Mus­cle Guide

We show you how to craft a work­out plan that gets you big­ger, stronger, and leaner in 2018.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -


As a reg­u­lar guy with limited time to train, you’ll do fine ded­i­cat­ing your­self to lift­ing just three days per week. Though you’re prob­a­bly used to do­ing arm days, chest days, and so on, there are sev­eral ad­van­tages to per­form­ing full­body work­outs. You can burn more calo­ries per ses­sion and train the same mus­cle groups more fre­quently, and that means faster gains. You just have to make sure you re­cover be­tween work­outs. Keep your ex­er­cise se­lec­tion short and sweet. Since you’re train­ing your whole body each ses­sion, pick ex­er­cises that work ev­ery ma­jor mus­cle group as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble. This can be ac­com­plished with three moves per ses­sion. Just sat­isfy th­ese cat­e­gories of move­ment: Push and pull. For ex­am­ple, you could do an over­head press (a push­ing ex­er­cise), a front squat (a lower-body push­ing move), and then a pull-up (a pulling ex­er­cise). The next ses­sion could have two pull moves and one push to bal­ance things out.

Not all the ex­er­cises need the same em­pha­sis. Which­ever one you place first in the work­out is your main lift – the one that if you had time for noth­ing else would get the job done. It must be a com­pound move­ment that re­quires max­i­mum ef­fort (this will al­ways be a vari­a­tion of a squat, dead­lift, or press). Your main goal is to get stronger on that lift, and that, in turn, will make all your other goals more achiev­able. Your sec­ond ex­er­cise in the rou­tine is called your sec­ondary lift. Like the main lift, it works a lot of mus­cle mass across mul­ti­ple joints, but it doesn’t need to be done as heavy or hard. You can do more sets and reps here with less in­ten­sity. Any other ex­er­cises you do are as­sis­tance moves. Th­ese sim­ply work the mus­cles you’ve al­ready hit in a dif­fer­ent way, or work mus­cles that act in op­po­si­tion to them to pro­mote mus­cu­lar bal­ance. They’re typ­i­cally done with high vol­ume and low in­ten­sity. In the pre­vi­ous ex­am­ple, the over­head press would be your pri­mary lift of the day, the front squat would be sec­ondary, and the pull-up is the as­sis­tance move.


To get big­ger and stronger, you need a blend of heavy train­ing and a fair vol­ume of work. To fit our three-lift ex­am­ple, go for a lot of reps on the as­sis­tance lift over the course of mul­ti­ple sets. A rep scheme like five sets of five is a fool­proof strength plan for main lifts. You can do four sets of 10 for the sec­ondary lift, and fin­ish off with an as­sis­tance lift done for 50 to­tal reps. That may seem like an ar­bi­trary amount, but it works. Take as many sets as you need to reach that num­ber and work to de­crease your sets over time. It’s a fun way to com­pete with your­self, and it al­lows you to bet­ter cus­tom­ize your reps ac­cord­ing to how you feel on a par­tic­u­lar day. As for rest pe­ri­ods, here’s a trick to keep your ses­sion fast paced but also en­sure that you lift your heav­i­est. On main lifts, start a timer and do your set of five. Now look at the clock. When it hits three min­utes, do your next set. Hit set three at six min­utes in, and so on. For the sec­ondary ex­er­cise, rest only as long as you need to com­plete the reps. How­ever, you can make some mod­i­fi­ca­tions in the gym. The sim­plest thing is to just re­duce your loads a lit­tle and make your rest pe­ri­ods ac­tive re­cov­ery. So, in­stead of rest­ing out­right, do some­thing like jump­ing rope or jog­ging around the gym. This will help you burn more calo­ries in your down­time. Aug­ment your lift­ing with car­dio. First thing in the morn­ing be­fore you eat, walk briskly up­hill (you can put a tread­mill on an in­cline) for 45 min­utes, keep­ing your heart rate be­tween 130 and 150 beats per minute. Do this at least twice a week. On an­other three days per week, do higher-in­ten­sity car­dio that keeps your heart rate be­tween 150 and 165 beats per minute for 25 min­utes.


The sample pro­gramme on the fol­low­ing pages shows how your train­ing might look. The work­outs are for build­ing bulk, but you can tweak them to get lean by adding car­dio and ac­tive re­cov­ery. You can also change the lifts as de­scribed to avoid plateaus and keep your train­ing in­ter­est­ing.


1 SQUAT Sets: 5 Reps: 5 l Grasp the bar out­side shoul­der width and squeeze tightly. Pull your shoul­der blades to­gether and arch your back to take the bar off the rack – it should rest on your traps or rear delts. Step back with your feet shoul­der­width apart. Lower into the squat, hips first, un­til your thighs are at least par­al­lel to the floor.

2 DIP Sets: As many as needed Reps: 50 to­tal l Hold the par­al­lel bars of a dip sta­tion and lower your body un­til your up­per arms are par­al­lel to the floor.

3 RO­MA­NIAN DEAD­LIFT Sets: 4 Reps: 10 l Hold a bar­bell in front of your thighs with a shoul­der-width grip. Push your hips back and lower the bar, keep­ing your weight on your heels while main­tain­ing the nat­u­ral arch in your lower back. Al­low your knees to bend slightly and lower un­til your back is about to lose its arch.


1OVERHEAD PRESS Sets: 5 Reps: 5 l Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoul­der width. Take it off the rack, hold­ing it at shoul­der level with your el­bows for­ward slightly and up­per arms al­most par­al­lel to the floor. Squeeze your shoul­ders to­gether and push your chest out, then press the bar over and slightly be­hind your head.

2 FRONT SQUAT Sets: 4 Reps: 10 l Step un­der a bar­bell rest­ing on a squat rack and let it rest on the front part of your shoul­ders. Cross your arms so your hands reach across to the op­po­site shoul­der to hold the bar in place. Un­rack the bar and squat as low as you can while keep­ing your lower back flat.

3 PULL-UP Sets: As many as needed Reps: 50 to­tal l Hold a pull-up bar with a grip wider than shoul­der width. Pull your­self up.


1 DEAD­LIFT Sets: 5 Reps: 5 l Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend down and grasp the bar just out­side your knees. Take a deep breath, then sit back on your heels. Keep your lower back in its nat­u­ral arch and pull the bar as you rise un­til your hips are locked out.

2 IN­CLINE BENCH PRESS Sets: 4 Reps: 10 l Lie back on a bench set to a 40-de­gree in­cline. Grasp the bar with a grip slightly wider than shoul­der width and lower it to your up­per chest. Squeeze your glutes and push your heels into the floor as you press it back up.

3 BACK EX­TEN­SION (Not shown) Sets: As many as needed Reps: 50 to­tal l Set your­self up on a back ex­ten­sion ap­pa­ra­tus, with your up­per thighs in con­tact with the pads. Bend your hips and lower your body un­til your lower back be­gins to lose its arch. Squeeze your glutes and pull your­self back up.

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