Sunday, November 13, 2022

Two-Way Split Training -- C.S. Sloan

The greatest strength athletes who ever walked the planet made names for themselves back in the 1940s,'50s, '60s, and  70s. This was when guys like Paul Anderson, Pat Casey (the first powerlifter to bench 600 and total more than 2000), Doug Hepburn,and bodybuilders like Marvin Eder, Freddy Ortiz,and yes, Arnold S. were in their primes. If you don't know that much about any or all of these lifters or bodybuilders, then I suggest you learn more about them. 

You'll be amazed at how strong and well developed they were. 

An interesting thing about all of the above lifters is that they used either full body workouts or they split their bodyparts over two days, usually an upper/lower split. If someone had suggested they try a five, four, or even a three-way split, they would have looked at the person as if he was crazy. They knew from years of experience that, if they were going to split their bodies over different workouts, they couldn't do any better than a two-way split. 

I honestly believe a lifter could spend a lifetime doing full body workouts and never deviate. If you're really spent a lot of time doing the workouts presented here, then I'd bet you feel about the same way. 

If you are going to do some split workouts, however, there is no reason to deviate from the two-way split. Two-way splits stlll let you get in good shape (something that won't happen when you start training only one or two bodyparts per session). And most lifters like to do them just to keep from getting bored. For that reason alone, I think two-way splits are valuable.

I'm going to outline three basic workouts that are very good at introducing you to two-way split training. They will also heip prepare you for the more advanced programs that are yet to come -- both full body workouts and two-way split training sessions. 
One of the major things you must decide when beginning two-way splits is what days to lift on. Once you pick a schedule, you need to STICK WITH IT.  
Let's take a look at what I feel are the three best ways to split up the training sessions. Once you have decided which one you would like to use, simply plug in the workouts in any of the programs to the days you have decided to train. 
Plan #1 

Day 1 - train
Day 2 - train
off off 
Plan #2

train I ride
sixteen sessions long
Plan #3 
Of the three plans, I don't think any one of them is better than the other. I do know that, for most people, the first one is considered the best, since it allows the lifter to take the weekends off, assuming the first training day is Monday. Of  course, a lot of folks like to train on Saturdays, which makes plans 2 and 3 optimal.
The Heavy/Light program is a great one to get you started on two-way splits. It divides your training sessions into upper body and lower body splits. Of course, as with some of the full body programs, light is a relative term, since you'll be using exercises that are harder on the light day, thus forcing  you to use lighter weights. 
This routine keeps all of the elements of successful training intact, as it includes enough volume, plenty of heavy weights,and a good dose of power rack training. 

Day One -- Upper Body   

Bench press, 5x8,5,3, or 1 repetition. Rotate between the four different rep ranges on a weekly basis. Perform 5 progressively heavier sets at the chosen repetition range. Personally, though you can do it different ways, I think the best way to rotate between the rep ranges is to do a week of 5s, a week of 3s, a week of 8s, then do your singles for a week.

Wide grip chin, 5x8,5,3, or 1 repetition. Same as the bench above. 
Incline bench press, same as above.
Barbell curl, 5x10
alt with
Lying triceps extension, 5x10. Move back and forth between these two, taking at least one minute rest between sets. 

Steep incline situp, 3x50.

Day Two -- Lower Body

Squat, Use the same rep sequence that you used on the major lifts in Day One.

Deadlift, same. 

Squat lockouts, 5x5,3, or 1 repetition. Unlike the other exercises this week, for this one I don't want  you doing progressive sets. Instead, pick one weight and do all 5 sets of whatever rep range you choose. 

For form, set the pins in the power rack so you will be doing the top 1/3 of the movement. This will allow you to move some major weight. Once your body gets accustomed to the extra pounds, itwill make your regular squats much easier. 
Rack deadlifts, 5x5,3, or 1 repetition. Same as above with squat lockouts. In addition to varying rep ranges, you can also vary the pin settings. On some days, set the pins a couple of inches above the knee; on others, set the pins below the knees; and on some days, set the pins at knee height.
Day Three -- Upper Body
DB bench press, 5x10,8, or 5 repetitions. Vary between these rep ranges each week. Use progressively heavier sets.
Close grip chin, 5 x AMRAP. Your goal on this exercise is to increase the number  of reps you get each week.
Standing overhead press, 5x8,5,3, or 1 repetition. Use the same set/rep scheme as you did on squats and bench presses from Days One and Two.
DB curl, 3x20
superset with
Bench dips, 3 x 20. Alternate between each exercise without any rest. Work each set hard, but take everything a few reps short of failure.
Steep incline situp, 3x50.
Day Four -- Lower Body
Bottom position squat, 5x3,2, or 1 repetition. Vary between the three rep ranges, using progressively heavier sets. The lower reps and the nature of the exercise will help to keep your workload down,making this a perfect light/medium exercise.
Deadlift off blocks, 5x3,2, or 1 rep. Same as above. Same as it ever was. 
Lunges, 4x6. For these, don't use progressive sets. Keep with the same weight throughout all 4 sets.
Good mornings, 3x8. Same weight, all  three sets. 
Hanging Leg Raise, 3x50. 
This next workout is one of the best for packing on mouse-cells and strength. No, wait. We're not at the cloned rodent muscle stage of pro bodybuilding yet. Regardless, be patient. This workout example uses more singles per core lift than those used previously in singles training, plus it uses a lot of other rep ranges on the other sets, so -- in many ways -- it's different from any of the other routines you've used thus far. 

The type of heavy singles regimen used in this (is the singular regiman and plural regimen), has been utilized over the years by some men who became very big and strong. I have seen this workout do wonders for bringing up strength for a number of the lifters I have worked with or others I have helped over the years.

Day One -- Lower Body
Bottom position squat, 5-8 singles, followed by 5x5. This exercise is going to be tough when done with the sets and reps I'm going to prescribe, but the results you gain will be well worth all the effort. 
Warm up with 2-3 sets of 5 reps, depending on how much weight you're handling, before moving to the singles. More weight, more warmups. For the singles, start with a weight you know you can get at least 5 singles. Your goal will be 8 singles. If you get all 8 singles, then increase the weight 5-10 pounds at the next workout and shoot for 8 singles again. 

Once you are through with your final single, drop down in weight by at least 50 pounds (if you are handling huge weights, then you might drop down by as much as 100 pounds), and perform 5x5 with that weight. If you don't get all 5 sets of 5 reps, then perform the same weight at the next workout. If you get all 5 reps in all 5 sets, then increase the weight at the next session. Brutal? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. 

Deadlift, 5-8 singles, followed by 3x5. Use the same format as the squat, but only perform 3x5 instead of 5 sets. Now that these two exercises are over with your lower body should be pretty much fried. 

Good mornings, 4x8. Use progressively heavier weights and relatively light weights on these, working up to no more than 225 on your 4th set.

Steep incline situp, 3x50. 

Day Two -- Upper Body

Pause bench press, 5-8 singles, followed by 5x5. Use the same set/rep combo as the squats on Day One. As for pauses, use a 3 second pause at the bottom of each repetition. You might be limited in the amount of weight you can use at first, but that will soon pay off in bigger and better strength gains. 

DB incline bench press, 3x10. Set the bench at a 45 degree angle,. Work this exercise relatively hard but still take each set several reps short of failure.

Wide grip chin, 5x5. Use the same weight on all sets. Whenever you get all 5 reps on all 5 sets, increase the weight at the next workout. 

DB curls, 5x5
alt with
Lying triceps extension, 5x5. Use the same technique as the wide grip chins. 

Hanging leg raise, 3x30.

Day Three -- Lower Body

Barbell hack squat, 5x3. These should be performed standing in front of a barbell (as if you were doing a reverse deadlift) with the bar touching the back of your legs. Grasp the bar and squat up with it. These are going to work the mess out of your quadriceps -- not to mention give you a change of pace from all that regular squatting you've been doing. Make sure you perform 5 progressively heavier sets of 3's. 

Stiff legged deadlift, 5x3. Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets. 

Seated good mornings, 4x8. Use the same set/rep scheme as the regular good mornings. Sit down on a flat bench. Make sure you bend over until your forehead touches the bench. 

Steep incline situp, 3x50. 

Day Four -- Upper Body 

Bottom position close grip bench, 5-8 singles. Use the same set/rep combo as the major core exercises from Days One and Two, omitting any down sets. 

Standing barbell curl, 5-8 singles. Same as above. 

Bench press, 5x3. Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets of 3. The final set should make you work, but shouldn't be an all-out effort.

Barbell pullover, 4x8. These should be progressively heavier sets. Start with the barbell touching your chestm, and keep your elbows bent throughout the movement. 

Hanging leg raise, 3x30. 


Here's a program that's quite a bit different from many things you have tried even if you've been training for a number of years. It's also a good program to use after finishing the above two workouts as it gives you two training days where you get to do some higher reps without the maximum weights. I call it alternate set/rep training, since you will be reversing the sets and reps from one upper body training day to the next, and the same with the lower body workouts. If you're a little confused, check it out and you soon won't be. 

Day One -- Upper Body

Bench press, 8x3. Use the same weight throughout all 8 sets. A good weight to start with would be 70% of your one rep maximum for all 8 sets. 

Wide grip chin, 8x3. Same as above. 

Steep incline DB press, 8x3. Use an incline of at least 60 degrees. This will work your shoulders as hard as your upper chest muscles and triceps. 

DB or barbell row, 8x3. 

Barbell curl, 8x3. 

Steep incline situp, 8x5. Hold a plate in front of your chest or behind your head to increase the tension and make this a heavy exercise.

Day Two -- Lower Body

Squat, 8x3. Same set/rep format as all the exercises in Day One.

Dumbbell deadlift, 8x3. This exercise will help your recovery some, while still training your deadlift fairly hard. 

Barbell hack squat, 5x3. Due to all the lower body sets you've already performed, I want you to limit your sets to 5 on these, while using the same weight as if you were doing 8 sets. 

Day Three -- Upper Body 

Bench press, 3x8.  Use close to the same weight that you used for the 8x3 on Day One. 

Close grip chin, 3x8.

Wide grip dip, 3x8. Use a set of dipping bars that allows you to get a good stretch throughout your chest muscles. This puts more stress on your chest and less on your triceps. 

Barbell pullovers, 3x8. 

Steep incline situp, 3x20. Use weight a la Day One, but limit it so you can get 20 reps on all 3 sets.

Day Four -- Lower Body

Deadlift, 3x8. These are going to be tough, especially if you do them as I'm going to prescribe. After each repetition. let go of the bar, stand up and rest for one or two seconds before beginning the next rep (reset). Repeat in this manner throughout all 8 repetitions. 

Close stance pause squat, 3x8. Make sure you pause for a count of three seconds at the bottom of each rep.

Lying leg curl, 3x8. If you don't have access to a leg curl machine, do these by placing a dumbbell between your feet. Personally I have performed them this way for years and prefer them to the machine variety. 


Stick with each of the above programs for a minimum of 8 weeks, though you can, of course, perform any of them longer if they are bringing you good results. 

On the subject of sticking with a program, I am amazed by how quickly many strength coaches and lifters change their programs. I've always believed in the adage of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Of course, you do need variety in your training, but I have seen some lifters stick with a heavy regimen of multiple singles (such as the second program here) for years and never deviate. And for years, they got great results.

I'm sure all of the above programs can also bring you great results. I an equally sure, however, that you probably won't stick with any one of them for years, simply because there are so many other exciting training programs to follow these. Get ready to take your strength to the next level . . . the ultimate level of strength, muscle, and power.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

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