Spring is here! If you live somewhere that experiences all the seasons, spring can be an exciting time of renewal and positivity. The weather is not so freezing cold and there are more hours of daylight. We can feel summer coming! I like to take this time of year to change up my training program.
Constantly researching new ways of training can be both good and bad. Most programs sound awesome on paper, but a lot of them won’t fit into a real life. Gone are my days of having the time, energy and motivation to train hard for hours, train twice a day or do extra workouts just for fun.
Another downer about constantly researching new programs is that they can sound more attractive than the one you are on. However, resist the temptation to constantly be swapping from one plan to another – you have to work a program long enough to get the benefits! It’s commonplace for me to follow programs for at least eight weeks and very often longer. I keep records of my weights lifted, sets, reps, and recovery times so I’m always challenged by trying to beat something from the last session and can see progressions. Get good at the movements in your program and you will be able to lift more weight with them, which is the key to improvement.
At the moment I train with weights four times per week and do no cardio unless I get out on my mountain bike. But even within that framework there are still heaps of variations! This time around I am moving to my own version of a Push/Pull split as follows:
Monday – Legs with a booty focus
You can’t go wrong with this mainstay of programming! I’ve previously been using a wide stance, so this time around I’ll bring my feet a bit closer together, but still focus on getting right down as low as I can. I use a tried and true bodybuilding formula of four sets of eight reps here.
Reverse Lunges With Barbell
I really struggle with these! My balance is bad, probably due to many significant knee and ankle injuries, and as a consequence I always feel like I’m going to fall over. Time to work on that! I’ll be focusing on keeping the motion smooth, trying not to reach too far back with my lunging leg and utilising my core to remain upright. For this exercise do four sets of eight reps again.
This is such a killer exercise! I hold dumbbells and use higher reps, being sure to get nice and low and activate my glutes. Do four sets of 12–15 reps here.
Time for a super-set!
Do four sets of eight reps of stiff legged dead-lifts super-set with four sets of 15–20 reps of back hyper-extensions. For the hyper-extensions, try having your toes point outwards, round your upper back and tuck your chin in a bit. These help focus the movement more in your glutes. You can be more explosive with these and hold a weight if you want.
Finish off with four sets of calves raises and you’re done!
Tuesday – Pull Day
Straight Arm Pull-downs
These are a great lat activator! You don’t need to go heavy here, focus on only using the lats as much as possible. Try three sets of about 10 reps.
How bad ass is it to do proper chins, especially with a weight hanging off you on a chain! Or do them on the lat pull-down machine. Do four sets of eight reps.
Bent Over Rows
For that back thickness, I love it. Try and do four sets of eight reps here.
Straight Bar Bicep Curls
Be sure to work within the range of motion that keeps the focus on your biceps. Watch out for swinging your body in this one. Try four sets of eight reps.
Channel the bodybuilding greats and go heavy on this one. Remember to grunt. Try out four sets of 10–12 reps.
Proper Sit Ups
I could do a whole separate blog post on how to do a proper sit up! But basically see if you can keep your feet flat on the floor throughout (don’t cheat by hooking under something or lifting any part of your foot), keep a 90 degree bend in your knees and keep your hands on the side of your head throughout. Try doing four sets of ten reps. Don’t feel bad if you can’t even do one proper one at the start! Start with your heels a bit further away from your butt and just keep trying to bring your heels in closer to your butt each time.
I have a cute little wheel to use for these (a bargain at K-Mart) but you can also use a barbell with round weights at each end. Watch your lower back, don’t tuck your chin into your chest and only go out as far as you can without pain.
Thursday – Push Day
I always want bigger shoulders so I start my workout focusing on the area I most want to improve. Military presses are a great mass builder, you can move a lot of weight and once you’ve done some super strict reps you can always use a bit of body movement to get a few more up and focus on going slow on the way down. Try out four sets of eight reps here.
One Arm Landmine Shoulder Press
This is the first time I’ve programmed these in for myself and I love them! You’ll feel your core working as well here. Again, be strict with your form initially but on the last few reps use a bit of push through your legs to get the bar up then focus on controlling on the way down. Try four sets of eight reps.
This is a mainstay exercise to get strong! For this exercise do four sets of eight reps.
Parallel Bar Dips
Do weighted as necessary. If you can’t do dips, use a machine that assists you or swap to push ups with your feet elevated. Try out four sets of eight reps.
Close Grip Tricep Bench Press
This is a great exercise to build triceps, using a good weight. Some trainers count these as one of the best mass builders out there for triceps. Be sure to keep your elbows pointed forward and not out to the sides and hold it for a pause at the bottom (a pause, not a rest!), feeling those triceps bunched up and taking the strain. Do four sets of eight reps.
Overhead Rope Tricep Extensions
I love these for a tricep finisher! Use higher reps and try to pull the rope apart at the extended phase. Try out four sets of 10–12 reps.
Friday – Dead-lifts
I’m not sure if this is my favourite session or the one I dread most! Maybe a bit of both.
I give myself some freedom here and play around with sets, reps and exercises depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I will just dead-lift, and it might only be five or six sets of five or six reps, or it might be ten sets.
I might start with normal dead lifts then move on to sumo dead lifts. I might go up in weight and down in reps (for example one set of 12 reps, then add some weight and do one set of ten reps, add some more weight and do one set of eight reps, add some more weight and do one set of six reps, then see what I can lift for 2 or 3 reps to finish), or go down in weight and up in reps, or throw in some paused reps!
There are so many options! If I have a bit of time and energy after my dead-lift session (unlikely) I might do some band work or walking lunges to finish.
I have an optional workout on the weekend as well, which you would have seen in a previous Bulk Nutrients blog – it’s my Wonder Woman workout! It’s meant to be on Saturdays, but usually I float to Sundays to allow a bit of extra recovery time after Friday’s session!
So there you go! Hopefully you find a few ideas in here to give your spring training a boost!
Let us know what you think of Bridget’s current training program in the comments below.