Could you give me a lift please?

Could you give me a lift please?

I love training horses at my farm, Parkway Stables. Although every 2-year old is different, there are foundational principles that apply to every horse. For example, don’t ask for too much too soon and stop pushing when a young horse gives the correct behavior. Reward or mark that behavior, end the session, and try again tomorrow. In other words, don’t overwhelm a beginner. Quality sessions with a plan are better than random activity without purpose. 

The same is true for learning how to lift weights. I recently invited a couple to join me for a leg workout at Curtis Bartlett Fitness Center in my hometown. They were eager to lose weight and get into the best shape of their lives and thrilled to follow my routine. They never returned and when I asked why the response was, “we could not walk without grimacing for 3 days.” The best plan is one that you will do consistently. Before I share my personal lifting routine, three foundational principles:

1.   Learn proper technique and prioritize correct form over heavy weights. Just like a horse trainer learns to read her horse, learn to read your body. Some days I go heavy and other days light because my strength varies according to what else is going on in my life (sleep, stress, food intake). Less weight with proper form and mind/muscle connection creates significant gains with less risk of injury.


2.   Regardless of the muscle group, have a warm up plan. When I hired a body building coach, I learned that a great workout starts with priming the body to reap the most benefit from your session. Warm up those muscles with low weight and high reps. This one tip alone will enable me, Lord willing, to be lifting until the very end of my time on earth.


3.   Your purpose will determine your plan. If building muscle mass to compete in a competition is your goal, you will kick butt five days a week. If you are lifting for overall health and wellbeing, you might choose a 3-day split. Whatever you do, keep lifting and reap the benefits of strength training – bone health (by age 40 we start losing bone mass), less visceral fat in and around our vital organs, increased energy levels, improved mood, better mobility, enhanced brain health, and a longer lifespan with compressed morbidity.

Sam’s Workout plan

(google the name of the exercise for a video demonstration)

Monday – Leg Day

Warmup (3 sets, lighter weight to prepare for squats)

Leg extensions

Leg curls

Calf raises

Lunges (10 each leg)

Core Lifts

Back squats (4 sets increasing weight each set)

Leg press (4 sets feet close together to hit outer quads)

Goblet squats (4 sets)

Final Burnout

Inner/Outer Hip Abduction Machine

Leg extensions, leg curls (go heavy)


Heavier calf raises

Tuesday – Chest Day

Warmup (4 sets, lighter weight to prepare for heavier lifts)

Chest fly with machine or cables

Triceps extensions (warmup triceps on chest day)

Core Lifts – 4 sets increasing weight

Flat bench press (barbell or dumbbells)

Incline press (barbell or dumbbells)

Decline press or dips

Dumbbell fly

Final Burnout – 4 sets

Superset flat bench hammer press with pushups (I raise bench one notch or 15 degrees)

Wednesday – off

Thursday – Back day

Warmup (4 sets)

Cable Pullover

Core Lifts (4 sets; 12 reps)

Seated cable row

Bent-over Row


Pull-up (wide grip)

Final Burnout – 4 sets

Pullover (heavier alternating attachments to hit all angles of lats)

Friday – Delts

Warmup – 4 sets

Cable or machine rear delt fly

Core Lifts – 4 sets increasing weight

Standing barbell shoulder presses (machine ok if preferred)

Alternating standing shoulder dumbbell presses

Dumbbell lateral raises

Cable Face-pulls superset with shoulder shrugs

Final Burnout

Rear delts using cables or dumbbells

Cable side lateral raises (4 sets) or 100 machine or dumbbell lateral raises

Saturday – Arm Day

Warmup 4 sets

Triceps extension superset with cable curls

Core lifts (4 sets 12-15 reps)

PJR pullover (google for video demo)

Standing or seated dumbbell curls

Overhead triceps rope extension

French press superset with preacher curls

Reverse curls or any kind of forearm exercise

Final burnout

100 curls on machine (dumbbells or cable also ok)

Sunday – off

*Various cardio 3 x per week when bulking or maintaining and 5/6 days a week when cutting or leaning out.

Thanks for the ride, 

Sam Bartlett


William S. (‘Sam’) Bartlett is a leadership practitioner who has guided both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to high levels of success. Sam’s diverse experiences have made him a sought after motivational speaker and consultant to results driven companies. He is a noted authority in the areas of team building, employee engagement, customer service, conflict management, leadership, and what it means to “live inspired.” Sam has a love and passion to help others succeed. At 62, he compet

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