The Men's Health Home Workout Bible: Over 400 Exercises No Gym Required

The Men's Health Home Workout Bible: Over 400 Exercises No Gym Required

by Lou Schuler, Michael Mejia

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Get bigger biceps, broad shoulders, a bigger bench press, powerful legs, cut abs . . . without ever leaving your home!

The body you want, in the space you have.

The strength you want, with the equipment you have.

The muscles you want, in the time you have.

You don't need to join a gym to get in shape. In fact, for a lot of guys, the gym is

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Get bigger biceps, broad shoulders, a bigger bench press, powerful legs, cut abs . . . without ever leaving your home!

The body you want, in the space you have.

The strength you want, with the equipment you have.

The muscles you want, in the time you have.

You don't need to join a gym to get in shape. In fact, for a lot of guys, the gym is an impediment to getting in shape. The crowds, the inconvenience, the intimidation, the time, the commute-by the time you add it all up, you could end up investing 2 hours to get 45 minutes of exercise.

No matter how little space you have, no matter how little equipment you have, no matter how little time you have, you can get the results you want without stepping inside a gym.

The Men's Health Home Workout Bible gives you:

  • Four full-body muscle plans: The Body Weight Plan, The Dumbbell Plan, The Barbell Plan, and The Multistation-Machine Plan
  • Custom training plans for strength, fat loss, aerobic fitness, and sports performance
  • Buying advice for weights, benches, machines, cardio equipment, and exercise videos
  • Complete guidelines for turning your home into a state-of-the-art fitness center

With beginner, intermediate, and advanced full-body workouts for each type of equipment, The Men's Health Home Workout Bible gives you more than 400 exercises altogether, photographed and fully described. From pushups to power cleans, from crunches to jump squats, we show you how to get more muscle and strength at home, whether you're a complete beginner or a competitive athlete.

The Men's Health Home Workout Bible is a personal trainer, on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This book's goal is not only to "turn a piece of your humble abode into your personal war room," but also to demystify the art of weight training: "Where it really counts-results-there's zero difference between a home gym and a membership gym." Sharply written by Men's Health fitness director Schuler, this volume contains all an average man needs to know to get his body in shape: expert, no-nonsense, to-the-point chapters on muscle groups, with descriptions that readers will actually remember; how to buy effective equipment without going bankrupt; and the correct way to lift (all those big guys in the gym are doing it wrong). But the heart of the book is located in the more than 200 pages of exercise programs designed by Mejia (all expertly photographed and illustrated), an incredible range of simple and effective routines. To further help the reader along, Mejia provides 4-week workouts for body weight, dumbbells, barbells, and cables, for work at home, as well as 4-week all-equipment and multistation workouts that can be done at home. This newest in the Men's Health series provides a range of solid, useful and entertaining information on a range of men's issues. Any man interested in learning the most effective way to develop a successful weight-training routine that he can do at home should buy and read it daily for inspiration. (Nov.)

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Rodale Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Rodale Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1579546579


Your suspicions are correct: The home-workout experience is not quite like the commercial-gym scene.

At home, you get right to work without waiting for some unbearably bubbly employee to scan your membership card and tell you to have a nice workout.

At home, you know whose sweat is on the exercise bench.

At home, you don't have to share equipment ... unless you have more grown kids living with you than Pa Cartwright.

Where it really counts-results-there's zero difference between a home gym and a membership gym. Regardless of venue, your muscles respond to weight training in exactly the same way: They grow. In a process called hypertrophy, your muscle cells (usually called fibers because of their elongated shape) actually get bigger so it's easier for them to hoist those barbells. This is a pretty clever strategy for what are essentially pieces of meat. Still, muscles aren't so smart that they can discern their locale. They couldn't care less whether you work out in a private residence or a crowded health club. Their only concern is adapting so that they'll be ready the next time you ask them to push around heavy weights.


An understanding of the basic physiology of muscle growth adds an important intangible to your home workouts. Instead of going throughthe motions like a robot, you're involved. You feel that you're working with your body's capacities instead of against its limitations. Here's the knowledge that will turn your home workouts from a chore into a labor of tough love.

Your muscles get extra, adaptation-triggering stress when they encounter resistance to their efforts. Resistance comes in many guises. It can be caused by friction or inertia or fluid or elasticity. It can be increased and decreased. It can change at different points in a movement, since your muscles are stronger in certain positions.

When you do a strength-training exercise, the resistance is usually a combination of a weighted object and gravity. In fact, resistance training is a common-and probably more accurate-term for what you're doing.

Not every amount of resistance will get the job done, however. After all, you use your muscles to move weight against gravity every time you lift a bottle to your lips. As far as we know, no one puts on muscle mass that way. You'll never get anywhere unless you apply enough resistance to overload the muscles you're working.

Overload sounds drastic, but all it means is giving your muscles more work than they're used to so they have a reason to make adaptations. In terms of strength training, that means lifting weights that are heavy enough to make the exercises hard to do. Obvious? Sure. But commercial-gym parking lots are paved with the expired membership cards of misguided souls who played around with piddly little poundages for a few months and wondered why nothing happened.

The overload has to be progressive: Your muscles must continually adapt to new challenges if they're to continue to grow. You can give them those challenges by steadily adding weight to your lifts over time. This is a factor in outfitting your home gym. A single pair of 10-pound dumbbells might be enough to overload some muscles for a while. But what happens once your muscles have successfully adapted to those weights?

Finally, your progression must be gradual. Your muscles adapt best when you add a little weight at a time. Jacking up weight too much or too soon is fruitless-and even dangerous.

Your training should also be gradual in the sense that rest is as big a factor as the actual lifting. That's because your muscles don't get stronger while they're being trained; they get stronger while they're recovering afterward. Muscle growth is a tear-it-down/build-it-up process. It's during recovery that your muscles repair the damage sustained during resistance training, coming back bigger and stronger than they were before. So you can feel good about yourself as you stare at your third Seinfeld rerun the day after a workout. You aren't wasting time; you're growing muscle.

Actually, you could spend that time in your home gym instead of on your couch-if you exercise different muscles than you worked the day before. For instance, you can work on your arms while your calves are recovering. That's because when you lift weights, you train only the muscles involved in the movement you're doing.

That principal, dubbed specificity, isn't exactly earthshattering. Most guys are already aware that their biceps won't grow in response to calf raises. But specificity is important because it means you approach muscle gain much differently than you do fat loss. Your body sheds fat from the spots where it's genetically programmed to, no matter what. There's no way you can encourage fat loss in one part of your body over another. With muscle growth, however, you can pick and choose your spots.

Specificity makes your quest for balanced, full-body muscle development a more interesting (and complex) proposition than a more general quest for fitness that is usually undertaken via walking or jogging or some other cardiovascular exercise. The specificity principal is the reason a good chunk of this book is devoted to scores of different weight-training exercises: You need a full repertoire of lifts if you're going to hit all your major muscles.

All of the exercises we'll give you emphasize one of the major muscle groups that we'll introduce in the next chapter. But only some of those exercises truly isolate the targeted muscles. The majority are compound movements, meaning that more than one muscle group participates in them.

The bench press is a good example of a compound exercise, since your chest muscles (in conjunction with the front parts of your shoulder muscles) move your upper arms while your triceps simultaneously straighten your arms at the elbows. Another name for compound movement is multi-joint exercise, for the obvious reason that your muscles have to move more than one joint to complete the exercise.

Equally obvious is why movements that do involve only one muscle are called isolation, or single-joint, exercises. To pick the most popular example, in a biceps curl you hold your body steady while attempting to move only your elbow joint. That movement puts all the emphasis of the exercise on your biceps, the muscle responsible for bending your elbow. (Less popular isolation exercises include divorce and downsizing-they leave you lonely and cause a few elbows to bend, too.)

None of us here at Men's Health believe that muscles are best built one at a time. They work together in sports and other aspects of real life, so we think that's the way they should be trained most of the time. We also know that guys-ourselves included-care more about certain vanity muscle's than about others. (To misquote Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, "Vanity, for lack of a better word, is good. Vanity is right. Vanity works.") So we'll offer a collection of biceps curls and shoulder exercises to give those high-profile muscles a little isolated attention. You'll get your curls-after you've done your bench presses, squats, deadlifts, rows, and chinups.

And after you've done all of these, you'll give new meaning to the word homebody.


Now that you understand the mechanism for building muscles, it'll help you to know a thing or two about the structure of your muscles themselves. We're not suggesting you memorize Gray's Anatomy. We're just asking you to put your adrenaline on hold while we give you a rundown of your main muscle groups.

As you take your muscle tour, you'll notice that we segue easily from the official Latinate names to easier-to-pronounce nicknames such as traps, lats, and quads. We don't do this to save ink. We just don't think you need to read pectoralis major or chest muscles at every reference where pecs will do just fine. (And frankly, when we were writing this book, we didn't feel like typing out all those longer terms.)

The practical payoff to demystifying your musculature is that you'll perform individual lifts better when you're familiar with the muscles that are supposed to be working. You'll put together better workouts for balanced body development. (After all, you can't write a good lineup if you don't know your players.) And you'll become accustomed to the way most of the exercises are organized throughout this book-that is, by body part (and the muscles in each body part).

Now get ready to meet your most important parts.


Sometime during the deepest, darkest days of the 1990s, ripped abs took over from bulging biceps as the dominant symbol of male virility. Even though symbols count for jack in a home training program, your abdominal muscles matter a lot. And not just because women say so.

Fitness cognoscenti like to talk about the abs and lower back as core musculature. Anything called core musculature has to be important, or nobody would force himself to utter such a phrase. Sure enough, these are the muscles that work nonstop to stabilize and support your torso while you do other things, such as arm or upper-torso exercises ... or just standing around without collapsing like an empty accordion file.

So ab work delivers more than just a harder, tauter midsection and the hunk points that go with it. It also builds the core strength that helps you work the rest of your body more effectively. That's a good investment any way you look at it.

You're not going to get this result just by knocking off a set of crunches now and then (as many a guy is wont to do). You need to work all your core musculature; and you need to work it regularly and systematically, just like any other muscle group.

We'll show you lots of ways to do that in part 2. For now, just understand what we mean by "all" your core musculature: Like the rest of the world, we throw out the term abs as a catch-all for several different muscles in the abdominal area. Let's run through those, along with the major muscle group of your lower back.

Rectus Abdominis

What it is: This is the one all the fuss is about: It's the large, flat muscle wall that-assuming it's not hidden by fat-defines most of the front of your midsection from the lower chest to the pubic bone.

What it does: Besides performing the aforementioned core chores, the rectus abdominis flexes (bends) your torso by pulling your rib cage toward your hips, or vice versa. Crunches and reverse crunches do precisely those things, which is why they're the classic (but by no means exclusive) ab movements.

What you should know: The part below your navel looks, feels, and performs differently than the top part, so we'll recommend a variety of exercises to make sure you hit the whole muscle. The above-the-navel portion, incidentally, consists of three pairs of rectangular sections stacked on top of each other. The pattern is visible in many (but not all) guys with a developed rectus abdominis and little fat covering it, and is therefore to blame for the overused ab adjectives six-pack and washboard.

Obliquus Abdominis

What it is: It runs diagonally along the side of your midsection from the lower ribcage to the pubic area. You actually have a pair of muscles on each side: The internal obliques lie underneath the external obliques.

What it does: Each pair of obliques flexes your torso to its respective side. The Obliques also allow you to twist at the waist and help the rectus abdominis bend your torso forward. In addition, they do their share of stabilization work.

What you should know: You'll get much better (and quicker) results if you do two kinds of movements to work your obliques. We'll show you a variety of "sideways" crunches for flexion, as well as rotational exercises for the twisting function.

Transversus Abdominis

What it is: You don't hear much about this deepest of all abdominal muscles. It's a thin strip that runs horizontally across your abdomen.

What it does: Some pretty important things such as constricting your abdomen, helping to keep your internal organs in place, forcing out your breath, and stabilizing your spine.

What you should know: A lot of exercise guides choose to ignore this one, but we figure that's not your style. Besides, the exercises you use to work the TA are interesting-almost yogalike in their emphasis on position and breathing.

Erector Spinae

What it is: This large, powerful muscle group runs along the side of your lower spine. A pair of spinal erectors forms the main muscle group in your lower back; strengthening it reduces your chance of back pain or injury.

What it does: The name says it all: It erects your spine, straightening your torso out of a bent position. The pair also helps your obliques as you twist at the waist. And it's another key stabilizer.

What you should know: Your home is the ideal place for lower-back and all midsection work because time and convenience are your highest priority.


We pair up the chest and upper back for a couple of reasons. One is that most guys are understandably gung-ho about developing an impressive, V-shaped upper torso, a worthy goal that's realized by training-guess what?-your chest and upper back.

Another is that the major muscle groups in both these body parts work to move your upper arms at the shoulder joints. (What, you thought your chest and back muscles only moved your chest and back?) Here's why that matters: When you do chest or upper-back exercises-pullups, say, or bench presses-the more-familiar arm muscles (the biceps and triceps) try to horn in and take over. That defeats your purpose. So the challenge of both chest and back work is to feel the muscles you're trying to work and then focus on them to perform the movement. That's not easy at first.


Excerpted from The Men's Health HOME WORKOUT BIBLE Copyright © 2002 by Rodale Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Meet the Author

Lou Schuler and Michael Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S., are coauthors of the book The Testosterone Advantage Plan.. Lou is also fitness director for Men's Health, the world's largest men's magazine.

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