Category Archives: full-body workout

Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed

Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed

Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed
There are no ideal routines or perfect methods. The bottom line is results. Either you’re stronger, have more endurance, a greater resistance to injury, or perform better in your sport. That’s all that matters.
Yet for many trainees, this results-first approach is too simplistic. For them, the more complex the problem, the more flamboyant the cure has to be. Rather than follow a simple, specific plan, they get caught up in exotic treadmills of ”latest and best.”
There is no such thing as best, there’s only different.
Measurable results within the framework of health, safety, and time management are the key. Why spend three times the amount of training time for 1% better results if you don’t have competitive ambition? Wouldn’t a program that offered really good results and allowed you a social life and family time be well worth the investment?
The basics are usually easy to remember. If a methodology is too complex, it creates a fabric that’s easily torn by problems. If something goes wrong, it’s hard to tell what the issue is as there’s too much going on all the time.
Let’s eliminate the inessential and focus on simplicity and progression.
In a recent forum post, TNation contributor Jack Reape was discussing hypertrophy. For a guy who can squat 700 pounds for a double, it seemed odd that he would mention a body weight routine along with the usual dose of extra heavy iron. His quote:

I asked him to explain the history of this routine and why he felt it was valid. He said, “It’s my own idea, but based on a combination of ideas from Ronnie Coleman (do 25 pull-ups in as many sets as it takes to get there) and Bill Starr (25-50 reps is the optimal range of volume for bodybuilding), amongst others. I’m a big fan of bodyweight work. I think 25-50 reps is the right volume range for non-freaky natural athletes.”
When Jack Reape speaks, I listen. Pretty solid advice. Simple advice. There’s not a lot to screw up. Kind of like childproofing, except for adults.
Even with a body weight routine alone, some people, due to lack of strength, specific build, or limitations in movement, can’t do the harder callisthenic exercises. There are some preliminary drills that will build strength to get there.

Squat, Chin, and Press

Consider the basics of human movement: Squat, Pull, and Push. That gives us three categories, A, B, and C. Inside each category will be three exercises, listed from easiest to hardest. Of course, depending on body size and leverage, there’s some wiggle room here. When weight is added, work in small increments, focusing on long-term gain. A well-fitted weight vest is your best bet, but other tools are certainly acceptable.

Category A: Squat

Tall Kneeling Get Up

The tall kneeling position gives many people trouble due to stability issues.
Start on a soft, forgiving surface and kneel with your thighs close and gluteus region fully contracted. Practice without weight. The hands should be held behind the neck in a “prisoner or hostage” style. This forces good posture and transfers the stress to the lower body.
Now smoothly swing one leg forward into a lunge position. Do not swing it wide, but in a straight line. Once it’s firmly planted, come to a standing position with both feet together. Reverse the process and return to the tall kneeling position. Endeavor to keep perfect posture throughout the drill.
Now repeat with the other leg. Your repetitions for your first workout should be at least 25 per leg.

Airborne Lunge

The airborne lunge is usually a preliminary drill used to learn the pistol, but it has its own unique value. Although there are many permutations, we’ll use the standard version in this routine.
Only attempt this on a soft surface. You may want to add padding below the floating knee in case you lose your balance. A yoga block is a good choice.
Begin standing on one leg, the other leg behind you with the same-side arm reaching back and keeping it immobile by grabbing the instep. The other arm is extended forward for balance.
Slowly bend the knee of the supporting leg and lower till the knee of the immobilized leg gently kisses the ground. Immediately stand upright, maintaining good balance and form. Repeat for the appropriate amount of repetitions and then work the other leg.


Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed

The pistol is a one-legged squat done with the other leg held in front of you. There are ample tutorials online and on YouTube so an explanation here is an exercise in repetition. Most athletes fall short because of balance and flexibility issues. This exercise is also a great diagnostic check to look for mobility issues.
Here’s a hint: You may want to start with a weight held in front of you at arms’ length. The counterbalance will make stability easier but the intensity on the thigh muscles will increase.

Category B: Pull

Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed

Suspended Row

The suspended row is a good starting point in the pulling category. No special expensive apparatus required, no need to spend hundreds of dollars on nylon straps invented by entrepreneurial commandos. A heavy segment of rope with loops tied onto each end thrown over a garage rafter or tree branch is adequate.
The version in this program has the feet elevated as well. The body starts in a position that’s parallel to the ground and under tension, rather than at rest. Keep the body rigid with no sagging. Pulling with the elbows close to the sides will allow you to use the most resistance, when you’re capable of adding it, of course.


The chin-up is a palms supinated pull from an overhead bar. If you can’t do one, you’re either too weak or too fat. Try backing up to the previous drill, the suspended row, and do it until you’re stronger.
There’s nothing special here. Keep movement speed in this and all the exercises smooth and slower. It’s not an exercise in compensatory acceleration or in the Westside Barbell Dynamic Method. These drills are grinds.


The pull-up is the same as the chin-up but with a pronated grip. This essentially weakens the degree of elbow flexion. However, by pulling the chest or waist to the bar, you can increase the range of motion. Just find a standard form of this increased range of motion and stick to it so that results and progression are measurable. A concise recording process is important for improvement.

Category C: Push

Gravity Iron: No Weights Needed

Suspended Push-Up

The suspended push-up keeps you honest about stability. The same rope over the rafter can be used if exotic online training gadgets aren’t handy. The feet should be elevated so the starting position is parallel to the ground and the body isn’t relaxed, but holding a plank. Keep the arms close to the torso and the entire body rigid with tension.

One-Arm Push-Up

The one-arm push-up, like its cousin the pistol, is the subject of massive amounts of instructional material online and elsewhere. It’s an intense exercise in body tension and doubles as a hardcore abdominal drill. Getting to 50 total reps before adding weight won’t be easy but will be well worth your effort.

Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will be done against the wall, slowly, with the hands placed on push-up handles or parallettes. There are no extra points given for free standing ones – this is about fitness, not gymnastics. The increased range of motion of the parallettes will also improve time under tension.
You can gaze at the ground, which arches the back and transfers stress to the upper chest. You can also gaze across the room with a straight back and treat this as a type of inverted press behind the neck. It all depends upon your needs.

The Program

This program can be done two or three times per week depending upon your other activity, training, and rest. It’s important to take a back-off week every three to five weeks. Do 50% of the poundage at a much-reduced effort during the back-off week. If there’s one secret besides proper sleep, this is it.
This workout can be morphed by focusing on extended sets, like 25 to 50 straight repetitions with tiny increases in weight for increased endurance. Another way would be to add resistance and do a density training format of a high-set, low-rep nature.
The most common method is to address the toughest drills for your individual ability with many low repetition sets. In other words, there’s a lot of flexibility here.
There’s a problem with this routine, however. Many body weight routine zealots won’t see it, but .
They call it weight lifting for a reason. The stimulus of moving an externally fixed source of weight is highly stimulatory for the development of increased strength and size. So why not include some iron?
Don’t turn this into an either/or situation or another Internet argument. The part that’s missing – a off of the ground – is begging to be filled with the deadlift. Does it have to be a risky series of double or triples at a near-limit weight? Of course not.

Enter The Ghost

The “Green Ghost” is Eddie Kowacz, a former Marine, SWAT Operative, corrections officer, lifetime martial artist, and strength trainer. His ability to cut away the unessential is profound. The following routine, elegant in its simplicity, is his.

Green Ghost Volume Deadlift Routine

Percentages of deadlift 1RM: no less than 50%, no more than 65%

Mix n’ match sets/reps/percentages as needed.
Every third or fifth workout:
Other moves are okay as long as they don’t compromise the deadlift. Presses are good on off days. Also work abs 3-5 days per week.
A couple of notes here.
This routine requires a back-off week between 3 and 5 weeks, consistent with the three-exercise routine above. The abdominal work can be standalone and include standing crunches with a jump stretch band or hanging leg raises. The body weight drills alone will scorch your midsection.
Here’s a sample weekly template.

Take extra days as needed.
Repeat for three weeks then take a back off week.
The other possibility if you’re very active or have little time:
Day 1:Day 2:Day 3:
And so on.
Take an extra day when you need and a back off week around 3 to 5 weeks.

Simplest is Best

This program can fit into a very unorganized lifestyle. Limited time in the gym will not stop you since you only have to focus on deadlifting loads that are nowhere near your strength limit. The other three groupings can be done at home with little training gear, or on the road.
If you’re frequently out of town, you can ditch the deadlifts and do some bodyweight-only drills in your hotel room. Let the normal activity of travel, namely walking, running, swimming, and asking people who don’t speak English for directions give you a much-needed break that helps restore recovery ability.
Many roads may reach the same destination, but the simplest route is always the best. Give this routine a shot and see if you don’t notice remarkable improvements in strength, mobility, even hypertrophy, as well as dramatically improved recuperation.
Save the complex programs and endless arguments about strength training dogma for those who care more about talking and typing than doing. Remember, the bottom line is results, and this simple program will deliver them.

The World’s Most Efficient Workout

By: Greg Presto
Muscles are funny things. They respond to just about any type of training, as long as it’s hard and as long as it’s not the same damn thing you’ve always done. That’s the beauty of density training: It’s a whole lot of stuff you haven’t tried yet. And best of all, it’ll hit your major muscles in a fraction of the time. Instead of counting reps and sets, you’ll focus on the total amount of work you can accomplish in a fixed amount of time. As you progress, you’ll naturally increase your sets and reps, be able to use more weight, and perform exercises that are more challenging. Try this plan, created by David Jack, director of Teamworks Fitness in Acton, Massachusetts, to increase the intensity of your workouts. In only 4 weeks, you’ll create a lean physique that looks like the product of hours at the gym.

Click on for the entire workout, or skip ahead to your skill level:

Choose Your Workout
Perform each workout as a circuit, completing one exercise after another and resting as indicated.

Do three workouts a week, with at least 1 day off in between.

Weeks 1 and 2
Do 5 reps of each exercise, going from move to move without any rest. For weighted exercises, select a weight that you can lift 10 times. Keep repeating all four exercises until the workout time is up.

Basic: Workout 1
Perform for 10 minutes.
Basic: Workout 2
Perform for 15 minutes.

Advanced: Workout 3
Perform for 10 minutes.
Advanced: Workout 4
Perform for 15 minutes.

Expert: Workout 5
Perform for 10 minutes.
Expert: Workout 6
Perform for 15 minutes.

Week 3
Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds. That’s 1 set.

Basic: Workout 7
Perform 2 sets. Rest for 1 minute. That’s one cycle. Complete two more cycles.

Advanced: Workout 8
Perform 2 sets. Rest for 1 minute. That’s one cycle. Complete two more cycles.

Expert: Workout 9
Perform 2 sets. Rest for 1 minute. That’s one cycle. Complete two more cycles.

Week 4
Perform each exercise for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. That’s 1 set. Complete 4 sets, rest 1 to 2 minutes, then move on to the next exercise. Advance to the more difficult versions after you can complete at least 8 reps of each exercise in 20 seconds.

Basic: Workout 10
Advanced: Workout 11
Expert: Workout 12

Assume a pushup position, with your hands slightly beyond shoulder-width apart, feet together, and body in a straight line from head to ankles. Lower your chest until it’s an inch above the floor, and then push back up. That’s 1 rep.

Reverse Lunge and 1-Arm Press

Reverse lunge and 1-arm press
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells next to your shoulders. Step back with your right leg (as shown). Then press the dumbbell in your right hand straight above your shoulder. Lower it, and stand back up. Now repeat with your left side. That’s 1 rep.

Inverted Row

Inverted row
Lie underneath a secured bar. Grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, your arms and body completely straight, and heels on the floor. Pull your body up (as shown), and return to the starting position.

Prisoner Squat

Prisoner squat
Place your fingers on the back of your head, pull your elbows and shoulders back, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can (as shown). Pause, and return to the starting position.

Explosive Pushup

Explosive pushup
Perform a basic pushup. After lowering your body, push back up with enough force that your hands leave the floor.

Reverse Lunge with 1-Arm Press

Reverse lunge with 1-arm press
Perform a reverse lunge with your right leg as you simultaneously press the dumbbell in your right hand straight above your shoulder. Stand, and then lower the weight. Repeat the move with your left side. That’s 1 rep.

Elevated-Feet Inverted Row

Elevated-feet inverted row
Perform an inverted row, but first place your feet on a box or bench.
Goblet Squat

Goblet squat
Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, cupping one end of the dumbbell with both hands. Keep your elbows pointed down toward the floor, and perform a squat. Then push back up.

Isometric Explosive Pushup

Isometric explosive pushup
Perform a pushup, but hold your body in the down position for 3 seconds and then push your body back up explosively.

Isometric Reverse Lunge and Press

Isometric reverse lunge and press
Do a reverse lunge, but after you lower your body, pause for 3 seconds. Then press both dumbbells above your shoulders. Lower them and return to a standing position, and repeat with your other leg. That’s 1 rep.

Isometric Elevated-Feet Inverted Row

Isometric elevated-feet inverted row
Perform an elevated-feet inverted row. But after you pull your chest to the bar, pause for 3 seconds at the highest point. Lower your body and repeat.

Isometric Goblet Squat

Isometric goblet squat
Perform a goblet squat, but pause for 3 seconds at the lowest point of your squat. Then push back up to the starting position and repeat.


Exercise Upgrades for More Muscle

What You’re Doing Wrong


You’re leaning forward, causing your front heel to rise.

Perfect Your Form
1. “When you lunge, keep your torso upright, and focus on moving it up and down, not backward and forward,” says Rasmussen. This will keep your weight balanced evenly through your front foot, allowing you to press hard into the floor with your heel—and target more muscle.

2. “Drop your back knee straight down to the floor,” says Boyle. Consider this a second strategy to help you remember that you should drop your torso down, not push it forward, as you do the exercise.

3. “To work your core harder, narrow your starting stance,” says Gray Cook, M.S.P.T., the author of Athletic Body in Balance. The smaller the gap between your feet, the more your core has to work to stabilize your body. Your goal: Lunge so that it’s almost like you’re walking on a tightrope as you perform the exercise.

Rows and Pullups

What You’re Doing Wrong
You’re ignoring the muscles that retract your shoulder blades.

Perfect Your Form
1. “When doing bent-over and seated rows, and any pullup variation, create as much space between your ears and shoulders as you can,” says Rasmussen. Pull your shoulders down and back and hold them that way as you do the exercise. This ensures you’re working the intended middle-and upper-back muscles.

2. “As you row the weight, stick your chest out,” says Mike Boyle, M.A., A.T.C., owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, in Winchester and North Andover, Massachusetts. This allows you to better retract your shoulder blades, which will lead to better results.

3. “Imagine there’s an orange between your shoulder blades,” says Grantham. “Then try to squeeze the juice out of it with your shoulder blades as you pull the weight or your body up.”

Straight-Leg Deadlift

What You’re Doing Wrong
You’re rounding your lower back as you bend over.

Perfect Your Form
1. “To lower the weight, pretend you’re holding a tray of drinks and need to close the door behind you with your butt,” says Cosgrove. This cues you to bend over by pushing your hips back instead of rounding your lower back—a form blunder that puts you at risk for back problems.

2. “Try to ‘shave your legs’ with the bar,” says Weiss. The reason: Every degree the bar is away from your body places more strain on your back, which increases your chance of injury and limits the emphasis on your hamstrings and glutes.

3. “As you lift the bar, squeeze your glutes like two fists,” says Nick Grantham, a top strength and conditioning coach in the U.K. and the owner of Smart Fitness. You’ll ensure that you’re engaging your butt muscles. This helps you generate more power, lift more weight, and produce better results


What You’re Doing Wrong
You’re starting the movement by bending your knees.

Perfect Your Form
1. “Sit back between your legs, not on top of your knees,” says Dan John, a strength coach based in Draper, Utah. Start your squats by pushing your hips back. “Most men tend to bend their knees first, which puts more stress on their joints.”

2. “When you squat, imagine you’re standing on a paper towel,” says Charlie Weingroff, director of sports performance and physical therapy for CentraState Sports Performance, in Monroe, New Jersey. “Then try to rip the towel apart by pressing your feet hard into the floor and outward.” This activates your glutes, which helps you use heavier weights.

3. “Instead of raising your body, think about pushing the floor away from your body,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Results Fitness. “This helps you better engage the muscles in your legs.”

Bench Press

What You’re Doing Wrong
You’re thinking only about pushing the bar up from your chest.

Perfect Your Form
1. “Every time you lower the weight, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar to your chest,” says Craig Rasmussen, C.S.C.S., a fitness coach at Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. This will help you build up energy in your upper body so that you can press the bar up with more force.

2. “As you pull the weight down, lift your chest to meet the barbell,” Rasmussen says. “This will aid your efforts to create a springlike effect when you start to push the bar back up.”

3. “When you press the weight, try to bend the bar with your hands,” says Pavel Tsatsouline, a fitness expert and the author of Enter the Kettlebell! The benefit: You’ll activate more muscle fibers in your lats and move the bar in a stronger and safer path for your shoulders.


What You’re Doing Wrong
You’re letting your hips sag as you raise and lower your body.

Perfect Your Form
1. “When you’re in a pushup position, your posture should look the same as it would if you were standing up straight and tall,” says Vern Gambetta, the owner of Gambetta Sports Training Systems, in Sarasota, Florida. “So your hips shouldn’t sag or be hiked, and your upper back shouldn’t be rounded.”

2. “Before you start, contract and stiffen your core the way you would if you had to zip up a really tight jacket,” says Kaitlyn Weiss, a NASM-certified trainer based in Southern California. Hold it that way for the duration of your set. “This helps your body remain rigid—with perfect posture—as you perform the exercise.”

3. “Don’t just push your body up; push your hands through the floor,” Gambetta says. You’ll generate more power with every repetition.

By: Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S

20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout

By: Adam Campbell
You have the right to remain fat. Or skinny. Or weak. But you should know that every workout you miss can and will be used against you to make your belly bigger, your muscles smaller and weaker, and your life shorter. Unfortunately, most Americans are exercising their right not to exercise.
A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that only 19 percent of the population regularly engages in “high levels of physical activity.” (That’s defined as three intense 20-minute workouts per week.)
Another 63 percent—about the same percentage as that of Americans who are overweight—believe that exercising would make them healthier, leaner, and less stressed, but they don’t do it. At the root of this problem is motivation, or the lack thereof.
It’s the difference between wanting to exercise and actually doing it. That’s why the advice you’re about to read is priceless. We’ve filled these pages with the favorite motivational strategies of the top personal trainers in the country. Their livelihoods, in fact, depend on the effectiveness of their tips to inspire their clients to exercise—and to stick with it. After all, statistics don’t pay by the hour.
And for even more ways to shape your body, check out The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises. With complete instructions of more than 600 exercises, along with hundreds of workouts and useful tips, it’s the most comprehensive guide to fitness ever created.
Sign Up for a Distant Race
That is, one that’s at least 500 miles away. The extra incentive of paying for airfare and a hotel room will add to your motivation to follow your training plan, says Carolyn Ross-Toren, chairwoman of the Mayor’s Fitness Council in San Antonio.
Make a “Friendly” Bet
Challenge your nemesis—that idea-stealing coworker or a non-mowing neighbor—to a contest. The first guy to drop 15 pounds, run a 6-minute mile, or bench- press 250 pounds wins. The key: “Make sure it’s someone you don’t particularly like,” says Michael Mejia, C.S.C.S., Men’s Health exercise advisor. (It’s okay if your rival thinks you’re best friends.)
Tie Exercise to Your Health
Check your cholesterol. Then set a goal of lowering your LDL cholesterol by 20 points and increasing your HDL cholesterol by 5 points. “You’ll decrease your risk of heart disease while providing yourself with a very important, concrete goal,” says John Thyfault, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., an exercise researcher at East Carolina University. Ask your doctor to write a prescription for new blood work in a month. You’ll just have to go to the lab, and the doctor will call you with the results.
Switch Your Training Partners
Working out with a partner who will hold you accountable for showing up at the gym works well—for a while. But the more familiar you are with the partner, the easier it becomes to back out of workout plans. “Close friends and family members don’t always make the best training partners because they may allow you to slack off or cancel workouts,” says Jacqueline Wagner, C.S.C.S., a trainer in New York City. To keep this from happening, find a new, less forgiving workout partner every few months.
Find a sport or event that you enjoy and train to compete in it. “It adds a greater meaning to each workout,” says Alex Koch, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., an exercise researcher (and competitive weight lifter) at Truman State University. Consider training for the World Master’s games, an Olympics-like competition for regular guys. Events include basketball, rowing, golf, triathlon, and weight lifting.
Think About Fat
Your body is storing and burning fat simultaneously, but it’s always doing one faster than the other. “Understanding that you’re getting either fatter or leaner at any one time will keep you body-conscious so you won’t overeat or underexercise,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness Training in Santa Clarita, California.
Do a Daily Gut Check
Place your fingers on your belly and inhale deeply so that it expands. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and push your fingertips against your hard abdominal wall. Now pinch. “You’re holding pure fat between your fingers,” says Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., author of Athletic Abs. Do this every day, 30 minutes before your workout, and you’ll find that you’ll rarely decide to skip it.
Join a Fitness Message Board
It’ll be full of inspiration from men who have accomplished their goals and are working toward new ones. Our particular favorite: the 52-Day Challenge. Created by a Men’s Health Belly Off! Club forum member with the username Determined, it’s designed to foster encouragement, discipline, and accountability. “Each participant posts and tracks his goals for a 52-day period so that everyone is accountable to the other members,” says Determined. To sign up, click here.
Strike an Agreement with Your Family
The rule: You get 1 hour to yourself every day, provided that you use it for exercise (and reciprocate the favor). So there’s no pressure to do household chores, play marathon games of Monopoly, or be a doting husband (a fat, doting husband). “Since it’s for your health, it’s a contract they can’t refuse. And that will allow you to exercise guilt-free while acting as a role model for your children,” says Darren Steeves, C.S.C.S., a trainer in Canada.
Burn a Workout CD
Studies have shown that men who pedal stationary cycles while listening to their favorite music will do so longer and more intensely than men who exercise without music. So burn a disc with your favorite adrenaline-boosting songs (maybe something by Limp Bizkit or—if you’re over 40—Hot Tuna).
Plan Your Workouts in Advance
At the start of each month, schedule all of your workouts at once, and cross them off as they’re completed. For an average month, you might try for a total of 16 workouts. If any are left undone at the end of the month, tack them on to the following month. And make sure you have a contingency plan for bad weather and unscheduled meetings. “You’re about 40 percent more likely to work out if you have strategies to help you overcome these obstacles,” says Rod Dishman, Ph.D., an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia.
Squat First
If you have trouble finishing your weight workout, start with the exercises you dread. “You’ll look forward to your favorite exercises at the end of your workout, which will encourage you to complete the entire session,” says John Williams, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Spectrum Conditioning in Port Washington, New York.
Have a Body-Composition Test
Do this every 2 months for a clear end date for the simple goal of losing body fat or gaining muscle. “Tangible results are the best motivator,” says Tim Kuebler, C.S.C.S., a trainer in Kansas City, Missouri. Your gym probably offers the service for a small fee—just make sure the same trainer performs the test each time.
Don’t Do What You Hate
“Whenever you start to dread your workout, do what appeals to you instead,” says John Raglin, Ph.D., an exercise psychologist at Indiana University. If you loathe going to a gym, try working out at home. (Check the Men’s Health Home Workout Bible for ideas.) If you despise the treadmill, then jump rope, lift weights, or find a basketball court. Bottom line: If you’re sick of your routine, find a new one.
Go Through the Motions
On days when you don’t feel like working out, make the only requirement of your exercise session a single set of your favorite exercise. “It’s likely that once you’ve started, you’ll finish,” says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S. If you still don’t feel like being in the gym, go home. This way, you never actually stop exercising; you just have some gaps in your training log.
Start a Streak
There’s nothing like a winning streak to attract fans to the ballpark. Do the same for your workout by trying to set a new record for consecutive workouts without a miss. “Every time your streak ends, strive to set a longer mark in your next attempt,” says Williams.
Make Your Goals Attractive
“To stay motivated, frame your goals so that they drive you to achieve them,” says Charles Staley, owner of For example, if you’re a 200-pound guy, decide whether you’d rather bench “over 200 pounds,” “the bar with two 45-pound plates on each side,” or “your body weight.” They’re all different ways of saying the same thing, but one is probably more motivating to you than the others.
See Your Body Through Her Eyes
Ask your wife to make like Howard Stern and identify your most displeasing physical characteristic. “It’s instant motivation,” says Mejia. If she’s hesitant, make a list for her—abs, love handles, upper arms, and so on—and have her rank them from best to worst. Make the most-hated body part your workout focus for 4 weeks, then repeat the quiz for more motivation.
Buy a Year’s Worth of Protein
“If a guy believes that a supplement will help him achieve better results, he’ll be more inclined to keep up his workouts in order to reap the full benefits and avoid wasting his money,” says Kuebler. Stick with the stuff that really does help: protein and creatine, from major brands like MuscleTech, EAS, and Biotest.
Blackmail Yourself
Take a picture of yourself shirtless, holding a sign that shows your e-mail address. Then e-mail it to a trusted but sadistic friend, with the following instructions: “If I don’t send you a new picture that shows serious improvement in 12 weeks, post this photo at and send the link to the addresses listed below . . . ” (Include as many e-mail addresses—especially of female acquaintances—as possible.) “It’s nasty, but extremely effective,” says Alwyn Cosgrove.


Total-Body Training The 3-day-per-week, full-body workout plan by Chad Waterbury

Harbinger Hypertrophy

Let’s cut the bullshit and get to the brass tacks. For decades, men built slabs of muscle with simple, three day-per-week training programs. They trained their whole bodies in one brief workout session and they grew big and strong. Scoff all you want, but tens of thousands of trainees can’t be wrong.

Well, it’s high time we look into the past, learn from what we see, and build a new future.

We must learn from the successes and just as importantly, the failures. Yes, although this classic hypertrophy plan worked well, it wasn’t perfect. And today we know what we can do to fix the drawbacks.

Let’s break it down right now. The majority of non-steroid injecting trainees who’ve built respectable physiques have done so with the following, undisputable parameters:

I’ve worked with trainees at every imaginable level of the fitness spectrum, and the aforementioned elements are ubiquitous in their most successful hypertrophy programs. So I often wonder why they ever strayed. Why stop doing what’s working?

Usually their reasoning is based along the following statement that I recently heard from a veteran of the iron game: “Hell,” he said, “I don’t know why I ever stopped doing it. I just assumed there was a better way.” Well buddy, I’m here to tell ya, there ain’t no better way!

I’ve written numerous training programs for T-Nation, and they all work. But, oftentimes, trainees don’t seek what I seek. They want to look good nekkid, period. Not only that, but they don’t give a rat’s ass what strength qualities they’re training. All they care about is the most efficient and effective route to the physique they’ve only seen in pictures.

It’s time for a change. I want each and every one of you to see that physique in the mirror, not just in magazines. But as I said, we must also learn from the failures of past programs. Burnout and training injuries were often a “given” in old-school, total-body programs. The reason for this indiscretion is simple: poor planning.

Therefore, this article is based on the successes of the past along with my own successes as a trainer. I’ve learned to properly plan my clients’ programs so results are steadfast and continuous.

Every single time I hit the gym, I perform a total-body workout with most of the following guidelines. I doubt that will ever change. In fact, that’s how I added almost 100 pounds of muscle to my frame. I don’t know why I ever wandered, so I’m here to keep you from running astray.

The Obstacles

The single biggest mistake trainees have made in their quest for the ultimate physique is in periodization parameters. Simply speaking, they keep executing the same damn parameters in hopes of the body not “catching on” to what they’re doing. Big mistake, my friends. Our bodies are designed for one sole purpose: adaptation. If you forget that, then you can forget about ever creating the physique of a Greek God.

Bill Starr came damn close to pulling off one of the best training programs with his classic text, The Strongest Shall Survive. His initial parameters were excellent. Unfortunately, his program wasn’t willing to adapt, so progress on his “Big Three” program came to a screeching halt for most trainees. You can’t endlessly perform the same exercises with the same parameters and keep experiencing results!

A New Generation is Born

Now the dichotomy arises. We must incorporate the variables that withstood the test of time along with a new plan for continued progress. It’s time to take the past, present and future and blend it into a new hybrid plan!

The How

Exercises per Session: 6

Sets per Muscle Group: 2-4

Reps per Exercise: 5-18

Rest between sets for the same muscle group: 60-120 seconds, and 120-240 seconds (antagonist training)

The Why

The first thing you probably notice with the above parameters is variance. This is the key to your consistent hypertrophy success. A lack of variance is the single biggest reason why trainees aren’t still talking about the continuous progress they received from some of the most popular hypertrophy programs. Without consistent change, results will be anything but consistent.

Exercise Selection

Every session is going to consist of six exercises. Why? Because my empirical evidence has shown that natural trainees can consistently maintain six exercises per session without burning out.

It’s imperative to base your exercise selection around compound, multi-joint exercises. Four out of the six exercises for each session must be compound exercises. Six sissy-assed, single-joint isolation exercises ain’t gonna do the trick. But, you can perform a few of my recommended single-joint exercises for two of the six exercises. Here’s the list you must choose from:

Compound Exercises

Chest: Incline, flat, decline barbell or dumbbell bench presses. Wide-grip dips.

Back: Upright or horizontal rows. Pull-ups or pulldowns with pronated, semi-supinated, and supinated grips.

Deltoids: Standing or seated military presses with a barbell or dumbbells utilizing pronated, semi-supinated or supinated hand positions.

Quads: High-bar full barbell squats, hack squats or front squats.

Lower Back/Hips: Traditional and/or sumo-style deadlifts or Good Mornings. Power cleans or snatches.

Single-Joint Exercises

Biceps: Barbell curls, hammer curls or preacher curls.

Triceps: Lying barbell or dumbbell triceps extensions, and pronated or supinated grip pressdowns.

Deltoids: Front, side or rear dumbbell raises.

Hamstrings: Glute-ham raises or leg curls.

Calves: Standing, seated or donkey calf raises.

Stick to the above list of exercises for optimal results.

The Total-Body Plan

First and foremost, proper periodization planning is imperative. Without sufficient set/rep/load/rest parameters, even the best exercises won’t produce results. Therefore, I’ve devised the following periodization plan for unsurpassable hypertrophy increases:

Week 1

Workout 1

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Load: Choose a weight that forces you to near-failure for the last rep of the last set.*

*This is the recommended load for all workouts.

Workout 2

Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Rest: 90 seconds between sets

Workout 3

Sets: 2

Reps: 15

Rest: 120 seconds between sets

Week 2

Perform with the same parameters as Week 1, but execute antagonist training for all six exercises (more on this later).

Week 3

Workout 1

Sets: 4

Reps: 5

Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Workout 2

Sets: 4

Reps: 8

Rest: 90 seconds between sets

Workout 3

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest: 120 seconds between sets

Week 4

Perform the same parameters as Week 3, but execute antagonist training for all six exercises.

Week 5

Workout 1

Sets: 2

Reps: 18

Rest: 120 seconds between sets

Workout 2

Sets: 2

Reps: 8

Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Workout 3

Sets: 2

Reps: 12

Rest: 90 seconds between sets

Week 6

Perform the same parameters as Week 5, but execute antagonist training for all six exercises.

Week 7

Workout 1

Sets: 3

Reps: 18

Rest: 120 seconds between sets

Workout 2

Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Workout 3

Sets: 3

Reps: 12

Rest: 90 seconds between sets

Week 8

Perform the same parameters as Week 7, but execute antagonist training for all six exercises.


The future of training is here. Take charge and use these guidelines for lifelong hypertrophy gains!

About the Author

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