A few months ago I mentioned that I was changing my workout routine. It’s usually good to switch things up, and I definitely learned a few things from it.
At the time of the switch I was working out 4x a week doing an upper and lower body split. Cardio was usually Bodyrock or something similar twice a week. Before that, I had been doing 3 heavy full-body workouts a week.
When I changed my routine, I decided to do Jamie Eason’s Livefit program. It lasts for three months, with the first two months being dedicated to building mass and the last month to cutting (fat loss). Honestly, I didn’t make it to the third phase because my diet was not on point, but more on that later.
The first month was pretty easy for me to adapt to because it was an upper and lower body split, which is what I had been doing anyway. The only difference was that there were more exercises and I had to raise the reps and lower the weights. I quickly realized that I was not a fan of doing that because of some ridiculous ego issues that are tied into how much weight I can move.
The second month had me doing a body-part split, which is where you work only one or two muscle groups a day, 5 to 6 days out of the week. The goal is to put on muscle mass. This was the first time I’d ever done a body-part split, and I feel like focusing so much on hypertrophy (gaining muscle) made me lose some strength.
I know that seems counter-intuitive, but my focus before this program was doing lots of compound movements and staying within the 5-8 rep range for the most part. Now I was doing a lot of isolation work (but still doing some compound movements, just not as many) at higher reps and for a much higher volume of exercise per body part. I was also using more machines than I was used to.
Here’s an example of strength loss:
Squats. Before I was doing 4×4 of 125 lbs. I haven’t even tried to go that heavy in months because I’ve been doing higher reps. I record just about every lift that I do in my phone, so I know that a few months ago I was squatting 3 sets of 10 reps for 110 lbs. I’ve moved up to 110 lbs again and I’m almost reaching failure by the 8th rep.
One of the most challenging things for me was dealing with the dramatic increase of exercise volume per body part. When I was doing an upper and lower body split, I’d work each muscle group about twice per session, for a total of 4 exercises per week per muscle group. Although the volume was kind of low, it allowed to me lift heavier. With the Livefit program I was doing something like 6-8 exercises per body part in one day. By the third exercise I felt like my strength was zapped. But I stuck with it because I’ve been wanting to put on more muscle for a long time, and if this is how it’s done then I’m gonna do it!
Now I didn’t move into the fat loss phase of the program because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tighten my diet. Instead I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was eating at a surplus every few days and stay in the muscle-building phase for maximum gains.
I *think* I may have put on some muscle mass. But 1) it’s difficult for women, especially someone who is experienced at lifting weights and a hard-gainer to begin with, to put on muscle in just two months. And 2) I can’t really tell how much muscle, if any, I gained unless I lose some fat. Right now my body fat percentage is a bit too high to see any real definition. Despite that, my arms and shoulders seem a little more muscular, but that just might be fat 😛
So, I still think the Livefit program is a good one for changing your physique. However I like my workouts to be a little more well-rounded and athletic. For my own preferences, things like chin-ups, heavy squats and deadlifts, glute-ham raises, pistols and bench presses (although Livefit had plenty of those) should be the main emphasis of the workout. More free weights and more things that challenge your CNS (central nervous system) and balance…yeah, that’s my motto.
As of right now I’m still doing a body-part split, but I’m putting more emphasis on doing heavier compound exercises. One day I will probably go back to doing full-body workouts because I feel like I was the strongest and most athletic during that phase. And even though I wasn’t doing much cardio, my aerobic endurance was through the roof. But alas, I want more muscles, so for now a body-part split it is. Stay tuned to see what happens!