Chuck occasionally incorporates the single-arm landmine press as an accessory movement to address shoulder stability, and abdominal engagement. He's demonstrating the movement here, in his basement gym, in 2022.
I've given you a good idea of the flexibility that upper/lower splits offer for managing workload. Let's turn to my favorite of the "bro" splits and the only one I recommend: a squat/push/pull arrangement.
The way you arrange your exercises in a squat/push/pull routine boils down to how you classify hinging variants like the conventional, sumo and hex bar deadlifts. Are they pulls or squats?
If you call them pulls, your routine becomes a classic powerlifting template with one day for each major lift and related assistance work. It might look something like this:
Monday Wednesday Friday
squat bench press deadlift
leg curl 80-degree DB press chin-up
calf raise tricep pushdown chest-supported row
But don't obsess over assistance movements. I just included a few to show you pushing and pulling grouped together and anything related to the legs following squats.
The important point to note is the limited number of movements. Restricting yourself to no more than nine a week gives you a nice balance of variety while also focusing your efforts on progressively loading a handful of lifts. Only six a week, like in my previous examples, is perfectly acceptable as well and may be better for many trainees.
If you're wondering how I classify my hinging variants, it evolved over time as my recovery needs changed. I even used the word "evolution" in the title of that previously referenced (see Part Two) article in issue #72 of HARDGAINER 1.0: "Powerlifting Evolution."
Actually, my recovery didn't change all that much. Rather, as I got stronger, the frequency that used to work for me no longer worked and I had to adapt.
When I started training seriously, squats and deadlifts were placed at opposite ends of my training week, either in a full-body routine or in a classic powerlifting routine. Later, I moved them to the same training day so that I'd have a full week to recover between sessions.
In the final iteration, I began alternating them from week to week. But I didn't wither away, I continued setting PRs, albeit less frequently than in my early years.
If you classify hinging variants as squats, though, here's how your squat/push/pull routine might shape up:
Monday Wednesday Friday
squat/deadlift bench press chin-up
leg curl/split squat 80-degree DB press chest-supported row
calf raise tricep pushdown ez-bar curl
The slash (/) indicates that you'll do one lift one week and the other the next week. Notice that I also returned to my earlier convention of pairing posterior-chain assistance work (leg curls) with squats, and quadriceps-focused assistance work (split squats) with deadlifts. That's just my own twist, and although I think it has merit, it's certainly nothing you should feel compelled to follow.
4) My Take on a Dr. Ken Mainstay
I have one more routine to share with you, and it's the simplest of all of them. It's my take on Dr. Ken Leistner's full-body training recommendations, where he would sometimes write about just repeating the same routine, either at regular intervals or when he felt recovered.
I've used this approach at times as well when I was either fed up with planning and wanted to strip everything away other than the basics, or I didn't have time for anything else and wanted to ensure that each session covered all the essentials.
During those often hectic periods in my life, I'd get to the gym when I could and pick two lower-body movements (a squatting variant and a hinging variant) and two upper-body movements (a push and a pull). Here's my favorite interpretation of this routine:
squat (1x5, 1x 10)
Romanian deadlift (2x10)
bench press (2x5, 1x10)
weighted chin-up (2x5, 1x10)
The ten-work-set routine provides plenty of hard work, but is also refreshing if you allow yourself a few weeks to get into a rhythm before you really begin pushing hard. (Do warm-up sets as well, of course.)
If you aren't concerned with powerlifting competition and are willing to listen intuitively to your body regarding training frequency, I think you could do this routine, and nothing else, for three consecutive years and turn yourself into a monster.
I sometimes wish I had, although I'd make one change to it. I was too fixated on the bench press because of my interest in powerlifting, but I also took well to dips and feel that they more thoroughly work my entire upper-body pressing musculature. Subbing weighted dips for bench presses would slightly improve this routine for me.
I've armed you with the classics of abbreviated-training routine design: full-body (with different training frequencies), several variations of the upper/lower split, and two interpretations of squat/push/pull training. To address recovery on the upper/lower, you can do your squatting and hinging movements together (alternating intensity if needed), substitute a lighter variant for one of them, or squat one week and hinge the next. You can also apply this strategy to upper-body workouts.
Although there's no "best" routine for everyone all the time, there may be a best one for you for the time being, but even that will almost certainly change over time.
Consider trying them all at different points in what will hopefully be your lifetime training journey. Just remember to stick with any change you make for a fair trial of about three months in order to make an informed assessment of its effectiveness.
Whichever template you select, populate your routine primarily with the six foundational movements from my article in HARDGAINER 2.0 issue #2. To review, they are squatting, hinging, pushing and pulling in the horizontal plane, pushing and pulling in the vertical plane. Add two or three isolation movements per workout that you enjoy if you want, and you'll be well on your way to years of productive training.
In the next issue of HARDGAINER 2.0, I'll turn my attention to progression, a topic that's possibly even more confusing to some trainees than routine design.
For more information about HARDGAINER 2.0 digital magazine, please visit:
Enjoy Your Lifting!