Over the years I have used a variety of workout splits. I have used 4 day programs and 3 day programs where every bodypart is worked over 3 or 4 workouts in a one week period. I wouldn’t do more than 2 workouts in a row and most of the time there was an off day or cardio day in between.
For the past several years we have been training the entire body over 3 workouts in a weeks. Not only has this split been great for us in the gym, but 3 workouts in a week tends to be a bit easier to schedule and maintain given the rest of our obligations and lives.
Plus our style of lifting is more of a Blood and Guts approach via Dorian Yates and the rest days are beneficial. The premise of getting in the gym is simple – lift as hard as you can and then go home and recuperate, eat, and grow.
My workouts themselves last only an hour or slightly less and they follow the same pattern. We warm up on a treadmill or bike for 3-5 minutes just to raise the body temperature and get ready for a workout. Next we will head to our first exercise and begin to warm up. This warm up will start with very light weights or just the bar and also involve a series of stretches for the about to be worked muscle groups. Slowly we will increase the warm up weights and continue the stretches until we are ready to lift.
Once warmed up the workout begins and as those of you know who have read my posted training programs they are extremely concise but incredibly intense. There are typically only 3-5 sets total for a larger muscle group and 1-4 sets for smaller muscle groups. Whether we are lifting for higher reps (10-12) or lower reps (4-6) or anywhere in between the goal is the same – lift a weight that will be an all out fight to move into the right rep range and lift it with good form and control. When the reps are repeatedly in the range it is time to increase the weight. To be honest, once we find the right weight, a 5-10 pound increase over the course of that program is a good gain.
My workout programs last anywhere from 3 – 5 weeks and the time frame is determined by listening to our bodies and knowing when we have reached the peak of the program both mentally and physically.
For cardio, I have been doing 3 days a week over the course of the past year. I will add more cardio session during contest prep time just to burn more calories, but I try to balance it out so that I am not sacrificing muscle. This comes from a delicate balance of counting calories and watching the changes of my physique.
The things I do for cardio vary. My staple has always been the treadmill. Last year I began using the elliptical and it has become my new favorite. I have jumped rope as part of HIIT cardio sessions. I also use a few of cardio dvds from the P90x program. On occasion I will take my cardio outdoors to walk and run in the park with my dog. I am not much of a runner and can do much better on a treadmill than I could ever do outdoors for some reason. Bottom line, I like to mix it up and keep cardio fresh.
My cardio sessions last anywhere form 45-65 minutes depending on my goals. I also have started using HIIT cardio on the elliptical machine which I am beginning to love but kicks my butt every time.