Sample Workouts

In other articles on this site, I’ve explained my belief that bodybuilding and fitness-style training is the best way to lose weight and shape your body. To sum it up:

  1. Training for performance is much different than training for appearance.
  2. Training for core strength, balance, posture, and corrective exercise are all much different than training for appearance.
  3. Bodybuilding and fitness-style workouts (body part splits, target training, a certain amount of volume, proper rep execution and tempos) are the best mode of training for physique enhancement/body composition change/appearance-based training.
  4. The most effective training and nutrition programs are simple on paper/theory but are backed by complex science and tons of research.
  5. The most ineffective training and nutrition programs are complex on paper/theory. They are full of flash, fluff, trends, and so-called “innovation” (and are generally trying to sell you on a product or system), but are backed by minimal research and science.

So what does a bodybuilding and fitness-style program look like on paper? Here are some sample training splits and workouts. These are not meant to be done indefinitely. As a trainer and coach, I generally rotate exercises, order of exercises, rep tempos, rest periods, and other variables to vary the training stimulus. I also make changes based on the goals and progress of the client. I do, however, think these are good plans to get started with on your fitness journey. They hit every major muscle group and move the body through different planes and ranges-of-motion. At least you won’t be balancing on a ball like a seal thinking you are actually working out.

SAMPLE 1: 2-DAY FULL BODY SPLIT

Day 1 — Full Body

Split squats 2 x 15
Hamstring curls 2 x 15
Pull-ups or lat pulldowns 2 x 15
Hammer Strength, machine, or cable wide grip rows 2 x 15
Flat dumbell bench press 2 x 15
Dumbell shoulder press 2 x 15
Cable triceps extensions 2 x 15
Alternate dumbell curls 2 x 15
Crunches with legs in the air 2 x 15

Day 2 — Full Body

Dumbell sumo squats 2 x 15
Leg press 2 x 15
Close grip pull-ups or lat pulldowns 2 x 15
One arm dumbell rows 2 x 15
Incline dumbell press 2 x 15
Dumbell side lateral raises 2 x 15
Skullcrushers (lying triceps extensions) 2 x 15
Cable rope curls 2 x 15
Bicycle crunches 2 x 15

SAMPLE 2: 3-DAY PUSH/PULL SPLIT

Day 1 – Chest, shoulders, triceps

Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Cable fly 3 x 10-12
Dumbell shoulder press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raise 3 x 10-12
Cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12

Day 2 — Legs, Core

Leg press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell sumo squat 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Crunches with legs in air 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Back, biceps

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
Hammer strength or machine wide grip rows 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Lower back extensions 3 x 10-12
Alternate dumbell curls 3 x 10-12
Dumbell concentration curls 3 x 10-12

SAMPLE 3: 4-DAY UPPER/LOWER SPLIT

Day 1 — Legs/core I

Dumbell sumo squat 3 x 10-12
Leg Press 3 x 10-12
Split squats 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Hanging leg raises superset plank holds 3 x max reps
Day 2 — Upper Body Push

Flat dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell shoulder press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raises 3 x 10-12
Cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Legs, Core II

Squats 3 x 10-12
Stiff leg deadlifts 3 x 10-12
Bench step-ups 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Crunches w/ legs in the air superset bicycle crunches 3 x max reps

Day 4 — Upper Body Pull

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Wide grip hammer or machine rows 3 x 10-12
Barbell curls 3 x 10-12
Alternate dumbell curls 3 x 1012

SAMPLE 4: 4-DAY BODYBUILDING SPLIT

Day 1 – Back, Abs

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
Wide grip hammer or machine rows 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Rack Deadlifts 3 x 10-12
Hanging leg raises 3 x max reps
Stability ball crunches 3 x max reps

Day 2 — Chest, Biceps

Flat dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Machine fly 3 x 10-12
Push-ups 1 x max reps
Barbell curl 3 x 10-12
Alternating dumbell hammer curl 3 x 10-12
Dumbell concentration curl 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Legs

Squats 3 x 10-12
Leg press 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf Raises 3 x 10-12

Day 4 — Shoulders, Triceps

Seated dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Barbell shrugs 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raises 3 x 10-12
Machine or cable rear delt fly 3 x 10-12
Rope cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12