Bodybuilding Across Divisions: Chris Bumstead and Brett Wilkin Train Back Together

Classic Physique meets Open bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding fans may have wondered what would happen if a Classic Physique competitor went up against a Men’s Open athlete. On April 11, 2022, they got to see it, albeit it was in the gym instead of onstage. Three-time Classic Physique Olympia Champion Chris Bumstead shared a back training video on his YouTube channel, where he was joined by Men’s Open competitor Brett Wilkin. Check out their workout together, which starts at the 2:25 mark in the video below:

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Lat Pulldowns

During the introduction of the video, Bumstead shared that he would be following Wilkin’s lead because “the smaller guy follows.” Training at the Revive Gym in Stuart, FL, they started with lat pulldowns, and the attachment they are using has swiveling handles, which help them turn their hands. Bumstead opted to keep an overhand position. He started holding contractions for an extended time as he neared the end of his first set. “The Butcher” even helped Bumstead get a couple of forced reps at the end.

Wilkin took his turn next, with coach Matt Jansen looking on. He chose to turn his hands as he pulled the handles down. This challenges the lats more than keeping the hands stationary. The three-time champ returned the favor and assisted Wilkin on extra reps as well. Portions of two sets were shown before they moved on.

Seated Row Machine

Once again, Bumstead led off and Wilkin supported him by assisting on the final reps as he approached failure. Wilkin used lifting straps to support his grip when he did his sets. As he reached failure, he sped up his reps to get as many as he could before ending his turn.

Bumstead used four 45-pound weight plates and a 25 pounder on his third set. The cameraman asked him how he was feeling at that moment while Wilkin did his final set. The reigning Olympia champion responded matter of factly and shared why he liked the particular machine they used:

I feel good. The rotation you can get with your wrist really locks your elbows in, and that personally helps me a lot on these chest supported rows.

Once Wilkin finished, they moved on to chest-supported T-bar rows.

Chest Supported T-Bar Row & Corner T-Bar Row

At the T-Bar station,  the overhand grip Bumstead used shifted emphasis to the mid-traps and rear delts as well as the lats. Wilkin was only seen doing one set on camera. 

The two bodybuilders moved on to another version of the T-bar row, this time with the old-school version with the barbell in a corner with a plate on the non-working side. Bumstead was filmed using five 45-pound weight plates and got 13 reps before reaching failure. Wilkin reduced the load to four plates and got 15.

Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown

Straight-arm lat pulldowns are also known as cable pullovers. Both men took their time lowering the weight so as to feel the stretch during the eccentric portion of the rep. This helps maintain a mind-muscle connection with the lats. As seemed to be the recurring theme of the workout, both men helped each other with more forced reps.


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Low Seated Cable Row

The final exercise in the video is a seated row with an underhand grip, putting the focus on the lower lats. Additionally, it involves the biceps more. Bumstead does one set of 10 reps on camera, while Wilkin isn’t seen doing any at all. 

Sample Workout

Bumstead concluded the video by explaining that he and Wilkin kept the volume low to focus on quality reps over quantity of work.

We were only doing one to two working sets, but that is all you need. We’re gassed by the end, and we can’t even pull anymore. We’re actually putting the work into each set.

Bumstead is still in his off-season, and is expected to defend his title at the 2022 Olympia weekend on Dec. 16-18 in Las Vegas, NV. Wilkin hasn’t announced his next contest yet — he must win a pro show or earn enough points on the Olympia Qualification Series if he wants to make his Olympia debut later this year.

Sample Back Workout

Below is a full sample workout similar to what Bumstead and Wilkin performed together.

  • Lat Pulldowns — 1-2 working sets of 10-12 reps
  • Seated Row Machine — 1-2 working sets of 10-12 reps
  • Chest-Supported T-Bar Row — 2 working sets of 10-12 reps
  • Corner T-Bar Row — 1 working set of 15 reps
  • Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown — 2 working sets of 12 reps
  • Low-Seated Cable Row — 1 working set of 10-12 reps

*Have a partner or trainer assist on forced reps at the end of the set.

Feaured Image: @cbum Instagram | photo by AJ Centrone (@ajcentrone on Instagram)