How to Switch Up Programs

Q: "I just ordered your new Neo-Classical Bodybuilding book, but I have a question which your book may or may not answer: Can I just follow a routine for 4 weeks and then choose another routine for 4 weeks? Or is there some kind of flow and logic to this?

"I think 99% of trainees want to know how to keep moving along from one routine to the next: getting stronger and looking better. I noticed many of your readers ask you what they should do after the 10-8-6-15 routine. I and many others just don`t have the know how or experience to know how to keep moving along.

"Some insights would be much appreciated! Thank you for your time!"

-Paul S.

My Answer: Switching from program to program every so often is a good idea, but haphazardly switching programs just for the sake of switching doesn't always equate to progress. You're really just spinning your wheels. It's like going from job to job, but it's always an entry level position.

Neo-Classical Bodybuilding goes into how to sequence and switch up programs. The book outlines how to train hard for 2-3 weeks (density) and how to pull back for a few weeks.

So if you're trying to figure out how to sequence programs (other than the ones found in Neo-Classical Bodybuilding), you can still follow the precepts outlined in the book. If you've been doing a program where you were busting your ass and training hard, then your next program needs to be simple and less intense. If you were training in a lackadaisical manner, then your next program should be one where you step it up a notch.

Q: "Thanks for answering my other question about training after recovering from a cold or some kind of sickness. It really helped, and it also pointed out I should switch routines. I had been doing 5x5 for 8 weeks, and felt it was time to change. I am interested in gaining more mass, and am trying out your Hypertophy Training for the Ectomorph: 10-8-6-15, but I have a couple of questions regarding this program.

"This is a take on Vince Gironda's 10-8-6-15, in which he advises to find your 6RM, and base the rest of your weights as percentages of this weight, specifically 10 x 50% 6RM, 8 x 75% 6RM and 15 x 35% 6RM. Since I was doing 5x5, I have a pretty good idea of what my 6RM was, but after trying this setup, it seems like too little weight and feels like the intensity isn't there.

"It would be great to have your take/input on the following: Would it be better to use weight charts to approximate my weight for each set, for example calculate 10RM from 6RM, and do so for the other sets, resting approximately 3 minutes per set? Or stick with these weights, and do this workout more Gironda-like, with 30 secs or less rest between sets, and a controlled tempo for each rep?

"It might feel like this is less intense, because I was doing 5x5 before, but as of right now it feels like the workout needs more of a challenge and I believe either of these two options would add it. Again thank you for your comments and taking the time to answer my question.

Jenaro J.

P.S. For example, if my 5x5 max was 200 this translates to a 1RM of 233, which then would be a 10-8-6-15 of: 10x175, 8x185, 6x195, and 15x155 roughly. I used the coefficients on this page. Thanks again!

My Answer: It really depends on how long you were resting for the 5x5 program you did for 8 weeks. If you were resting for 2-3 minutes, then follow the original Gironda version with 30 second rests. If you were resting less than 90 seconds, then do my version with the 3 minute rest periods. Use weights that allow you to go close to failure on the target rep.

In general, I don't find percentage calculations to be very accurate, but they do provide a starting point. So if the weights on the chart are too light, then up the weight for the next training session.

Q: "I have been doing your 10-8-6-15 program for about 2 weeks now. I was just wondering what should an ectomorph do about abs? Like how often should I work them and about how many sets and reps? I can see my abs but I want them and my obliques to be a lot more defined. Got any suggestions?"


My Answer: Seeing your abs has more to do with body fat percentage as opposed to ab work. But if you want to do ab work, then do a few sets of hanging leg raises for as many reps as possible:

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