The Back to Basics Workout Plan

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With all the new technology, science and theories on fitness, getting in shape can become more complicated than it has to be. Sure, there is always room for an exercise that can provide a new challenge, and when you introduce a new movement to your workout routine, you can definitely see results.

But there will always be something to be said for a simple, basic approach to weight lifting: Pick up something heavy and move it! For function and aesthetics, few things will yield more all-around noticeable results than going heavy with basic compound movements. To that end, we’ve created the NUTRISHOP Back to Basics Plan – a 1-month program you can use to break up your routine and introduce some low-complexity training, or that you can repeat for up to 12 weeks as you gain strength and muscle.

You won’t need much for this plan when it comes to equipment: A barbell, a rack, a bench, a jump rope and some weight plates is the majority of your equipment. The idea is to simplify your workouts, using a 4-day split to provide the rest you need while creating sensible muscle group pairings. You will get stronger and likely see a noticeable difference in muscle gain should you pair this plan with a sound, lean diet.

The approach you’ll use will be somewhat mixed, but the concept will be similar throughout: You want to warm up using the exercise you’re working with, and work up to your one-rep max (1RM). Challenging yourself with a progressive load will ensure you get stronger and some early mid-to-high-range sets will promote hypertrophy.

DAY 1

Legs & Core

Back Squats: 10 (warm-up – go light), 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1. Go deep enough that your knees are parallel with your hips – don’t cheat yourself.

 

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts/Standard Deadlift: 10 (warm-up), 10, 8, 5/3, 3, 1, 1. – Perform the first 4 sets using the stiff-legged variation, then perform a standard deadlift using heavier weight for the final 4.

Power Clean: 10 (warm-up), 6, 6, 3, 3, 1.

Planks: 3 sets of 45 seconds, followed by 1 set to failure. Focus on drawing your navel into your spine and keeping your glutes clenched hard.

Side Planks: 2 sets per side at 20 seconds each. Hold your upper arm perpendicular to your torso, with your hand pointing toward the ceiling.

DAY 2

Push & Pull

Barbell Bench Press: 10 (warm-up – go light), 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1. Grab the bar just outside of shoulder width with a wrapped-thumb grip. Don’t bounce the weight off your chest – and, if possible get a spotter for your final three sets.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 10 (warm-up – go light), 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1. Be sure to keep your back flat and shoulders drawn back, pulling the bar toward your belly and not your chest.

Incline Barbell Bench Press: 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1. Take note to keep your elbows in toward your torso, forming a 45-degree angle at the armpit – this will protect your anterior deltoids through the lift. Concentrate on the contraction – mentally, think of pulling the bar apart and putting it back together at the top of the lift.

Pull-Ups: 4 sets to failure. Use as wide of a grip as possible that will still allow the range of motion to clear the bar with your chin – for most people, this will be just outside shoulder-width. Control your descent and lower yourself completely, drawing your shoulder blades together through the movement.

Push-Ups: 4 sets to failure with weight plate on back. Concentrate on keeping your body board-stiff from neck to ankle, and use the chest, back and triceps to control your movements.

Hanging Rows: 4 sets to failure.

DAY 3

Rest Day

DAY 4

Legs & Core 2

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Front Squat

Front Squats: 10 (warm-up – go light), 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1. Keep your elbows up and forward and your upper arms parallel to the floor – this will help protect your back. Also concentrate on keeping your knees tracking out toward your pinkie toes – avoid letting them “dip” inward.

Deadlifts: 10 (Stiff-legged), 5, 5, 3, 3, 1 (standard).

Walking Lunges: 4 sets x 100 feet. You will need some space to work – if you can find a 20-foot hallway and can traverse it 5 times total, that’s fine. Alternate your lead foot, keeping your upper body upright and your hands on your hips (to avoid resting them on bent knees).

Planks: 3 sets of 45 seconds, followed by 1 set to failure.

DAY 5

Push & Pull 2

Pull-Ups: 4 sets to failure.

Seated Military Dumbbell Press: 8, 8, 6, 6, 4.

Incline Barbell Bench Press: 10, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1.

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 4×8 (per arm).

Diamond Push-Ups: 20, 15, 10, 5. If you cannot perform the prescribed reps, go to failure (diamond push-ups are much more difficult, especially for novices.)

Reverse-Grip Chin-Ups: 4x failure. With a close, reversed grip (palms facing your body), lower yourself to full elbow extension slowly on the descent. Contract your shoulder blades before lifting yourself, concentrating on using your back to begin momentum and your biceps as assistance.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Floor-Up Legs and Core

Generating power from the ground up is a great way to build muscle and overall strength – training the legs, core and upper body at once is an incredibly functional concept that will help not only in the gym, but in your everyday life.

The king of the floor-up training principle, of course, is the deadlift, and it is involved heavily in this workout – literally. After getting through heavy work on deadlifts – you can use either a standard or sumo variation – you will move on to an explosive ground-up movement, grouped with an appropriate stretch and some core work. This will allow you to utilize the progressive load principle (start with your most demanding lifts, finish with more technique-intensive movements), for a well-rounded workout.

If you don’t have access to a TRX or another form of suspension trainer, use the alternative, listed in italics.

FLOOR-UP LEGS AND CORE

Sumo Squats: 5, 5, 5, 3, 3 – increase the workload each time. Take a wide stance, toes pointed outward, and take care to keep your shoulders pulled back – a narrower grip will invite hunching, which you want to avoid.

Grouped Work – 5 total sets. Perform each movement, then move to the next with no rest.

  1. Power Cleans to front squat – 5, 5, 3, 3, 1
  2. Lying Brettzel stretch – 10 seconds per side
  3. TRX body saws – 10 (ab roller x 10, or plank for 30 seconds)

Alternating Lunges: 2 sets forward – 8 reps per leg; 2 sets reverse, 8 reps per leg.

The Strongman Back Workout

THE STRONGMAN BACK WORKOUT

This workout is from Chad Schmidt, a NUTRISHOP CDA Sponsored Athlete. He was Idaho’s Strongest Man in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and is competing again this year. This is one of his actual workouts, with his tips included. Enjoy!

Take this workout to the gym with you in easy, printable .pdf format. Print it out here.

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Deadlifts

  • I prefer 18 inch deadlifts from a squat rack/power rack.

  • Typically I work my way up to 5 sets of 8-10 reps. My warm-up sets typically are 15 reps and I go how my body feels that day.

  • Use straps on your heavy sets, because in most strongman comps they allow straps.

Pull Ups (use a band if you have to)

  • 5 sets for as many as you can, use bands for assistance on the last sets.

Barbell Bent Over Rows

  • 4×12 overhand grip (No straps at all).

Upright Barbell Rows

  • 4×12.

Face Pulls

  • 4×20 (these are an accessory lift and not a heavy movement at all).

Farmers Walk

  • Use a pair of lighter dumbbells holding to the sides of your body.

  • NO STRAPS — this is a great grip and core exercise.

  • 5 sets with a 200’ walk.