Fitness models usually use split routines for maximum muscle growth as opposed to full body workouts. This enables them to really focus on a body part/parts during each workout (these routines are key to pro-fitness model Obi Obadike’s training). Closer to a show (or photoshoot) isolation exercises are used to sculpt detail into the muscles.

This 6-week program is ideal for a competitor about 3 months ‘out’ or for someone who has been weight training for about a year, perhaps wanting to get in great shape for an event. The programme will give the desired ‘V-taper’ stage look (i.e. wide lats and shoulders and a small waist) and balanced muscular development.


The volume of exercise is too high in this program for beginners because muscles and tendons need time to adapt before they can cope with so many sets. So, if you are new to weight training simply choose only 1 exercise from each body part (legs, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs) to make a full body routine. Do 2-3 sets of each chosen exercise and increase the rep range to 12 –15 reps. Do: 2 workouts a week.

During the off-season I don’t advocate a large amount of fixed plane weight machine training because this does not stimulate your stabiliser muscles. However, closer to a contest or even at the end of a workout (during off-season) fixed plane machines can serve a purpose. As energy levels decrease due to calorific restriction, the risk of injury can increase as potential fatigue builds up.

Thus machine training can be used because the fixed planes of motion are easier to lift, yet hit the main targeted prime mover muscle. This program features free-weights and cable machine exercises, however, you can use machines for all exercises (where relevant) should you wish.


Nutrition and weight lifting are the primary focus before a contest. Too much cardio can elevate the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in the body holding onto fat rather than burning it. In addition too much cardio can create a catabolic situation – where hard-earned muscle, specifically its’ protein, is used for energy).

During the ‘cutting’ phase if cardio is needed, I recommend steady state work at 70% of your max heart rate for 20-40 minutes before breakfast 3-6 days a week. An additional 20 minutes can be added in the evening 3-6 days/week. Steady state cardio should NOT be done all year as the body quickly adapts to it.

Performing steady state cardio during the cutting period serves a purpose, as it will burn fat and not ‘eat into’ your muscles and exhaust you. In the offseason H.I.T (High Intensity Training) sessions are recommended 3 times a week, if cardio is desired. These are interval training based and use 1:2 or 1:3 effort to recovery periods.

Split routine

Day 1: Shoulders, Abs (featured in this issue)

Day 2: Chest, Back (featured in this issue)

Day 3: OFF

Day 4: Legs, Low Back (featured in next issue)

Day 5: Biceps, Triceps (featured in next issue)

Day 6: Off

The speed of lift is indicated by ‘tempo’. ‘3/0/1/0’ would therefore reflect a 3 second count to lower the weight, no pause at the end of this movement (the ‘0’), a lifting of the weight for 1 sec, with no pause (‘0’ sec) before lifting to the next rep.


Do 1 or 2 warm-up sets of each exercise (15-25 reps) back to back, but use a weight about 60-75% lighter than you will use for your regular set. This ensures your muscles and joints that you are about to use are warm. Closer to a contest, when there is less body fat around the joints the risk of injury can increase.

Be smart – if the gym is overly air-conditioned and you are not warm do not start your sets with heavy weights. Consider, think and warm up accordingly, but thoroughly.

All ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ exercises to be done as a superset, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat for indicated number of sets.

Shoulders, abs

A1: Barbell shoulder press

body weight workout_2


– Sit on a bench with back straight
– Legs at 90-degree angles
– Hold bar level at shoulder height.
Use an overhand grip


– Raise the bar until arms are straight
– Return to start position
– Do: 5 sets x 8 reps
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0

A2: Ball pike

body weight workout_3


– Assume a plank position with feet and shins on a Swiss Ball
– Pull ‘navel to spine’ and hold it throughout the entire movement


– Lift hips high so your body forms a triangle shape.
– Return slowly to the start position.
– Do: 5 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0.

B1: Leaning dumbbel lateral raise


– Hold onto a post with your left hand.
– Lean body away from it until left arm is straight.
– Hold a dumbbell in right hand with your elbow slightly bent.


– Lift the dumbbell until it is parallel with your shoulder.
– Return right arm to the start position.
– Repeat on other side.
– Do: 3-4 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0.

B2: Side plank hip dip

Competitors need small waists for the ‘V-taper’ look – therefore the oblique muscles should not be trained too heavily or the waist will become/appear wider.

body weight workout_4


– Lie in a straight line on your side.
– Position elbow directly under shoulder.
– Hold a weight with other hand on your hip.


– Lift hip off the floor so you are in a side plank position.
– Drop hip to the floor and then lift it up again.
– Do: 3-4 sets x 12-15 reps.
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0.

C1: Rope high row


– Position a cable at its highest setting and attach a rope to it.
– Hold the rope attachment with straight arms.


– Keeping your elbows wide, pull the rope to your chin.
– Keep shoulders depressed and tense your posterior deltoids.
– Return to the start position.
– Do: 4-5 sets x 12 reps.
– Tempo: 2/0/1/1.

C2: Decline bench leg raise

This is an advanced lower ab exercise. Only perform this movement if you can keep your navel pressed into your spine for the entire movement. Otherwise you are not engaging your transverse abdominus (TVA). A strong TVA flattens your lower abs and gives you a small waist.


– Lie on a decline bench with your legs at the lowest point.
– Grasp the handle overhead.
– Pull navel to spine and hold it there for the entire movement.
– Raise legs over your hips.


– Lower legs.
– Do not let your lower back overarch.
– Return to the start position.
– Do: 4-5 sets x 12 reps.
– Tempo: 2/0/2/0.

Chest + back

All ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ exercises to be done as a superset, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat for indicated number of sets.

A1: Wide grip lat pull-up

A wide grip works on the lateral (outside) lats, which gives a nice ‘V taper’ makes the waist look smaller.

body weight workout_5


– Use a pull up-bar or kneel on an assisted lat pull-up machine, if you can’t lift your own body weight.
– Use an overhand grip and keep your back straight.


– As you pull your body up, depress your scapula and tense your lats.
– On the way down allow some movement in your scapula so it is elevated at the top of the movement.
– Do: 5 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0.

A2: Barbell incline seated chest press

The incline targets the upper chest and anterior deltoids.


– Sit back on an incline bench set at 45-degrees.
– Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at mid-chest level.


– Straighten your arms and slowly return the bar to the start position.
– Do not overarch your back to ‘cheat’ the bar up.
– Do: 5 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 3/0/1/0.

B1: Wide, bent over cable bar rows


– Stand in front of a cable machine, with a bar attachment at the lowest setting.
– Bend your knees 20-degrees and bend from the waist 30-degrees.
– Maintain a neutral spine.


– Keep elbows wide.
– Pull the bar to chest height.
– Squeeze your scapula together.
– Hold for the count then return to the start position allowing your scapula to move forward.
– Do: 3-4 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 2/0/1/1.

B2: Incline or flat bench flies

Females may want to use an incline bench because the upper chest usually needs more development than the mid-chest.

body weight workout_6


– Lie supine on a flat or incline bench.
– Hold dumbbells over your shoulders with elbows slightly bent.


– Open arms in a semi arc.
– Stop when hands are parallel to your shoulders.
– Return to the start position.
– Do: 3-4 sets x 8 reps.
– Tempo: 2/1/1/0.

C1: Dumbbell bent over flies


– Sit prone on a bench at a 25-degree angle.
– Hold dumbbells in your hands with arms slightly bent.


– Open arms in a semi-arch.
– Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
– Stop when hands reach shoulder-height.
– It is important to keep the emphasis on the mid-traps.
– Do: 12-15reps x 3 sets.
– Tempo: 2/0/1/1.

C2: Cable chest flies


– Position the handles at shoulder-height.
– Stand equi-distant between the 2 pulleys.
– Grasp the handles and hold them with bent arms in front of your shoulders.


– Open arms in an arch until they are parallel with your shoulders.
– Return to the start position.
– Do: 3 sets x 12-15 reps.
– Tempo: 2/0/1/1.

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