Want to target your shoulders and back? Try this bodybuilding workout routine by Amy Tate, a personal trainer and physique competitor.
Amy Pate is no stranger to bodybuilding and physique competition. She qualified nationally back in 2012, nearly closing down her pro card.
Through her company Hardbody Strength & Fitness she provides personal training programs for aspiring physique competitors, bodybuilders, and those simply looking to make healthier changes, from online coaching to custom training plans.
We asked her to send over her favorite workout routine, and she put together this week-long routine that focuses on training your shoulders and back in particular.
Here is Amy to break down her favorite workout routine.
A 2/3 Workout Split for Bodybuilders with Amy Pate
Here’s a favorite workout split of mine with an emphasis on back and shoulders, two body parts I regularly focus on.
It’s based off an old Ava Cowan workout I came across long ago, and I’ve messed around with it a bit to suit my own purposes. I think Layne Norton has been known to use this sort of split, and he may have influenced Cowan’s use of it, I don’t know. I had heard she once trained with him but have no idea if any of that’s true.
Anyway, I like this approach of a combined upper/lower split with a 3-way split. I switch up the exercises periodically to keep things interesting. This also breaks up leg day a little bit which makes such a workload feel more manageable to me.
- See also: Want to mix up your deadlifting and add more raw power to your strength training? Check out our collection of the best trap bars for deadlifts.
Back is my favorite part to train, and I love deadlifts. I am old school in that I like to keep some big power lifts in my bodybuilding routine, typically on the front end. Some bodybuilders and coaches would discourage keeping them or advise replacing them with rack deads (which I sometimes do) since traditional deadlifts are thought to make your waist thicker.
I’ve never had a tiny waist anyway, so maybe I’m not doing myself any favors, but I like being strong, and deadlifts are my favorite of the big lifts. Can’t seem to let them go for very long and always return to doing them. I’ve gotten fairly strong even with bodybuilding style workouts, so I often wonder about how I might do with powerlifting, but it’s hard to let go of my bodybuilding ways.
On a related note, you may notice the lack of shrugs and direct trap work. This is because my traps get pretty large fairly easily, probably from all the heavy deadlifts I do. Oddly, and fortunately, I tend to get compliments about my traps, so they at least aren’t like grotesquely overgrown! However, I don’t want to push my luck. Hahaha. But, if you feel like you need some shrugs, by all means throw some in.
I do ab work at least 2x times a week, sometimes more and throw that in wherever it seems to fit best, but I like to have one day entirely off from any work. With abs I generally pick 1-2 exercises for both upper and lower abs, maybe an oblique exercise and do them circuit style for 3-4 rounds. There is plenty of equipment you can use to properly target the core and engage more muscle, from ab mats (which I love because they reduce cheating when doing traditional crunches) and rollouts with ab roller wheel, which are fantastic for developing strength in extension. With this workout, I’d do abs on Wed. and Sat or Mon, Wed, Sat. But, you could do them however you like.
When I’ve prepped for contests and gotten closer to stage time, I would train 6 days a week, so there would be some adjustments just based on which parts I wanted to hit harder…often hams/glutes or back/shoulders or sometimes legs. I will often adjust reps schemes and use some special techniques like forced or partial reps or tempo work.
I am using this workout currently but am building back up to this volume gradually after a layoff.
As this workout is fairly intense and high volume, I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners or to jump into this full bore if you aren’t accustomed to this volume. Even if you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter and training pretty intensely already, of course, make sure your nutrition is adequate.
Get plenty of rest, and build in recovery periods. I cut back to a 2 way (upper/lower body or a push/pull) split 4x a week from time to time for this purpose. You’ll come back stronger when you build in some windows like this.
Day 1: Upper Body
- Pull-ups 3-5×8-10
- Deadlifts 4×6-8
- Meadows Row 4×10-12
- BB Shoulder Press 4×6-8
- Seated Side Lateral raises: 4×10-12
- DB Bench Press 4×12,10, 8, 6
- Skullcrushers 3-4×10-12
- Straight bar biceps curl 3-4×10-12
Day 2: Lower Body A
- 1a Leg extensions 4×15
- 1b Step-Ups 3×10
- Leg press 4×15,12,10,8
- Walking lunges 3×12-15
- Seated leg curl 4x-10-12
- Glute Machine 3×12-15
- Standing calf raise 4×10-12
Day 3: HIIT + Abs work
Day 4: Back & Chest
- Seated Row with Rope attachment 3-4×15
- T-bar or BB Row 4×6-10
- Lat Pulldown 4×12
- Hammer Strength High Row 4×10-12
- Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 3×15
- Incline Bench Press 4×10-12
- 7a DB Flys 3×12-15
- 7b Feet Elevated Pushups 3xfail
Day 5: Lower Body B
- Leg Extensions 4×15-20
- Back squat 4×6-8
- RDL 4×8-10
- Lying leg curl 4×12-15
- Single Leg-Press 3×15-20
- Seated calf raises: 4×10-12
Day 6: Shoulders & Arms/HIIT + Abs work
- Side cable raises 4×12-15
- DB Overhead Press 4×10-12
- Rear delt machine or Bent over flys 3×12-15
- 6-ways 3x fail
- 5a V-bar Pushdown: 3-4×10-12
- 5b Biceps hammer curls on preacher curl bench: 3-4×10-12
- 6a Overhead Extensions 3-4×12-15
- 6b Preacher Curls 3-4×12-15
Day 7: Rest
A huge thank you to Amy for taking the time to send this over. You can get in touch with Amy at her website, Hardbody Strength & Fitness, and check out her range of coaching and personal training services.
Image Credit: MidAtlantic Photography