Bodybuilder Brett Wilkin is pushing his limits to make a statement in his 2023 Olympia debut. He recently tackled a hamstrings and calves workout in the gym to prepare for the show and shared the video of this training session on his YouTube channel.
Brett Wilkin is a professional bodybuilder competing in the Men’s Open division of the IFBB Pro League. The 35-year-old’s career has been an eventful one as he switched between divisions several times in the early going. Wilkin earned the IFBB Pro card in the Classic Physique division. But he competed in the 212 division for the first few pro shows. After a few lackluster performances, ‘Butcher’ took time off and made a comeback in the Men’s Open division.
His divisional debut at the 2021 Chicago Pro resulted in a runner-up finish but Wilkin could not sustain the momentum going forward. The 2022 competitive season saw him finish seventh at the Arnold Classic and Boston Pro in spite of huge expectations. His hopes for the 2022 Olympia qualification were foiled with a runner-up finish at the 2022 Romania Muscle Fest Pro.
Shortly after, the Iowa native destroyed the competition at the 2022 Bigman Weekend Pro and walked away with a win. The show was the 2023 Olympia qualifier and Wilkin became one of the earliest competitors to qualify with this win. He now trains under Hypertrophy Coach Joe Bennett’s watchful eye to make his Olympia debut a success. Wilkin is training intensely and he is following a massive 5000-calorie mega diet to prepare for the show. His goal is to surge into the top ten at the 2023 Olympia.
Brett Wilkin goes through a hamstring-focused leg workout
Less than ten weeks out of the 2023 Olympia, Brett Wilkin and his training partner went through a hamstring-focused leg workout. Wilkin also targeted the calves in this training session. He employed different variations of hamstrings isolation exercises and compound posterior chain movements to work the muscles from different angles for complete development.
The video of this session was posted on ‘Butcher’s personal YouTube channel. So let’s delve into the details of this workout and check out how the Iowa native tackled the arduous routine.
Superset – Calf Raises on Linear Hack Squat Machine and Standing Calf Raises
Wilkin started the training session with this calves-focused superset. A lot of people tend to ignore calves’ work. But Brett Wilkin makes it a point to train them in the beginning portion of his leg workouts so that he can’t ‘weasel his way out of them’. Calf raises on a linear hack squat machine served as the primary calves movement in Wilkin’s training session. He superset this exercise with standing calf raises on a selectorized machine.
“We’re going to try to go as heavy as we can on (linear hack squat machine) and then we’re immediately going into a standing pin-loaded calf raise there. But we’re not worried about the weight there… Just more about getting the reps right after (calf raises on linear hack squat machine). So, go as hard as we can and as heavy as we can on this and immediately go over there (at the standing calf raise machine) and get really really solid reps to finish them off because it’s hurting so much…”
The 35-year-old executed all the sets of both exercises in rapid succession and moved on to do put in hamstrings work.
Seated Leg Curls
Wilkin next took to the exercise he calls ‘bread and butter’ of hamstrings development – the seated leg curls. The standing, lying and seated variations are all effective. However, the 2022 Bigman Weekend Pro winner favors the seated variation over the other two. He stated.:
“This is the one you want to do first, you want to run as hard as you can while you’re fresh and get the most out of this.”
Apart from being excellent hamstrings builders, seated leg curls are also a great exercise to warm up the knee joints without putting unnecessary stress on them. Since knee joints are involved in a majority of lower body movements, warming them is in the best interest of avoiding injuries. Wilkin warmed up with a couple of light sets. He then performed intense working sets and took on the next challenge of his training session after getting a drop set under his belt.
Machine Hip Adduction
Adductors are a group of muscles in the inner thigh region. They are responsible to adduct (bring together) the legs. Common gym goers tend to ignore this muscle group. However, an elite competitor like Brett Wilkin does not leave any loose ends. The American bodybuilder pushed through a few straight sets and followed it up with a back-off set. He then took to another variation of leg curls.
Standing Leg Curls
Wilkin had already done curling work with the seated leg curls in the early going of his training session. So he used moderate weights in this exercise and focused more on isolating the muscle while getting a good squeeze. The 35-year-old stated that him and his partner will spot each other for this exercise and explained the logic behind it:
“We’re getting more lactic acid in our muscles now because this is our third or fourth exercise. So now, the range of motion might be cut down just a little bit. But that’s when the partner can really make sure you’re getting that full range of motion.”
Wilkin and his training partner helped each other get a few good sets of standing leg curls with the full range of motion and jumped into the third and final leg curl variation.
Lying Leg Curls
Wilkin put in a little bit more isolation work for hamstrings with lying leg curls. But instead of using a leg curl machine, he used dumbbells to perform the movement.
“I still throw this in probably once every two weeks or once a month for sure because I love using this one because the stabilizers are involved. You literally have to stabilize and control the dumbbell down, pause it and just use your hamstrings to fire it back up.”
Once again, Brett Wilkin does not go overly heavy on this one and focuses more on the control and technique.. He did some solid sets of the exercise with slow and controlled motion. Following this, Wilkin took to a compound exercise next.
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts
Wilkin next took to this posterior chain movement. The Open division competitor prefers to do a heavy movement like stiff leg deadlifts towards the end of the workout as the body is sufficiently warmed up, muscles are active and the blood is already directed to the target muscles group. The combination of these factors helps prevent injuries – a must for a professional bodybuilder on a mission to win Olympia, isn’t it?
“I might not be able to go as heavy as if I started with it. But I don’t care about that. I’m more worried about execution and getting the most out of the movement, which is now, towards the end!” Wilkin added.
He started out light and slowly worked his way up to the top set of five and a half plates on each side. He used lifting belt and wrist wraps to aid with the movement and took a good whiff of smelling salt to propel himself into action for the top set. While the lifter’s grind was visible for the last couple of reps of the seven-rep set, Wilkin did not compromise on the form and technique.
Barbell Romanian Deadlifts
While Romanian deadlift and stiff leg deadlift may look similar to the newcomers, the technique varies between the two. Unlike stiff leg deadlift, the barbell does not touch the ground during RDL until the very end of the set. This enables the posterior chain muscles to be under tension throughout the length of the set.
“We’re just controlling down all the way, close to the ground, probably an inch or two off of it, contracting the glutes and bringing them back through and then really like, building that posterior chain,” Wilkin explained.
He performed two sets of the exercise to failure using 315 lbs weight on the barbell and concluded the hamstrings work.
The training session came to an end with a few heavy and grueling sets of leg press on the Cybex leg press machine. Wilkin worked his way to the top set with nine plates on each side. He then followed up with multiple drop-set until reaching failure with three plates on each side.
Overall, the training session constituted of following exercises:
- Superset – Calf Raises on Linear Hack Squat Machine and Machine Standing Calf Raises
- Seated Leg Curls
- Machine Hip Adduction
- Standing Leg Curls
- Lying Leg Curls
- Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts
- Barbell Romanian Deadlifts
- Leg Press
Brett Wilkin has a huge task at hand at the 2023 Olympia as this is the first time he will be competing against the most elite crop of bodybuilders. But if he continues to train hard and elevate his physique to the next level, he can insert his name in the discussion for top Olympia contenders.
Watch the full workout video below, courtesy of Brett Wilkin’s personal YouTube channel: