for the workout routine!!

Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 10:22

Great article, I started the 3 day intermediate full-body split from one of your older articles last summer, and instantly started getting stronger and bigger. Varied in Mark's 2 day 100 rep full body every few weeks and then switched to an upper/lower 4 day split (Insane Like Bane). Works great, reached my goal of a solid 200 pounds at 5'11" (was 190 with a gut little over a year ago)and am now using John's Density Giant Set 4 day upper/lower split to start dropping a few pounds of fat before the summer. Plan on using the 3 day full body as my summer program again (easy to find the time and can vary the rep ranges), but wouldn't mind seeing some new ones to consider in a couple of months. I recommend these types of splits to anyone who is a natural and just trying to be strong and fit, it fits into everyday schedules fairly easy. One tip if your hesitant, if your favorite chest exercise or arms exercise isn't present, switch it in for something else, try to view the week by body part and spread each of your normal one day muscle group workout across the week, comboed together. Just wanted to share my support for what Steve is advocating here.