The Hybrid Full-Body/Split Routine
First let me say your writings are excellent, the rare kind of bodybuilding articles which are both well-written and useful. It is ironic I found your blog, since you work in the UC system which my father and 2 brothers are part of and I feel a connection to, but am currently halfway across the world!
I just bought the Strength and Physique ebook, and I have a couple questions for you if you have the time. I'll give you some background on my status:
I am 25 and have been in and out of gyms for a few years, but have been seriously working out for about 18 months now. I have been doing 4-5 days a week and focusing on one body part per day (your favourite! not really), and sometimes I would switch to full body workouts.
I have noticed improved posture, muscular definition and size (from 60kg-70kg at 5'7). Most of my reps are 6-10, and I usually do a reverse pyramid (start with 6 reps, decrease weight till 10 reps) with a lot of drop sets, assisted reps and negatives with occassional supersets/compound sets. I mostly want to have a symmetric, well built physique with perfect form and posture (I have a forward head posture, tight hams and overly curved spine which has improved since I started excercising regularly).
My concern is that the back-cycling workouts seem like they will take well over an hour (10X10 followed by 5X5 for decompression). How can you possibly do that many sets for 8 or 5 muscle groups with those resting times in an hour? And without sacrificing form?
Also I am not sure how you would define me, as a beginner or an intermediate (definately not advanced, although I have learned a lot). What would you say based on what I've told you? And is back-cycling the way to go after I just took a week off (from 2 months heavy lifting mostly to failure).
I am ready to go back to full body or a mix of full body and split as you recommend, but I want to make sure I do it right this time and I would appreciate your perspective.
Sorry if thats wordy, I tried to be quick!
My Answer: Glad you liked the book, Jowad. I'd say you're somewhere between a beginner and intermediate lifter, given the detailed information you've provided me. It's all subjective of course. I usually judge a person as a beginner, intermediate or advanced depending on
1) His knowledge of training.
2) His physique. It doesn't have to Olympian sized mass, just well-built.
3) His execution of exercises. In other words, perfect form on a wide variety of gym exercises.
Now with regards to backcycling: 10x10 is done for three weeks, then 5x5 is done for 3-4 weeks. They are not done together. It wasn't clear from your question whether you knew that, so I thought I'd clarify that in case you didn't.
Now 10x10 can be done a number of ways. You can do every body part as 10x10. Obviously you can't cram every body part into one workout, so this means you have to use a three to four-way split routine. You wouldn't be able to use a full-body routine or my hybrid full-body/split routine mentioned in the ebook.
The more practical option is to use the 10x10 protocol on select muscle groups. This way you can use my hybrid full-body/split routine, since it allows for a muscle specialization day. Here's how it would look if you wanted to specialize in the chest and back:
Day 1: Chest 10x10, Back 10x10
Day 2: Full body workout
Day 3: off
Day 4: Full body workout
Day 5: off
Day 6: Full body workout
Day 7: off
This hybrid routine is far more efficient than the crude 3-4 way split routines found in muscle mags. Given that you've been bashing your muscles with a program heavy on set extenders and shock techniques, you are due for a decompression phase. Forget the 10x10, since that is reserved for density training. 5x5 will do just fine for your decompression phase, but this means no forced reps, no negatives, no compound sets and no descending sets.