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How to Train & Gain – The Workout Regime I Used to Gain 65lbs of Lean Muscle

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on how I transformed my physique.

In case you missed it you can catch up on part 1:
How to Eat to Gain Muscle & Shred Fat – The Dieting Principles I used to pack on 65 lean pounds

And here’s part 3:

NO BS Muscle Building Supplements I used to go from Skinny to Jacked

dumbbell rack

When I started working out I experimented with every type of workout regime possible.

  • High weight, high reps (with questionable form)
  • High weight, low reps
  • Low weight, high reps
  • High volume
  • Low volume
  • Full body workouts
  • Individual muscle groups
  • Training opposing muscles on the same day (e.g. chest and back)

You could say I had paralysis by over analysis

In hindsight the biggest mistake I made was hopping between routines far too often.

Following a workout regime for a minimum of 6 months before deciding whether it is or isn’t working for you is what I’d recommend to the newcomers.

Now, let’s delve into the workout regime I used to pack on lean muscle mass.

The Foundation of my Workout Regime

Over the course of the past 4 – 5 years I have changed around the order of my exercises, the accessory work I perform and a few other minor details.

HOWEVER…

The foundation of my workout regime has stayed the same, why?

Because it works.

I start each workout with 1 -2 mass building compound exercises focusing on lifting as much weight as I possibly can while maintaining correct form.

I never comprise my form for weight.

I leave my ego at the door when I enter the gym.

After performing my heavy compound movements I perform 2 – 3 ‘accessory’ exercises focusing on the same muscle group as the compound lifts.

Which leads me into my next principle.

I train 1 – 2 muscle groups per day.

I do not believe in working secondary muscle groups on the same day as the primary muscle group e.g. I do not train chest and triceps on the same day, or back and biceps – I instead opt for a dedicated arm day.

Abdominals & calves are trained on an adhoc basis – e.g. when time permits after my normal workout which is generally once per week.

The Exercises

I attribute the following exercises to the results I have achieved.

Chest

Incline dumbbell Press

Flat Barbell Press

Weighted dips

Incline Cable Flies

Back

Weighted pull-ups

Deadlifts

Bent over rows Shoulders

Shoulders

Military press

Seated dumbbell press

Side lateral raises

Arms

Bi’s)

Barbell bicep curls

Incline dumbbell curls

Tri’s)

Tricep dips

Skull rushers

Legs

High bar back squats

Vertical leg press

 The Reps

I like to lift heavier weight for fewer reps than most people. For my big compound exercises (the first 1 or 2 exercises of my workout) I will lift within the 4 – 6 rep range. The following few accessory exercises will be performed in the 6 – 8 rep range.

Why do I do this?

Because it works

I have found both size and strength gains to be optimal when lifting within this range…

If I lift for fewer reps than this I will notice an increase in strength, but no size gains.

If I lift in the higher rep range I will make gradual size gains however my strength will continue to plateau.

This works for me and I’m sure it will work for you too, if you’re into reading studies that back up these claims I recommend checking out the articles here and here.

I can guarantee you that 95% of personal trainers out there will disagree with my advice will tell you to do 10 reps.

It’s unconventional.

Why?

Because it’s what their 6 week course to get qualified taught them, they don’t know any better, they have no interest in learning more and according to them it works (even though they haven’t tried it themselves).

The Rest

I rest for 1:30 – 2 minutes between sets of heavy compound exercises.

I rest for 30 – 45 seconds between sets of accessory exercises.

Goal Based Training – Cutting vs. Bulking Workouts

My workout structure including exercises, rep ranges and rest time between sets does not change at all whether I am in a cutting or bulking phase.

I learnt early on that performing high reps with less weight (which is a very common approach used) when cutting is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as the amount of muscle you’ll retain while losing weight is far less than if you were to keep your reps low and your weights heavy.

In short it’s a myth that lower weight, higher repetition training will ‘tone’ the muscles and bring out ‘striations’.

This all comes down to your caloric intake I discussed in part 1 of this series.

Champions Come in Pairs of Two

On the journey there’s days when you’ll feel demotivated and won’t be giving it your all.

Everyone can relate to this.

This is why I have a training partner and, if possible recommend you get one too.

The big bonus of having a training partner who can not only help drag your ass to the gym when you’re not feeling it is the forced repetitions you’ll be able to get.

When you’re benching 275lbs without a spotter to assist on those gruelling last few reps subconsciously you won’t be giving it your all – I used a training partner to get the most out of my workouts and would recommend you do the same too.

However, a word of caution…

Make sure your training partner is as motivated and dedicated as you. If they’re not the intensity of your workouts will diminish – meaning you’d be better off on your own.

The Workout

Like I said, I’ve changed my routine around several times, so here’s a foundation routine using the fundamentals I have laid out above. Give this work out a try for 6 months, you won’t be disappointed with the results.

Chest:

Incline dumbbell press 5x 4-6 reps

Flat barbell press – 5x 4-6 reps

Dips – 3x 8 reps

Incline Cable Flies – 3×8 reps

 

Back:

Weighted pull-ups – 5x 4-6 reps

Deadlifts – 5x 4-6 reps

Bent over row – 4x 8 reps

 

Shoulders:

Military press – 5x 4-6 reps

Dumbbell side lateral raises– 4x 6-8 reps

Dumbbell rear delt flies – 4x 6-8 reps

 

Arms:

Barbell bicep curls – 5x 4 – 6 reps

Incline dumbbell curls – 4x 6 – 8 reps

Chin-ups – 1x failure

Weighted tricep dips – 5x 4 – 6 reps

Skull crushers – 4x 6-8 reps

Close grip push-ups – 1x failure

 

Legs:

Barbell back squats – 5x 4-6 reps

Vertical leg press – 5x 6 reps

Leg extensions – 2x 10

Romanian deadlifts – 2x 10

 
Final Thoughts

old school bench press

I’ve tried it all – switching between routine to routine trialling to see what my body responds best to. As a natural gym-goer a greater emphasis on strength based training is important. The way those ‘enhanced’ fitness models you see on YouTube and in photo shoots train is quite different to how you or I should train – they can perform lighter weights and huge volume and net great gains. Unfortunately as a natural athlete, training like this will not net you the same results.

Whether you’re new to working out or have been performing a higher repetition based routine for a while I recommend giving the above a try.

Any questions? Anything else you’d like to add?

Let me know in the comments below!

Click here to download your free Bodyweight Barrage eBook!

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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