The Chris Bumstead Training Program!


Chris Bumstead is an IFBB professional Classic Physique competitor and the 2x winner of the Mr. Olympia contest.

Chris has trained with many different training programs throughout his bodybuilding career. Recently he has even experimented with a 6 day push / pull / legs split to train with more frequency. However, his go-to training split has always been an old-school 6-day bodybuilding bro-split. Check it out:

The Chris Bumstead Training Split

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

As you can see Chris trains each body part once per week on its own separate training day. The only exception is his arm day where he trains biceps and triceps together.

Chris actually likes to train his quads and hamstrings on separate training days so that he can give each body part as much attention as possible.

In this comprehensive guide we’re going to take a look at some of Chris’ exact workouts to see how he built his Mr. Olympia physique. Let’s start with Chris Bumstead’s chest workouts.

Chris has a phenomenal chest and uses every trick in the book to make it grow bigger every year. Chris uses the progressive overload principle in his workouts and can easily incline dumbbell pressed the 150 pound dumbbells for reps. However, he also uses plenty of isolation exercises and high-intensity training techniques like forced reps and partial reps.

Here is what one of Chris’s typical offseason chest workouts looks like. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Chest Workout #1

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • B1: Hammer strength flat press, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • C1: 30 degree incline DB fly, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • D1: Flat supine machine press, 3 sets of 10-12 reps**
  • D2: Incline squeezing push ups, 3 sets of 10-12 reps**

**Perform 8-10 reps to failure, then perform as many partial reps as you can in a row to failure.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris travels a lot and has to adapt his chest workouts to different gym environments. This particular gym had some very heavy dumbbells so he took advantage of this and started his workout with some 150 pound incline dumbbell presses.

After the heavy dumbbell presses Chris performs a variety of machine and isolation exercises to get a great pump. Chris finishes his workout off with a superset of machine presses and squeezing push ups with plenty of partial reps performed on both exercises after reaching failure.

Here is a higher-rep chest workout that Chris performed while dieting for the Mr. Olympia contest. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Chest Workout #2

  • A1: Incline smith machine press, 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • B1: Hammer strength flat press, 3 sets of 20 reps**
  • C1: Flat machine press, 3 sets of 20 reps**
  • D1: Pec dec machine, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • D2: Parallel bar dips (forward leaning torso), 3 sets to failure

**Performed with a weight around your 10-15 rep max. After you reach failure your training partner gives you generous assistance during the lifting phase of each rep

For Chris’s second workout he performs some higher-rep sets to help him get into shape for the Mr. Olympia contest. This is especially true on his second and third exercises.

Christ takes a weight he can get about 10-15 times and performs 20 total reps with the help of a training spotter. His spotter starts giving generous assistance on the lifting phase of the reps after Chris reaches failure. This is a brutal training method that you can try if you have access to a training spotter.

Now let’s take a look at two of Chris’s quad workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Quads Workout #1

  • A1: Back squat, 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • B1: Walking barbell lunge, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • C1: Machine squat, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • C1: Seated leg extension machine, 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris says that squats are his #1 quadriceps exercise. Chris says that he injured his knee back in 2018 and was unable to perform squats for 6-8 months in a row. He could do every other exercise such as leg presses, leg extensions but not back squats.

That year his legs looked smaller and less developed on the Mr. Olympia stage. The next year he threw back squats back into his rotation and his legs almost immediately returned back to normal. This just shows the importance of finding the right exercises that work for you.

For someone like Dorian Yates back squats were the worst exercise ever but for Chris they are the Rolls Royce of quad exercises.

Of course Chris doesn’t perform back squats in every single workout – he likes to mix things up from week to week. Let’s take a look at one of Chris’s machine based quad workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Quads Workout #2

  • A1: Machine hack squat, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • B1: Walking DB lunge, 3 sets of 20 reps
  • C1: Horizontal leg press, 3 sets of 20 reps
  • D1: Leg extension, 3 sets of 20 reps
  • E1: Seated calf raise, 3 sets of 20 reps

Here is the training video:

This was another one of Chris’s precontest workouts. Chris performed one ultra-heavy set of hack squats with 5 plates per side and then focused on sets of 20 reps on a variety of machine based exercises. Many other IFBB professional bodybuilders such as Ben Pakulski and Stan Efferding have found that nothing beats sets of 20 reps for quad growth.

Now let’s look at some of Chris’s go-to shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Shoulders Workout #1

  • A1: Seated dead stop overhead press, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • B1: Side lateral raise, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • C1: Barbell upright row, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • D1: Cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • E1: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

If you pay attention to most of the top pro bodybuilders, they almost all use the same training strategy for shoulders: they perform one overhead pressing movement early in the workout followed by 3-5 shoulder isolation exercises to target all 3 heads of the shoulders.

Almost every recent Mr. Olympia winners including Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler and Phil Heath organize their shoulder workouts this way and Chris Bumstead is no exception! This is definitely something to consider if you respond well to high-volume workouts like Chris.

Here is another one of Chris Bumstead’s shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Shoulders Workout #2

  • A1: Smith overhead press, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • B1: Machine lateral raise, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • C1: Machine overhead press, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • D1: Machine lateral raise, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • E1: Cable rear delts, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • F1: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Once again Chris sticks to his go-to shoulder training program: he performs one heavy overhead pressing movement followed by 5 shoulder isolation exercises to really isolate each head of the deltoids.

Chris is notorious for not planning out his workouts ahead of time. He often walks into the gym and decides what he wants to do once he gets there. This is why his workouts and exercise selection look a little random sometimes.

In my experience the average trainee gets better results planning out their workouts ahead of time but this approach works for Chris and you can’t argue with results!

Now let’s take a look at Chris’s back workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Back Workout #1

  • A1: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 2 sets of 6 reps**
  • B1: Chest supported row (wide / pronated grip), 3 set of 4-8 reps****
  • C1: Hammer strength row (narrow / neutral grip), 3 sets of 8-10 reps**
  • D1: Nautilus machine pullover, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • E1: Rope handle lat pulldown, 3 sets of 14-16 reps

**On each set train to failure and then perform an extra 2-3 forced reps

****Perform 2-3 forced reps on each set. Here’s what you do on the last set: train to failure and perform 2-3 forced reps, drop the weight, train to failure and perform 2-3 forced reps, drop the weight, perform 2-3 forced reps. Done!

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris Bumstead almost always performs deadlifts and rack deadlifts on his hamstrings training day. This means that he focuses on different types of lat pulldowns and rowing exercises on his dedicated back day.

This was definitely more of a high-intensity workout for Chris. He busts out several different high-intensity training methods including forced reps and drop sets. He even performs forced reps and drop sets together in a single set! I’m sure Dorian Yates would be proud.

Here is one of Chris’s higher volume / lower intensity back workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Back Workout #2

  • A1: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Barbell bent over row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Unilateral hammer strength row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Machine t-bar row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Rope lat pulldown, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E2: Straight bar cable pullover 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout Chris performs 6 total exercises for his upper back. Due to the higher training volume he backs off completely from his normal high-intensity training techniques.

If you’re looking at this workout and trying to figure out the logic behind Chris’s exercise order then you are just going to give yourself a headache. This is just one of those workouts where Chris goes in and trains instinctively based on the feedback his body is giving him. Jay Cutler also designed a lot of his back workouts this way.

This type of instinctive training works well for advanced bodybuilders and strength athletes but beginners should probably stick to a more defined training program.

Now let’s look at two of Chris’s arm workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Arm Workout #1

  • A1: Rope pushdown, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • B1: Close grip bench press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • C1: Overhead machine extension, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • D1: Standing cable curl (spongey grips), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • E1: Standing DB hammer grip, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • F1: Cable preacher curl, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

Chris Bumstead has a very similar training philosophy to John Meadows. One of Chris’s big goals for his arm workouts is to sequence the exercises so that he stays healthy and injury free. After all, Chris is already the reigning Mr. Olympia champion in his division. There is no need to go and do something stupid and risk an injury.

Chris almost always starts his triceps workout with some type of cable pushdown. Chris likes this exercise because it is very easy on the elbows and lets him establish a great mind-muscle connection. After pre-fatiguing his triceps Chris moves onto more “meat and potatoes” triceps exercises like close grip bench presses and overhead triceps extensions.

Chris uses a similar training philosophy with his bicep workout. Chris performs more dangerous exercises like preacher curls after more safe exercises like cable curls and dumbbell hammer curls.

Here is another one of Chris’s recent workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Arm Workout #2

  • A1: Unilateral cable pushdown (supinated grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • B1: Standing ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • C1: 75 degree incline DB triceps extension, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • D1: Unilateral DB preacher curl (supinated grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • E1: Rope cable pushdown, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • F1: Bilateral standing DB curls (hammer grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

Once again Chris prioritizes health and longevity with his arm workouts. He starts his arm workout off with some relatively safer exercises like tricep pushdowns and standing ez-bar curls. Then he progresses to exercises that place his arms in a deep loaded stretch like overhead triceps extensions and dumbbell preacher curls.

John Meadows has been preaching for a long time on the importance of training for longevity and it looks like Chris is paying attention.

Now let’s look at some of Chris’s hamstrings routines. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Hamstrings Workout #1

  • A1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • B1: Nordic leg curl machine, 3 sets of 8-10 reps**
  • C1: Sumo leg press, 1 set of 30 reps
  • D1: Seated leg curl, 3 sets of 10 reps****
  • E1: Seated abductor machine, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • F1: Seated calf raise machine, 3 sets of 10-12 reps

**Perform partial reps in the bottom position after reaching failure

****On your last set perform a double drop set to failure.

You don’t see a lot of pro bodybuilders using a separate hamstrings training day so it’s interesting to see how Chris organizes these workouts. Chris almost always puts his deadlifts on his hamstrings days. This doesn’t mean that he always deadlifts on this day. However, when he does deadlift it is always before training hamstrings.

After the deadlifts Chris performs several easier hamstrings exercises like Nordic leg curls, sumo leg presses and leg curls. He even performs some drop sets and partial reps on a couple of these exercises.

Now let’s look at a typical hamstrings workout where Chris does not perform barbell deadlifts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead’s Hamstrings Workout #2

  • A1: Seated leg curl, 3 sets of 10 reps**
  • B1: Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • C1: 45 degree back extension (holding DB at chest), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • D1: Bulgarian split squat, 3 sets of 10-12 reps****

**On your last set train to failure, then perform 3 forced reps, then perform forced partial reps in the contracted position.

****Perform a single drop rest. Train to failure, then drop the dumbbell and go to failure with just your bodyweight.

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is another one of Chris’s typical, middle-of-the-road hamstrings workouts. Chris performs a few hard sets on 4 different exercises for his hamstrings.

Chris is moving some serious weight on the dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts although it’s hard to see just how strong he is on this exercise.

Conclusion

Chris Bumstead has done a lot of good for the sport of bodybuilding. His old-school physique complete with the small, tight waist and broad shoulders reminds me of the golden era bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Olivia and Steve Reeves.

I hope the classic physique division is here to stay and that we can see many more bodybuilders sporting this old-school look reminiscent of the golden era of bodybuilding.

If you want to learn more about Chris Bumstead then check out the following links:

Here is a great quote by Chris Bumstead that applies to every area of your life, not just bodybuilding

“If you look in the mirror and don’t see the best version of yourself, then you better see the hardest working version of yourself.”

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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