Saturday, April 10, 2010

2-3-5-10 Workout Plan

I received an e-mail this morning asking me how to set up a 2-3-5-10 workout plan based on my post from a couple days ago (which is itself based on a workout by Dan John). The author of the e-mail wanted to know what kind of split to use and what exercises should be utilized.

This post is my answer. (I decided to post my answer here since I have a feeling there are others interested in this kind of workout who have similar questions.)

First, let's talk exercise selection. Obviously this program is one of those where you need to select "bang-for-your-buck" exercises. Squats, front squats, and hack squats (real hack squats as I performed in my training entry) would all be great lower body pushing movements. Deadlifts, platform deadlifts, snatch-grip deadlifts, high pulls, and power cleans would all be excellent lower body pulling movements. Dumbbell bench presses and barbell bench presses of all sorts, as well as overhead presses and dips would all be great upper body pushing movements. And chins, bent-over rows, dumbbell rows, and machine rows (of all sorts) would be excellent upper body pulling movements. Also, don't forget to do a little direct arm work.

Second, let's look at the layout of the program. I think there are several ways to set it up. I think the three best ways would be with 1) a 3-days-per-week, full body workout plan; 2) an upper body, lower body split; or 3) a 3-way bodypart split.

The Full Body Plan
If you decide to go with the full body plan, then use a full-body "split" program—and, no, I'm not being oxymoronic here. Your 3 day-per-week, full-body split plan would look something like this:

Monday: squats, dumbbell bench presses, barbell curls
Wednesday: snatch-grip deadlifts, close-grip chins
Friday: front squats, dips

On the following Monday, you would select another lower body pulling movement and another upper body movement.

Upper/Lower Split
This one's fairly straightforward. For instance, on Mondays and Thursdays, train your lower body. On Tuesdays and Fridays, train your upper body. This one's a little better for more "advanced" lifters, however, since you can do more total work at each session.

The upper body workout could be comprised of bench presses, standing overhead presses, chins, and barbell curls—trust me, that's a hard workout when using this method.

The lower body workout could be comprised of squats, deadlifts, and hack squats.

One word of caution: don't use workouts this tough until you've built up the necessary work capacity to do them.

3 Way Split Program
This one is only for advanced lifters. Your split should look like this:
Day One: chest and back
Day Two: legs
Day Three: off
Day Four: shoulders and arms
Day Five: off
Day Six: repeat

The reason this is for advanced lifters is because by the time you reach this level you should have the need to do a lot of work in a single workout.

Here's a sample shoulders and arms workout, for instance: behind-the-neck presses, standing dumbbell presses, barbell curls, dips, and reverse curls

A few other points
I want to mention a few other points to make your workouts effective:

Pick a weight for your "work" sets where—if you were to perform only one set—you would reach failure somewhere around the 15th rep.

Move as fast as possible between sets, but not too fast. You should stay strong throughout the workout.

Have as much fun as possible. As I mentioned in my last post, workouts should always be fun. That way, you stick with them.


  1. Great post. I agree that only advanced lifters should use a 3 way split.

    A great upper workout will make you look years younger.

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