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Ever Wondered How the Most Muscular Guy in the Gym Lifts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I have mentioned my workout partner, Ivory, in my blogs a few times. He's a big fella (6'2" or so) with the kind of look many men aspire towards:

(No, he's not on steroids- trust me! Everyone wonders, but that fact is that it's a combination of genetics and willingness to suffer in the gym. Also, interestingly enough, he has never and does not now compete. He just likes to work out.)

We have been working out together for over two years now. Over that time I've noted a go-to pattern he generally uses when he lifts weights by his own devices (purely out of this own head, no outside input). When we first started lifting together this method exhausted me. Now I've adapted, and I have noted that the times I stick with this program both my strength AND muscle definition increase. I don't look big and bulky or any less feminine, so don't worry about that. Women who lift heavy (and avoid steroids) have a TOTALLY different look than men who lift the same way.

Anyhow, thought I would share what I've observed. I love hearing what others are doing and thought this might inspire someone else in some way.

Keep in mind that this is an advanced lifting routine. You want to be a fairly experienced weight lifter (6 months or more) who is well-versed in proper form before attempting this program. The beauty of it is that it grows with you as your strength increases.

He uses this method most often for his big muscle groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, and Legs.

His first set is one that is multiple-joint and uses the entire muscle group. So for chest this would be some kind of a chest press, for shoulders some kind of a shoulder press, and for back usually a pull-down or pull-up. Legs are almost always a squatting movement.

Of this exercise, he'll do a couple sets of 15-20 with a fairly light weight to warm up and bring some blood into the area. In-between warm-up sets, he stretches the muscle group. (It's a hot debate about whether stretching before is beneficial to the workout or not, but it's what he does.)

Now it's on to working sets, where he goes into pyramiding this exercise like this:

He'll do another set of 15, but with increased weight so that he's really feeling it by the time he's done.

The next set is a set of about 12, slightly increased weight from the set before. He could do several more reps, but he doesn't want to blow his muscles out this early in the game.

He rests for a minute or so. The next set he raises the weight a little so that he's somewhere in the 10 rep range. He could still get 2 or so more of these out, but stops at 10.

Another short rest and the weight is raised again for a set of 8. At this point he could get another rep out if you held a gun to his head.

Now he needs a couple of minutes rest to get his strength back before going into the fifth and final working set. He's raised the weight again so that it's pretty darned heavy- He pushes out about 4-6 reps, usually being spotted, and there is no way under God's green earth he's going to be able to get another rep out. He's spent. And done with that exercise.

The next exercise he chooses will be a little more specific as to the area of the muscle it targets, yet still incorporates the whole muscle group. With chest he'll usually choose some kind of machine incline press or a flye movement. With back this will usually be a rowing movement. And with delts he's going to go in for either a front or a lateral movement, because that's where he prioritizes. With legs it's usually some kind of a leg press.

For this one he'll do four sets, starting out fairly heavy for about 12 reps, then raising and going to 10, then raising again for a couple of sets of 8 reps. Those last 3 sets he's pretty much worn out and needs a couple of minutes of recovery time between to get his strength back up for the next set.

The next two exercises he chooses will be area-specific within that body part. Maybe a decline flye and pullover for chest, strait-arm pullover and bent row for back, either a front or lateral move (whichever he didn't do for the second exercise) and a rear delt move for shoulders, and then some kind of leg extension and hamstring curl for thighs.

For both these 3rd and 4th exercises he'll typically do 3 sets of about 10-12 reps, starting pretty heavy and maxing out with each set.

For the fifth and final exercise, he's going to choose one that either hits the whole area again or, in the case of legs, hits his calves. For chest this will often be a standing cable crossover flye, for back a barbell bent row, for delts some kind of shrug.

Of these he typically does two sets of 15-20. It's more of a "peaking" exercise to get a burn in the muscles than one that is used for strength. He's too worn out from the 4 exercises before to get much more out of them.

Here's a sample Chest workout, at the request of Mrs.Carly:
- Warmup: Incline DB Bench Press- Two light sets of 20 (2x20)
- DB Incline Bench Press: Pyramid of 5x15, 12, 10, 8, 6
- Machine Flyes: 4x12, 10, 10, 8
- DB Cross-Bench Pullovers: 3x10-12
- BB Decline Press: 3x10-12
- Low Cable Crossover Flyes: 2x15-20

In the case of legs, this 5th exercise is where he does his calf exercise. He'll usually get in 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Sometimes he'll do a second set of calf exercises, depending on how they feel after the leg workout.

He'll break from this routine several times a year, usually when he finds a workout program in one of his fitness magazines that he wants to do for variety (usually these take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to complete). Or sometimes he'll come in and decide to do 3 sets of 15 for most exercises, or he'll super-set. I think a lot of the reason he continues to improve is because he isn't stuck in a rut. But his default program is the one above, and with good reason- Obviously it works!

Let me know what you think. Was this a valuable blog, or something that is just too hard to relate to?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow! He is awesome! Hope you don't mind that I added you as a friend.
    1944 days ago
    This is amazing. He looks like he knows what he is doing. I am still learning but im getting there. Slowly lol
    2010 days ago
    OMG he's beautiful! I wish I had a workout partner, but I'll never use that as an excuse. You look fantastic by the way! I'm also curious about losing weight beyond my goal, seeing your numbers and how healthy you look, I could go for more weight loss and BF loss.

    So often people posts weights and measurements but they ALWAYS fail to mention their height. My weight at 5'8" is still running around in a bikini getting compliments, but I don't think I'd do it if I were 5'2". Thanks for letting me know how tall you were, it really helps.
    2029 days ago
    Hello Ivory!!! He is amazing:)

    This was a great blog. Years ago I worked with a trainer, this young guy. We did a week of training and the following week he said he was switching it up. He did what you wrote. Now, I must say that I was probably not the person he should have been doing it on. When I would try and explain it to the guys they would always say that it was more advanced. Got to tell you that I have never had that kind of muscle soreness in my life from a workout. Maybe my legs hiking 30 miles in one day in Mexico . lol Anyways it wasn't that I was hurt from it, it was just so darn hard. I would feel it for days, quite a pump. Finally told him that in order for me to function with daily activities like fastening my bra, walking, sitting, reaching for a seatbelt, we would need to take it down a tad. I have never seen such fast changes in my body as I did with those workouts though.

    One day I will try it again. I almost feel like it is something that I would like to do with a trainer though. Takes some pushing:)

    Thanks for sharing!
    2031 days ago
  • ROCKMAN6797
    Thank you for sharing this workout, it certainly serves him well!
    2031 days ago
  • GYMRAT54
    Ivory sure is a big fella alright! He sure looks intimidating! Glad he's more a teddy bear than someone truly to be feared! I admit, I'm surprised he has not and does not compete. He just likes to work out!

    The pyramid workout you described sounds a lot like the workout reginmen of my bodybuilder friend at my gym with the type of exercises he does and the reps. She does the lat pulldowns, the incline chest presses, the row machine, the leg presses, the cable crossover flyes, etc She keeps doing these week after week because it works for her, too. I'm glad to hear that he breaks away from his go-to workout plan from time to time for a change and variety. I'd get bored doing the same thing week after week.

    I tried working with my friend with her for the past two weeks. As with any new exercise regimen, there is bound to be soreness and there has been because it is very different from what I'm used to but I do see the benefits of it. She did say it could take a month to adapt to it. Unfortuntely, I had to stop due to other commitments but she said she was more than willing to work with me whenever and however works for me in the future.

    Two questions:
    1) does he exercise just one muscle per workout or more than one muscle group in a workout?
    2) Does he work out every day or does he take one or two days for recovery?

    Great blog, Nancy Anne. You're so lucky to have found someone like Ivory for a workout partner. I'm also thinking he's lucky to have found you for his workout partner! Now...go pump iron and show everybody how it's done! emoticon
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2032 days ago
    I used to do pyramids all the time and you are so right...quick gains of strength and leaning out! I loved them, not to mention it made the guys in the gym look at me funny when I was on the higher end of the DB stack (and they had to wait for me to finish so they could have the DBs). HAven't done them this way in a while. Maybe I'll have to give this a shot again. I just changed things up after doing about 8 weeks of 3x15, so I know I could adjust the rep scheme.
    2032 days ago
  • ILOVEJIM851991
    I've heard it as pyramiding before this hasn't changed has it? This is a very good workout.
    2032 days ago
    Thanks for sharing these very specific ideas. I'll definitely be incorporating these into my next round of strength training!
    2032 days ago
    WOW that is awesome!! Better! I can copy and paste that into my workout notes and it is easy for me to follow.

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    P.S. my husband is in the army and is always asking me for work outs...I passed this one along to him as well!
    2033 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/22/2012 10:38:44 PM
    2033 days ago
    Great blog, maybe list it in like an outline after explaining it, like list the exercise, then reps, rest time, reps (increase weight). You know what I mean? So when I come back to use as a reference I can just scan the outline emoticon
    2033 days ago
    That is an impressive workout. I'm not surprised he looks as good as he does. I use weight machines, and I love it, but I'm thinking about trying free weights. I'll probably hire a trainer to start with so I use proper form.
    2033 days ago
    I think it was a great blog and it gave me some ideas! I like adding pyramids!
    2033 days ago
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