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Training Routines for Natural Bodybuilders

author image Mike Samuels
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.
Training Routines for Natural Bodybuilders
Picking the right training routine can get you on the route to success. Photo Credit: RomanOLebedev/iStock/Getty Images

Being a successful natural bodybuilder is all about having good muscle size and a low body-fat percentage, without resorting to the use of performance-enhancing substances. Without a doubt, one of the most important factors in your success is the training plan that you follow. While any well-constructed, balanced workout performed at a high intensity will get results, you may be more suited to certain training routines than others. There are three main types of workouts you can choose, depending on your current level, goals and lifestyle.

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Full-Body Routine

Full-body workouts involve training your whole body in each session, usually three times per week. According to strength coach Chad Waterbury, full-body training allows you to keep intensity levels high, has a focus on large, compound movements, means you only have to be in the gym three times per week and gives you plenty of recovery time between sessions. On the downside, though, if you want to train more than three times per week, you will find it very difficult, and there is little time for you to focus on any smaller body parts, like calves and biceps, that you want to bring up.

Movement-Based Split

Full-body training is great for beginners, but trainer and author of "Brawn," Stuart McRobert, recommends progressing to some type of split routine after a year of full-body training. A movement-based split has you training anywhere between two and six times per week, and involves splitting your body up into pushing muscles -- your chest, shoulders, triceps and quadriceps, and pulling muscles -- hamstrings, upper and low back, traps and biceps. Legs sometimes are given their own day. This type of workout is more suited to slightly more advanced natural bodybuilders, and it gives you more room to vary your sessions. However, you may still struggle to devote much training time to any lagging muscles.

Body Part Split

You will often see body part splits laid out in bodybuilding and fitness magazines. You split your body in to between four and seven different sessions, although the typical bodybuilding split would be done over four days, doing back and biceps on day one, chest and triceps on day two, legs on day three, and shoulders and traps on day four. Body part splits are great for really focusing on certain muscles and allowing you to train with a very high volume and intensity. However, because of this, it is also easy to over-train, and because you only train each muscle group once per week, it may mean that some larger muscles such as your back and legs don't get trained frequently enough.


Any workout plan will get you good results, provided you put in the effort in your sessions, follow the correct diet and have patience. No matter what plan you choose, stick to a maximum of five exercises per session and be sure to give your muscles adequate recovery time between training sessions.

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