My Current Lifting Routine in 2016 – Part 1 – Mondays and Thursdays
So how I want to post my current lifting routine is by going step by step on what I do on each day and go into details on why I do what I do. This is going to be a multi-post thing. Every post will be each day of my routine split with a quick view summary at the top and then an in depth analysis into how and why. After those, I will go over dieting and other parts of my routine.
It’s important, in my opinion, to understand that a routine isn’t just a list of motions to do. It’s almost a lifestyle you perform in and out of the gym. You can’t just go – “Oh give me your routine.” and copy another successful person’s lifting routine. You need to understand why and how to do the routine correctly too.
For these first few posts, I will go over my routine in the gym. Starting with…
Monday and Thursday – Chest, Triceps, and Delts
I split my lifting days into 2 split sets of 3 days, Monday – Saturday, 6 days at the gym. The first day of the set is Chest, Triceps, and Delts which I do every Monday and Thursday. I go for about 1.5 – 2 hours.
Here’s a quick overview of how today looks for me:
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Skullcrushers – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Rear Delt Flyes – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Butterfly Machine (Pec Flyes) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Tricep Pushdown – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Delt Side Lateral Raise – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Front Dumbbell Raise – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Cable Crossover – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- HIIT Cardio – 15-20mins (Optional, very good for cutting fat with little muscle loss)
That’s what a Monday and Thursday lift day looks like to me. Read on more for the details, I highly recommend doing so ->
The muscle groups for the split day
I specifically chose to have Chest, Triceps, and Delts all on day 1 of my split because they share 2 similar things.
- They are similar working groups. When you do chest, you work your triceps and or your shoulders (delts) in too. Same for Triceps. The shoulders are most used on a Chest day so it makes sense to put them in on this day too.
- They are all categorized as PUSH days. Every single exercise I listed above requires my muscles to PUSH out. This compares to the PULL day, which is Day 2. Next post will go over that.
Sets and Reps (and the warm ups)
Notice how I do at least 4 sets for each exercise. What I do for every exercise is I do about 30% less weight on my first set and pump out 14-20 reps. It doesn’t matter to me if I am fatigued or not at the end. I want to get the blood flowing into the muscles before I start. The blood flow will allow me to 1. Lift more 2. Recover faster (even start recovery between sets).
The mystical Pump Arnold talks about has other benefits besides feeling really good. More blood flow helps get nutrients to the muscle to recover between sets and the long term recovery. Recovery is the key to fitness. A muscle’s recovery starts as soon as your set is done. To help with getting the most out of my sets, the warm up set gets my muscles ready to take on the heavy load and recover faster.
Each set, I aim to do 10-14 reps. This means I am not lifting 100% of what I can do. In fact it’s not even 80% of what I can more. Hypertrophy happens best at higher reps between 8-14 reps. So I use whatever weight I can use to make sure I stay in that range. But I always do as many reps as I can put out. I always go to failure basically. If I hit 10, I hit 10. If I hit 8, I hit 8. But I shouldn’t be going below 10 before Set 2 & 3. That means it’s too heavy. I want to touch on this on a later section. It’s important.
I take a certain amount of rest between sets. Most recommend 1min between sets. I do 1 1/2 minutes. This gives my muscles ample time to go a good full round next and enough blood to flow around. If I wait too soon, I feel I am not rested enough to take on the next set with the amount of reps I want to do.
Separating the lifts
I don’t know if you noticed, but I do each exercise basically in isolated groups. I give time for a muscle group to rest before working it again in the same session. But that’s not all I do. The very first lift I do at the gym will be my main and biggest lift, always. It takes the most energy and it is the most demanding lift of the night so I need to do it first or I won’t be able to do it well at all.
So here we have first exercise being Incline Dumbbell Chest Press. This is my main focused lift of the night and the most demanding one. Then the second lift is not a chest exercise, I do a tricep exercise now. And I also pick tricep vs delt because if I did triceps before chest, the chest is going to be affected by this fatigue.
Chest -> Tricep -> Delt -> Chest (repeat)
This goes back to giving rest and recovery time. We’re staggering what muscles we workout to get the most out of our 1-2 hours of lifting.
Why I chose these specific exercises
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press – You will not believe how people ignore their upper chest. The upper chest is half of the muscle on your chest and the size of it make make or break your physique. Incline Dumbbell Press will help develop the upper chest and your shoulders in one go.
Skullcrushers – It is my belief that skullcrushers are in the top 2 best tricep exercises. Make sure you do these the RIGHT WAY. Do not listen to a bunch of small personal trainers who say you shouldn’t bring the bar to your face. NO. These guys have small triceps and don’t know shit. Bring the bar, while keeping your elbows in around the same spot, bring the bar down to your FACE (your eyes) and back up again. If you can’t get it back up again, just hold the bar at your face, don’t let go. Now rock yourself back up and push the bar up at the same time like a bench press.
Rear Delt Flyes – This is real simple to do. These hit your delts on the backside of your shoulder. This shouldn’t really be a back exercise but it is all in that area. But whatever. There’s gray areas. This exercise goes great just before the next exercise because it’s usually the same machine that does the Chest Flyes too.
Chest Flyes Machine (Butterfly) – I prefer a machine that has handles with fully extended arms and not the pads you put your forearms on. This, in my opinion, gets your chest better. And really I don’t care if you use cables for this, the motion counts. From what I understand, the chest really builds well with across chest squeezing motions, not pushing motions. Pushing is the triceps for at least half of that push. The end of a push is done by the Serratus muscles. But a Pec Fly motion gets the chest and gets it well. This is by far my favorite lift to do all week. Your elbows do not have to locked and arms completely straight for this. You don’t want your arms to go back too far either. It isn’t helping your chest when the bar comes too far back. Even at chest level it may be too far back. Smash out as many of these as you can and hold the squeeze at the bottom for 1 second before releasing back. At the last set, when you’re completely done, IMMEDIATELY turn around, change the weight to the WARM UP weight and smash out as many more reps as you can. Now you’re done.
Tricep Pushdown – I said skullcrushers were top 2, this is the other exercise in that top 2 lifts for triceps. This exercise got me the most gains in my triceps compared to any other lift. But this is another one that you can mess up very easily! You want to stand fairly straight up and for me I bend my knees and wait a little. The very top of this lift, my elbows are tucked in at my sides/lats, but not forced there. My hands allow the bar to come up all the way. Then in a single motion, I use only my triceps to push the bar down. Do not use your body weight to push it down. Do not use your lats to push it down. At the bottom, your arms should be FULLY extended and your triceps completely flexed/squeezed. Hold it for 1 second and slowly come back the other direction.
I like to use a V shape handle bar for this. Others like to use the rope handles or just a straight bar. Pick what you want. The angle may affect what part of the tricep is worked out the most but this is negligible. And because this exercise is done so poorly by people, I am posting a video along with it. Yes it it that hard for me to find a gif of someone doing this the right way.
Delt Side Lateral Raise – I had a hard time getting delts to grow. This year I changed to do delt side lateral raises and I haven’t regretted it. I finally have delts coming in! These are fairly simple to do. In my opinion, they work the delts better than a shoulder press would. It does for me at least. Don’t be fooled into think you need a ton of weight for this. But don’t be fooled into doing too little weight. It’s easy for this exercise to fatigue the muscle with much less than what you can actually do at 10 reps. Experiment until you feel comfortable that you hit the sweet spot of weight to reps. I like to reverse my breathing from OUT on the Push and IN on the inverse to breathing IN when I bring the dumbbells out and OUT when the dumbbells come back down. Your lungs have a harder time expanding and contracting the opposite way. It’ll feel more comfortable this way. This lift will work the main/bulk of your deltoids. This is the mass gainer for them.
Front Dumbbell Raise – Now I do something different in the order. Instead of letting my delts rest and the blood flow out, I immediately (after a rest period of course) go to Front Dumbbell Raises from The Lateral Raises. I’m almost done with my session and I want to finish it off on Chest. The delts will be completely fatigued though so I want to do these before the blood flows out of the delts. I usually don’t even use a different weight for these either. These will work the front of the delts.
Cable Crossover – I love to finish chest day on this. Great finisher and way to push out what’s left. It also targets the lower pectoral muscles on your chest better than most other exercises. And again we’re getting that chest squeeze and not the push here.
You want to come out from the starting positions a little, have one step forward, and lean forward a bit. You don’t want your arms to come out perpendicular to your body, aim your arms to where it’s like you’re doing a Most Muscular flex to show off. This where you’ll hit the lower chest muscles best. Do as much as you can and hold the squeeze at the bottom for 1 second before releasing back. At the last set, when you’re completely done, IMMEDIATELY turn around, change the weight to the WARM UP weight and smash out as many more reps as you can. Now you’re done.
HIIT Cardio post-workout
Okay, you just spent an hour and a half doing a great chest session. If you have time, and you feel like cutting down fat, you can add in a 15-20min HIIT Cardio session IMMEDIATELY after your last exercise.
A HIIT Cardio session after lifting is one of the best ways to shred fat without your body losing muscle mass. Normal cardio sessions will eat away at your muscles gains. Cardio is BAD for keeping muscle. But HIIT (and Sprints, which is a type of HIIT) are good. Don’t do HIIT before lifting. It will not work well and you’ll reduce your energy levels needed for lifting at your maximum performance.
Do 15-20 minutes of very intense cardio. It can be a stairclimber, high tension stationary bike, sprints, or full on 20 minutes of running. I don’t care. But it has to be 15-20 minutes STRAIGHT of non-stop high intensity cardio.
That concludes this blog post about my lifting routine on Split Day 1. I’ll be writing up about Split Day 2, Split Day 3, Dieting and Supplementation, and one more on Advanced lifting details/mindsets. There’s other stuff I’ll get into too maybe like a Beginner’s/Starter Lifter guide, my experience from moving from Intermediate lifting to Advanced lifting, and more.
These things take time to type up, they are very long, and there is a lot of information to convey. I won’t be able to link in the individual studies and research parts for every why so don’t come to my blog posts expecting BioLayne Norton level PhD discussions on why I do a certain thing. But details do matter, so I will try to explain as much as possible and try to remember the details as I go.
Thanks for reading this post, I’ll get another out as soon as I can and I hope your lifting improves from what I have learned and shared.
If you haven't read it yet, see Part 2 (Tuesday/Friday-Biceps, Back/Lats, Forearms, Traps)>>