LIFTING HEAVY THINGS
I do each of the headlined sections below ~1 time per week. I’m currently at three sessions/week, spending no more than three hours at the gym each week. Depending on your goals, you may need to spend more or less time at the gym (though likely not less), and you may need to throw in some cardio (I don’t do a lot of cardio but try to do 5-10 minutes on the stair climbing machine after each workout) (THAT THING IS AMAZING).
To program my workout, I choose 2-4 exercises from each bolded group and arrange them hardest to easiest. I love supersetting but it’s easy to overdo if you’re new to it so I highly recommend reading more about them before you try adding supersets to your workout routine. There are variations of many of the exercises below (using a barbell or dumbbells, incline or decline, standing or sitting, alternating, etc.) so make sure you mix it up to keep your body guessing.
I can’t stress this enough: form is priority. But so is efficiency. I give myself a 30-40 minute window (depending on how many workouts I’m doing that week) (I never do more than four) to finish my workout and I think that’s one of the main reasons I get away with doing zero cardio. If you don’t bring your phone, that shouldn’t be a problem. ;) For real though, your phone has no place in the gym (it took me way too long to realize that my workouts take half the time if I leave my phone behind).
Incline dumbbell press
Hammer grip bench press
Dumbbell press (palms in)
Rear delt row
Arnold dumbbell press
Front plate raises
Side laterals/front raises
Dumbbell tri extension
Close grip bench press
One-arm dumbbell row
Alternating renegade row
Reverse grip bent over rows
Bent over barbell rows
Incline hammer curls
Bicep curls to shoulder press
Kettlebell sumo high pulls
Warm ups are crucial if you want to avoid injuries (trust me). On lower body days I’ll do kettlebell swings or wall balls or tabata squats. On upper body days I’ll do chin ups or pull ups or push ups. However, I always do a high rep warm up set before I start my workout. On hammie day it’s deadlifts, on bicep day it’s curls, on quad day it’s squats, and on chest day it’s bench press.
When I say “comfortable” weight I don’t mean easy. It’s just not weight you’re struggling to move.. until the 7th or 8th rep.
Italics = supersets
My goal on hammie day is to (almost always) totally fatigue my hamstrings. It works for me but is definitely not for everyone. I go heavy and hard. If you go that route ease into it otherwise you won’t be able to walk comfortably/right for DAYS.
Romanian deadlifts (3-5 sets; 10 rep weight to 3 rep weight)
Kettlebell one leg deadlifts
Kettlebell step ups
Kettlebell sumo deadlifts (5 sets; 30 seconds rest between sets)
Lying leg curls (3 sets to failure)
Ball curls (3 sets to failure)
I always aim to keep my bench weight relatively comfortable because my chest bulks up easily aaand that’s not a good look on me. I go all out on shoulders and triceps.
Bench press (5 sets; 10 rep weight to 6 rep weight)
Seated bent over rear delt raise
Car drivers (3-5 sets)
Incline dumbbell press
Incline dumbbell row
Side laterals to front raises (3 sets to failure)
I always push the limits on back squats. Everything else on quad day is just detail work. I lift comfortably and really focus on my form/keeping my core tight.
Front squat (4-5 sets; 10 rep weight to 3-4 rep weight)
Bulgarian split squat (3 sets each leg) (no rest between legs)
Kettlebell walking lunges (50 lunges each leg with as little rest as possible)
Calf raises w/ dumbbells in hand (3 sets to failure) (toes forward, inward, then outward)
I alternate between using comfortable weights + higher reps (10 reps max) and heavy weights + lower reps (3-5 reps). If your upper body bulks easily you’ll likely want to stick with comfortable weights.. unless you’re looking to bulk then get on with your bad self.
Hammer curls (5 sets)
Dumbbell curls (5 sets)
Reverse grip bent over rows
Kettlebell sumo high pulls (3 sets; heavy)
I rarely do abs but have a pretty solid core (read: 6 pack) thanks to good form and - wait for it - genetics (I carry all my weight in my ass and thighs). A lot of people say abs are made in the kitchen and while there’s some truth to that, it also comes down to genetics and how your body distributes fat. Regardless, if you engage your core during your workouts, you shouldn’t have to spend much time training your abdominal muscles. If you want visible abs (and you naturally carry weight in your midsection), you’re going to have to train them like crazy and eat a diet that’s devoid of most things delicious.. which is no way to live, IMO.
I completely overhauled my diet over the course of the past two years. I went from an unintentional low protein/low carb/low fat diet to high protein/high carb/high fat and I feel so much better for it. In early 2017 I started eating meat again because my body started craving it something fierce (big fan of intuitive eating) (and also a firm believer that our bodies know best). Prior to adding meat, I’d put a solid 14 pounds on my 110# frame but was having trouble putting on more weight (you can only eat so much, man). Once I started incorporating animal protein back into my diet, I put on an additional eight pounds in two months.
I got up to 140# in April 2018 (after two years of lifting) but then, at the end of May, I was diagnosed with a pretty gnarly stomach ulcer and lost 15 pounds over the course of treatment. I’m currently trying to put the weight back on though I have no desire to weigh 140# again.
I pretty much eat whatever I want (within moderation) but I do try to cap my daily added sugar intake to 40g (this includes natural sugar) (sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar). If I end up going over, I don’t beat myself up about it because life is too short, man.
If you’re exhausted and truly don’t feel like working out, take a day off. Hell, take a week off. An entire month if that’s the signal your body’s throwing your way. I can count on one hand how many times I worked out from March 2017 to June 2017. It was an intense period of time for me and I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed and kick my own ass (or let someone else kick my ass). Eventually things calmed down and I picked right back up where I left off. If you’re just being lazy.. get that ass to the gym. You’ll feel so much better for it, I promise.
My goals are all performance-based, not aesthetic-based. Aesthetic-based goals are easier to achieve over a considerably shorter period of time (six weeks vs. six months), but they’re not sustainable long-term. Set goals for performance and the aesthetic part will come.. eventually. Also? Goals shouldn’t have time limits (ex: I will squat 220# by December 2018) because 1) those kinds of goals can quickly make you loathe your time at the gym and 2) they’re setting you up for potential failure.
Be realistic. Be patient. And enjoy the process. It’s taken me three years to get to where I am now.
I think programs like BBG are absolute garbage. You see results fast (because you’re operating at a calorie deficit) but you know what happens when you take six weeks off due to a personal crisis? Your muscles atrophy and your body reverts to what it was before you started the program. With weight training, I can take six weeks off - hell, I can even lose 15 pounds - and be right back where I left off within a week or two.
I’m a huge proponent of exercise routines that set you up for long-term success, because anything else is just a waste of your time.
- I am officially a little bulky (didn’t realize it until I started outgrowing all my shirts and jackets and I was like WhAt Is HaPpEnInG). But I could easily de-bulk by not supplementing my workouts with so much food.
- Here’s a little before/after (err, in process) action. I was very, very thin when I started this process in 2016.
- I use this planner to track my progress (very important when you’re trying to get stronger, you can’t just wing it).
- I don’t track macros (that shit is for the birds) but I do track my protein when I’m actively trying to build muscle.
- I drink a 36g protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing my workout. I use this protein powder and 1 scoop of this peanut butter powder (mixed with a fuckton of water). If I need an energy boost, I go for a full shot protein shake (made with this protein powder).
- I’m not big on supplements but do use collagen (great source of protein), BCAA (great for muscle soreness), l-glutamine (great for supporting muscle tissue), and ethanol-extracted full spectrum hemp extract (great for recovery).
- Favorite crops and favorite tanks and favorite shoes (they provide zero support, though).
- Choose your protein powder wisely. Vega Performance Protein is the only plant-based protein powder I use. It certainly is not my favorite flavor wise (stevia, GROSS) but I drink protein shakes to nourish my muscles, and Vega PP does that the best.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org but please note that I will not give out specific training/nutrition advice as I am neither a trainer or a nutritionist. I follow a program that works for my body and I urge you to figure out what works for your body, too.