One of the most common tweets I see is some form of “I have no idea how to workout“. I try to jump in those conversations with a few ideas, but I realized it might be good to catalog some of those pointers on our site.
And now that I’m not limited to a
140 280 character count, I want to take the opportunity to expand just a bit. You’ll still get a free routine, of course, so you can skim for that and deuce out if you’d like. But I think it’d be super helpful to learn the big takeaway of why certain moves should be done and how to adjust these moves for your own needs.
Come for the workouts, stick around to learn some workout programming.
Let’s take a look at one of the Back Day Workouts we made for a client competing in women’s physique:
- Farmer Walks 4×30 yards
- Seated Cable Row 3×8
- Plate-Loaded Iso-Lateral Row (Single Arm) 3×8
- Barbell Bicep Curl 3×8
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3×8
Two points need to be made right off the bat. First, this is pretty hard. Second, it’s a “phase 3” workout in a long running program. In physique prep, you have to balance a certain amount of volume while also being low on calories. So while we do have about 9 lifts here, they’re structured in a way where she knows how to shave an exercise off due to fatigue.
When you want to build the lats, you need to attack the back— hit them with all kinds of angles and variations of rows. This client worked her way up to being able to handle hanging pulls (“Client G” was strong as hell). Warming up with pull-ups is tough for most. You’d usually want to have a warm up leading into any kind of pull-up.
Adjusting the Moves for a Beginner
If you’re not an advanced lifter like “Client G”, the first thing you should learn is how to target your lats. And as silly as it may be, one of the “easiest” ways to practice that activation is learning how to flex the lats.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but once you get the idea of what muscle you’re targeting then you can work on drilling in that focus with your exercises. And the “best” move to ease into for that is the seated cable row.
Now as pointed out before, pull-ups are tough. You could modify them to an assisted pull-up with resistance bands. Another option would be to take them out altogether (for now) and warm-up the back with a Sinking T Spine Rotation and lightweight rows.
Then, we’d reduce the number of lifts overall. We want to condition you to exercise quality over quantity. So a more beginner friendly variation could look something like:
- Seated Cable Row 5×5
Remember: sets and reps aren’t magic numbers. Workouts are just a game plan to hit muscle activation. You don’t need to come away from the workout feeling beat up. Fatigue isn’t a sign of success. That said, if you’re unsure of what’s being targeted, you need to address that first.
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