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Mike Thurston Full Training Split

Mike Thurston Full Training Split
Emily Wilcock
Writer and expert1 year ago
View Emily Wilcock's profile

It's clear that Mike Thurston has a physique to be proud of. But it takes some work to maintain it, and he needs to put in the effort daily. Thankfully he likes to share, revealing his latest training split in a series of videos on his YouTube channel. There’s a distinct focus on lats, delts and legs. Along with selecting movements to target these particular areas, he also works on mind-muscle connection and tempo. He's not here to play around.

Mike leaves no stone unturned with this extensive workout split. He puts his body through its paces six days a week. Give it a go, if you dare.

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Day one — shoulders & lats

Warm up

  • Shoulder rotations
  • Dynamic stretches
  • Hang from a bar so your shoulders feel loose

The workout

Close-grip pull-up

  • Hang from the close grip attachment
  • Pull yourself up so your chest is in line with your hands
  • Initiate the movement by pressing your scapular to target your lats, rather than your biceps
  • Finish with your chest up against the bar

Eight reps at a 3010 rep tempo, meaning that Mike performs the movement at the top, then as his body moves down the movement he counts down from three. When he reaches the bottom of the movement, he doesn’t pause and goes through the motion again.

He starts with a bodyweight movement and adds resistance as he progresses.

Dumbbell pullover

  • Get yourself into position by propping your back against a bench, feet flat against the floor, with your hips thrusted up so that your body is straight
  • Pull the weight from behind your head to just over your face
  • Make sure that you squeeze your lats at the top of the movement

If you’re a beginner, try the lat pull down on the cable machine instead. It’s the same sort of movement, but easier new starters.

Mike aims for for three sets. On the first set he makes sure he gets comfortable with the movement, and the next set is to push himself up to the edge of failure, no more. On the final set he pushes himself to straight-up failure.

dumbbell pullover

Single arm seated cable row

  • Sit on a bench with your chest up and your shoulders back
  • Grab the handle and pull it back towards your hip, keeping your arm tight to your side
  • As you release the movement, stretch out your shoulder, before pulling it tight to complete the movement again

Tempo is important for this exercise as well. As Mike pulls through the movement, he does it over the count of three. As he releases, he does it over the count of two and with a one second squeeze at the top of the movement.

Try not to rotate your body too much so you really feel it in your lats and you keep the tension high.

Standing overhead barbell press

  • Pick up the bar
  • Press it overhead
  • Bring it back into your chest and complete the movement again

Complete this one with a quick tempo. Take two seconds to bring the bar down towards your chest, pause for a second and then explode the bar back up.

Lat pulldown with wide neutral grip

  • Take a seat on a bench
  • Slot your legs under the pads, making sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground
  • Grab the bar with a neutral grip and pull it down into your chest

lat pull down

Single arm dumbbell row

  • Stand with your back bent perpendicular to your legs
  • Rest your relaxed arm on a bench and grab the weight with your other hand
  • Pull the weight up towards your chest, pulling your elbow back towards your hip

Incline bench dumbbell rear delt fly

  • Set up the bench so that it is at an incline
  • Lie on the bench with your chest down so that it’s in line with the top of the bench
  • Bring the dumbbells out to the side of your body until your arms are almost straight

Lying cable lateral raise

  • Select your chosen grip. Mike prefers a hooked wrist wrap, because when you grab a handle, you over-engage the forearm and take away from the delts
  • Set up your bench into an incline position and take a seat
  • Lie back on to the bench and with your left hand grab the right-hand cable and vice versa
  • Pull the cables back until your arms are flat out to the side of you
  • Then release the movement until your arms are in front of you again

Four sets, 15 reps each

Day two — quads & calves

Warm up

  • Loosen up the calves and the quads to improve range of motion
  • Couple of sets on a seated/lying leg curl
  • Few sets of simple calf raises
  • Some low squats while holding on to a machine for support

The workout

Heel elevated barbell front squat

  • Wrap your wrist straps around the bar so you can hold on to these while you rest the bar on your shoulders
  • Take your shoes off if they aren’t completely flat
  • Raise your heels on a platform that will help you to keep your back straight and maintain tension on the quads
  • Work up with the weight gradually until you reach your working weight.

Leg press

  • Bring your feet up on to the platform
  • To target your quads, place your feet close together
  • Push through your feet against the platform

Tempo wise, Mike was pushing for 3030, meaning he’d take three seconds through the movement and then three seconds back to his neutral position with no rest. If you can’t stick to the tempo, then your weight is too high. There's no shame in reducing the weight.

Leg extension

  • Take a seat on the machine
  • Make sure the pad is sitting on the lower part of your shin/ankle just above your feet
  • Place your knees roughly a hands width apart
  • Push against the pad and then lower your feet down so you’re in neutral position

Tempo, explode on the way up — as fast as possible — then slowly move back down through the movement over two seconds.

Heel elevated close stance dumbbell squat

  • Stand with your feet elevated on the platform and your legs hip-width apart
  • Squat down as low as you can go while keeping your back straight and your shoulders back
  • Drive your body up again by pushing through your feet

4010 tempo — lower down four seconds into the movement and push straight back up.

close stance squat

Standing calf raises

  • If your gym has one, head over the calf raise machine
  • Allow the weight to rest on your shoulders
  • Place the front of your feet on the platform
  • Push up through the front of your feet


  • Elevate the front of your feet
  • And use some dumbbells to add weight to the movement
  • And push up with the front of your feet to elevate your calves

Seated calf raises

  • Take a seat on the seated calf raise machine
  • Make sure the pads are secure on the top of your thighs
  • Push up through the front of your feet to target your calves

Day three — chest and upper back

The workout

T-bar row

  • Lie on an incline bench with your chest down, resting against the top of the bench
  • Grab the bar, retract your scapular and pull your shoulders back
  • Complete this a few times to prepare for the full movement
  • Then complete this movement but add to it by bending my arms to pull the T-bar into your chest

Tempo: 2011. Pull the weight into your chest for two seconds, lower the weight down to the rest position, then pull the bar straight up, squeezing for a second at the top.

Dumbbell one arm row

  • Bend over while resting on a machine or a stable base
  • Grab a dumbbell in one hand
  • Pull it up towards your face
  • Keep elbow at 90 degrees to your torso to target your upper back

Flat dumbbell press

  • Lie back on a flat bench
  • Grab a dumbbell in both hands
  • The dumbbells should be parallel with your biceps with your elbows out to the side of your body
  • Push the dumbbells up and towards each other, while they remain parallel to your biceps

dumbbell press

Incline press machine

  • Sit back on the machine
  • Press the handles away from you

Seated cable row with neutral grip

  • Place your feet in the holders
  • Sit back on the edge of the bench and pull the bar into your torso
  • Keep your chest up and shoulders back
  • Limit the amount of rocking forward and backward by keeping your torso as rigid as possible

Peck fly machine

  • This is basically a dumbbell fly but safer and easier to complete in Mikes opinion.
  • Set the machine up so that your hands are in line with your shoulders
  • You want your elbows to be coming in line with your chest, rather than towards your torso

Day four — rest day

You might look forward to chilling out on your rest day. But Mike doesn’t believe in doing that. It just doesn’t work for him. Instead, he focuses on his core so he doesn’t have to squeeze it in around his other strength training sessions. He even finds time to squeeze in some cardio.

The workout

Hanging knee raise

  • Hang from a bar so your body is straight
  • Bend your legs at the knee
  • Pull your knees up so they come up to your elbows
  • And lower them back down again

Ab rollout with a rowing machine

  • Grab the seat of a rowing machine and put it at the end of the machine
  • Put your hands on it so they’re holding it securely
  • Place your feet a few inches away from the end of the rowing machine
  • Gently roll the seat forward as far as you can
  • Exhale and crunch, bringing the seat back so it’s at the end of the bench

ab rollout

Reverse crunch

  • Lie on an incline bench with your head at the top of the incline
  • Grab the handle above your head
  • Lift your legs up so they’re perpendicular to your hips — this will be your starting position
  • Lift your hips so you’re moving your body upwards and only your shoulders remain on the bench

Cable ab crunches

  • Grab the cable handles
  • Position yourself on your knees
  • Bend at the hips so your head is almost touching the floor
  • Tense your abs as you go through the movement

Slight gradient treadmill walks

  • Low intensity, steady state cardio for 40 minutes

Day five — hamstrings and glutes

The workout

Romanian deadlifts

  • Set up your bar with the appropriate weight
  • If you’re going to go heavy, work up to the weight
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Grab the bar with your hands at shoulder-width apart
  • Lower the bar as you hinge your hips backwards until you feel the peak stretch on your hamstrings
  • Pull the bar back up as you drive your hips forward to return to the beginning position

Smith machine Bulgarian split squat

  • Set yourself up with a bench and the Smith machine
  • Place one foot on top of the bench with the other foot flat on the floor two steps away from the bench
  • Make sure the bar is comfortable on your shoulders
  • Lunge down on your front leg, making sure all your weight is on this leg
  • As you come to the bottom of the movement make sure you get a good stretch through the glute
  • To help target the glutes, as you move into the movement lean your shoulders forwards slightly
  • Drive up through your front foot to return to the starting position

Seated leg curl

  • Sit back on the leg curl machine, with the pad in the middle of your thighs and the bar behind your ankles/calf muscles
  • Start with your legs straight, resting on the bar
  • Quickly push against the bar so your legs are bent at the knee
  • Slowly allow your legs to creep back up to the starting position

seated leg curl

Hip thrusts

  • Lean your shoulder blades against the side of a bench
  • Place a bar on your hips
  • Rest your feet flat on the floor
  • Thrust your hips and the bar up
  • Keep your chin against your chest and your body should be in a straight line
  • Slowly return your hips to the starting position

Lying leg curl

  • Lie face down on the bench
  • Ensure the pad sits on your lower calves
  • Make sure your hips stay firmly against the bench
  • Kick your legs up against the bar to perform a curl

Hip adduction

  • Sit back on the machine
  • Put your legs in the slots
  • Push your knees and legs against the pads

Day six — shoulders and arms

Warm up

  • Rotate your arms while holding a resistance band to open up the chest and shoulders
  • Light weight overhead shoulder press

The workout

Superset one:

  • Seated overhead shoulder press
  • Dumbbell bicep curls

Seated overhead shoulder press

  • Set up the bench so it’s as straight as possible
  • The dumbbells should be gripped to the side of your chest, with your elbow bent but stacked directly beneath the wrist joint
  • Push the dumbbells up until they are overhead and make sure your hands stay above your elbows

Dumbbell bicep curls

  • Take a seat on a bench
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a straight arm
  • Curl your arm at your elbow until the dumbbell is in line with your shoulder

bicep curl

Superset two:

  • Cable lateral raise
  • Cable bicep curls

Cable lateral raise

  • Grab the handle attachment on the cable machine
  • Lean forward slightly
  • Pull the cable out to the side of your body
  • Make sure you pull your hand up so your hand is in line with your shoulder

Cable bicep curls

  • Grab the handle on the cable machine
  • Start with your arm flat by your side
  • Curl your arm at your elbow to bull the handle up towards your shoulder
  • Make sure you keep your elbow tucked into your torso

Superset three:

  • Chest supported dumbbell lateral raise
  • Close grip triceps push up

Chest supported dumbbell lateral raise

  • Take a seat on a bench with your chest resting against the back of the bench
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand
  • Start off with your hands by your side
  • Move your arms upwards until they’re in line with the height of your shoulder
  • Make sure your hands are lateral to your body

Close grip tricep push up

  • Lie on the floor with your palms flat against the floor with your elbows tucked next to your torso
  • Push up through your hands until your arms are almost straight
  • Lower your body back down to the starting position

close grip tricep push up

Superset four:

  • Reverse peck fly
  • Overhead rope extension

Rear delt fly

  • Sit on the fly machine with your chest pressed against the bench
  • Grab hold of the handles in front of you
  • Bring them out to the side of you while keeping your arms relatively straight
  • Complete the movement until your arms are in line with your shoulders

Overhead rope extension

  • Grab the rope attached to the cable machine so that it is positioned behind your head
  • Begin with your hands on the ends of the ropes and your arms bent behind your head
  • Move your arms so they’re straight, pulling the rope over your head
  • Lower the rope back to the initial position

Take Home Message

If you made it through even a week of Mike’s workout split, well done you. The rest on day seven is very much deserved. Remember to tailor the workout and exercises towards what works for you. If you're looking for other workouts, find some here.



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