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Ahmed Klink / M+F Magazine
Ahmed Klink / M+F Magazine

More work, more volume, more gains.

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Repetition breeds results. After all, the more you do something, the better you get at it. And that’s the key idea behind this rethought version of the basic push/pull/legs split, designed by Ross Jirgl, C.S.C.S., a strength and conditioning coach who worked with the Stanford University football team.

“Our bodies can be thought of as having two muscle systems—anterior and posterior,” Jirgl explains. “The anterior chain lets us perform our pushing movements, and the posterior chain allows us to do pulling exercises.” And Jirgl notes that alternating between the two, as opposed to doing two upper-body days (push/pull) and a leg day twice per week, is better, since you can work your full body more often. (Yes, that means more leg days, but suck it up! It also means more muscle mass.)

“Working your body this way allows for a greater release of muscle-building hormones throughout the week,” Jirgl says. “Your central nervous system will be fried by the end of the week, but you can recover on Sunday. Eat big. Sleep well. And hydrate like you’re headed to the desert for a while.”

Training Explained

You won’t be going heavy all the time. You’ll train six days a week, hitting your anterior and posterior chains three times a week with a heavy, moderate, and light day for each. You’ll get your main work done first in the form of compound movements and then move on to a triset (marked 5A, 5B, and 5C) to tax your secondary muscles and jack up your heart rate. 

Run this plan for four weeks. Then, if you want to do it for another block, take a deload week in between, performing the same movements but with a weight that’s about 50% of what you normally use for all moves. For the heavy days, start Week 1 by using 80% of your one-rep max for all the 5 x 5 exercises. Each week, add 5 pounds to each lift and do one fewer rep per set. 

Start your next block over again using heavier weight (5 to 10 pounds more to start) for the set-and-rep schemes of 5 x 5. For the rest of the days, try to either add 5 pounds to each lift or one to two reps each week. And don’t feel married to any of these accessory movements. You can sub them with similar exercises. For example, hammer curls instead of reverse curls or goblet squats instead of sissy squats. It’s not rocket science, folks. Just lift hard.

Weeks 1-4

  • Day 1 Monday: Heavy Anterior Start
  • Day 2 Tuesday: Medium Posterior Start
  • Day 3 Wednesday: Medium Anterior Start
  • Day 4 Thursday: Heavy Posterior Start
  • Day 5 Friday: Volume Anterior Start
  • Day 6 Saturday: Volume Posterior Start
  • Day 7 Sunday: Rest Start
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