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July 24, 2022
The golden era of bodybuilding was everything great about the sport. It had huge personalities, aesthetic physiques, and a superstar athlete to be the frontman. This period is so influential that fifty years later, we have an entire class dedicated to bringing it back to life. The classic physique division is both a throwback and a look ahead to the future of the sport.
For the past three years, the classic physique has been dominated by one man: Chris Bumstead. He is the reigning Olympia classic physique champion, winning the show in 2019, 2020, and 2021. With almost 9 million followers on his Instagram account and close to 2 million YouTube channel subscribers, it is safe to say Chris Bumstead is the current face of bodybuilding. And it's easy to see why.
The professional bodybuilder is arguably the most aesthetic guy on the planet. For the first time in decades, the lifting community has a champion bodybuilder to aspire to look like. And while we may not be able to replicate his exact results, we can certainly learn a thing or two from how Chris Bumstead trains.
After reading this post, you’ll know:
Chris Bumstead, age 27, was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. At six feet tall, he has a contest weight of 225 pounds. In the offseason, he typically gets up to 260 to 265 pounds. Bumstead is the current champion of the Mr. Olympia Classic Physique division.
Chris Bumstead is the first Mr. Olympia who could just as easily be classified as a fitness influencer. He documents his training and nutrition on his YouTube and Instagram accounts, like this shoulder workout, giving a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a champion.
In addition to competing, he is part owner of a supplement company called Raw Nutrition.
The Chris Bumstead workout routine follows an unconventional 8-day training split. Chris Bumstead's workout plan involves training three days in a row, followed by one rest day.
Aside from his back, the Chris Bumstead workout plan hits each muscle group once per week. Bodybuilders have had great success with similar bro split style workout routines for decades.
Although high-frequency training is often seen as evidence-based, training frequency does not significantly or meaningfully impact muscle hypertrophy when the volume is equated.
Simply put, it doesn't matter how often you train each week when the number of sets you do for each muscle group per week is the same.
It's also notable that Chris Bumstead training splits his lower body parts into two sessions: one quad focused and the other hamstring based.
Admittingly, Chris Bumstead's workout routine doesn't always follow super strict guidelines. Therefore, exercises are subject to change slightly.
With that said, the overall structure of his training is very consistent. One thing you will notice watching Chris Bumstead train is his emphasis on the basics. He uses a variety of movements, utilizing both free weights and specialized machines.
He trains hard and heavy in his daily workouts with moderate volume utilizing a double progression loading scheme. Chris Bumstead aims to get at least ten reps before increasing the weight.
Double progression is a simple way to build progressive overload into your training. It goes like this: You work in a programmed rep range (8-10, for example) and stick with the same weight for as long as needed to reach the top of that rep range.
Once you hit the top of that rep range for the programmed number of sets, you increase the weight by 5 to 15 pounds and repeat the process. Essentially, you always try to increase reps first, and then once you are capable, increase the weight. This is why it is called double progression.
Chris is also a big fan of utilizing drop sets to increase training intensity and maximize growth.
Drop sets are when you do a set close to failure with a given load, and with minimal rest, perform as many reps as possible with reduced weight.
Below is a breakdown of what each day in Chris Bumstead's workout routine looks like.
The first session of the week is everyone's favorite: chest workouts. Chris Bumstead has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the past couple of years, and ironically, the injury affects his chest training more than shoulder work. Since his chest is a weak point, he focuses on movements that don't cause pain.
Chris Bumstead's chest workout starts with him lying prone on an incline bench and performing light dumbbell Y-raises. The workout begins with an incline dumbbell press. The goal is to work up to two heavy sets of near-maximal weight in the 8 to 10 rep range.
Next up: Stay on the incline bench for two sets of dumbbell incline flies. Get a good stretch at the bottom and a hard contraction at the top.
The third movement is the Hammer Strength machine incline press. Perform two working sets, with a drop set on both. Start the second set on the same weight as the drop set from the first set.
After that, knock out three sets of fifteen on the pec deck before finishing up with two sets of push-ups to failure. By the end of the pushups, your chest should be smoked. If you're following his plan but want some push-up variations to play around with, there are plenty of options.
Day two of the Chris Bumstead workout is quads and calves. This is the big leg development day of the week.
Start by getting a good warm-up with a superset of leg extensions and the adduction machine. Chris Bumstead feels the adduction machine is the secret to warming up for squats.
After a few warmup sets, stay on leg extensions for two working sets. Then, on the second set, perform a drop set.
Next up is the main exercise of the workout: smith machine squats. Working up in weight, Chris Bumstead performs a few low rep warmup sets not to waste energy. The goal is to work up to the heaviest weight possible for six to ten reps. After the top set, drop the weight by about five percent for the second set.
During squats, he wears a belt and a pair of knee sleeves. Interestingly, he performs the entire workout without any shoes on.
You'll notice there are no standing lunges (or lunges of any kind) in Chris Bumstead's quads routine. Instead, the workout concludes with a tri-set of unilateral leg press, bodyweight sissy squats, and seated calf raises. The unilateral leg press takes some pressure off the lower back and allows you to focus on one leg at a time.
Day three is the first back routine of the week. In this workout, the focus is on back thickness.
With no specific warmup, Chris Bumstead jumps right into the first exercise of the day, a lat pulldown using an underhand close grip. This will be the only pulldown variation of the day.
Next up is a chest-supported dumbbell row using an incline bench. This is a highly underrated exercise and often takes a backseat to bent over barbell rows and the seal row. However, the dumbbell chest-supported row is a great alternative to bent over rows.
The third exercise of the day is a chest-supported t-bar row with a neutral grip. The key is getting a full scapular retraction as you pull the weight into your chest. On the second set, perform a drop set.
After that, move over to the machine chest supported row. Each chest-supported row variation hits the back from a different angle. Changing the grip, angle of pull or elbow position can change how the movement targets the muscle.
The last exercise of the back training programs a lat extension using a Vulken cable attachment.
Note that day four is a rest day, so we aren’t including much information here. Take it easy, and let your muscles heal. Make sure you determine how much protein you need to build muscle, and keep your intake just as high on rest days. You can't go wrong with adding chocolate whey protein to your daily diet, but there are tons of great protein powders to choose from.
Chris Bumstead's shoulders workout starts with an extensive warmup of band dislocations and internal and external rotations.
The first exercise of the day is a seated dumbbell shoulder press. Slowly work up in weight, performing multiple light warmup sets. The two working sets should be as heavy as possible. Chris puts a lot of emphasis on shoulder press strength in the offseason. His goal is to be able to shoulder press 140-pound dumbbells before he starts to prep for the Olympia.
The second exercise of the day is a machine shoulder press. On the third set, do a drop set to get in some more volume.
Next up is a seated dumbbell lateral raise. Doing these seated helps eliminate cheating. Next, perform a drop set on both sets. Once you are done, jump over to the lateral raise machine to finish off your lateral delt exercises.
The workout concludes with two complex sets of reverse pec deck to hit the rear delts.
The second leg workout of the week focuses on Chris Bumstead's hamstring exercise routine with a bit of back work sprinkled in at the end.
The workout starts with lying leg curls. Doing the leg curls before deadlifts act as a pre-exhaust for the hamstrings. Chris loves deadlifting heavy. Plus, having quantitative goals is a great way to maintain motivation during the offseason. So work up to the heaviest weight you can handle for 4 to 8 reps.
After deadlifts, hit the hamstrings with two more leg curl variations, seated and standing, before moving onto the back.
The first back exercise is wide grip lat pulldowns. You can rotate in wide-grip pull-ups in this spot as well. Finish the workout with two quick sets of cable lat extensions using a double grip v-bar attachment.
Last but not least: Arms, which is the main area Chris is trying to build this offseason.
Begin Chris Bumstead's workout routine with rope press downs before moving to incline dumbbell skull crushers. Start these with your elbows pointing directly up at the ceiling to keep the focus on the triceps. You can drop your elbows at the end of the set to get in a few extra reps. As an alternative, you can perform one or two handed grip barbell skull crushers, ez bar skull crushers, or reverse grip barbell skull crushers.
After two triceps exercises, EZ bar preacher curls are the first biceps movement. As an alternative to using the EZ bar, you can also opt for machine preacher curls.
Next up is good old fashion dumbbell biceps curls. Again, focus on rotating the wrist outward at the top. If you're following this program but want variation, hammer curls are another great option.
The last triceps exercise is a cable cross-body triceps extension. Set the cable at about head height. Using one arm at a time, extend your hand from the opposite shoulder horizontally to full extension.
Finish the workout with a low pulley cable curl using a v-bar handle.
Again, here’s your reminder to hit your protein goals, get adequate rest, and let your muscles rest and repair.
Even in the offseason, Chris Bumstead's diet is spot on nutrition-wise and filled with healthy foods. Based on his full day of eating videos on YouTube, he tracks his food using My Fitness Pal.
In the offseason, he eats roughly 5,000 calories broken up into 265 to 290 grams of protein, 550 to 650 grams of carbs, and around 150 grams of fat.
His diet consists of mostly minimally processed whole foods he cooks himself. However, he takes advantage of a meal prep service called Mega Fit Meals for convenience. A day of eating for Chris Bumstead in the offseason looks like the following:
Following Chris Bumstead's training and diet plan won't guarantee a Sandow trophy, but it'll certainly get you gains. And if you're not ready for an 8-day training schedule, there are plenty of other great workout splits to help you see results. Or, maybe a split that includes a mix of cardio, boxing, and calisthenics, like the Mike Tyson workout routine, is more your speed.
You may be surprised by the simplicity of how Chris trains, both with his workout routine and diet. The truth is, there are no secrets or special techniques to what the famous bodybuilder does in his training program that isn't semi-common knowledge. It all comes down to consistency and effort. There is no substitute for the work.
Author: Kyle Hunt, Hunt Fitness
Images courtesy of Chris Bumstead's Instagram
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