Category Archives: Workout Programs

Rear Delt Pre-exhaustion

If your rear delts are a lagging bodypart or if you want that extra cut in this area of the shoulder, this rear delt pre-exhaustion routine is for you.

The first exercise chosen always has to be an isolation exercise. Any isolation exercise for the rear delts is acceptable such as bent over or seated dumbbell lateral raise – machine or cable – just as long as both rear delts are isolated an worked simultaneously. This first exercise is also ideally meant to be performed using strict form with light weight using full contraction.

The second exercise is also a compound exercise. Any compound exercise for the middle back such as barbell row, chin-up or pull-up, seated cable row, lat pull-down, or T-bar row.

I recommend using high enough reps in the first exercise performed to ensure you feel a lactic acid burn in the rear delts to ensure they have been pre-exhausted (7 to 20 reps).

And then use lower reps (3 to 7) and heavy weight for the second exercise. It is also important that the second exercise is performed immediately after the completing the first exercise.

Rest 45 to 90 seconds and repeat. After three or four sets your rear delts will be burning from lactic acid that will anatomically reveal their point or origin and insertion – in the pre-exhaustion house of pain.

Rear Delt Pre-exhaustion Routine:

  • Bent Over Lateral Raise
    • 30 lbs, 5 sets 7 reps
  • Barbell Row
    • 135 lbs, 5 sets x 7 reps

Resistance Training Cycles

Periodization, powerlifting cycles, and hypertrophy cycles are all similar versions of the same thing – each specific to their application. For example, a bench press periodization program is design to help you max out on your bench press. However, regardless of the program design, all training cycles are based on a timeline varying workout volume and intensity.

The timeline of a cycle depends on the needs of the athlete. For example, an Olympic athlete might have a yearly plan segregated into four 12-week hypertrophy cycles with specific quarterly goals. Or alternatively a lifter might have an upcoming powerlifting tournament in 4 months they would like to prepare and devise a 16-week periodization program.

Regardless of the timeline it is fundamentally important to understand that each cycle transitions form high volume to low volume allowing the central nervous system to accommodate the demands of successive increases in intensity.

For example, a 16 week powerlifting cycle might start out with 5 sets of 5 reps and continuously reduce the number of sets and reps as follows:

  • Weeks 1-2
    • 5 sets x 5 reps (25 total reps)
  • Weeks 3-4
    • 4 sets x 5 reps (20 reps)
  • Weeks 5-6
    • 3 sets x 5 reps (15 reps)
  • Weeks 7-8
    • 5 sets x 3 reps (15 reps)
  • Weeks 9-10
    • 4 sets x 3 reps (12 reps)
  • Weeks 11-12
    • 3 sets x 3 reps (9 reps)
  • Weeks 13-14
    • 7 sets x 1 rep (7 reps)
  • Weeks 15-16
    • 5 sets x 1 rep (5 reps)

Notice how the total number of repetitions performed slowly decline throughout the cycle as the rep range approaches and weight used reaches your max 1 rep PR. The higher volume of work done at the beginning of the cycle stresses the nervous system using a much lighter weight. As the volume continues to decrease the intensity of each workout increases as the powerlifter is expected to handle heavier weights.

Other methods of measuring and controlling training volume exist; however, most powerlifting periodization programs gradually decrease the number of sets and reps as the controlled variable in the workout.

Add 50 lbs to Your Bench Press in 12 Weeks

This is a bench press powerlifting periodization program that can be used by anyone looking to add weight to this exercise fast whether you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or just looking to break a bench press plateau. The program is a two day per week bench press periodization program in which you train your chest – heavy one workout and then light the next.

The heavy day must always be prioritized and follow any rest days to ensure you have maximum energy. Secondly, it is important that bench press is the first exercise performed in each chest workout.

At the end of twelve weeks, take 3 to 4 days to rest and then try out your new 1 rep max in the bench press.

If you train infrequently (one body part per week), the light day can easily be incorporated into your shoulder day as it only consists of 5 sets x 5 reps of the bench press that is 50 lbs lighter than the heavy day.

Also, the number of sets and reps performed on light day always remains the same, whereas it changes every 3 weeks for heavy day.

It is important to have at least 3 days of rest between each heavy and light day. The light day is not to be taken for granted as it is on this day that you practice technique. The amount of weight used on light day should be at least 50 lbs less than heavy day.

If you want to bench the most weight you possibly can, you have to practice the bench press no differently than how a golf player or baseball player would perfect their swing – through countless repetitions, endlessly repeated on an ongoing basis, often for years. No one is good at the bench press by accident. It can take years of training to perfect your technique. Light days are an opportunity to practice.

The estimated starting weight in the bench press is 70 % of your 1 rep max and each heavy workout this weight is increased by 5 lbs. Remember, it is important to stick with the prescribed number of reps. If you can potentially do more reps hold yourself back and save that nervous energy for the next workout.

Heavy Day

  • Bench Press
    • sets and reps change over a 12 week period
  • Incline Press
    • 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Dumbbell Flyes
    • 2 sets x 15 reps

The following are the prescribed number of sets and reps for this 12-week bench press periodization program:

  • Weeks 1-3
    • 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 3-6
    • 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 6-9
    • 5 sets x 3 reps
  • Weeks 9-12
    • 3 sets x 3 reps

Light Day

  • Bench Press
    • 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Shoulders (this includes all shoulder exercises)

The 3-Day Split Training Program

The three day training split is perhaps the most popular bodybuilding training routine of all time. A three day split training routine involves training every muscle group one time in a three day period followed by a day of rest or the cycle can be repeated.

Two of the most popular three day spit training routines used by bodybuilders are:

or

  • Day 1
  • Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Push)
  • Day 2
  • Back, Traps, Biceps (Pull)
  • Day 3
  • Legs

Many other specialized 3-day split routines exist that fulfill different needs. The first 3-day split mentioned above has significant overlap in the shoulders and arms that is favored by bodybuilders as those muscles are heavily used on chest and back day. The second 3-day split routine avoids this overlap; however, there is the disadvantage that the shoulders and arms don’t get special emphasis. This is why in choosing a 3-day split you need to have a goal in mind.

A 3-day split training program also allows for prioritization. Priority can be given to any weak muscle groups and scheduled at the beginning of the 3-day split following a day of rest. For example, if you wanted to focus on your legs you would simply reverse the order of the days in the cycle so that legs are always the first muscle group trained.

3-day split routines are intended for intermediate athletes and from then on can be used indefinitely. Although beginners are welcome to try a 3-day split, the individual training of muscle groups is not necessary and can lead to muscle imbalances. Beginners are better off doing full body routines and then progressing to an upper/lower body routine before trying a 3-day split.

Powerlifters can also take advantage of a 3-day split. For example, the second 3-day split mentioned above can easily be switched to a bench, deadlift, and squat day and finish with auxiliary exercises.

If you have been training for at least half a year, it might be time to try a 3-day split training routine. It is the most popular training split for a reason – it works.

20-Rep Exercises to Grow

If you are trying to get big as a natty it is important to choose the right exercises. Some exercises are difficult to learn while others don’t allow much weight to be used.

If you are an experienced lifter you might already be aware of these exercises; however, many beginners often get stuck on the wrong exercise and seldom get the results they desire.

For example, if you want to get big that is not going to happen by doing biceps preacher curls and bench presses. However, this is all I see people predominately doing in the gym.

The chest and biceps are small muscle groups. If you want to get big you need to focus on training the large muscle groups heavy – legs and back – while still incorporating isolation exercises.

The best exercises to grow are the Romanian deadlift (RDL), floor press, box squat, barbell row, and shrugs. The reason being is that these compound exercises work multiple muscle groups and allow a person to handle the heaviest weight humanly possibly without risk of injury or creating a muscle imbalance. Every other exercise you is considered an auxiliary exercise.

The RDL will build the hamstring and lower back; the floor press will build the chest, front delts, and triceps; the box squat will build the quads; the barbell row will build your upper back, lats, and biceps; and shrugs will build your traps.

Do these exercises with your regular training; do them first after a light warm up and perform one top set of 20 reps. Each workout try to add 5 lbs to the bar and continue doing this until you can no longer manage to get all 20 reps. Depending on the individual and if equipment is used you might be able to add over 100 lbs to each of these exercises before stopping and at least 200 lbs to your shrugs.

The feeling you get form doing these heavy exercises and continuously adding weight to the bar becomes highly addictive and you will soon find yourself treating all other exercises as secondary.

The Push/Pull Advantage

push-pull-legs

Push/pull workouts prevent an overlap in muscles worked making it possible to train more frequently. If you are a natty like me you will have learned that in order to make improvements you need to train very frequently and time off equals strength loss.

Programs that require training each muscle group once a week produce limited results for natty bodybuilders. With this type of training the muscles end up being really sore the follow few days and you believe you actually trained your muscles hard. This is not accurate.

The reason your muscles get sore afterwards is because you are out of shape. It is also impossible to train the muscles enough hard they need a full week to recover. You are undertraining and every workout you experience the pain of muscle soreness beginners do over and over again.

Just like the movie Groundhog Day except each time you wake up you can barely move because your muscles hurt so bad and you spend eternity wishing you had trained more frequently.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a natty works each muscle twice a week they get better results and less muscle soreness. And if a natty trains three times a week there results improve even great and they reach a point were muscle soreness doesn’t occur unless your program changes such as the order of exercises, volume, rep range, and etc.

The first reason is that without performance enhancing drugs overtraining isn’t possible even if you are an ancient gladiator forced to train all day and starved until you get results.

Secondly, muscles only require 24 to 48 hours of rest to fully recover and you don’t necessarily have to let muscles fully recover before training them again. So if there is no overlap in your training you can literally workout each muscle groups every second day.

With a push/pull program you have two options that align with your body’s natural ability to recover. This can be accomplished one of two ways: push/pull or push/pull/legs.

The first is a two day split where muscle groups are divided into two categories; push/pull. Pushing involves exercises that use the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and calves. Pulling involves exercises that use the back, lats, traps, biceps, and hamstrings.

The push/pull/legs divide the upper and lower body and then further split the upper body into a push/pull split. The workouts essentially remain the same expect all exercises for the legs are isolated to a specific day.

This does generate some overlap in the muscles involved; however, even with no days off each muscle group has well over 48 hours of recovery. As a result, a 3 day push/pull/legs split requires higher training intensity and is often used following a prolonged two day split system to allow recovery.

Whether a two or three day split is used a natty can greatly benefit by using a push/push training split in order to avoid muscle overlap allowing more frequent training.

Heavy Duty – Mike Mentzer

mike-mentzer

If you follow bodybuilding to the slightest degree then you are well aware of who Mike Mentzer is. In fact, he is the only bodybuilder to ever have a perfect score of 300 at Mr. Olympia. However, he is better known for popularizing a system of training known as Heavy Duty or High Intensity Training (HIT).

The Heavy Duty system involves the use of fewer sets per workout and is considered low volume training. Similar to the Bulgarian style of training, the Heavy Duty system requires keeps warm-up sets to a minimum as the athlete prepares for maximal exertion. In fact the idea is to warm-up the joints and mentally prepare for maximal exertion without fatiguing the muscle at all.

And then smash! The muscles are “HIT” with the most intense techniques known to muscle builders such as forced reps, negative reps, and rest-pause. The rep range is kept between 6 to 9 reps in general depending on the technique used.

Forced reps are ideal for Heavy Duty training as they require few sets. To perform forced reps you will need a training partner to assist you. Use a heavy enough weight that you reach failure around 6 reps. Once failure is reached continue by having your training partner assists you in doing another 1 to 2 reps.

Negative reps involve using a heavy weight on the eccentric (negative) portion of the lift while your partner assists you on the concentric (positive). Additionally, negative reps can be done by lowering the weight slower on the eccentric part of the movement. The tempo could be anywhere from 1-3 seconds concentric, and 4-7 seconds eccentric.

Rest-pause can be introduced into the program in many ways. The first is by reaching failure on any given set around 6 reps, rest a few seconds, and then continue to bang out another 1 to 3 reps reaching failure again. Rest-pause can also include performing singles with short 15-30 second rest intervals between reps until 6 – 9 reps are completed.

Whichever HIT technique you decide to employ is entirely up to you as the end results are the same. The muscles get pulverized, the lactic acid burn is insane, and it is usually followed by extremely sore muscles the very next day.

Heavy Duty is an advanced method of training that is not recommended for beginners. You will need a good knowledge of how your body works and will need to practice warming up the muscles without fatigue in order to effectively use the techniques employed in this system.

German Volume Training

german-volume-training

German volume training involves performing 10 sets x 10 reps of any given exercise with short rest intervals and light weight. The name originates where it became popular in German speaking countries back in bodybuilding’s golden age.

This type of training has been around for decades and is sometimes disguised. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger employed high volume training in which he worked his entire body in two days performing hundreds of sets often taking several hours each day to complete. Although Arnold didn’t follow a prescribed number of sets and reps his philosophy was to remain in a constant state of overtraining with high volume training.

German volume training traditionally follows a 10 x 10 pattern which is easy to remember and can have a placebo effect if you believe in the numbers.

One of the most basic 10 x 10 routines I have done in the past involves using three exercises performed three times a week with a day’s rest in-between. The three exercises are back squats, bench press, and barbell row.

The 10,10,10 Routine.

Start with a weight that you can only perform 15-20 repetitions with. Complete two sets resting no longer than 60 secs and drop the weight 10 lbs every second set. Be sure to have extra 5 lbs and 10 lbs plates handy as changing the weight between each set in less than 60 seconds can be challenging.

I also recommend not using collars on the bar given that you are proficient in these three exercises and don’t bother with a belts or knee wraps. You won’t have time to put them on between sets and not advisable to wear throughout your entire workout.

For example, if you can bench 200 lbs for 15-20 reps you would start with this weight but only perform 10 reps, rest 60 seconds, and then do another 10 reps. Drop the weight down 10 lbs and repeat the process until you have completed all ten sets. Rest 5 minutes and go on to the next exercise. Perform squats first, bench press second, and barbell rows last.

The major advantages of this workout are intensity and time saved. The workout is fast paced and your muscles will be burning before you have completed the sixth of set on each exercise. You will also be in and out of the gym within an hour and have completely trained your entire body.

Also, remember this is an advanced technique in which you push yourself to the limit each workout. Expect to be sore the next day but don’t be afraid to train again when you are sore. Spend a few extra minutes warming up.

When I did this program I noticed an increase of about ¼ inch on my quads each week. Some expert claims the average person can gain as much as 10 lbs of muscle mass within the first 6 weeks of training.

One note of caution! This type of training will initially produce tremendous results from the stress placed on your body. However, German Volume training is usually only recommended for a period of 6 to 12 weeks before reaching burn out. All good things come to an end and if you continue to remain with this program beyond 12 weeks the results you obtain simply won’t be there. My advice is to switch to a different style of training for about the same period of time before switching back.

Upper Body Giant Set

If you only have a limited time to workout or want to add in a few extra sets to pump up at the end of a regular workout then here is the program you have been waiting for.

This giant set only requires the use of a light barbell and can be repeated as often as you like to achieve the desired effect – screaming muscles with bulging veins.

Do one warm-up set with an empty bar and than add whatever weight you need. I recommend starting with 65 lbs and then add more each consecutive set until you reach failure.

Sets using submaximal weight can be performed slower and focus given to contracting the muscles fully throughout the full range of motion – plus posing between sets.

This workout will pump the shit out of your arms and is an excellent tool to flush the muscles to enhance recovery on off days. The workout alternates push/pull exercises allowing antagonistic muscles to recover between sets while continuously taxing the cardiovascular system.

Upper Body Giant Set

  • Front Lateral Raise x 10 reps
  • Upright Row x 10 reps
  • Shoulder Press x 10 reps
  • Biceps Curl x 10 reps
  • Triceps Extension x 10 reps
  • Reverse Curl x 10 reps
  • Push-up x 10 reps

Depending on the weight you use you might have to cheat a little in the front lateral raise and reverse curl by using body momentum. Triceps extension are also another difficult exercise however partial reps can be used to accommodate a heavier weight.

Best advice is to not focus on the amount of weight lifted but try to complete all reps speedily, recover for the next set, and repeat 3 or 4 times.

This is not a cardio program. Giant sets are used to create a super pump in the muscles. Pumping blood into the muscles vasculates the muscle tissue resulting in hypertrophy.