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. Second post now…
Tuesday and Friday – Biceps, Back & Lats, Forearms, Traps
I split my lifting days into 2 split sets of 3 days, Monday – Saturday, 6 days at the gym. The second day of the set is Biceps, Back and Lats, Forearms, and Traps which I do every Tuesday and Friday. I go for about 1.5 – 2 hours.
Here’s a quick overview of how today looks for me:
- Preacher Curls (EZ Bar) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Dumbbell Shrugs – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Hammer Curls – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Dumbbell Bicep Curls (Standing) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Seated Lat Row – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Forearm Curls (Dumbbells Standing) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Forearm Extensions (Barbell Seated) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Lat Pullovers (Seated Machine) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Alternative: Standing Front Lat Pushdowns (Wide Grip Bar) – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- HIIT Cardio – 15-20mins (Optional, very good for cutting fat with little muscle loss)
That’s what a Tuesday and Friday lift day looks like to me. Read on more for the details, I highly recommend doing so ->
The muscle groups for this split day
I specifically chose to have Biceps, Back and Lats, Forearms, and Traps all on day 2 of my split because they share 2 similar things.
- They are similar working groups. When you do back exercises, you’re also working out the biceps AND forearms. When you do shrugs for traps, your forearms are in heavy play. It makes sense to pair these muscles together to work them out and have them recover at the same time.
- They are all categorized as PULL exercises. Every single exercise I listed above requires my muscles to PULL In. This compares to the PUSH day, which is on Day 1. My previous post went over that.
This is the “show off” muscles day
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 Preacher Curls (EZ Bar). This is my main focused lift of the night and the most demanding one. Then the second lift is not a bicep exercise, I do a Back/Lats exercise now. And I also pick back vs forearms or traps because if I did forearms before back or even traps, the forearms is going to be affected by this fatigue and my grip will be reduced for the rest of the night.
Bicep -> Back/Lat -> Forearm or Traps -> Bicep (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 and tips on doing them
NOTE: I am still refining and tweaking this routine. It is very easy to swap out these lifts for other lifts. But I am satisfied with my progress on it so far and any Starter or Intermediate or even an early Advanced lifter could benefit from it most likely.
Alternative FIRST Lift: Pull Ups – If you can do 10-14 pull ups, do them before even Preacher Curls.
Preacher Curls (EZ Bar) – Preacher Curls are the meat and potatoes of my bicep session. They are the most demanding and my main focus so it goes first. I choose Preacher Curls over Standing Barbell Curls because Preacher Curls give more isolation to the biceps and reduces cheating on the movement. This can be helpful for others who can’t seem to grasp the feeling of NOT incorporating other muscles on Barbell Curls, not that I’m one of them, but I prefer getting the strict isolation in here. There is a debatable downside though, some say the inclined surface reduces the motion range at the bottom and or the gravity tension at the top. I think those issues are bullshit though. Preachers have given me the most immediate results for me.
Don’t sit back so much, I think leaning forward is best so you can go ALL the way down on the decline motion. Bring the bar up to the top and squeeze and hold it there for 1 second and then slowly go back down. Keep your grip somewhat close. Either at shoulder length or closer. The wide EZ bar grips will hurt your forearms too much.
Alternative Lift: Barbell Curls (Standing)
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns – Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns are especially good if you aren’t able to do many Pull Ups. But these are great for even when you can do pull ups, you can easily do even more weight than your body weight at these machines. They also really focus on your lats very well. In my opinion, these are the main lat exercise and give me the best results.
You need to make sure you do these with great form. Keep your lower back straight and bend your middle and upper back backwards so your chest starts facing the ceiling. You’re not just doing a straight Pull Up like motion, you’re facing up at the ceiling a bit and bringing the bar down to your chest. And no you don’t have to touch your chest to the bar, but you need to get close and let it stick there for half a second to a second.
Alternative Lift: Pull Ups or Weighted Pull Ups (Do these first and instead shift the routine around or add another back lift here)
Dumbbell Shrugs – Shrugs get the traps. Traps don’t need a lot of work really. I seriously ONLY do one lift for them. I do Dumbbell shrugs instead of Barbell or Trap bar because it’s easy and convenient. But I do feel the trap bar is the best overall. When I max out the Dumbbell weight, I will have to use the trap bar shrugs. But until then, I’m doing Dumbbell Shrugs. Bonus, dumbbell shrugs are great for forearms too.
Make sure to not focus on any specific facing side to shrug. Just neutral stance, up and down. And you should be at the maximum part of your shrug at the top and hold it for a second. I don’t know why I had to tell someone once to shrugs ALL THE WAY UP. I couldn’t imagine why they would think to only go until they felt tension and not the maximum range of motion. And whatever you do, don’t you dare drop those dumbbells. I don’t care if you can hardly hold them at the end of your set, put them back on the rack or gently on the ground until you’re ready for the next set.
Alternative Lift: Trap Bar Shrugs or Barbell Shrugs
Hammer Curls – Every bicep routine should have Hammer Curls. If you flex your bicep right now and then moved your hand into a hammer use position, you’ll see and or feel that the muscles being used are different. We want to get these other muscles that normal curls will not get. Hammer Curls will add a lot of mass to your arms.
When I do this lift, instead of alternating the arms, I curl both arms at the same time. It felt more natural and it prevents me from cheating by keeping my hands facing straight. You do not have to do this. But do not do the lift in front of my chest. Imagine you’re lifting up a hammer to hammer a nail. The motion is the same.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls (Standing) – Very cliche lift, but it is very good AND easy to mess up. Stand straight up and keep your back straight the entire time. Do not lean back or rock. You are cheating the lift. The alternating can be hard to keep count. I start with my right arm first (1 – Odd) then left (2 – Even). The number I count to is 2x what I should be aiming to lift. It being odd or even refers to either my right or left hand respectively. Just make sure to keep things EQUAL. If you do the right arm and only finish the rep HALFWAY, you need to do the left arm too and go HALFWAY at least. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose symmetry in both physical size and strength.
Alternative Lift: Concentration Curls or Over the Bench (Preacher Like) Dumbbell Curls
Concentration Curls are very good and you can do them instead of the standing dumbbell curls. But you need to make extra sure you don’t cheat, this is supposed to be an isolation exercise. My recommendation is also placing the opposite hand under the curling elbow to lock it in place.
Seated Lat Row – This lift comes in multiple forms. There are seated cable rows, seated weight plate row machines, and seated row machines (sitting up against a pad). I don’t care which one you pick if you have the options. Pick what you like to do. I prefer the Seated Cable Row Machine I can slide on 45lb weight plates on with flexible grip handles. I’d LOVE to show you what it looks like but I can’t find a picture of one of these plate machines at all.
But that’s okay, you can use cable or the regular machines, they’re just as good. Keep your back straight, as always, and imagine you’re rowing a boat (and the water is made of rubber cement lol).
Forearm Curls (Dumbbells Standing) – These are really simple to do. I like these over other forearm exercises cause of the range of motion. Holding the dumbbells while standing also works the forearms in general. Stand with dumbbells at your side like you’re doing the Dumbbell Shrugs. Now just curl your wrists in and hold them at the top for a second and release down. And if you want to burn them out, instead of putting the dumbbells down at the end of the reps, when you can’t do more reps, just hold onto the dumbbells as long as you can. Now you’re doing a Farmer’s Carry too! Then put them down and rest.
Alternative Lift: Farmers Carry
Forearm Extensions (Barbell Seated) – I call these Extensions. Others call them Palms Down Wrist Curls. Extensions is more accurate to me. You can do these over a bench or sit on a bench and use your knees to place your wrists on. These work the outer forearms and will finish up your forearms.
Lat Pullovers (Seated Machine) – I like to finish the night off with Lat Pullovers. These are hard to do as the machines to do this motion are not that common. Luckily my Gold’s Gym has 2 actually. I do not recommend the variant on a bench lifting a barbell or dumbbell, it won’t be as effective and you could just instead do the Standing Front Lat Pushdowns instead and get better results.
Alternative Lift: Standing Front Lat Pushdown (Wide Grip Bar)
These are actually really good, definitely recommend it for others to swap out Pullovers for these instead if they like the lift better or more convenient. I may actually be switching to these soon to see how they work for me.
HIIT Cardio post-workout
Okay, you just spent an hour and a half doing a great lifting 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 2. I’ll soon be writing up about 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.