Mr. USA Michael Thomas’s Favorite Workout

Over the past few months of performing total body training 3-4 days per week I am finding that I have favorite exercises that work well for my physique.  Actually, I have favorite exercises, rep ranges, and number of sets that just seems to work well for me.  The main reason these exercise parameters work well is the fact that they do not irritate my joints or put me in a position to risk injury.  For upper body training I tend to stay in the 10-20 rep range per set and for lower body I tend to stay with 20-40 reps per set.  Each set is taken very close to absolute failure.  Here is the workout:

Incline Smith Chest Presses 3 sets of 10-20 reps.  This exercise doesn’t bother my shoulder at all.  I know many gurus bash the smith machine but I have yet to find someone to get injured on it.  For me it just makes sense.

Pulldowns 3 sets of 10-20 reps.  A perfect exercise along with pullups to fully engage the lats.

Close Grip Incline Smith Presses 3 sets of 10-20 reps.  I like this exercise for triceps along with the fact that I get more chest and shoulder work.

Lying Face down on Bench Dumbbell Rows 45degree incline.  I like this exercise for rows as it doesn’t bother my low back like cable or barbell rows do.  I can work extremely hard without risking injury. 3 sets of 10-20 reps

Seated Lateral Raises.  I perform this exercise seated usually with the seat not quite vertical.  So I am leaning back slightly.  Usually performing 3 sets of 10 reps.

Preacher Dumbbell or EZ Curl Curls.  I usually train in the 20 rep range as I don’t like training heavy to expose my bicep tendon to extra stress.  3 sets of 20-30 reps per set.

Leg Presses on 45 degree leg press.  Usually perform at least 3 sets of 30 reps.

Calf Presses on same leg press.  3 sets of 30-40 reps.

I usually perform this workout 2 days per week with 2 other days per week of variations of these exercises.  I always listen to my body and if an exercise irritates my joints I change it.  Safety is always first in my book.

Study Routine 2 to see more details.



Measuring Fatloss and Muscle Building Progress

Today I want to give you a few methods of measuring your progress.

1) Take pictures from the front, side and back.  Make sure you take them in the same lighting.  Generally, I like clients to take them at the same time of day, weekly.  A picture will tell us just how lean you are getting.   Pictures are quite powerful at showing us our true results.

2) Skinfold measurements are a good assessment tool but certainly not perfect.  If you can get a good instructor to measure your bodyfat via skinfolds it is probably a good tool.  You must get the same instructor every time and they must be very consistent.

3)  Girth measurements are a very good tool to measure fatloss and muscle building progress.  Specifically, waist and hip measurements are great.  There are a couple weaknesses with girth measurements and again the weaknesses involve accuracy.  Measurements must be taken in the same exact location.   For example, the waist measurement should be taken at the belly button.  Another problem with girth measurements is the tension or lack thereof on the tape.  Girth measurements can be good but a lot of room for errors and fudging;) exists.

4) DEXA scan is a scanning machine that can be very accurate.  I have never had a DEXA done but have read from several sources that it is very accurate.  However, a DEXA may cost you quite a bit.  This may not be appropriate for most of us.

There you have a few methods of measuring fatloss and possibly the amount of muscle you have built.  I believe pictures are the best form of evaluation.  For every show I have done we have taken pictures to measure progress from week to week.  Often times,  pictures were the only form of assessment I used.   As painful as they can be take some pics at least every month.  They won’t hide the truth I promise.



Workout Pictures From Today

Today me and my dad went to the gym and I left him in charge of taking some pics.  They actually turned out pretty good.  He said he would charge me 50 bucks an hour which I thought was reasonable.  We settled on me buying him a dinner.  Just kiddin: )

Today’s workout looked like this

Incline Smith Presses 225 x 22,14,10   rca_0010

Pullups bodyweight x 24,15,14,12,10,10

Close Grip Incline Presses 185 x 14,10,8

Seated Lateral Raises 40 lb dumbbells x 12,10,8

1 arm preacher curls 40 lbs x 14,12,10

Leg Presses 6 plates x 40,8plates x 40,40

Calf Presses 6 plates x 50,8 plates x 40,40  rca_0022

A Great workout.  I am such a believer in high frequency total body training.  Study all of my articles associated with routine 2.  Just click the routine 2 category on the right hand side of this blog.

Yours Truly,



A Great Workout

Today has went much better than Tuesday.  I wasn’t so over booked and was able to focus on my workout.  The workout went phenomenal.  I really believe this high frequency training program has produced big time.  I am considering making a run at the Worlds this year.  Not sure yet, as I have a ton of stuff going on right now.  Hopefully, starting my PhD in Exercise Physiology this summer.  So a lot going but anyway here is the workout from today.

Flat Smith Presses 225 lbs x 22,18,15

Pulldowns  220 lbs x 15,14,10

Close Grip Smith Presses for Triceps  185 lbs x 20,12,8

Lying on Bench Rows at about a 45 degree incline.  90 lb dumbbells x 10,8,7

Seated Lateral Raises with dumbbells 45 lb x 7,6 30 lbs x 12

Preacher Curls 70 lbs x 25,20,15

Leg Presses after 2 warmups 8 plates x 40,30,30

Calf Presses 8 plates x 30,25,25

Total Time 43 minutes

A great workout today.  The gym was very busy which can make it difficult to focus.  I put my headphones on and went to work.  Not that I was being rude but I feel like workout time is precious time and not to be wasted or interupted.  I love helping others and will take time to do so. 

Have a Great Day and Sign up for my free membership.  Then you can purchase some of my ebooks and articles HERE



Get To Basics

Goodness gracious.  This morning I have witnessed so many folks performing goofy exercises.  Not to focus on the negative here but come on. Lets get back to basic movement patterns.  Basic exercises like: lunges, squats, leg presses, flat presses, incline presses, overhead presses, pulldowns, pullups, rows,curls, standing calf raises,etc.  I see so many folks spending the bulk of their training time doing ab crunches and wondering why their body is not changing.  Or one better than that, for leg training they do leg extensions with no time spent on multijoint leg exercises like those listed above.

If you don’t know better study my training routines.  You will see 90% of our time is spent on the big, basic movement patterns.  Get good at these basics.  I know it doesn’t sound glamourous like some of the “celebrity” trainers are promoting.  But, do it.

Just Ranting Today,

All in an effort to help you!



Yesterday’s workout didn’t go as well as planned.  Yes, even I have trouble focusing and pushing myself.  However, I must admit those days are few and far between.  The biggest problem with yesterday was time management.  I said yes to too  many appointments and ran myself short on time.  By the time I got in the gym it was 3:30 which is late for me.  I had another appointment at 4:30 which left me with little time.  I got into the workout and things were going pretty well.  The gym was pretty busy this time of day which did offer some distractions.  I ended up having a conversation with a guy that is a friend which threw off my total focus.  Now, I am not saying I should have been rude and not talked but this conversation really distracted me.  Before I knew it 45 minutes had gone by and I was suppose to be at my next appointment.  All in all the workout went well.  Upper body training went fantastic but my lower body training was less than focused.

A couple lessons learned are:  I should have budgeted my day better which would have allowed for training to be done earlier.  I should have been brief with the conversation and kept on moving.

Here is the actual workout:

Incline Smith Presses 225 lbs x 20,16,14

Pullups body-weight x 20,18,15

T Bar Rows Lying on bench 135 lbs x 18, 90 lbs x 15,15  went lighter to get better reps

Close Grip Incline Smith Presses 205 lbs x 18,16,16

Seated Lateral Raises 40 lb dumbbells x 12,12

1 arm Preacher Curls 40 x 18,15

Leg Presses 6 plates x 40 8 plates x 30,30

Standing Calf Raises 45 lbs 1 legged x 40,40

Total Time 42 minutes

Performance was actually pretty good.

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Have a Great Day,


A Great Workout Plan

I have a great workout in store today.  Been very busy today training clients.  In fact, this month is probably my  busiest month since moving to James River.  I am reminded today of some very basic principles of training that must be followed.

All training must be performed with high levels of effort.  You must find a way to push your body to higher levels.   Goals for today is to demand more from myself than I did last week.  Here is today’s plan.

Flat Smith Presses 3 sets of 10-20 reps

Pulldowns 3 sets of 10-20 reps

Rows 3 sets of 10-20 reps

Close Grip Presses On Smith 3 sets of 10-20 reps

Lateral Raises Seated 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Leg Presses 3 sets of 30-40 reps

Calf Presses 3 sets of 30-40 reps

1 arm Preacher Curls 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Rest between sets will be about 45 seconds.  Total workout time will be around 45 minutes.  This routine is centered around routine 2 principles.  I strongly urge you to login and study all articles associated with this routine.  This routine has produced some of the best gains of my 20 year career.  My clients are getting crazy results.


New Levels Of Performance

Yesterday’s workout was awesome.  I pushed myself to higher levels of performance and my body responded.  Training with this system is like magic.  Each day you enter the gym you may be feeling unenergetic and then bomb your body responds. You just never know what is going to happen.  Often I am surprised at how much my performance has improved.  A resistance that once felt heavy now feels tremendously light.

I strongly urge you to read all the entries associated with routine 2 under the categories.  Develop your plan following that routine.  Follow that routine for 12 weeks and I promise you will be stronger, leaner, more conditioned than ever.  If you have questions be sure to ask .  Do It NOW!!


Here was yesterday’s workout

Flat Barbell Presses 275 lbs x10,8,8

Pulldowns stack x 12,10,10

Close Grip Presses 225 lbs x 10,10,10

Leg Presses 6 plates x 30, 8 platesx 30, 10 platesx 30,30

Calf Presses 8 plates x 40,10 platesx 30,30

Bench Rows 90 lb Dumbbells x 10,10,9

Lateral Raises 40 lb dumbbells x 10,10,9

Preacher Curls 70 lbs x 20,20,18

Workout time 38 minutes.  A tremendous workout and set a few personal records.




Determining appropriate frequency is a critical component of your training program.  Waiting too long before training a desired muscle group could hinder your progress just like training that muscle group too quickly after a session.  This current routine is forcing me to rethink the whole work-recovery paradigm?

Lately I have been training muscle groups much more frequently.  Granted the most volume per muscle group performed is 5 sets.  This increased frequency has produced some awesome gains for me and my clients.  These new found gains after 20 years of training have caused me to rethink this whole recovery/frequency paradigm.  I do think training muscle groups with a higher frequency can and will produce awesome gains if you are recovering.  With an increased frequency approach you must make sure you limit your sets per session per muscle group.  Which leads me to a statement that I have used often.

“You have 2 options when it comes to training. 1) You can train each muscle group with a lot of sets, reps, high intensity techniques, etc.  By training with high volume and intensity you must allow a number of days for complete recovery.  2) You can train that same muscle group with limited sets, reps, but work brutally hard and train that muscle group much more often. ”

What I am finding using option 2 is that the body adapts to every form of stress.  Eventually, training with the high frequency approach your body will adapt to just about any training stress and be ready to train in a few short hours or days.  You can’t start off the high frequency program training with a lot of volume per training day but you can eventually increase it.  The following example represents the sets for 1 muscle group for 1 week of training.

First Higher Frequency Set up

Mon 2 working sets

Wed 3 working sets

Thurs 2 working sets

Sat 3 working sets

Total 10 working sets per week per example muscle group

After 8 weeks or so you could move the volume up a few more sets and see if progress continues.

Increased Volume High Frequency

Mon 3 working sets

Wed 3 working sets

Thurs 3 working sets

Sat 5 working sets

14 Total Working Sets.  After a few weeks you might consider backing the sets back down, followed by ramping them back up.

This is the exact experiment we have used here.  In fact, many of our clients have experienced a huge upregulation of recovery, strength levels, metabolism that this high frequency approach  is forcing me to rethink this paradigm.   Study Routine 2 and let me know.


January 27, 2009

Yesterday we had quite a snow and ice storm.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in my workout.  I didn’t get to work but did make it to a local gym that was not too far from the house.  The roads weren’t too bad.  I was excited to get my workout in.  This workout plan has produced and I hate to miss if I can keep from it.

Once I got to the gym I realized their were actually quite a few people there.  I had to alter my original plan but never the less had an outstanding workout.

Flat Hammer Machine Presses 115 per arm x 25,18,10

Pulldowns Life Fitness Machine 200 lbs x 18,15,10

Hammer Machine Overhead Presses 135 lb per arm x 10,8,6

Life Row Machine 130 lbs x 12,10,10

Seated Dumbbell Curls 45 lbs x 15,12,10

Bodyweight Dips x 35,30,30 (It had been a long time since doing these, I was pleased with the number of reps here.  My chest and triceps were smoked after this.)

Horizontal Leg Presses 250 lbs x 30,30 Decided to try stationary lunges 55 lbs x 15 per leg for just one set.

Standing Calf Raises 130 lbs for both legs at same time x 35,30,30

Evaluation:  The upper body portion of the workout was awesome.  The lower body portion really wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  The horizontal leg press really didn’t engage a lot of muscle tissue therefore, I decided to try the lunges.  When I got to the lunges I realized that my knee was getting irritated by that movement.   I really didn’t get the kind of muscle recruitment I wanted from either exercise.  I am ok with that.  I will make adjustments next time.  The leg press I should have used was being used and I didn’t want to wait.  Next time I will wait and perform an exercise I know I will get alot of muscle recruitment.

Have a Great Day.  Hopefully, I can get back to work tomorrow.