What's Your Secret?

January 16, 2019






What’s Your Secret?

I’m not the biggest, most shredded guy around. Apparently, though, I am big enough to get asked one question fairly regularly. People want to know my “secret”.

As I often iterate, there is absolutely no secret to getting fit. There is no sure fire, full proof method. There are many tried and true methods to get results, but everyone responds to different methods differently, and every method yields results at a different rate for different people.

There are many factors that go into what training methods are potentially best for you. These factors include things like current level of fitness, diet, body type, physical abilities and limitations, training experience, genetics, and so on, and so forth.

Anyone who has discussed fitness with me, or came to me for advice, should agree that I constantly push research. You should always start your endeavors as well-informed as possible. This is a battle, so don’t kidd yourself; you want to attack this thing with every weapon available.

I spoke in my previous blog about ways to gain information, and resources that are available, so I won’t dwell on it here. I will repeat, however; that it is a great idea to consult with a physician or fitness professional to assess your current fitness level, and have a solid frame of reference for what level of physical training is safe for you.

Once you have a baseline for where you’re at, you can begin to move forward. This means creating a routine that incorporates your diet and exercise regimens. This article will deal with the latter.

There are countless workout plans out there. Most all of them are beneficial in one way or another. Many of them, such as your basic 5x5 (5 sets at 5 reps), are designed to be easy to follow, and allow you to work all major muscle groups without things getting too convoluted.

I personally recommend 5x5 for beginners, but encourage them to move away from it once they feel comfortable in their abilities to perform the lifts it incorporates. The 5x5 is a great way to learn your major lifts and practice form. It’s a great workout for building strength, but doesn’t focus much on smaller muscle groups or auxiliary (focusing on a minor muscle group) lifts that I find to be vital for any serious lifter. People who stick to this particular regimen also seem to plateau rather quickly.

I’ll go ahead and share a basic 5x5 with you. I recommend this for any newbie out there. I like to tell people to stick with this for no more than a couple of months, but keep it in your arsenal. I like to add a week of 5x5 every few months, just to break things up and confuse my body a bit.

A basic 5x5 consists of three core lifts, three days a week. You’ll perform five sets of five reps. Don’t overload (forced tension above & beyond previous workouts) for awhile. You want to put up just enough weight to feel the muscles work, until you have the form required to lift heavy. Most folks who do their homework can master these lifts in a couple of weeks. At that point, start pushing more.

This is a full body workout, so 24-48 hours between workouts is absolutely essential. Also, be sure to begin with one minute rest periods between sets. Once you start lifting heavy, extend those rest periods to two or three minutes.

Day 1:
Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5
Deadlift 5x5

Day 2:

Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5
Overhead Press 5x5

Day 4:

Day 5:
Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5
Deadlift 5x5

That’s it! It’s an extremely simple plan, but very effective for beginners to build their functional strength, and learn proper technique. During this period, focus on breathing, activation of targeted muscles, and once again... form

Now let’s move on to what I am currently doing. I worked my 5x5 for about three months before I hit a wall. It WILL happen, so be prepared. I tried several different plans before landing on one that I really like and see long term potential with. The PPL (push, pull, legs) split is perfect for me, and I’m willing to say it’s probably one of the more beneficial regimens for anyone who has succeeded beyond novice level.

The reason I love this plan so much is because I can hit the gym six days a week, though it’s definitely not necessary to workout so often for a successful PPL. Also, I can do so while still maintaining plenty of rest time between repeating target sessions. This allows you to hammer out sessions without over-training certain muscle groups.

A PPL Split is absolutely ideal for bulking, cutting, high rep, low rep, and anything from three day weeks on up. Extremely versatile, in other words. It allows you to tweak your workouts often, in order to maintain muscle confusion, allowing for more gains while decreasing plateaus.

The only drawback I’ve found: well... it can get a little complicated. It’s a good idea to get into a solid routine, as far as incorporating your core lifts and adding auxiliary lifts in a rotation. I personally like to throw them in at random, from time to time. I don’t like monotonous workouts, but I can’t say whether doing so is terribly beneficial, from a scientific standpoint.

Alright, I feel like I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the concept behind the Push Pull Leg Split.

Most muscle groups fit neatly into two categories: push and pull. For the most part, it’s easy to differentiate, though a few muscles are in a bit of a gray area, and where they fall in reference to this workout routine is debatable. For the purpose of this article, I’ll lay things out as I do them. Here we go...

Pushing muscles groups:
Shoulders (anterior and lateral deltoids)

Pulling muscle groups:
Rear deltoids (located at rear of shoulder)

Obviously this is a very general categorization, but seeing as this article is geared towards those who are somewhat new to working out; I think it’s best to keep it simple. In the spirit of simplicity, here is a basic three day split:

Day one:

Day two:
Rear delts

Day three:

So you get the idea. You can add days. You can move around your rest days. You can play with your routine. It’s very versatile, just always remember to keep your push, pull, and leg exercises separate. This keeps you from over-training your various muscle groups. 

You probably noticed that I threw abs down on leg day. Why? Well, your abs don’t exactly fit neatly in any category. Furthermore, you can work your abs everyday, and probably should. I try to add one ab blasting exercise to each session, but focus more on them on leg days. This is mainly because my leg workouts tend to be a little shorter, with longer rest periods between sets. Perfect time to do throw in some crunches. Or I’m a glutton for punishment... whatever.

So what’s my secret? I don’t have one. I do have a solid workout plan, though. I’m guessing if you’ve read this far, you probably want it. Right? Well...

PUSH Day 1:

Chest dips 5x10
Barbell flat bench 5x10
Barbell incline bench 5x10
Barbell decline bench 5x10
Dumbbell flat flies 5x10
Dumbbell incline flies 5x10
Dumbbell decline flies 5x10
Pec Deck triple 10 rep drop x5
Iron cross triple 10 rep drop x5

PULL Day 1:

Wide grip pull-ups 5x10
Deadlift 5x5
Good mornings 5x8
Rack pulls 5x5
Single arm bent over rows 5x10 each arm
Bent over rear delt rows 5x10 each arm
Lat pulldowns 5x10
Wide grip seated row 5x10
Bent over barbell rows 5x10

Leg Day 1:

Squat 5x6
Single squat 5x10 each leg
Prone leg curls 5x10
Leg extensions 5x10
Seated leg curls 5x10
Leg press super set 10 reps per leg, 10 reps both legs x3 sets.
Seated calf raises 5x20
Various ab exercises

Rest day

PUSH Day 2:

Dips 5x10
Barbell military press 5x10
Incline barbell lateral raise 5x10
Side raise 5x10
Prone around the world 5x10
Standing barbell row 5x10
Reverse grip bench 5x10
Tricep press 5x10
Tricep pull down 5x10
Skull crushers 5x10

PULL Day 2:

Seated incline curl 5x10
Seated incline hammer curl 5x10
EZ bar curl 5x10
Wide grip curl 5x10
Zottman curl 5x10
Overhead curl 5x10
Standing overhead cable curl 5x10
Machine preacher curl triple 10 rep drop x5

Leg Day 2:

Goblet squat 10x10
Romanian deadlift 5x10
Leg press 5x5
Prone leg curls 5x10
Leg extensions 5x10
Seated leg curls 5x10
Raised shoulders barbell hip thrusts 5x10
Seated calf raises 5x20
Various ab exercises

Phew... ok...

Rest day

PUSH Day 3

Dumbbell flat bench 5x10
Dumbbell incline bench 5x10
Cable decline press 5x12
Cable decline flies 5x12
Cable flies 5x12
Cable incline flies 5x12
Seated chest press 5x10
Cable iron cross triple 10 rep drop x5

PULL Day 3:

Wide grip pull-ups 5x10
Deadlift heavy 5x1
Deficit deadlift 5x5
Close grip lat pull down 5x10
Close grip seated cable row 5x10
Rear delt fly (pec deck) 5x10
Face pulls 5x10
Bent over barbell rows 5x10

Leg Day 3:Same as leg day one

Rest day

PUSH Day 4:

Dips 5x10
Seated dumbbell military press 5x10
Barbell lateral raise 5x10
Single arm cable side raises 5x10
Standing cable front row 5x10
Tricep press 5x10
Reverse grip bench 5x10
Tricep pulldown with rope 5x10
Bent over tricep pulldown 5x10
Skull crushers 5x10

Leg Day 4: Same as leg day two

Rest day

There it is! Now, understand that this is a very basic outline of what I do. I constantly play with rep and set numbers. I add in sets to failure. I play with negatives and forced reps. I add and subtract auxiliary lifts. You can play with this outline until you find something that works for you.

You could easily break this up to three or four days a week, so long as you stick to the PPL pattern. Only other rule is to make sure you incorporate at least one compound lift per session, if you decide to adjust. The internet will definitely be your friend when it comes to learning these lifts. If you see one you aren’t familiar with, just plug it into your Google machine.

Have fun, get strong, and be safe!


-Terry Conder, @TerryWayne86


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