A BUFF BODY IN 4 WEEKS!
IF YOU’RE A BEGINNER, OR HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE GYM FOR A WHILE, YOU CAN BUILD MUSCLE FAST WITH THIS BACK-TO-BASICS ROUTINE.
The real key to getting bigger and stronger when you’re a lifting newbie is to do basic lifts with lots of sets. This workout covers the fundamentals – moves like the bench press, squat, and deadlift – all of which you’ll be performing in fewer-rep sets, with relatively heavy weight. The combo helps you not only build strength quickly but also master proper lifting technique. Additional exercises in the workout supplement the basic lifts and allow you to indulge your ego with some curls (since we know you’d do them anyway). If you’re not new to training but have been taking a break from the gym, this routine is ideal to start you back up. DIRECTIONS Frequency Perform each workout (Day I, II, III, and IV) once per week. You can perform Days I and II on back-to-back days and/or do Days III and IV back-to-back. You could also rest a day between each session. Do it Perform the exercises as straight sets, completing all prescribed sets for one exercise before moving on to the next. Rest only as long as you need to repeat your number of reps on the next set. Use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the reps plus one or two more, but do only the prescribed number.
1 SQUAT Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Bend your hips back and then your knees (push them outward as you go down) to lower your body as far as you can. Keep your posture as upright as possible and maintain the normal arch in your lower back. If you feel you’re beginning to lose the arch, do not go lower. Squeeze your butt as you come back up. 2 UNILATERAL LEG PRESS Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Lie back on a leg press machine and place one foot on the foot plate. Release the safety catch and lower your knee toward your chest, stopping when it’s bent 90 degrees. Do not go so low that your lower back begins to come off the pad. Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other side. 3 ROMANIAN DEADLIFT Sets: 3 Reps: 8 Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with a shoulderwidth grip. Bend your hips back and then bend your knees while maintaining the natural arch in your lower back. Keep going until you feel your back is about to lose its arch. Squeeze your butt and push your hips forward to come back up. 4 LEG CURL Sets: 3 Reps: 15 Lie facedown on a leg curl machine and hook your legs under the pad. Keeping your hips in contact with the machine, bend your knees to curl the pad toward you. 5 STANDING CALF RAISE Sets: 3 Reps: 20 Use a standing calf raise machine or hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand on an elevated surface (such as a box or aerobics step). Lower your heels toward the floor, knees slightly bent, until you feel your calves stretched. Then drive the balls of your feet into the surface, lock your knees, and raise your heels as high as possible. 6 DECLINE SITUP Sets: 3 Reps: 12-15 Set an adjustable bench on a decline and sit on it with your feet hooked under the pad. Lie back on the bench. Squeeze your abs and raise your torso off the bench until you’re sitting upright.
SQUAT SAFELY Some guys have trouble keeping their lower backs flat during squats. To help, stretch your hamstrings before you workout.
THE PERFECT PRESS The most common mistake on the shrug is rolling your shoulders forward or back. Don’t do it! Instead, raise and lower the weights in one single fluid motion.
1 BENCH PRESS Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Lie on the bench, grab the bar underhand, and pull your torso up and forward, resting your head on the bench before the rest of your body. This should cause your knees to bend 45 degrees so that your feet are planted far back – it’s OK if your heels are in the air. Now switch to an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Lift the bar off the rack and hold it directly above your chest. Squeeze the bar and arch your upper back. Lower the bar to just below your nipples, tucking your elbows about 45 degrees to your sides. Once the bar touches your chest, push your feet hard into the floor. Press the weight up. When the bar is halfway up, begin flaring your elbows outward to lock it out. 2 INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree incline, grab a dumbbell in each hand, and sit on the bench, holding the weights at the sides of your chest. Press the dumbbells straight overhead. 3 TRICEPS PUSHDOWN Sets: 3 Reps: 15 Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station. Stand facing the machine and grab one end of the rope in each hand. Keeping your elbows tight against your sides, straighten your arms, pressing the handle downward. 4 DUMBBELL ROW Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place your opposite knee and hand on a bench. Let the arm with the weight hang. Retract your shoulder blade and row the weight to your side. Complete all your reps and then repeat on the opposite side. 5 DUMBBELL SHRUG Sets: 3 Reps: 12 Hold a dumbbell in each hand and allow your arms to hang at your sides. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can.
1 DEADLIFT Sets: 5 Reps: 5 Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, your toes facing straight ahead. Reach down and grab the bar with an outside-shoulder-width, palms-down grip. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your heels into the floor and push your hips forward, lifting the bar as you rise until it’s in front of your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your body at all times. Lower it back to the floor in the same path. 2 DUMBBELL LUNGE Sets: 3 Reps: 8 (Each leg) Hold a dumbbell in each hand and step forward with one leg. Lower your body down until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Push off the front leg to return to the starting position. Complete all your reps on one leg, and then switch legs and repeat. 3 BACK EXTENSION Sets: 3 Reps: 12 Lock your legs into a back extension apparatus. Allow your torso to bend forward so that your hips are bent almost 90 degrees. Extend your back so that your body forms a straight line. 4 LEG CURL Sets: 3 Reps: 15 See the description in Day I. 5 SEATED CALF RAISE Sets: 3 Reps: 15 Use a seated calf raise machine or sit on a bench with a pair of dumbbells on your knees and your feet on a box or step. Lower your heels until you feel a full stretch in your calves and then press your feet into the step and raise your heels as high as possible. 6 HANGING LEG RAISE Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Grab onto a pullup bar and hang. Raise your legs as high as you can (at least to waist level).
BACK IT UP If your lower back rounds during a deadlift (you can’t keep it flat or in its natural arch), perform the exercise in a power rack, resting the bar on the safety rods. Set the rods to a height that’s as low as you can safely go and complete the deadlift from there. Over time, you can lower the rods and eventually lift from the floor.
1 DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height. Squeeze your abs and press the weights straight overhead. 2 PUSHUP Sets: 3 Reps: One less than your max Place your hands on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your abs braced and your body in a straight line, “pull” yourself down toward the floor by retracting your shoulder blades. Go until your chest is about an inch off the floor. Then, press yourself back to starting position. 3 TRICEPS PUSHDOWN Sets: 3 Reps: 15 See the description in Day II. 4 LAT PULLDOWN Sets: 5 Reps: 10 Sit at a latpulldown station and brace your legs under the pads. Grab the handle with a shoulder-width grip. Pull the bar down to your collarbone. 5 BARBELL CURL Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip and palms facing up. Keep your elbows tucked against your sides and curl the weight up. 6 HAMMER CURL Sets: 3 Reps: 10 Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your sides. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, curl the weights up.