The Jay Cutler Training Program!


Jay Cutler is one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time. He won the Mr. Olympia contest an incredible 4 times in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Jay is called “the comeback kid” by his fans because he is one of the only bodybuilders in history to win the Mr. Olympia competition, lose the title and then comeback to win the competition again.

Jay Cutler has used many different training splits throughout his career. However, he has gotten his best results using the following bodybuilding bro split. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Training Split

  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Arms
  • Wednesday: Back
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Shoulders
  • Saturday: Legs
  • Sunday: Off

Jay Cutler likes this old-school bodybuilding training split for many reasons. Jay uses a very high volume training style where he trains each body part with lots of sets, reps and exercises. Jay’s high-volume training style works perfectly with this training split because he is only training one body part per day.

Here is Jay Cutler himself describing his high-volume training style:

“I want to use a weight where I struggle around 10, maybe I can get 12 out of it. But sometimes I may do 15 reps, sometimes on a leg press I may do 20 reps or squat 20 reps, it really depends on the day. What we’re trying to do in bodybuilding is really just try and build muscle and get that pump, I always work towards the pump in the gym, not necessarily weight records.”

“I’m a high volume trainer where I‘ll do 20 sets per body part which is kind of unheard of in a lot of people’s regimen but for me I always trained more for the pumps and the sets and not going to failure every single rep. Sometimes it’s good to throw in the shock training but for me it’s all about training for the pump.”

Jay isn’t just a “pump artist” lifting the pink dumbbells: Jay can easily rep out 405 pounds on mass-building exercises like the incline bench press and barbell bent-over rows.

Jay knows that even if you use a higher-volume training style you still need to lift heavy weights. 20 sets with the pink dumbbells isn’t going to cut it if you are training to be the best bodybuilder in the world!

In the rest of this article I want to teach you some of the exact workouts that Jay used to become a bodybuilding champion.

Here is an outline for the rest of the article:

  • Part 1: Jay Cutler’s Chest Day
  • Part 2: Jay Cutler’s Arm Day
  • Part 3: Jay Cutler’s Leg Day
  • Part 4: Jay Cutler’s Shoulder Day
  • Part 5: Jay Cutler’s Arm Day

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Jay Cutler’s Chest Day

Jay Cutler’s chest workouts are actually very simple. He doesn’t rely on high-intensity training techniques like rest-pause sets, drop sets, forced reps or any of that stuff. He just picks 5-7 different exercises and performs 3-4 hard working sets on each exercise.

Here is one of Jay Cutler’s favorite mass-building chest workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Chest Workout #1

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Machine pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Flat DB fly, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Flat bench press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Cable crossover, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • G1: Lying dumbbell pullover, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

As you can see Jay Cutler performs a wide variety of exercises to overload his chest from as many different angles as possible. Jay performs compound pressing exercises and flies throughout his workout in no particular order.

Jay does perform a heavy drop set on the incline bench press which contradicts his normal training style. However, for the rest of the workout Jay gets right back to his usual high-volume approach.

Every once in a while Jay backs off on the volume and performs a more normal looking chest workout for a professional bodybuilder. Here is what Jay’s lower volume chest workouts look like. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Chest Workout #2

  • A1: Hammer strength incline press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Smith machine bench press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Machine pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Jay only performs 4 total chest exercises. This would be a lot for most trainees but for someone like Jay Cutler it’s almost closer to a warm up than a full workout!

Part 2: Jay Cutler’s Arm Day

There is no getting around it: if you want to be a competitive bodybuilder in the modern era then you have to have a big pair of arms. Guys like Phil Heath are able to sway the judges with their large and borderline overly-developed arms so you need a huge pair of arms just to be competitive.

With that in mind let’s see how Jay Cutler designs his arm workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Arm Workout #1

  • A1: Rope triceps pushdown, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Bench press (shoulder-width grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Straight bar triceps pushdown, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Overhead dumbbell triceps extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: One-arm underhand grip triceps pushdown, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Standing barbell curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • G1: Standing alternating dumbbell hammer curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: One-arm machine preacher curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • I1: Standing alternating dumbbell curls (supinating grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

In my opinion Jay’s tricep routine is much more interesting than his biceps routine. Jay uses a very similar triceps training philosophy to the bodybuilder John Meadows.

Jay likes to pre-fatigue his triceps with some type of tricep pushdown, then use a compound pressing exercise like close grip bench presses or dips, and finally finish off his triceps with some type of lying or overhead triceps extension. John Meadows says that this order of exercises is a great way to keep your elbows and triceps tendons healthy over the course of your bodybuilding career.

In the video Jay says that the close grip bench press is easily his favorite mass-building exercise for the triceps. The close grip bench press is definitely one of the best exercises for training the lateral and long heads of the triceps.

Here is another one of Jay Cutler’s arm workouts from his prime. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Arm Workout #2

  • A1: Machine preacher curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Standing dumbbell curls (hammer grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: 90 degree preacher ez-bar curl, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Dumbbell concentration curl, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Standing barbell curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Standing dumbbell curls (supinating grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • G1: Standing rope cable pushdown, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: Standing cable pushdown (pronated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • I1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • J1: Skull crushers (to forehead), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • K1: One-arm cable pushdown (supinated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the biceps training video:

And here is the triceps training video:

Once again Jay Cutler sticks to his triceps training philosophy. First he performs 2 different types of tricep pushdowns. Then he moves onto one of the best mass-building exercises for the triceps: V-bar dips performed with an upright torso.

EMG research shows that this exercise recruits all 3 heads of the triceps including the long head, medial head and lateral head even better than other exercises like the close grip bench press.

Finally Jay finishes his workout with the infamous skull crusher exercise.

Part 3: Jay Cutler’s Back Day

If there is one body part where Jay Cutler really tries to train heavy it is his back. Jay doesn’t perform any heavy deadlifts or rack deadlifts in his routine. He found through trial and error that these exercises are just too taxing on his body and aren’t worth the effort.

However, Jay Cutler does perform very heavy barbell rows, dumbbell rows and lat pulldowns with cheating reps and plenty of “body-oomph.” You’ll see what I mean in the videos below. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Back Day #1

  • A1: Nautilus pullover machine, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Hammer strength low row, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Lat pulldown (medium / supinated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Barbell bent over rows, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Seated cable rows (v-handle), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • G1: Seated cable rows (overhand grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: 45 degree back extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Take a good look at this workout video: on almost every back exercise Jay Cutler is using a little bit of momentum or “body English” to get the weight moving in the starting position. This is something that a lot of professional bodybuilders do.

Basically Jay is using his lower back to get the weight accelerating before he engages his upper back muscles. This is actually a form of eccentric training because he can use a heavier than normal weight on his exercises and really overload the lowering phase of the exercise. This is also a great way to overload the spinal erectors without necessarily resorting to deadlifts and rack deadlifts.

Here is another one of Jay Cutler’s upper back workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Back Day #2

  • A1: Lat pulldown (wide / supinated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Standing barbell row (supinated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: One-arm dumbbell row, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Lat pulldown (narrow / neutral grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Dorian Yates deadlift, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: Behind the neck pulldown (wide / pronated grip), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is another typical high-volume back workout for Jay Cutler. Jay picks 7 different exercises and goes to town on each one with 3-4 working sets of about 8-12 reps.

Once again Jay Cutler uses a fair amount of “body oomph” to get the weight moving on each rep. This is a fantastic strategy to overload your upper back muscles with a heavier than normal weight.

If you are an intermediate to advanced bodybuilder then you have to give this eccentric training strategy a shot in your workouts.

Part 4: Jay Cutler’s Shoulder Day

Jay Cutler uses a very simple shoulder training strategy that Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Phil Heath and many other top bodybuilders have used: he performs one overhead pressing movement and several shoulder isolation exercises targeting each head of the deltoids. It’s amazing how many top level bodybuilders have stumbled upon this exact same strategy.

Here is one of Jay’s typical shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Shoulder Day #1

  • A1: Seated dumbbell lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Seated dumbbell overhead press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Standing cable lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Alternating dumbbell front raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Reverse pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Bent over rear delt fly, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Jay Cutler uses the pre-fatigue method for his side delts. First he performs the seated dumbbell lateral raise, then he moves onto his big “meat and potatoes” shoulder exercise: the seated dumbbell overhead press. Finally Jay finishes off his shoulders with a wide variety of isolation exercises designed to work all 3 heads of the delts.

Here is another one of Jay’s shoulder workouts where he uses a very similar training strategy. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Shoulder Day #2

  • A1: Seated dumbbell lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Standing barbell overhead press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: One-arm cable lateral raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Rear delt cable pull apart, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Reverse pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Jay uses a very similar strategy for this shoulder workout: first he pre-fatigues his side delts with dumbbell lateral raises, then he performs a compound overhead pressing exercise and finally he finishes off his shoulders with a series of shoulder isolation exercises.

Jay Cutler’s shoulders were one of his standout body parts so this is definitely something worth trying in your own workout routines.

Part 5: Jay Cutler’s Leg Day

Jay Cutler’s quadriceps were easily one of his best muscle groups so it’s interesting to see how “the comeback kid” trained his legs.

Earlier in his career Jay trained very heavy on exercises like back squats and front squats. Jay says that he used as much as 700 pounds for reps on the back squat! In the end Jay came to a similar conclusion to many other pro bodybuilders: squatting that heavy just isn’t worth the risk.

Instead Jay uses a variety of machine exercises like leg presses, hack squats and leg extensions to build his legs without blowing out his lower back.

Here is a typical lower body workout for Jay Cutler. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Leg Day #1

  • A1: Machine leg extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Leg press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Machine hack squat, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Barbell lunges, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Machine front squats, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Machine leg extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: Seated leg curl, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • I1: Lying leg curl, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • J1: Romanian deadlift, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • K1: Kneeling leg curl, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Jay Cutler uses the pre-fatigue method to overload his quads. He trains reasonably heavy on the seated leg extension machine before moving onto compound quadriceps exercises like the leg press and the machine hack squat. This is the exact exercise sequence that Dorian Yates used to build his legs and it works very well.

After the machine hack squats Jay picks 3 more quadriceps exercises and gets in quality sets on them as well. It’s amazing that anyone can handle that much volume in one workout but then again Jay Cutler is no ordinary bodybuilder!

Here is another leg workout that Jay performed while training for the Mr. Olympia competition. Check it out:

Jay Cutler’s Leg Day #2

  • A1: 45 degree leg press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Machine hack squat, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Machine leg extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Smith machine squats, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Walking barbell lunges, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Seated leg curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • H1: Lying leg curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • I1: Stiff-legged deadlifts, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • J1: Unilateral leg curls, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Once again Jay focuses on machine exercises for his quads over free weight exercises like back squats and front squats.

If you are an intermediate to advanced bodybuilder and you never really got a lot out of squats then this is a great strategy to use.

Conclusion

Jay Cutler will go down as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. He beat the legendary bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman in 2007 to win his 1st Mr. Olympia title and continues to give back and promote the sport of bodybuilding.

Jay Cutler’s high-volume training style probably isn’t for everyone. Most people can’t handle 5-7 hard exercises per workout for a single muscle group. However, there is a lot that you can learn from Jay’s workouts.

I especially like how he sequences his exercises for his triceps and quadriceps workouts and how he uses plenty of “body-oomph” on his back exercises to eccentrically overload his muscles. Even if you do not use Jay Cutler’s exact training program these tips can be worth their weight in gold.

I will leave you with a great quote by Jay Cutler to pump you up even more:

“Surround yourself with people who dream BIGGER than you do.”

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

Dr. Mike Jansen

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT 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.

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