The Best Way To Approach Training When Starting Out
When I first started.
I convinced myself that looking and being lean was the be-all and end-all & so desperately wanted to achieve that look.
You never see a guy with a sixpack on Instagram not smiling, right?
I thought to myself – they must be so happy. They must feel so successful. They must feel as if their life is so complete.
Which is why I got so damn down and disappointed when I’d see the scales not cooperate.
But in hindsight, I had no real regime, no plan, no real idea about what I was doing. I hopped from one training program to another, never really knowing if what I was doing was right.
So I thought today, considering I well and truly have the benefit of hindsight on my side, I’d share with you what I consider to be the best way to approach things, regardless of how many days you have at your disposal to throw at the gym.
So unlike me, you can avoid frustration and focus on what it is you truly want.
I love upper-lower splits.
For the average person, they work really well.
4 days training, 3 days rest is a nice ratio.
You hit everything twice a week, which is FAR better than once
And you can get enough compounds in there, while still allowing room for isolations and some fun stuff.
But they’re not the be all and end all.
I wanted to take this post to talk through other options you’ve got and show you my preferred methods of training depending on how many days you want to be in the gym.
Here’s what (according to my experience and the research) works best for building muscle and strength –
3 Days Per Week:
A full body is your best bet here, though I’m not against upper/lower/upper one week, then lower/upper/lower the next.
4 Days Per Week:
Upper-lower (obviously) or you could go with push-pull. So quads, chest, shoulders, calves, and triceps in the push session, then hamstrings, glutes, back, traps and biceps in the pull.
I’m a fan of lift-based workouts here too.
One squat strength workout with deadlift hypertrophy accessory, one lower workout with the emphasis switched round, and two upper workouts, with either a bench strength or bench hyper focus.
5 Days Per Week:
3 upper, 2 lower one week, then 3 lower, 2 upper the next.
Alternatively, you could split it up so you hit your entire body once over the first two days of the week, take a day off, then hit your entire body again over the course of the next three days. I.e. Monday – Legs/ Shoulders, Tuesday – Chest/ Back/ Arms, Wednesday -Rest, Thursday – Legs, Friday – Back/ Shoulders, Saturday – Chest & Arms.
6 Days Per Week:
Have 3 upper and 3 lower sessions, or go with upper push/ upper pull/ legs (done
Another cool, slightly different option is lift-based sessions again. With 2 squat, 2 deadlift and 2 bench.
Just go easy on the posterior chain work on your squat days so your deadlift isn’t impacted, and have a think whether you want your back exercises to go along with your deads, or your bench.
7 Days Per Week:
Do cardio or rest on the 7th.
Everyone needs a non-weights day every week. Life is too short to spend your entire life inside the gym, and I can tell you from personal experience, it’s likely to mean you disregard other areas of your life in the pursuit of something that won’t be enough to make you truly happy.
Take this extra day, at least, to focus on other things, to build upon and grow your relationships, career, social life etc. This day is super important to ensure your gym- related goals don’t end up consuming you, like they once did me.