What is the Best Training Routine?

When someone decides that they would like to join the journey of getting their body into better shape, whether it be losing fat or building more muscle, he or she often tries to find the Best workout routine. There are a ton of variables that can go into a specific routine, so how do you know which is the best?  You have to consider how many days per week you want to lift, how many reps per set you should do, how many sets per body part, how long to rest in between the sets, how fast to perform each rep, how many total sets to perform, etc., etc.

It’s easy to see how someone new to weight training or even someone who just wants to improve their routine could get confused! What about buying a book to show you what kind of routine to do?  Well, which book do you buy?!  There are literally thousands of books that anyone can either dowload or buy at a store… all promising that they have the key or then best way to lift weights.

Let’s first dispel some myths about bodybuilding routines:

There is one routine that is the BEST for everyone

Hopefully you know that this just isn’t true.  There are so many different variables to ever person that there cannot possibly be a “one size fits all” routine.  The only possible exception is the beginner 3 sets of 10 full body routine that is often suggested, and this is only because the beginner is new to bodybuilding and this is a fairly easy routine.

People respond differently to different styles of training.  Some people do great with heavy 4-6 rep range styles, while others prefer more pump, 10-12 rep range training.  You will see professional bodybuilders utilizing both styles and one is not necessarily better than the other, it just depends on the person.

Try to copy professional bodybuilder’s routines

This is a set up for injury if there ever was one (or at least over-reaching).  Some people try to copy the routines of pro bodybuilders (read: drug users) because they think that if the pros do them and they look huge, if the average person does them then they will get huge as well.  This line of thinking does not work for a variety of reasons.  First of all, pro bodybuilders usually are taking a massive amount of drugs that allow them to basically jump over certain normal physiological boundaries.  The drugs allow them to recover faster, build more muscle while losing more fat, and train more intensely in the gym, none of which a normal non-drug user could do.  This means that if someone tries to copy the routines of a pro, they will probably tear their muscles to a point where they will actually not grow larger because they will not be able to rebuild the the amount of time given like they would if the person was taking drugs to help.  (Furthermore, most pro bodybuilders have AWESOME genetics that they were born with which also helps them to be able to withstand more frequent intense workouts).

However, don’t always ignore professional bodybuilders’ advice just because they are taking drugs.  Most likely they are very experienced and can offer some great suggestions.  Just don’t blindly copy their routines.

Heavy, low rep training is superior to high rep “pump” training (or vice versa)

Again, different people have different genetics and some people just respond better to a particular type of training.  You have to experiment.  That’s right, no more just doing something because someone told you that it works.  Find out what works for you personally and then do that.  By putting in a little time in the beginning to find out what works for you, you will be able to grow much more than if you just did what someone told you to do.  However, you can’t just stick with what works as I’ll explain later…

“Someone gained 5 pounds in 2 week of muscle on this one routine!  I’m definitely going to do this!”

People who are new to weightlifting respond and grow much faster than those who have been lifting for a while.  This is one reason why some people stick with the 3 sets of 10 for years – they did very well on it in the beginning, so they keep doing it hoping that the results will keep coming.  This is not how gaining muscle works.  It is not a linear process.  If someone is new to lifting, then virtually ANY routine will make them grow!  Before you go following advice from someone who is claiming that their way to lift is the best way, make sure that you accurate judge if the routine looks like it would work for you and consider how long the person has been lifting for.

Alright, now that we have gotten some myths out of the way, how should you determine which routine to do?  Again, if you are new to lifting a 3X10 would be a good place to start.  If you are not new to lifting, but want to change your routine GOOD FOR YOU!  Many people stick with the same routine for too long and it stops being effective.  Why?  Because our bodies are VERY good at doing one thing: Adapting.  Give them a stimulus and they will try their best to adapt to it.  So, if you are looking to change your routine, try to change as many variables as possible.  If you were doing pump training before (higher reps) try going to a lower rep range, maybe around 5-6.  This will strengthen the nervous system so that it can produce more force (increase strength).  Try shortening the rest time between the sets (however, be cautious with this if you are already lowering the reps, as the heavier the weight, the more rest you need).  Also, one of the most important, and obvious, things you can do is change the exercises that you do.  Use dips for your primary chest exercise instead of bench.  Do bent-over row instead of seated row. Be creative and come up with exercises that you don’t do very often.

The purpose for changing your routine so much is so that your body never really adapts and will constantly be building more muscle.  Remember though, that muscle growth is not a linear process and there will be stagnation at certain times.  During these times you may want to include some negative reps or forced reps to shock your body into growth.

So now you know that there is no magic routine that will be the best for you.  You may favor one style of training over another, but most successful bodybuilder keep changing their routine so that their body does not adapt and stop growing