Winter is coming.
The sun is setting earlier and long gone are the days of shirtless outdoor workouts and the luxury of wearing a tank top to show off your hard earned gainz.
While many lifters look at this time of year as an excuse to eat bad and hibernate under an additional layer of body fat, I always enter the colder months with the goal of adding minimal body fat while still trying to bulk up.
Since I’m not going to be masquerading around shirtless I am less concerned with how my abs look, but I don’t necessarily want them to disappear altogether either.
If I can still hover close to the 10% body fat mark (I generally stay around 7% in the summer months) and still put on enough size to look swole in a sweatshirt, then I’m doing something right.
But the real key to putting on quality mass - and not just getting fatter this winter - is eating enough without letting your appetite get out of control.
The Sweatshirt Swole Nutrition Plan
Here are my top 5 tips for gaining weight the right way:
1. Post workout: 10gr BCAA + 5 gr Glutamine
I put this one first only because recovery truly is the most important factor for growth. Taking 10 grams of Branched Chain Aminos and 5 grams of Glutamine after every workout should be as much of a habit as breathing with every rep.
The Sweatshirt Swole Plan is 4 heavy days in a row, so make sure your body has the raw ingredients it needs to repair and rebuild.
2. Breakfast - 6 eggs + turkey sausage and avocado
During the spring and summer I practice Coconut Cardio to keep my metabolism roaring.
Once I’m ready to bulk up a little, I ditch the cardio first thing (although I still keep the coconut oil in my coffee) in the morning and make sure I start out with a hearty breakfast high in protein and healthy fats.
3. Before Bed Snack: Peanut Butter & Jelly Crackers
Before bed it is a great time to get a large amount of calories in your gut. One of the easiest - and tastiest - ways to do this is to snack on peanut butter and jelly, using wheat thins to eat the PB&J like you would a bowl of salsa or guac.
If you prefer to keep your sugar intake low, I recommend 2 scrambled eggs with a side of cottage cheese for a double dose of slow digesting proteins.
4. Snack on almonds/walnuts/cashews throughout the day
Another key to weight gain is keeping a steady stream of calories available throughout the day. An easy way to accomplish this is to keep a bag of roasted nuts on hand to snack on in between meals.
A small handful of almonds or cashews here and there adds up after a while and can pay dividends when done consistently.
5. Limit sugary foods and low-value carbs
The biggest mistake weightlifters make when trying to bulk up is going nuts on the junk food and what I call “low-value” carbohydrates. Donuts. Candy. Dinner Rolls. While eating mass amounts of sugar and bread is sure to make the needle jump on the scale, the bulk of those gains will be purely body fat.
If you are filling up on French fries and donuts, those calories are taking the place of more nutrient dense and higher protein food options. Grab fresh fruit instead of candy. The goal is looking Swole…not bloated.
the Sweatshirt Swole workout plan
Day 1 consists of heavy pulling movements and kicks off with heavy deadlifts. The saying goes “weak back, weak body”, and we could get a little more specific and say “weak posterior chain, weak body”, which is why we make the deadlift the focus exercise of not just this workout but also the entire program.
Start with a warm up set of 5 before moving into a couple triples. It’s important to not move up to fast, get your body used to the increasing weight and take a few extra warm up sets if necessary before building to a double and 3 heavy singles.
The rest on the heavy singles should be 2-3 minutes between each, where as in the rest of the workout rest should be kept at 60 seconds or less between all sets and supersets. The first superset is 5 reps of weighted pull ups and 5 hamstring bridges on each leg.
During the weighted pull ups, never come all the way to a dead hang or “unpacked” position to avoid stressing the rotator cuffs. Use the hamstring bridge as your “active rest” in between sets of pull ups, and make sure to pause at the top of each rep for 3 seconds, squeezing your glutes and hamstring as hard as possible at the top.
After completing 5 rounds, move to a superset of T-bar row and lat pull downs before finishing out the back exercises with 1 arm dumbbell rows. Do each arm back to back before resting and moving up in weight for the next set.
After completing a heavy double on the last set of rows, load up an Olympic bar with 20+ more pounds than you would normally use for a set of curls. Perform “cheat curls” - use your hips slightly to swing the weight up, then control the weight down for a 5 second negative. Day 1 ends with 10 minutes of continuous bodyweight lunges.
|1. Deadlift||7||5, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1|
|2a. Weighted Pullups||5||5|
|2b. Hamstring Bridge||5||5 each leg|
|3a. T-bar Row||4||5|
|3b. Lat Pulldown||4||8|
|4. Dumbbell Rows||5||10, 8, 6, 4, 2|
|5. Heavy Cheat Curl Negatives||5||5, 3, 3, 2, 1|
|6. Walking Lunges||1||10 mins|
Day 2 is a pushing workout. In order to look swole in that sweatshirt we need to target the upper chest, so start things off with heavy dumbbell incline chest press, working up to a heavy triple. Next move onto the flat bench for close grip (just inside shoulder width) bench press. Make sure to keep your lats engaged and do not flare your elbows out.
After a heavy single on close grip, hit one warm up set of dips before doing 4 sets of weighted dips, with the goal of increasing the load each set. After the heavy triple, take off the weight vest or belt and perform a final body weight set for max reps.
Closing things out are two of my favorite compound core movements that also build the triceps, lats and serratus in addition to the abs. For both the Chinese push ups and the ab wheel, make sure to keep the abs engaged and your back in a convex position.
|1. Dumbbell Incline Bench||6||10, 8, 5, 5, 5, 3|
|2. Close Grip Bench Press||4||5, 3, 2, 1|
|3. Weighted Dips||5||10, 5, 5, 3, 1 set of bodyweight for failure|
|4. Chinese Pushups||1||50 total reps|
|5. Ab Wheel||2||12-15|
Hopefully your legs have recovered enough from the deadlifts and lunges on day 1, because day 3 is all lower body. Start by working up to a few heavy singles on the back squat, making sure to take adequate rest between the heavy max effort reps.
Following the squat, transition into 2 single leg variations - the split squat and the step up, going as heavy as possible for 5 reps of each movement on each leg. After 4 rounds of the single leg superset, hit the glute ham raise for 3 sets of 5 reps, adding weight on the last 2 sets if possible.
End with 50 total reps on the reverse hyper. If your gym does not have a reverse hyper, you can substitute regular low back hyperextensions or lay across a Swiss ball and hang on to a rack to perform bodyweight reverse hyper extensions.
|1. Squat||7||5, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1|
|2a. Split Squat||4||5 each leg|
|2b. Dumbbell Step Up||4||5 each leg|
|3. Glute Ham Raises||3||5|
|4. Reverse Hyper Extension||1||50 reps total|
Now day 4 is where this routine really earns the title “Sweatshirt Swole”. What muscles are usually noticeable when wearing a hoodie or crew neck? The traps and upper back.
This shoulder and arm workout puts a special emphasis on the traps, by including heavy barbell shrugs and then pairing high volume dumbbell shrugs with both of the arm supersets. A good rule of thumb on the volume shrug sets is to grab a pair of dumbbells that when combined equal your body weight (If you weigh 180, use 90lb DBs).
|1. Standing Dumbbell Press||6||10, 6, 5, 5, 3, 3|
|2a. Heavy Dumbbell Front Raise||4||5 each side|
|2b. Lateral Raise||4||5|
|2c. Bent Over Lateral Raise||4||10|
|3. Barbell Shrugs||4||10, 10, 5, 5|
|4a. Dumbbell Curls||5||5 each arm|
|4b. Dumbbell Skullcrushers||5||5 each arm|
|4c. Dumbbell Shrugs||5||15|
|5a. Preacher Curls||3||8|
|5b. Tricep Press Downs||3||20|
|5c. Dumbell Shrugs||3||10|
Day 5 is a rest day. Sleep. Eat. Grow. Get prepared, because tomorrow starts back over with day 1.