Right so this will be a lengthy one but this is a lengthy topic
in this guide I'm going to go over some basic programming information for a 'powerbuilding or hypertrophy specific' approach.
Now you cannot exclusively train for either size or strength to any notable degree hence I included powerbuilding as I'm not going to write out a more complicated powerlifting approach as that is a topic in it's own right so instead I'm going to go over some guidelines for those looking to get bigger and stronger
firstly let's discuss the principles Frequency: the amount of times in a week you stimulate or train a muscle into protein synthesis / the adaptive response to progressive weight training, some like a high frequency approach due to the argument of muscle protein synthesis only lasting for 48hrs at most in natural trainees meaning that if you bench on Monday by Wednesday evening your pecs and triceps have gone through the full adaptive process and are back to baseline ready to be stimulated again.
Now most might conclude from this that it would make the most sense to train as frequently as possible in that case assuming the goal is purely hypertrophy (strength training has a more CNS adaptive and fatigue based response dependent on intensity) however there are several reasons why one might choose not to including motivation to train the same body part multiple times per week, tendons take a longer time to recovery than the more vascular muscle tissue, in the enhanced muscle protein synthesis is elevated round the clock, getting a better mind to muscle connection with higher sessionly volume due to pump and lactate build up
which leads me onto my next topic Volume: this is the amount of work you do for a given body part, for instance 30 sets of chest work by way of 3 sets of 10 different exercises or just 30 sets of the same exercise and anything in between is the training volume, programs oriented toward hypertrophy largely differ by their weekly volume distribution (we'll touch on this more later)
volume requirements generally differ for different body parts, a very crude rule of thumb to keep in mind is generally a larger muscle will respond well to higher volume whereas a smaller muscle will respond better to less volume but more frequency think a lower body session hitting nine sets for quads twice per week for a total of eighteen total sets vs bicep curls for three sets, three times per week for a total of nine sets
many will argue training volume to be the primary driver of hypertrophy, I firmly disagree with this and would instead put a bigger emphasis on progressive overload
which leads me to the next point Progressive overload: the process of increasing the total tonnage lifted per week, to put it simply doing more weight on an exercise for the same reps you did last time or doing more reps with the same weight that you did last time.
I believe mechanical tension to be the easiest, most measurable and effective form of building size and strength, this is why many beginner programs seem more (wrongfully labeled) powerlifting based with a 5x5 approach on some core compound movements multiple times per week focusing on a session by session increase in weight.
As you become more advanced this becomes more difficult so you need to be a bit more instinctual and reactive to your training rather than focusing on what the beginner should be which is a big drive on ALL pathways of growth; high volume, high frequency, progressive overload and high intensity
which leads me onto my final point Intensity: the percentage of your 1 rep max, constantly misunderstood as 'train really really hard' by the misinformed
if your max bench press is 100kg, that is you are only able to hit a single rep with 100kg then bench pressing 80kg is an intensity of 80%, you don't need to be overly concerned with intensity as someone not looking to compete in strength sports or simply pushing their strength to the max as there is many paths to the same destination of hypertrophy and therefor you can ease off the gas of one as another becomes exhausted.
Think a heavy block of training, deload and then a block of higher rep, shorter rest period metabolic work,
since your soul goal isn't to get stronger you don't need to be so tightly tied to the fatigue management of intensity.
Above is some of the different principles of muscle building, apply them knowing that each has an energy debt from your energy reserve, the newer to training you are, the weaker you are which means overall intensity is lowered and therefor you can push the other variables since intensity is the biggest cost of recovery
a one rep max is as intense as you can train by definition and this would quickly lead to regression, burn out and or injury
so with that out the way lets lay out some popular templates and describe how each program utilizes different variables and why Full body training
this approach is favored by beginners for the reasons I mentioned above, the strength level is lower therefor volume, frequency and progressive overload can be pushed whereas more advanced lifters may struggle without some complex periodization that I'm not going to get into in this article as we're then trickling down the powerlifting programming route which I'm not covering ITT
so how might one lay out a full body program
well I'm only templating here so I'm going to use stronglifts as I believe this to be about as optimal as you can get for a rank novice trainee irrelevant of long term goal
squat 5x5, bench 5x5, row 5x5
squat 5x5, overhead press 5x5, deadlift 1x5
following a two weekly A, off, B, off, A, off, off, B, off, A, off, B, off, off, repeat approach
nice and simple, aiming to add 2.5kg to each lift as you successfully hit 5 sets of 5 repetitions, if you fail a weight three times you deload the weight by 10% on your next session and build back up. Upper Lower
this approach can be utilized by the late beginner all the way up to the early advanced lifter, it uses a twice weekly frequency as opposed to the full body three times weekly frequency therefor there is a larger period of time for CNS and connective tissue recovery
a simple template could be
Upper; bench press 4x8-12, row 4x8-12, overhead press 4x8-12, pull ups 4x8-12, tricep extensions 2x10-15, bicep curls 2x10-15
Lower; squat 4x8-12, romanian deadlift 4x8-12, leg press 4x8-12, leg curl 4x8-12, calf raise 2x10-15, cable crunches 2x10-15
you would typically perform 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off
you could of course have an upper A and an upper B with the same 2 variants for Lower to offer some more diversity / exercise selection in the program
essentially the layout is just making sure to cover a vertical push, vertical pull, horizontal push, horizontal pull, arm extensions and arm flexion and two quad movements, two hamstring movements, an abdominal exercise and a calf exercise. Push, Pull, Legs
for the slightly more late intermediate to early advanced, this follows a 6x per week frequency per month vs the 8x per week frequency of an upper lower
some program this as 3 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off however for anyone of any appreciable level of strength this approach will require frequent deloads otherwise you risk overtraining and or overuse injuries
a template could be
Push; bench press 3x6-8, chest press 3x10-12, overhead press 3x6-8, machine shoulder press 3x10-12, chest fly supersetted with side laterals 4x10-15, tricep extensions 4x10-15
Pull; barbell row 3x6-8, chest supported row 3x10-12, weight pull ups 3x6-8, close grip lat pulldown 3x10-12, rear delt fly supersetted with shrugs 4x10-15, bicep curls 4x10-15
Legs squat; 3x6-8, romanian deadlift 3x10-12, lunges 3x6-8, laying leg curls 3x10-12, leg extensions supersetted with leg curls 4x10-15, hanging leg raises 4x10-15
as mentioned above you could either do a 2 on 1 off approach similar to the upper lower rotating through push, pull, legs or you can do a constant 1 on 1 off approach Body part split
for the late intermediate to the late advanced, this follows a once per week frequency allowing for maximal recovery of central nervous system, connective tissue and muscles. if you take this approach too soon in your training career you are absolutely leaving weekly progress on the table as irrelevant of volume (baring injury) you WILL be ready to hit a muscle again sooner than once every 7 days
a template could be
Chest and triceps: incline bench 5x5, dumbbell bench 4x8-12, chest press 4x8-12, cable fly 4x15-20, dips 3x8-12, tricep extensions 3x15-20
Back and biceps: Barbell row 5x5, weighted underhand pullups 4x8-12, wide grip lat pulldown 4x8-12, cable low row 4x15-20, barbell curls 3x8-12, dumbell preacher curls 3x15-20
Shoulders: overhead press 5x5, dumbbell seated shoulder press 4x8-12, shoulder press machine 4x8-12, rear delt fly 4x15-20, side laterals 3x8-12, shrugs 3x15-20
Legs and abs: squat 5x5, glute ham raise 4x8-12, leg press 4x8-12, leg extension 4x15-20, leg curl 4x15-20, cable rope crunches 3x15-20
you would then do a 5th day of calf, ab and arm top up training since frequency is so low and these are such small muscles you can train more days per week and these muscles with a higher frequency.
The idea with this approach being to demolish a muscle group to your full ability and then focusing on rest and recovery leaving you completely fresh and ready to train that muscle again 7 days later with a much lower risk of CNS fatigue, overuse injury and mental drive to train.
now bare in mind these are all just templates and you can of course jumble them up with rep ranges, frequency, intensity and exercise selection in fact I encourage you to based on your individual needs and restrictions
for instance a routine I often default back to is
Bench, chest and tris, Rowing movements for back and bis
Squats, quads and core work
Military press, shoulders and tris, Vertical pulls for back and bis
Deadlift, Hamstrings and core work
as my legs take much longer to recover being bigger and stronger proportionately to my upper body musculature I need a full weeks rest in order to get the most out of my quad or hamstring training whereas my pecs and lats are ready to go much sooner
which leads me to my closing points
you should train to the highest frequency you are able to recover and progress on as this will net you the fastest long term progress.
advanced program does not mean advanced results and in most cases it means slower or inferior results if the program design is not matched to your level of development
ie a beginner will be leaving progress on the table by performing exercises for a muscle group just once per week whereas an advanced lifter will burn out with injury and fatigue trying to perform an exercise for a muscle group three times per week (again unless carefully periodized)
right I think that about wraps it up
please fire away below with any questions or help with program design