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Rob's 2017 Contest Prep Thread

Following! Keep on the grind!

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Thank you @happydude111, glad to have you on board!

Low day HIIT day today. This week I have been dragging more than usual, my legs have had that constant heavy feeling and energy has been low. I haven’t had any new lows on the scale yet, but have been maintaining in the 146’s all week, and looking at my weight pattern, I know things are still moving in the right direction. I expect I may go another week without seeing a new low, but the current plan has been working well and producing consistent movement, so I’m going to keep at it at least through next week before we discuss any potential adjustments. Hoping to ride this out for the next few weeks and taper out cardio leading into the warm up show on March 18.

New low, 146.2, first thing in the AM. Flat but tight, legs looked tighter a couple days ago, inflamed from HIIT yesterday as they usually are.

This week has been surprisingly rough in terms of energy level and leg heaviness, every day has been very challenging mentally and physically. If we were 4-5 weeks out of my main show, it’d be fine, but knowing we have 18 weeks to go until the Hercules, it would not be possible to maintain this deficit/cardio schedule for that long. We’ve been going hard for a while now, and are going to “ease up off the gas” a little in some form, going to talk to @The_Mighty_Stu later today about what he thinks would be a good way to do that. There are many ways we can keep making progress while dialing back a bit; whatever Dumbledore thinks is best, we both agree we’re in a good spot, have plenty of time, and it’s time for a little recovery.


Looking great!

Time makes a big difference, no? I realize it’s hard to stay in a prep for a long time but I think Brad talked about how time is the only thing that can get you shredded, that you can’t really hurry it.

What show in March are you doing? If it’s local, I’d probably show up.

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Good work. The look on that golden’s face. Like “Oh no he’s posing again.”

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Thank you very much brother! Yes, time is the thing, there’s only so far you can dig, definitely can’t be rushed. Fortunately we are on point and have the wiggle room to ease up a bit.

Talked to Stu earlier today, numerous small but great changes.
-Took out LISS completely on Tuesdays.
-Lowered LISS from 30min to 20min on Monday and Wednesday.
-Added 10min LISS after legs.
-Added 25g carbs/100 cals post workout with dinner, 1/2 cup of rice or something like that.

To summarize:
Mon (Medium) - Chest, Hams, 20min LISS
Tue - (Medium) - Back, Biceps, Calves
Wed - (Medium) - Delts, tris, abs, 20min LISS
Thur - (Low) - 20min HIIT—>20min LISS
Fri - (High) - Legs, 10min LISS
Sat - (Med) - Arms, calves
Sun - (Low) - Posing practice in the studio, 45min LISS

These will be very, very helpful and should allow for great recovery. We’ll assess for a week and see how everything is going.

We also decided we’re going to go full throttle for the show in 5 weeks, and I probably won’t do a show 5-6 weeks before the Hercules. We’re going to back off this week a bit, then assess hams and glutes to see what we need to do. Then we’ll dig in hard for 2-3 weeks, back off during peak week and come in leaner than ever for the show in 5 weeks. After that, the Hercules will be 13 weeks away and we should already be pretty close to the target, and we’ll have plenty of time to keep tightening up.

“ANBF Gambler’s Classic” on March 18. @The_Mighty_Stu and @BrickHead will also be there, and my wife will be making her physique and bodybuilding debut!

Lol, thanks man! She’s seen those poses plenty of times by now!


Love the Golden, what’s her name?

I have a Cockapoo, Bella, she’s my bud.

Three hours for me to Mays Landing, not ruling it out!

Tweaks look good, conservative.

You coming to the NY/NJ meet up on the 17th?

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Is the meetup on the 17th or 19th. I’m available both days.

@robstein Was wondering how you would set up a weekly split when using only free weights? I seem to be struggling to organize an efficient split given the lack of equipment for say legs and am wondering if perhaps using an upper/lower or push/pull would be better. Giving me a chance to hit muscles 2x with less exercise selection and volume. I am open to any type of set-up though.

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The golden is Cleo, she’s my first pup and I’m crazy about her.

Tweaks are in play starting tomorrow, looking forward to dialing back the cardio slightly and adding a little carbs with dinner. Then we’ll assess next weekend and see what we want to do from there, hoping to respond well! Still 19 weeks out from the Hercules.

Hope you can make the show man! I won’t be able to make the NJ/NY hang unfortunately, have a blast to all who are going!

Talk about a mind f@ck, woke up way bloated today for some reason, 151.2lbs (I was in the 146’s all week last week!). Not sure what’s causing this, possibly too much fiber this weekend, I ate a ludicrous amount of raw spinach which may be contributing. I was doing so good with managing bloating, now I’m aquaman again! Hoping this will even out over the next couple days so I don’t make myself crazy. I know it can’t be anything but water as our changes didn’t even take affect yet, but man, it is frustrating.

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@Rhye I apologize for the delay in response for this one, happy to offer any help I can! Can you elaborate on exactly what equipment is available to you? Are you in a sparse gym, trying to use only free weights, equipment at home, etc?

Equipment at home. I have a barbell, dumbbells, and a cable (spud inc).

I am trying to bring up my arms and so similar to your split I think


May be good?

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Cool, thanks for the info! Do you have an adjustable bench? Assuming if you’ve got a barbell you’ve got a bench. I did the home gym thing for a while when I was getting started with adjustable dumbbells, cables, adjustable bench and a pull up bar. If you don’t have an adjustable bench and a pull up bar, I’d definitely add them to your arsenal.

I think the split you listed would work, exercise selection would be somewhat limited but you could make a program with what you’ve got. Leg training truthfully will not be great, you might be able to do more endurance exercises but gaining size and strength in your legs will be a challenge. Let’s see what we can do:

-Incline Dumbbell or barbell press (I like dumbbell), you could certainly alternate or use barbell
-Flat bench
-Pushup variations
-Cable flyes if you can wrap the cable around something
-Floor presses
-Skull crushers
-1 arm DB extensions
-Tricep dips with hands on the bench, feet on a chair and plate/dumbbell in your lap

Back/Bis (Definitely get a good pull up bar for back)
-Barbell rows (pronated/supinated alternate)
-1 arm DB rows
-2 arm DB rows
-T-bar & Meadows rows if you can set it up
-Chest supported rows
-Pullup variations - super wide, wide, supinated, pronated, neutral, etc., eventually weighted if possible with dumbbell between legs or feet
-Seated incline DB curls
-1 arm preacher curls, standing behind the incline bench and supporting your arm on the top of the bench
-Hammer curls
-Cross body curls
-Barbell curls
-Concentration curls

Shoulders/Traps (lots of these can also be done with cables, like the lateral raises)
-Seated DB presses
-Seated DB presses with bands/cables attached to the dumbbells or your hand for extra resistance
-Military press (if you can with the barbell)
-DB laterals (seated and/or standing)
-DB front raises (seated and/or standing)
-Bent over rear delt raises
-6 point DB raise (look it up if you’re not sure, got it from Meadows)
-Barbell shrugs
-DB shrugs

Legs (again this will be tough with the equipment)
-Squat (if you don’t have a rack and it’s just a barbell obviously this isn’t an option)
-Standing DB squats
-Every weighted lunge variation you can think of with dumbbells or barbell if you can get it on your back

Arm workouts, you can take any of the earlier exercises and make an arms only session out of them.

Hope this helps man! Just what I could come up with off the top of my head, there might be more you can google around and find with your available equipment. Please feel free to ask for more details if needed, I figure you can take care of organizing the sets/reps.

You can certainly “get it done” with that equipment and split, if it’s possible to get a gym membership down the road that would be ideal, there’s only so far you’ll be able to go in a home gym unless it’s really equipped for it.

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I had a home gym of this sort for a long while. I eventually got a multi-rack to help with the squats, but here are some exercises I did without the squat rack:

  • Jumping/explosive squats (you don’t need a lot of weight…you can put the bar on your shoulders and do sets of 20 jumping squats)
  • Double-Pump squats (still don’t need a lot of weight. squat down, come up half way, squat back down, then do a jumping squat)
  • Romanian/Stiff-Leg Deadlifts (unilateral or bilateral with barbell/dumbbells)
  • Hip thrusts (use your bench, put the barbell across your lap)
  • Lunges (scissor, jumping, forward, backward, walking if you can get it outside on the driveway/street, I found doing one leg at a time created more tension and a bigger pump than alternating since the weight is lighter)
  • DB Leg Curls (lying flat on a bench --flat or decline-- hold a DB between your feet and curl it towards your butt. range of motion is very small and must be controlled)

I always went for higher volume on leg days since I couldn’t use much weight. Investing in a mult-rack is a good investment because it helps with incline bench press, military press, squats, rack pulls, etc. Just find one hella-on-sale.

Sorry if I’m out of line offering my own suggestions here.


Thank you for adding to the list! Great stuff man. I remember doing the P90X “plyometrics” workout the first time, all jumping and bodyweight squat variations, I couldn’t walk right for a week. It’s probably online somewhere. Add dumbbells and have a blast.

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Thanks this is awesome. Yeah, I assumed legs would be an issue.

For Back how do you feel about training horizontal before vertical/stretching? Meadows, has mentioned it may cause issues, does it matter?

Would you train lateral variations before pushing on shoulder days?

Do you prefer to ramp weight to a top set of work within a rep range with a given weight?

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In the off season I separate my vertical/horizontal into two back sessions, one for “width” and one for “thickness.” During prep when I have one back session per week, I always do vertical work first, like weighted pull-ups, lat pull downs, rope pull downs, etc., before moving on to rows. So, if I were at home I’d probably start with pull up variations first before moving on to rows. Ultimately I don’t think it matters much if you’re properly warmed up to start working sets, but I like vertical first because it’s a good stretch and I feel ready to attack my rows when it’s done.

Sure, I’ve done it both ways, and still switch it up sometimes. Typically I start with seated dumbbell presses, I used to start with laterals, ultimately I like starting with seated presses because I want to go as heavy as possible. I will usually warm up with laterals though sometimes before pressing, not hard working sets but not an easy feeler set either, kind of in-between. I also used to finish my shoulder workouts with seated DB presses, really toasting whatever might be left after the session. Ultimately I don’t think it matters much and comes down to preference, and either or both is fine. Lately I’ve been starting with seated DB presses, then front raises, then rear delt work, then ending my sessions with a superset of standing dumbbell laterals into standing barbell presses using a smaller bicep bar. Great pump and leaves nothing left.

This is more auto-regulated day to day and depends on the exercise, but 99% of the time I’ll get some good warm up sets, find my working weight for the rep range and stick to that. I’ve found my training and physique has improved a lot this year by increasing intensity each set as much as possible. So, if I’m going for 8-10 reps of an exercise, after warm ups, that first working set is going to be as hard and heavy as I can go to get 8-10 reps while isolating the muscle as best I can, if I moved up in weight it would compromise MMC, performance, etc., so ramping wouldn’t really help. Some exercises I do like to ramp up, like squatting I know I always like to move up each set and plan accordingly. If I do ramp on an exercise, it’s not by much, squatting is really the only thing I plan it for. If I’m finished with a second working set, feeling strong and want to move up slightly I will, but again it’s more by feel each day.

This has been a great week so far, strong gym sessions and feeling much better after our small but numerous tweaks. Amazing what dialing back cardio slightly and adding just a little bit of food can do. No new lows on the scale this week, but I am slowly getting tighter, and in all my side shots I can see some glute indentations. Still a lot of work to do, but making progress on more food and less cardio is always a good thing!

We are just over four weeks out of the first show, and after this “recoup” week I am feeling great. Next few weeks we are going to dig hard into the show and get as dialed in as possible. Lots of room to cut cals and add cardio, and knowing the show is coming up provides a great burst of motivation to dive head first into the trenches.

I’ve also decided I’m not going to do another show before the Hercules, as I originally planned. After the Gambler’s Classic on March 18, we’ll have 14 weeks until the Hercules, and I just want to concentrate on preparing for it without worrying about another show, another peak week, tanning, traveling, long show day, etc. By the time Gambler’s rolls around, the plan is to be tight as hell and then we take the next 14 weeks to dial in any additional finishing touches, and hopefully increasing carbs/cals into the show. It doesn’t always work out that way, but we’re thinking with 14 weeks to make progress after this show, it’s a good possibility.

Side note, my wife is kicking butt and is also just over 4 weeks out as we’re doing the same show. We put her on keto from here until on out to dial everything in and put the finishing touches on. She responds very well to keto, and is super motivated as the show is almost here. We got the schedule, and it’s looking great. It’s a 2pm show just less than 2 hours from the house, so we won’t have to deal with hotels and everything that goes along with traveling for a show, like bringing your own sheets and towels, food, etc. Men’s bodybuilding is on first, and women’s physique and bodybuilding is on last, so once the show begins, I’ll knock out my pre judging, then will be with her throughout the day. We’ll get our dream tan on before the show starts, so all we’ll have to worry about is eating our rice cakes and reese’s spread, pumping up and staying focused. The Wolf Pack crew will be there, plenty of helping hands, gonna be an awesome day! 4 WEEKS!