Get in Shape for Summer – My Detailed Spring Workout Routine

April 30, 2009

I typically recommend that people stay in shape year round, so they don’t ever have to worry about getting in shape for summer.

That being said, the reality is that it is easy to slide when you are bundled up for part of the year. This blog has been around for 2 years and I don’t think I’ve ever done a detailed post on any of my workouts. For those who are interested, here is the exact routine I’m doing this spring.

Hopefully it will you guys a few ideas.

spring workout

[Almost time to wear sandals for those of us who are going into summer. I love the smell of summer just as much as the weather: BBQ’s, freshly cut grass, sun block, the ocean, etc. Bring it on!]

My Workout Will Not Be Ideal for Everyone

We all are at different fitness levels and have slightly different goals. I didn’t want to do this post so people would copy my exact routine. I wanted to outline my routine and the thinking behind it, to give people ideas on things they could do to tweak their routines to hit their goals.

This will also show you how I implement a lot of the strategies talked about on this site and how it all “fits together”.

So How Many Times Per Week Do I Hit the Gym?

I’m going to the gym 4 times per week this spring. In the past I used to go 5 times, but that is before I implemented body weight circuits into my routine. Here is the post that describes one of the circuits: Body Weight Circuits Are Kickin’ My Butt!.

I do this once per week in the morning instead of going to the gym. Occasionally I will do these twice per week and just go to the gym 3 times per week.

Bottom line…I try my best to get 5 workouts in per week, but this is more than normal. During summer I’m lucky to get in 3 “official” workouts per week.

What Type of Body Part Split Do I Do?

I like to do Chest, Back and Abs on one day…Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps on another day. I like this method for a few reasons. Working opposing muscle groups on the same day, help maintain good posture and muscle balance. A common problem with people who work chest a lot is that it can pull the shoulders forward.

I like to follow with back to insure that this doesn’t happen. Even if I do most of my back exercises first, I always end with seated cable rows to insure that my shoulders don’t get pulled forward.

The same concept applies when doing biceps and triceps together.

Why I Don’t Do Direct Resistance Training For Legs

Many people disagree with me on this one stating that squats and deadlifts are great ways to increase HGH, boost the metabolism, etc. The problem is that they are TOO effective in some ways. These exercises will put a lot of mass on your legs, hips, and butt.

It is weird, because it kind of creeps up on you. Regular pants won’t fit as well, you will be slower at some activities, etc. I believe that tough intervals and HIIT work is all you need to have amazing leg definition (without all the excess size).

If I could go back in time, I would have skipped all that time spent squatting and deadlifting. It took years for my legs and butt to look normal and fit into regular pants again.

How Many Reps and Sets Do I Do Per Muscle Group?

Right now I am doing 10-12 total sets of 3 reps per muscle group. I am just focusing on two lifts per muscle group. My reasoning for this is that I’m focusing hard on specializing on less lifts to really master these lifts and gain strength.

I was doing 3 lifts per muscle group and have decided to drop one of these exercises to keep the strength gains coming along. Many of you have read my post on this principle: Drop Isolation Exercises to Get Through Sticking Points. So for each lift, I’m doing 5-6 sets.

The first 2 sets are lighter and the last 3 are heavier…so these 2 warm up sets are counted as part of the 5-6 sets (hope that makes sense).

I Do Some Form of HIIT Right After Lifting

Some people think that HIIT 3-4 times per week is excessive, but remember…I don’t do any leg lifts and the lifting that I do is a brief strength training routine (not a high volume bodybuilder workout).

I primarily do HIIT right now on the Stepmill machine. I set it on the interval setting for 15 minutes on level 15. About half of the time, I will jump on a treadmill for 15-20 minutes on a low level right after this HIIT workout. Here is more on this strategic form of cardio: Stubborn Body Fat Cardio Combo Routine.

********Day One: Chest, Back, and Abs********

Warm up: Light seated cable rows for 3 sets. I’ve been doing this lately because it warms up my shoulder joints well. It also preps the arms and gets the shoulders in the best position for strong and effective bench pressing and incline pressing.

These 3 sets are done back to back and this takes about 3-4 minutes max.

Chest Exercise #1: Bench Press
This is probably my weakest lift so I like to hit it when I’m fresh. I take a narrower grip than most people, because I feel it is safer on the shoulder joints than grabbing with a wide grip…plus it gives better development to the triceps when the grip is narrower.

I basically take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. I do a total of 6 sets of 3 reps on this lift. Each rep is slow and controlled…even the lighter warm up sets.

Chest Exercise #2: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
I like to set the bench just slightly lower than 45 degrees. I grab the dumbbells, rest them on my knees and then lift my knees up as I rock back into place.

This gets my body and the dumbbells into position at the same time. When I do these reps, I only lower the dumbbells until my upper arms are just slightly below parallel with the floor. I don’t lower the dumbbells until they touch the shoulder like a lot of people.

I find that this places unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint and wrists. I also don’t worry too much about touching the dumbbells at the top of the lift. I find that touching the dumbbells at the top transfers tension to the front delts which makes them fatigue and fail before your upper chest gets a good workout.

Back Exercise #1: Chinups
I’m currently doing 5 reps with chinups. This is the only lift I’m doing 5 reps with right now. Really the only reason is that 3 reps are way too easy. With 5 reps I can get a good workout in 6 sets. I know I could add resistance and do 3 reps, but this just feels better to me.

For some reason I don’t like going really low in reps in chinups. People who are really great at chinups, will either have to slow down the pace a bit or add resistance.

Back Exercise #2: One Arm Dumbbell Rows or Cable Rows
So I like to alternate these two exercises every other back workout. With one arm dumbbell rows I can really generate some crazy tension in the lats and lift heavy weight. I put my left knee on a flat bench, while I’m bent over to where my upper body is parallel to the floor…my right foot is resting on the ground and my knee on my right leg is slightly bent.

With my right hand I pick up a heavy dumbbell that is resting on the ground and pull it into my lower ribcage abdominal area. I lower the weight slowly and then repeat. I do the same lift on my left side. Cable rows are done slowly with the narrow parallel grip handle and pull to my lower ribcage ab area.

Abs: Planks
I don’t have a super strict plank routine here, other than that I do different variations of planks. I only spend 5-7 minutes on abs doing a quick plank workout. Bottom line is that planks create density over the entire ab region without adding mass. My abs look and feel better than ever and I haven’t done any type of crunching movement for over 8 years.

There are other approaches to getting sharp abs, but this one works wonders without having to put much time into it. I will randomly hit the floor at home for 2 minutes and do a plank a few times per week in addition to this. Here is a good basic plank routine.

spring workout

[Here is a photo intermission for you. Yes…it is a very bizarre, yet interesting photo. I’m not even sure what is happening. I just had to put a break in this large amount of text. I typically avoid doing really long posts like these.]

********Day Two: Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps********

Warm up: Light seated cable rows for 3 sets. Same warm up exercise as day one. For some reason this one works well for me.

Shoulder Exercise #1: Standing Barbell Military Press
I like to clean the bar to my shoulders and then press for 3 reps and then put the bar back down. I see some people who put the bar at shoulder height in the squat rack and then walk under the bar and press, but I don’t think this is the best way to go.

I think you should be able to clean any weight that you are able to press. In fact you should easily be able to clean much more weight than you can press. I have found that this lift has really added definition to my entire upper body and arms, not just delts. It is a great lift!

Shoulder Exercise #2: Hammer Strength Shoulder Press
I like this lift because I can really load up the weight and add tension to my shoulders and triceps. It is a great finishing exercise for shoulders, because it doesn’t take as much concentration as the military press.

Bicep Exercise #1: Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls
I like to get a seat on a bench with back support. If that isn’t available I’ll sit on the end of a flat bench. I do these alternating because I can really generate some tension with heavy dumbbells if I’m alternating…this is great for definition.

I lift slowly and lower slowly since the weights I’m using can get heavy. No need to injure or irritate the elbow joints. Also…if someone wants size in their biceps, they should lift the dumbbells at the same time (with higher reps).

You will have to use lighter weights, but it will pump up the muscle better than alternating the dumbbells.

Bicep Exercise #2: Hammer Strength Preacher Curls
One for the reasons I prefer hammer strength preacher curls over regular preachers is the tension at the top and bottom of the lift on the hammer machine.

With regular preacher curls you don’t get any tension at all at the top of the movement, so it isn’t great for getting a hard contraction at the end of the lift. Machine preacher curls simply feel more effective and safer than regular preacher curls.

Tricep Exercise #1: Weighted Dips
This is one of the best upper body lifts. I have a friend name Tom with the best triceps that I’ve ever seen. He is a mad man when it comes to dips.

Anyway…this is a great exercise. I do these about 2/3 of the time and 1/3 of the time I’ll do Hammer Strength Dip machine to test how much strength I’ve gained.

Tricep Exercise #2: Close Grip Bench Presses
I’m currently trying to increase my regular bench press a bit, so this just further trains my nervous system in a similar movement.

I go a bit narrower than regular bench presses. Whenever my pressing strength goes up, my triceps just get sharper and sharper. This lift has really helped define my front delts as well.

Some Important Points About Getting In Shape for Summer

Again…there isn’t anything magical about this particular workout routine. It is pretty basic. Diet is a huge when it comes to getting in shape for summer. I follow the realistic eating plan put together by Brad Pilon, Eat Stop Eat. I also go into all my workouts in a fasted state.

I allow myself to get hungry from time to time, while also allowing myself to eat high calorie foods from time to time.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott N April 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I agree with you except for the resistance training in the legs. I understand that its probably best for you but for me its the exact opposite. Its hard for me to put mass on my legs. Also in the spring I tend to use Ephedra to lean out. I know some of people will disagree with me but I swear by it, and so does Lyle McDonald. Im curious if you use any supps in the spring?

Yash April 30, 2009 at 8:59 pm

You have a pretty good workout plan outlined here. I’m more of a fan of getting full-body workouts when I get in the gym, and I’m not at the point where I’m worried about my legs getting big yet so I don’t shy away from that stuff. Also, I really like multi-joint movements for their efficiency [more muscles, more weight, less time] but the important thing about those workouts is to remember to take a break since they can be taxing on the nervous system. I think I’m going to ditch my previous workout for now and give Vic’s challenge a shot for the next month. Wish me luck!

Sam April 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm


Great Post! Being that I am currently trying to get really lean, could you include what your typical nutrition program looks like when you are trying to get super lean? How often do you allow yourself to eat high calorie (unhealthy) foods and still maintain consistent weight and fat loss? I also wanted to give a shout out to the Pacific Northwest since I am from Portland. Thanks again for the advice regarding eating fruit at night.


Greg at Live Fit April 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm

In years past, I stayed out of the gym over the summer, instead favoring aerobic activities (running and cycling). This summer I’m resolving to spend 3 days a week in the gym and still hit the pavement in some form 2 days a week. Just need to find time to slip in some laps in the pool. Of course, I keep my workouts to

Bryan April 30, 2009 at 11:18 pm

I’m glad you’ve finally given a full post devoted to your workout. I’ve seen you mention what you do in other talks but it really gives a lot of insight to your site to hear all the details.

Thanks for the Gym Junkies link. I’m going to do the shredded for summer thing. I’ve hit a little bit of a lull here lately after losing almost 40 pounds in the last 4.5 months but I can’t seem to get this last 7-10 pounds. It’s been too easy to slip lately so it’s time for some renewed focus.

Oh yea, I know you’re a big Star Trek fan. I got to see an advanced screening tonight. Brother, you are going to love it. It was 100 times better than I thought it was going to be and I thought it was going to be pretty good. Great, fun movie.

Fitness Guy April 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Wow that is one extensive post on a weight workout schedule. I don’t do a split these days and find that my body at 42 needs a little more time to recover than it used to. I do three sets per muscle group to failure and get my workout done in 40-45 minutes twice a week.

I really agree with the squats thing. As an avid bike rider I find it really slows me down when I am doing a lot of resistance training on my legs and would rather put the milage on instead.

Sytri April 30, 2009 at 11:48 pm

This question does not really relate to your post but how do you maintain weight?

I had just gotten to my target weight and I am almost to my target body fat percentage, but in getting to my target body fat percentage, I am finding my weight fluctuating lower or higher by about 2-3 pounds, or even 4-5 pounds, on the day I eat 6 small meals after the day I do HIIT (sprinting 10 seconds/jogging 30 or 60 seconds 17 times), strength conditioning (similar to yours) followed by a shake an hour after, and fasting throughout that day until 5, 6, or 7 P.M.

This is a two-day split.

Kane May 1, 2009 at 5:05 am

Hey, Im glad you posted this, My workout looks pretty similar, its reasuring to know im on the right path! Its so annoying because i know im so close to how i want to look, I could probably be where i want to be in 4-5 weeks, I just need to stay focused and stay away from choclate! I left a comment on the old post but I’ll just post it here again for you to look at. Thanks a lot!

Hey rusty, just a quick one. Whats your thoughts on swimming for fitness? As ive said ive come back to my parents old house to help out while my mums away at hospital, and there is a swimming pool pretty much next door, I think this owuld be a perfect time to mix up my routine. Do you have any suggestions or other input on swimming for the lean look?


Anthony May 1, 2009 at 5:26 am

Hey Rusty. I think that this post is really helpful, although I am not sure about some of these movements because of my left shoulder. I dislocated it two years ago. I don’t mean to double post, as I typed a similar long question in a post from a few weeks ago. I am at a stand-still regarding my own routine and I really want to know what you think before I make mistakes. I value your opinion more than anybody else I know. I think this is a good time to ask.

I have been incorporating the 2 day split, starting on Saturdays. This way, I can rest on Monday. Anyway, I just want to know if I’m doing everything right, so that I can build upon the correct foundation.

Basically, I eat healthy but don’t follow a specific diet; I am observant of what I eat and try to consume the healthiest range of stuff. I avoid soda, candy, processed and fast foods for the most part (90% of the time). I watch my sugars and carbs, but I can stay skinny all year round because of how my body is; putting on muscle is always harder. I don’t drink protein shakes after working out anymore, or at all for that matter, and I try to eat three meals a day or the equivalent thereof. Once school lets out, I will do HIIT and body weight circuits after working out, but I’ve always been active and play a lot of basketball. I’m 6’1″, and usually hover around 175.

Basically, this is my question. In August 2007, I dislocated my shoulder in ju jitsu practice. I neglected physical therapy the first time around, and eventually went from winter 2007 to about May ’08. I am cautious, and I don’t do activity that would endanger the shoulder. I avoid things like deadlifts and skullcrushers(wouldn’t do them anyway), and anything extreme. (Doctor told me to avoid the throwing motion, as if I was pitching in baseball.) I took a break from working out, obviously, and now I am back. So this is what I do:

Saturday: chest, back = (chin-up, bench press, pec deck; iso row[low], seated row [pulling], t-bar[wide])
Sunday: triceps, biceps, {shoulders} = (close-grip bench, cable curls; dumbell curls, barbell curls, reverse grip barbell curls, hammer curls; {fronts, shoulder press, lateral raises}
Monday: rest
Tuesday: chest, back
Wednesday: triceps, biceps, {shoulders}
Thursday: rest
Friday: active recovery? (saw somebody write this in the comments section of 2 day split post and it sounded good to me)

3 sets, 5 reps. Moderately heavy weight, but manageable (for me), working slowly. For instance, I do 30lb dumbells, 50 barbell, 30 T-bar, 80-90 bench press. 1 minute rest between sets.

I want to know if this is a good way of doing things. I am basically lean and toned, but I want to add a bit of muscle and strive for the aesthetic you have put forth, one I’ve always liked. Cam Gigandet and Brad Pitt from Snatch, and Fight Club is something I always bring myself back to.
My chest is a little more built than Beckham’s, but it is not too developed. Because of this, I feel as if my shoulders overshadow my chest, since they are more developed. I stopped working out my shoulders with fronts and such because of this. Don’t know if it was the best thing to do. My overall build is similar to his, but I am a little bigger. I sometimes feel like my arms are bigger than my chest, which is the case, and I want to be evenly distributed. My abs are good, will improve, but I feel like my stomach gets bigger when I do seated rows for some reason. I don’t know if seated rows, low rows, or high rows are better, and I feel like lat pulldowns do nothing for me because I’ve done them in the past at like 80lbs, not noticing anything.

I’d like to know what you recommend for chest and back, in my situation. The standing military press looks cool. As I never concentrated on my chest, I don’t know what I should be doing, and I am also confused about my back exercises. Should I be doing shoulders; more triceps? I don’t do tricep pushdowns because for a while I was doing 50 lb and strained my neck somehow. I guess I didn’t breathe, and felt an immense pressure in my head, like a vice grip. I kind of avoided that from then on. I could really use some kind of set chest and back workout. Any other ideas you have about my other things is welcome too. I just want to make sure I’m well proportioned, well balanced, and doing things right. I do chin ups first because I don’t have enough strength later on.

Any input is sincerely valued, and I appreciate the time you put into this site and everything you do. I feel like asking other people will give me conflicting answers, and people don’t strive for the same body type as well. Knowing what I’m after, I feel that we are on the same page, and I wholeheartedly trust your expertise. Thank you very much in advance. Hopefully I can get on the right track and stay there. I don’t know if your routine would work for me, but I don’t know enough to even determine my own, and thats why I am confused.

Jules May 1, 2009 at 5:27 am

Hehe, glad I’m not the only one who squatted/DL’ed their way out of their normal pants size 😉

Caleb - Double Your Gains May 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

Love the post as always Rusty, really informative.

And I ALWAYS wear flip flops — even during most of the Virginia winters here!

Later 🙂

Dan May 1, 2009 at 9:00 am


What kind of ephedra do you use? I tried this drink called Ximo, which did not help curb my appetite.

I’ve always been interested in ephedra, but kind of scared of it. I know a lot of people swear by it though.


laura May 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

please can you give me the number of repetions and the weight than i should use??
woman, 5.4 and 100 pounds…

Andrew May 1, 2009 at 11:24 am


After reading your typical workout, I don’t really understand why you split your muscles groups up into different days. That is a typical mass building split and it not really used for building functional strength, or getting a “hollywood” look anymore. Now it is all about training all of your muscles in total body exercises in the same day. I see you do some such as the overhead military and chin ups, but I don’t understand why you are still doing bicep curls, seated rows, etc. As for leg exercises, I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing some light work like lunges or front squats to work your whole body along with some HIIT. Just my thoughts


Dan May 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm


I’ve always wondered what one of your full workout plans looked like. Now I know. Good stuff.

I’m doing the 28 day Warp Speed Fat Loss program now to really get lean for summer. After that I am going with Eat Stop Eat and a workout routine similar to yours… maybe I’ll just make things easy on myself and use the exact routine you outlined. LOL.

What are the beaches like out in Washington in the summer? I live on the beach in NJ and have never experienced a summer on the West Coast. I’m hoping to make it out to California at some point this summer.


chuck May 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm

well rusty, i know this might be a little greedy but this kinda post is really good and i hope you publish more of this genre of posts in the future. e.g. rusty’s sample mass gain routine or rusty’s fat loss routine or fasting or diet…… it is infinite
i thinks it really shed a light on your idea of training and can really clear ppl’s mind up. sometimes words may be confusing…

Ryan May 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm


I have always felt that bicep curls were somewhat of a waste of time since you can work them effectively with exercises such as pull ups and rows all while working other muscles at the same time. Also, for a relatively smaller muscle group, devoting multiple exercises for just biceps seemed excessive. I am sure that curls do add some definition, but as for minimizing time and maximizing results, I feel like most back exercises provide a more efficient workout for these areas. What is your opinion on this?

kaisen May 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Awesome Rusty!!!!

I’ve been a long time follower,lost some pounds but have some more to go.
So,I’m going to follow your plan with a little IF and get the body I want .
Usually i suffer from paralysis by analysis and don’t go anywhere because I get exhausted just from all the thinking I do.

Magnus May 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Hello Rusty,

Great article. I hit the gym 5 times a week and also have started to do P90X which I have to say I like, and is showing good results. I am going to incorporate the plank routine and HIIT into my morning gym workout, also add the body weight circuits, it seems interesting and I want to give it a try.

But I was wanting to ask have you done any work with resistance bands? I had never before starting P90X and for some reason decided to try the bands approach rather then the usual dumb bells, I don’t know maybe it was from working out with dumb bells most my of the time i wanted to spice it up a bit. I have to admit I like them, and gotten good results especially on the Biceps. Just wanted to know your opinion on resistance bands. I was told that you cant get big using bands, which is OK I am also one that is looking for tone, and stay in the 12-15 rep group.

Keep Up the good work.
Peace to You.

Helder May 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Your post is fantastic, nowadays i’ve been training only outdoors, but when i was training in the gym, my principles were basically the same as yours, except with the legs, i agree with what you say about back squats and deadlifts, but i believe barbell hack squat, front squat, lying leg curls and romanian deadlifts when done for very low reps and low volume make your legs strong and toned.

It’s also a question of balance in strength, not just about mass. You’re getting stronger in your upper body, but while your legs look good and are well shaped from the sprints, you’re not gaining strength like your upper body, so i believe it would be good to carefully add some sort of resistance training to your legs

I know this is the part we disagree, but since i’ve been working outdoors i also only do sprints for my legs, and they look good, and in the summer the strength part can be taken care by sprinting up dunes and running in the water, when at the beach

I’m really missing summer, and beach

Jason G May 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Stepmill machine is the best cardio machine ever.

I think a lot of the squatters don’t realize that the reason why you don’t do the heavy leg exercises is because you are happy with the size of your legs. I am assuming that you would recommend squats for the bony guy with no leg muscle.

Patrick May 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I want to try this stepmill machine, do they have it at 24 hr fitness, maybe i’ve missed it, but all i see is regular stair steppers. As for the no direct leg training, I agree with that 100%, I know if I was to do any leg presses, lunges, or squats, I would be too slugish to put an all out intense effort into hiit. Thanks

Cash Gifting Practice May 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for sharing your workout regimen.

Do you feel that doing more than one bodypart per workout might cause overtraining?

I guess not because it does work for you. My body type is different. I receive the best results from one bodypart per day. Sometimes I rest 7-8 days between workouts, but I grow like a weed.

As for the legs, I have been doing plenty of distance work. I still throw in squats every week or 2 to keep my muscle mass.

Ditto on the comment about mine, I LOVE the stepmill machine. I always use it to get ready for shoots as it rips me up and aids tremendously in losing water weight. I sweat like a pig after 2 minutes 🙂


admin May 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Scott N,

I know I’m going to get grilled for the leg resistance training. I will say that for some, it may be beneficial for a short period of time. I guess I make such strong statements regarding leg resistance training because I see personal trainers pushing squats on people who clearly don’t need them. I could take those same people given the same mount of time and help them get double to triple their fat loss results by teaching them some effective HIIT routines.


If I was more limited on time I would do the full body routine as well. I do have more time these days, so I do a split. This summer I may ditch the gym and just do 3 body weight circuits per week. That way I can max out my time outside.


I love Portland and I’m going to be at the Portland International Beerfest this July. Probably Saturday, July 18th. It is one of the best brewfests I’ve ever been to…over 150 beers! I’ll do the detailed diet thing in a future post.


I may ditch the gym this summer…or maybe just twice per week. I got great results doing Craig Ballantyne body weight circuits this past winter…so maybe I’ll opt for the same thing this summer. I just love the idea of getting a good workout done in 15 minutes and then heading for the beach.


You will enjoy Gym Junkies. I listed them late last year as my pick for one of the best “up and coming fitness blog”. I highlighted 3 amazing sites and all three are currently kicking butt. They do a wonderful job on that site…and now Vic is ripped. Hats off to those guys!

Fitness Guy,

The reason I can get by working the same muscle groups more often is that I always stop a rep or two short of failure. Also…I do realize that this workout is a bit much. I typically increase the amount of time I spend working out in the srping time right before summer…mainly because I workout MUCH less when the weather is great.


I sould say maintaining body fat percentage, because that is what I mean. Your weight will jump up and down a bit depending upon how much glycogen and water your muscles are storing. The idea is to make sure you get to a reasonable body fat percentage and stay within range. I usually weight myself the same time each week under the same conditions…it makes it easier to track.


It is good that you are only 4-5 weeks out from top shape…that means you will reach your goals quickly. As far as swimming goes…it isn’t the best exercise for pure fat burning, but it is a great exercise for building a well balanced physique. Swimmers typically have great shoulders, chest, and back. What I would recommend is a mix of swimming and HIIT out-of-water for a great way to look great this summer. Swimming is fun as well, so go for it.


Having big shoulders is better than having a big chest. This may or may not be what yout want to hear, but so much of this is genetics (as far as having a strong muscle group that grows easily). You can even things out a bit, but it will take time. Your chest will grow a bit after you gain strength in bench pressing-type movements. Get strong in the basic bench press and some type of incline press. Since you are after a little bit of size, while getting stronger do sets of 5 reps. You can get size a bit quicker if you do reps in the 6-10 range, but this has the tendency to build puffy softer looking muscle (not dense muscles like brad Pitt or Cam Gigandet).

Your workout split looks good. I like the fact that you are sticking with 4 times per week. You don’t want to do any more, because you seem pretty active outside of the gym. For chest, I would drop the pec-deck…that will irritate your shoulder injury over time. A good substitute is flat bench dumbbell flyes or the incline dumbbell press. The reason you want to include an incline lift is to build your upper-pecs…to get that cool square-pec angular look. You could drop one of the rowing motions for back…1-2 rowing exercises is plenty. For your bicep and tricep day, you seem to have an imbalance of bicep exercises. I realize that you are doing hammer curls and reverse barbell curls to build your forearms, but you should just do one or the other. Also, maybe do the barbell curl each week and then followup with either the dumbbell or cable curl (alternating these every other week). You just don’t need that much bicep work. Conversely, consider adding in one more tricep movement, like dips. Your shoulder workout looks solid.

So what would I recommend for chest and back? Chest: 5 sets of 5-6 reps of bench followed by 5 sets of 5-6 reps of either flat bench dumbbell flyes -or- incline dumbell press (could alternate these every other workout). Back: Chinups 5 sets of 5 reps and some sort of row motion 5 sets of 5 reps. I know it look really basic, but you will get more out of mastering these lifts then you will from being a jack-of-all-trades and trying a bit of everything (I made the same mistake when I was younger). Hope that helps. Feel free to ask followup questions.


I did my last squat over 10 years ago and never looked back. It was probably my best lift along with deadlifts, but I just hated what they did to my physique…not just visually, but the way they slowed me down. Since I’ve dropped those lifts, I got back the “spring in my step”.


Some people can pull off flip flops year round…not me. Those hip abercrombie looking guys and girls can do it well…or people in any little surf town.


Ephedra works well, but it has side effects. Mainly the way it makes you feel when it isn’t in your system. It causes depression for a lot of people when they go off it. It also causes people to be irritable. You can get just as lean without the stuff. I took it for a period of 6 weeks leading up summer and got just as lean the following summer without it. Really the only thing it does is shorten the time it takes to get lean by a few weeks. The side effects are too high of a price to pay for the results in my opinion.


I need a lot more info to give you a solid answer. What are your goals? Do you have a lot of body fat to lose, etc…


I do like to split the body into two different days when focusing on strength training. To gain strength you need to do multiple sets of the same lift with a decent amount of rest in between sets. If I did this in one day it would take too long. My approach is quite a bit different from a bodybuilding workout (I don’t hit failure, I keep the reps low, I don’t aim for the pump, etc.). I focus on this strength training pretty hard to build muscle density leading in to summer. Once summer hits I plan on doing more body weight circuit type workouts. I get what you are saying, but by building a base of strength I maintain a higher degree of muscle defintion all summer.


Warp Speed Fat Loss works extremely well. I have seen some pretty drastic results from people following this routine (it is a tough one). Once you drop that body fat, then a workout similar to what I’m doing works extremely well. During the summer, feel free to do more quick body weight circuits instead of wasting time in the gym. I’m sure that is what I’ll wind up doing. There is a ton of great boating in Seattle both on Lake Washington and the Sound (I live pretty close to Bill Gates and Paul Allen so we see some serious yachting), but you can’t beat a California beach! You should spend 2-3 weeks exploring the California coast line, it is expensive to live there for a reason. It is simply amazing!


That is good to know that you like this. I thought it could be boring, but people seem to like this post. I will do more posts like this in the future.


I like the added density created in the arms from targetting the muscles directly…but you are right as far as time efficiency goes. I could drop these and get 80% of the results in my arms without these direct lifts. These days I do have the time, so I’m including them in my routine. This summer, maybe not. Great point.


I’m betting my plan will work well for a lot of people. Give it a try and adust as you see fit. Along with a clean diet, it will work for you.


I’m going to have Mike O’Donnell do a guest post on working out with resistance bands…although he doesn’t know it yet 🙂 He knows a bit more about using these than I do. I actually plan on purchasing some to use when I travel and want to expand upon my body weight circuits a bit.


What is funny about leg strength is that in many ways my legs feel stronger now than they did when I was squatting with 405 for 5 sets of 6 reps. They certainly are more explosive. I have no worries about an imbalance…I feel better than ever. I think there may be some benefit from building a slight base of muscle in the legs for excessively skinny guys and girls, but I would caution them to limit it to 6-9 months max and then drop them. I need a beach fix soon!

Jason G,

We have 4 Stepmill machines in my gym and they are always available. They are hard as hell! I challange anyone to do 15 minutes of intevals at level 15 or higher on one of these evil machines. Brutal! The thing about squatting is that I think that they can be used with caution for skinny guys. They can do them for a brief periods of time to add muscle to the lower body, but then move on and don’t look back. What often happens in skinny people especially, is that this becomes their best lift and they continue to add the poundage year after year. I have seen countless numbers of guys and girls that look terrible in jeans and dress pants due to excessive squatting (and it takes a long time to lose this muscle).


If you are building muscle, you do need more time to rest and it makes sense to split up the body parts over more days. If you are strength training, you typically do less sets and reps and don’t lift to failure. No muscle damage means that you don’t need to rest the muscles as much and you can work each muscle group more often. The stepmill is a great piece of equipment.


I don’t now if they have the Stepmill at 24 Hour Fitness. All of the LA Fitness clubs I have been to have them.

Lots of great comments!


laura May 1, 2009 at 6:40 pm

no really i am small frame girl but i would like to see a little muscles in my arms and legs.
my goal doesnt be a “popeye” girl but i little bite more definition in my body.

DownSouth May 1, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Do you actually get a good workout at level 15 on the stepmill? I was doing my intervals at 20 for ten minutes and that’s not even cutting it for me anymore. Though I do try to push harder every workout, you’re in much better shape than me and I would think level 15 wouldn’t be enough for you, unless we’re on drastically different stepmill models.

Scott N May 1, 2009 at 8:48 pm


I was nervous about taking it at first because of that guy dying from it or something like that. But using the same reasoning, I drink alcohol and thousands of people die from that a year. Everything that you take will have side effects to it. And yes I do swear by it. It doesn’t just blunt my appetite it completely annihilates it. As Rusty said you can lean out without it. But seeing that summers right around the corner I’d want an extra helping hand.

Fit Jerk May 2, 2009 at 1:32 am

Pfft… it doesn’t really matter how he splits his routine, its more about HOW he works them out. Tempo, reps and sets are a MUCH bigger factor in strength gains than how you split your days. At 140lbs with 6% BF, I can easily bench 185lbs… so I can surely attest to this.

chuck May 2, 2009 at 6:39 am

amother question about this routine:
rest time is mentioned in your earlier posts, you stated that working a fatigued muscle is counterproductive. then in order to work out properly, how much rest is enough?

because 12 sets x rest time(2min) = 24 minutes
i spent 24 minutes on resting???

izzit vary according to the goal you want? such as mass gaining 1.5 minutes or more and for strength training under 1 minutes?

please be more specific…..because rest until you ‘feel enough’ is a hard figure to get…

also, for mass gaining should i follow the edt method mentioned in earlier post, or i just stick to this?? because i tried edt and my muscle sore for the next 5 days!!

Wazzup May 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

> ********Day One: Chest, Back, and Biceps********
change that to
********Day One: Chest, Back, and Abs********

I thought you were doing biceps every day … tsss 🙂

chuck May 2, 2009 at 9:59 am

i duno rusty… i am seeking to gain mass in my arms…. so should i rest more, you mentioned in your earlier post that 1 should rest up to 1-2minutes and even 3 minutes at the end of the workout.
but you also recommend 12 sets per body part.. so the time i wasted on resting is approximately 12×2~24+minutes

can you please state the right time on mass building and strength gain?? please

another question, if i am gaining mass should i follow the edt mentioned in earlier post or this routine instead? because last time i tried edt mentioned with bicep curl, my arms sore for 4 days and you said that it is not good! i have to rest 4 days for it to recover and it might be counterproductive(from what i read, losing strength and gain).. please clear it out for me

chuck May 2, 2009 at 10:35 am

i am seeking to add some mass to my arms, that means longer resting periods… but rusty recommend 12 set for each bodypart. say if i am resting 1-2minutes per set, i have to rest 12×2=24 minutes for each bodypart…. that is a lot of time because we usually work 3 bodypart per day…

then i came out with an idea, instead of resting and wasting time, can i:
1.complete a set of exercise a
rest 30 secs – 1minute
2.complete a set of exercise b(completely different muscle from exercise a)
rest 1-2minutes

repeat the sequence for 6 times(rusty recommended 6set per exercise) and change the exercises and use the same concept!
that way you can save your time
*inspired from turbulence training for mass, i think the rest period are more appropriate for this routine

whatcha think, rust?

diana May 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Rusty: I was looking through your site for an article on “set point” and how to cope with the cravings/hunger that come once you reach your goal weight?? thanks!diana

David fulton May 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Im twelve stone and training at the moment,my intention is to rip my body though i havent alot of experience or mentors to leran from.can you show me the right direction ie a good programme to work to and eating diet it would be most appreciated as i need proper guidance im totally commited and need someone experienced to show me how,many thanks.

David (Scotland)

RockStar May 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Nice post, Rusty! Lots of people have been waiting for this one. While I normally include leg training as part of my routine, I must admit, having sore legs really hampers my cardio and just about any other activity I do. Just out of curiosity, do you feel that this kind of routine will eventually create a look which screams “chicken legs” when you’re wearing a bathing suit?

Downsouth May 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Fit Jerk,
First off, tempo is the most OVERRATED aspect of getting strong ever. Time under tension or whatever else you want to call it is just a means of making lifting more complicated than it has to be. I know this aspect of lifting helps Rusty with what he likes to do and preach, and does it well, but I’ve never met a truly strong, powerful person that really pays any attention to that on the primary lifts, they just push with force.
And of course sets and reps are ENORMOUS in terms of strength gains, but how you split workouts up and how frequently you’re training those lifts plays a huge role. Frequency of lifts is a huge factor in terms of intensity of your training and your recovery. And where you’re placing and how you’re training your supporting muscles for the big lifts is a matter of great importance too.

Yavor May 2, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Great and timely post. Rusty, you and Vic over at GJ are doing a great job with these ‘summer challenge’ posts!


scott May 3, 2009 at 1:44 am

Great website, with a wealth of information. Just would like to know why you pick only 3 reps on an exercise? Since you don’t go to failure, how heavy of wt do you use on an exercise? Is it a wt, you could do more reps with, but stop at 3-5 reps??? I’ve been doing 10-15 reps for years, and maybe that is why I have muscle bulk, but last the hardness in my muscles like you stated in another article. I actually want to drop some muscle and get more lean and shredded like what you promote–3 reps of 5 sets per exercise will do it? One last thing, I love aerobic workouts and have competed in the Hawaii Ironman in 2000, so is it ok to do a long run of 6-8 miles once a week, since I have a lot of years training aerobically and have a good base? I still get a kick biking 20-30 miles on an early Sun. morning as well.
Thanks for your time!

Anthony May 3, 2009 at 3:56 am

Wow Rusty thank you very much for your answer! That really cleared up a great deal of confusion that I had. I can’t thank you enough. I am going to implement your suggestions and make the necessary adjustments.
Now I know what to do and I can’t wait to get started. This made my day.

Hassan May 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm

do you think i should do the workout you provided, followed by a bodyweight circuit for cardio? and would that be an ideal workout then?…or would you recommend doing just the bodyweight circuit 4 times a week plus soccer one day of the week, and i wil also be doing intermittent fasting everyday for better results

admin May 3, 2009 at 5:50 pm


For just a little muscle definition, go lower reps but for just a few sets. Get stronger in lifts while staying the same weight and you will see more definition.


You are making me feel bad. We may be on different Stepmill models. I’m pretty good at pushing myself on this stuff.

Scott N,

Just be careful with this stuff.

Fit Jerk,

Yeah…the split is just a means to get in more high tension sets without spending too much time in the gym on any one day. Good points.


I train for strength and don’t rest more than a minute in between sets until I get to the final 2 sets of a heavy list. If you are going for mass, you actually want less rest than this in between sets not more. You want to do more work and volume in a compressed period of time to build mass. To break down the muscle and build mass, you want each set to build upon the previous set…you are after muscle fatigue, so you need less rest in between sets.


Thanks buddy…I made the correction! I didn’t proofread this one as much as I should have.


That sounds like a good one to me. I’ll put it on my list of topics to cover.


I think the best thing to do now would be to go through my site and doing a bit of research. Also, read the comment section. Many of the commenters have their own sites and give great advice as well. Grab a cup of water or coffee and commit yourself to about 2-3 hours of reading. I promise you will have a great idea of what to do by the end of those two hours.


I rarely see chicken legs on people who sprint on a regular basis. Typically the only people I see with chicken legs are people who do loads of marathon cardio or really young guys who haven’t done a lot of athletics.


Thanks a bunch. I like your most recent “running stairs” post. Great article!


3 reps is going to work wonders for you. It works especially well on people who have done years of 10-15 reps. You will love the density and definition it creates in your muscles…plus it is a fun way to work out. So what I do is grab a weight that I could easily do 10 reps with for set #1. I pretend the weight is heavy and move it at the same pace as my heaviest set (I also contract my muscles just like the weight was super-heavy)…and stop at 3 reps. This preps your nervous system for when the weight gets heavy. On set #2, I grab a weight that I could do for 8 reps (a rough estimate)…slow and stop at 3 reps. Set #3 will be a weight I could do for 5 reps. I use the same weight for set #4. For set #5, I either stick with the same weight, or if I’m feeling especially strong, I may add a tiny bit of weight. Hope that makes sense. As far as aerobic activities go…you should continue to bike and run a couple of times a week…especially if you enjoy it. Getting outside and doing physical activities you enjoy is great. You aren’t doing anything excessive, so if anything it will help you.


I am glad that I could help you out. You will make great progress by following this routine.


I’m going to spend summer doing more body weight circuit and sporting activities…mainly just because it leaves more time open to have fun! What I would recommend is to get in the gym now to build up the muscle density a bit and then maintain during the summer. So yeah, do this routine for the next 4-6 weeks and then enjoy summer with time-efficient body weight circuits.

Good stuff!


Hassan May 3, 2009 at 6:29 pm

thing with me is…i have a big build but im really short, i use to work out, and all the muscles are still there, and make me look a bit bulkt, so all i wana do is just tone up and be a bit slimmer, so i dont really know if i should work out in the gym or just do bodyweight circuits, and im also one of them people that cant lose weight easily which really annoys me sometimes, so i dont know what to do really.

Christy May 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I am new to this website, I know you guys are pretty good in diet and training, I just would like to ask if I hire a personal trainer, do I have to continue to use a personal trainer in the rest of my life? 🙂 I have heard that once I have start training my body, if I stop, I will become fat again, is it true?

Manan May 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

The workout that I am doing currently includes: Stubborn Fat Protocol and Bodyweight circuit training, 4 days out of the week (Mon, Wed, Fri,Sun). HIIT 3 days out of the week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sat.). Weight training 2 days out of the week (Tuesday, Thursday-doing the same muscle groups you are doing). I wanted to ask you if you feel that combining this Stubborn Fat Protocol, HIIT alone on some days, and Weight training workout throughout the week will help lose body fat to about 10 % and give an amazing physique? Is there anything I should change or is what I am doing currently a good plan? Thanks!

chuck May 4, 2009 at 6:19 am

do more work and volume in a compressed period of time to build mass – is that quote from edt training. i think what you mean is i should aim for fatigue then rest for 2 -3 days before my next workout thx rusty!

ben May 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm

i got told something saying that you should allow time for your muscles to heal and grow, 5 times a week seems too much for this?
source: professional footballer(friend)

Janel May 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Your workout makes me nostalgic for my gym membership! How could I have missed that plank routine before? Love it–thanks for including it. I was doing 1/2 crunches 1/2 planks during my ab routine, but I think I’ll just drop the crunches entirely. BTW, I am making good progress thanks to the advice from your blog!

I may have some advice for you: Have you ever tried doing pull ups/chin ups/dips with your legs parallel to the floor? It makes the exercise much harder and you may be able to skip the weight strap. (Dangling a plate between the legs is not a good look, in my opinion. When I see a guy doing chin ups with his legs in front of him at 90 degrees, I know he really knows what he’s doing.)

John May 5, 2009 at 10:17 am

Hey Rusty,

Great Blog…I have a question though about reps. I’ve always read that higher reps+volume increased growth hormone output. So if you’re looking for fat loss, wouldn’t higher reps be the way to go.

anonym May 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

hi, i have played soccer for many years so i am really good conditioned, but i was wondering, if i eat 4 low cal meals per day, go to the gym 3 times per week( strength training) and do hiit 4 times a week, is this a good enough plan to look like brad Pitt in fight club or cam, in never back down,
and how long would it take? ( im around 12% body fat right now

scott May 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, man tried the 3 reps 5 sets yesterday–man it was so different than any other workout, I’ve ever done. I didn’t get the pump or burn like in previous workouts, but a felt a certain hardness in muscles throughout the day, unlike getting a pump from 10-15 reps, then losing it a hour later. One thing, how do you throw in your wt routine in during the week?( Mon. Chest/back, Tue. cardio, Wed. delts/arms, or do you do wts 2 days in a row then take a break?) I am trying to fit in one BW circut in during the week as well, I wanted to know how to incorperate in. Thanks again, and your website is incredible, I love the pics you choose. I just came back from mt biking in Moab Ut, and the desert scenery down there awesome–check out some pics of there.

wolverine May 5, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Rusty, cant thank you enough for all your help, i have tried almost every diet and exercise routine out there, and only now am i seeing results. I am naturally big and i seem to get bulky easily even when i do bodyweight circuits, was wondering if you think i should opt for Hiit and slow cardio and drop strenght and bodyweight training, i hate the bulk. Thanks a lot

wolverine May 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Rusty, i fogot to mention, i have tried the 5*5 weight range, and also reduced to 3*5, but still look like a not too cut version of wolverine, thanks

wolverine May 5, 2009 at 7:16 pm

One last thing Rusty, my diet is very clean, mostly low carb veggies. Thanks

Weight Loss and Fat Loss May 6, 2009 at 1:29 am

Wolverine, you need more protein in your diet. You won’t build any muscle mass or strength if you don’t consume enough quality protein.

Matt May 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm


Wondering if you could give a quick comment on the routine I’m going to follow to lean out the next couple of months, it’s very similiar to yours. I’ve noticed that my body does not respond well to training more that 3x per week. I’ve come up with a more compressed routine cut from the same mold as yours, same rep. range, performed 2-3x per week.

The routine:

Cable row warm up

Standing barbell press – 3 working sets of 3 reps (this exercise will be the one I push myself hardest to progress on)
Incline dumbell press – 3 working sets of 3 reps
Chin-up – 3 working sets of 5 reps, no added weight yet
Cable row or DB row – 3 working sets of 3 reps
Abs – either planks or leg raises
I agree with you 100% on no leg training

Finish with HIIT or steady state cardio, depending on “feel” – I’ve noticed a tendency to overtrain with too much HIIT as well – I’m a big beleiver in listening to your body on this one.

At least one BW circuit per week, and unlimited walking and fun non gym exercise.

Eat stop eat 2x per week – Paleo/Primal low carb diet the rest of the time, occasional (1-2x week) night out drinking beer and eating pizza, nachos, etc. but watching portions.

Currently I’m 6’3″ 190 lbs. approx. 9-10% bf and looking to chisel out the physique just a bit more.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. I’ve been a reader of your site for over a year now, since first finding it while searching for the “David Beckham Workout”. When first discovering the site I was approx. 210 lbs. approx. 12-14% bf and have made the majority of my progress following the advice found here as well as advice from Craig Ballantyne and Mark Sisson.


chica May 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

Hey Rusty. I like the principles behind your routine, but have some questions about the shoulders.

Your shoulder exercises seem to work mainly the front deltoid, the lateral deltoid to an extent and the rear deltoid not at all.

Since this is (I think ) the only workout your lateral deltoids get, do you find that you get sufficient lateral deltoid development?

Also, your front deltoids seem to get worked twice a week (with chest and shoulders) while your rear deltoids seem to get woked only once (with back). Is this deliberate? Do you find that it causes any muscle imbalance (I’ve heard that imbalance between front and rear deltoid can cause postural problems)?



karie May 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Hi Rusty, i have a question for you. Do i have to lift weights at all to be lean and toned? Throughout the years i have trained like a guy and done typical bodybuilding splits b/c thats what i thought i was supposed to do. Well the result is i have more muscle than what i would like. My goal is to have a body like Megan Fox or Halle Barry; very streamlined and lean but yet a bit softer than like how i am now. Anyway, would it be good just to not lift for a while and focus on cardio only? The thought is if i do HITT workouts 3 times per week that would work my legs good and if i do 2-3 kickboxing classes that would tone my arms, waist, and again streamline my legs. What do you think? My upper body builds easy and i’m very unhappy right now with the broadness of my shoulders and at the same time, my legs look thick due to the muscle i have. Some of my jeans are tight in the thigh area which i hate. I’m by all means not overweight but i want to lose some muscle (most posters on other fitness websites would kill me for saying that). I look forward to your response.

admin May 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm


Losing the weight will be more about diet adjustment than working out. So diet like you weren’t going to workout at all…but then workout. Does that make sense. You could be a bit more focused on HIIT and circuits, but still lift occasionally. You will improve over time, you are just at a plateau right now. It happens to everyone.


You can learn the basics from a personal trainer and then continue to exercise. There isn’t anything magic about a personal trainer. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone use one permanently. They can be great for learning, but after 10-15 sessions, you will probably know what to do.


I think you may be training too much. It is okay to temporarily work out hard 5-6 days per week, but really 4-5 will do the trick. You can actually maintain off of 3, once you get your desired physique. The key behind your results will be your diet. You are already doing plenty of exercise, you just got to dial in your diet and it won’t be a problem at all to hit 10% body fat.


You are correct. The compressed time periods are just an effective way to fatigue the muscle. Rest up and then do it all over again.


If muscle mass is you goal (which is not my goal by the way), then it isn’t how often you train…it is how much rest the muscle group gets. You can divide the workout into a 3 or 4 day split and workout 5 times per week and still put on mass.


I haven’t tried holding my legs at 90 degrees. I’ll give it a shot. I’m starting to get quite good at pull ups these days (although it isn’t a naturally strong exercise for me at all). Planks will give you the abs you desire and will help you maintain great posture. Crunches are brutal on the posture.


I like to separate lifting from my HGH releasing exercises. I lift for strength and low reps to build density and then do HIIT or bodyweight circuits to release growth hormone. The problem with high reps is it builds pumped up soft looking muscles.


The key in your quest to getting lean will be your diet. Your workout sounds solid. Hard to say how long it will take. I’ve seen people go from 12% to 6-8% in 6 weeks. Once you get to that level, it will take another month or so for you to look especially lean (your skin has to catch up a bit to fit tightly around your smaller body size).


You will probably never go back to high reps. I haven’t gone above 5 reps on a regular basis for over 6 years. Not only will you get stronger, you will rarely ever get sore and you will look more defined than ever. Thanks for the compliments on the pictures. I do my best to find good ones. To me the ideal situation is to work day one and day two back-to-back, followed by a day of “active” rest.


In your special case, you may want to try “marathon cardio” to lose a bit of muscle on purpose while dropping body fat. I don’t recommend marathon cardio to many people because it does break down muscle, but in your case you sound like it wouldn’t hurt to lighten up a bit. The other approach is to diet even a bit harder than you are dieting right now. Both of these approaches could help you get closer to your goal. Once you lighten up, then go back to lifting and HIIT, etc.


Your workout and diet plan looks awesome and you will get great results. I wouldn’t change a thing. Well done. You are just 5 pounds out from being razor sharp, so that is just in time for summer. I dig Mark Sisson’s site and Craig Ballantyne’s site as well. Great job on making such solid progress.


Shoulder presses of any sort work your entire deltoid region. The fitness magazines vastly exaggerate the need to isolate the side delts and rear delts. The rear delts get worked well in back exercises as well. I used to do lateral raises and bent over laterals, but more than anything they just irritated the shoulders. As far as posture goes. The reason I work back on the same day as chest is to isure good muscle balance in the deltoid region. The rowing exercise works the rear delts, the bench pressing works the front delts…so this evens out. Good question…you just gave me an idea for a post!


Some women do have the tendency to put on more muscle than they desire…and these women don’t need to lift (or just maybe lift for part of the year). My girlfriend doesn’t lift and looks outstanding. You could do bodyweight circuits, HIIT, etc. and look great. I have no problem talking about losing muscle mass. In fact…I wrote a post called “How to Lose Muscle Mass on Purpose”. Some people have more muscle than they desire and it is something that nobody was addressing. Type in “lose muscle” into the search bar at the top of my site and you will find that post.

Great comments!


chuck May 8, 2009 at 7:14 am

rusty i might write a book according infos from your blog which include training guidelines, exercises, diet plan and more!!! but gonna wait for my exam over

Hassan May 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

yee thanks rusty, ill do that

wolverine May 8, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Thanks Rusty, we need to start paying you for your sound advise!!!!. i will also look into Nick Nilsson’s methods for mass reduction. thanks

Les May 10, 2009 at 8:25 am

After you smashed the typical body building routine what do I see here? A semi-typical body building routine. I see that you changed the reps and sets, but it’s still look very familiar to the body builders’ training. I love the functional training philosophy. The aim shouldn’t be to train your body to look god. I train to get better or “more functional” and through this training and philosophy my body gets better looking. Body builders and many other gym goers reversed this philosophy. They want to look good to look stronger and fit, instead of be fit thus good looking.

Les May 10, 2009 at 8:27 am

By the way Cam Gigandet’s doing compound movements, like clean and jerk and he’s using kettlebells.

John Lloyd May 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

Hey Rusty,

I wanted to ask you, what do you think of doing a strength program like Texas Method, Sheiko, or Smolov jr. to increase my bench/press. Obviously, I wouldn’t do the squats and deads, but I’ve heard good things about these programs.

Acai Berry Guy May 14, 2009 at 4:51 am

To target 3 or 4 groups in 1 session will be a nice challenge! I have used the workouts where you target only say shoulders on 1 day, then biceps, triceps and abds the next, and they are good. But when you change workout, the change and increased challenge itself will be good for breaking through a plateux. If you’re an ectomorph, then the lower leg exercises will he helpful, though you have to be careful to not strain your back during squats and deadlifts, as you have less muscle bulk naturally to begin with anyway.

Dave May 18, 2009 at 12:55 am

Hey Rusty,
I started to use the program that you posted in this article above and i love the way these workouts make me feel as it is a pretty unique approach to strength training. However, I’ve lost some weight as I only weigh about 175 lbs and i would like to get back to my ideal weight of around 185lbs (6 foot 2 inches by the way). Would this be an effective muscle building workout as long as I am consuming enough calories?

Greg June 4, 2009 at 12:08 am


I am currently weeks within my goal of 4-5% bfp + clearly defined abs. The body fat calipers pin me at 6-7%, and I have a 4 pack. The fat just below and around the belly button is being a real pain in the ass. Its been 5 months following your routine and 37 pounds lost with substantial strength gains. I am honestly surprised that I was able to get so much stronger by doing heavy weights at 4-5 reps, even as a seasoned weightlifter prior to dieting. This was probably the best advice that I ever took and I don’t plan on changing this.

My question is, as I am looking forward to soon balancing out my upper body proportions (I have genetically really big legs), can I stay in the 3-5 rep range and still gain dense mass? or can a combination of high rep sets with low rep sets get a best of both world kind of results (mass + density)?

Happy up and coming 2 year site anniversary!

edt freak June 4, 2009 at 8:23 am

try escalating density training or the russian bear workout(both can be found on this site) or russian volume training(10 sets on low rep)

girl with motive July 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm

i’m 140lbs and would like to be 120. is that realistic? i’m am mostly muscle. what’s your advice

Jay August 18, 2009 at 12:52 am

Can this routine be done all year long without the risk of getting too big?

Nancy D September 15, 2009 at 7:39 am

Great exercise tips, probably the most important statement is that not all the information is suitable for everyone, not all the exercises will be suitable but it never hurts to get information. Weight loss is a difficult concept for many and this kind of information on what has worked for someone else always gives a little lift.

Ahmed February 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thanks for the heads up on your workout Rusty. Sometimes it’s useful for people to see a fitness professional’s design if only to make sure you’re on the right track.

On a side note, I’ve been more focused on bodyweight exercises and sprints lately, and I’ve gotta say, the results are actually impressive. I think a lot of people underplay the value of their own body in fitness, so it’s cool to see you recommending it.

Cedric Margo April 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

You talked about doing a machine shoulder lift to kill your shoulders. Have you tried implementing the “Turkish Get Up” to do that job? It’s a perfect exercise to showcase overall strength balance and endurance in one lift. I like to do a single rep per arm and call it a set. I’m around your height i assume. but weigh 20 pounds less than you my max is anything between 75-80 pounds so for you you’d probably be able to complete a set with above a 100 pounds after a set not only are my shoulders and triceps exhuasted but i’ll be sweating and breathing heavy for sure

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: