Bodybuilding Ballet: a Premium Program for Hypertrophy

To look like a bodybuilder, you have to train like a bodybuilder. That’s what you’ll be doing with Bodybuilding Ballet, our premier training program for muscle hypertrophy.

Bodybuilding Ballet is six weeks long and is available in three versions: 4, 5, and 6 days per week. It features both free-weight training and machine-based exercises, using a wide variety of rep ranges to hit your body’s muscle fibers and make them grow.

It is an excellent choice for the intermediate to advanced bodybuilder looking for a training program dedicated to muscle growth.

Bodybuilding Ballet is one of many premium training programs available in the StrengthLog App. Use the links below to download it for free.

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

Presenting Bodybuilding Ballet

Bodybuilding Ballet is a so-called “bro-split,” the type of workout split most widely used by bodybuilders. Virtually all competitive bodybuilders use some variation of this kind of training split.1 A bro-split allocates an entire training day to one or two muscle groups. It allows for maximal stimulation and recovery of those specific muscle groups.

Benefits of a bro-split include:

  • When you train one or two muscle groups per workout, you can hit them with maximal intensity and focus.
  • You don’t have to worry about holding back and saving energy for later on in the workout.
  • Training a muscle group once weekly allows for maximal recovery.
  • You get a fantastic pump!

Bodybuilding Ballet is six weeks long and available in three versions:

The five-day version of Bodybuilding Ballet is the original and default program, but you can also train four or six days per week according to your preferences.

The program is designed to build muscle, not necessarily maximize your strength gains. Don’t worry, you’ll get stronger with Bodybuilding Ballet, but strength and power are not the main goals. Muscle hypertrophy is. 

Read more about different bodybuilding splits:

>> The 10 Best Bodybuilding Splits: a Complete Guide

Who Is Bodybuilding Ballet for?

Bodybuilding Ballet is not a beginner workout plan. It is intended for the moderately advanced bodybuilder and above. You’ll need training experience to take advantage of the program. It likely takes a year or more of regular strength training to develop the required tolerance for the high training volume of Bodybuilding Ballet.

We have several training programs suitable for the beginner in the StrengthLog app, including our Barbell Training Program for the Beginner, which is completely free.

Training Volume and Training Frequency

Bodybuilding Ballet is a high-volume training program. You can expect plenty of sets for each muscle group, and the workouts, especially for the back and legs, are pretty challenging.

On the other hand, you work each major muscle group only once weekly, so you have plenty of time to recover before you annihilate it again.

Even though you only have one dedicated training day for each muscle group, you don’t have to worry about working them too infrequently. There is plenty of overlap between muscle groups in many compound movements.

For example, your quads are involved when you deadlift on back day, your delts and triceps do their fair share of the work on chest day, and your biceps pull their weight on back day, just to mention a few examples.

That means that even though Bodybuilding Ballet is a “bro split” training program, you still stimulate muscle protein synthesis in all your muscle groups several times per week.

What about training volume? How much of a good thing is too much?

When it comes to training volume for muscle hypertrophy, more sets are better, up to a point. Once you go beyond that point, you’ll find yourself unable to recover properly. Adding even more sets won’t lead to more significant muscle growth, just impaired recovery.

If you haven’t been lifting for long, the training volume of Bodybuilding Ballet is far beyond that point. You’ll benefit more from a training split like StrengthLog’s Upper/Lower Body Split Program. Once you have built your volume tolerance up, that’s when you benefit the most from Bodybuilding Ballet. If you can’t yet recover appropriately from the high-volume, high-intensity training, you’re not getting the most out of it.

Current research suggests that 12–20 weekly sets per muscle group might optimize muscle growth for trained young individuals.2 Most workouts in Bodybuilding Ballet have you doing more sets than that. Isn’t that overkill? Not necessarily. The participants in the studies that suggestion is based on were reasonably trained, but not bodybuilders. Almost no studies look at a higher training volume, and advanced bodybuilders may benefit from even more sets. 

Indeed, if you look at many high-level bodybuilders, you’ll find that they perform significantly more sets than 20 per muscle group per week. Very few studies look at the training volume of advanced bodybuilders. However, a 2018 study showed a dose-response for the number of sets, with 30 and 45 weekly sets for the upper and lower body, respectively, being superior to lower training volumes.3

Learn everything you need to know about training volume:

>> Training Volume: How Many Sets for Strength and Muscle Growth?

Weight Selection and Progression

When you start the program, you’ll enter your current estimated 1RM in the exercises, and the app will calculate your training weights for you. Several of the compound exercises in Bodybuilding Ballet, including the bench press, squat, and deadlift, are based on the percentage of your 1RM. Be sure to use your current estimated 1RM, not your all-time best (unless they are the same), or you’ll find the sets very challenging to complete.

>> The Best 1RM Calculator: Calculate Your One Rep Max

We leave the weight selection for other exercises, including most isolation exercises, to you. You’re good to go as long as you perform the specified number of reps and challenge your muscles.

During the first three weeks of the program, your progression will mainly be in the form of a gradual increase in training volume. Starting with week four, you’ll also increase training intensity week by week.

When Bodybuilding Ballet calls for the same number of reps in a given exercise week after week, try to increase the weight you’re using when you can. If you feel the final repetition is doable, increase the weight a bit next week. This is called progressive overload and is one of the crucial elements of gaining size and strength. By forcing your muscles to do something they are not used to doing, you force them to grow bigger and stronger.

If you can’t increase the weight from workout to workout, don’t worry. That’s something only beginners to strength training can do. Bodybuilding is a long-term endeavor, and gains take time.

Training to Failure

When using a load of 80 % or more of your 1RM, I suggest terminating your sets a couple of reps before muscular failure. Heavy weights recruit all motor units in your muscles without you having to go to failure, meaning you can do more sets without getting overly fatigued and compromising recovery.

When doing isolation work, you’ll use lighter weights and perform more reps. If you want to train to failure, here’s your chance. Terminate the majority of your sets a rep or two from failure, but feel free to go all the way occasionally, maybe in the last set or two of each isolation movement.

Read more about training to failure:

>> Training to Failure: Implications for Recovery, Strength and Muscle Gains

Deloads and Recovery

The program might be six weeks long, but you don’t reach your bodybuilding goals in six weeks. After completing one cycle of Bodybuilding Ballet, you can either take a deload week to let your body recover or jump right back into week one again, if you feel up for it.

Because the training volume and intensity of Bodybuilding Ballet increases week by week, returning to week one is something of a built-in deload. Your body will have adapted to the gradually increased training volume, and starting over will feel like a welcome respite from the hard work.

Bodybuilding Ballet – Program Overview

Let’s take a closer look at the three variants of Bodybuilding Ballet. You can see the exact set, rep, and % of 1RM configuration in your StrengthLog app.

If you want to try the app and give any of the three Bodybuilding Ballet programs a whirl, download it for free using the buttons below.

Bodybuilding Ballet – 4 Days Per Week

This version of Bodybuilding Ballet is perfect if you can’t be in the gym more than four times per week but still want to train like a bodybuilder. The total training volume is comparable to the five- and six-day versions of the program, but slightly slimmed down to keep the workouts from becoming overly long.

Workout 1 – Chest & Biceps

  1. Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press
  3. Dumbbell Chest Fly
  4. Push-Up
  5. Barbell Curl
  6. Dumbbell Curl
  7. Preacher Curl

Workout 2 – Legs

  1. Squat
  2. Leg Press
  3. Leg Extension
  4. Lunges
  5. Romanian Deadlift
  6. Leg Curl

Workout 3 – Shoulders & Abs

  1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  2. Overhead Press
  3. Dumbbell Front Raise
  4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  5. Reverse Dumbbell Flyes
  6. Face Pull
  7. Hanging Leg Raise
  8. Cable Crunch
  9. Ab Wheel Roll-Out

Workout 4 – Back & Triceps

  1. Deadlift
  2. Pull-Up
  3. Barbell Row
  4. Seated Row
  5. Dumbbell Row
  6. Dumbbell Shrug
  7. Back Extension
  8. Close-Grip Bench Press
  9. Barbell Standing Triceps Extension
  10. Tricep Pushdown

As you can see, the workouts are pretty meaty. If you can’t spend that long in the gym, check out the five- or six-day versions of Bodybuilding Ballet instead.

You can plan your three well-deserved rest days to fit your schedule. Train four days in a row and rest three, do a “two days on, one day off, two days on” deal with the weekend off, or any other combination of training and rest days you can think of.

Bodybuilding Ballet – 5 Days Per Week

This is the original version of Bodybuilding Ballet and a balanced combination of training volume and training frequency.

Workout 1 – Chest & Abs

  1. Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press
  3. Dumbbell Chest Fly
  4. Push-Up
  5. Hanging Leg Raise
  6. Cable Crunch
  7. Ab Wheel Roll-Out

Workout 2 – Back

  1. Deadlift
  2. Pull-Up
  3. Barbell Row
  4. Seated Row
  5. Dumbbell Row
  6. Dumbbell Shrug
  7. Back Extension

Workout 3 – Shoulders

  1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  2. Overhead Press
  3. Dumbbell Front Raise
  4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  5. Reverse Dumbbell Flyes
  6. Face Pull

Workout 4 – Legs

  1. Squat
  2. Leg Press
  3. Leg Extension
  4. Lunges
  5. Romanian Deadlift
  6. Leg Curl

Workout 5 – Biceps & Triceps

  1. Barbell Curl
  2. Dumbbell Curl
  3. Preacher Curl
  4. Close-Grip Bench Press
  5. Barbell Standing Triceps Extension
  6. Tricep Pushdown

With one more training day per week, you spread your muscle groups out more and the workouts aren’t as time-consuming. Instead of combining major muscle groups, you focus on one per workout, and your arms get a dedicated day of their own. The only training day without modifications is leg day. Most likely, you don’t want to do any more work after leg day.

You can plan your training week and your rest days to fit your schedule. Spread your rest days out over the week or train five days in a row and then take two off, for example, during the weekend. It’s up to you.

You can even use your rest days to bring up a lagging muscle group. Let’s say you’re having a hard time getting your back to grow. Schedule a day of rest before back day and another day after. That way, you’re rested when it’s time to train back, allowing you to hit it with maximum intensity, and then optimize recovery and grow the next day.

Bodybuilding Ballet – 6 Days Per Week

If you prefer your workouts shorter but want to train almost every day, the six-day version of Bodybuilding Ballet is for you.

Workout 1 – Chest

  1. Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press
  3. Dumbbell Chest Fly
  4. Push-Up

Workout 2 – Back

  1. Deadlift
  2. Pull-Up
  3. Barbell Row
  4. Seated Row
  5. Dumbbell Row
  6. Dumbbell Shrug
  7. Back Extension

Workout 3 – Shoulders

  1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  2. Overhead Press
  3. Dumbbell Front Raise
  4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  5. Reverse Dumbbell Flyes
  6. Face Pull

Workout 4 – Quads & Glutes

  1. Squat
  2. Leg Press
  3. Leg Extension
  4. Lunges

Workout 5 – Biceps & Triceps

  1. Barbell Curl
  2. Dumbbell Curl
  3. Preacher Curl
  4. Close-Grip Bench Press
  5. Barbell Standing Triceps Extension
  6. Tricep Pushdown

Workout 6 – Hamstrings & Abs

  1. Romanian Deadlift
  2. Leg Curl
  3. Hanging Leg Raise
  4. Cable Crunch
  5. Ab Wheel Roll-Out

Some significant changes in the six-day version of Bodybuilding Ballet include splitting the leg day into a quads & glutes day and a hamstring day with abs on top. The workouts are relatively short and sweet, and most people feel this is the most laid-back version of the program even though you’re in the gym six days per week.

You can rest whichever day of the week fits your schedule.

What About Calves?

Some people have naturally big calves without training them, while others find it extremely hard and a waste of time to train calves because they simply don’t respond. You see this phenomenon even amongst professional bodybuilders.

If you want to train calves, feel free to add them to any workout you want. Calves recover fast, so you might even want to train them twice weekly, if you have the time, energy, and dedication.

Our suggested calf workout looks like this:

  1. Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets x 8 reps
  2. Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets x 15 reps
  3. Heel Raise: 2 sets x 30 reps
  4. Eccentric Heel Drop: 3 sets x 10 reps/side

Read more about the workout in our calf training guide:

>> How to Train Your Calf Muscles: Exercises & Workout

This workout is also free in the StrengthLog app.

Follow This Program

Want to give Bodybuilding Ballet a go?

It’s available exclusively in our workout app StrengthLog.

While this program requires a premium subscription, StrengthLog itself is entirely free. You can download it and use it as a workout tracker and general strength training app – and all basic functionality is free forever.

It even has a bunch of free programs and workouts. However, our more advanced programs (such as this one) are for premium users only.

Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.

Download StrengthLog for free with the buttons below:

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

References

  1. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2013 – Volume 27 – Issue 6 – p 1609-1617. Training Practices and Ergogenic Aids Used by Male Bodybuilders.
  2. Sports Medicine Volume 46, Pages 1689–1697 (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
  3. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jan; 51(1): 94–103. Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men.
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Andreas Abelsson

Andreas has over 30 years of training experience and is a highly appreciated writer and educator on exercise, fitness, and nutrition. Few people stay more up to date and have a better grasp of the field of exercise science than Andreas.