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The Ultimate Routine
The routine that never goes stale!

If you've read all this, click here to go straight to the routine!

Other routines:
The 12-10-8 system
Mass Routine
Get past your sticking point!
New!  Superset Workout

Okay, so you've completed the basic beginner and intermediate routines, and have been training 6 months or more with good results.  Or maybe you've been pushing weights for years with only minimal results. You know what the exercises are,  how to do them properly and with good form, but you know there's something more you could be doing!   Follow these guidelines for consistant and steady growth.  Please read the whole page to get a basic understanding of the system. It should only take about 10 or 15 minutes.

The General Guidelines
(Important stuff to know!)

  • Train 3 - 5 times per week, working 2 or 3 bodyparts per workout.  A good split is "2 days on, 1 off, 1 on, 2 off".  This gives you 4 training days per week.
  • Try to train each body part every 4 days.
  • Keep the workouts short, but intense, the average workout should be about 1 hour long.
  • Do 2 - 3 exercises per bodypart for 2 - 4 working sets each (after warm-up).
  • Do mostly compound (basic) exercises when training for mass.
  • Keep the number of reps between 6 and 12 for the most part, with the average being 8 - 10.
  • For each rep, push/pull the weight as hard as you can, and control it on the way back down. It should be heavy enough that it moves relatively slow when pushing/pulling.
  • Don't pause between each rep, except maybe for the last 1 or 2.
  • Give yourself enough rest between sets (usually 2 - 5 minutes, depending on the exercise).
  • Try to lift more weight, or do more reps every workout.
  • Cheating is allowed (and recommended), but keep it to a minumum.  Make sure you can get at least 6 reps before you have to cheat, and don't do more than 2 or 3 actual cheating reps.  Conversely, if you're getting 12 reps without having to cheat, it's time to increase the weight.  Cheat to make the set harder, not easier. Be careful not to fall into the trap of always trying to go too heavy. This is the primary reason many people don't make the gains they should.
  • Make every set count, don't "save energy" for the next set, that's what your break between sets is for.
  • Every once in a while, throw in one of the high intensity techniques, or secret technique.


The Nitty Gritty

First, decide what you want to train.   For best results, use a 3 way split, meaning the whole body is worked over 3 workouts .  I will base these routines on the "2 days on, one off, one on, 2 off" system, which gives you 4 training days per week.  You can use this, or change it to suit your schedule.  Just try not to get all 3 workouts in a row.  Don't worry about missing the odd workout, and feel free to add an extra one in occasionally (maybe to give extra work to a stubborn body part).

You'll notice there's no Abs in the routine, you can add abs to any "lighter" workout or do them at another time of the day. (First thing in the morning, or before bed works well).   Another issue is Deadlifts, these work the whole body and are very intense.  Do Deadlifts on a back day about every 3 - 4 weeks, and never  before a Quad day.

Feel free to change up the exercises, the general rule being to work the larger muscles before the smaller ones, or, if you want to prioritize a particular muscle, train that one first, or add an extra training day for it.  This is a dynamic routine and is fully adjustable (within the general guidelines) to suit your purposes and schedule.

Pick the Body Parts

First, decide which body parts are to be trained.  The 2 sample routines below will work well, try them for 6 weeks or more each, then start to modify them yourself.

Routine 1: 

Day 1:  Back, chest

Day2:  Shoulders, traps, arms

Day 3:  Off

Day 4:  Quads, hamstrings, calves

Days 5, 6:  Off


Routine 2:

Day 1:  Back, Shoulders, Triceps

Day 2:  Quads, hamstrings

Day 3:  Off

Day 4:  Chest, biceps, calves

Days 5, 6:  Off

Pick the Exercises

Now we need the exercises.  Below is a list of the major exercises, and the minor ones for each body part.  For the large body parts (Chest, Back, Quads) pick 2 majors and 1 minor, and for all other body parts, pick 2 majors, or one of each.  Change at least 1 major exercise every couple of  workouts for best results.  If you usually start with flat bench press for chest, try starting with incline press or dumbbell press, or even weighted V-bar dips.





Bench Press Flyes
Weighted V-bar Dips Cable Cross-overs
Incline Press Any kind of machine exercise (pec deck, etc.)
Dumbbell Press  
Incline Dumbbell Press  
Decline Press  
Decline Dumbbell Press  




Bent-over rows (over and underhand grip) Stiff-leg Deadlifts
Seated Rows Hyperextensions
T-bar Rows  
Lat Pulldowns or Chin-ups  
1-Arm Dumbbell Rows  


Barbell Curls Concentration Curls
Dumbbell Curls Cable Curls
E-Z Bar Curls Incline Curls
Preacher Curls  


Lying, or Decline French Press Triceps Kickbacks
Close-Grip Bench Press Bench Dips
Parallel Bar Dips Push-ups with hands together
Standing Triceps Press (Close-grip behind neck) Reverse-Grip Press Downs
Overhead Rope Pull-overs  
Triceps Press Downs  




Press Behind Neck Dumbbell Laterals (front, side, rear)
Wide Grip Upright Rows Cable Laterals
Military (Front) Press Machine Laterals
Press Machine  
Clean and Jerks  



Squats Leg Extensions
Leg Press Lunges
Hack Squats  



Stiff-leg Deadlifts None
Leg curls (lying or seated)  



Standing Calf Raises None
Seated Calf Raises  
Donkey Calf Raises  



Hanging Knee Raises
Rope Crunches



Sample Routines

Here are a couple of sample routines to get started with, don't forget to rotate the exercises from workout to workout.  For example, if the first workout is "Chest and Back", the next time do "Back and Chest", and change one of the exercises for each one.

General Warmup

Warm up the whole body by riding a stationary bike at a high level for 5 minutes.  Do 1 or 2 moderate weight warm-up sets for each bodypart.  Here we go!


Routine 1

Day 1, Back and Chest:   Take 3 - 5 minutes between sets, go heavy.

Warm up:  stationary bike, treadmill, or stepper at a high level for 5 minutes, or until you break a light sweat.

Back:  Warm-up:  2 sets of 12 Lat Pulldowns using  60% of your maximum weight.

Bent-over Rows:  4 sets, 2 overhand grip, 2 underhand for 8 - 12 reps each.

T-Bar Rows: 2 sets, 6 - 10 reps

Chin-ups (wide overhand grip):  2 sets to failure

Chest:  Warm-up:  1 set Bench Press with 60% max weight for 15 - 20 reps

Bench Press:  4 sets, medium to wide grip for 6 - 10 reps

Weighted Dips:  3 sets of 6 - 12 reps (If too heavy, just use bodyweight).  If still too heavy, do as many dips as possible and switch to decline press.

Cable Cross-overs:  2 sets of 8 - 12 reps.


Day 2,  Shoulders, Traps, Arms:

Do the general warm-up.


Wide-grip Upright Rows:  4 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Dumbbell Press:  2 sets of 6 - 8 reps

Side Laterals:  2 sets of 8 - 10 reps


Barbell Shrugs:  5  sets of 6 - 12 reps


Barbell Curls:  3 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Dumbbell Curls:  2 sets of 6 - 10 reps


Triceps Pressdowns:  3 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Overhead Rope Pullovers:  2 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Day 3, off


Day 4, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves:

Do the general warm-up


Squats:  4 sets of 6 - 12 reps

Leg Press:  3 sets of 6 - 8 reps


Stiff Leg Deadlift:  2 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Lying leg curls:  2 sets of 6 - 12 reps


Standing Calf Raises:  4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

Seated Calf Raises:  3 sets of 8 - 15 reps

Donkey Calf Raises:  1 set of 10 - 12


Days 5 and 6:  Off, then start with day 1 again, but switch up the exercises.


Drink a simple carb drink immediately following and eat a high protein meal within one hour after completing the workout.

Other routines:
The 12-10-8 system
Mass Routine
Get past your sticking point!
New!  Superset Workout



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