Read an Excerpt
101 Strength Training Workouts & Strategies
By Muscle & Fitness, Art Brewer, Blake Little, Marc Royce, Ian Spanier, Pavel Ythjall
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2011 Weider Publications, LLC.
All rights reserved.
Warm Up to a New Idea
Touching your toes has gone the way of parachute pants in the weight room. This is your new preworkout mandate:
"Don't stretch. Move"
When you get to the gym, there are two paths you can take. You could use the first 15 minutes of your session to prime your body for peak performance, or you can risk being weaker and more prone to injury. It's your call. Once you begin to understand the principles behind a sound dynamic warm-up, we think we know how you'll decide.
Your days of strolling into your gym, tossing out a few arm swings and diving right into your workout have come to an end. It's time to start treating your body with the same care a world-class athlete does, and one thing elite athletes and coaches have figured out is that static stretching and an inadequate warm-up don't cut it when you want to perform your best. Your body needs to prepare for the work it's about to undertake, and warming up dynamically is the best way to get the job done.
Don't Stretch. Move
When you're about to train with weights — or run, jump or do anything athletic — the idea is to thoroughly warm up your body and get more blood flowing to your muscles using movement vs. standing or sitting in one place and stretching. This idea of warming up your muscles rather than elongating them is a major advancement beyond the traditional static stretching you did in gym class. Starting your workouts with an intelligent movement progression is the ideal way to construct an optimal foundation for success in the gym.
"A comprehensive dynamic warm-up will accomplish everything you need to bring to your workouts," says Nate Winkler, co-owner of Juggernaut Training Systems in Laguna Hills, California, and a former collegiate track athlete. "When you put the right moves together and finish your warm-up sweating, everything's going to be ready to go."
High-Knees Crossover Run
START: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, lower back arched and elbows bent approximately 90 degrees with your hands in front of you.
EXECUTION: Run sideways by raising the knee of your back leg as high as you can and stepping across your body. Go for 20 yards, then reverse direction.
10 SECOND TIP
Try to swing your knee and leg across your body as quickly as possible
3-Way Jumping Jacks
START: Perform this series of movements the same way you'd do traditional jumping jacks from the waist down. With your feet together and your weight on the balls of your feet, jump from this position and land with your feet wider than your shoulders, then bounce back to the start.
EXECUTION: For the first 10 reps, swing your arms so they cross in front of you with your hands at your midsection. For the next 10 reps, swing your arms at chest level. Perform the final 10 reps in traditional fashion.
10 SECOND TIP
Don't stop after finishing each variation. Think of this as one continuous set of 30 reps
Our dynamic warm-up progression is simply a series of movements designed to raise your core temperature, increase joint mobility and activate the central nervous system (CNS) before putting your body through a strenuous workout. Accomplishing these three objectives is vital to your progress when you want to add mass and get stronger: When you add poundage to your lifts each week, you should give yourself every possible competitive advantage while bulletproofing yourself against injury.
If you're still using an antiquated static stretching warm-up — or not taking the time to warm up at all — you're courting disaster. Static stretching won't appreciably raise your core temperature, which is a must for motor-unit recruitment and coordinated muscular contraction. Stretching also lengthens your tissues and leaves you susceptible to injury by promoting muscle, joint and ligament laxity. When you lift heavy weights, you want your muscles warm, coiled and ready to explode as opposed to loose, cold and vulnerable to the forces you're applying to them.
"To perform your best athletically, you need your CNS firing on all cylinders," Winkler says. "Static stretching puts your central nervous system to sleep. Warming up dynamically activates your CNS. In my experience, it's best to save your serious static stretching for after your workouts."
Our dynamic warm-up is a general sampling of movements that'll warm up your body from head to toe as opposed to stretch individual muscles. By the time you're finished, the core temperature of every major muscle group will be raised and you'll be prepared to begin your warm-up sets with the first exercises in your workout. We guarantee you'll feel the difference immediately in both strength levels and range of motion.
START: Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart and your fingers interlocked behind your head, your weight over your heels.
EXECUTION: Descend into a thighs-parallel squat, then return to standing.
START: Stand erect with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
EXECUTION: Step directly to the side with one leg and descend into a lunge. Keep your anchor leg extended — you should feel a stretch in your groin — and the knee of your working leg directly over that foot. Return to standing and repeat for reps, then switch sides.
START: Kneel on all fours on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart and arms straight under your shoulders.
EXECUTION: Simultaneously extend your left arm directly in front of you and your right leg straight behind you so they're parallel to the floor and in line with your torso. Return to the start and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Low Pogo Jump
START: Stand erect with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and elbows bent approximately 90 degrees with your hands in front of you.
EXECUTION: Bounce up and down in a low jump as quickly as you can for five seconds. Envision jumping rope without a rope.
START: Lie faceup on the floor with your arms forming a "T" perpendicular to your torso with your palms down. Keep your feet and knees together, and bend your knees and hips 90 degrees so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to it.
EXECUTION: Keeping your hands on the floor and squeezing your knees together, twist your hips and touch the outside of one knee to the floor, then reverse the motion and repeat on the opposite side.
START: Grasp the vertical post of a power rack or other stationary anchor with one hand, or place one hand against a wall.
EXECUTION: Keeping your outside leg as straight as possible, kick it as high as you can in front of you, then swing it as far behind you as you can. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Crossover Leg Swing
START: Turn and face a stationary anchor or the wall and use both hands, keeping your body erect but in a slight forward lean.
EXECUTION: Keeping one leg straight, kick it out to the side as high as possible, leading with the outside of your foot, then swing it down and across the front of your body until your hips are slightly turned. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
START: Lie faceup on the floor with your legs straight, feet together and arms forming a "T" perpendicular to your torso with your palms down. Anchor one leg to the floor.
EXECUTION: Maintaining minimal flexion in the opposite knee, kick that leg as close to your head as possible until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Lower your heel to the floor and repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Side Shuffle (not shown)
START: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, lower back arched and elbows bent about 90 degrees with your hands in front of you. Your weight should be primarily on the balls of your feet.
EXECUTION: At a comfortable pace and without letting your feet cross over each other or touch, shuffle laterally for 20 yards, then reverse direction. Keep your head and chest aligned and at consistent levels.
Broomstick Stretch (not shown)
START: Grasp a broomstick, dowel or piece of PVC pipe in a snatch grip with your hands well outside shoulder width.
EXECUTION: With your arms extended, raise the broomstick overhead and behind you as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your shoulders. Reverse direction and lower the stick to your thighs.
START: Stand with your knees bent, lower back arched and elbows bent about 90 degrees with your hands in front of you.
EXECUTION: Staying low, push off backward with one foot so you jog in reverse with your head directly over the foot that's propelling you. Backpedal for 20 yards, then turn around and repeat. When you push off, drive your opposite elbow back toward your destination.
10 SECOND TIP
To help yourself nail the proper form on backpedaling, think "nose over toes"
"You want to progress from the general to the specific," Winkler says. "Start out with an easy movement such as jogging or jumping jacks, then gradually make it more specific. Most people I train start out with such stiff hips that they can't get to parallel when they squat. Consistently performing a good dynamic warm-up will solve that problem and many others."
To perform these movements, you may have to retreat to your gym's aerobics room or take things outside to the parking lot or sidewalk. If you're easily embarrassed, you might feel silly jumping around before your session, especially when you're the only one in the gym doing it. Look at it this way: Instead of being "just another gym guy," you're preparing yourself to train the same way professional and Olympic athletes do. Better yet, you'll experience marked performance improvement across the board — gains that'll eventually offset any potential embarrassment when you try this for the first time.
START: From a standing position, step forward with one leg as far as you can into a lunge. The knee of your back leg should touch the floor.
EXECUTION: Put your hands on your hips and lean back until you feel a stretch in the hip flexor of your back leg. Hold for a 10-count, then stretch the same-side arm overhead and behind you before switching sides.
START: Kneel on all fours on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart and arms straight.
EXECUTION: Keeping one knee bent 90 degrees, raise it out to the side and draw wide forward and backward circles at approximately waist height. Keep your arms fully extended with your elbows locked. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
START: Lie facedown on the floor with your arms forming a "T" perpendicular to your torso with your palms down.
EXECUTION: Keeping one leg anchored to the floor, turn your hips, bend your top knee and try to touch that heel to the opposite hand. Return to the start position and repeat for reps, then switch sides.
10 SECOND TIP
Execute a full hip turn. Don't just try to reach by stretching your quadricepsCHAPTER 2
Stronger in Two Months
Boost your strength across the board — by about 25% for each bodypart — with this eight-week progressive program
Barbell Overhead Press
Getting stronger and pressing more weight means bigger, wider shoulders. Use a wide grip to maximize delt involvement and minimize triceps work.
Being massively strong isn't useful for only powerlifters, home run-hitters and that guy at the gym whose only training goal is to bench-press four plates for reps. Take a look at any successful athlete or otherwise impressive human specimen and you'll see a guy with a high level of overall strength. Lance Armstrong, LeBron James, all those ripped guys in the movie 300 — none of them are renowned for breaking lifting records, but all of them are mighty strong in their own right.
But since gaining strength by way of pedaling up the Alps (like Lance) or having most of it attributable to natural selection (like LeBron) is probably out of the question, you'll have to attain it more like the 300 crew did: with iron, in the gym. The subsequent eight-week program promises to make you 25% stronger in all major lifts, from presses to rows to squats. Follow it to a T, and if it doesn't leave you with a yellow jersey or NBA scoring title, at least you'll be a more impressive human specimen for it.
You don't have to train like a powerlifter to get stronger. Quite the contrary. This program is designed to increase your overall strength by 25% on each of nine exercises, one for each major bodypart: bench press (chest), barbell bent-over row (back), barbell overhead press (shoulders), squat (legs), barbell shrug (traps), barbell curl (biceps), close-grip bench press (triceps), leg-press calf raise (calves) and barbell wrist curl (forearms). With your newfound strength, you can go back to higher-rep training — the typical 8-12 reps — for size and overload each muscle group with even heavier weight for further growth.
Even though the movement is short — just a few inches — your traps are seriously strong. Use straps as the weight becomes too heavy for your grip. Don't roll your shoulders; use a smooth and powerful up-and-down motion.
HERE'S A RUNDOWN OF THE PROGRAM'S THREE MAJOR ASPECTS.
1) 5RM Testing:
You'll test your strength three times in this program — at the start, after the fourth week and at the end, after week 8. But there's no need to suit up like a powerlifter and have three or four spotters on hand, nor will you have to perform an actual 1RM set. Research shows that using a five-rep max (5RM) to determine your 1RM is about 99% accurate for upper-body exercises and 97% accurate for lower-body exercises. That's close enough.
To calculate your 1RM for each of the nine exercises, perform 2-3 warm-up sets using progressively heavier weight, then find a weight that permits you to get five and only five reps; you shouldn't be able to get a sixth rep on your own. If the weight is too heavy or too light to hit five reps, terminate the set and rest 4-5 minutes, then select a new weight to attempt for a 5RM. For example, if after two reps you can already tell the weight is too light, end the set immediately and increase weight for your next attempt. Point being, don't expend too much of your strength on failed 5RM attempts.
Take each 5RM weight and use one of these two equations to determine your 1RM for the particular exercise.
For upper-body exercises:
(5RM weight x 1.1307) + 0.6998 = 1RM
Example: If you bench 300 pounds for five reps, your 1RM would be: (300 x 1.1307) + 0.6998 = 340 pounds
For lower-body exercises:
(5RM weight x 1.09703) + 14.2546 = 1RM
Example: If you squat 400 pounds for five reps, your 1RM would be: (400 x 1.09703) + 14.2546 = 453 pounds, or 455 pounds (rounded up)
Nothing adds thickness to your biceps like the barbell curl. Keep the emphasis on your bi's by avoiding backward sway and keeping your elbows pinned to your sides.
2) Heavy Days:
The foundation of any good strength program is heavy lifting. But how you lift to get stronger is different than for sheer muscle-building: You don't want your body to be as fatigued, so the volume will be slightly less than you may be used to. You'll also need to rest longer between sets on core lifts (up to three minutes) to ensure adequate recovery. It's important that you're as strong as you can possibly be for each and every set, and short rest periods won't allow for this. Another difference between strength training and bodybuilding is frequency. You'll train each muscle group twice a week, whereas many bodybuilders train each body-part just once a week.
Sets of between three and 10 reps that get progressively heavier from week to week will comprise the majority of your training in our eight-week program. For the nine core lifts, the weight used will be a percentage of your 1RM based off your 5RM testing. For all other exercises, no rep-max testing is necessary; simply select a weight that'll cause you to fail at the target number of reps. The first three sets listed for each core exercise (50%-70% 1RM) are warm-up sets and the last set listed is a burnout set.
3) Explosive-Rep Training:
During Weeks 1-3 and 5-7 (all nontesting weeks) you'll perform explosive-rep training on Fridays and Saturdays (see "Explosive-Rep Workouts" on page 25). You'll do only the core exercises in these workouts for a total of three sets, in addition to one warm-up set. By improving your explosive power, you improve how fast you can apply force to the bar. The faster you can apply force, the faster you can get the bar moving, which relates to the ability to move more weight.
Gain strength in the squat and every other bodypart will grow as well. Vary your foot position (narrow or wide) as well as bar placement (low bar/high bar) to match your body's needs.
HEAVY Training Days
Barbell Wrist Curl
Keeping your thumbs under the bar is the best way to get the most out of this great forearm exercise. Allow the bar to roll as far out onto your fingertips as possible before curling the weight back up.
10 SECOND TIP
When training for muscle power, the weight should be light (somewhere around 50% 1RM), the reps should be low (3-5 in this program) and the rest periods sufficient (around two minutes).
Close-Grip Bench Press
One of the few compound exercises for triceps, the close-grip bench helps overload the tri's with serious weight.
HEAVY Training Days
We have to say it: How much do you bench? Well, this program will have your bench strength on the rise along with the size of your pecs. Bring the bar to your lower chest and press up in an arc over your face for best results.
Excerpted from 101 Strength Training Workouts & Strategies by Muscle & Fitness, Art Brewer, Blake Little, Marc Royce, Ian Spanier, Pavel Ythjall. Copyright © 2011 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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