Summer Workout Routine | Back to Basics

I feel like my workout routine and progress has been all over the place in 2016. I started out the year wanting to do a cut, then after I started that I decided that eating at deficit for 12 weeks was too depressing. During spring and early summer I got into powering nearly joining a new gym to train for the sport. I didn’t end up switching gyms because training gyms are very expensive, and also far and in between within my city limits. Not too mention I hit I lifting plateau in them middle of summer; nothing makes lifting more of a drag than no gains. I was so excited at the beginning of summer because it looked liked I was going to hit personal records with a 200 pound squat and a 225 pound dead lift (two 45 pounds plates on each side).

The problem I’m having in regards to powerlifts is my unwillingness do a bulk, especially in the middle of summer. I wouldn’t go too dramatic with a bulk, but I’m a small person and any kind of weight change or shift is very noticeable on me. During the summer I like to be a bit more trim than the colder months, and when I started being loose on tracking my calories and macros in anticipation of making new gains I noticed a change that I wasn’t happy with. Again, nothing dramatic, but it was enough to where I wasn’t happy. So instead of pushing through something that was not making me happy I switched up my lifting routine and went back to tracking my macros a little more strictly. Minnesota summers are short, and everyone treats summer like it’s the last one they’ll get. Our winters are kind of like on Game of Thrones – they seem like they last for years on end. So far this summer has blast with taking a road trip to Duluth, traveling to Vancouver, and working a more flexible work schedule so I can be home sooner and enjoy some social activities with my friends.

I posted a few weeks ago why I hadn’t been consistent on my blog, and the simple fact is I’m out enjoying summer. This also applies to the number of days I’m hitting the gym right now – it’s just as consistent as I’d like it to be to work on adding weight to my powerlifting numbers. I’ve also been cutting out my cardio days when my week is busy and I want to make time for my personal/social life. Instead of two cardio days a week, I’m down to one or sometimes none at all, and focusing on my four day split. Since I’m more willing to hit the gym for a good lift session, I’m going to focus on a routine that will help with muscle gain and my form. I’m not done with improving my powerlifts, but I think it’s the right decision to pause to focus on gaining more solid strength.

It’s been a long time since I’ve started from scratch with a workout routine. Building muscle and focusing on form is really the basis of a good workout routine, in my opinion, and it’s what should be focused on at the beginning of a fitness journey. Over the years, I’ve kind of forgotten this now that I consider myself to be an alumni of the gym, but it’s a basic to get back to. My new routine will still be a four day split, simply because I really like the way it works into my schedule, and I also want to include my three main lifts – squat, dead lift, bench – because I like them. In addition to my main lifts which make up three of my workout days (legs, back, chest/tricep), I’ll have a shoulder/bicep day. Set and rep range will vary between 4 to 5 sets at a rep range between 8 and 12. I imagine my routine will look a little something like this:

Day 1 – Shoulders – to get the most out of shoulders, I like to superset what I can.

Superset – Overhead Press & Upright Rows

Overhead Shoulder Press (dumbbell preferred or military if at home)

Upright Rows 

Superset – Lateral Raises and Barbell Curls

Lateral Raises
4×12, 5# dumbbells

Barbell Curls
4×12, 20# or 30# barbell

Day 2 – Legs

Squats (high barbell)
Warmup with bar
1@12, 95#
1@8, 135#
1@6, 155#
1@8, 95# or 135#
1@8, 95#

Straight Leg Deadlifts
1@12, 95#
1@10, 100#
1@8, 105#
1@10, 95#

3×20, 15# dumbbells

Leg Extensions
3×12, 15#

Leg Press – Optional/Alternative
3×8, weight varies on press machine start – generally two 45# plates on each side

Day 3 – Rest

Cardio – 30 minutes

Day 4 – Chest

Bench Press

4×12, 20# barbell

Incline Bench Press (dumbbell or machine)

Superset – Tricep Extension & Cable Cross
4×12 or 4×10

Day 5 – Back

Dead Lifts
5×5 or failure – no change in reps for this exercise

Seated Row
4×8, 75#

Lat Pull Down
4×8, 70#

Superset – Bent Over Rows & Dumbbell Side Bends
Bent Over Rows – 4×10, 40# babbell
Side Bends – 4×12, 10# plate

In addition to above the exercises, which are in my normal routine, I’d like to try some new accessory work. There’s a lot of machines at the gym that I never touch that could beneficial for focus work. We also have free weights and kettlebells at home when I feel like skipping a gym day (shoulder or back) and want to get a quick workout in at home.

I’m hoping that this routine will get me back to some basic lifting techniques and also help with some muscle growth. My switching up my routine I’ll be able to get my muscles working in ways they haven’t been for the past few months when I’ve been focusing more on my PRs. Personally, my chest is my weakest lift so I’m looking for techniques or accessory work that will help me gain strength on bench press. I’m also open to any accessory work that others may like that are not on my current list.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks/months when I’ve had the chance to see how this affects my overall fitness and physique. Thanks for reading!

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