The Iain Valliere Training Program!


Iain Valliere is one of the world’s best professional bodybuilders.

He has won many professional bodybuilding competitions including the 2020 New York Pro and the 2021 Texas Pro.

If you want to train like Iain Valliere then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Iain Valliere’s Chest / Tricep Workouts
  • Part 2: Iain Valliere’s Back / Bicep Workouts
  • Part 3: Iain Valliere’s Quad Workouts
  • Part 4: Iain Valliere’s Shoulder Workouts
  • Part 5: Iain Valliere’s Arm Workouts
  • Part 6: Iain Valliere’s Hamstrings Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will show you exactly how Iain Valliere trains for his professional bodybuilding competitions.

Iain Valliere trains 6 days per week using a high-volume, high-intensity bodybuilding training program. Iain trains each muscle group once per week on their own workout. Check it out:

Iain Valliere’s Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Triceps
  • Day 2: Back / Biceps
  • Day 3: Quads
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Arms
  • Day 6: Hamstrings
  • Day 7: Off

Iain Valliere believes that this kind of old-school bodybuilding bro-split is the fastest way to build muscle mass because you can give each muscle group 100% of your attention.

The only muscle group he trains more than once per week is his arms. Iain throws in some extra triceps work after his chest workout and some extra biceps work after his back workout.

Iain uses a very simple strategy for his workouts. For each exercise he performs 2 all-out working sets to failure. He performs 1 heavier set in the 8-10 rep range and a back-off set in the 12-15 rep range.

Iain performs different high-intensity techniques for both of these sets. Some of his favorite techniques include forced reps, rest-pause sets and drop sets.

Here is a great video of Iain performing forced reps on the incline dumbbell press. Check it out:

Iain performs 6 reps on his own with the 200 pound dumbbells. Then his training partner helps him complete 2 more reps by lifting up underneath his elbows.

Iain uses forced reps on many different exercises to train beyond the point of failure and to eccentrically overload his muscles.

Iain uses many different high-intensity techniques throughout his workouts. You are going to get a master class in high-intensity training from the one and only Iain Valliere!

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Iain Valliere’s Chest Workouts

Iain Valliere has an incredibly strong chest. He is famous for incline pressing the 200 pound dumbbells for reps and making it look easy.

Here is one of Iain’s favorite chest / tricep workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Chest Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline smith machine press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Hammer strength incline press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Incline machine fly, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Flat DB press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #5: Flat cable fly / press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #6: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #7: Cable pushdowns (dual handles), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #8: One-arm cable overhead extension (high pulley), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #9: Cable pushdown (pronated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform 2-3 forced reps after reaching failure on both sets.

****Perform 2-3 forced reps on the first set. Perform a double drop set on the second set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Iain trains his chest with a wide variety of exercises including machine presses, dumbbell presses and cable flies.

For each exercise Iain performs 2 working sets to failure with different high-intensity techniques thrown in for good measure.

Here is Iain describing his high-intensity training style:

“With anything we do here, basically we’re doing 2 working sets. We’ll work up with sets of 3, 5, 7, whatever, working up to our top set.

The top set is usually 8-10 reps, then we do a back-off set and throw in high-intensity techniques like forced reps or drop sets as needed.”

This is a very interesting way to train! Many high-volume bodybuilders like John Meadows also believe in training to failure on your heaviest working sets for each exercise.

For this workout Iain uses the smith machine press as his primary chest exercise. Iain says that this has always been one of his favorite mass-building chest exercises. Check it out:

“I love the smith press. It’s always the staple in my chest training. I just find it’s a little easier to keep that stability in the line that you want vs the barbell press.

It’s also safer with my competition coming up in a few weeks. It’s easier to keep my tendons and ligaments healthy this way.”

After training his chest Iain throws in some extra exercises for his triceps. Iain likes to focus on different cable exercises for his triceps to keep his elbows healthy.

He saves his heavier pressing exercises like bench presses or machine dips for his separate arm day.

Here is another one of Iain’s favorite chest workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Chest Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline DB press, 2 sets of 6-12 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Incline machine press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #3: 30 degree incline machine fly, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Flat machine press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps******
  • Exercise #5: Machine pec dec, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: 30 degree incline DB extensions, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #7: One-arm cable pushdowns, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Train to failure and then perform 2-3 forced reps with the help of a training partner

****On the first set train to failure and the perform several partial reps in the bottom position. On the second set train to failure, perform several partial reps in the bottom position, drop the weight, train to failure and perform several partial reps in the bottom position.

******Perform a single drop set on the second set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Iain works up to the 200 pound dumbbells for 6 reps. He even throws in some extra forced reps at the end of the set to further fatigue his chest. Wow!

As usual Iain performs 2 working sets per exercise. He performs as many warm up sets as he needs to get ready for his heaviest sets. Then on his 2 working sets he trains beyond failure using different high-intensity techniques like forced reps, partial reps and drop sets.

Iain says it is important to not perform too many repetitions on your warm up sets. If you do then you will just wear yourself out for your main heaviest sets. Check it out:

“If I do too many reps on my warm up sets then I’ve exhausted myself and taken away reps from my maximal set.

So instead I’ll just prime my muscle, feel the weight and increase the load to get to my heavy working sets.”

If you are looking for a new way to train your chest then you have to give Iain Valliere’s chest workouts a shot. I really like the way he focuses on 2 heavy working sets to failure per exercise.

Part 2: Iain Valliere’s Back Workouts

If you want to compete as a professional bodybuilder then you need a huge back. I’m talking wide lats that flare out form your torso and thick spinal erectors that scream “heavy slag iron.” There is no other way!

Iain Valliere trains his upper back using a huge amount of training volume. He likes to pre-exhaust his lats with cable pullovers before moving onto a variety of rows and pulldown movements.

At the end of his back workout Iain performs 3-4 biceps exercises to finish them off. Here is one of Iain’s favorite back workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Back Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Cable pullover (straight bar), 2 sets of 8-20 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Hammer strength low row, 2 sets of 8-20 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Machine chest supported row, 2 sets of 8-20 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Seated cable row (dual-handle), 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #5: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps****
  • Exercise #6: Assisted pull up machine (wide / overhand grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps****
  • Exercise #7: Standing cable curl (dual handle / supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #8: Standing alternating DB curl (hammer grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #9: One-arm preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #10: Standing barbell curl (reverse grip), 2 sets of 8-20 reps

**Perform 2-3 forced reps after reaching failure on both sets.

****Perform 1 regular set to failure and 1 cluster set. On the cluster set pick a weight you can perform about 10-12 times and perform 4 mini-sets of 4 reps with 15 seconds in between mini-sets.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-volume workout! Iain says that he always starts his back workouts off with some type of cable pullover.

He likes this exercise because it pre-exhausts his lats and gives him a better mind-muscle connection with this muscle group throughout the rest of the workout. Check it out:

On back day we always starts with a pullover variation. We’ve been dong this with a straight bar lately, we also do it with the machine.

It gives you that full range of motion with a full stretch and a full contraction.

I found this exercise made a huge difference in my lats from my front shots.”

On every back exercise Iain performs 2 working sets to failure. Iain’s favorite high-intensity technique is forced reps and he performs plenty of those in this workout. However, Iain also performs plenty of cluster sets.

Iain’s favorite way to perform a cluster set is to take your 10-12 rep max and perform 4 mini-sets with 15 seconds rest in between sets. The short rest periods between sets gives your muscles the chance to partially recover so you can get more total reps in with a given weight.

Here is another one of Iain Valliere’s favorite back workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Back Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Straight-arm cable pulldown, 2 sets of 10-20 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine chest supported row, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Prime low row, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Seated cable row (medium / neutral grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #5: One-arm cable pulldown, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Machine pulldown, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Train to failure and then perform several forced reps with the help of your training partner.

****Perform 1 regular set to failure and 1 DC-style rest-pause set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this back workout Iain Valliere doesn’t perform any extra biceps work. Everything else should look familiar.

Iain starts the workout with cable pullovers to pre-exhaust his lats. Then he performs a variety of exercises for his upper back including machine rows, cable rows and pulldowns.

Iain mixes things up for this workout and performs some rest-pause sets for his rowing exercises.

A rest-pause set is where you train to failure 3 times in a row on an exercise with 20-30 seconds rest in between each attempt. You might get something like 12 reps, 5 reps and 3 reps on the three parts of your rest-pause set.

Rest-pause sets are another one of Iain’s favorite training techniques because they let you train beyond muscular failure to really overload your muscles. 

Part 3: Iain Valliere’s Quad Workouts

Iain Valliere trains his quads once per week on their own separate training day. He believes that this is a better strategy than training quads and hamstrings together because you can give more attention to each muscle group.

Iain Valliere rarely performs the regular back squat in his quadricep workouts. Instead he relies on various machines like leg presses and hack squats to beef up his quads.

Here is one of Iain’s favorite quad workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Quads Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: One-leg machine leg extension, 2 sets of 10-20 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine hack squat, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Horizontal leg press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Pendulum horizontal leg press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Hip adduction machine, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Train to failure, then perform several forced reps with the help of a training partner.

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Iain Valliere uses the pre-exhaust method. He performs 2 heavy working sets to failure on leg extensions before moving onto the rest of his workout.

The leg extensions are designed to pre-exhaust his quads so they have to work harder on his other compound exercises. Other great bodybuilders like Dorian Yates and Branch Warren used a similar pre-exhaust strategy.

As usual Iain performs 2 working sets to failure per exercise. Check it out:

“Once I’ve done the maximal load I can for the maximal number of reps, that sets done. I’m done with that weight.

Next we’ll lower the weight, keep the form and execution good and hit a slightly higher rep range for the back-off set.”

On the leg extensions he trains to failure and then performs several forced reps. On the other exercises he performs 1 heavy working set and 1 back-off set.

Here is another one of Iain’s favorite quadricep workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Quad Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: 45 degree leg press, 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #2: Machine hack squat, 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Vertical leg press, 2 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #4: Horizontal leg press, 2 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Once again Iain focuses on different machine exercises like the 45 degree leg press and hack squats for his quadricep workout. Iain Valliere performed this workout with the bodybuilder Matt Jansen.

Let’s be real, the main reason I chose this video was because the bodybuilder Matt Jansen has one incredibly sexy last name. I would know!

If you do not have an über-sexy last name like “Jansen” then you will never be successful – so just forget about it!!

Part 4: Iain Valliere’s Shoulder Workouts

If you thought Iain Valliere used a lot of exercises to train his chest or back then wait until you see his shoulder workouts! Iain trains his shoulders with about 6-8 exercises per workout.

He trains the front, side and rear delts with many different exercises to ensure complete development.

Here is one of Iain’s favorite shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Shoulder Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Smith machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Standing DB lateral raise, 2 sets of 10-20 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Cable rear delt fly, 2 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Exercise #4: Machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #5: Machine lateral raise, 2 sets of 10-20 reps******
  • Exercise #6: 30 degree incline cable fly, 2 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Exercise #7: Hammer strength incline press, 2 sets of 10-20 reps

**Perform 1 heavy set to failure and 1 cluster set. For the cluster set perform 4 mini-sets of 4 reps with 15 seconds rest in between each mini-set.

****Perform 1 heavy set to failure and 1 double drop set to failure.

******Perform 3-5 forced reps after reaching failure on both working sets.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-volume shoulder workout! Iain performs 7 different shoulder exercises and 2 working sets to failure per exercise.

As usual Iain uses different high-intensity techniques for his working sets including forced reps, drop sets and cluster sets. Iain actually uses 3 different overhead pressing movements for this workout.

He performs one overhead pressing movement at the start of the workout, one in the middle and one at the end. This is a crazy amount of overhead pressing volume but it works like magic for Iain Valliere.

Here is another one of Iain’s favorite shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Shoulder Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Cable rear delt fly (low pulley), 2 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Viking press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #4: 75 degree prone DB lateral raise, 2 sets of 10-20 reps****
  • Exercise #5: Smith machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #6: Machine lateral raise (straight arm), 2 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Exercise #7: Machine rear delt fly, 2 sets of 10-20 reps

**Train to failure and then perform several forced reps with the help of your training partner.

****Train to failure, then perform several partial range of motion reps in the bottom position, then perform several partial range of motion forced reps.

Here is the training video for this workout:

This workout follows a very similar format to his previous shoulder workout. Iain performs 7 different exercises for his shoulders including 3 different overhead pressing exercises and a ton of different shoulder isolation exercises.

As usual Iain performs 2 working sets to failure per exercise and he isn’t afraid to throw in forced reps or partial range of motion reps to make his sets even more intense.

I recommend you think twice before attempting this kind of high-volume shoulder workout. This routine works great for Iain Valliere but most people will end up in the hospital if they try to train like this!

Part 5: Iain Valliere’s Arm Workouts

Iain Valliere trains his arms twice per week. He performs some extra work for his arms after his chest or back workouts but most of his arm work is performed on a separate training day.

Iain still likes to perform 2 working sets for his arm exercises. He performs 1 heavy set in the 8-10 rep range and then another back-off set in the 12-15 rep range.

Here is one of Iain’s favorite arm workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Arm Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Cable rope pushdown, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Bench press (shoulder-width grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Machine overhead triceps extension, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Standing cable curl (dual handles / supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Standing alternating DB curl (hammer grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Preacher cable curl (supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform a double drop set on your last working set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Iain Valliere says that he likes to train his triceps before his biceps most of the time. For his triceps workout Iain performs 2 working sets of rope pushdowns.

Iain almost always starts his tricep workouts with this exercise. He says the rope pushdowns help him to warm up his elbows and establish a great mind-muscle connection.

After the pushdowns he moves onto close grip bench presses. Iain says that you can get better triceps activation with this exercise if you stop 2-3 inches above your chest. Check it out:

“I think a big mistake a lot of people make when they do close grip bench press for triceps is they do a too full range of motion.

Stopping 2-3 inches off your chest will work your triceps harder and take stress off your shoulders.”

Stopping 2-3 inches above your chest makes this a “Spoto press.” You can read more about this exercise in my article “Josh Bryant’s Favorite Bench Press Supplemental Exercises!

Finally Iain finishes his triceps workout with overhead triceps extensions. For his biceps workout Iain performs 3 different exercises using a variety of angles and grips.

Here is another one of Iain’s favorite arm workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Arm Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Cable pushdown (rope handle), 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine dips (upright torso), 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Cable pushdown (dual handles / pronated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Standing alternating DB curl (supinating grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps******
  • Exercise #5: One-arm machine preacher curl (supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #6: Standing cable curl (rope handle), 2 sets of 8-15 reps****

**On the first set train to failure and perform several forced reps with the help of a spotter. On the second set train to failure, perform several forced reps, drop the weight by 20-30%, train to failure again, perform 8-10 forced reps and one slow eccentric-only rep.

****On both sets train to failure and then perform several forced reps with the help of a spotter.

******On the first set train to failure. On the second set perform a double drop set to failure.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-intensity arm workout! Iain really cranks up the intensity for his 2 working sets on each exercise. He uses a combination of forced reps, eccentric-only reps and drop sets on his working sets for each exercise.

That is a brutal way to train your arms!

Once again Iain performs 3 triceps exercises followed by 3 biceps exercises. This is his usual way of organizing his arm workouts. Check it out:

“I’d say about 70% of the time I do 3 triceps exercises then 3 biceps exercises.

The other 30% of the time I’ll do alternating sets so I’ll do my first triceps exercise, my first biceps exercise, my second triceps exercise and so on.”

Iain says he likes training triceps first because it’s easy to perform your biceps exercises when you have a huge triceps pump but it’s very hard to get a full triceps contraction when your biceps are pumped with blood.

Part 6: Iain Valliere’s Hamstrings Workouts

Iain Valliere trains his hamstrings on their own separate training day. Iain says this is a great way to bring up your hamstrings if they lag behind your quads because you can use several hamstrings exercises per workout and you can train them with 100% of your attention.

Here is one of Iain’s favorite hamstrings workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Hamstrings Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Seated leg curl, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Kneeling leg curl, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Conventional deadlift, 2 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: One-arm cable pulldown, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Cable pulldown (supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #7: 45 degree back extensions, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform 1 heavy set and 1 cluster set. For the cluster set perform 4 mini-sets of 4 reps with 15 seconds rest in between each mini-set.

****Train to failure and then perform several forced reps with the help of your training partner.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about a high-volume hamstrings workout! For this workout Iain performs 3 different types of leg curls and 2 heavy sets of conventional deadlifts. Iain also uses high-intensity techniques like forced reps and cluster sets on his working sets of leg curls.

At the end of his workout Iain performs a few different exercises for his upper back. These weren’t heavy – Iain was just trying to pump some more blood into his upper back area.

Here is another one of Iain’s favorite hamstrings workouts. Check it out:

Iain Valliere Hamstrings Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Seated leg curl machine, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Lying leg curl machine, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Romanian deadlift, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: One-leg standing cable leg curl, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Train to failure and then perform several forced reps with the help of your training partner.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Iain uses a very similar format for this leg workout. He performs 3 different variations of leg curls and a couple heavy sets of Romanian deadlifts.

This is about as basic as it gets but sometimes the basics are all you need to build a world-class pair of hamstrings.

Conclusion 

Iain Valliere is one of the world’s top bodybuilders and it’s easy to see why. He performs extremely high volume workouts using incredibly heavy weights. He also performs high-intensity training techniques like forced reps, rest-pause sets and drop sets on almost all of his working sets!

This is an unbelievable amount of training volume. Most professional bodybuilders would end up in the hospital if they tried to copy Iain’s routine!

If you can train with that much volume and intensity while still lifting extremely heavy weights then you are destined for bodybuilding success.

If you have world-class bodybuilding genetics then I highly recommend you give Iain Valliere’s training program a shot.

If you don’t then you may want to stick with a more traditional bodybuilding routine. People who can train like Iain are few and far between.

Here is a great quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger to pump you up even more:

“You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself. You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know that it is the right thing to do, and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail!”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

Recent Posts