Weight Lifting Routines -- for the more advaced

Here are good weight lifting routines for intermediates or more advanced. If you are a beginner, please see our weight lifting routines for beginners. (Its page link awaits you near the bottom of this page. It's fine for you to read this page, but please do not begin training at this level.)

That would be like building a house on sand: why risk collapse?

If you are an intermediate trainee, there's nothing wrong with using the full-body routines presented on the beginners' page.

That's especially true if you've been away from the iron game for a while.

The principles for training safely during routines apply to intermediates as well as to beginners.

For that information, see our Exercising Safely for Strength Training page. (Its link awaits you near the bottom of this page.)

Overview of Weight Lifting Routines

As an intermediate trainee, you've earned the right to begin designing your own routines as well trying any routines that interest you from bodybuilding or fitness magazines or books.

Once you begin looking, though, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of options you now have.

Permit us to suggest a sensible way for you to experiment to determine which weight lifting routines work best for you.

You now have a year of writing your training log behind you, and you should use that to help determine which exercises are the most productive for you.

Initially, we recommend sticking with full-body workouts for a few months (or years or forever!).

However, instead of doing the same exercises each time, it's better to have more variety. Alternate workouts.

Let your "A" workout be based on squats and your "B" workout be based on deadlifts.

Weight Lifting Routines: 1

Here's a sample that's typical of A/B weight lifting routines:

: breathing squat 1 x 20

immediately followed by

stiff-arm pullover 1 x 20

5 minutes rest

good morning 2 x 8

incline bench press using thick bar 3 x 5

seated cable row using shoulder-width bar 3 x 7

close-grip bench press using reverse grip 3 x 7

hang from chinning bar until failure

gripper work

: trap-bar deadlift 3 x 5

trap-bar deadlift for four progressively heavy singles

5 minute rest

seated overhead press using thick bar (in front) 3 x 5-7

standing biceps curl with straight bar and narrow grip 3 x 8-10

seated alternate hammer curl 2 x 8-10

thick bar hold with overhand grip: twice to failure (20 to 40 seconds each)

weighted crunch using ab-mat or ab-bench 1 x 20-25

Notice that you are no longer limited to the exercises in the McRobert books. However, if you do exercises that are not listed there, find out how to do them properly before using them. Good mornings, for example, are an excellent exercise provided that you unlock your knees.

Still, be very cautious about using exercises that McRobert doesn't describe.

In addition to following the principles for training safely during weight lifting routines, ensure, too, that you warm-up correctly and perform reps perfectly, which we explain how to do in the Strength section that is listed on the menu buttons.

Furthermore, it's critical to work out intensely. You've spent a year earning the right to do that, and the time has come.

Weight Lifting Routines: 2

It may amaze you how brief intense weight lifting routines can be and still be very productive. For example, here's another good alternating workout:

bench press on slight incline 3 x 5

(bent-legged) deadlift 2 x 10

bench press on slight incline 2 x 10

(bent-legged) deadlift 3 x 5

Weight Lifting Routines: 3

Here's another brief workout that McRobert recommends [in the book mentioned at the end of this page]:

A. squat, parallel bar dip, prone row, standing calf raise, back extension, weighted crunch, gripper work, finger extensions.

B. Sumo deadlift, standing overhead press, standing bicep curl, side bend, neck work with towel, l-flye.

Weight Lifting Routines: Reps and Sets

What, you ask, about reps and sets?

We are glad that you asked!

Let's discuss how to figure out for yourself what works best for you in terms of reps. In terms of sets there's rarely any need to do more than two. However, sometimes doing three or four may also be effective -- especially if the recovery time between sets is low (for example, 35 seconds).

The point of weight lifting routines for lasting weight loss is to stimulate overcompensation in order to increase lean muscle mass. Your doing that as efficiently as possible means training with an eye towards your unique genetics.

Muscles are made of different kinds of fibers. Slow-twitch (Type I) fibers are necessary for most low-intensity movements as well as posture. Fast-twitch (Type IIA, Type IIB, and Type IIC) fibers are necessary for lifting and high-intensity movements. Fast-twitch fibers contract two to four times faster and fatigue faster than slow-twitch fibers.

We all have a mixture of the two basic types of fibers in every muscle, but it's a ratio that may be different between muscles in the same person as well as among different persons. (This partly explains why some runners are naturally better sprinters than marathoners and vice-versa.)

Though the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch fibers in your muscles is genetically determined, at least some types of exercise can change how some fibers perform.

Vigorous exercise can increase the size of both kinds of fibers. "Muscular hypertrophy" occurs when individual muscle cells grow larger, which increases the size of the muscle.

However, even in physically active older people, there is an age related fall in the percentage of fast-twitch fibers. This fast-twitch atrophy has the effect of a very gradual muscular dystrophy, which partly explains the age-related loss in strength and slower body movements of older persons.

In fact, a 70-year-old person has almost 30% fewer muscle cells than a 20-year old person, and, furthermore, the remaining muscle cells have decreased in size. This muscle loss leads to many related undesirable physiological changes such as a decrease in basal metabolic rate, maximal oxygen intake, glucose tolerance, and bone density and an increase in body fat.

Here's the good news:

Though this age-related loss of muscle mass and strength may be inevitable, it can be retarded and even reversed by weight lifting routine. Chronological age is not biological age. The older we become, the more biologically diverse we may become while remaining chronologically similar.

So, we are wise when we engage in weight lifting routines and especially when we do so efficiently and as part of a total program of well-being (such as the one presented here on this free website).

The usual rep practice is to use a variety of rep ranges: 5-7 (low), 10-12 (medium), and 15-20 (high). If you use different rep ranges for a muscle group and train intensely to failure, you may hit 80% or so of the muscle fibers in a muscle.

How well the usual rep practice works for you is related to your genetics.

Some physiological factors such as the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch fibers in your muscles are genetically determined, but others, such as the speed of nerve impulses, which can be improved by both plyometric exercises and weight training, are only resistant to exercise-induced change.

There is a simple way to determine in your own gym what your ideal rep ranges are for your various muscle groups. The problem with it is that it does involve determining your one-rep maximum weight on various exercises.

Although the danger can be minimized, in general it's dangerous to use very low reps.

Since their bodies are not properly conditioned, beginners should never do one rep maximums.

Nevertheless, doing them can be productive. Because they strengthen tendons and ligaments more than higher reps, they are important in building strength.

In this particular case, it has nothing to do with ego; it has to do with running a calculated risk in order to train more efficiently. (I (Dennis) have never hurt myself doing heavy singles, but, then, I only do them occasionally.) If they use them at all, folks in their sixties and beyond should only infrequently use very low reps.

You will probably find that your ideal rep ranges are higher for legs than for your upper body. For example, my ideal ranges are from 16-21 reps for legs, from 8-12 for arms, and from 5-7 for shoulders and chest. My guess is that mine are fairly typical.

If you don't want to bother doing the testing, you probably won't go far wrong if you keep your reps between 8 and 15.

Whew! This stuff can get complicated, can't it? Well, the other way to look at it is that it's interesting and enables you to understand why weight lifting routines achieve fat loss.

There's still a lot to be understood about how to build more lean muscle mass, and we doubt that any single person understands everything that is already known.

Point: keep your mind engaged in your training. Never stop learning.

There are many ways to do split routines, and we suggest that you investigate them for yourself (see the three books recommended below). Here's a bodybuilding program that I've tested thoroughly and like. We adapted it from Lawson's X-Treme Lean.

Feel free to adjust the rep ranges to suit your genetics.


incline press using thick bar 1 x 8-10

incline dumbbell flye 1 x 15-20

incline press using thick bar 1 x 8-10

dumbbell bench press 1 x 8-10

flat bench dumbbell flye 1 x 15-20

dumbbell bench press 1 x 8-10

front pulldown or chin 1 x 8-10

stiff-arm pulldown 1 x 15-20

front pulldown or chin 1 x 8-10

one dumbbell pullover drop set of 3 x 8

close-grip bench press 1 x 8-10

pushdown with rope handle 1 x 15-20

close-grip bench press 1 x 8-10

seated overhead (one-arm) extension drop set 3 x 8

incline or hanging kneeups 1 x 8-10

ab-bench crunch 1 x 15-20

incline or hanging kneeups 1 x 8-10


[2] dumbbell upright row 1 x 8-10

standing forward-lean lateral raise 1 x 15-20

[2] dumbbell upright row 1 x 8-10

dumbbell (two-arm) press drop set 3 x 8

incline one-arm dumbbell lateral 1 x 8

bent-over dumbbell lateral drop set 3 x 8

dumbbell (two-arm) row on high bench 1 x 8-10

seated bent-arm bent-over dumbbell lateral 1 x 15-20

dumbbell (two-arm) row on high bench 1 x 8-10

one-arm dumbbell row 1 x 8-10

barbell shrug [wrist straps or hooks are fine] 1 x 15-20

standing dumbbell curl w arm-blaster 1 x 8-10

spider curl with E-Z curl bar 1 x 15-20

cable curl with straight bar 1 x 8-10

incline (two-arm) curl drop set 3 x 8

incline (two-arm) hammer curl drop set 3 x 8

rotator cuff with ShoulderHorn and dumbbells 1 x 8-10

hang from chinning bar 'til failure


front squat 1 x 6-8

leg extension 1 x 15-20

front squat 1 x 6-8

sissy squat 1 x 8-10

supine leg curl 1 x 15-20

leg press on angled leg press 1 x 8-10

stiff-legged deadlift 1 x 8-10

immediately followed by

back extension 1 x 30-50 (no weight)

5 minute rest

leg press calf raise 1 x 20

leg press calf raise 1 x 15

standing calf raise 1 x 12-15

seated calf raise 1 x 12-15

D.A.R.D raise 1 x 8-10

4-way neck work with towel -- 1 15-second rep for each of the 4 ways

TIPS for using this program in your weight lifting routines:

It is imperative to keep continuous tension throughout each rep. Use power pulses on every exercise except deadlifts. Unless otherwise noted, rest 60 seconds between all sets. Keep whatever rest period you select consistent. The exception is the drop sets: do not rest between the three sets. Go to positive failure in all sets (except for deadlifts and squats where you should stop one rep short). Always keep form strict and avoid using momentum. Measure TULs and keep them over 30.


This program involves drop sets and supersets. If you are new to weight lifting routines, we do not recommend using such intensity tactics.

Intermediate trainees of weight lifting routines may use them sparingly.

If you have never tried a power lifting routine (as opposed to a body building routine), we encourage you to do so. The Wendler book (listed below) is excellent. You may only want to do power lifting or you may want to mix body building routines with power lifting routines.

Protein Shakes

Now that you have your weight lifting routines, take a look at protein shakes to maximize the benefits from your training.

Click on the first link listed below to go to our page on protein shakes.

Protein Shakes Alternatively, for the recommended reading list, or the weight lifting routines for beginners, or the weightlifting tips page, or the exercising safely page, see the pages listed below.

Our web pages to help you further

In this the strength/weight training section of our website we have the following pages:

  • 1. Strength/Weight Training (main page)
  • 2. Strength Training Orientation
  • 3. Weightlifting Exercises
  • 4. Weightlifting Program Beginners
  • 5. Weightlifting Tips, Part 1
  • 6. Weightlifting Tips, Part 2
  • 7. Exercising Safely
  • 8. Workout Protein Shakes
  • 9. Weight Lifting Routines (Intermediates) this page

You will find the direct links to those pages on our sitemap/index, which is listed at the bottom of the navigation/menu buttons, to the left of this page.

Here are some of those links:

Weightlifting Tips1

(part 1)

Weight Lifting Tips

(part 2)

Alternatively, use the page link, at the very bottom of the page, to go to the Strength Training main page, which is the first page in this particular section of our website.

Recommended books for weight lifting routines

The books are available at some good bookstores, especially Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, usually in Kindle and paperback form, sometimes as hardbacks. If you found the weight lifting routines page informative, these books are excellent further reading suggestions.


  • Wendler, 5/3/1

On most pages of our website, we aim to recommend the very best books available according to the topic of each page.

We endeavor to make the best suggestions based on experience and our many years of work and research in the fields of health and fitness. We suggest only books that we have read and can wholly commend.

A good video tip for improving your squat technique

A link to the video for those who might want to save it.

The page is now complete. We do hope that you found the weight lifting routines for the more advanced users helpful and that it will help on your journey to health, strength, or weight loss.

Weight Lifting Routines