The Stan Efferding Bodybuilding Program!


Stan Efferding is one of the brightest minds in the fitness industry. He competed at the highest levels in bodybuilding and powerlifting and is a coach to some of the biggest, strongest athletes in the world.

Stan Efferding was known for his high-volume bodybuilding training style. He trained 6 days per week using a modified push / pull / legs split when he won the 2009 Masters Nationals bodybuilding competition and earned his IFBB pro card.

Here is the exact training split that Stan used during his competitive bodybuilding career:

Stan Efferding’s Training Split

Monday

  • AM: Chest
  • PM: Shoulders

Tuesday

  • AM: Back
  • PM: Biceps / Triceps

Wednesday

  • AM: Quads
  • PM: Hamstrings

Thursday

  • AM: Chest
  • PM: Shoulders

Friday

  • AM: Back
  • PM: Biceps / Triceps

Saturday

  • AM: Quads
  • PM: Hamstrings

Stan’s only rest day was on Sunday. Stan learned this old-school 6 days per week training split from the legendary bodybuilder Flex Wheeler.

Here are Stan’s exact thoughts on the benefits of this training split:

“I prefer to do 2 a day training. 40 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. We do our quads for 40 minutes and then we come back at night and do 20-30 minutes of the same type of training just for hamstrings.

That way we get the benefit of those of those stimuli for all of the hormones and all of the water and glycogen and sodium in the muscles. And all of that stuff together is what stimulates hypertrophy. It’s not just the loading, it’s the whole environment.”

As you can see Stan trained twice per day, 6 days per week using a modified push / pull / legs split. There were two big differences between Stan’s split and a traditional 6-day push / pull / legs split:

  • Stan split his workouts up into “morning” and “night” workouts
  • Stan trained his triceps together with his back / biceps instead of his “push” muscles

This split has some incredible advantages for advanced bodybuilders. First of all you are training every body part twice per week. This is an awesome training frequency when your goal is muscular hypertrophy.

The scientific literature shows that training body parts twice per week is probably optimal. Many other bodybuilding champions including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman also trained each muscle group twice per week.

Here are Stan’s exact thoughts on the twice per week training frequency for bodybuilding:

“Repeating those workouts twice a week seems to be the ideal range… and that’s the way we trained with Flex Wheeler in 2008. We trained every body part twice per week.”

The second advantage of Stan’s bodybuilding split is that you can really focus on one body part per workout. This gives you the option of “bombing and blitzing” each muscle group with many different exercises.

This is more difficult to do using a traditional push / pull / legs split where you are only training once per day.

The remarkable thing about Stan is he continued to train very hard while using this split. He wasn’t just chasing the pump in the gym. He trained all-out and really focused on going to failure on 1-2 working sets per exercise.

Here is Stan describing his bodybuilding training philosophy:

“We’re going to build a workout around a few really big sets – I call them growth sets. One way to make progress is to stay focused on them and to really give 100%.”

Of course Stan Efferding’s bodybuilding split isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. The biggest challenge with Stan’s split is that the average will have a very hard time making progress training 6 days per week.

If you are an intermediate level bodybuilder or if you only have average recovery ability then this split will not be optimal for you. You need to be an advanced bodybuilder with above average recovery ability to train this way.

You also need to have a flexible schedule where you can train twice per day, six days per week. For most people with a regular 9-5 job this will be impossible. Stan Efferding was a semi-retired entrepreneur during his bodybuilding career so this wasn’t an issue for him!

Now let’s look at some of Stan’s typical bodybuilding-style workouts for his larger muscle groups. Here is a chest workout that Stan performed in 2012. Check it out:

Stan Efferding Bodybuilding Chest Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline barbell press, 2 x (5, 8**), 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline DB press, 2 x 6-8****, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline hammer strength press, 2 x 7-9**, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Standing cable crossover, 2 x 15-20, 1/1/X/1, 120 seconds rest

**Performed as a double drop set. Perform 7-9 reps, drop the weight, perform as many reps as you can, drop the weight, perform as many reps as you can, done!

****Perform 6-8 reps to failure, then perform 4 extra forced reps with the help of a training partner.

Here is the training video:

Stan’s philosophy during this chest workout was to pick 4 old-school exercises and perform 2 all-out sets to failure on each of them. On many of the exercises he even throws in post-failure techniques such as drop sets and forced reps. Stan calls these “growth sets.”

Here is Stan talking about his chest training philosophy for bodybuilding:

“I’ll do a heavy basic movement… but then after I’m just trying to get as many angles and as much pump as possible. So I’ll bring the reps up, I’ll do some flyes, incline dumbbells, get a good squeeze.

I’ll change the form a little, instead of a power benching I’ll get the elbows out wide to keep the focus on the chest. These strategies bring the total amount of weight I can lift down but I think it’s more effective for bodybuilding to round out those muscles.”

Once again Stan shows us why he is one of the smartest guys in the fitness industry. Ok, enough about my man-crush on Stan. Let’s take a look at one of his bodybuilding-style back workouts. Check it out:

Stan Efferding Bodybuilding Back Workout

  • A1: Cable pulldown (wide / overhand grip)**, 2 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Pull up (narrow / neutral grip), 2 x 12-16, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Barbell bent over row****, 2 x 6-8, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Machine pullover, 2 x 14-16, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Stan uses plenty of “body English” to get the weight moving on these

****Stan lets the bar bounce against the ground in between each rep. He feels this technique hits his mid-back harder and takes some of the stress of his lower back.

Here is the training video:

Once again Stan picks 4 major exercises and performs 1-2 all-out working sets to failure per exercise. If you read Stan’s article “you don’t grow in the gym” then you probably already know that Stan doesn’t believe in fancy training techniques.

Here is Stan showing that the emperor really doesn’t have any clothes and that the Wizard of Oz is nothing more than a tiny man hiding behind a curtain:

“Dan and I have different training techniques. Dan has the time under tension technique. He goes a little slower on the repetition – this builds more blood volume. I’m a little more explosive, I try and recruit as many muscle fibers as I can by exploding.

You know your sets, your reps, your exercises, your order of exercise, slow-twitch, fast-twitch, whatever you decide I think makes a minimal difference. The big difference is do you train to to failure, do you bust your ass in the gym, or do you just go through and do your 4 sets of 12 and call it a day?

So you need to go to failure, you need to have some forced reps, you need to just go all out and take your body some place it’s never been before so it has to adapt and become bigger and stronger. Everything else is minuscule in comparison.”

Sometimes I feel like Stan is really some enlightened being sent to this world to lead us all to bodybuilding Nirvana.

Just take a look around at your local gym. How many people are truly working their butt off? How many people are training on the big compound lifts and giving 100% effort on their working sets?

Stan’s absolutely right – even the best training program is absolutely useless if you train like a “candy-ass Nancy-boy” in the gym. If you aren’t getting the results you want then perhaps you should reassess your effort in the gym before you blame your training program.

Now let’s check out one of Stan’s bodybuilding-style leg workouts. Check it out:

Stan Efferding’s Bodybuilding Quad Workout

  • A1: Single-leg leg extension, 2 x 10-12, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Leg press, 2 x 12-20, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Machine hack squat, 2 x 12-20, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Walking DB lunge, 2 x 12-20, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

Here is the training video:

Stan Efferding coached Marc Bell through this workout but it was based on the exact bodybuilding-style leg workouts he performed with Flex Wheeler. Once again Stan focuses on 2 “growth sets” per exercise.

Stan’s quads and his legs in general were a huge weak point when he first started working with Flex Wheeler. Stan was unbelievably strong on squats and deadlifts but Stan still couldn’t get his legs to grow. Flex’s solution was simple: he had Stan ditch the squat!

Instead of the squat they focused on more muscle-intensive movements like leg presses and hack squats. This allowed Stan to train with more frequency and volume without overtraining his lower back.

Here is Stan describing his quadriceps training philosophy:

“When I trained with Flex we focused on a lot of pump, a lot of stretch, a lot of mind-muscle connection and I was able to recover better from those workouts because I wasn’t loading with an enormous amount of load on my lower back.”

The 6-time Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates was another big fan of this machine-based approach to leg training. If you have a huge squat and lagging legs then maybe it’s time to ditch the squat in favor of machine-based exercises.

This is known as the Bruce Lee principle: “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”

At the end of the day the only thing that matters is results. Stan was willing to ditch squats if it meant bringing up his legs and reaching his bodybuilding goals. That is what you call the “growth mindset.”

Conclusion

If you are looking for a bodybuilding mentor then look no further than Stan Efferding. Stan takes a no-nonsense approach to building muscle and his physique is proof of that.

If I had to sum up Stan’s bodybuilding training philosophy then this would be it:

  • Train body parts twice per week with short, intense workouts.
  • Focus on 3-4 most bang-for-your-buck exercises per body part.
  • Perform 2 “growth” sets per exercise. Don’t be afraid to train to failure or perform some forced reps / drop sets.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. The exercises, sets, reps and rest periods don’t matter. What matters is that you are going all-out on your growth sets. Take your body some place it hasn’t been before in the gym and it will adapt by growing bigger and stronger.

If you want to learn more about Stan Efferding’s training philosophy then check out the following articles:

Let’s wrap things up with a very inspiring quote by Connor McGregor:

“You can’t fear success and I think a lot of people do. I think a lot of people fear the really high heights. But I am not one of those people… I’m not like that. I’m going for it.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck with your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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