Moving From Beginner To Intermediate Level Bodybuilding

By now you’ve made significant progress in your bodybuilding career. For the past three to six months you’ve learnt how to perform the core lifting exercises in a technically correct manner.

You’ve also conditioned the body and developed sufficient core strength to prepare yourself for a whole new level of intensity.

Hopefully you’ve also built some rock solid muscle!

But that’s only the beginning.

In recent weeks your workouts have probably lost some of their effect so, even though you’re lifting bigger weights, your muscles now need even greater stimulation to generate maximal growth.

Don’t expect miracles though – from this point on-wards, every little bit of improvement will take even greater and more intensive work than before.

Because you’ll be working your muscles more intensively, they’ll also need more recovery time to adapt and grow and that’s why you’ll be reducing your workouts to three a week.

Each primary muscle group trained will now need one full week to recover.

After being used to whole body sessions and more workouts per week it may seem as if you’re not doing enough but the point is, you’ll be working your muscles very, very intensively and making better use of your time.

As you gain more experience you’ll be able to tweak or re-design your basic muscle building program to suit your own individual needs, but the program described here should provide a useful starting point.

What I’m proposing is basically a 3-split of the body on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

MONDAY (Chest, Triceps, Shoulders)

1. Chest Exercises

Incline dumbbell press – this is a compound exercise that targets the chest but also works the triceps and shoulders to a lesser extent.

Pec-deck flye – this is an isolation exercise that works the pectorals.

2. Triceps

Dips – this compound exercise targets the triceps but also works the chest and shoulders.

3. Shoulders

Front military press – this compound exercise targets shoulders but also works the triceps.

Dumbbell lateral raises – this isolation exercise works the shoulders only.

Bentover dumbbell laterals – this isolation exercise works the rear delts.

WEDNESDAY (Back, Biceps, Forearms)

1. Back

Front lat pulls – compound exercise that targets lats but also works the biceps and mid-back.

Deadlifts – compound exercise that targets the back and quads but also works hamstrings, calves and glutes.

Dumbbell rows – compound exercise that targets mid-back but also works biceps and lats.

Dumbbell shrugs – isolation exercise that works traps.

2. Biceps

Dumbbell biceps curl – isolation exercise that works the biceps.

Dumbbell hammer curls – isolation exercise that works the biceps.

3. Forearms

Barbell wrist curl – isolation exercise that works the forearms.

FRIDAY (Lower Body)

1. Legs

Squats or leg press – compound exercise that targets the quads but also works the hamstrings, calves and glutes.

Leg extension – isolation exercise that works the quads.

Leg curls – isolation exercise that works the hamstrings.

Standing calf raise – isolation exercise that works the gastrocnemius calf muscle.

Seated calf raise – isolation exercise that works the soleus calf muscle.

Reps and Sets

You could start this program by aiming for FOUR sets of 10 – 12 reps per exercise but as your strength and size increase you should really introduce techniques that boost the intensity even further.

This can be achieved in a number of ways including the use of pre-exhaustion, super sets, partial reps, isometric contractions and forced reps.

These techniques are covered in detail below: 


Preexhaust, as the name implies, is pre-fatiguing or pre-tiring a certain muscle of a body part (e.g., chest, legs, deltoids) using an isolation or “single-joint” exercise first and then finishing with one or two compound or “multiple-joint” movement(s).

Super Sets

A regular superset involves performing two similar exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. This extends the duration of the set and ensures that the target muscles work harder than normal.

Examples of regular supersets include squats followed by lunges, bench press followed by pushups and situps followed by planks. As muscles are fatigued by the first exercise, the second exercise will normally require less resistance or be performed for fewer repetitions than if it was performed first.

Partial Reps

A partial rep is a limited-range-of-motion movement that mimics a full-range-of-motion movement. Normally, limiting your range of motion is not that great, but in this case, we’re going to use more weight on the limited-range-of-motion lift in order to get you stronger on that full-range-of-motion lift.

Isometric Contractions

Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements).

Forced Reps

A rep is considered “forced” when a bodybuilder reaches muscle failure during a set and has a training partner assist in completing past the normal point of failure and therefore fatigues more muscle fiber, as well as those that are normally used, thereby stimulating more complete growth and muscle density.