6 Day Split Workout: PPP – Persistent Painful Progression

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Does your mind repeatedly drift to the gym on your rest days? Have you mastered your current workout program to the point that your progress has slowed?

Do you need to increase your conditioning and endurance in the gym? Would you be willing and able to commit to lifting weights 6 days a week? Does the thought of two leg days a week intrigue you?

If you answered yes to these questions than this program is an excellent way to challenge yourself as you improve your body. This 6-day split provides one rest day per week and you will be thrilled when that day arrives arrives.

Performing this program will challenge your muscles to adapt to a different training approach. This approach will allow you to increase muscle and endurance while conditioning your body for additional progress.

This program contains “A” workouts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest periods between sets on the “A” programs are as follows:

  • Weeks 1-4 – 75 seconds
  • Weeks 5-8 – 60 seconds
  • Weeks 9-12 – 45 seconds

The rest periods and set scheme of the “A” workouts generally allow for higher volume during these sessions.

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The second half of the week contains “B” workouts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The rest periods between sets on the “B” workouts are as follows:

  • Weeks 1-4 – 90 seconds
  • Weeks 5-8 – 75 seconds
  • Weeks 9-12 – 60 seconds

The rest periods and set scheme of the “B” workouts generally allow for higher weight during these sessions.

Rest periods between exercises during this program should be limited to two minutes or less, with two minutes being the norm in the beginning of the program and decreasing as you progress.

Choosing The Proper Weight for the Exercises

This program is will tax your muscles and the rest periods, combined with training frequency, will require you to choose weights that will fit the set scheme. Use the following guideline to select the proper weights with each exercise through the sessions.

Choose a weight that you can perform the listed reps on the first set but not on the last set. It is expected that you will only reach the reps listed on the first two sets of each exercise and not on the last set. Be prepared to fall short on the second to last set as well. Increase the weight used once you can reach the targeted reps on each set of an exercise. Push yourself as hard as possible to reach the targeted reps to allow for progression in weight used as the rest periods continue to shrink.

Proper nutrition is crucial for the success of this program. You will need to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to recover between workouts. This is not a program to perform on a low calorie or low carb diet.

This is an advanced program and it is assumed the trainee understands their nutritional requirements. It is suggested that you increase your daily caloric intake to by 10-15% above your current maintenance level.

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Adjusting your carbohydrate/fat/protein ratios to either 40/20/40 or 50/20/30 % will ensure that your body properly recovers between sessions. Additionally, please consider drinking a carbohydrate and protein post-workout drink to maximize protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown by stimulating the release of insulin. [1]

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Ensure that you are getting enough rest outside of the gym. Quality sleep and a true rest day will allow your muscles to repair themselves and recover between sessions. A short nap never hurts.

6 Day Split Workout Overview

Monday Chest, Shoulders and Abs

Monday
Chest, Shoulders and Abs “A”
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press  3  8
Flat Flyes  3  12
Incline Bench Press  3  12
Incline Flyes  3  12
Decline Bench Press  2  8
Decline Flyes  2  12
Military Press  3  10
Shoulder Flyes  3  12
Lateral Raises  4  8
Upright Rows  4  8
Dips  4  12
Kneeling Cable Crunches  4  12
Tricep Rope Pushdown  4  12
Hanging Leg Lifts  4  AMAP

Monday kicks off the “A” workouts with chest, shoulders and abs and it contains several compounded exercises paired together. This allows you to fully attack your muscles with extended sets without keeping you in the gym all day but it is most certainly an ego check as you are forced to use lighter weights than usual to due to the exercises being compounded.

The first pair of exercises is bench press compounded with flat dumbbell flies. First, perform 8 reps on the bench press. Rack the weights and immediately pick up a pair of dumbbells and perform 12 reps of flies.

Now you rest 75 seconds and repeat the process until you have completed all three sets. Your two-minute rest period between exercises gives you an opportunity to set up for incline bench and incline flies next.

The process is the same for incline and decline, except you will only be performing two sets on decline. This pairing will tax your muscles while allowing you to use the same benches in the gym, allowing the compounded exercises to be more “gym friendly.”

Your fourth exercise will be military presses compounded with shoulder flies. Here is a quick explanation if you are not familiar with shoulder flies:

Grab two dumbbells and hold them above your head with your arms fully extended and your palms facing away from your body. Keep your palms facing forward as you lower your arms out to the sides of your body. Stop when your arms are parallel to the ground with your thumbs up and your pinkies down; you will look like you are holding dumbbells while being crucified. Use your elbows to drive your arms back to the starting position but stop short of clinking the weights together.

The next exercise will see you compounding two well-known movements, Lateral raises with dumbbell upright rows, and they should really get your shoulders burning. Four sets of dips gives you a solo exercise to allow you to concentrate on leaning forward a little.

Finally, you wrap up the session with a couple Ab exercises sandwiched around some tricep rope pushdowns. You’ll use that cable machine during the kneeling cable crunches anyway so we’ll compound the two cable exercises and then finish with 4 sets of hanging leg lifts with “as many reps as possible” each set.

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Tuesday Back and Bicep “A”

Tuesday
Back and Biceps “A”
Exercise Sets Reps
Pull-Ups  4  10 (AMAP)
3 Grip Lat Pull Downs:
Wide  2  10
Narrow  2  10
Palms In  2  10
Bent Barbell Rows  4  12
Seated Cable Rows  4  12
Standing DB Curls  4  8
Preacher Curls  3  10
30 degree Incline Curl  3  10
45d Incline Twist Curl  2  12
Chin Ups  2  AMAP

This session starts out with four sets of pull-ups. The first set should be at least 10 pull-ups, the remaining three are “as many as possible.”

Next is a three grip lat pull down exercise performed as if it was one exercise with 6 sets. Perform this exercise by starting out with a wide grip for two sets, adjusting to a narrow grip on the next two sets and then finishing with two sets with a grip where your palms are facing each other.

Pay close attention to form and try to pause at the lowest point as often as possible to increase muscle time under tension. Keep your “between sets” rest period until the 6th set, than take your two minute “between exercises” rest period to take full advantage of the pull downs.

Now move on to barbell bent rows, a staple in almost every back workout for thickness. Ensure your form is correct and lower the weight if you find yourself resorting to momentum to reach the reps on your first set but expect to use it on the last set. The back portion of the session wraps up with some seated cable rows before moving on the biceps.

Your biceps have already had some work with back training and this session wraps up with some quick movements to finish them off. Starting with standing dumbbell curls, perform this exercise while lifting both dumbbells at the same time. Next shift to some preacher curls and you can choose either dumbbells or an EZ curl bar, whichever you prefer because the priority of this exercise is to get some curls in where your elbows are in front of your body.

After this you will need to find an adjustable bench that can be set at approximately 30 and 45 degrees – approximately. Don’t stress if they aren’t these two exact angles, you are looking for a lower and upper angle that keeps your elbows behind your body but try to stay close to the suggested angles and keep your steeper angle at 45 degrees if possible.

The first exercise on the lower angle will be incline dumbbell curls and the second exercise will be a steeper angle where you start in a hammer curl position and twist the dumbbells as you raise them so that your palms are facing your biceps when they reach to highest point of the movement. Finally, the session ends with two sets of chin-ups performed as many as possible each set.

Wednesday Legs “A”

Wednesday
Legs “A”
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squats  4  10
Leg Press  4  12
Romanian Deadlift  4  12
Lying Leg Curls  4  12
Standing Calf Raises  4  16
Seated Calf Raises  4  12

This session contains some standard exercises but leg days are known to be vicious workouts for good reason. Do your best to stick with the suggested rest periods through your leg sessions; you will be breathing heavy with an elevated heartbeat.

Squats are key to leg development and the session starts with four sets of ten squats before moving to some leg presses. Work your hamstrings with Romanian deadlifts and then lying leg curls before wrapping up the day with standing and seated calf raises.

Thursday Chest, Shoulders and Abs “B”

Thursday
Chest, Shoulders and Abs “B”
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Bench Press  3  5
Incline DB Press  3  12
Bench Press  3  5
Flat DB Press  3  12
Military Press  3  8
Arnold Press  3  12
Lateral Raises  4  12
Front Delt Raises  4  12
Bent Reverse Flyes  4  8
Flat Bench Flyes  4  12
Hanging Knee Raises  4  16 (AMAP)
Hanging Leg Lifts  4  AMAP

The second half of the week brings the return of the compounded exercises but the pairing and the exercises are a little different. The additional 15 seconds of rest between sets during the “B” workouts allow heavier weights to be used on some the lower rep exercises.

There is no decline benching on the “B” session, the first two exercises have been flipped, and the dumbbell flies have been replaced with dumbbell hammer presses.

Be sure to take advantage of the additional range of motion that the hammer presses provide. military presses are compounded with Arnold presses, the latter can be performed sitting or standing. Lateral raises are compounded with front delt raises; you can lift two dumbbells at the same time or use a barbell for the front delt raises to get some free core stabilization work in the process.

Bent reverse flies are compounded with fat bench flies to finish the chest and shoulder part of the session before ending the day with some painful hanging knee raises and leg lifts.

Friday Back and Bicep “B”

Friday
Back and Biceps “B”
Exercise Sets Reps
Bent Barbell Rows  4  8
2 Grip Lat Pull Downs:
Wide  3  16
Palms In  3  12
Pull Ups  2  AMAP
T-Bar Rows  4  12
Seated Cable Rows  2  12
DB Twist Curls  3  12
Concentration Curls  4  10
30d Incline Hammer Curl  3  12
45d Incline Twist Curls  2  12
50% Chin Style Lat Pulls  2  AMAP

Friday starts with four sets of barbell rows to allow heavier weight to be used. Two different grips on lat pull downs lead into some pull-ups before finishing the back portion with some T-bar and seated cable rows.

Four bicep exercises lead into a painful bicep finisher. Use a lat pull down machine with a grip where your palms are facing you and set the weight at 50% of your bodyweight. Squeeze your biceps at the lowest point for one second and perform as many reps as possible, twice.

Saturday Legs “B”

Saturday
Legs “B”
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squats  4  5
Lunges  4  12
Romanian Deadlifts  4  8
Lying Leg Curls  4  20 (AMAP)
Standing Calf Raises  4  8
Seated Calf Raises  4  20 (AMAP)

Longer rest periods and lower reps allow you to use heavier weights than the “A” session allowed but lunges replacing leg press is the only change in exercises from Wednesday’s session. As always, leg day is certainly a day to concentrate on form.

References

1) Can J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;20(4):480-6. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. MacDougall JD1, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald JR, Interisano SA, Yarasheski KE.
2) Churchward-Venne TA, Burd NA, & Phillips SM Journal Title: Nutr. Metab.: 2012:Volume: 9 doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-40

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Name: Robert Engelman

Bio: Rob Engelman is a self described hillbilly fitness motivator who lifts weights in a outdoor gym located in the North Carolina mountains. Rob motivates those around him by drawing from his experiences playing soccer, being raised by a mother with her PHD in sports psychology and a father who coached college wrestling.