Workout 4: Intermediate, 3-day split

A word on split routines: I prefer to split routines by movement types (e.g. “pushing”, “pulling”, etc.) or by intensity (e.g. heavy, medium, light), not “body parts”.

The body doesn’t really understand “parts”; it understands kinetic chains — a sequence of events designed to achieve an objective. The body will use whatever “parts” it thinks it needs to get the job done, in the appropriate order.

Thus, for example, when throwing a ball, the body doesn’t think “OK, first, I’m hitting the rear delts and forearm extensors, then I’m totally recruiting the external obliques…”

It just thinks: Throw ball.

So don’t get all fussy about which body parts a given exercise “works”. Just get as many pieces moving as possible, as smoothly and precisely as possible. Let your body figure out the rest.

This routine can be done every other day, or as a Monday-Wednesday-Friday split. Don’t do more than two days of this workout in a row. I prefer the Monday-Wednesday-Friday split, because it gives you two days to recover from deadlifting before you squat again. Rest about 90 seconds between sets (you might want a little longer between squat sets).

You’ll notice that although I note “triceps” and “biceps” there is no direct isolation work for these. In general, I feel they get enough work from the compound movements. However if you feel a need for additional isolation work, throw in a couple sets of close-grip pushups or presses on day 2, and a couple sets of biceps curls on day 3.

Technically, of course, deadlifting is also a leg exercise but I’ve filed it in this case under “pulling” exercises. If you wanted to limit the leg involvement, you could also change it to something like a shrug or hang clean pull.

Notation: Exercise sets x reps

For example: bench press 3 x 8 is 3 sets of 8 reps per set

day 1 – legs

  1. Squat3 sets x 6-10 reps
  2. Split squat or lunge3 x 8-10
  3. Stiff-legged deadlift3 x 8-10
  4. Calf raise3 x 6-10

day 2 – chest, shoulders, triceps (or “push”)

  1. Bench press or dumbbell press3 x 6-10
  2. Standing shoulder press or side press3 x 6-10
  3. Dips OR assisted dips (if you are able to do these)3 x 6-8
  4. Ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches3 x 8-10

day 3 – back, biceps (or “pull”)

  1. Deadlift 3 x 6-8
  2. Pullups OR lat pulldownsDo 3 sets of as many as you can do for pullups (if you can do more than 6-8 pullups at once, put a 5-lb plate between your knees and do them), 3 sets of 6-10 reps for lat pulldowns
  3. Dumbbell row 3 x 8-10
  4. Back hyperextension 3 x 8-10