I would like to outline in three articles how I won the 2003 Body-For-Life Contest. This first part will be on weightlifting, the second part on cardio, and the third part on nutrition and supplementation.
If there's one thing I've learned working out, it's that almost everyone disagrees on the "right" way to train. I've read about HIT, Max-OT, German Volume Training, HST, etc. I've read arguments in favor of training in the 8-12, 6-8, 4-6, or periodizing rep ranges. In this article I simply want to tell you how I train.
My Training Split
Following is my training split:
Monday: chest and abs (weighted ab workout)
Tuesday: back and traps
Thursday: shoulders, calves and abs (swiss ball ab workout)
Saturday: quads and hamstrings
I chose this split for a number of reasons. I wanted Wednesdays off for bible studies on those nights, and Sundays off for church and spending afternoons with my friends. I like a 5-day split, but I don't like the 5 days falling consecutively and Wednesday gives me a nice break in the middle. Plus, Wednesday happens to fall after training two of my largest bodyparts, chest and back, and it gives my arms and shoulders a day off from the indirect work they receive on Monday and Tuesday before being worked directly on Thursday and Friday.
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Similarly, taking off Sunday gives me a day off after my toughest workout, quads and hamstrings, and gives my arms and shoulders a day off after being worked directly before being worked again indirectly with chest and back.
Also, there are certain muscles I don't want trained too soon before or after other muscles. For example, I don't think it's a good idea to train shoulders too soon before chest, because that could compromise my chest workout. Similarly, training shoulders too soon after chest could compromise my shoulders workout since they receive indirect work during my chest workout. The same could be said of biceps and back near each other, or back and legs near each other.
Following are some example workouts I use for each bodypart:
Flat barbell or
dumbbell bench press, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Incline barbell or dumbbell bench press, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Weighted dips, 2 sets, 4-6 reps
Notes: sometimes I take out dips and perform two barbell and one dumbbell exercise, or one barbell and two dumbbell exercises. You should feel a deep stretch in your chest during dumbbell presses if you're doing them right; the same goes for dips.
Back and Traps
Weighted pullups, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
V-bar or underhand cable pulldowns, 2 sets, 4-6 reps
Underhand barbell or seated cable rows, 2 sets, 4-6 reps
Deadlifts, 3 sets, 4-6 reps (the deadlifts are not performed from the floor; they are performed about one foot off the floor in the rack. This is done for two reasons: 1. I want to hit my back and traps, not my legs. The initial pull off the floor uses almost exclusively legs. 2. I'm able to use more weight, which translates into more back and trap growth)
Barbell or dumbbell shrugs, 2 sets, 4-6 reps
Notes: I always perform weighted pull-ups and deadlifts.
dumbbell military press, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Dumbell side laterals, 3 sets**
Dumbell rear-delt flyes, 2 sets**
Notes: I only perform 3 sets of military presses, because of the amount of work shoulders receive on chest day. Also, side laterals and rear-delt flyes are the only isolation exercises I'll perform, because these areas don't receive much stimulation from any compound, multi-joint exercises.
**For side laterals and rear-delt flyes, I usually choose a weight that allows me to perform 4-5 strict reps, then I'll perform about 5 partial reps with the same weight.
Arms (Biceps, Triceps and Forearms)
Barbell or cambered bar curls, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Standing alternate dumbbell curls, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Straight bar, v-bar, or cambered bar pushdowns, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Lying cambered bar, or lying dumbbell extensions, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Barbell or dumbbell wrist curls, 2 sets, 6-8 reps
Barbell or dumbbell reverse wrist curls, 2 sets, 6-8 reps
Notes: When I perform biceps and triceps on the same day, I perform a set for biceps, then triceps, then biceps, then triceps, etc. I still rest in between sets though, so these are not supersets. I alternate the forearm exercises in the same fashion.
There isn't a large selection of quality arm exercises, especially for biceps. You can choose some other biceps exercises like concentration curls, preacher curls, etc. but they won't be nearly as effective as the exercises listed.
Quads and Hamstrings
Squats, 3-4 sets, 4-6 reps
Leg presses or barbell lunges, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Stiff-leg deadlifts, 3 sets, 4-6 reps
Notes: I always perform squats and stiff-leg deadlifts. You can choose any other quad or hamstring exercises, but they won't be as effective as squats and stiff-leg deadlifts. Also, I never separate quads and hamstrings, because of the amount of hamstring recruitment during quad exercises. This is also why hamstrings only receive 3 direct sets, and for me that still leaves my hamstrings plenty sore.
I choose two of the following exercises, and perform 3 sets of each, for a total of 6 sets. For each set I perform 6-8 strict reps, followed by about 5 partial reps with the same weight.Click here for printable workout log!
I train abs twice per week: one workout consists of weighted exercises, and the other workout consists of exercises on a swiss ball to improve core stability.
Weighted ab workout
Kneeling or sitting cable crunches, or machine crunches, 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Hanging leg raises or reverse crunches, 2 sets, 8-10 reps