Monday, July 20, 2020

Split Training, Time and Frequency of Workouts - Peary Rader (1960)

Here are two articles from 1960, Courtesy of Liam Tweed, that fit together nicely . . .


We are happy to continue our series on, "All the World's Greatest Routines" and in this issue we will discuss a system or arrangement of the workout program that has given marvelous results when all else failed - "The Split Workout Program." 

Do not confuse this with the Split Repetition Program*. It is different. 

*Note: quite far down the page, here:

This system is especially valuable for those who may find that they do not have sufficient energy for a heavy program of all the essential exercises and sufficient sets and poundages for a result producing workout. It is also a super system for the advanced man who needs additional hard work to bring out the best in his physique.

As the readers know, there is only about so much you can do whether you are a beginner or a champion and this amount of work may not be as much as you wish. This split workout program we are about to describe will permit either the beginner or the advanced man to work to his maximum capacity without becoming exhausted or overworked. The author used this system to make his biggest gains so we know it is effective from first hand experience. 

There are two methods you can use, both effective but you will have to determine which works best for your own body by trying them. 

One method many advanced men have used is to work out 6 days per week instead of 3. As you know we usually advise against so many workouts per week but in this instance it can be used by most men, especially advanced trainers, with profit. 

Here is the way the 6 day per week program works Make up your list of exercises that you wish to use. We will suggest the standard basic course, for example the press, bench press, curl, rowing, situps, side bend, dead lifts, squats, and calf raises. 

Now, instead of doing the whole program in one workout let's split the program into two groups. One group will include the upper body exercises of the press, curl, bench press, rowing, situps, and side exercises. The second program will include the dead lift, squat, and calf exercises for the lower body.

On Monday you will do the upper body exercises only. It is important that you do not mix the upper body and the lower body exercises for at least in theory it is best to keep the circulation in one area each workout. You will be able to work hard on the upper body because you are not using energy for the lower body too much on your Monday workout. You can use more sets so that instead of perhaps doing 2 sets you can do 4 or even 6 sets in some exercises, using perhaps 8 reps per set and perhaps more weight than usual.

Thus you're working your muscles twice or three times as hard as you could when doing the upper body and lower body workouts the same day.

On Tuesday you do nothing for the upper body but allow it to rest and do the lower body workout. Here again you can do more sets and use heavier weights - in other words work harder on the lower body than you possibly could if you were already tired from doing the upper body work the same workout period. 

On Wednesday you again do the upper body work and Thursday you do the lower body workout while Friday you again do the upper body and on Saturday you again work the lower body. On Sunday you completely rest from all physical effort if possible. 

On such a program you will need a very adequate diet rich in all the proteins, vitamins and minerals.

We know that some of you who try this schedule will find amazingly rapid gains. 

Don't forget that while on such a heavy program you will need all the rest and sleep you can get for complete recuperation.

Our alternate method and the one I used the most was to split the program on the same day. This will not permit as much hard work as the daily program given above but it is best in many instances, especially where it is necessary to conserve energy and get a heavy workout. It does have one drawback and that is that you have to work out twice in one day and many fellows are not so situated, because of their work, etc., that they can do this. However, if you can arrange it you will find it is a wonderful schedule. 

You split your exercises the same way, with your upper body work in one group and the lower body in another group. We prefer to do the lower body exercises in the morning and always tried to do them about 11:00 in the morning. This is long enough before the noon meal that it won't be affected but late enough in the day that your energy ought to be high enough for a good workout. A half hour ought to be enough for a rugged workout on the lower body. Many men will not want as many lower body exercises as we have given and sometimes work only on the squat or perhaps only on the squat and calf exercises. Several sets of 10 to 15 reps in the squat can be quite a workout.

We prefer to do the upper body work in the evening about two hours after the evening meal. Now, of course some may prefer to do the upper body in the morning and the lower body in the evening. By evening you are comparatively rested up from your morning workout and can do your evening workout with full enthusiasm and effort. Thus you have been able to work the muscles much harder than if you were to have performed the whole workout in one period and you will feel more energetic and less exhausted.

It is wise after working each group of muscles to take a rest if you can. That is, after your morning session if you can lie down for 15 minutes or half and hour it will help a lot.

In many instances a six meal a day plan works well with these heavy split programs.*

*Note: more on that here:


One of the most important factors in progress in your training program is the time and frequency of your workouts. Unless this is regulated properly you will not make the progress you should, in fact we have known many fellows who made no progress at all for this very reason. A few have injured their health because of improper spacing of workout periods. 

First let us consider the proper time for a workout. It has been traditional that people jump out of bed and go through a vigorous program of exercises to "start off the day right" or so they say. Actually there couldn't be a much worse way to start a day off. 

First of all, your energy and vitality is at lowest ebb when you get up in the morning and it is a shock to the system to plunge into heavy exercise when the body is unprepared for it. Your whole system has been at complete rest all night and it takes some time to wake it up and stir it into action and a heavy workout is not the right way to do it. 

We are told also that about three o'clock in the afternoon is another low period but this is not nearly so undesirable a time as early morning. Many men take their workout about 4 or 5 p.m. The energy starts up again about this time. The majority probably take their workout in the evening after the evening meal for at this time the energy is high. Remember how good you feel when you get off work, clean up and have a good meal. You feel like going out and having a good time and many people do. This, however, is an ideal time for your workout.

I used to like to take a part of my workout in the morning about 11 or 11:30 as my energy was high then and I could do my lower body workout with lots of vigor. Then in the evening I would do my upper body workout.

Frequency of Workout

This is most important. How often should you work out? 

No one can tell you.  

You must determine this by experiment. Strange as it may seem, I personally found that two heavy workouts per week caused me to gain the fastest. Others could find this true also if they had the courage to try it, but many fellows feel they just can't miss that other workout or they will be ruined.

The majority of fellows seem to find that three workouts are best for them and this goes for the top men in the game - the physique champions. You may see programs listed where they work out 5 times per week or every day, but they do this only for short periods of a month or so when getting ready for a contest. 

One exception of this would be where a man may work out 6 times a week but on one day hbe will work the lower body and the following day he will work the upper body so actually he is taking a complete workout only three times per week. Many men find this permits one or two things - one: they conserve energy because they do not get so tired from either workout, or two: they can work harder on both the lower and upper body without overtraining. Care should be taken on this type of  program for it is  possible to overextend your energy and go stale.

Right about here someone is sure to ask, "How can I tell if I'm going stale from overtraining?"

Generally you will know it definitely but many trainers refuse to recognize it. You will become tired and listless with no pep. You will not recuperate from your workouts properly. You will become irritable and crabby. Your progress will cease. 

This is the time to take a two week layoiff and readjust your training schedule. Either you are doing too many exercises, too many sets and reps or working out too frequently or perhaps dissipating in some manner. 

You should come to your workouts eagerly looking forward to a battle with the weights and you should find some progress each workout. You should feel rested the next day after a workout. If you don't then you need another day of rest. Here is where you should consider two workouts per week.

We have known some of the greatest barbell men who took but two workouts per week. We recall one who made great progress on a training schedule of a very heavy workout ever 6 days. We have no record of progress being made on workouts more widely spaced though we believe that it would be possible to progress on a workout per week if it was heavy enough. By heavy we mean many sets with very heavy weight, although perhaps not too many exercises. 

There was a time when a few of the oldtimers worked out 6 times per week, but I know of no outstanding men who did this unless they were professionals who had plenty of time for rest. We must also remember that a workout in those days would seem tame in comparison with the two to four  hour sessions some bodybuilders go through now. They used one set in those days, where some men use 4 to 6 sets now with poundagess some of the oldtimers would never have dreamed of using.

We did mention that a few of the top men do work out every day for short periods. They either do this because they have nothing else to do and can sleep, eat and rest all day long (most fellow have to, want to work for a living) or they are training down for definition and they are training down for definition and they usually use such a schedule for about a month previous to a contest. They usually report getting a little stale and irritable during this period though, which indicates that they are overtraining. In fact their sole purpose is to overtrain so they will lose and show definition. If is not good for a very long time and we have seen men who overdid it and looked worn out and tired. I am sure they would have placed higher had they not trained down so much. I recall one man at least in the last Mr. America contest who was a little too finely trained. 

The common system of workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday gives you one day's rest each workout but the last one in which you get two days' rest. We usually recommend that you make this Friday session a very heavy workout since you have the weekend for rest. Possibly you may wish to make your Wednesday workout a little lighter or depending on your work, you might wish your Monday workout to be lighter. Many fellows feel a little sluggish on Monday after a weekend of lying around. 

These things must be determined by your temperament, energy reserve and of course your job and social obligations. We suggest that you do not allow your social obligations to take precedence over your workouts although of course your occupation must if you are to hold a job and work up in whatever trade or profession you choose to follow. 

If any of you wish to try the one workout in 6 days method as an experiment, we will mention that Harold Ansorge, at one time the world's greatest dead lifter and bent presser, made great progress in bodyweight and power while doing nothing but a specialized dead lift program once in every 6 days. He did 8 or 10 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with heavy poundages in both stiff legged dead lifts and also regular dead lifts. As far as we know, he did no other exercises during this period. As we recall, he followed this for quite a period. He was a strenuous worker even though he used but one exercise. He apparently needed the 6 days for recuperation and new growth even though he was one of the supermen of that time.  

Note: Here's something from Charles A. Smith on this - 

"Harold Ansorge, who made a deadlift of 680 pounds, had a very strenuous program and one that packed a considerable amount of weight on his body. He worked out on the deadlift once every SIX DAYS making 3 sets of 25 reps and resting 25 minutes between each set. When he had advanced as far as he could go on this schedule, he then trained every FIVE DAYS performing 10 sets of 12 reps, resting 20 minutes between each set. When this schedule was used up, he would rest for five days, and then take a series of deadlifts with heavy poundage and low reps and a high number of sets. He would make 20 sets of 5 reps with anything from 520 to 650 pounds. He rested 5 minutes between each set. After this schedule dried up, Ansorge would return to the original routine, again deadlifting once every six days." 

The article continues . . . 

An every other day workout schedule works well with some men although they find that their  workout days change every week and this is unhandy for many men who have their days and nights pretty well planned. 

Use good judgment in working out your schedule and keep in mind that it is better to  under-work than over-work as far a frequency is concerned. 

We recall remarks a strength magazine  writer once made in his observations of old time slaughter house workers. It seems they worked very hard when slaughtering beef once or twice a week and they usually drank blood and ate a lot of meat. This writer opined that it was this alternate very heavy and infrequent work plus long rest periods plus copious amounts of protein that gave these men their  strength and vigor. (Personally I believe the act of killing itself had a great deal to do with their vitality, however unpopular that may sound). Of course in those days no one knew much about protein so he just suggested that the blood and meat must be very good for strength and bulk building. We now know that it is the protein that  supplies the muscle building materials. 

Anyhow . . . Enjoy Your Lifting!  


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