John Rutnik

After Photo (sorry, no before pic)

When I turned 50 I decided to get back in good shape. I created a program that allowed me to go from my starting weight of 230 pounds at 27% body fat down to 190 at 10% body fat in 24 weeks. This is a great program and can easily be adapted to fit a wide variety of clients.

When I began the program I was not new to fitness. I had previously been a Personal Trainer but I had begun working in another field. I knew how to set up a good program and I had the motivation to really work my butt off. I devised a plan that would include 3, eight-week training cycles. Each cycle would be completely unique in order to keep from adapting and halting progress.

Phase 1

The first cycle was to develop endurance and some hypertrophy, while also burning fat. The workout was an old school full body weight lifting circuit, the type I learned from guys at the barbell clubs I went to back in the 80’s. The routine should be performed 3 times a week on non-consecutive days.  All of the following exercises are performed back to back with no rest in between. Once you have finished a circuit you can rest 3 minutes and do them again up to 4 times.

Phase 1 Exercises

Dumbbell Squats                15-20 reps
Romanian Deadlifts            15-20 reps
Pronated Grip Pull Ups      Max
Bent Over Rows                    15-20
Dumbbell Chest Press         15-20
Triceps Dips                           Max
Supinated Grip Chin Ups    Max
Roller Wheel Roll Outs        Max

Phase 2

In the ninth week of the program, I began a new cycle with new physiological demands. Rather than doing 3 full body workouts I began doing a split that covered the entire body over the course of five days. Most muscle groups are worked once directly and once indirectly each week. The exception is the legs which receive two direct workouts.

The idea here is to use moderate loads that you can handle in good form for 8-12 reps. Once you can complete all three sets in good form for 12 reps you should increase the weight by five pounds. Rest time between sets is two minutes.

Phase 2 Exercises

Monday – Leg Training
Romanian Deadlift
Leg Curl
Seated Calf Raise

Tuesday – Chest & Shoulders
Chest Press
Incline Chest Press
Cable Chest Flys
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Lateral Raise
Rear Delt Flys prone on bench with slight incline

Wednesday – Back, Traps & Abs
Wide Grip Pull Ups
1 Arm Dumbbell Rows
Roller Wheel Roll Outs
Windshield Wipers
Hanging Knee Ups

Thursday – Legs
Bulgarian Split Squats
Walking Lunges
Bench Step Ups
Unilateral Ball Leg Curls
Abdominal Bicycles
Balance Ball Pikes

Friday – Triceps, Biceps & Forearms
Diamond Push Ups (max reps)
Weighted Dips
Supinated Chin Ups (close grip max)
Incline Dumbbell Curls
Pronated Barbell Curls
Wrist Curls & Extensions

Phase 3

By week 16 there was already a massive change in my appearance. People were starting to notice.  I was at about 14% body fat and needed to do a final push.

During this phase, I made the intensity level extremely high but the training volume was low. In phase 2 I was training 5 days a week. During phase 3 I went back to doing a 3 day a week resistance training program with a five-day cardio program. Unlike phase 1 the same workout was not repeated.  During this phase, there were 3 very hard workouts but each was targeting a different aspect of my fitness.

Workout 1 -Tabata Rounds

Each exercise is done Tabata style for 20 seconds with 10 seconds between exercises for a total of 4 minutes. Since there are 4 exercises that last 30 seconds each you have to repeat them twice to equal one 4 minute set. Complete each set then rest 60 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 sets.

Tabata Exercises

  1. Squat Thrusts
  2. Walking Lunge
  3. Superman Crawl
  4. Kettlebell Swings

Workout 2 – 5×5 Barbell Training

I chose exercises that would use the maximum amount of muscles. Since the first workout focused heavily on slow twitch muscle fibers I wanted to shock my body with a heavy fast twitch routine.

  1. Barbell Back Squats
  2. Bent Over Rows
  3. Bench Press

Phase 3 Exercises

The third workout combines agility and working the body in some challenging ways. Each exercise is performed for 3 minutes each with 30 seconds rest in between.

Ladder Drills:

  1. In- out
  2. Hop Scotch
  3. Icky Shuffle

Circuit Training:

  1. Box step ups
  2. Superman crawl
  3. Wide Grip Pull-ups
  4. Roller Wheel Roll Out
  5. Cable Wood Choppers

This workout was targeted to my particular needs. Can you think of some program changes that may be better suited to people with less training experience?

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John Rutnik

John Rutnik is a NFPT Certified Personal Trainer. He holds an AAS in Electrical Technology and has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. John has been involved in physical fitness and weight training since the late 70’s and is an avid outdoors man. He became a personal trainer after rehabilitating himself from a spinal injury he sustained in a car accident and losing 70 pounds. John later obtained ISSA Certifications as both a Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Sports Nutrition and became Lead Fitness Trainer at Anytime Fitness in Schenectady NY. His training philosophy is “no man left behind,” everyone deserves a chance to succeed.