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101 Muscle Building Workouts & Nutrition Plans
By Muscle & Fitness, Art Brewer, Michael Darter, Ian Logan, Erica Schultz, Ian Spanier, Larissa Underwood, Pavel Ythjall
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2010 Weider Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
Return of the King
Pay homage to the iconic barbell by remastering the moves in this old-school bash
WHEN MAN INVENTED THE WHEEL — when he rounded off the square corners of some stone and realized it could easily be rolled from one place to another — he knew he was on to something. Since then, we've figured out how to cover wheels with rubber, combine them with internal combustion engines and move ourselves across land with an ease their original inventor would never have imagined. Yet the wheel's original design hasn't changed. It's still round, it still rolls, and physics continues to defy us to come up with anything better while still bound by the laws of gravity.
It's unclear exactly who first conceived the barbell, but there came a time when someone with some modicum of ingenuity (perhaps an Athenian who had a bone to pick with a Spartan who had kicked sand in his face) decided to slide weighted discs onto the ends of a rod and lift it in a variety of ways to get stronger.
"In the history of physical training, I don't think there has ever been anything that has improved upon the adjustable barbell," says Dan John, an author, national-level discus-thrower, coach and Olympic lifting advocate. "If it's too heavy, you take off weight. If it's too light, you add some. [Yet] people look at this like it's the Riddle of the Sphinx."
Maybe this decidedly old-school genius, whoever he was, had it right the first time. Maybe progress with the barbell should've stopped before things got out of hand. Since that initial barbell built its first set of biceps, we've seen an astounding procession of so-called upgrades. In trying to render obsolete the "hassle" of lifting weights with an actual barbell, these reinventions have convoluted our pursuit of physical advancement with all kinds of complicated contraptions, gimmicks and overpriced machinery.
Has any of this stuff really improved upon the original notion of picking up and putting down a barbell in different ways? To find out for yourself, locate a bar and some plates, and make that your gym for the next month. Put in an honest day's work with the one piece of gym equipment that has withstood the test of time and watch your training take off the old-school way.
"It's my belief that both athletes and fitness enthusiasts are capable of training at home at a level of excellence unmatched by most spas, gyms and training centers," John explains. "Contrary to popular belief, you can train very effectively with a minimal investment. I spent $159 on a 300-pound barbell set 20 years ago, and I can train for the rest of my life."
Add a dash of creativity to your training equation and there's little you can't accomplish with a bar and plates. In fact, when you designate the barbell as your main training tool, you'll realize that it's the machines that fall short compared to a simple barbell and a willingness to work.
PICTURE A LOADED BARBELL ON THE FLOOR. You can do three very basic things with it: You can push it, pull it, or combine pushing and pulling to accelerate it rapidly through space. In fact, every exercise you do in the gym can be reduced to fit into one of these three categories. The idea is to find the best combination of pushing, pulling and acceleration to gain strength, add mass, become a better athlete and increase your capacity to perform work.
"I assume only one piece of equipment with my program: a bar," John says. "Machines aren't the answer to your fat-loss or muscle-building questions. As a coach, I need to cut to the core of the things that work and repeat what works. Barbells work."
Once you learn to manipulate the position of the bar with respect to your body — for example, figuring out how to squat without the luxury of a power rack or a set of squat stands — you can perform a seemingly endless number of pushing, pulling and dynamic-acceleration exercises with just a barbell and plates.
Presses, squats and extensions are examples of push movements. When you push a weight, in most cases you're fighting gravity by propelling a load away from your center. At the bottom of a lift, you're starting with your muscles and joints in a "coiled" position, and you're trying to finish the movement at full extension at the end of your range of motion. When you bench-press, for example, you extend your arms. When you squat, you stand up.
Rows, curls and shrugs are pulling movements, where you start at full extension, then close the gap by pulling the load toward a coiled position where the main joints supporting the weight are bent instead of extended. With bent-over rows, you initiate the movement with your arms extended, which is where the weight of the bar makes them want to stay, then pull the bar against gravity into a coiled position touching your midsection.
With Olympic lifts like the power clean and power snatch, proper technique combines both pulling and pushing to move a load quickly and effectively from point A to point B. These exercises work your entire body in myriad ways. Bearing a load and moving it repeatedly will make you stronger, but it's the nature of the movements — quick, compound and powerful — that recruits more muscle fibers. Along with the balance and stability these lifts require, that simply can't be replicated using machines.
In the program on page 13, each workout starts with compound, multijoint movements, then scales back to assistance exercises that help build strength and increase stability for your main lifts. Push and pull moves are combined to target every main muscle group. On your lower-body days, you'll work the muscles crucial to deadlifts, front squats and Olympic lifts: abs, hamstrings, lower back and quads. On your upper-body days, you'll do a series of exercises for your pecs, triceps, lats, traps, delts and biceps. For challenging and comprehensive strength sessions, you won't need any more than this.
Start: Load a bar with a 25-pound plate on each side and place it on the floor. Sit down and hook your feet under the bar, keeping your legs straight and spread as wide as possible. Lie back on the floor.
Execution: Crunch your torso up by bending at the waist and hips. Lower back down until your shoulder blades touch the floor.
Start: Place a barbell on the floor and kneel behind it with your knees hip-width apart and your toes on the floor. Lean forward to grasp the bar with a shoulder-width or narrower, overhand grip.
Execution: Keeping your arms straight, roll the barbell forward, using your abs to hold your body rigid, until your arms are fully extended. Contract your abs to reverse the motion.
STANDING OVERHEAD TRICEPS EXTENSION
Start: Perform a clean, then press the bar overhead using a grip just inside shoulder width.
Execution: Bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head without moving your upper arms; make sure your elbows remain pointed forward or slightly to the sides. Return the bar to the start position by extending your arms overhead.
In the "Barbell Domination Routine" on page 13, the set and rep ranges we list are designed to cover all your bases: strength, hypertrophy, athleticism and increased work capacity. Understand, however, that these variables can easily be manipulated to meet your individual needs. To put on mass, add reps to each set until you're training in a range closer to failure. To get stronger, use more weight and fewer reps on your compound lifts at the beginning of each workout. To improve your conditioning, shorten the rest periods between sets.
Above all, embrace the barbell and everything it offers. It's humankind's original dedicated gym tool, and it's still the standard by which all workout equipment is judged — and found wanting.
BARBELL DECLINE PUSH-UP
Start: With your feet elevated on a bench, get in push-up position with your hands grasping a barbell at approximately shoulder width.
Execution: Keeping your body straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the bar, then push back up to the start.
"DEAD-STOP" LYING TRICEPS EXTENSION
Start: Lie faceup on the floor with a loaded barbell behind your head. Grasp it with a shoulder-width or slightly narrower grip. Your elbows should point directly at the ceiling.
Execution: Extend your arms until they're locked out, the same as at the top of a bench-press rep. Bend your elbows to return the bar to the floor without bouncing.
BARBELL REVERSE CURL
Start: Grasp a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and let it hang in front of your thighs.
Execution: With your elbows close to your sides, bend them to curl the bar toward your shoulders. Return along the same path.CHAPTER 2
Bursting at the Seams
If building muscle is your goal, this six-week strategy is all you need to achieve shirt-busting size
WHEN IT COMES TO PACKING ON MASS, the details don't matter so much. To gain serious size, you need to consider the big picture — the factors that have the most impact on shocking your muscles into new growth.
"Most guys assume the fastest route to bigger, stronger muscles is to work hard and lift heavy, but that's just one part of the equation," says C.J. Murphy, MFS, C-ISSN, co-owner of Total Performance Sports (total performancesports.com) and national powerlifting champion. Murphy's six-week routine consists of two three-week phases that incorporate a variety of exercises. "The best way to grow is to stimulate your big muscle groups, which triggers the greatest release of growth hormone," he states. "That's why each exercise is a difficult multijoint move that requires lots of muscle mass and tremendous torso stabilization."
That focus on your core is key. "Guys who want to pack on mass often do primarily multijoint moves for the upper or lower body, but they tend to neglect their cores because they assume training abs is unnecessary and will lead to a thick waist," Murphy says. "But if you're training to get big, all your power gets transmitted through your torso." In other words, the stronger your core, the more effectively you can perform the exercises that will really bulk you up.
Attach a rope handle to a low-pulley cable and stand facing away from the weight stack, feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat, bend your knees, lean forward and reach between your legs to grasp the rope with both hands using a neutral grip (as if to snap a football). Keep your arms extended. Plant your feet and stand erect, pulling the rope through your legs. Pause, then resist the weight as you return to the start position.
Lie facedown on a back-extension bench and tuck your Achilles under the pads. Grasp a pair of dumbbells and bend over until your upper body is almost perpendicular to the floor; let your arms hang straight down. Slowly lift your torso until it's parallel to the floor, pause, then row the weights to your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells and return to the start position.
Hang freely from an overhead bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Tilt your pelvis upward and slowly lift your legs until they're nearly perpendicular to the floor. Keeping your legs together and elevated, rotate your hips to the left until your legs are almost parallel to the floor, then rotate back up and to the right. Once to each side is one rep.
One thing you'll notice throughout the routine is a lack of isolation moves and supersets. "In a mass-gain plan, they'll only hinder your growth," Murphy explains. "Your agenda should be to work as much muscle mass as possible with as much weight as you can safely handle, and give your body enough sleep and food to grow."
Rules of the Weights
RULE NO. 1: The main goal is to go as heavy as possible without sacrificing technique. "Choose a weight that makes the last two reps very difficult," Murphy says. "Each week you'll increase the weight by the percentage listed in the program [beginning on page 17]." If in Week 1 you squat 225 pounds for 12 reps, for example, then in Week 2 you'll add 10% (or 22.5 pounds). It's fine to round up or down so you're not trying to locate the 1.25-pound plates, he points out.
RULE NO. 2: If no reps are listed for an exercise, do them pyramid-style, increasing the weight after each set. You should get 12-15 reps on the first set, 10-12 reps on the second, 8-10 reps on the third and 6-8 on the fourth.
In Weeks 3 and 6, you'll do four sets of your first exercise, then drop to three sets for subsequent moves. "Since the primary exercises in Weeks 3 and 6 are the most difficult, reducing the number of sets helps prevent overtraining and injury, while keeping the intensity high," Murphy says.
RULE NO. 3: For exercises with high rep counts (50-70), work as quickly as possible. Start by repping to just short of failure, then rest. Continue until you complete the prescribed number of reps. If the workout calls for 50 dips, for example, your rep scheme might look like this: 1x18, 1x12, 1x8, 1x6, 1x3 and 1x3 for a total of 50 reps.
Place a barbell in a squat rack, grasp it with an overhand, wider than shoulder-width grip, then duck underneath it. Instead of resting the bar at the base of your neck, position it across the back of your shoulders and your middle traps. Step back from the rack and stand erect with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. With a flat back, descend until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, then push through your heels to return to standing.
RULE NO. 4: "You must resist the temptation to do extra work," Murphy cautions. Stick with these very few — but very hard — moves, and hit them with everything you've got. "Don't do any traditional cardio on this plan," he adds. "You'll only burn muscle mass instead of build it." Also avoid activities that incinerate calories, which limits your growth potential.
ONE-ARM BARBELL DEADLIFT
Place a barbell on the floor and stand to the left of it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your head straight and back flat, bend your knees and lean forward to grasp the middle of the bar with your right hand. Your left arm should hang straight down. Stand up slowly, lifting the bar and keeping it close to your body, until your knees are just short of lockout. Pause at the top, then slowly return the bar to the floor. Repeat for reps, then switch arms.
Eating to Gain
No mass-gain plan is complete without discussing your dietary needs. In a nutshell, eat for what you want to weigh. If you currently weigh 170 pounds but your goal is 200, eat as though you weigh 180: Consume 20-24 calories and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your short-term target bodyweight per day, and 3-4 grams of carbs per pound on training days (2.5 grams on rest days). Make adjustments to a new short-term target bodyweight as your bodyweight increases.
Between weight-training days — 2-3 times per week, depending on your fitness level — you'll do something unexpected: a series of all-out sprints to help condition your body to last through the six-week plan. "The entire program is intense," Murphy says. "So you don't want to do much cardio, but [it's still important that] your heart gets a workout."
Sprints also stimulate your metabolism, allowing your body to burn fat while adding muscle. "Although traditional cardio does little to boost your metabolism or build muscle, sprinting elevates your metabolism in the same way weight-training does," he explains. If you're worried about losing size, just ask yourself if you've ever seen an Olympic sprinter who wasn't jacked. Didn't think so.
Excerpted from 101 Muscle Building Workouts & Nutrition Plans by Muscle & Fitness, Art Brewer, Michael Darter, Ian Logan, Erica Schultz, Ian Spanier, Larissa Underwood, Pavel Ythjall. Copyright © 2010 Weider Publications, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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