If you worked out with my beginner workout plan and can now do 30 consecutive push-ups and 7 consecutive pull-ups, you are ready for a more evolved exercise schedule, that targets muscle groups more specifically. Here is my suggestion for a suitable three-day-split.
Contrary to my beginner plan, that required no equipment at all, you will now need a pair of dumbbells and a board with some books as platform for the hamstring curls on Fridays. For some ideas what to look out for when you buy equipment, have a look at this article or, if you are a bit short on money, watch the video on how to build low-cost workout equipment.
Is A Bench Needed?
One note about doing those exercises usually done with the help of a bench (presses, flyes etc.) on the floor: Doing them on a bench provides a greater range of motion, but lying on the ground works as well. This will lower the range of motion a bit, but not so far that the exercises will be ineffective.
What it certainly will do is minimize the risk of a shoulder injury. If you have never done an exercise before and aren’t quite sure about how much weight you should be using, doing it on the floor is the safer alternative. It is rather unpleasant to have your arm yanked from its socket, when you do flyes on a bench and lose control over the weight when trying to lower it on your outstretched arm.
The Intermediate Workout Plan
|Chest, Triceps, Abs|
|Dumbbell Chest Presses||3||6 – 12|
|Dumbbell Flyes||3||6 – 12|
|Triceps Dips||3||6 – 12|
|Kickbacks||3||6 – 12|
|Crunches||3||6 – 12|
|Tuesday||Cardio, 30 – 60 minutes|
|Back, Biceps, Abs|
|Pull-Ups||3||6 – 12|
|Dumbbell Rows||3||6 – 12|
|Pullovers||3||6 – 12|
|Dumbbell Curls||3||6 – 12|
|Lying Leg Raises||3||6 – 12|
|Thursday||Cardio, 30 – 60 minutes|
|Shoulders, Legs, Abs|
|Dumbbell Shoulder Presses||3||6 – 12|
|Dumbbell Raises||3||6 – 12|
|Step-Ups||3||6 – 12|
|Hamstring Curls||3||6 – 12|
|Lunges||3||6 – 12|
|Crunches||3||6 – 12|
|Saturday||Rest or Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes|
Rest between sets is 60 seconds. “To failure” means you do as many repetitions as you can, without sacrificing good form. Under controlled and special circumstances, when trying to break a plateau, for example, cheating can have its places, but not here.
The Structure Explained
The staple of this workout plan are compound exercises – those that work many muscles at once. With three sessions per week that is the only viable way to get a well-rounded, “complete” physique.
To explain this, let’s look at Mondays: These start with dumbbell presses, that not only train the entire chest, but also the triceps and the fronts of the shoulders. The flyes after that isolate the chest very well, giving the smaller shoulder and triceps muscles a bit of time to recuperate and be available for the next compound, the push-ups. After the push-ups, chest and triceps should both be quite exhausted, and it is time for an exercise that still involves them, but calls in muscles still fresh: bench dips. The kickbacks will then get the absolute rest out of the triceps.
No Squats And Deadlifts?
As this workout is for those of you that work out at home and have just finished my beginner’s routine, there are no squats and deadlifts. Both are great exercises and at some point you should do them, but I’d rather have you put a bit more experience under your belt before you try them out. Done wrong they can do a lot of harm.
When you feel you are ready for squats and deadlifts, have someone who knows what he is doing show them to you.
Changing It Up
When and how should you change this workout plan? As a rule of thumb, make changes about every two months. This should on average be the time span until you notice that you are stalling on some of the exercises or where parts of the workout simply become boring.
Changes can be anything from replacing an exercise itself or changing the way its executed. When replacing an exercise, the general rule is to replace a compound with a compound and an isolation with an isolation.
If you want to stay with an exercise, but noticed that you stalled on it, change the way you do it. For example, the flyes on Mondays can be done inclined, which will put more emphasis on the clavicular head of the muscle. The pull-ups on Wednesdays can be done as a pyramid, where you go for 2-3-4-5-4-3-2 repetitions etc.
Logging Workout Progress
It’s very beneficial to keep a log of your workouts, as it will immediately show you what exercises work for you and where you stalled for a while and might want to makes some changes. To let you do this with this workout, I prepared a PDF that you can download and print out:
Workout Log – Intermediate Workout (right click and choose “Save link as…”)
Picture courtesy of “jerryonlife“.