What a Week of Training Looks Like for Men’s Physique Competitor Charjo Grant

The 2021 DC Pro Men’s Physique winner gives a glimpse into his workouts.

Since it was first held at the Olympia in 2013, the Men’s Physique division has become one of the most popular categories in the IFBB Pro League. A combination of world-class talent and the image of a more attainable physique in the eyes of fans are two significant reasons why Men’s Physique became and remains one of 11 divisions contested at the prestigious Mr. Olympia competition.

In 2021, the Men’s Physique Olympia winnerBrandon Hendrickson — received $15,000 more dollars than the year prior. More money and fan interest — the three podium finishers at the 2021 Olympia have a combined Instagram following of 1.5 million — also means more athletes competing. 

One of those athletes is Charjo Grant. Being a two-time Olympia competitor is more than most average gym-goers can hope to achieve. But is it, though?  In addition to being one of the best Men’s Physique athletes competing, Charjo is an active member of the United States Army and a devout family man. 

Men's Physique competitor Charjo grant on stage
Photo Courtesy of T.J. Darr

It’s fair to say that Grant’s plate is pretty full, but he still finds time to carve out a physique worthy of 12th place in the 2021 Olympia (making him the 12th best Men’s Physique athlete on the planet) and winner of the 2021 DC Pro. With his “offseason” in full swing, BarBend caught up with Grant to find out how he’s preparing to take another shot at the Olympia title on the weekend of Dec. 16, 2022. 

Grant’s Offseason Training Plan

Standing 6’0”, Grant competes at around 205 pounds. In the offseason, he tips the scale closer to 235 pounds. If he gets any heavier, Grant says he risks straying too far from contest shape — so an extra 30 pounds is about all he’s willing to carry on his frame.

The workout schedule below is one that he follows consistently, even though Grant does implement changes occasionally. How does he find the time to train while juggling a full-time career and family commitments?

Time management is the key to success,” Grant says. “Prioritize the important factors in your life and make a plan. Execute.”

Monday — Chest

Grant is one of the many that recognize “International Chest Day.” He warms up the pecs, delts, and triceps with basic push-ups. After 100 total reps, he gets into the meat of his high-volume chest day. Nothing about this workout is complex or offbeat. Grant opts for movements proven to work — compound presses, chest flye variations, and dips. 

“This workout can be used for both offseason and pre-contest. The weight load for the exercises should change, though,” Grant tells BarBend. “I go heavy in the offseason for growth, and I change it to lighter weights pre-contest for details.” 

Grant also trains abs and does cardio at the end of this session. He keeps his rest periods short by simply going when he feels ready.

Tuesday — Legs and Triceps

Men’s Physique competitors like Grant are sometimes knocked for competing in a division that requires board shorts over posing trunks. “They must not train legs” is the myth spread throughout the sport. 

But Men’s Physique athletes are bodybuilders. Their division doesn’t require leg development. Still, many — if not all — of the elite athletes in this category routinely train their legs, and many boast quads that could rival the men in the Classic Physique division. 

Grant starts with another 100-rep warm-up in the workout below and then moves onto more traditional mass-building movements. Interestingly, he kicks off his weight training with leg extensions — an isolation movement — to presumably fatigue his legs before taking on heavier compound movements. This technique is called pre-exhaustion, and it’s a common method that lifters use to tire out their legs before squatting or leg-pressing. The thought is if the legs are already tired, they’ll still experience a worthwhile stimulus during compound movements but without the need to lift as much weight as they could if the athlete was fresh.

Another interesting note: Grant doesn’t have a dedicated arm day. His arms are already a strong suit, so he peppers his triceps and biceps work during other training sessions to ensure they don’t grow too large.

Wednesday — Back and Biceps

One of Grant’s strong points is his back. His wide V-taper — an arguable must-have trait in the Men’s Physique division — helps him stand out on any competitive stage. He’s even been told by some fans and experts that he should move up to the Classic Physique division to see where he would stack up. The Army Major won’t make the move anytime soon, though.

Men's Physique competitor Charjo Grant performing pull-ups
Photo Courtesy of T.J. Darr

“I’ve been told that I should do it, but I won’t because that isn’t what I want to do,” Grant says. “I’m happy where I’m at.”

His workout begins with pull-ups on a machine and rack pulls on this day. Those two movements attack most of the major muscles in the back. He then prioritizes machine movements, which help him feel and engage the target muscles better. He does one biceps exercise at the end of the session. After three days of training in a row, Grant takes a day off to recover.

  • Assisted Pull-Up: 4 sets of 25 reps
  • Rack Pull: 5 sets of 12 reps 
  • Seated Cable Row: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Hammer Strength Standing Row: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Row: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Back Extension: 4 sets of 25 reps
  • Any Bicep Exercise: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • 30 minutes of steady-state cardio

Friday — Shoulders/Chest

Now that he has had a day off, Grant is ready to attack the gym again. The focus on this day is shoulders followed by more chest work. Grant focuses more on free weight exercises this day, except for cable flyes at the end. Free weight movements dominate this day except for nine sets of cable flyes at the end.

  • Push-Up: 4 sets of 25 reps
  • Seated Arnold Press: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Seated Lateral Dumbbell Raise: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Barbell Military Press: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Front Dumbbell Raise: 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Seated Rear Delt Flye: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Shrug: 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Standing Cable Flye: 9 total sets of 10 reps (3 high, 3 medium, 3 low)
  • 30 minutes of steady-state cardio

Saturday — Legs

Grant performs another leg workout to end the week. Even though he’s an elite competitor in Men’s Physique, he leaves no doubt that he’s a bodybuilder at heart.

If you’re a true bodybuilder, you work every muscle, no matter the category. You see me on stage and you can tell I train my legs.

This session contains different exercises than the previous workout, but Grant pushes himself with the same intensity as he does each workout. This day concludes with 100 reps of an abs movement. He takes Sunday off before repeating the schedule the following week.

  • Air Squat: 4 sets of 25 reps
  • Walking Lunge: 4 sets of 25 steps each leg
  • Dumbbell Goblet Squat: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Lying Leg Curl: 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Leg Press: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Calf Raise: 4 sets of 25 reps
  • 100 reps of any core exercise

Grant’s 2022 Season Plans

Grant doesn’t know which 2022 contests he will compete in yet, but the overall goal is straight and simple.

Men's Physique competitor Charjo grant
Photo Courtesy of T.J. Darr

“I want to win another show and compete in the Olympia,” he says. If he makes it, he would like to move up from that 12th place standing on bodybuilding’s most significant stage. He’s also focused on career goals as well this year. “Military wise, I want to graduate from this Command General Staff Officer College and be prepared for the first round of rank promotions.”

Considering what he’s accomplished already, don’t bet against him.

Featured Image Courtesy of T.J. Darr (@tjdarr54 on Instagram)