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Guide On How To Build Muscle : Last One You’ll Ever Need

** In todays article we have a guest writer – a coach on our team – Coach Bob.

If you want to learn more about Coach Bob, you can check out his bio HERE!

I hope you enjoy and know you will get a ton of value from this information packed article!

In this guide on how to build muscle, I’m going to lay out everything you need to know to successfully pack on muscle.

Now, there is a lot to cover so I’m going to briefly scratch the surface here…

But, if you follow what I’m about to say and stay consistent with it, you will get results from this guide on how to build muscle.

Sound good?

Cool, let’s dive in!

Guide On How To Build Muscle: Why Should You Build Muscle?

Before we dive into this guide on how to build muscle, you may be wondering, “why on earth would I want to build muscle?”

Well my good friend, building muscle will make you leaner, more defined, and more toned.

It DOES NOT make you bulky.

That would require years of strength training, eating in a decently sized calorie surplus, and possibly taking anabolic steroids.

Which, if you’re reading this guide on how to build muscle, I’m assuming is not you.

With all of that said, it’s not like you’ll get bulky by accident.

Trust me.. I’ve been trying for years to crack the code and I still haven’t figured it out.

So, if you find out how to build muscle quickly, please feel free to let me know!

Anyways, what is true though is that muscle is more dense than fat – meaning, it takes up less room.

The crazy thing is…

As you build more muscle and lose body fat…

You may weigh the same or possibly even weigh more but still look leaner.

guide on how to build muscle

(This is Tiffany, one of my 1:1 Online Coaching Clients. She is 7 lbs heavier in the bottom photo but is noticeably leaner.)

Additionally, muscle is going to play a role in boosting your metabolism.

Therefore, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.

Now that you’re burning more throughout the day, you can eat more calories while staying lean… how f*cking cool does that sound?

Not only does muscle help you build a kick ass body that you’re confident in, but it also has numerous other benefits:

  • Lowers risk of a number of diseases
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Lowers risk of severity of depression and anxiety
  • Strengthens bones and your joints
  • Improves your posture

Essentially you’re creating a foundation for staying lean the rest of your life and building a bulletproof body!

Guide On How To Build Muscle: How Muscle is Built

Throughout the day, your body is either breaking down muscle or building it back up.

In order to build muscle, the goal would then be to have your body build up muscle more than it breaks it down.

To make this possible, the main ingredient is having a solid strength training program that allows you to lift heavy, go close to failure, and progressive overload.

The reason is that strength training places your muscles under tension which creates a muscles building response – “Muscle Protein Synthesis” (MPS)

As a result, when you strength train, essentially your muscles say “I need to grow bigger and stronger to be able to handle that weight next time.”

Below, I will quickly go over the most important things in this guide on how to build muscle.

1. Going Close To Failure

The main component to building muscle is something called mechanical tension.

Without going too far into the weeds – because I want to keep this guide on how to build muscle simple – I want you to think of this as lifting close to failure.

More specifically, going 1-3 reps shy of failure.

Failure being that you can’t possibly do anymore reps even if someone was screaming in your face.

The reason is that these are the reps that recruit the most muscle fibers which send the biggest signal for your body to build muscle.

How do you know you’re close to that failure point?

When the weight starts slowing down and you make funny faces and grunting noises.

going closer to failure in guide on how to build muscle

Keep in mind… this means that you’re going to have to go heavy – which is relative to you.

So, I would recommend one of two things…

First, practice going to absolute failure to know what that feels like.

Or, take a video of yourself and see if your reps are slowing down.

That way, you know if you’re lifting heavy enough.

If the reps are a grind and you’re out of breath, you’re good!

If not, I’m sorry but you’re not pushing yourself hard enough so bump up the weight!

2. Progressive Overload

Doing the same shit leads to the same results.

I see this far too often when people come to me asking why they aren’t getting building muscle which is why I wanted to make this guide.

In order for your body to adapt (build muscle), you have to give it a reason to adapt.

This means having your muscles gradually work harder over time.

There are a number of ways to progressive overload, but the two most important are increasing the amount of weight and reps you’re doing.

That way, your muscles have to adapt to the increased workload and you can also make progress more sustainably.

Each time you go into the gym, you should have a goal of doing more than you did the previous week either through weight and/or reps.

3. Rest and Recovery

Another big mistake people make when trying to build muscle is thinking that more is better.

They spend 2 hours in the gym, go all out by doing 15 exercises each workout, and workout 5-6 days a week.

And before they know it, they end up either burned out or getting injured.

Don’t make this mistake.

One of the most important things for your body to build muscle is rest.

Rest is actually when your muscles are building up bigger.

NOT when you’re working out – which so many people seem to think.

All you need is to strength train 3-4 days and allow your body to rest so you muscles can get built back up bigger and stronger.

If you don’t, then your body never has time to put on muscle if you’re constantly breaking it down in the gym.

Also, making sure you’re getting enough sleep plays a huge role in your recovery.

Sleep is going to give you energy so that you can push hard in the gym close to failure.

And it’s going to allow your body to recover since a lot of your muscle building hormones are produced during sleep.

So, try your best to aim for 7-9 hours per night if you can.

4. Eating Enough Protein

The final ingredient is to eat enough protein.

Protein is the building block of your muscles.

Once they’re broken down in the gym, protein is needed to help build them back up.

I will go into more detail on protein down below, but for now, let’s dive into how to set up your weekly routine.

Guide on How to Build Muscle: Setting Up Your Workout Routine

1. Scheduling Your Workouts

guide on how to build muscle

Having a routine that you can be consistent with is priority number one in this guide on how to build muscle.

Because, it’s the consistency over the long haul that’s going to get you your results.

As I said above, 3-4 days of a proper strength training program is all you need.

In 99.99% of my online coaching clients, I program either one of two splits:

A 3 day Upper/Lower/Full Split.


A 4 Day Upper/Lower Split.

Typically, it takes 48-72 hours for a muscle group to recover.

So, by doing one of these two splits, you’re allowing enough recovery while working out each muscle group at least twice per week.

Why not workout muscles one time per week? (Bro split man!)

Well, you can… it’s just hard to get in enough hard sets to build muscle in one session.

You’d be better off splitting that volume up between two days so that you can push close to failure each set

Imagine trying to go close to failure on 20 sets for one muscle in a single workout.

After 10 sets I guarantee you’re going to be fried, barely have any energy left, and be feeling like shit.

Another thing to consider is the more tired you get, the shittier your form gets which means the risk for injury increases.

So, take the weekend to plan out your workouts for the week.

What’s your split? What days will you go and at what times?

2. Choosing the Right Exercises

guide on how to build muscle picking the right exercises

By now, from reading this guide on how to build muscle, you know that HEAVY strength training is the best type of exercise to build muscle.

However, there are no “best” exercises.

Everyone is different and has different limb lengths, muscle insertions, body types, genetics, etc.

However, there are certain movements that should be included in your program.

The majority of your program should consist of compound movements.

Compound movements are the movements that work multiple muscles and joints at one time.

Think of your squats, deadlifts, lunges, horizontal and vertical presses and rows, etc

Let’s look at a squat for example….you’re using your quads, glutes, core, upper back, calves, etc.

Therefore, you’ll be able to load your muscles and joints with the most weight.

As a result, compound movements will be the biggest bang for your buck exercises.

Especially with only going to the gym 3-4 days a week for an hour a piece.

That said, including isolation exercises is also important so you can target a specific muscle.

Think of a cable bicep curl…

Most of the tension will be placed on your biceps, which means you can demolish them.

However, since only one muscle is being used, you won’t be able to lift as much weight.

So, make sure you have all of the movement patterns in your program.

Then, add in extra volume based on specific muscle groups you want to build via isolation exercise either with free weights, cables, or machines.

Don’t know whether to use free weights, machines, or cables? You can find all of that out here.

3. Volume and Intensity

Volume has many definitions and people will debate on the actual verbiage of it on the Internet.

Basically it’s how much work you’re doing (sets x reps x weight)

But that can be too confusing and problematic.

So, why not keep it simple in this guide on how to build muscle?

Think of volume as being how many sets you complete.

You want to try and get the muscle group or groups you’re trying to build in the 10-20 total hard sets per week if you want to build muscle.

Notice how I said HARD sets….If a set was not close to failure it was not a hard set.

Instead, you can put that one down as a warm up set.

For more in depth info on how much weight to lift, you can read my guide here.

Keep in mind, when you’re a beginner you’re going to build muscle just by stepping on the gym floor.

Kidding but you get the point.

So, you’ll build muscle just by doing the bare minimum.

Unfortunately or fortunately…depending on how you look at it… these Newbie gains won’t last forever.

And eventually you’ll have to adjust.

So, when you notice your progress slowing down, increase the amount of set’s you’re doing monthly.

For example, if you’re doing 15 sets for a muscle group for month 1, bump it up to 16 sets for month 2, etc.

Aim for 10-20 total sets per week for muscle groups you want to build. Make sure you’re lifting close to failure.

4. Best Muscle Building Rep Range

The old recommendation looked something like this….

Strength: 1-5 reps

Hypertrophy: (muscle building): 8-12 reps

Endurance: 15-20 reps

Well, now research shows that you can build muscle in all of these rep ranges.

You see, as long as you go close to failure, then you’ll build muscle regardless of the rep range.

(Notice how a lot revolves around this whole close to failure thing? Ok, back to the article!)

That said, there is an optimal rep range for building muscle…. And that is 6-12 reps.


Because it’s the most optimal for creating the most tension without it being too fatiguing or strenuous on your body.

If you go too heavy too often (1-5 reps), then that can place a lot of stress on your body, joints, and CNS which can make it hard to recover from and lead to an injury.

If you can’t workout then you can’t build muscle and if you can’t recover, you can’t adapt.

On the other hand, going super high reps (15+) can be problematic as well.

This uses more of the cardiovascular energy system so, even though you can build muscles at 15+ reps, your cardiovascular system could give out before you muscles do, and therefore you don’t reach muscular failure.

So, for the majority of the time, stick to the 6-12 rep range and include a little of the endurance or strength work depending on your goals.

I would say stick to 75% of your work in that 6-12 rep range, then choose either the 1-5 rep rate or 15+ rep range, depending on your goal, to get the benefits out of those.

5. Rest In Between Your Sets

guide on how to build muscle going hard during a set

Another big mistake is that people take a 30 second rest period in between their sets.

As a result, they aren’t fully recovered and therefore, can’t lift as heavy.

So, their progress goes to shit.

It’s basically trying to drive a car on an almost empty gas tank… pretty soon you’re going to break down.

For example, if you needed to lift 20 lbs for 10 reps to create an adaptation but could only lift 10 lbs for 10 reps because you were too fatigued, you’re selling yourself short.

Do you think 10 lbs x 10 reps is going to create more change than 20 lbs x 10 reps?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So rest at least 2 minutes in between your sets so that you CAN push close to failure every set.

Trust me…You should be begging to rest. If you’re not… lift heavier.

Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets so that you can push hard every set.

6. Tempo and Form

IF you follow the above guidelines, then you will be good.

Keep in mind, you want to maintain good form for safety and to make sure you’re working the right muscles through a full range of motion.

Good form always comes first.

If you’re using momentum to lift up too heavy of a weight, then you’re not placing enough tension on your muscles to grow.

So, don’t half rep that shit and don’t use momentum.

As a general rule, think 1 second on the concentric, hold for 1-2 seconds, and then 2-3 seconds on the eccentric.

Guide On How To Build Muscle : Sample 3 Day Hypertrophy Program Template

Alright, now that you have everything you need to know on how to set up a kick ass muscles building program…

I’m going to drop a sample template below for you that you can follow if you want to get started.

Keep in mind, there are a million and one ways to program. This is just how I go about it with my 1:1 Online Coaching Clients.

Remember… if you’re close to failure on these movements, you’ll get amazing results.

Lower Body

1.Squat: 3×5 (25% in strength range)

2.RDL: 3×6-8

3a.Reverse Lunge: 3×8-10/leg

3b.45 Degree Glute Ext: 3×10-2

Upper Body

1. DB Bench Press: 3×6-8

2. Lat Pulldown: 3×6-8

3a. Seated Shoulder Press: 3×8-10

3b. 1 Arm Db Row: 3×8-10/side

4a. Bicep Curl: 3×12-15

4b. Skull Crusher: 3×12-15

Full Body

1. Sumo/Conventional/Trap Bar Deadlift: 3×5

2. BB Overhead Press: 3×5-8

3a. FFESS: 3×6-8

3b. Lat Pulldown: 3×6-10

4a. Chest Support Row: 3×8-10

4b. Rear Delt Row: 3×10-12

5a. Cable Behind the back side lateral raise: 3×10-12

5b. Cable Y: 3×10-12

Quick Guidelines:

— 1-2 compound movements

— 2-6 accessory movements based on goal

— 2-4 isolation based on goal

Also, start with your target muscle so that you can work it the hardest.

For example, want to build a bigger back? Start with a back movement.

Pick 1-2 compound movements using free weights. Then 2-4 accessory movements and 1-2 isolation exercises using a combination of free weights, machines, or cables.


Guide On How to Build Muscle: Setting Up Your Nutrition

Now that you have your strength training down, let’s dive into the second part of the guide on how to build muscle: Nutrition.

Is it possible to build muscle while losing body fat? Yea, if you’re a beginner, coming back from injury, or have a lot of weight to lose.

But ….it won’t be as much had you done it in a calorie surplus.

Imagine driving through snow… what’s going to get you to your destination quicker?

A small car or an SUV with 4-wheel drive?

The small car can get you there but it’ll be a much slower process.

So, if you want to take your results to that next level… then going into a surplus is the goal.

The reason is so that you can give your muscles the tools and energy they need to grow.

I’ll enlighten you down below:

1. Guide On How To Build Muscle : Setting Up Your Calories

Keep in mind that there is a limit to how much muscle you can build.

So, this is not a free pass to go into f*ck it mode because it’s not like eating as much as you want will lead to more muscle growth.

After a certain point, your body will just pack on extra body fat.

So, the whole “bulking season bro” mentality is a beginner’s mistake and not a good long term approach because the more fat you gain… the more fat you have to lose in the future.

That said… you WILL gain “some” body fat.

Notice how I emphasized the word “some”…

It’s completely normal and expected because not all the energy can go towards building muscle.

Therefore, the goal is to maximize how much muscle you can build while minimizing the amount of body fat you gain.

To accomplish this, I like to aim towards a 250 calories surplus.

Now, there are a bunch of equations out there on how to find how many calories you should eat.

But, the problem is there is no accurate way to know your exact amount of calories without some trial and error.

So, first I would suggest finding your estimated maintenance calories, tracking those calories for 4 weeks, and seeing if your weight roughly stays in the same range.

Then once you find your maintenance range, add 250 calories to that each day.

If you’re not gaining weight after a few weeks, then you may need to add another 250 calories again via carbs. (More on this down below)

2. Protein (4 cal/g):

Protein is going to be your best friend because it is the building block for building muscle.

Dietary protein allows your muscles to build back up bigger and prevent you from losing the muscle you already have.

Some of the best protein sources include: lean meats, lean dairy, high quality vegan sources if that is your thing, protein powders – whey or casein, and even protein bars.. although I’m slowly not becoming a fan of them myself.

Since the goal is to build muscle vs retain it, you’d want to eat a little more protein to help spike up muscle protein synthesis a little more if possible.

Aim for .8-1g per pound of your goal body weight.

3. Fat (9 cal/g):

Fat is essential to get into your diet.

It’s important for your hormones and your overall health which can have an affect on your performance and recovery.

Now, it’s not like adding in more fat will keep improving your hormone levels and health…

This is why adding butter in your coffee is just plain dumb as f*ck.

A little more can be fine but… too much can lead to more fat gain.

Think about it… you’re eating fat so eating too much will easily be stored as body fat when you’re in a calorie surplus since your body doesn’t have to do too much work to convert it.

Therefore, once you hit your minimum threshold, you’re good!

Now, look at carbs and protein… they have to go through a whole process of transforming the dietary carbs and protein into body fat which takes more energy to do.

Aim for .3-.5g per day of your body weight. Try not to exceed .5g.

4. Carbs (4 cal/g):

Yes, carbs help with building muscle!

They get stored into your muscles as glycogen and give you energy for your workouts.

This is important because if you remember…you have to push yourself close to failure if you want to build muscle.

The energy system responsible for that runs off carbs!

So, if you don’t have energy from carbs, it’s going to be hard to do that.

Trust me… this is coming from someone who used to not eat carbs because I was a carb hater.

And looking back at my workouts… they were complete dog shit and I was leaving gains on the table.


Eat. Your. Damn. Carbs.

Calculate your protein and fats, then subtract that number from your calories and that’ll be how many carbs you should eat.

Ex: 3,000 calories – (165g protein x 4 cal/g + 50g fat x 9 cal/g) = 1,890 / 4 cal per gram of carbs = 472g

Yes, it may look confusing at first but it’s actually pretty simple (or why you may want to consider hiring a coach).

When adjusting your calories, it will be done by either increasing or decreasing the amount of carbs you eat.

Need to eat more? Increase your carbs. Need to eat less? Decrease your carbs. Protein and fats stay the same.

5. Meal Timing Tip

Something worth mentioning is that it doesn’t necessarily matter how many meals you eat.

What matters most is finding a meal frequency that works for you.

Now…It may be beneficial to eat more frequently for a few reasons.

First, so you can eat enough calories.

One of the biggest surprises when clients start a bulk is just how hard it can be to consistently get in enough calories.

Spacing out your meals into small chunks can help with this.

This is also where hyper palatable foods like nut butters and nuts can also help out – just be sure to measure them out.

Also, drinking your calories through a shake can help out as well if you’re having a hard time scarfing down solid food.

So, planning out your meals and eating more often can make things less stressful.

Second, by eating protein more frequently throughout the day, you can keep muscle protein synthesis spiked which can help aid in building muscle.

Can’t beat that.

6. Guide On How To Build Muscle : Supplements

Following all of the above tips is going to get you 99% of the way there.

So, I’m not going to spend too much time talking about supplements.

I will say the three supplements that can help are creatine monohydrate, a protein powder, and caffeine.

Creatine can give your body more energy which will give you a boost in the gym, and has been shown to aid in building strength and muscle.

Plus, your muscles will fill up with more water and even look fuller too!

A protein powder such as whey or casein protein doesn’t have any magical benefits other than helping you reach your protein goals.

** If you want to get the protein & creatine that Eric personally recommends, you can get it HERE and use his code “ERIC” to get 20% off!

Lastly, caffeine from coffee or a pre workout can help by giving you more energy to lift more weight.

As you can see, there is nothing magical about these supplements. They supp-le-ment the basics.

Guide On How To Build Muscle : Be Patient and Consistent

Alright, that should have all of your basis covered.

If you follow these guidelines consistently, you will see some AMAZING results.

Keep in mind, the amount of muscle you want to build in 3 months will probably take you over a year to do so.

Unlike fat loss which is relatively quick, building muscle takes a shit ton of time.

The more of a beginner you are, the more muscle you will build.

As you gain more experience, the gains start to slow down.

I would say that you want to be in a surplus for a minimum of 6-12 months to see some serious changes because muscle takes a longggg time to grow.

Aim to gain .25% -.5% of your BW per week and that is usually a good sign of progress.

So, for example:

If I weighed 150 lbs, gaining .3-..75 lbs per week… yeah, not much and very slow.

If you’re consistently gaining more than this, dial back the calories each day by 100.

If you’re not gaining less than this or nothing at all, bump up the calories by 250.

Remember, the goal is to maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gain.

Now, fat gain will be inevitable since you’re in a surplus so can we agree right now that you won’t freak out?


Ok, cool.

After you complete your bulk from 6-12 months, you can go back on a cut, lose some body fat, and see the new muscle you packed on.

Thank you for reading through this whole guide!

If you made it to this point, I can’t say how much I appreciate you!

Now let’s get after it!

If you are interested in coaching with myself or our team, you can fill out this form HERE to apply for our 1:1 coaching!

-Coach Bob

Sumo vs Conventional Deadlift : Which Is Better?

sumo vs conventional deadlift
Man.. That’s A Sexy Face, Huh?

In this guide you are going to learn not only the differences between the sumo vs conventional deadlift.

But also which one is going to be “most optimal” for YOU. Your structure, your goals, and which to implement into your own personal training program.

Rest assured this guide will give you everything you need. I pinky promise.

Yet what you have to pinky promise back to me is that you won’t just skim the article looking for the sh*t you want to read or find out then exit out.

If you try to take things out of context with this particular article, it won’t work. You will miss something and see less results.

So, to avoid that, just read the whole thing.. Mkay?

You already pinky promised.

Sumo Vs Conventional Deadlift


There are a few distinct differences between the sumo vs conventional deadlift and I want to first start by laying that out first and foremost.

Let’s first cover the differences in muscles worked.

Stance Width

First, let’s go with the obvious (or, maybe not obvious, and that is okay too!).

A sumo deadlift is going to take a wider stance width, with your feet outside of hip width and toes slightly pointed out.

You can see here below.

With the sumo deadlift your hips start out a little bit closer to the bar because you can take that wider stance and “sink down” into the deadlift a bit more.

A conventional deadlift is going to take a more narrow stance, with your feet about shoulder / inside hip width.

You can also see that here below.

sumo vs conventional deadlift

With the conventional deadlift, your hips start a little bit higher up & away from the bar due to your feet being a bit more narrow.

Is this good or bad? Eh, keep reading to find out.

Sumo Vs Conventional Deadlift : Muscles Worked

Both deadlift variations are going to be a total body strength training exercise (More on this later to come in this article!).

These movements aren’t like you doing something like a bicep curl, or a leg extension, or a glute kickback.

In a bicep curl, you are ONLY working your biceps.

In a leg extension, you are ONLY working your quads.

In a glute kickback, you are ONLY working your glutes.

Those are what we call “isolation movements”. They are designed to isolate ONE joint and work only ONE body part.

Either the sumo or conventional deadlift is going to work your entire body. This is called a “compound movement”.

Yes, it is going to work your legs. Yes, it is going to work your back.

But it is also going your core, parts of your biceps, your upper back, etc.

Your lats have to do a tremendous amount of work to hold and stabilize the weight, as well as help you brace your core.

It involves multiple joints. Your hip joints, knee joints, shoulder joint to a degree for stability / bracing.

This is what makes it a phenomenal total body strength training exercise.

Which btw, people often ask me…

Eric should I do deadlifts on leg or back day?!


Well, first, I don’t necessarily promote you having a “back day” as much as I would promote you having an entire upper body day.

But nonetheless, you should perform deadlifts on leg days.

Yes, your back is working, but it is working in more of an isometric contraction rather than going through a full lengthening and shortening phase a muscle goes through.

It’s almost like if you did a bicep curl and just held the weight at the middle of the movement, not going up or down, and just squeezing your bicep as hard as you can.

That’s essentially what your back is doing while completing a deadlift.

Where as your leg muscles (which ones depend on which variation you choose, so stick with me a bit longer) go through more of a shortening and lengthening phase.

Meaning more muscle damage happens to your legs, for the sake of this conversation all that means is your legs get worked more than your back does.

Therefore, you should be doing deadlifts on lower body days.

Now, Back To Muscles Worked…

Sorry about that detour there.

Getting back to muscles worked here.

Now that we know the deadlift is a total body strength building exercise, the two variations offer distinct differences.

A sumo deadlift is going to primarily work your adductors (inner thigh muscles) due to the wider stance.

Some people make the mistake of assuming the wider stance works more of your glute muscles.

No, the wider stance actually works more of your quad muscles. This goes for any exercise too so the sumo squats you are doing to help grow your glutes..

Yea, growing more adductor than glutes.

A conventional deadlift is in fact going to work a bit more glutes and hamstrings.

Now, like we said earlier, both variations are going to work all of your body.

It’s not like the sumo deadlift works NO glute and the conventional deadlift works NO adductor.

No, it all has to work to a degree.

It’s just that with the sumo vs conventional deadlift you can lead to you BIAS one or the other more.

Now, Let Me Say This…

If your goal is to use the deadlift to build muscle, you might be initially in the wrong place.

But in the long run you won’t be, and let me explain.

( You pinky promised you stay around! ).

The deadlift FROM THE FLOOR is actually a pretty sh*tty muscle building exercise.


Because one of the major components of hypertrophy (muscle building) is being able to get into that fully stretched position under load.

Think like the bottom of a bicep curl. The bicep is fully stretching your muscle on the way down and stretching it with the weight (load) in your hand.

You aren’t letting anything support it on the way down or at the bottom or you aren’t bringing your hand all the way down to a bench or a box and stopping.

You are holding the weight by your side and your BICEP has to fully stretch & resist the force of gravity at the bottom. The tension is high going into the stretch position.

This is a huge part of hypertrophy.

When you deadlift from the floor, you completely stop that stretch position. You let it hit and stop on the ground each time which means you are essentially taking away all of the tension at the bottom, which, is the stretch position.

Therefore when you deadlift from the ground, this is why I said it is a great total body strength building exercise.

Building strength and building muscle can intertwined & overlap, but they can also be two different things.

Now, are going to build some muscle deadlift, especially as a beginner to intermediate?

Of – f*cking – course you will.

But because you lose tension in the stretch position it doesn’t make the deadlift from the floor a great “muscle building” exercise per say.


sumo vs conventional deadlift

Doing deadlifts are a big tax to the central nervous system.

Without getting too in depth, just think of your central nervous system as the captain of the ship.

Imagine the captain of the ship being up for 3 days straight with no sleep trying to manage and steer your ship.

Not the ideal scenario, right?

That is what happens to your body after a hard & heavy deadlift session.

You build a lot of stress and fatigue on your body that your body then has to recover from.

More so than when doing other different movements.

I often say your body only has so many “recovery points” to go around.

When you require so much recovery points from ONE exercise, that limits how much recovery points you can use to other exercises.

Which means you either

  1. Can’t do as much volume throughout the course of a week otherwise you will not be able to recover from it. Volume is one main driver of hypertrophy.
  2. You can do a lot of volume but then not be able to recover from the workouts you do, which, if you can’t recover from the workouts… it won’t make a difference because you won’t see changes to your body


Because the deadlift is such a total body exercise that works multiple muscles. It uses multiple joints to complete the movement.

It’s hard to get a lot of tension and focus on ONE particular muscle group.

Like the conventional deadlift for example. Yes it will work your glutes say the most, but it also works hamstring, quads, and adductors as well!

So if you are trying to really grow your glutes, you might pick an exercise like a hip thrust or even a bulgarian split squat to really nail your glutes a bit more.


Deadlifts are usually performed in a lower rep range with very high intensity / weight lifted.

I don’t usually program regular deadlifts from the floor over 5 or 6 reps max because in most scenarios I don’t believe there is a point to it.

Again the deadlift is focused on gaining strength, not necessarily building muscle.

If you were to focus on building muscle, you would probably pick something like an RDL (Romanian Deadlift) for example. You can get a full stretch and you can do a bit higher reps, maybe 6-10 reps.

Here is an example of an RDL below.

If you were to really focus on building muscle with a deadlift, you’d have to do ungodly amounts of sets to get the adequate volume ( weekly sets and reps ) needed, which in the long haul would put a ton of stress on your..

  • Joints
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Connective tissue
  • Spine

To name a few.

This is why often touted the “best rep range for building muscle” is often between that 6-12 rep range. I wrote an entire in depth guide on why that is too if you want to click here to read.

Therefore when talking about the deadlift in of itself, no matter sumo vs conventional deadlift, they might not be the best “muscle building exercise” on paper….

Yet, The Flip Side Is

Okay, so I just laid out why the deadlift WASN’T a great “muscle building exercise”.

I mainly did that so all the keyboard warriors and overnight coaches who have never actually coached anyone didn’t leave some dumb comment about it.

It may not be the best exercise on paper, but I do in fact believe (& know because I’ve seen this happen coaching thousands of people) that in the long run it can be a great muscle building exercise.

Why do I say the long run?

Because the deadlift helps you build overall total body strength.

If you are stronger as a whole, don’t you think you will be able to then lift more weight in your other movements that can help you with building muscle?

For example I mentioned an RDL.

An RDL is a great movement to hypertrophy your glutes and hamstrings.

If because you are doing say conventional deadlifts and are gaining a ton of strength, when you go do your RDL’s, you will be able to lift more weight!

If you are doing deadlifts in the 3 4 5 rep range to build more total body strength.. When you go to your “muscle building exercises” and the 6-12 rep range.

You will be able to lift more weight in the 6-12 rep range, leading to more muscle building.

Which if you lift more weight, you will be able to build more muscle in those muscle groups.

Or even take something like a bench press.

If you get stronger doing a sumo deadlift, it doesn’t “directly” correlate to getting a stronger bench press…

But it kind of does! You are able to recruit those high threshold motor units and neurologically speaking be able to be used to moving very heavy weight for lower reps..

So when you go to do a bench press which is a great strength and muscle building move, you will be able to lift more weight. Which, once again, is going to help hypertrophy that much more.

Therefore when people say the deadlift isn’t a great muscle building exercise, they are somewhat right.

Yet I believe they are also looking at it from a shortsided point of view.

They are missing the forest for the trees so to speak.

This is why I believe including deadlifts into your program will help you build both strength AND muscle building, no matter if you choose the sumo vs conventional deadlift.

What Do These Differences Mean?

Okay so you are learning some of the differences between the sumo vs conventional deadlift.

But how do we take these differences and apply them to you, your body, and your program?

Great question. Let’s talk about body type / structure.

Body Type / Structure

sumo vs conventional deadlift

Now that we are learning the differences between a sumo vs conventional deadlift we can start to maybe piece together which may be best for you.

Aside from the muscles worked which we learned above, yes they work different muscles, but the sumo deadlift is really a total body strength exercise.

Personally, I would not pick a deadlift variation based on muscles worked. I’d pick it based off what feels best for YOU to perform the movement safely and without injury.

Typically speaking…

  • People with longer femurs (legs) do better with a sumo deadlift
  • People with shorter femurs do better with a conventional deadlift

Again, this is a generality. It is not always the case.

But typically speaking this is the case because people with longer legs require more external rotation in their hips.

The sumo stance allows that to happen whereas a narrower stance doesn’t allow for as much hip external rotation which can end up jamming your femur into your hip joint.

This then causes all kinds of hip pain, lower back pain, etc.

Fun Fact this is also the case for squats. This is why people with longer legs typically do better with a wider stance squat to allow for more external rotation.

People with shorter legs doesn’t need as much external rotation and they may actually get better leverage on the bar doing a closer stance, so a lot of times people pick that one.

Typically with what I laid out above, the people who have those femur lengths have a much better “moment arm” for each

Yet here is the deal. These are generalities and you need to find which one works best for YOU and YOUR body.

I have met people who are 4’11 and LOVE to sumo deadlift.

I have met people who are 6’6 and they LOVE to conventional deadlift.

I would play around with both and see which one feels most “natural” , safest , and strongest to you.

Programing Note

Let’s just say you are someone who picks the sumo deadlift in the sumo vs conventional deadlift debate.

Does that mean you should NEVER do a conventional deadlift?

Eh, idk, it depends.

I think there is merit to doing different variations of deadlifts to avoid overuse injury from doing one repetitive movement over and over and over again.

But I don’t think it has to be a movement that just feels like dog sh*t for you.

For example, I never do conventional deadlifts because they feel awful for me.

But, I do in fact do Barbell RDL’s for my glutes and hamstrings.

So I can change the variation up without having to do a movement that feels like hot garbage to me.

But, let’s say you like doing both!

Yes, I think there is merit to doing both and you can / should work both into your training program.

At the very least, work in different deadlift variations throughout the course of the weeks / months.

I wrote an article HERE talking about how frequently to change up your workouts and how.

Sumo Vs Conventional : Is Sumo Deadlift “Cheating”?

Let me address this question briefly because it really isn’t worth my time or yours to discuss.

Sometimes you will hear people say “sumo deadlift is cheating!”.

Those people

  1. Live at home in their mommys basement
  2. Don’t have anything better to do with their lives
  3. Have no fucking clue what they are talking about

The reason people say sumo deadlift is cheating is because it seemingly requires less range of motion to move the bar.

Which depending on the person may or may not be true.

But even if it is true,

  1. Who cares
  2. If a sumo deadlift feels incredibly better on your back and hips.. AND you can lift more weight doing it that way.. Do the f*cking sumo deadlift my friend.

I also encourage you to ask that person this question.

“Okay, well what happens if someone moves their hands farther out on a bench press? Is that cheating?”.


“Well what is someone moves their feet out on a squat because it allows them to get deeper in a squat & it feels more comfortable?”.

They won’t respond because they do that so they can lift more weight.. But it’s only cheating when you do a sumo deadlift…

Get outttaaaaa here.

Sumo vs Conventional Deadlift : Which Is Better?!

Well, I hope you got from this article that neither one is inherently “better”!

The one that is “better” is the one that works best for YOU, YOUR body structure, and YOUR goals.

I would play around with both, see which one feels best, and use that one to progress with til the end of time.

Got it?

I am going to drop two videos here below on both the sumo and conventional deadlift.

These videos are pulled straight from my exercise database that is used with each and everyone of my clients.

Hope this article helped. If it did and you were interested in taking your training a step further, got a few options for you.

First is going to be my Clubhouse HERE. This is where each month we have new training programs laid out in depth for you to just plug and play. You get the program, follow it, see results.

Second is going to be our 1:1 coaching. If you are someone who knows you want a bit more in depth help and guidance, then feel free to fill out our form HERE to start the application process.

Look to hear from you soon.


Are Free Weights Better Than Machines: Find Out Now

are free weights better than machines

“ Are free weights better than machines “ – asked every person ever at one point in their lifting career.

It is a solid and fair question.

You see some people using machines, some using free weights, some using cable machines.

So, what is the best?!

Well, we are going to talk about what the “best” is in this article.

Before you enter the Narnia of weightlifting, just promise me your b*tch a** won’t skip through the article and read it word for word.

Yes, I just called you a b*tch a**, but it is out of love.

As well as out of getting your attention to make sure you read the whole way through because we are going to dive in depth.

I want to be sure you leave this article without any shadow of a doubt knowing which is the “best” for you.


Cool. Let’s do it.

Are Free Weights Better Than Machines

Pros Vs Cons

When talking about are free weights better than machines, I think what is often missing is something called context.

You know, that thing we all are missing these days in a 24/7, quick, short social media world we live in.

There has to be context when answering this question because depending on what you are looking for, the answer is (my favorite answer) it depends.

I encourage you to not necessarily think about which is “better”.

I encourage you to think about the pros and cons of all of them, because the truth is, they all have their pros and cons.

Let’s look at some of them for each category here below. Once we go through this, I think you will have a better understanding of when one may be “better” than others.

I am going to talk about 3 main forms of equipment here.

Machines (Machines you would find in the gym)

Free weights (barbells, dumbbells)

Cable Machines (like these here below)

are free weights better than machines cable
** Don’t mind my face here… LOL

Let’s first start with machines.

Machine Pros Vs Cons


When talking about using machines in the gym, there can be many pros that appeal to a large amount of people.

For starters, a machine is very SIMPLE.

You get into the machine and simply perform it how it is intended. They usually have either instructions, pictures, videos, or all the above attached to them to show how to use it.

For someone who is a beginner in the gym and may not exactly know how to perform exercises correctly, this can be quite appealing for obvious reasons.

There is little error to “f*ck up” a machine for lack of better terms.

You just kind of get in and go along for the ride.

Whereas something like maybe say a squat, a deadlift, a lunge, that requires much more of a concentration on form. You will have to spend some time learning how to do that movement correctly.

Now, I don’t think you should worry about this, because we ALL were a beginner once inside the gym where we didn’t know how to do something.

Hell, I have been lifting weights for almost 11 years as I write this, and there are STILL things I do “wrong” in the gym to this day.

Yet for a lot of people who are beginners in the gym, the idea of doing a machine that is “fool proof” for lack of better terms can be a great way to get you started in the gym.

For this reason I think machines are AWESOME.

They can get you in the gym.. Get over your fear of maybe starting out.. Get you more comfortable going in…

Through coaching people the last 7+ years I have seen that a lot of people start out at the gym on machines and then feel like they can start to venture out into other areas of the gym with a better mindset.

Therefore if this is you, I think this can be great and can be a massive pro to machines.

Another Pro Is…


Remember how we just talked about a squat, deadlift, lunge, shoulder press, etc, is inherently going to be a bit harder to learn.

One of the reasons for this is that you need to be able to control and stabilize the weight (which could just be your bodyweight for now!) through the range of motion.

Imagine if you are doing a shoulder press.

You need to take two dumbbells, in each hand, and be able to stabilize that through the whole way up and the whole way down.

That takes a LOT of work for your muscles to do, both your bigger shoulder muscles as well as your smaller stabilizer muscles.

( Hint: This may be a “pro” you see later on in the article…).

Whereas with a shoulder press machine, you don’t have to stabilize the weight through the range of motion.

That’s why the machine is there, it does that for you.

Therefore you can potentially be more confident in your movement and decrease risk of injury ( especially for complete beginners).

Even if you aren’t a beginner, you will usually be able to lift a bit heavier weight on a machine.

This is due to once again the machine takes out the stability factor, allowing you to overload the weight even more.

This is often touted great for hypertrophy (muscle building) training.

The more stability you have the more you will be able to contract the muscle & create something called mechanical tension.

More Stability = More Mechanical tension = More muscle building.

Single Joint Isolation Exercises

To piggyback off of the previous pro about stability, it makes a great pro for single joint isolation exercises.

For example a leg curl or a leg extension.

In both of these exercises you have ONE joint working, your knee joint.

You are intentionally trying to isolate one muscle
. As opposed to say a squat where you have multiple joints working at once, working multiple muscles at once.

Therefore since you have high stability with a machine you can focus on ONE specific joint and muscle maybe a bit more than you would be able to with free weights for example.

You can hammer home that one muscle and take it closer to failure because you don’t have to worry about stabilizing your body or the weight, you can solely focus on smashing your muscle as best as you can.

Which again, going close to failure is something that is necessary to get maximum hypertrophy.

So if you are doing exercises that you are trying to focus on one joint and one muscle at at time, machines may be a great option for that.

So, machines certainly have some pros to them.

Yet, they also have some cons. Let’s cover some right now.


One con to using machines is the fact that a machine is not individualized.

Meaning, I am writing this right now as a 6’4 250lb male with long femurs (thigh bone) and long arms.

You reading this may be a 5’3 160 lb female with short femurs and short arms.

How in the actual hell is ONE machine supposed to cater to both of us?

If I was to step into a squat machine versus if you were to step into a squat machine, we would inherently need completely different set ups / executions of the movement.

Not to mention what if you are someone who has different mobility / range of motion than someone else.

For example if I don’t have the best overhead shoulder and thoracic mobility (thoracic = middle / upper part of your spine) then an overhead machine press doesn’t take that into consideration.

It can’t change the range of motion, the angle, the bar path, the hand placement, etc. It can only go in ONE direction on ONE track.

Whereas for example if you had dumbbells and you were sitting on a bench, you can adjust the bench.. You can adjust the angle at which you press up, your hands, and where the dumbbells travel..

There are so many adjustments based on your specific needs as opposed to a machine, you are really limited to what the machine can do.

This can lead to some injury over time if you are trying to force this, kind of like trying to force a round peg into a square hole.

Another Con..

Is going to be actually taking the same “pro” we talked about earlier, stability.

Now yes, having the machine take the stability out of the movement for you can be a positive thing, yet, it can also be a negative thing.

Remember, context matters.

If your goal was actually to build some stability in your joints so that you can have a healthy aging process, improve balance, or simply be as strong as you can in a “well rounded” manner..

Then you would actually want to train and strengthen the stability aspect of your movements and not have a machine take that out for you.

You wouldn’t want to do a machine overhead press or a machine row, you would want to do a free weight press or row to help build stability strength.

Which, for the record, I do recommend you training your stability and getting stronger in that area because this is not just about looking good naked.

Yes, that is cool, and nothing wrong with chasing some aesthetic based goals.

Yet what also matters is maintaining a high level of health. One of the main reasons people check into a nursing home is because they can’t sit up and down off the toilet on their own.

Building strength and stability in your joints is incredibly important, therefore, I recommend training it so you can have that in your toolbox.

So as you can see, are free weights better than machines can really depend on what context you are asking from.

Machines have both pros and cons.

I mentioned I was going to briefly touch on cable machines as well, so let’s do that now.

Are Free Weights Better Than Machines : Cable Machine Pros Vs Cons

are free weights better than machines


One of the great pros I love about cable machines is that you can challenge the muscle from different ranges of motion.

I spoke about this in a recent article I wrote, I can link that HERE if you are interested to read after this.

Yet what cables can do is provide a different way to hit the muscle, let’s take your triceps for example.

When you are using ONLY free weights or even ONLY machines, you might be missing out on challenging the muscle in a certain range of motion.

There are 3 main portions of the range of motion throughout an exercise.

The shortened, lengthened, and middle position.

For example if you are doing dumbbell skullcrushers, those challenge the muscle in the lengthened to mid positon.

If you are doing this tricep extension machine, again, challenges the muscle in the lengthened to mid position.

Yet, when you can throw in something like a tricep pressdown, this challenges the tricep in the shortened position.

This way you can challenge the muscle in ALL areas, which can improve your strength as well as the aesthetic appearance of the muscle.

So not only does it allow you to challenge the muscle from a different range of motion, it is very adjustable as well.

You can adjust where the cable is coming from, where you position yourself at, you can add different attachments to go unilateral, bilateral, etc.

Also, you can adjust YOU with the cable machine. You could stand or kneel. You could face it or face away from it.

There are just so many options you can do with a cable machine that it makes it hard not to be able to include it in your training.


One con that cables potentially brings about is when doing multi joint compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, RDL’s, overhead presses, etc.

The reason for this is because with the cable, inherently the resistance is coming at an angle.

You can work to position yourself as close to the cable as you possibly can, but the resistance is usually NOT just a straight up and down force like it would be in a free weight squat.

If you have a barbell on your back and you are squatting, you are fighting a force that is up and down, that’s it.

You aren’t dealing with a resistance that is coming from angles because quite frankly you don’t want to deal with that while doing those styles of movements.

Reason being is it can lead to injury over time by having more or less an “unnatural” movement pattern or force resistance.

As well as with a cable machine you are usually limited on the load you can use / the set up you can perform.

A cable stack usually tops out at what maybe 200ish?

Once you get to a certain level, you are inherently going to be able to squat or deadlift more than 200lbs.

Therefore if you ONLY used a cable machine for those moves you would be limiting results.

Because of this, cable machines are usually left to accessory / isolation movements (rows, pulldowns, bicep curls, lateral raises, etc).

I would recommend leaving the compound movements up to free weights.

Now that we know cable machines are a great option to add to the debate of are free weights better than machines, let’s now cover free weights.

Free Weights Pros Vs Cons


We have already touched on a massive “pro” when it comes to free weights so I will keep this part brief, but being able to adjust it to YOU.

Remember, everyone has different..

  • Limb lengths
  • Joint structure
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility

& more.

When using a machine, it does not take any of this into consideration.

Yet when using something like a barbell back squat, even though the barbell can’t move, YOU can move throughout your range of motion.

For example if you are like me and you have long femurs, to keep your spine neutral, you are inherently going to have to lean forward more in your squat.

Yet if you are using a squat machine where the pad is completely upright, you don’t have that option.

That is going to lead to injury over the long haul, as well as simply not being able to work your muscles as much as intended.

Yet with a free weight barbell since it can move through space ( Trippy ) you can move however YOU need to to make it work for you.

Or for example with dumbbells and a chest press.

If you are someone who needs to close your shoulder joint a bit more to be able to get a proper range of motion with your chest press, you can adjust the dumbbells as needed to face each other a bit more.

You can also adjust the arch of the weight path to fit what would work for your shoulder.

With a chest press machine, you aren’t adjusting the handles or the arch of the machine. You are confined to whatever the machine is set up as.

Therefore using free weights is going to allow for more individualization to each movement.

As Well As…

Another pro to free weights is having a “functional” workout.

Now, that term is thrown around a lot, all I mean by this is you can learn how to move & control YOUR body through a range of motion.

If you are using say only a leg press, yes it can hit your muscle as intended…

But if you are going to go outside and have to take a massive step and lunge to avoid stepping into a puddle…

You can have control of your body because you are doing lunges.

Or if you are an athlete and need to make cuts on the field / on the court…

You can have control because you were doing squats.

Or if you are needing to pick up and move heavy boxes…

You can have control because you were doing deadlifts.

There is no denying that using free weights is going to translate into “functional” movements on a day to day basis.

As well as just being able to have control of your body moving through space, which I think is often underestimated by many people.

Even something as simple as falling. Again, how do most older people get injured? By falling and breaking their hip right?

Now, to be fair, ANY type of resistance training is going to help prevent this, but lifting with free weights can help teach body awareness, which may help even more.


Briefly, this also goes right in tune with what we talked about earlier with free weights being able to train the stability factor of your muscles and joints.

There isn’t to my knowledge a better way to train stability and strength better than lifting some free weights.

Core Work

To piggyback right along with that, lifting free weights is inherently going to work more of your core strength / stability.


Well, you guessed it, you have to control the weight AND Your body through a range of motion!

When you are doing a shoulder press you are NOT just working your shoulders, you are also working your shoulder stabilizers as well as your core.

Or if you are doing a deadlift you aren’t just working your legs, you are working your hip stabilizers as well as your core.

Your core HAS To work to stabilize the weight and your body / limbs moving through a range of motion.

Therefore, free weights can be a great option for ANY movement really. Bigger compound ones like squats or deadlifts for sure.

Or even smaller ones like bicep curls or tricep extensions.

Though I may give a slight advantage in some scenarios to machines or cable machines for some specific muscles in this scenario, still a really good option.


Now, there are some cons to free weights.

Again, as mentioned earlier, you are going to need to stabilize the weights. This can sometimes take away from the weight you lift in SOME exercises, or make them more difficult (though, more difficult isn’t always a bad thing!).

As well as you are going to need to learn how to control the weight / your body through a range of motion.

While this may be a “pro”, it can also be a “con” because it DOES take a little bit longer to learn.

Yet, I think the payoff is worth the work.

So… Are Free Weights Better Than Machines?!

Okay, I know you came here looking for the answer to are free weights better than machines and the truth is IT DEPENDS!

Hopefully as you can see they all have their pros and cons.. To summarize a tad bit..

  • I would generally pick free weights to be the STAPLE of your training program. This builds a solid foundation and generally speaking gives you the most bang for your buck (works core, stabilizers, teaches you to control your body, etc)
  • I would leave the bigger compound movements up to mainly free weights
  • Machines can be great for complete beginners starting off and or if you are really looking to isolate ONE specific muscle during a single joint exercise ( leg extension, leg curl, calf raise, bicep curl )
  • Cable Machines can be incredibly versatile and used for a lot of compound & isolation based exercises
  • A “con” might be a pro, and a “pro” might be a con, depending on your goal / how you choose to utilize the equipment you are using

Point being.. You don’t need to pick JUST ONE!

You can and SHOULD use all of them in your training program.

One isn’t “better” or “worse”. They all have their benefits and when used properly can all be great tools in your toolbox you can use for seeing the best results.

I hope this article helps you see that and if you are looking for getting your training programming done for you, I can link two great options here below that myself and my team offer.

First is going to be our Clubhouse. This is where I create a new training program each month for the group. You can check that out HERE below.

Or, if you are looking for more in depth 1:1 coaching with our team, you can fill out our application form HERE.

Either way, I hope this article helped, and look to chat soon!


How To Warm Up Before Lifting Weights : A Complete Guide

how to warm up before lifting weights

The million dollar question, how to warm up before lifting weights.

Should you sit and do some arm circles or slap hug yourself with your hands?

What about spending 30 minute foam rolling every inch of your body? (Well.. maybe not EVERY inch…).

Or maybe you just don’t warm up at all and say f*ck it?!

Don’t worry, in the article, you will learn everything you need to know about warming up before you lift front to back.

Well, you will know if you stick around for the whole article that is.. If you leave half way through (yea, I’m talking to you) then you won’t.

So for the sake of you actually learning how to warm up before lifting weights and for the sake of me not writing this article for no reason..

Stick around for the whole thing, mkay?

How To Warm Up Before Lifting Weights

Main Modalities Of Warming Up

Before we dive into exactly what you should do the warm up, let me first cover the 4 main modalities of warming up in my professional opinion.

  1. Foam Rolling
  2. Stretching ( Static vs Dynamic )
  3. “Activation”
  4. Warm Up Sets

As a bonus at the end, I will also talk about doing cardio as a warm up before your lifting.

Let’s break them down piece by piece.

Foam Rolling

If you have ever been into a commercial gym you have for sure witnessed the foam rollers.

They sit there, sometimes on their phone, laying back on a foam roller “rolling their back out, bro!”.

Kinda looks like you’re taking a nap and texting to me, bro.. But..

Now, I joke, not all people who foam roll are like that.

You will also have the guy who foam rolls his right glute medius (only his right.. Not even the left yet..) for 26 minutes before he goes and does one set of squats.

Okay, I joke a little bit more, but let’s really talk about foam rolling.

Is It Beneficial?

Yes and no.

It may be beneficial for two main reasons, both which people don’t usually think about when they think about foam rolling.

When someone thinks about foam rolling, they think you are sitting there breaking up your muscle tissue with this oversized foam cylinder.

That’s not really what happens.

According to this systematic review and Meta Analysis HERE , foam rolling changes come primarily from

  • Increases soft tissue elasticity
  • Increases pain threshold
  • Stretch tolerance

What does this mean?

This means no real structural adaptations or changes occur, aka, your muscles aren’t getting “less stiff”, you are just in the short term changing your Range Of Motion (ROM) for that ONE particular workout session.

Also, long term differences in pain perception are noticed through longer duration foam rolling (4+ weeks) which can also lead to changes in ROM.

Which, in my opinion, can be a good or bad thing.

Okay, so foam rolling may give you a larger range of motion…

But, for that workout, do you ACTUALLY have that range of motion? Or… Do you artificially have that range of motion because you foam rolled before hand.

A lot of people will need to foam roll for 10 15 20 minutes to “get loose enough” to do a certain exercise or lift a certain weight on a certain exercise.

Let me break something to you.

If you need to foam roll for 20 minutes to hit 200lbs on your squat, you need to not be squatting 200lbs.

You need to work on improving your mobility / stability from other exercises, fix your form, or lift less weight.

Therefore in my opinion foam rolling as a tool to go lift heavy weight or gain a new range of motion so that you can overload the muscle with high intensity I think can actually do more harm than good.

If you are overloading your body with heavy weights in a range of motion you don’t ACTUALLY have, you only artificially have for a brief period of time because of foam rolling, that can lead to injury.

Your body doesn’t actually have that range of motion so for you to go there with heavy loads, usually it backfires.

Now, on the flip side, if let’s say you foam roll as a tool to gain that new range of motion and pick a weight that is appropriate for that exercise / new range of motion, I think that is a different story.

For example, foam rolling your quads to be able to get down into a front foot elevated split squat ( If you don’t know what that is, you can click HERE ) with either bodyweight or “light weight”, whatever that is for you, to strengthen your body in that new range of motion in a safe way?

Now you’re talking.

Therefore, I don’t think foam rolling is either “good” or “bad”. I think it is merely a tool that if used correctly, can help.

If used incorrectly though, can cause harm.

My Two Cents

I think foam rolling could potentially be a useful tool if you are someone who simply enjoys doing it or it “makes you feel better”.

If it makes you feel better, who the hell am I to tell you to not do it.

I would say though, I would spend at max no more than 5 minutes foam rolling. That’s for your entire body, not just one muscle group.

So maybe 30-60 seconds on your glutes, 30-60 seconds on your quads, and 30-60 seconds on your hamstrings, and 30-60 seconds of calves.

Cool, then get into your lower body workout. 2-5 minutes of foam rolling is more than enough.

There is just not enough evidence behind it for me to suggest you do anything more than that.

Side Note!

I know this article is about how to warm up before lifting but let me just say this.

Foam rolling I think could potentially be a useful tool for AFTER your workout.

This is because, as somewhat mentioned above, foam rolling can trigger your PNS (Parasympathetic nervous system ).

Basically this is your “rest and digest” nervous system. This helps get you out of fight or flight.

When you are working out, you are in fight or flight mode. Once you are DONE working out, you want to get out of that as quickly as possible to be able to start the recovery process from that workout.

Throwing in some again short duration foam rolling can be a way to potentially kick on your PNS, start that recovery process, and help you maximize recovery post workout.

Personally, I don’t foam roll post workout because well I’m lazy.. But I do think there is more merit to it POST workout than pre for this reason.

Stretching ( Static Vs Dynamic )

how to warm up before lifting weight stretching

One of the most common questions I get asked is WHAT ABOUT STRETCHING?

Yes, in all caps, because that’s how people ask me.

Let me first break down stretching into the two forms, passive and active.

Passive or “Static” Stretching

Passive stretching is the form of stretching where you really aren’t actively using your muscles to stretch. You are using some sort of tool to help you stretch.

For example, if you are lying on your back, you bring your leg to your chest, and you pull on it with your arm.

This is passive stretching because you aren’t actively contracting your muscles to move the joint, you are using an apparatus to help aid you.

For this article, this can also be referred to as your “passive range of motion”. How far can you move your joint passively.

Active Stretching

Active Stretching would be the opposite of passive. You are actively using your muscles to move your joint through a range of motion.

For example, lying on your back and moving your leg towards your chest as much as you can WITHOUT any help.

how to warm up before lifting weights stretch

This is also referred to as your active range of motion.

Notice how in these two pictures, the passive stretching, I am getting my leg much farther when I pull on it vs when I don’t?

That’s the difference between my passive vs active range of motion.

Remember when I said foam rolling can in the short term increase your range of motion, somewhat artificially.

This is what I meant. You are using an aid to increase the range of motion, but do you actively have control over that range of motion? Those two things are different things.

Anywho, back to stretching.

Passive Vs Dynamic

To piggy back right off of this, there are two main forms of stretching.

Static vs Dynamic.

Static is pretty self explanatory. This is your standard hamstring stretch I showed you above where you are pulling your leg up, or laying on your back pulling your knee to your chest.

The second form of stretching is dynamic stretching.

This is where you are taking your joints through your active full range of motion instead.

An example may be something like a sprinter starter, here below!

One is stationary, the other is moving, to keep things quite simple.

My Two Cents

Now that we know the difference in stretching, when it comes to how to warm up before lifting weights, I would stick with Dynamic Stretching.

The reason is because you are taking your joints through an active full range of motion.

Passive stretching is cool and all, but again, you don’t actually have that range of motion you are working on.

So even if you can pull your leg back farther, that doesn’t mean you can control that range of motion.

You don’t want more range of motion just to have more range of motion. You want more range of motion that you can control.

Getting lower in a squat is of no use if you can’t control it. You will just end up rounding your lower back, caving in your knees, or compensating one of any number of ways.

You want to actively control the range of motion, therefore, dynamic stretching is going to take your joints and muscles through that active range of motion.

Again, I wouldn’t spend much time on this here either (this will be a common theme, so stay tuned haha).

I would maybe once again spend 2-5 minutes MAX dynamic stretching, if you are going to do it at all.

You don’t need much when it comes to “getting your joints and muscles ready to go”. Most people way overdo their dynamic stretching.

Also, passive or “static” stretching has been also shown to decrease performance in the gym, up to potentially 8% .

Now, is this a MASSIVE deal? Not sure, maybe. If you are a gen pop person, maybe it isn’t a massive deal. But if you are someone who takes your workouts very serious, then this can make or break some PR’s that day.

And overall, it just isn’t the most optimal. Therefore, I’d stick to mainly dynamic stretching if you are going to do it.

Yet personally.. I wouldn’t work in a ton of dynamic stretching work. Mainly because of what we are going to talk about in the next section. Keep reading.


The next thing we can touch on when it comes to how to warm up before lifting weights is what I call “activation”.

Well, really, I didn’t come up with this term, many other people did before me.

I also use it in quotations because there is like stigma around “activating” your muscles.

Heard of “glute activation” before? This craze you need to “activate” your glutes or else they won’t work?!

Yea, no, not true.

Your muscles are always working. Especially your glutes. If your glutes weren’t working, you wouldn’t be able to stand up from a chair and walk around.

So, your glutes are fine.

Now, with that being said, I actually personally do think there is some merit to “activating” your muscles before a workout.

“Activation”, More So “Contraction”

As opposed to calling it “activating” your muscles, I like to just simply think of it as doing exercises to contract your muscles through a full range of motion.

This does a few things

  • It maps the motor pattern from your brain to your muscles to get those muscles “firing” correctly for the workout ahead
  • It gets some blood flow to the areas you are looking to work
  • You can not only take your joints through a full range of motion before your workout, but you can do it in a fashion while you are also contracting your muscles with some light resistance

All of these things can lead to..

  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Increased workout performance (ie more weight lifted, more reps done, etc)
  • Increased active range of motion

Therefore, this is my personal favorite way on how to warm up before lifting weights.

Let’s go over some more in depth examples below.

My Two Cents

This is the main modality of “warming up” I would do before your workout.

I think this is the most effective, most time efficient, and best bang for your buck way to warm up before a workout.

I usually split this up into two sections of the body. Lower and upper.

This coincides with the way I program for all of my clients and Clubhouse members, we usually run 3 or 4 day splits where we do a lot of lower and upper body workouts.

I will cover some examples of warm up exercises for both lower and upper body.

Lower Body

There are a main few muscles you should be looking to warm up before lower body are going to be..

  • Glutes
  • Core
  • MAYBE Hamstrings

I put hamstring as a maybe because most people usually can get away with just focusing on the first 2.

Adding in core here because when you think about lower body exercises.. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, RDL’s, etc.

That usually involves a lot of core bracing and strength, right?

Activating your core before a lower body workout can be a great way you can not only be stronger, but also keep your lower back safe and injury free.

What are some ways you could warm up each of these?

So glad you asked, I can link some examples below.


A simple glute bridge is a GREAT way to warm up your glutes before a lower body workout.


This may be somewhat of a “dynamic stretch”, but you are adding resistance with the band. One of my fav glute warm ups.

This exercise is a great way to add in some stabilization component to your glute bridge.

For these exercises, 2 sets of 6-10 reps would work just fine.


Many exercises can work here for core, but I like working in some anti movement exercises like these plank transfers

The pallof press is another favorite of mine.

You could even work in some reverse crunches as a way to get your core “firing” before your lift.

For these exercises, 2 sets of 5-8 reps would work great.


As I said, most people will be golden with glutes and core, but the elevated hamstring bridge is a great way to get some contractions of your hamstrings.

This can be a great warm up (or even a great regular exercise, LOL!)

For these exercises, 2 sets of 6-8 reps would work great.


I put 2 sets of 6-10 reps for most of those exercises.

Remember, this is a WARM UP.

The whole point of how to warm up before lifting weights is to get READY for the workout, not start the workout!

You aren’t supposed to be killing yourself with super high intensity here. You are supposed to be simply WARMING UP your body for the upcoming intensity.

Yet you don’t want to burn yourself out by spending too much time in your warm up exercises.

Sample Warm Up

Therefore a very simple warm up could be

Glute bridge 2 sets of 8 reps

Pallof Press 2 sets of 8 reps each side


That would take you maybe 5 minutes max.

That’s about how much time I’d spend on a warm up before your workout. Your time spent during your workout should be spent working out, not, warming up.

Upper Body Warm Up

For how to warm up before lifting weights for your upper body, here are the main muscle groups I would look to.

  • Upper back (traps, rhomboids, scapula as a whole )
  • Shoulder joint complex (simply moving your shoulder joint through a full range of motion)
  • Lats
  • Core ( maybe)

I wrote core in there because you could in fact add in core if you wanted to as well. I won’t create a separate tab for these as the examples are above.

Some examples of each would be…

Upper Back

For each exercise, 2 sets of 6-8 reps would be plenty.

Remember, the important part here is you are not trying to “tax” your muscles. Simply contract and be controlled with your moves.

Shoulder Joint

For each exercise, 2 sets of 5-8 reps is more than enough.


For each exercise, 2 sets of 6-10 reps is more than enough.

Upper Body Warm Up

A very easy and quick upper body workout could look like..

1a. Band Face Pull 2×8

1b. Band Up & Over 2×6

1c. Tall Kneeling lat pullover 2×8

That rounds as the “Activation” section of the warm ups.

If you do that for each of your lower and upper body workouts, you will be setting yourself up for some major success.

Now, onto the other very important part I like to include in my “warm ups” for myself and my clients.

Warm Up Sets

Another critical piece of how to warm up before lifting weights is to be sure you include warm up sets into your training.

If you aren’t familiar, there is a difference between a working set vs a warm up set.

( I wrote about this in depth on THIS ARTICLE HERE if you want to give it a read ).

Essentially let’s say you are supposed to 3×6 reps on your squats.

That is three WORKING Sets you are supposed to be completing with your workouts.

A working set is a set you take 1-3 reps shy of failure. This is a very hard, challenging, and almost grueling set.

Yes, that is every working set, not just the last set of that 3×6.. If it says 3×6, that is 3 working sets taken very close to failure.

That is what a working set should be.

But, I don’t expect or want you to head into your 3×6 doing that right away.

That’s a great way to get injured.

If you are doing let’s say 200lbs for 6 reps on squats and that is what you want to be your WORKING weight…

You will do some warm up sets BEFORE getting to that weight.

It might look like…

Set 1 – WARM UP SET – the bar for 5 reps

Set 2 – WARM UP SET – 100lbs for 4 reps

Set 3 – WARM UP SET 150lbs for 3 reps

Set 4 – 1st WORKING SET – 200lbs for 6 reps

So, your “set 4” would actually be set 1 of your 3 sets of 6 reps on squats.

Yet, you did warm up sets to work up to that working set.

You should be doing this for your exercises as well and that is worked into your “warm up”.

This is a great way to get your body warmed up and used to the movement you are doing to once again..

  • Stay injury free
  • Lift more weight
  • Do more reps
  • Work the right muscles

& on and on.

Warm up sets are something you should work into your training as a part of your warm up.

How Many Warm Up Sets Should You Do?

Well, this somewhat depends.

This depends on your..

  • Exercise
  • How much weight you are lifting

There are 3 main forms of exercises. Compound, accessory, and isolation.

Compound movements are your bigger movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.

Accessory movements are movements like lunges, RDL’s, lat pulldowns, rows, etc.

Isolation movements are moves like bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg curls, etc.

For your compound movements, you will probably have 2-5 warm up sets depending on how much weight you are lifting.

The more weight you lift, the more warm up sets you will have.

For accessory movements, I would have 1-2 warm up sets.

For isolation movements, I would typically just stick to 1 warm up set and get into your working sets rather quickly.

If you need help with compound, accessory, and isolation moves, you can listen to this podcast I did HERE that goes over all of this in depth as well.

How To Warm Up Before Lifting Weights : Cardio As A Warm Up?

how to warm up before lifting weights cardio

As promised, the last part I will talk about for how to warm up before lifting weights is speaking on cardio.

People will ask me if I think they should do cardio as a warm up before their workout.

Here is what I will say.

If you like doing 5-10 minutes of cardio on the treadmill or bike before your lift, mozeltov, go get em.

Do I think you need to do it? No, not really. I think the activation work and warm up sets are usually more than enough.

Yet if you like doing cardio beforehand, then perfect, go for it.

I wouldn’t typically recommend you doing more than 10-15 minutes though because you don’t want to burn up too much fuel or glycogen before your workout to where it is going to hinder your performance.

You lifting weights take a lot more physical and mental stress than walking on the treadmill or doing the bike does.

Therefore you want to be as fresh as you can heading into that workout. Doing 30 40 60 minutes of cardio before hand is inherently going to take away from that workout, which means your performance decreases.

If your performance decreases, then you lift less weight.. Do less reps.. Have worse form..

All of this then leads to less results and an increased risk of injury in the long run.

To avoid all of this, and to optimize your training, I would usually leave the cardio for AFTER the workout if you want to do that.

Again, 5 or 10 minutes of low intensity cardio before hand just to get some blood flowing or what not is one thing.

But any sort of longer duration or high intensity cardio work I would leave for AFTER the workout.

Make sense?

How To Warm Up Before Lifting Weights: Extra Note

You just learned my preferred way of warming up is through “activation” exercises and warm up sets.

Now, I will say, this I am writing this article for the general population of people.

The information in this article is what I believe a LARGE majority of people would benefit from following.

Though I am not naive that of course some individuals may need some slight extra direct work to specific joints.

For example, if someone has had a hip injury, they might add in an extra hip mobility exercise.

Or, if someone has had a shoulder issue, they may work in an extra shoulder mobility exercise.

I am not writing an article for a specific individual, I am writing an article for the masses to consume.

Yet even with this being said, I still do not believe that you need to be spending more than 5-10 minutes max total warming up.

How To Warm Up Before Lifting Weights : That’s It!


That was a lot.

If you stuck around for the whole thing, you should be damn proud of yourself. I hope you learned a ton from this article.

Thank you for reading and if this was a bit of information overload, you can feel free to look into our training options below to let us take the guesswork out of your training for you.

You can check out our Clubhouse HERE, which is my group coaching program where I write a new, in depth, scientifically designed workout program each month.

Or, if you are interested in more 1:1 coaching, you can click HERE To fill out our application form and see if we may be a good fit for coaching together.

Again, hope the article helped, and look to hear from you soon.


How To Do A Barbell Bench Press : Your Comprehensive Guide

how to do a barbell bench press

In this guide I am going to show you step by step how to do a barbell bench press.

The bench press is one of those “staple” movements that I believe every lifter should know how to perform correctly.

Yes, every lifter, not just the meathead guy who is looking to get all jacked up.

Male, female, young, old.

It is a fundamental movement pattern that can be great for developing upper body strength as a whole.

So no matter who you are or where you are in this lifting journey, I know this guide can help you out.

Without any more blabbering, let’s get right into it.

How To Do A Barbell Bench Press : Step By Step

Step 1 – Lie On The Bench

You may think this is a pretty simple, basic step.

Lie on the bench.. Ok Eric?

But, there is some nuance to this that you want to ensure you get correct.

A lot of people will actually slide too far up on the bench, putting them in a disadvantageous position.

This is because when you unrack the bar, you will have next to no room to actually perform the movement correctly.

You will more than likely bring the bar too far down or too far up on your body.

Your elbows will either have to flare out super wide or you will feel like the barbell is about you topple down in front of you, leaving a not so pretty scene.

So when you get set up on the bench, make sure you get set up to where your eyes are around in line with the barbell / maybe even a little bit behind the barbell.

how to do a barbell bench press where to lie down at

You don’t want to be directly underneath it, you want your arms to be somewhat “reaching back” towards it to grab and unrack it.

See how here my arms are reaching back towards it and then I am unracking it into position.

Step 2 – Set Your Feet

Um, Eric.. A guide on how to do a barbell bench press and you are telling me what to do with my feet?

^ that was probably your thought just now, I know, I am a mind reader, duh.

The answer is yes to that question my friend and here is why.

While yes, the bench press is in fact an “upper body movement” for sure, one of the critical components that is most overlooked is having proper leg drive.

You want to have a strong, steady, stable surface to push from, right?

If your legs aren’t involved in the movement, how are you going to have a strong surface to push from?

That’s like if you were to go and push someone, but you were super off balance and or not sturdy.

Not only would you not push them, YOU would probably fall over as a result of having nothing to push from.

The same goes for a bench press.

When it comes to leg drive on a bench press, I personally like to have my feet flat on the ground, kind of digging my heels into the ground.

I would walk your feet up as far as they can without arching your lower back or lifting your butt off the bench (we will talk about that later in this guide) and set up shop for the bench press.

Then, think about bracing your core (if you need to learn how to brace your core, read this article HERE).

As well as squeezing your glutes like you are trying to trap a 100$ bill between your butt cheeks.

You should also then think about pushing the ground away from you with your feet, again, without lifting your butt off the bench.

With that set up right there, I believe for most people this gives them the best leg drive they can have.

Now, I know some people may not have as long of legs as I do.

For that, I would say you may be able to stack a weight plate underneath your feet while you do this to still allow you to have that flat and stable surface to push from, just simply a bit higher up.

You will also see some people come up on their toes as they bench press.

I don’t want to say this is inherently bad or wrong, because it isn’t.

It’s just not my preferred way to do it as I believe it cuts out some leg drive. Again, imagine if you were to push someone on your toes vs pushing someone with your feet flat, dug into the ground hard.

Which do you think would be more effective?

Step 3 – Brace / Use Your Lats

Again, one of the most underrated and underutilized tools in a bench press is using your lats.

Once more, yes this is a “chest” exercise per say, but that doesn’t mean your back isn’t going to work.

During a bench press, you want to be sure you can engage and brace your lats, to do a few things..

  1. Help brace your core that much more because your lats are a part of your “core” musculature to a degree
  2. Keep your elbows from flaring out too wide (we will talk about why later on)
  3. Keep your shoulders from rounding forward and causing very, very painful front shoulder pain
  4. Create an even stronger, stable base to be able to push up to lift the most weight possible

How you brace your lats is actually quite simple.

Again, I will drop a video here below of it for the visual learners.

But essentially I want you to think about doing two things.

First, think about shoving your shoulders down and back into your back pockets while you kind of “wrap” your shoulders around the bench.

You want to almost think about creating an arch in your mid to upper back while you do this on the bench.

I should be able to fit 2-4 fingers in between your mid to upper back and the bench.

Then, second, think about squeezing the air out of a tennis ball between your armpit.

Or, think about breaking the bar in half with your hands.

With those few things, you will have braced and engaged your lats, getting you finally ready to perform the movement!

Step 4 – Grab The Bar ( Where To Place Your Hands)

When talking about gripping the barbell, everyone may be different here.

Some people like a bit wider, some people like a bit closer in.

For a general rule of thumb, I would say grabbing the barbell a little bit outside shoulder width is a good place to start.

I would play around with it slightly though. If a little wider feels or little closer better for you, cool.

The one thing I would caution against is sometimes I see people go too far or too close and it ends up putting a lot of stress on the shoulders / wrist.

Therefore I would start with slightly outside shoulder width and work either slightly in or slightly out from there depending on what feels best for you.

Step 5 – Unracking The Barbell

Now starts the fun part of how to do a barbell bench press.

You need to be able to unrack the barbell correctly, because if not, you will put yourself at a massive disadvantage before you even start the movement.

I mentioned earlier that you need to be reaching back to the barbell. Your arms should not be directly above you and pick it off the rack.

You almost want to think of your arms like a lever, taking the barbell off the rack and levering it into position.

See that right here once again…

You want to get it so that you position the bar slightly above your sternum level (closer towards your neck area than your belly button area).

Towards the lower part of your chest.

You then want to make sure your elbows once again are not flaring out wide, you want those elbows to be “tucked” as much as you can.

I used “tucked” in quotations there because you will only be able to tuck the elbows so much with the barbell because you can’t move your hands.

Because well, it’s on a fixed barbell.. But you can once again engage your lats and get those elbows “tucked” think more at a 45 degree angle as opposed to a 90 degree angle.

I would then take a big breath into your belly, brace your core, then from here you are set, braced, and ready to now perform the press!!

Step 6 – Lowering The Weight Down

Phew, we are FINALLY ready to do the movement.

Crazy how in depth just the set up is, isn’t it?

Have you ever thought about the bench press this long in your life? No, this is just me obsessing about fitness way more than the average person?

Cool Cool.. figured so..

Anyhwo, now you are ready to perform the bench press.

This part is “relatively” simple, but again, there are nuances.

First, you don’t want to think about going directly down and up.

This is because most people who do this, they end up flaring their elbows out wide at a 90 degree angle as opposed to keeping it tucked more towards that 45 degree angle ish.

We can talk more about why this is bad later on, but for right now, just think about NOT going straight up and down.

Rather, think about lowering the weight not directly straight down, but down and a tad bit in front of you.

So think you are lowering it more towards your sternum / lower chest area, as opposed to your neck area.

This will ensure you keep your elbows where they should be, as well as keep your shoulders healthy for the long haul.

As well as when you are lowering the weight down, please remember to keep your shoulders pulled down into your back pocket and keep the slight arch in your upper back.


The #1 reason injuries occur during a bench press is because people go down, do not keep the arch in their back, round their shoulders forward, and this creates a ton of unnecessary and unwanted force inside your rotator cuff and shoulder joint.

Then, since their shoulders round forward, they then compromise by flaring their elbows out wide, putting even more stress on the shoulder joint / rotator cuff as well.

Therefore it is paramount that you keep your shoulders tucked down and back into your back pockets, keep the slight arch in your upper to mid back, and lowering the barbell down to your lower chest as opposed to mid or upper chest.

Step 7 – Pushing The Weight Back Up

So for this step in how to do a barbell bench press, again it may seem simple, but there are specific steps I want you to take.

First, I don’t even want you to think about pressing the weight up necessarily.

Weird, I know, but stick with me.

I want you to think about

#1 pushing the ground away from you (leg drive)

#2 pressing the weight through the ceiling

This will give you some internal focus to actually make the movement easier because if you just think about “getting the weight off your chest” you will be less explosive than if you focus on what I laid out above.

Then, I want you to do the opposite of what you did with the lowering portion.

In the lowering portion I said lower down and slightly in front, with the press, I want you to press up and slightly behind you.

Slightly. I don’t need you pressing all the way back to the rack.

More so just don’t think you are pressing solely straight up and down, you want to have a slight arc with the bar path as it travels up and down.

A little bit in front on the way down.. A little bit behind on the way up.

Step 8 – Re Racking The Barbell

This step is pretty self explanatory yet nonetheless lets quickly cover it.

Once you finish however many reps you are doing you are going to rerack the barbell.

Again, you are going to re rack it by letting it drive slowly behind you and placing it on the rack.

Remember, to unrack it you reached behind you slightly and brought it out in front of you right?

To rerack it you are going to bring it slightly behind you and rack it like this.

This may feel a tad bit weird at first, but I promise the rack will be there and you will be able to set it right down.

How To Do A Barbell Bench Press : Most Common Mistakes

Whew, okay, that was a lot!

Now that we have gone step by step, let’s cover some of the most common mistakes on how to do a barbell bench press.

Mistake 1 – Lifting Butt Off The Bench

how to do a barbell bench press common mistake

Yep, that is a picture of ME, the author of this guide, making a mistake!

Shocking, right?! Even professionals make mistakes?!


Now I corrected this shortly after, but nonetheless, this is a mistake you don’t want to make.

You want to use leg drive, but you want to use it in a way where your butt does not come off the bench.

If you find your butt coming off the bench too much, I’d either re adjust your feet position or lower the weight.

Oftentimes we lift our butt because the weight we are using is heavy AF and we can’t keep proper form while doing it.

So, we use our lift our butt to compensate!

It’s okay to slightly back off the weight if need be for right now to get the form right.

In the long run, you will get stronger by having proper form and be able to lift that weight no problem…

It just takes patience, my friend.

Mistake 2 – Flaring Elbows Out Wide

We talked about this a bit earlier, but you do not want to have your elbows flared out wide at a 90 degree angle.

You want to keep them tucked as much as you can. Again, you can only “tuck them” so much with a fixed barbell in your hand.

Yet you still want to be sure you are not letting the elbows flare out because this is where gnarly shoulder impingement happens.

This is basically your upper arm jamming into your shoulder joint and it just doesn’t create for a very fun scenario.

The way you correct this is by

  • Keeping your shoulders pulled down and back into your back pockets
  • Keeping a slight arch in your upper to mid back
  • Following the bar path we mentioned earlier, not straight up and down, a slight arc each way

Mistake 3 – Rounding Shoulders At The Bottom

Again, I know we briefly touched on this, but once more please don’t let this happen.

I don’t need the front of your shoulders absolutely screaming from doing bench press anymore.

Trust me, I dealt with that for too long as well!!

To fix this, do all of the 3 things we mentioned above in the previous correction / mistake cycle.

How To Do A Barbell Bench Press : That’s A Wrap!

Well, that’s all I got for you today in this guide for how to do a barbell bench press!

I will also say, I know that some people are visual learners, so for that I am going to drop here below an in depth video of me going over the bench press as well.

I hope both the video, written words, and pictures helped you out in getting your form down pat.

If you liked this article, feel free to check out some of my others where I go over exercises super in depth just like this.

As well as if you are interested in getting some coaching myself or my team,

Feel free to check out my Clubhouse HERE or apply for 1:1 coaching with our team HERE.

We take out all of the guesswork for you when it comes to your nutrition, exercise, accountability, everything.

Hope to hear from you soon,


What Is The Best Rep Range For Muscle Growth?

best rep range for muscle growth

In this article you are about to read, I am going to clearly and concisely lay out the best rep range for muscle growth.

I am somebody who tries to spend their time in the gym in the most efficient way possible.

If I am going to give up 45 60 75 min of my day in order to get a workout in, it better be yielding the result that I want.

If the result is muscle building, then there are certain protocols you can and should use in order to achieve that results.

One of them is the best rep range to use to make sure your time in the gym isn’t wasted for no gainz, bro.

No, but really, let’s make sure we take the time to learn this so your workouts can be worth the time and effort you put in, shall we?

Best Rep Range For Muscle Growth

How Does Muscle Growth Occur?

I think the right way to go about beginning to talk about the best rep range for muscle growth is to first talk about how muscle growth actually occurs.

I want to touch on a view different topics that are all going to play a massive role in building muscle, as well as themes throughout this article.

Progressive Overload

I am going to keep this short and sweet, but only because I have already written an entire in depth article about progressive overload on my website as well.

You can check that out HERE if you would like.

Yet for the “cliffnotes” version, progressive overload is very simply…

Doing more over a period of time.

So if 4 months ago you were lifting 10lbs for 8 reps, you better not still be lifting 10lbs for 8 reps today.

You better be increasing the weight you are lifting or the reps you are doing (to a degree, we will talk about this a bit later on!).

Let’s say now you are doing 25lbs for 8 reps, awesome progress man!

Or if last week you did 10lbs for 8 reps, cool.

Next week, you should try to look to do 10lbs for 9 reps. Or 12.5lbs for 8 reps.

This concept of progressive overload is quite frankly an oversimplified one, yet, it is one of the most important ones.

It is just making sure you are doing more “work” over a period of time. In this case, “work” is described as doing more reps or weight in the topic of building muscle.

Why does this need to happen?

Because as I have mentioned in previous articles, for your body to change you need to put a stress on it that is great enough to elicit an adaptation response.

Aka, in order for your body to CHANGE!

If 4 months ago you were lifting the 10lbs for 8 reps, and you are doing still doing that to this day, your body has no reason to keep changing.

It has already adapted to that! Your body doesn’t need to keep changing, it already changed enough to withstand that level of stress you are placing on it.

It did it’s job and it doesn’t need to do more than that. Remember, your body wants to maintain something called homeostasis.

This is essentially staying the exact same. Doesn’t wanna lose or gain anything, it wants to stay right where it’s at because that is the easiest and most efficient way to keep you alive.

YOU are the one who wants to build muscle, therefore YOU are the one who needs to create a stress great enough to elicit an adaptation response.

Which, is why, you need this progressive overload to happen.

Again, if you want more info on this as it is a crucial topic to understand, check out this article HERE or video version HERE.

Mechanical Tension

The next part to discuss when discussing the best rep range for muscle growth is mechanical tension.

To define mechanical tension..

In simple terms, Mechanical Tension can be defined as a force normalized to the area over which it acts..” (Schoenfeld, 30).

In my own personal definition, I just like to think of it as how much tension and force are you creating inside your muscle fibers when exercising.

Think about when you are doing a bicep curl.

How much tension and force are you creating inside that bicep muscle when you are doing that curl?

Are you just kind of dogging the movement, not really pushing yourself, and not putting in a ton of effort?

Or, is that bicep curl you are doing CHALLENGING.

This determines how much muscle is going to be built in that specific muscle.

High mechanical tension = more muscle growth.

Low mechanical tension = less muscle growth.

So the more force you produce within a given muscle is correlated to the amount of muscle growth you will potentially be able to see.

How can you create mechanical tension?

Well, again, without turning this article into a science research paper (because that is probably not why you came here!)

You can create mechanical tension through load (the amount of weight you lift).

The higher the weight you are lifting, the more mechanical tension you create inside a muscle.

So you lifting 100lbs for 5 reps is typically going to induce more mechanical tension inside a muscle than you lifting say 50lbs for 20 reps.

Though, mechanical tension can also be somewhat impacted by the duration of loading as well.

Potentially to a lesser extent, but it is still created.

Think like lifting with a little bit lighter weight and higher rep sets here.

So wait a minute, both heavy weight and low reps, plus, light weight and high reps, can induce mechanical tension?

So that means both are viable options for the best rep range for muscle growth?

Yes, because there is another way to produce high amounts of mechanical tension.

Let’s talk about it.

The Best Rep Range For Muscle Growth

They All Work!

Here is the honest answer to this question.

Technically, you can build muscle in any rep range.

Light weights for high reps technically can build muscle.

Heavy weights for low reps technically can build muscle.

Moderate weights for moderate reps technically can build muscle.

They all work (though, stay tuned, because there is a “best” one you will figure out later on!).

There is one key denominator that has to be present though.

This Is The Caveat.

You have to take your sets close to failure.

This is the caveat.

You can build muscle in any of these rep ranges so as long as you take the set close to failure because that is what triggers a high level of mechanical tension inside the muscle.

So if you are doing a bicep curl for 6 reps and you take it close to failure, you will have high mechanical tension, and you will be able to build muscle.

If you are doing bicep curls for sets of 20, and you take it close to failure, you will also have high mechanical tension and be able to build muscle!

Now, what do I mean when I say going close to failure?

Great question.

This is something 99% of the average gym goer really doesn’t comprehend, and it’s a shame, because it may be the most important thing.

I am going to put a video here below of me performing a set that is taken close to failure, then, we can talk about it after.


In this video I am doing a 1 arm landmine row or a “Meadows” row, in honor of John Meadows, RIP.

I want you to notice something about this set that can make you look to understand what it means to “go close to failure”.

  • Notice the speed of the reps. I am doing about 8 reps here. Look at the speed of reps 1,2,3 and 4.

They are moving at a pretty good pace right?

No real “struggle” yet.

Now, go back and look at the last couples of reps, reps 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Notice how I was moving the weight up on the concentric portion (concentric just means on the way up, so think up on a bicep curl or up on a shoulder press) at a good speed.

Yet as the reps got farther and farther into the set, the speed on the way up started to slow down. Involuntarily, I might add.

Meaning I was not trying to slow down on the way up.

It was purely happening because my muscles were starting to get fatigued and I was pushing close the failure.

The last rep or two you can really tell the speed slows down.

THAT, my friend, is how you know if you are truly close to failure or not.

If the speed on your last couple of reps starts to involuntarily slow down on the way up,
then your muscles are getting close to failure.


If not, then you aren’t close to failure, and you either have to lift more weight or do more reps to get there.

Also take note of my form here.

I didn’t massively start to break down form and hump the air to get the weight up.

I was simply taking the set close to form failure.

If you are looking to build muscle, this is one of, if not the most important skill you are going to need to understand how to do.

If not you won’t be able to ever maximize your muscle growth, no matter what reps you are doing.

And before you ask me…

Yes, this is what EVERY SINGLE WORKING SET should look like.

If you don’t know the difference between a working set and a warm up set, or what a working set is, click HERE to listen to this podcast where I explain it in depth.

Seriously, I get that question upwards of 20-50x per day. The answer is in that podcast if you give it a listen.

Now, What Is The “Best” Rep Range For Muscle Growth?

Okay, so we know that technically speaking you can build muscle in any rep range as long as you go close to failure.

Cool, but that still doesn’t mean there isn’t a best rep range for muscle growth, because there is.

Typically I like to breakdown rep ranges into 3 categories.

Heavy” – 1-5 reps

Moderate – 6-12 reps

Light – 12-20+ reps

( “heavy” is in quotation marks because we will talk about this later!).

Let’s break down the pros and potential cons of each rep range in their relationship to muscle growth.

Heavy 1-5 Reps

When you are lifting in the 1-5 rep range, you are inherently going to be lifting “heavier” weight.

Think about it. How much weight can you do for 3 reps of a squat vs 20 reps of a squat.

Let’s just say it’s 300lbs vs 150lbs.

For no other reason other than the lower rep range you can lift “heavier” weight.

Again, as we learned aboved, the lower rep ranges and higher weight typically lead to higher amounts of mechanical tension.

Which, is a good thing, when we are trying to build muscle!

Also, these lower rep ranges are able to work in a lot of neurological strength as well.

Most people don’t know but there is in fact a difference between building strength and building muscle.

You can have both at the same time and they often do go together, but they don’t have to.

Strength is a neurological adaptation.

Building muscle is a physiological adaptation.

You can get neurological stronger without necessarily adding more lean muscle mass to your body.

Vice versa though, you can add lean muscle mass, without necessarily gaining a ton of strength.

When you train with a bit heavier weights that allow for more mechanical tension, there is research to show this is also going to positively impact your strength gains / performance as well.

Therefore, higher weight and lower rep style sets can be great for building muscle AND strength.

Which, a stronger muscle has the potential to be a bigger muscle because it can produce more force and lift heavier weights.

Yet here are the potential drawbacks.

When you are doing such heavy, low rep work, inherently you are putting a ton of stress on your

  • Joints
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Connective Tissue
  • Muscles
  • Central Nervous System

& more.

This is okay in small doses, but in order to build any amount of significant muscle, you are going to need higher volumes.

When we talk about “volume”, I am referring to the number of hard working sets per muscle group per week.

Thus over time, if you need to perform a lot of sets in a lower rep range / higher weight style of training, all of those things listed above take a beating.

Not to mention mentally speaking hyping yourself up to do 5 sets of 3 heavy a** reps of a bench press or deadlift is nothing short of draining over time.

To show up in your workouts having to do that week over week can be a bit taxing over time. Which can lead you to not actually having the intensity needed to lift the weight you need to lift or push close to failure.

Thus, minimizing your results.

Therefore if we are solely focused on muscle growth, then doing higher amounts of muscle combined with lower rep, higher weight work can be a perfect cocktail for an injury and or under recovery over time.

Making it maybe not the “best” rep range to do a LOT of work in if your main goal is to build muscle.

Notice I said “a lot” of work..I don’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do ANY work here. More on that to come.

Light – 12-20+ Reps

best rep range for muscle growth

You may have heard or seen tons of bodybuilders talking about lifting for “the pump”.

They would say the best rep range for muscle growth is by doing super high volume, tons of reps, tons of sets, just “burn” the muscle up.

And again, as mentioned previously, you can in fact build muscle in any rep range. Obviously so as long as you take it close to failure!

Yet here is the issue with light weight, high rep training when it comes to muscle growth.

First off, the mechanical tension you get from doing a set of 20 reps is inherently lower only because the weight is lower.

Yes, you can take this set close to failure, but even still the mechanical tension will be lower a tad lower.

If we know mechanical tension is higher with heavier loads, and mechanical tension is important for muscle growth, then we typically want to train in a way to MAXIMIZE that mechanical tension.

Also, while you may be able to build some muscle in this rep range (maybe, we will talk about that in a second!).

You are going to usually not build much strength in this rep range because the load you are using is so light that you don’t get the positive benefits of the neurological strength gains.

You may get some muscular endurance / stamina gains, but you most likely will not get any strength gains.

Therefore if you are someone who cares about getting stronger, these rep ranges may not serve you MUCH use.

Not to say they can’t be implemented, they certainly can, but I just wouldn’t make them a large portion of your training.


Not to mention that when we talk about going to failure with 12, 15, 20 + reps, we often don’t go to failure with our muscles.

Meaning, our muscular ENDURANCE or our cardiovascular system typically starts to fatigue before our actual muscle fibers do.

Therefore, you may be “burning out” during a 20 rep set.. But it isn’t because your muscle fibers are burning out, it’s because your muscular endurance and or your cardiovascular system is getting close to failure.

Which is why you may improve your cardiovascular system or muscular endurance because you are taking THAT close to failure, but you aren’t necessarily taking your muscles close to failure via mechanical tension.

Thus making this maybe not the best rep range for muscle growth.

Moderate 6-12 reps

You may have seen before that the best rep range for muscle growth is in that 6-12 rep range.

Truthfully, that would be about right.

In this rep range it allows you to..

  • Lift “heavy enough” weight to maximize the heavy loading for optimal mechanical tension, without going TOO heavy where you beat your body up too much, or without going TOO light where you are working more muscular endurance instead
  • Allow for proper neurological strength adaptations to come along with it as well – allowing for both strength and muscle gains
  • Allow for proper training volume over the course of the week to optimize muscle growth (sets per muscle group per week) without being under recovered or increasing risk of injury

How To Split This Up?

I said earlier that you don’t need to NOT do 1-5 reps or 12-20+ reps.

There is merit to doing all types of rep ranges in your training in order to create a fully well rounded physique and performance within your body.

Here is how I typically like to split up the rep ranges when.

65-75% of your volume (sets and reps) should come the 6-12 rep range

25-35% should come from the 1-5 & 12-20+ rep range.

This can be over the course of a week or a single workout. I like to do a single workout split up.

I can drop an example here below.


BB Back Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (lower rep, heavy work)

BB RDL 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Reverse Lunge 3 sets of 6-10 reps

BB Hip Thrust 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Lying Leg Curl 2 sets of 12-15 reps (higher rep, lighter work)


Notice how the first and the last exercise were around the 1-5 and 12-15 rep ranges.

Then the middle 3 exercises were in that 6-12 rep range.

Out of the 13 total sets in this workout, roughly 65% were coming from the 6-12 rep range.

I like to dedicate the heavy, low rep strength work to the compound exercise for that day.

In this situation it is the back squat. You can get in some of the heavy work to increase strength to then help you over time continue to lift more weight in the 6-12 rep range.

Which, if you lift more weight in the 6-12 rep range, you can build more muscle due to heavier loading and more mechanical tension.

Then for the lying leg curl I did 12-15 reps.

Here you can work a little bit of the higher rep work, get more of that “pump” factor, and take it close to failure in a higher rep range.

I like saving the higher rep work for isolation work. Things like leg curls, leg extensions, bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.

These isolation movements typically respond well to a tad bit higher rep work due to the inherent nature of only working ONE muscle group at a time.

By the the way, if you want to learn more about how to set up a daily workout routine, I did a super in depth podcast HERE on that if you want to check it out.

Going “Heavy”

Earlier I mentioned “going heavy” and I put it in those quotation marks.

While yes, inherently lifting 5 reps you are going to lift more weight than you would for 12 reps, that’s true.

Yet all of your exercises should be “heavy” because you should be taking all of the exercises close to failure!

What might be “heavy” for a 5 rep squat might be different than what is heavy for a 12 rep bicep curl.

Yet for THAT exercise, in THAT rep range, you need to pick a weight that is “HEAVY” for that.

Just because it’s 12 reps it doesn’t mean you aren’t going “heavy”.


You are going “heavy” for that exercise and that rep range that is given because no matter what you should be going close to failure.

Best Rep Range For Muscle Growth

Well, that’s a wrap folks!

Hope you enjoyed this article and hope you got some value from it.

If you did, feel free to share it with someone.

As well as if you read this and you are like “hoooollyyyy … information overload!!”.

Don’t worry, we got your back.

We do in fact offer coaching options that take all of this guesswork out of it for you so you can just get the plan and dominate.

If you want to check out our group coaching The Clubhouse, I can link that right HERE.

Inside the Clubhouse I write a new workout program each month for the group.

Or, if you were more interested in in depth 1:1 coaching, you can fill out our application form HERE for that as well.

Either way hope it helps and look to chat soon.


How Often Should You Workout Your Abs : Your Complete Guide

how often should you workout your abs

I know, you want a 6 pack, and you are wondering how often you should workout your abs.

I wondered the same thing back when I first started working out as well.

Hence why I was the kid doing 100 sit ups each day before I went to bed!

Then it went into spending at least an hour per day in the gym doing various different ab exercises.

Luckily, I found a better way to go about developing ab muscles and just because I love you, I am going to share that way with you right now.

You just have to promise to love me back and stick around to read the entire guide. Otherwise, you will miss pieces and won’t be able to see as good of progress.

We got a deal?

Cool, let’s hit it.

How Often Should You Workout Your Abs

Seeing Your Abs

Before we dive into the actual training part of things, this needs to be said.

What you must understand is that everyone has abs. Yes, even you who are reading this right now. I know it may seem shocking but all of us have ab muscles.

Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to stand upright, hold our internal organs in place, etc.

Now, your abs are a muscle which you can “hypertrophy” ( make bigger / more defined ) so you can certainly do exercises that can make them “pop” more.

Yet this will remain true..

No matter how much you workout your abs, you will never see your abs unless you are at a low enough body fat percentage.

That’s it, bottom line, no other way around it. You need to be lean enough in order to actually see your abs.

The only way to see your abs is by being lean enough. People then ask me “Well how lean, Eric?!”.

Well idk, can you see your abs yet? No? Cool, then get leaner.

The way you “get leaner” is by simply losing body fat.

You lose body fat through eating in a calorie deficit. I have talked at nauseam about a calorie deficit before here on this website or on my youtube channel, so check either one of those two completely free resources out.

Yet the truth remains, most people think they can just “crunch” their way to seeing their abs.

Sorry man but that won’t happen. No amount of ab workouts are going to allow you to see your abs if you aren’t at a low enough body fat percentage.

So, Does That Mean You Shouldn’t Workout Your Abs If You Have Body Fat To Lose?

I get this question as a follow up a lot. People tend to ask “Well, if I can’t even see my abs unless I lose body fat, are they a waste of time to train them until I get lean enough!?”.

The answer is no, it is not a waste of time, and you do not have to wait.

For the first reason of you can still get stronger. Having a stronger core is going to help you in every single area of life no matter what.

It will protect you from injury, get you stronger in your lifts, help with posture, etc.

Also, remember abs are a muscle just like any other muscle. Therefore if you work them properly (as you will learn how to do by the end of this guide) then WHEN you lose the body fat, you can then make your abs “pop” more.

We can talk about this a bit more in depth here below, but in short to answer this question…

No, it is not a waste of time, and no, you do not have to wait until you are lean enough.

Two Main Goals

how often should you workout your abs

Now that we have that out of the way, when talking about how often should you workout your abs, there are usually two main goals at play.

The first is going to be what we talked about above, for aesthetic reasons.

You want to have a more defined stomach and see your abs “pop” a bit more.

I know I mentioned that doing ab exercises won’t automatically make you burn belly fat to see your abs more. That is done through you eating in a calorie deficit and losing body fat.

Yet there are specific exercises you can do to make your abs “pop” a tad bit more as you get down to the leaner body fat percentages.

We will talk about those shortly.

The other goal that people usually have with training abs is to get a stronger core overall with the benefit of helping their lower back pain or getting stronger in their bigger compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, chin up, etc).

Yes, if you didn’t know, if you suffer from lower back pain, it could be directly correlated to your core strength (or lack thereof).

I was someone who struggled with lower back for many years but when I finally took my core training seriously, along with fixing some form / mobility issues, I saw a massive improvement in my lower back pain.

Both goals are valid and they require somewhat of a different approach to training because the way you would train for aesthetics differs than that of more of a strength purpose.

Don’t you worry though, we are going to cover both here in this guide, so you are in luck!

Let’s break down some of the different ways to train your core.

How Often Should You Workout Your Abs : 5 Main Exercises

When you are talking about ab exercises, there are 5 main ways you can train your abs.

Those are going to be..

  • Breathing / Bracing
  • Anti Extension
  • Anti Rotation / Anti Movement
  • Loaded Carries
  • Flexion

Let’s cover each one piece by piece.

Breathing / Bracing

This is the most fundamental part of training your abs.

If you do not comprehend this part then your ab training will greatly suffer.

Not only will your ab training suffer, but your other workouts will suffer as well.

Either by not being able to be as strong as you possibly can and or getting injured (like what we talked about above).

Proper core bracing and breathing is essential in training your abs from both an aesthetics perspective and from a “functional” strength perspective.

I know it sounds a bit nuts. When you clicked on an article titled “How often should you workout your abs” I don’t know that you expected to be told about how to breathe.

You probably thought you had that down pretty good if you were alive to even read this.

Yet when we talk about breathing for your workouts, there is something called “diaphragmatic breathing” or belly breathing.

If you’ve ever seen a baby lay on their back and breath, they do this perfectly.

Their stomach inflates and deflates as they breath. They are diaphragmatic breathing.

That is what you need to learn to do first and foremost. The video above shows you in depth how to do that.

Essentially what you can do to learn is lay on your back, bend your knees with your feet flat.

Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.

When you breathe, you want to see the hand on your stomach move up, NOT, the hand on your chest.

The reason this is important is because if you do not comprehend this part, you won’t ever be able to have control of and work your abs properly in any exercise.

I promise, I wouldn’t just be re teaching you how to breathe for nothing.

As well as if you are breathing through your chest instead of diaphragmatic breathing, it is going to be damn near impossible to BRACE your core along with it.

Thus leading into the next point which talks about core bracing.

I won’t go too massively in depth on how to brace your core because well I actually already did.

I wrote this article HERE on how to properly brace your core if you want to take a peek at it.

But in short, think about two things when you are bracing your core..

  1. Pooping
  2. Getting punched as hard as you can.

If you need more clarification on that, as mentioned, check out the article above after you get done reading this.

Anti Extension

Now that we have covered breathing and bracing, you are ready for the next step in how often should you workout your abs.

This part is going to be talking about anti extension exercises.

I want you to think of your spine. For the purpose of this article there are going to be three main parts we will be discussing with it.

Extension, rotation / movement, and flexion. Those are three functions your spine is capable of doing.

Now, just because your spine CAN Do those functions, a lot of times we may not want huge degrees of any of those things.

Especially if you are trying to squat or deadlift heavy weights. The force of performing massive amounts of spinal extension while doing a heavy deadlift is a great way to get a compressed disc and hurt your lower back.

Therefore one function of your abs is to keep your spine “neutral” and not allow your spine to extend.

Performing ANTI extension exercises is a way to keep your spine in a “neutral” place.

(People will argue to the death about this. Yes, there is some degree of spinal flexion and extension naturally in your spine, which may lead to a natural “curve” but large degrees of it under heavy loads is not something you want to have happen.)

Anti extension goes a long way in saving your spine from injury as well as making sure you are the strongest you possibly can be during your lifts.

You can leverage proper positioning to move the most weight possible while staying injury free.

Some examples of anti extension exercises are linked below. We will talk about how many reps / sets to do a bit later in the guide.

Bird Dog

Plank Reaches



Anti Rotation / Anti Movement

The next form of exercises we are going to cover are anti rotation / anti movement exercises.

Remember a huge part of your ab muscles job is to resist movement and keep your spine neutral while you are performing exercises.

One way they do that is by making sure your spine does not rotate as you perform lunges, shoulder presses, chin ups, deadlifts, anything.

It keeps your spine tight, compact, strong, and in place to once again save you from injury as well as allow you to lift the heaviest weight you possibly can.

You want to almost think your body is a concrete statue.

Trying to be strong, upright, compact, sturdy. You know, all of those adjectives and synonyms.

The purpose of anti rotation exercises is to get you better at doing just that.

These movements may seem “simple”, but trust me, if you do them right your abs will be BURNING.

Pallof Press

Side Plank

Plank Transfer


Loaded Carries

Another great way to work your abs is through loaded carries.

I talked breathing and core bracing above right?

If you read the core bracing article you will know exactly what I am talking about here, but for short, I want you to think about your core as an unopened can of soda.

With this unopened can of soda, what happens if you kind of tap the outside of it with your finger.

Does it create any dents in the can?

No right? Why?

Because there is so much internal pressure built up inside the can from the carbonation that it can’t be dented maybe unless you slam it against the wall..

But if you do that, it’s just going to explode anyway.

You need to work on doing the same thing with your core so that during movements like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc, you can have so much of something called

Intra abdominal pressure” built up inside that you are able to be as strong as you possibly can be.

Loaded carries are a great way to work on doing just that.

These exercises are meant to go for more duration or endurance as opposed to reps.

Go super slow when doing them. Again, these exercises I list below may look simple to you, but they are incredibly difficult if you perform them properly.

Farmers Walk

Offset Farmers Walk


Flexion Based Exercises

Thus far we have talked about 4 of the main ways to work your abs.

All of them have been more or less about intentionally resisting movement with your spine and keeping yourself strong and braced.

For your knowledge, these exercise variations were more so geared towards the

  • Injury prevention
  • Strength gain
  • Core Stabilization

Type goals.

The next step is talking about flexion based exercises where the goal is actually going to be to intentionally move (flex or round ) your spine.

These exercises are more based around the aesthetics goals of having your abs “pop” more as you get down to a leaner body fat %, but I will say this.

I would usually not recommend doing these flexion based exercises without doing at least some of the strengthening / stabilizing exercises.

Why? Well because it can sometimes lead to injury, especially if you already have been working with a compromised spine position during specific movements.

So although I know you might be like “OH SWEET, THESE MOVES MAKE MY ABS POP MORE, LET ME DO ONLY THESE!”.

I don’t think that would be very wise.

I also don’t think it would be wise to “avoid” them either. Some people will try to tell you flexion based exercises are “bad” for your spine.

I actually used to think this. I don’t think they are inherently “bad” unless you do what I said above with not working in other movements.

Flexion based exercises can be a great addition to your training especially if you are in fact looking to have more defined abs.

I can link some examples below, and remember, the goal here is in fact to actually “round” your spine almost into “bad posture”. That is how your ab muscles actually get work done to them.

A lot of people will do crunches for example but never actually round their spine, so they are just working a ton of neck and hip flexors.

Reverse Crunch

Cable Crunch

Hanging Knee Raises


Putting It All Together

Alright, phew. Now that you know the different exercises you can perform to work your abs, it’s time to actually talk about how often should you workout your abs.

As well as giving a sample routine of what this would look like so that you can cover both the strength based work as well as the aesthetics based work.

For how many times per week you should workout your abs, I would suggest anywhere form 2-4x per week.

Remember your abs are a muscle too, they do not need to be directly worked every day or you are going to suffer from overtraining them.

They are already indirectly worked in every workout you do because when you are doing a squat for example, your core HAS To work in order to stabilize your spine like we talked about earlier.

Or even when you are doing a bicep curl to a degree your abs are working to keep your spine neutral.

If you go off and try to train abs 5 6 7x per week, you are doing overkill and will probably do more harm than good.

They need to be worked enough to elicit a response but then be able to recover from that work properly or else it will be all for nothing.

Therefore 2-4x per week is usually the sweet spot.

I also don’t recommend dedicating an entire day to doing abs.

You could in some situations, like if you wanted to maybe workout your abs on a rest day from your workouts here and there.

Yet I usually don’t recommend this a ton because again you want to be able to have your abs properly recover. If you work them everyday you can’t have that.

Plus, I just don’t think you need to be doing that many exercises where you dedicate a whole day to doing abs.

More on that now.

Now, how to go about setting this up?

Here is what I do for all of our clients and Clubhouse members that we write programs for.

Let’s be honest here.. How many times have you said you were going to do abs after a workout…

And that has ended up much like your imaginary friend Jerry. Never actually coming to real life.

Yea, same. I went from going to do hours of abs per week to skipping them every damn workout session.

I figured out why though, I would save them for AFTER the workout. By the time I was done my workout, I was either too tired to do them and said f*ck it.

Or I had to run off to work or something.

Through coaching thousands of people by this point, I found most people had a similar problem.

Therefore, what I started doing plus what I do now with all of our clients is programming 1-2 ab exercises in the warm up for the workout that day.

Again, this is so you actually do them and don’t say f*ck it after the workout is done.

But also there is some merit to “activating” your abs before a workout.

For example, if you are going to do a deadlift, you don’t want to extend your spine right?

Well if you do a plank, which is an anti extension exercise, you are going to basically train your brain to fire those muscles for the workout ahead.

Therefore you can use the exercises to “prep” your body and brain for the workout ahead so to speak.

So as long as you don’t overdo it on the volume (amount of sets and reps).

Which is another reason why I like to throw abs in on the warm up of the workouts.

How much of each should you incorporate?

Well, this somewhat depends on your goals.

As mentioned the exercises provide different benefits, so if let’s say you are really focused on having your abs pop more maybe you include a bit more flexion based exercises.

But something like..

  • 1-2 Anti Extension
  • 2 Anti Rotation
  • 1-2 Flexion based
  • 0-1 Loaded Carries

Throughout the course of a week is a good place to be for the most part.

I would look to include 1-2 exercises for 2 sets in each warm up day.

These don’t need to be super draining or intense sets either. These should be slow, controlled, and properly executed sets. Remember, you don’t need A TON to see a difference in your ab training.

Let’s cover how it might look for a 3 day upper and lower body workout.

Monday – Lower Body

  • Plank (anti extension) 2 sets of 30-60 sec
  • Palloff Press (anti movement) 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Wed – Upper Body

  • Reverse Crunch (flexion) 2 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Front Rack Carry (loaded carry) 2 sets of 30-60 sec

Friday – Full Body

  • Bird Dog (Anti movement) 2 sets of 5-7 reps
  • Band Crunch (flexion) 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Here we have a full weeks worth of ab training. This would be 6 direct total ab exercises for 12 sets over the course of a week.

That, my friend, would be MORE than enough to see progress in both strength, stabilization, and aesthetics over time.

How Often Should You Workout Your Abs : Final Word

I hope you were able to enjoy this guide and get some benefit from it.

I know the answer to how often should you workout your abs may seem simple surface level, but wanted to give you some in depth insight as to the reasonings and WHY behind it.

Hope you can take this info with you and program it into your training.

As well as if you want help with your training, you can check out either our Clubhouse HERE where I give out new workout programs that take out all of the guesswork for you each month.

Or our 1:1 coaching application form HERE for a bit more personalized 1:1 direct help and programming.

Look to hear from you soon,


How To Split Up Workout Days : Your Complete Guide

how to split up workout days

One of the most underrated and overlooked parts of working out, how to split up workout days.

Sure, you can kind of just go into the gym, do some random machines, and hope for the best.

Or, you can follow another random youtube video workout that has you dying and out of breath in t minus 69 seconds.

Yet just to be quite frank with you, neither one of those are going to get you the results you are looking for.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is certainly better than not working out at all. You doing any exercise is something you should be damn proud of.

Yet that’s just it, those two things I mentioned above are exercise. You are not following a real program.

You are just kind of “guessing” instead of following a real program, which means, you will get “guessing” results.

If you want to maximize your results and take things to the next level, this article is for you, so stick around and read the whole way through.

How To Split Up Workout Days

How Many Days Per Week?

Before diving into the meat and potatoes of how to split up workout days, let’s first lay out how many days you are looking to workout.

For this article, when I say “workout”, I mean strength training and or any kind of high intensity work (ie, hiit cardio, which we will talk about later in this article).

I am not necessarily speaking to the lower intensity modalities of training, like low intensity steady state cardio and or simply walking / getting steps in. (Which yes, walking IS in fact exercise!).

Though I will talk about ALL forms of exercise in this article and how you can fit it into a weekly workout split, when I say “workout” I mean higher effort / higher intensity work.

Therefore, I recommend someone “working out” anywhere from 2-5x per week, depending on a few different variables. (Which yes, we will cover soon, don’t worry!).

This is the “sweet spot” I have usually found that allows people to not only see progress, but also be able to sustainably fit it into their lifestyle.

It sounds like a great idea to workout 6 or 7x per week, trust me, I used to do that. Not only did I workout 7x per week I did two a days 7x per week.

I am speaking from experience here. Before the end of this article you will learn why working out say 3-5x per week is going to get you MORE results than working out 6-7x per week.

People often think “more is better”. Working out 7x per week must clearly allow you to see more progress than working out 4x per week, right?!


In fact, why don’t we just go ahead and cover it right about now.

Working Out LESS To See MORE Results

Something the average gym goer doesn’t understand is this.

You don’t make progress when you workout. That’s not when your body changes.

During your workout, your body actually breaks down. Working out is a stress on your body.

It is a “good” stress and a stress that is needed in order to change your body, yet a stress nonetheless.

Therefore you don’t change your body when you are doing your workout, you change your body when you RECOVER from that workout.

If your body is broken down and stressed, how can it change? Well, it recovers from that stress and says “oh damn, that was tough! We need to adapt to that stress in order to make sure we can withstand that stress next time!”.

Thus, how the “adaptation” stage comes about. This is where your body changes by building more muscle, getting stronger, changing in size / shape, etc.

Three stages. Stress, recover, adapt. The adaptation stage is the stage you need to get to in order to change.

Get it?

Well, here’s the deal. Remember how I said working out is a “Good” stress?

It can be, for sure, if you are able to recover from that stress. Yet if you are placing more stress on your body than what it can recover from, you are going to be under recovered.

I like to think of this like money. Let’s say a pair of shoes you want costs $100. If you got $100, then hell yea you can pay for it and get those new pair of shoes!

But, if it costs $100, and you only have $75, sucks to suck bud but you won’t be getting said pair of shoes, no matter how much you kick, scream, or yell.

Just the law of the land.

Same goes for recovering from workouts. You only have so many recovery points to go around and working out isn’t the only “stress” you put on your body.

There is stress if you aren’t sleeping a full 8-9hrs per night, plus work stress, relationship stress, kid stress. I could go on and on.

If you have 100 recovery points to go around and your stress in total is 125.

Sorry Jack but you aren’t going to change your physique, get stronger, build muscle, any of it!

Quite literally the only way you can do that is by having this recovery stage completed which then leads into the adaptation phase.

Therefore most people who try to workout 6-7x per week are simply running themselves in circles by putting more stress on their body than what their body can actually recover from.

This leads to under recovery, burnout, plateau, and no progress.

Now, can SOME people workout say 6x per week and see progress?

Sure, some can. Usually those who..

  • sleep 8-9hrs per night
  • are in a calorie surplus (eating MORE food than their body burns intentionally )
  • potentially are on performance enhancing drugs to speed up their recovery
  • lives a very, very low stress lifestyle
  • has their nutrition dialed in with nutrient dense Whole Foods, high protein, tons of fruits + veggies, etc

& on and on.

But the average Joe (which, I consider myself!) who lives a real life, has other stressors (work, kids, spouse, etc), working out intensely 6x per week is just going to be a lot to recover from. Bottom line.

Opposed to working out somewhere between say 2-5x per week, you will be able to put that “good” stress on your body, while also being able to recover from it, and see progress in the end.

Which isn’t that why you are working out in the first place, to see progress?

Happy dances and smiles all around!

Does that make sense?

How To Split Up Workout Days : “Bro Splits”

how to split up workout days

Now that we know working out somewhere between 2-5x per week is going to be most optimal, let’s also talk a bit of science here.

You have probably seen before the typical “bro splits” where someone will do something like…

Monday : Chest

Tuesday : Back

Wednesday : Shoulders

Thursday : Arms

Friday : Legs

And they repeat that week to week. Essentially just doing one body part per day, hitting each body part once per week.

Unless you are on steroids or performance enhancing drugs, this is going to be something you do NOT want to do. Let’s talk about why.

There is something called “volume” in your workouts. There are a few different ways to define volume, but for the purpose of this article, let’s define volume as

The number of working sets per muscle group per week

A working set means if your life depended on it, you MAYBE could have done 1-3 more reps in that set for that exercise. Maybe.

So if you were supposed to do 10 reps on a lat pulldown, you need to get to that 10th rep and say you MAYBE could’ve done 1-3 more reps, maybe. That is a “working set”.

Volume does not include warm up sets or sets where you do not push super close to failure for whatever rep range you are doing.

Volume only includes working sets taken close to or at failure.

Now that we have that down, let’s break down some of the research.

According to the research analysis by James Krieger & others, the amount volume needed per muscle group per week to see change in your body is

10-20 working sets per muscle group per week

This typically refers to the bigger muscle groups like glutes, chest, back, quads, hamstrings , etc.

Smaller muscle groups, like biceps, triceps, side / front / and rear delts may be a bit less, but that is because they get worked during your bigger muscle group work.

For example, if you are doing a bench press, you are inherently going to work some tricep.

Or if you are doing a chin up, you are inherently going to work some bicep.

Depending on the muscle group, your experience level, and how you set your split up, these smaller muscle groups may need somewhere between 5-10 direct sets per muscle group per week.

That is if you are really trying to improve that specific muscle group. If you are someone who building huge bicep peaks isn’t overly important to you, you may be able to get away with less and or even minimal to no direct bicep work. Again, this all depends on the individual.

Yet for this article, let’s stick with the 10-20 sets per muscle group per week data because without that, the smaller muscle group sets per muscle group per week won’t matter anyway.

Cool, we know we need to hit somewhere between 10-20 sets per muscle group per week.

Well why can’t we just do that all in one day?

Just absolutely obliterate our chest or glutes with 20 sets in one workout?

Well again, this things called science * Cue the magical stars and rainbows *.

Once again, according to research analysis by James Krieger, studies show that after about somewhere between 8-12 working sets per muscle group per workout, you start to see diminishing returns.

Think of it like a bell curve. You are able to add sets and push hard until you reach about a certain point. After that certain point, the bell curve starts to drop off and you start to actually make LESS progress.

how to split up workout days bell curve

This is what happens after you pass let’s just take the middle number and say 10 sets per muscle group per workout.

Why is this? Many reasons.

From a scientific standpoint, muscle protein synthesis starts to get negatively affected once you pass the top of the bell curve.

But also from a “practical” standpoint, if you are training with hard, intense, working sets.

Sets that you are taking very close to failure.. After you reach the 8, 9, 10 set per muscle group mark for that session.. You are gassed.

No other way around it, and if you aren’t, this is the sign you aren’t training anywhere near hard enough.

I see people do these workouts that call for like 25 total sets of chest or glutes in one workout. They’ll have something like

Hip thrust 5 sets of 10

Squats 4 sets of 8

Lunges 4 sets of 8

Glute kick back 4 sets of 12

RDL 4 sets of 10

And on and on.

No chance in hell that workout is going to yield any results for you.

There is simply no way you are going to be able to go close to failure on those exercises for that much volume.

You might fail from a muscular endurance standpoint, but that’s working more of a cardiovascular stress, not a muscle building / strength training stress.

Which, when we talk about seeing change in strength and muscle adaptations, one of if not the biggest components is having proper intensity. Aka, going close to muscular failure, not just muscular endurance or cardiovascular failure.

By doing more than 10 sets per muscle group per workout, your intensity and how close to failure dips off, which means your results do to.

But wait, we needed 10-20 sets per muscle group per week to see progress?!

Yep so that means if you have the typical “bro” split of working out one body part per day, you can only hit the minimum threshold of about 10 sets per week.

Therefore you are automatically handicapping your results by choosing this split due to the fact you won’t be able to increase your volume at all throughout the week.

It also makes it so you spike muscle protein synthesis in that muscle group ONE time.. It takes 48-72 hrs to recover.. But then you don’t spike it again in that muscle until next week.

It has this HUGE spike up one day, yet the rest of the week it is decreasing and then dormant until next week.

There are benefits to having multiple muscle protein synthesis spikes in a muscle multiple times throughout the week.

Therefore, the typical bro split, is not going to be the most optimal route to take when talking about how to set up workout days.

Hitting your muscle groups 2-3x throughout the week with a bit more moderate volume each session generally lead to more results over time.

How To Set Up Workout Days : Recovery Days

how to split up workout days : rest days

Another thing to consider when talking about how to set up workout days is taking into consideration rest days.

Again, looking at the science, it shows us that when you workout a muscle group, you want to be waiting at least 48 hours, if not 72 hours to hit that muscle group again (reference The Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfield).

This is because if you workout the muscle before it is done going through the muscle protein synthesis / recovery process, you impair that process.

Which is going to impair results because remember, like we said, unless you recover from your workouts you cannot adapt.

If you can’t adapt, you can’t change.

Not to mention that if you continuously hit a muscle group back to back to back day after day like a lot of these hiit bootcamps or gym classes do, you not only risk not recovering, but also risk injury.

Your muscles and the surrounding tendons, joints, ligaments, connective tissue, and so on, are not adequately recovering.

This is a big no no for your body. It is going to get very angry with you and backfire sooner or later. Backfire by injuring so that you are FORCED to stop working out.

Which when you consider you want to see progress in your workouts, if you are injured, you can’t workout at all.

If you can’t workout at all, good luck seeing progress!

You won’t be able to be consistent if your workout split is set up poor due to injuring yourself and from not optimizing your recovery.

This is why it is recommend you wait at least 48 hours, if not 72 hours.

If you are working out glutes on Monday, you should not hit glutes til at least Wednesday, if not Thursday.

How To Set Up Workout Days : 2-5 days

Alright, now that we have the knowledge from the previous sections, let’s actually dive into what some weekly workout splits will look like for 2-5 days, respectively.

You may be wondering “Eric, how the H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS am I supposed to hit muscle groups 2x per week with adequate volume if I am only working out 2-5x per week?!”.

Don’t worry, I got you.

Let’s take 2x a week for example.

2x Per Week Workouts

I will be very honest with you, 2x per week workouts are not my favorite workouts by any stretch of the imagination.

You are quite limited in options here and you will inherently not be able to hit as much volume as you would with other options we will list out.

Yet if you insist on “only” being able to workout 2x per week, I would 100% go with 2 Full Body Days.

Something like..

Monday : Day 1 Full Body (A)

Thursday : Day 2 Full Body (B)

This way you have a few days in between like we talked about above to let your muscles recover to be able to optimize progress and hit it hard the next session.

Also, since you are working your full body each workout, you are hitting your muscle groups 2x per week and can work in adequate volume.

Now I will say, you may really need to bias specific muscle groups if you are taking this route because you only have so much volume / time to spend in a workout.

So you may really want to focus on say glutes and back and make your workouts very focused on those two while keeping everything else more so just at “enough” to get by.

Also, before you ask, yes those workouts should be different workouts.

I wrote an entire article on why if you want to check it out HERE.

Yet for some cliff notes, you see the most progress when you hit your muscles from different angles, resistance profiles, and exercise variations.

If you do the same workout both days, you are missing out on an entire day where you could be throwing in different exercise variations, hitting the muscles from different angles, etc.

How many exercises per session?

Well, it depends.

I would say anywhere from 6-12 exercises per session.

If you want help on how to structure your workouts, I can link a video I did HERE On my youtube that will help you out a ton.

Again, I will say, if you are only working out 2x per week, you are not someone who is SUPER keen on making a TON of progress because if you were, you would be probably opting for the 3 or 4x per week option we are going to discuss here in a second.

Not trying to sound harsh just being honest. I know you are “busy”, but we all are. Today, I woke up at 4am this morning and it is currently 6pm as I am writing this article.

I will work til about 9pm and do it all over again tomorrow. Not to brag about how much I work, but to say we all make time for the things that are very important to us.

I don’t have to sit here and write this article to you, for free.

I am doing it because I value you and want you to win.

The same goes for your fitness. If you want to really maximize your workouts I’d shoot for the 3 or 4x a week option we will cover now.

3x Per Week Workouts

Now it is time to cover how to split up workout days if you are doing 3x per week workouts.

Before I dive into this, I just want to make this point.

Oftentimes I get people asking me “Eric, is working out 3x per week really enough to see progress?!”.

The only answer I have to this question is to drop below some of my clients transformation pics here below.

how to split up workout days 3x per week

All of these people you see above have worked out 3x per week, every week, consistently.

You can be the judge to let me know if 3x per week workouts “work” or not 😉 .

Now, when it comes to how to set them up, I personally like the option of something like.

Monday : Day 1 – Lower Body Day

Wed : Day 2 – Upper Body Day

Fri or Sat : Day 3 Full Body Day

This way you once again allow for proper recovery in between sessions, as well as you can hit your muscle groups 2x per week with this split since the full body day you are hitting lower and upper.

Sometimes people will ask about a 3 day per week full body workout. You can do this, I am not the biggest fan typically because I believe it is a bit harder to recover from for most people.

Plus, I think being able to have a lower and upper body day

  1. Allows you to focus on those specific muscles a bit more which most people enjoy
  2. Allows you to put more volume (working sets) into your weekly routine since you have a whole day spent on ½ of the body instead of the full body

4x Per Week Workouts

In my opinion the “gold standard” of how to split up workout days.

4x per week workouts are my personal favorite as well as I have used it on literally thousands of clients and Clubhouse members to get them kick a** results.

The 4x per week really allows you to work in a good amount of volume over a weekly basis, while also still allowing for optimal recovery.

I would split up the 4x per week workouts like this below.

Monday : Day 1 – Lower Body (A)

Tuesday : Day 2 – Upper Body (A)

Wed : Rest

Thursday : Day 3 – Lower Body (B)

Friday : Day 4 – Upper Body (B)

In case you aren’t familiar, the A and B indicates different workouts.

So yes, each of these 4 workouts you should be having different workouts. Again, if you need further clarification on this, check out this article HERE.

This split is money because as you can see, you are hitting your muscle groups 2x per week, while also allowing for proper recovery in between.

It also allows you to add more volume because you now have a 4th day and the days are dedicated to ½ of the body instead of the whole body.

People sometimes ask if they have to rest in between or if they can go all 4 days in a row.

You CAN go all 4 days in a row, yes, I just typically don’t recommend that because that day off in between really lets you go into the latter half of your weekly workouts recovered, refreshed, and ready to kill it!

As opposed to those last 2 workouts being “half assed” because you were exhausted and tired from the first two workouts in the week.

But if you absolutely need to, yes you can do all 4 of these back to back since they are different muscle groups.

5x Per Week Workouts

how to split up workout days 5x per week

When talking about how to split up workout days and 5 days a week, this is typically something I reserve for advanced individuals who are very focused on body building.

The reason is 5x per week allows you to put more volume on more specific muscle groups.

Unless you are advanced, you typically do not need to spend the extra volume on the muscle groups.

Also, like I mentioned, unless you ARE focused on body building, then you typically don’t care about doing 3 extra sets for your side delts to make your delts pop more.

Or you don’t care about doing 3 extra sets of biceps to make your biceps pop more.

You are more focused on simply wanting to get stronger, get healthier, build muscle, drop body fat, etc.

Also, 5x per week workouts doesn’t allow for much life flexibility.

For example, what if you wanted to take a long weekend with your spouse.. But you can’t because you gotta get that friday workout?

Or if something pops up with work or school or kids or anything.. Most “normal” people who again aren’t super focused on bodybuilding can’t or don’t want to consistently workout 5x per week for months and years on end.

Again, I would know, I tried.

Therefore if you are NOT focused a ton on bodybuilding – I would stick to 3-4x per week workouts.

Now if you are focused more on bodybuilding, which to be honest I am for certain periods of the year, I would suggest a 5x per week split and it would look like this.

Monday : Day 1 Lower Body (A)

Tuesday : Day 2 Upper Body

Wed : rest

Thursday : Day 3 Lower Body (B)

Friday : Push Day

Sat : Pull Day

Push just means pushing muscles workout (chest, shoulders, triceps).

Pull just means pulling muscles workout (back, biceps, rear delt).

Again, this would allow for adequate recovery while also working each muscle group 2x per week.

This time since you have a “push” and a “pull” day you can usually put more volume on muscles like biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Or, if you were focused on glutes or legs a bit more, you could do

Monday : Day 1 Lower Body (A)

Tuesday : Day 2 Upper Body (A)

Wed: Day 3 Lower Body (B)

Thurs : Day 4 Upper Body (B)

Fri or Sat : Day 5 Lower Body {C}

This way you could throw extra volume on your leg days as needed.

How To Split Up Workout Days : What About Cardio!?

As mentioned above, when I talk about “workouts” I am solely speaking to weight training above.

For “cardio” here is what I usually tell my clients.

I would simply

  • Get 5-10k steps in per day, closer to the 7-10k mark as best as you can
  • Once you do that, if you WANT to work in extra cardio on top of that, I’d work in 1-3 days 15-30min per week of low intensity steady state cardio (LISS). This is cardio that is something like walking on the treadmill, using a bike, going swimming, using an elliptical machine, etc. All while keeping your heart rate LOW. You should be able to hold a conversation while doing the cardio, that is how you know you are in the right heart rate zone.

Why the low intensity steady state and not HIIT?

Well, HIIT is very taxing and stressful on the body from a “recoverability” perspective. Remember how we said you can only recover but from so much.

Hiit takes up a lot of recovery, where at steady state low intensity cardio actually helps promote recovery (so as long as you follow the guidelines above and don’t do too much of it).

Plus, from a “calorie burning” perspective, the amount of calories you burn from hiit vs LISS is minimal at best.

The negatives that can come from too much hiit cardio would again dig yourself a deeper hole in recovery which can have you not see progress.

Therefore, you should leave the fat loss component of your journey up to your nutrition.

If your goal is to maximize your workouts and recovery, LISS is going to be a better option than hiit in 99.9% of scenarios.

How To Split Up Workout Days : 6x Per Week Push, Pull, Legs

As mentioned above, I am not a fan of working out 6x per week, for all the mentions listed above.

Yet I get this question a lot so I will offer my thoughts. There is a split that is a “Push, Pull, Legs” split.

This is working out 6x per week with again, the push pull legs cycle split up 2x per week with one rest day.

It is a split I personally ran in my life for a while. What happened?

I started to plateau on my progress (muscle development, strength gains, etc). The burn out started to get to me because I was under recovering. I did not have a very “flexible” lifestyle.

Now, I am not saying you CAN’T do it. Some people do it and love it, cool.

Again, I would say you would need to check all of the boxes talked about above (calorie surplus, sleep 8-9hrs a night, etc etc).

And you have to be someone who is really focused on bodybuilding, yet even then, it’s not something I would personally recommend.

I don’t think if you are working out 6x per week you are going to either be able to recover from it or be able to keep the proper intensity of going close enough to failure. Which, again, is a massive part of seeing progress.

Just my two cents.

Which Split Is The “Best”?!

Well, there really is no “best” one.

Again, like I mentioned above, I typically recommend a 3-4x per week split. For most people I have found this is a sweet spot to be able to see kick a** progress, while also making it a sustainably part of your life.

But between the two of those, there is no “right” answer. It would depend on you and your schedule.

Remember, if you follow a 3x week workout with 100% consistency, you will see better results than following a 4x per week workout with 70% consistency because “life” happens.

Or if you know you like a routine of 4x per week, rock with 4x per week.

The only “right” or “best” one is the one you can be the most consistent with.

But Wait, How Do I Set Up My Workouts?!

Listen, quite frankly, that is an entirely different article in of itself.

In fact, I did write an article on it HERE.

As well as did a video on it HERE.

If you would like to see some examples of this in action, I’d highly suggest checking out those resources.

This one article you just read is one small sliver of what goes into creating a “real training program” I talked about above.

Or, of you would like for me to simply just take the guesswork out of it for you with a plan that tells you exactly what to do, I suggest you check out my Clubhouse HERE.

The Clubhouse is a program where I create 3-4x per week training programs and you get a new one every single month.

How To Split Up Workout Days : Wrapping Up

Whew, I knew there was a lot of information here. I hope it helped and if you need to, go back and reread some areas.

As mentioned above, typically a 3 or 4x per week workout split would be the “sweet spot”.

If you are someone who really can only workout 2x per week, I would go with that.

Or if you are someone who is more focused on body building, I would go with 5x per week.

I hope this article helped you and if you feel you need even more in-depth 1:1 coaching, you can fill out our application form HERE to see if we may be a good fit for coaching.

Look to chat soon.


How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine

how often should you change your workout routine

Every person who works out has gone through this question at some point, that is of course the question of, how often should you change your workout routine .

Whether you are pretty new to lifting and still trying to figure things out, or whether you have been exercising for a while yet realized you don’t know the answer to this question.

The answer is actually quite important because it can make or break your progress in your workouts.

I am going to outline piece by piece the answer to this question here in this article, so if you were looking for an in depth answer, you have come to the right place.

If you were looking for some quick, bullsh*t answer, with not much context or education behind it, then this may not be the place for you *insert emoji of me shrugging my shoulders here*.

Yet I know you want an in depth answer, otherwise, you wouldn’t be ready to read every single word of this article without skimming over any of it….

Right? 😉

Perfect then, let’s get into it, shall we?

How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine?

Why Should You Change Your Workout Routine?

Ever heard of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”?

Well, kind of. In regards to how often should you change your workout routine, I would say this saying doesn’t necessarily hold as much weight (ha! Get it?!).

Some people think you can do the same workout program over and over for YEARS and get results.

While have some people done that and seen results?

Sure, but people also used to send messages with f*cking note cards taped to birds, or use to get around with solely horseback instead of cars.

Just because some people saw progress doing something one way, doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a more productive and efficient way.

Hence, us evolving as a society of humans always looking to innovate and improve.

I digress, the point being is, yes you should be changing up the workouts you do.

For various different reasons, in fact, let’s go over some of the main ones right now so that you can be educated.

I am a firm believer that the more educated you are on a topic, the likelihood of you succeeding at said topic is much greater.

Thus, let’s get to learning, Jack.

1. Overuse Injury

Whenever someone asks me “how often should you change your workout routine” one of my first answers as to WHY they should change always goes to overuse injuries.

Think about it for a second.

When you are repetitively doing a specific exercise, your

  • joints
  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • connective tissue
  • and muscles

are all taking the same force week after week after week, right?

It’s the same movement pattern, challenging in the same ranges of motion, and repeating over and over the same stress.

No matter if your form is in fact good with the exercise, the fact remains, you are still hammering that same movement pattern over and over.

Eventually, what can happen is, your body can basically break down and develop an overuse injury.

Because you have done the same movement pattern over and over for so long, it just becomes a bit too much for your body to handle for various different reasons.

This is where you get these “little aches and pains”.. Sore elbows here… Cranky knees there.. Overly tight hips here..

These start off as “little” aches and pains, yet over time since you are not switching your workouts up, these little aches and pains turn into bigger, more serious injuries.

I will give you two quick examples.

Let’s say someone is doing a sumo deadlift, you know, like this right here.

how often should you change your workout routine : Sumo deadlift

Now, I know not everyone can have as beautiful of a lifting face as I do here, but stick with me.

Doing sumo deadlifts inevitably are going to place some stress and pressure on your hip joint due to the wider stance you get.

So, over time, if you ONLY do sumo deadlifts, and you NEVER switch up…

You are asking for some sort of overwork / overuse injury on your hips. They simply are getting taxed and stressed at a high level week after week and if you don’t give them a chance to lessen up a bit by changing up your workouts, they can surely scream back at you via injuries.

Now someone might say “Well I do conventional deadlift so it isn’t as bad!”.

You’re missing the point.

Cool, you don’t do sumo deadlifts. Conventional deadlift inevitably puts a bit more pressure on your spine and hamstrings.

Therefore overtime, your hamstring and spine can develop an overuse injury to them as opposed to your hips.

It’s not one specific move, it is any move that is done too frequently over a period of time.

Or let’s take a chin up for example.

I see a lot of people try to get better at doing chin ups so they have a chin up party at the gym week after week after week.

Which, if you are doing something like the Grease The Groove Method (A low intensity, high frequency method for improving a specific lift) then that’s one thing.

But doing them with high intensity and effort week after week, I have seen really tend to f*ck up people’s elbows, wrists, and or shoulders.

Again, simply just due to the fact that you are repeating this same plane of motion movement pattern for a bit too long.

So while there is merit to keeping the same workouts for a certain period of time (we will talk about how long a bit later), if you do it for too long too frequently, it can surely backfire.

This is one reason why it is important to change your workout routine.

2. Challenging The Muscle From Different Angles

A second reason to change up your workout routines is due to you wanting to challenge the muscle from different angles.

I will use your back (more specifically mid / upper back ie traps, rhomboids, rear delts), biceps, and hamstrings as an example.

If we are talking about training your mid back muscles, these are big muscles that have various different functions in the body.

Therefore, to only train it from one angle would just quite simply make no sense.

For example, let’s say you are doing a 1 am dumbbell bent over row to work your mid back (like this here below).

That is a horizontal pulling movement.

Awesome, but you are missing a key component of training from a vertical pulling movement.

Throwing in something like a wide grip lat pulldown would be a great work your upper back in a vertical pulling pattern.


You can also do a close grip lat pulldown to once again work your mid back muscles from a different angle of pull and resistance.


You can also hit your mid back by doing a seated cable row variation instead of a dumbbell bent over row variation!

I could go on, but the point being is, you can only fit so much in a weeks worth of a workout routine.

For you to be able to hit your back muscles from various different angles, you are more than likely going to have to change up your workout routine from time to time to focus on these different angles.

Let’s take your biceps as an example as well.

You can work your biceps in the shortened position (this is typically when your arm is out in front of you doing a bicep curl, we will touch more on this in the next section).

Something like a preacher curl you can see here below.

Okay, so you can hit your bicep in the shortened position using a preacher curl, sweet. That is with the resistance (the weight) coming from down below you.

BUT, you can also hit your bicep in the shortened position from above doing something like a 1 arm high cable curl, like you see here.

Cool, but you can ALSO hit your bicep in the shorten position hitting something like a crouching cable curl where the weight is actually coming from in weight of you, here as you can see below.

Again, as you can see, you can work the bicep with just one angle.. Sure. yet inevitably you are under training that muscle for both maximizing strength and developing the muscle for aesthetics purposes.

Finally, we can touch on hamstrings.

You can hit your hamstrings from something like an RDL, as you can see here below.

You can hit your hamstrings from something like a bridge or thrust, as you can see below.

Or, you can hit your hamstrings from something like a curl, as you can see below.

Within even these variations, there are multiple variations you can choose from as well.

Again, point being, for you to get a fully developed muscle, you will need to hit the muscle from all angles.

If you ONLY do one or two exercises, there is really just no way to make that happen.

3. Challenge Muscle From Different Ranges Of Motion

Whenever we talk about how often should you change your workout routine, we have to mention this one as well.

I spoke on this in the previous section, but your muscles can be challenged in different areas of the range of motion.

It can be more challenging at the bottom, at the top, in the mid range.

Let’s take again biceps and glutes this time.

When talking about biceps, you can work your bicep in a shortened position or a lengthen position.

Something like a crouching cable curl like I showed you above, that is working your bicep in the shortened position because your arm is out in front of you.

But, you can also work your bicep in a lengthened position.

This is when your arms and shoulders are extended behind you and when your bicep is fully stretched, that is when it is challenged the most. Something like this 2x arm face away curl right here.

You can also challenge the muscle in the mid range by something like a regular dumbbell bicep curl.

This means it has the most resistance and the most challenging around the middle part of the rep as you curl up.

Then again, as you saw from above, even with these variations there are different angles you can hit the muscle from.

To get a fully developed bicep muscle (or ANY muscle) you need to be hitting it from different angles.

Simply just doing ONE or TWO exercises over and over more than likely will not cut it.

You will need to have some variation to your workouts.

We can take your glutes for example as well.

You can do something like a hip thrust, which is going to challenge your muscle in the shortened position (at the top when you are squeezing your glutes).

Or, you could something like an RDL, which is challenging your glutes in the lengthened to mid range position.

Or, you could do some sort of split squat variation, which is challenging again in that lengthen to mid range position.

Without going TOO much more in depth, you can see again, there are many different exercises that can make sure you challenge the muscles in these different ranges of motions.

Yet again, if you only do the same exercises over and over, never changing up your workouts, you won’t be able to have this happen.

4. Different Goals

When talking about why you would change up your workout routine, you can (and should!) also change up based on different goals.

For example, I run something called my Clubhouse. This is where I create new workout programs every single month for the people inside.

I am writing this in 2022, beginning of September.

Thus Far in the Clubhouse our workouts have focused on..

January – March = Strength focused

April – June = Hypertrophy focused (more muscle building)

July – September = Powerbuilding ( a hybrid between powerlifting and “bodybuilding”


For each of those “focuses” that we had, there were different workouts!

From the rep ranges, to the exercises, to the amount of exercises per workout, to the amount of sets per workout.

For example, when we are focusing a lot on strength, we are going to incorporate more work in the lower rep ranges (1-5) than we would if we are focusing on muscle building, which may be more in that 6-12 rep range.

Or, if we are primarily focusing on muscle building, we maybe won’t pick exercises like a deadlift from the floor.

This is because a deadlift from the floor isn’t a GREAT muscle building exercise, therefore while we focus on building more muscle, we take that movement out. We may swap it for say some sort of Romanian Deadlift variation to focus more on glute and hamstring hypertrophy.

When we are focusing on power building, we focus on some lower rep strength work, but not so much that it takes away from our overall muscle building component. We don’t go so hard on the strength side that we can’t do our isolation “muscle building” exercises at the end like lateral raises, bicep curls, leg extensions, etc.

We might also do something called “top sets and back off sets”, I can link a video on that here below.

Therefore when talking about how often should you change your workout routine, I think taking the current goals into consideration also plays a role.

We wouldn’t keep the same exercises, reps, rest times, etc for different goals. That would just be plain silly!

Also, yes, you should be going through some phases like this because the strength work will bleed into the hypertrophy phase. The hypertrophy phase bleeds into the powerbuilding phase, etc.

This is why following a real strength training program is so important.

5. Enjoyment

Another reason to change up your workout routines is simply for more enjoyment!

I have coached people for over 6.5 years now as I type this.

All of my clients, whether they are inside the Clubhouse or the people we work with 1:1, everytime they get their new workout program they are STOKED!

It’s like Christmas all over again!

There are new exercises, new reps, new sets.

New angles to hit the muscle from, new challenges to take on.

Changing up your workouts can give you that “new” stimulus, which for a lot of people, they enjoy that!

Unless you are like just so dialed into bodybuilding and this is your entire life, most people can’t do the exact same workout program over and over to truly enjoy it.

You may say you do.. But I know it’s just because you don’t feel like switching your workouts, or because you don’t know how to change your workouts.

Getting that “new” stimulus and almost a “new” dopamine hit can be advantageous because what happens when you enjoy your training more?

You push harder with it.

What happens when you push harder with it?

You see more results.

What happens when you see more results?

You wanna keep going with it. Ain’t nothing more motivating than seeing results, right?

That is why changing up your workouts can actually help your results continue to flourish.

How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine

So.. How Often Though?

how often should you change your workout routine : dates

Phew, alright, I just covered 5 main reasons above on why I believe you should be changing up your workout routine.

Honestly, I could go on and give you more reasons why, but I will cap it there for now. This doesn’t need to turn into a dissertation.

I hope you got the point that yes, you should be changing your workout routines up.

Now, how often should this be taking place? Let’s talk about it.

My Recommendation

My recommendation for how often you should change your workout routine is typically every 4-8 weeks.

Let’s talk about why that number in particular.

First off, this allows you enough time to have something called progressive overload.

Progressive overload is a topic worthy of an article in of itself (actually, I did write an article about progressive overload, you can read it HERE when you are done this one!) so I won’t go super in depth.

Yet think of pogressive overload as simply the “thing” that causes you to change your physique, build muscle, get stronger, the whole 9.

It’s by far the coolest kid in school.

If you don’t have progressive overload, you are missing out on optimizing and potentially even seeing any progress at all what so ever.

Think of progressive overload is simply just “doing more”.

I am going to put a picture here of one of my 1:1 online coaching clients workouts.

Notice how from week 1 to week 4, in basically every single exercise, they improved?

They did more weight or more reps, right?

That is progressive overload. They did more!

This is what you need to make changes to your body and see results.

Therefore, if you are changing your workouts every 4-8 weeks, that is ample time to have this progressive overload.

Now, if you are changing your workouts every WEEK, no, that is not ample time to have progressive overload.

You can’t even progressive overload if you are doing something new each week. If you did goblet squats one week, then a split squat the next, then a barbell back squat the next, how can you get better at any of that over time?

You can’t. You’re just doing “exercise” at that point, not following a program.

Also, week 1 and 2 you really are just getting used to the movement, let alone being able to do more with it.

So usually at least 4 weeks on one program is what I recommend to allow for this progressive overload to happen.

We also talked about earlier being able to avoid overuse injury.

Typically speaking a 4-8 week span is a great time to allow for progressive overload, but then still not get overuse injuries from specific movements.

Also talking about hitting the muscles from different angles and ranges of motion, if you take your glutes for example, 4-8 weeks is a great period of time to work in certain exercises.. Progressive overload with them… crush it..

Then bam, swap it out for a new set of exercises to challenge the muscles from different ways.

As well as speaking from anecdotal coaching experience, usually around that 4 ish week mark, MOST people start to get a bit burnt out from doing the specific exercises and are “ready” for a change by that point.

Therefore again, keeping intensity high by keeping enjoyment high and exciting can lead to better progress over time.

Last but not least, this is a great period of time to allow for potential different goals to be worked in.

If let’s say you change your workouts up every 4 weeks.

You can have 2-3 4 week blocks with a hypertrophy phase, 1-2 blocks with a strength phase, and on and on.

Giving an ample amount of time to smash the goal, while still being able to include all that we talked about above.

How Often Should You Change Your Workouts Secret Hint : Deload Weeks

Another reason I like switching up after every 4-8 weeks is due to something called a deload week.

If you want to listen to an in depth podcast I’ve done on deload weeks, I can link that HERE .

Essentially what a deload week is, you are slightly decreasing your intensity and volume for a week.

Intensity is how heavy you are lifting / how close you are lifting to failure.

Volume is the amount of sets and reps you are doing.

Let’s say on a regular week, you are doing 3×8 reps with 50lbs.

On a deload week, you are lifting say 3×6 reps with 40lbs.

Why would you do this?

Well, when we workout we accumulate stress and fatigue.

If we just keep accumulating that stress and fatigue to never let it come back down, that is where people either stall out on their progress or get injured.

You can’t just keep linearly progressing with your workouts forever and ever or else we’d all be lifting cars above our heads by now.

Therefore with changing your workout every 4-8 weeks combining with a deload week…

You can crush workouts for say 3-4 weeks, get after it hard, accumulate stress and fatigue…

Then take that deload week to let the fatigue and stress come back down, your body will have a “supercompensation” effect, you will be able to recover better..

Then bam, be ready to push hard again for 3-4 weeks.

This is a great way to make “linear” progress over time.

The reason I brought up deload weeks is because the way I program deload weeks, whenever a client gets a new program, the first week is a deload week.


Well because again the first week of a new program you are going to learn the new moves, get the new routine down, etc.

This is a great time to take a deload week, then be able to push hard for 3-4 weeks after that, increase weight, increase reps, etc…

Then bam, take your deload week, switch programs, and keep on repeating.

Not Only How Often Should You Change Your Workouts.. But WHAT To Change In Your Workouts

I know this is question you may have and unfortunately, for all the information I have given you for free in this article, this is a question I can’t specifically answer for you.

Not because I am “holding out”, I mean f*ck I just wrote this entire article for free.

Simply because the answer to that question is one big fat “it depends”.

You may change exercises, reps, sets, days per week, rest time, there are so many variables to tweak.

Here’s the advice I can give you with what I do in the programs I write for people either in the Clubhouse or our 1:1 clients.

Typically speaking every 4-8 weeks I change the..

  • Exercises / Exercise Variation (going from maybe a reverse lunge to a bulgarian split squat, or a dumbbell bicep curl to a cable bicep curl from what we talked about above)
  • Reps ( maybe we are shooting for 6-8 reps in the first 4 weeks on squats, then to focus more on strength we focus on 3-5 reps in the next 4 weeks)
  • Sets ( if we are trying to bias a muscle group for more growth or focus, maybe we do 10 weekly sets per week to 15 weekly sets per week )
  • Tempo ( maybe we change going from 3 seconds on the way down in a squat and a 2 second pause, to only going 2 seconds on the way down and no pause to work on more explosive strength )

The list could go on as it would really just depend on the program you are doing.

I cannot truthfully tell you without writing a program for you, but hopefully the information from this article gives you at least an idea of what to do.

I can also link an article I wrote HERE on how to potentially structure your workout programs that may help as well.

How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine : Final Word

Well, there you have it. I am hoping that was at least one of the most in depth answers to how often should you should change your workout routine you will find across the interweb.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with a friend.

Furthermore, if you are interested in getting some programming done for you to take out all of the guesswork and planning in your workouts,

Feel free to check out my Clubhouse HERE where I write new workout programs each month.

Or, if you were more interested in 1:1 coaching, you can fill out the form HERE To potentially work with our team.

Hope this helps and look to chat soon.