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Start here: four weeks to get fit

How long has it been since you did some exercise? A few weeks, months, more? As with any change in life, the first step is the hardest, but it really doesn’t take much to get you back in action. I know how it feels to be off the wagon: there was a point in my career when I felt the same. I was an Olympic Team GB heptathlete, used to training six days a week. When I retired in 2012, I could rest for the first time in 18 years. Six months went by and I realised I had to get moving again. It was time to get back in the gym. At one point, it was the last place I wanted to be, but after just a few easy sessions, I got the bug again. Now I’m a personal trainer and have clients from all over the world.

I have developed a four-week programme that will prise you gently off the sofa and get you feeling fit for the first time in ages – starting with just 10 minutes a day. You might think you don’t have the time for exercise, but most people can find 10 minutes in their day. After all, what could be more important than getting more energy?

Video: Louise Hazel’s workout in 30 seconds

A goal really helps you focus, so start by thinking about what fit and healthy means to you. Is it about being able to climb the stairs at work without getting out of puff? Or going for a long walk without your legs wobbling? By finding a personal “finish line” – one that is about you, rather than other people’s standards – you will give yourself the motivation you need to keep going. And simply by turning your attention to exercise for the next month, you will become fitter and healthier – it’s as simple as that.

This training plan is designed to help you fall back in love with exercise, easing you into a manageable and sustainable routine. It combines bodyweight exercises (promoting increased strength and fat loss, and improving general conditioning) with progressive cardio workouts that are designed to improve general fitness. The most straightforward exercise in the programme is jogging, but you might prefer swimming, cycling or using a cross-trainer. I have suggested the length of each workout, but if you start and find things too easy, do increase them. For example, you may find that a 10-minute jog is a challenge, but a 10-minute swim is not.

The plan includes four workouts a week, with two rest days. You can swap the rest days if you need to, but make sure you do have two days without exercise: they are there to maximise the results of your training. If you are unsure about whether to start physical activity, please ask your GP for advice first. And if you feel unwell, dizzy or in pain when performing these exercises, stop immediately.

The four-week plan

Let us know how you get on, using #guardianworkout on Twitter and Instagram.

Bicycle crunch 1. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Guardian

Week 1

10-minute workouts

Monday Complete the Gym 1 routine, doing each exercise for 30 seconds at a time.
Tuesday Do 10 minutes of continuous cardio exercise at 50% intensity (ie, half as hard as you could). This could be jogging, swimming, cycling or cross-training. Slowly ease yourself into the session. Then complete the core workout.
Wednesday Rest day.
Thursday Complete the Gym 2 routine, doing each exercise for 30 seconds at a time.
Friday Choose your cardio exercise and do 30 seconds almost as hard as you can (90% intensity), followed by a minute standing still to recover. Repeat this eight times. Then complete the core workout.
Saturday Follow my stretch routine or do a yoga or Pilates class.
Sunday Rest day.

Modified press-up 1. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Guardian

Week 2

20-minute workouts

Monday Complete the Gym 1 routine, doing each exercise for 30 seconds at a time. Repeat once more.
Tuesday Do 20 minutes of continuous cardio exercise at 50% intensity (ie, half as hard as you could). This could be jogging, swimming, cycling or cross-training. Slowly ease yourself into the session. Then complete the core workout.
Wednesday Rest day.
Thursday Complete the Gym 2 routine, doing each exercise for 30 seconds at a time. Repeat once more.
Friday Choose your cardio exercise and do 30 seconds almost as hard as you can (90%), followed by a minute standing still to recover. Repeat this 10 times. Then complete the core workout.
Saturday Follow my stretch routine or do a yoga or Pilates class.
Sunday Rest day.

Side plank. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Guardian

5 Simple Tips for Fitness Success

Congratulations on taking a forward step to get in shape and feel great. Many people are guilty of wishing they could get a sculpted body from eating junk food and watching TV all day. But that is just not going to happen. Even though getting in shape sounds like a long, time-wasting process, the effort put towards being in shape has many positive effects. If you want to start your journey to having a better body to feel great, here are some tips:

1. Exercise Daily

Exercise daily for at least an hour. You do not have to kill yourself from running, jogging, etc., but you should have some sort of moderate physical activity in your everyday life. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds fast, do a higher-level intensity workout. For example, go on a walk at a brisk pace for an hour. Or, you can jog and set certain intervals to sprint during that hour. Make sure you’re not in severe pain during your workout. Just a warning, your muscles will ache after a high intensity workout. It may be irritating, but that means your body is changing for the better. Be sure to stay hydrated, stretch, and eat foods with a decent amount of protein after each workout. The protein will help keep your muscles, not fat, rebuilding.

2. Eat the Right Foods and Portion Each Meal

No matter how bad your stomach is telling you to go for candy over healthy food, try to stay away from sweets. Sugar from candy will not help you get in shape. Even if it’s just a single candy bar, one will eventually lead to another. Fruits and vegetables are the best thing to eat when getting into shape. Apples, for example, do a good job at making the stomach feel full for up to 3 to 4 hours. Green vegetables such as green beans and broccoli keep the digestive system clean and running.

Also, stick to lean meats like turkey and chicken. Seafood, such as, shrimp, and tilapia are also great alternatives. These foods are full of protein and healthy nutrients to help keep muscles fit and ready for workouts. In addition, be sure to portion what you eat. Having a good metabolism comes from portioning meals. Try to plan out eating six times a day and setting smaller portions, rather than having three large meals throughout the day. This will also help you find yourself breathing smoother when working out rather than huffing and puffing for air. This is because you will have less food in your digestive system, which means more energy is used toward your exercise.

3. Keep Track of Calories and Food Intake Per Day

Keeping track of how many calories you eat in a day will be helpful in planning out your physical exercising. Ever wonder why body builders’ body masses are so big? That’s because they plan out their meals and take in more (healthy) calories than the average person. On the other hand, losing weight and striving for a skinnier physique will involve more physical exercise than calories you ingest.

4. Be Sure to Get Sleep

Even though most of us have eight-hour jobs during the day or night, it is crucial to get enough sleep to recharge the body’s batteries. Six to eight hours of sleep will keep the body going throughout the day, but if you happen to feel tired at any point after coming home from work, by all means take a small nap before exercising. You should only nap for about a half hour. This will prevent you from staying up later in the night.

5. Stay Motivated

An important key to being in shape is to set goals and keep a positive mindset. If you stay positive, you will be able to push yourself to get that fit body you’ve always wanted.

Erie Cross Training Examiner Kyle Melerski, a music technology student at Capital University, is on the rise by using his creative writing skills to inform and entertain people.

Examiner.com is the inside source for everything local. Powered by Examiners, the largest pool of knowledgeable and passionate contributors in the world, we provide unique and original content to enhance life in your local city wherever that may be.

(Picture: Metro/Myles Goode)

Bikinifit pass, PIIT28, 30 Day Shred…

There are numerous exercise plans that claim you can get healthy and fit in just four weeks, but is it actually possible?

Never one to back down from what seemed like a pretty easy challenge, we took five intrepid Metro.co.uk reporters, of differing heights and weights and fitness levels, and decided to set them one easy task.

Complete an exercise regime for four straight weeks without changing your diet and see if there are worthwhile results…

Rebecca Lewis

Seen On Screen Fitness, bikinifit pass

Rebecca LewisnMetro Staff weightloss trialn

Weight lost: n/a

Inches lost: 4

I’ll be honest – four weeks, 12 classes, and the promise that you can drop a dress size whilst dancing to Beyonce, Rihanna and Drake?

It sounded too good to be true. And okay, it kind of was.

I didn’t drop a dress size and I didn’t lose any weight but I did lose one inch from my waist, my hips, and each leg, and that’s pretty damn impressive, you’ve got to admit.

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On a personal note, regular exercise has always helped to keep my mood stable and my spirits high, and by the end of the challenge I found myself questioning why I ever stopped regularly tying up my trainers and doing something, anything, to get my feet moving.

Over the course of the four weeks I didn’t consciously change my diet but I ended up cutting out sugary cereal for breakfast, continued to make soup for lunch – and only occasionally ignoring it in the fridge for a Pret sandwich – and noticed that my desire for sugar decreased.

And I don’t know about you but regular exercise makes my brains feel good which instantly makes me want to eat fresh veg and fruit.

It’s a win win.

The hardest thing about the challenge was fitting three 60 – 90 minutes classes into my week. Every week.

With a crazy shift pattern and a job that requires you to attend work events outside of work hours, it was sometimes tough to prioritise exercise over my career.

And that first week of classes were hard work; I may enjoy throwing a shape or two on the dancefloor but that’s very different to suddenly trying to remember an entire minute’s worth of a routine.

What helped more than anything though were Seen On Screen Fitness’s dance teachers – all former or current professional dancers – who will break each step down to a half count and repeat that one move over and over again until you finally figure out that you need to switch your weight from one hip to the other.

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There’s also nothing like being cheered on by the other girls – and sometimes guys – in the class, who sit and watch and whoop loudly when the beat drops, providing a safe space where I could dance for me, and just me.

And by the end of my four weeks, it felt like I could have been on that stage with Beyonce whipping my hair and squatting like a pro.

Bey, give me a call.

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Jen Mills

Virgin Active personal trainer and gym sessions

(Picture: Metro)

Weight lost: 5lb

Body fat percentage: 23.5% to 21.5%

If you asked me at the beginning of this exercise, doubled over a 60kg tyre and trying not to vomit on the floor, if I was every going to feel energised and healthy, I might not have been too enthusiastic. (In fact, at that point I couldn’t speak.)

But by the end, seeing the results and feeling so much better? The sweat and the soreness and not being able to walk downstairs after a workout was totally worth it.

Here’s what my schedule looked like: Two PT sessions every week, along with another two sessions on my own in a more leisurely fashion (swimming and classes came as part of the gym membership).

Having someone as your cheerleader makes you work about ten times as hard, and not in a bootcamp ‘Pick it up, slob!’ way.

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Instead, it’s much more encouraging, having someone tell you you’re better than you think, so why not try this extra 5kg?

It’s also reassuring to have feedback on your technique, particularly when lifting weights.

My trainer Harry Dixon was great and I told him (foolishly?) I wanted to push myself hard – so only had myself to blame for the day I woke up barely able to crawl from the sofa to the kitchen table.

By the way, here are his transformation credentials…

…You know, just FYI.

As well as exercising, I did change my diet by trying to generally eat less junk.

Exercising so hard, I found I just wasn’t as inclined to stuff my face with Daim Bar and undo the work I put in. And in terms of making a lifestyle change, I found it helpful to book a series of appointments that I knew I had to get to, rather than make a vague plan to hit the gym after work which could easily get sidetracked.

Now my challenge is over I’m back in the real world of YouTube yoga and free jogs in the park, but there’s no question that if you have the money, it’s worth it.

A sample exercise…

This was possibly the hardest exercise we did.

Set up the rowing machine on the highest level, then row 250 metres as quickly as you can (we aimed for less than 60 seconds).

As soon as you finish, get up and do 15 jump squats.

Take 45 seconds to rest, then repeat but swap the jump squats for a 30 second plank this time.

Then do the whole thing again so by the end you have rowed 1km.

(By the way, don’t do this if you have medical conditions. Just don’t.)

Nicole Morley

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Move Your Frame

(Picture: Metro)

Weight loss: N/A

Inches lost: N/A

So, I am going to level with you. I hate exercise. I find running painful, the gym tedious, sitting down is bae and pizza is my side piece.

But I thought it’s only a month, right? How hard can a month possibly be, plus maybe if I have to take photographs and document my activity levels for other actual humans to see then I’d be motivated (shamed) into moving.

I aimed for one class a day, with a few exceptions. So between 30-60 minutes of exercise a day – who couldn’t do that?!

What sort of pathetic mess couldn’t stick to a half hour of exercise every day for four weeks?

Well. Me.

Like I mentioned, I really don’t enjoy exercise so I opted for classes that were fun, set to music (Frame do a Beyonce Barre class and 80s Aerobics, so there’s some real bangers) or sessions like yoga when I was feeling the burn and just wanted to take it slow.

The timetable and range of classes meant I was always able to find something that would fit in with my schedule (I work varied shifts on a rota, but it would definitely also suit somebody with standard office hours) and something for my fitness level (a pie).

And for two and a half weeks I felt like Jane Fonda in the 1970s – I was all up in the aerobics, boxercise, ass & abs classes.

I honestly loved the studios, all of the instructors were lovely and I enjoyed every class I did, but I approached the entire thing as temporary, rather than adopting new healthy habits as I went along, and so when my evil booze-buying friends appeared like tempting sirens, I was out of that gym quicker than you can say – well, anything.

And the 4lbs in weight, the ever-so-slight jiggle I’d lost, and my new smug fit life were consigned to the history books.

A friendly word of warning: you won’t be able to start on intermediate level reformer pilates if you’ve never tried it out before. Trust me.

Tanveer Mann

PIIT28

(Picture: Metro)

Weight lost: 5lbs

Inches lost: 5

I’m one of those people that has tried every diet under the sun: Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slimming World, and yes it works. For a short period. Then I pile it all back on again.

So when I heard about PIIT28, I thought it would just be another one of those fads.

Four weeks later, after working out almost every day without much change to my diet, I’m 6 pounds lighter and feel great!

Now for those of you who don’t know, PIIT28 is a home workout plan which requires you to do six workouts a week with one day rest. It basically stands for Pilates. Intense. Interval. Training.

You’re given a booklet with specific workouts for different days of the week but if, like me, you need visuals, you might find the handy videos more useful.

I used these plus the timer on the Blogilates App to monitor my workouts.

The workouts were simple and definitely got my heart rate going almost immediately. And the best thing was, you’re dripping with sweat afterwards so you know exactly how hard you’ve worked!

The only challenging thing about PIIT28 was the level of self-motivation needed. Most days I had to force myself to put on my gear and workout either before or after work (even if it was the last thing I wanted to do after eating pizza!).

Even though Cassey, who runs the workouts, is super bubbly and encouraging, it was tough to get myself motivated enough to complete the full four workouts.

In the first week, I only managed to complete half the workout, and almost lost hope but decided to stick at it and not give up.

I started picking the healthy options for lunch and finally begun seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

A nice touch to the workout, which makes it different from others, is that it offers you the chance to do the #PIITstagram Challenge alongside your exercise as well.

For Instagram lovers it’s great because you’re basically required to post something different everyday related to your weight loss journey with the aim of it making you more confident and happy within yourself. So you’re losing weight and building up confidence at the same time.

You also have access to the 28 Day Reset, which is a great nutritional guide and cookbook that complements your workouts.

I’ve already downloaded mine for month 2 – will you take on the challenge too?

Phil Haigh

Move Your Frame

(Picture: Metro)

Weight lost: n/a

Inches lost: n/a

Like most men, I have never really seen the gym as a place to take part in classes, especially ones that involve aerobics or that are titled Ass & Abs.

However, having embraced this new way of exercising, it is definitely something that more blokes should get involved in.

There is a certain amount of awkwardness involved in being the only man in a class full of women. Not that I thought I was being ogled by any means; if anyone was watching my sweaty, pathetic attempts at ‘Box Fit’ then it would have been out of amusement more than anything else.

It was more the thought that the 20-odd women in the class were wondering why you were there and questioning your motives.

They probably weren’t, but it was a lingering worry as I focused entirely on the instructor and my rapidly reddening reflection in the mirror.

The first class was a real struggle.

I was not very fit and, whilst I could get through a game of football, aerobics class was a whole new world of jumping about, stretching and squatting – easily the most difficult bit.

Long story short, I had to leave half way through because I was going to pass out.

After a lie down in the changing room and a long, hard look at myself in the mirror, I returned for a second go a couple of days later. This was better, I remained fully conscious and made it through the 45-minute class.

Within a couple of weeks I was sailing through the classes. They were hard work, I was incomprehensibly sweaty, but I was getting through them, so clearly improvements were being made.

However, what I did learn was that in just 28 days, you can’t really improve your physique unless you commit outside of the gym.

Clearly I was getting fitter, but 20-plus pints of real ale per week really will hamper your progress in shedding pounds. In fact, it will completely negate the exercise, it seems.

The classes, though, were a lot of fun. I find running pretty dull and the gym an unpleasant place, so this was a much more interesting way of getting some exercise in. I worked a lot of muscles that I never troubled before and felt better for it.

But if you want to lose the weight, the beer and pizza has to go, unfortunately.

MORE: 5 simple UFC workout exercises you can do at home with The Ultimate Fighter star Lanchana Green

MORE: 13 reasons why morning exercise is the best thing ever

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The Fix

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So we’re now entering the 12th week of 2007. If you started TT on New Year’s Day and stuck to consistent eating and exercising, you will have made some incredible changes.

If you joined us a little later, no worries. You can still make impressive changes in the 10+ weeks we have till the first long weekend of the summer.

Get serious for the next 10 weeks. What’s 10 weeks over the course of a lifetime? Not much. Get committed, say “no” to foods you don’t need, drinks you shouldn’t have, and lose the fat you’ve always wanted.

In the next 10 weeks, not only can you change your body, but you can also pick up life-long healthy habits.

Let’s get started with this week’s 7-day guideline to maximum fat loss.

Monday
Do your TT Workout. Not sure which one to use? If you are advanced, most people simply love the TT2K3 and TT2K4 programs. If you are really advanced, you can even train 4 days per week with those programs.

Get them in the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss manual

Tuesday
30 minutes activity. Compare how far you have come against your fitness levels from the beginning of the year. And if you haven’t already, start a training log to track your progress.

Wednesday
Do another TT workout. Follow up with the trainer you consulted at the start of the year. If you didn’t use a trainer then, consider scheduling a visit to have your exercise form checked out, and then add the trainer to your social support group – another expert to be accountable to will help you improve your consistency and commitment.

Thursday
30 minutes activity. Review your new healthy habits – highlighting what has helped over the 12 weeks. Keep up those healthy habits, but at the same time identify the remaining obstacles to your success, and then figure out two ways you can overcome each obstacle.

Friday
TT Workout. The last workout in the first 12-weeks of TT 2007! Congrats. Treat yourself to something nice – perhaps something new to wear to show off your new and improved physique.

Saturday
30 minutes of activity. Meet up with your social support group and thank them all for their help. Grab a good fitness magazine, such as Men’s Health or Women’s Health. Also, keep an eye out for the June ’07 issue of Shape magazine. I was interviewed for it and talk about TT.

Sunday
30 minutes of activity. Hopefully by now you have the “plan, shop, and prepare” routine down by now. Get a nice piece of salmon, some asparagus, and sweet potatoes and treat yourself to an amazing healthy, rewarding dinner.

It’s a lifestyle now,

CB

PS. Can you use kettlebells for fat loss?

I asked kettlebell expert David Whitley…

CB: How do you use Kettlebells and bodyweight training in your bootcamps?
I get people of differing fitness levels all showing up in the same class, so it is important for me to be able to do a workout that works for everyone.

DW:

There are lots of ways to do that. The most obvious is using kettlebells of different weights, but even that presents problems, so what I do is we go for time instead of reps.

For example, I might name an exercise and have them do as many as they can in 1:00. That way if I have a very fit person and a new person in the same group doing the same exercise, the veteran might do 40 reps of an exercise and the newbie might do 8, but they are each working as hard as they can on that exercise.

“Craig, I have contacted many professional trainers over the years and your quick response time and feeback is unparalleled in comparison. At TTmembers.com you can expect the same type of treatment. The programs you design are the most superior fat loss workouts out there! What I like, however, is how easily adaptable the workouts are to any personal goal. I also wanted to say a little something about the video resources at TTmembers.com. The youtube videos are great quality. Its also refreshing to know that the guy writing your program can also perform all the exercises he recommends, which is not always the case. The fact that TTmembers.com offers every workout you have every published, video resources, interviews with the industry’s finest coaches, and a discussion forum for one price is amazing! Simply the best resource out there for anyone who wants to look great, feel great, and perform great. Awesome job!”
Brian Yureskes, Salt Lake City, UT

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  • There are times when we all think we’d do anything to lose weight, and then gobble up another slice of pizza and forget all about it.

    If you’re feeling desperate, spare some time to give this article on extreme diets a read, and see whether you’re feeling a little more positive about holding onto your love handles afterwards. Some people really take dieting that step too far!

    From the chemical diet to eating nothing but raw foods, we round up some of the craziest, most extreme diets out there. And no, we don’t suggest you try them!

    Extreme diets: The Chemical Diet

    The chemical diet consists of forcing yourself to only eat lean, unfried meat, water, eggs and vegetables, with no fat and just a tiny bit of bread or fruit – hardly a laugh a minute! Apparently the combination of foods is supposed to interact chemically to burn fat. We’ll admit that this diet may be a quick fix for that upcoming wedding or holiday but an extreme diet plan like the chemical diet is not nutritionally balanced and does not contain enough calories for a healthy lifestyle.
    Extreme factor: 5/10

    Image: Orbera

    Extreme diets: Stomach balloon

    This one sounds very uncomfortable… Presented as an alternative to surgery, for those struggling to lose weight you can now have a tiny balloon inserted into your stomach to help with portion control.

    The balloon only takes 30 minutes to be inserted in the person’s stomach, and it’s inflated with saline once it’s in place.

    The device, called Orbera, was designed for people considered morbidly obese, with a body mass index of 30 to 40, who have failed to lose weight with other diets and exercise. It lasts for six months so manufacturers promise rapid weight loss. But we’re not sure how a balloon in our tummy sounds…
    Extreme factor: 9/10

    Extreme diets: Freeze-Dried Poop Pills

    Yes, unfortunately you read that right… freeze-dried poop pills are being tested to treat obesity, and it’s got us worrying that this will become a new weight loss trend in the near future.

    Apparently they’re trialling it in Massachusetts to see if feces from lean and healthy people can have an impact on insulin sensitivity and body weight, with 21 obese participants taking the tablets for six weeks.

    And although the leader of the study told People magazine that the capsules are ‘odorless, tasteless, double-encapsulated’, and that the screening process for donors is more rigorous than for blood donation, it’s still someone else’s poop! We wouldn’t even do it if it was our own…

    Thanks, but no thanks.
    Extreme factor: 10/10

    Extreme diets: Maple Syrup Diet

    Here’s a diet that Cheryl’s said to have used when she was worried about putting on weight. The diet became famous when Beyoncé used it to shed 20 pounds for her role in Dreamgirls.

    It’s also been tested on Channel Four’s programme, How To Lose Weight Well which got us thinking about how an earth we’d survive on maple syrup…

    It’s pretty simple; mix Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup with water, lemon juice and cayenne pepper, then drink the concoction instead of eating meals. This is a very radical way to lose weight and the list of side effects is long, from diarrhoea to headaches, nausea and mental irritability – we think we’ll give this one a miss!
    Extreme factor: 8/10

    Extreme diets: The Raw Food Diet

    On the raw food diet you can eat anything that is unprocessed and uncooked, so knock yourself out with your choice of organic fruit and veg, nuts, seeds, beans, seaweed and purified water. The creators of this diet are very strict about one thing, that only 75% of food must be heated over 116°C. Fancy living on a diet of only raw vegetables? No, neither do we!
    Extreme factor: 7/10

    Extreme diets: The Bulletproof Coffee Diet

    Yes, this is exactly what you think it is. A nice fatty blob of butter in your coffee alongside a glug of oil. Really! The latest diet fad involves taking a tablespoon of butter and stirring in two dollops along with a dash of oil (medium-chain triglyceride, to be precise) which makes a cup of Bulletproof Coffee. Despite the fact that this unappealing brew contains a massive 500 calories, its creator Dave Asprey, once 21 stone and now ‘slimline’ swears by the formula. But we’re not convinced, and neither is Dr Sally Norton, an NHS surgeon and leading UK weight-loss consultant who spoke to the Telegraph. ‘There is no science that would back this up as a weight-loss tool’.
    Extreme factor: 7/10

    Extreme diets: The Diet Choker

    Ok so it’s not quite as terrifying as we’d first thought (no, it doesn’t actually choke you if you eat too much!). This contraption sits around your neck and by monitoring vibrations in your throat with a clever sensor, it can send an alert to you phone which buzzes if you go over your daily, or even the wrong kind of food. The WearSens, a metal ring developed by engineers in LA, has been tested on 30 people so far who all say it does work.

    While it’s undoubtedly smart, we’re not sure it looks at all comfortable, plus our other half and kids might be alarmed if we started walking around with this around our neck!
    Extreme factor: 9/10

    Extreme diets: The Clay Diet

    Known as the clay cleanse, this has gathered a few celebrity followers lately including Divergent star, Shailene Woodley. The idea behind it is that clay has binding properties that cleanse your digestive system by sticking all the bad stuff together and removing it when you go to the loo, absorbing toxins, and also expanding in the stomach to make you feel full. People take the clay either in tablet form or mixing powdered clay in a drink. We don’t know about you, but swallowing clay just doesn’t sound all that appetising to us. Not to mention the fact that it’s also the key ingredient in cat litter, and some clay products have been found to contain arsenic, which can be poisonous to humans and is used in pesticides.
    Extreme factor: 9/10

    Extreme diets: The Strawberry Diet

    There are two versions of this diet: one is where you supplement healthy, daily meals with strawberries, for their natural health benefits (they contain high levels of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium), but the more extreme version of the diet is the strawberry fast, in which the person lives on nothing but strawberries to lose weight quickly. While strawberries are very healthy, eating them alone means that you miss out on other vital ingredients you get from a balanced diet. Strawberries are also very high in sugar, just 100g of strawberries contains about 7g of sugar – that’s almost two teaspoons. And after Kim Kardashian was reported to be trying the strawberries-only diet, we’re sure there’ll be a few people ready to follow in her slimming footsteps…
    Extreme factor: 8/10

    Extreme diets: The Egg Diet

    Can you guess what this diet involves? That’s right, eggs and lots of them. Nigella Lawson’s ex-husband, Charles Saatchi, reportedly lost four stone in 10 months by eating nothing but eggs. If the thought of eating only eggs has you reaching for the sick bucket, you could also add some low carbohydrate vegetables and lean protein. We think this is definitely one to avoid, after all, we all know what happens after one too many eggs…
    Extreme factor: 8/10

    Extreme diets: Tapeworm Diet

    Yes this is a real thing. The tapeworm diet has got to be one of the most extreme, no, stupid concepts we’ve ever come across. It involves swallowing an actual worm (it would probably be in egg form, but it’s still disgusting), the tapeworm then wriggles around in your intestines interfering with your digestion process and eating up all your food, making it possible for you to consume more calories without putting on weight. This is not only a desperate diet technique, but it’s incredibly dangerous, with death being one of the possible side effects. Err, no thanks!
    Extreme factor: 10/10

    Extreme diets: The Macrobiotic Diet

    Gwyneth Paltrow made the headlines a few years ago when she revealed she was a devotee of this extremely strict diet. The main emphasis of the macrobiotic diet is wholegrains, these are supposed to make up 60% of all meals and the rest should be made up of mostly raw vegetables. It’s safe to say that the list of what you can’t eat is longer than the list of what you can eat. Say goodbye to anything and everything remotely fun or tasty, for example: Meat, processed foods, dairy products, eggs, sugar, poultry products and alcohol. Boring.
    Extreme factor: 7/10

    Han van Vonno

    Extreme diets: Grapefruit Diet

    Apparently there’s a special ingredient in grapefruit that, when eaten with a form of protein, triggers a fat-burning process and therefore results in weight loss. So, the idea is to start each meal with half a grapefruit, eat lots of protein and drink plenty of water and black coffee. While this diet may help you lose a few pounds, any weight lost will pile straight back on once you return to your normal diet. Such a drastic reduction in your intake of calories can also result in dizziness and an upset stomach, plus it’s so very boring!
    Extreme factor: 6/10

    Extreme diets: The Cabbage Soup Diet

    The Cabbage Soup Diet works exactly as it sounds – you eat copious amounts of cabbage soup and not a lot else. Basically, the cabbage soup diet works because you are cutting down your calorie intake to near starvation levels. Some say that it is a complete waste of time because the sudden lack of food forces the body into starvation mode which slows down your metabolism and encourages your body to hang on to fat.
    Extreme factor: 6/10

    Extreme diets: Dr Siegal’s Cookie Diet

    Don’t get too excited, this diet isn’t as fun as it sounds. True, it does consist of eating cookies for breakfast and lunch but these aren’t tasty chocolate chip cookies, they contain a mere 90 calories per cookie and are made with low GI ingredients such as whole wheat flour, bran and oats. You’re allowed to have a high-protein dinner and then if you’re still hungry, you can treat yourself to two more cookies.

    And okay, these cookies aren’t Dr Siegal’s special ones, but they are a low-sugar, healthier alternative, get the recipe here

    Extreme factor: 6/10

    Robert Kneschke / EyeEm/Getty

    Extreme diets: The Potato Diet

    This extreme diet involves eating nothing but potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. It was showing during Channel 4’s show How To Lose Weight Well and Caroline, who trialled the diet, was able to lose nearly a stone in just seven days! Do you think you could manage it?

    Extreme factor: 6/10

    Have you tried any of these extreme diets? How did you get on? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation and share your tips…

    Is Rapid Weight Loss Ever a Good Idea?

    Rapid weight loss diets can have ill effects, but so does obesity. For this reason, very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) are considered a reasonable weight loss option for people with obesity (having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30) needing rapid weight loss for a specific purpose such as weight loss surgery .

    VLCDs are doctor-supervised diets lasting several weeks. The meals are nutritionally balanced, but expensive — people can end up spending thousands of dollars over time. VLCDs safely produce a loss of 15% to 25% of body weight in 12 weeks. That’s for those who finish the program: 25% to half of people don’t complete the program. Weight returns when the diet is stopped and happens rapidly; some experts say its best to take a more sustainable approach to weight loss comparable to that of regular diets.

    Most people seeking rapid weight loss, though, usually do it on their own. Frequently, it’s to achieve a short-term goal, such as fitting into a dress, or looking good at the beach.

    Starving yourself is certainly not a good idea. But if you’re otherwise healthy, a brief period of extreme calorie restriction isn’t likely to hurt you. You should tell your doctor what you’re doing, and be sure to include protein in your diet (70 to 100 grams per day). Take a multivitamin, and eat potassium-rich foods (tomatoes, oranges, and bananas).

    Also, remember that crash diets rarely help you achieve a sustained, healthy weight. Most people put the pounds right back on.

    How to Get in Shape by Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is not too far off.

    That means you have one month to get in shape before the unofficial start of summer.

    It may not seem like much time, but don’t hang up your running shoes just yet.

    “Shaping up in 30 days requires discipline, but it is possible,” Dempsey Marks, a fitness expert and creator of the PreGame Fit program, told Healthline.

    So what does it take to get in shape in 30 days?

    It depends on where you’re coming from.

    “When working on a short-term goal of getting in shape, you have to know your starting point and your previous experience,” James Shapiro, a certified personal trainer with New York-based Primal Power, told Healthline.

    Whether you are a beginner, a weekend warrior, or a long-time athlete will determine what training program works best for you. And how “fit” you can get in one month.

    Read more: How long does it take to get in shape? “

    Couch-to-fit in 30 days

    If you are new to exercise, or coming off a long break, Shapiro suggests that you start with a cardiovascular program.

    Run or jog 20 to 30 minutes every other day. You can also do other moderate-intensity activities like walking briskly, swimming, or bicycling.

    After your cardio workout, do three to four sets of bodyweight exercises like squats, pushups, lunges, burpees, or Russian twists.

    “You will need a day of rest between these kinds of days,” said Shapiro, “but you can stay active by taking up yoga to reduce stress, increase blood flow, and work on your flexibility.”

    After that, slowly add in strength training. This will boost your metabolism and help burn more fat and calories.

    If you have access to a gym, Shapiro suggests doing three to four sets of strength exercises, with 12 to 16 repetitions per set. This can include movements like chest presses, lat pulldowns, rows, and leg presses.

    If you don’t have a gym nearby, a personal trainer can help you develop a strength program that you can do at home with bodyweight exercises, dumbbells, and kettlebells.

    Read more: What exercises are the best? “

    High-intensity interval training

    For fast results, Marks recommends full-body strengthening exercises and high-intensity interval training.

    “This type of routine will improve aerobic capacity and build muscle so you accomplish two goals at once,” said Marks — sculpting your muscles and burning fat.

    High-intensity interval training alternates vigorous exercise with moderate exercise or rest periods. This can give you good results even with shorter workouts.

    Marks suggests aiming for three days a week of high-intensity interval training, with a day off in between.

    It works like this: alternate 30 to 60 seconds of moderate exercise with 30 to 60 seconds of vigorous exercise. Repeat this cycle for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Personal trainer and fitness instructor Ashley Pitt said this type of training can be done on a treadmill — she suggests one minute “all-out” sprints followed by two minutes of walking, for a total of 15 to 25 minutes.

    “You could also do high-knee runs or burpee intervals if you don’t have a treadmill available,” Pitt, creator of the healthy lifestyle blog A Lady Goes West, told Healthline.

    High-intensity interval training is used by athletes of all levels to take their fitness to the next level. With modification, it can even work for beginners.

    “If you aren’t a runner or are just getting started in your fitness routine,” said Pitt, “you can do super intense power walking by swinging your arms and not holding onto the treadmill, and following the same interval pattern.”

    For the vigorous part of the cycle, increase the walking speed or treadmill incline.

    You can also do this training outside on a track or sidewalk, with hills or stairs serving as the incline.

    Another short, but intense, workout is circuit training — a fast-paced mix of cardio and weights.

    “The biggest factor in circuit training is the reduction of the rest period,” said Shapiro. “More volume of repetitions and a lowered rest interval results in an increase in performance.”

    Read more: 5 workouts that give you the afterburn effect “

    Upping your game

    If you already exercise regularly, you might want to choose one thing to work on for the month.

    Justin Fauci, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Lean Muscle Project, suggests focusing on “a particular performance barrier that you haven’t quite been able to break through, and set a specific, measurable goal.”

    This might mean bench pressing 10 pounds more than usual or shaving two minutes off your two-mile run time.

    Once you have decided on a goal for the month, restructure your training program to get you there.

    “This will make you much more focused when training,” said Fauci, “and you may find yourself reinvigorated by your exercise plan all over again because you have your sights set on a specific goal to be accomplished within a set time period.”

    Advanced athletes or weightlifters — those who have been consistent for four or five years — “will not see tremendous strength gains within a month,” said Shapiro, “so focus on your volume of training rather than the intensity of the weight you’re pushing.”

    Shapiro said this group can also benefit from movements that build power. For a cardio workout, try boxing instead of traditional activities like jogging or riding a bike.

    You can also add plyometrics — explosive movements like box jumps and plyo pushups — to your workouts. Or incorporate other power movements such as using a push sled or prowler, or doing heavy tire flips.

    Read more: 3 essential gluteus medius exercises “

    Setting realistic goals

    The best way get results in one month is to be realistic about what you can accomplish.

    One mistake that beginners make is setting a goal in terms of weight, not fitness, like “I will lose 5 pounds by Memorial Day.”

    This can backfire.

    “It’s very common for beginners to be able to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously,” said Fauci, “and after a full month of committing to a regular workout plan, end up being the same weight — even though they’re in significantly better shape than when they started.”

    At the end of the month, this “failure” may discourage people from continuing to exercise.

    Beginners may also expect too much from their workouts, like wanting to lose 20 pounds and have six-pack abs in a month.

    Fauci suggests that beginners focus less on physical results early on and more on their behaviors.

    Instead of setting a goal of “I will lose 5 pounds in 30 days,” try “I will do my best to complete four workouts each week for the next month.”

    Shifting the focus like this, said Fauci, makes the goal more achievable — the only way to fail is to not even try. It also takes off some of the pressure to be perfect.

    “The reason I particularly like these types of goals for beginners is that most new exercisers haven’t yet developed the habit of exercising,” said Fauci, “and building the habit is the first step to getting the kind of long-term fitness results that most people really want.”

    Read more: Do 5-minute workouts really work? “

    Living and eating better

    Fitness experts agree that the fuel you put into your body has a big effect on your level of fitness and your performance.

    By itself, eating healthier can “radically change an individual’s body fat percentage and maintain lean body mass,” said Shapiro.

    This means cutting out refined and fast foods, eating more fresh foods — especially fruits and vegetables — and finding a balance of nutrients.

    “Just eliminating sodas, candy, and alcohol from your diet will flatten your stomach,” said Marks.

    She also suggests that you aim to get 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent from proteins, and 20 percent from fats.

    And drink plenty of water.

    “The more water, the better,” said Pitt. “Stay extra hydrated and your skin will look better, you will be less hungry, and you will even feel more flexible, as the water keeps your muscles and ligaments looser.”

    You might even benefit from eating dinner earlier and not eating again until morning — putting the “fast” back into breakfast.

    “By finishing up your eating by 7 p.m.,” said Pitt, “you will give your body a chance to reset each night, over a good night’s sleep, and you’ll wake up with a slimmer stomach.”

    Part of the benefits come from cutting out the mindless late-night snacking in front of the TV. But eating dinner earlier will also get you to bed earlier.

    “The best times to sleep each night are during darkness,” said Pitt, “so aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and up around 6 a.m. with the sun.”

    Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, or boost your performance over the next month, there’s no better time to start than right now.

    Thirty days will fly by, but if you stay focused, you can achieve big results.

    “While it’s physically impossible to go from overweight and out of shape to looking like a Men’s Health cover model by Memorial Day,” said Fauci, “one month is definitely a reasonable amount of time to see clear results in terms of fitness.”

    Give celebrity fitness trainer Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S., a month to get you in shape and he won’t put you through a series of fancy HIIT workouts.

    Instead, the founder of Dowdell Fitness Systems will give you a list of tried-and-true exercises guaranteed to pack on muscle. Then he’ll tell you to do them at strict tempo. That’s how he gets the likes of Gerard Butler and Mario Lopez camera-ready — and it’s how he’s going to push you to your best body yet over the next 28 days.

    STEP 1: The Workout

    You’ll follow a strictly regimented plan for the month. Train Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; alternate between Workouts A and B. Do Workout A twice (on Mondays and Fridays) in Weeks 1 and 3; do Workout B twice in Weeks 2 and 4.

    Before all workouts, do the cool-down drills. On all other days, either rest or do light cardio. Use these do-anywhere drills to improve mobility and injury-proof your body.

    The Sessions

    WORKOUT A

    Do 4 sets of move 1; rest 2 minutes between sets. Then do moves 2, 3, and 4 as a 3-round circuit. Rest 45 seconds between circuit moves in Weeks 1 and 2, 30 seconds in Weeks 3 and 4. Rest 1 minute between circuit rounds. Finish with move 5.

    WORKOUT B

    Do 4 sets of move 6; rest 2 minutes between sets. Then do moves 7, 8, and 9 as a 3-round circuit. Rest 45 seconds between circuit moves in Weeks 1 and 2, 30 seconds in Weeks 3 and 4. Rest 1 minute between circuit rounds. Finish with move 10.

    1. Trap-Bar Deadlift

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Bend your knees and hinge your hips, lowering your torso until you can grasp a trap bar loaded with a moderate weight. Without letting your back round, stand with the barbell. Take 2 seconds to lower the bar. That’s 1 rep; do 4 to 6.

    2. Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Lie on your back on the bench, set at a 30-degree incline, holding dumbbells over your chest, palms facing each other. Plant your feet and keep your butt on the seat of the bench. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then lower the dumbbells to your chest, taking 3 seconds to do this. Press the dumbbells back up. Plant your feet and drive your heels into the ground as you press the weight upward. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12 reps. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.

    3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells, palms facing you, knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat and your core tight, hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly, slowly pushing your butt back. Keep the dumbbells close to your legs, and maintain tension in your core. Continue lowering the weights until your hands are just below knee level. Take 3 seconds to do this. Pause, then return to standing. Make sure to squeeze your glutes as you stand. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.

    4. Dumbbell Skull-Crusher

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Lie on a bench, holding medium-weight dumbbells over your chest, palms facing each other. This is the start. Keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor, bend at your elbows, lowering the dumbbells near your ears; this should take 2 seconds. Without moving your upper arms, return to the start; take at least 2 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.

    5. Bench Press

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Lie on a bench holding a loaded barbell, arms straight. Bend your elbows, touching the barbell to your chest; this should take 3 seconds. Press upward. That’s 1 rep; do 4 to 6.

    6. Cardio Row

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Sit on a cardio rower and grab the handle with an overhand grip. Bend your knees and lean your torso slightly forward, then straighten your legs, hinge backward, and pull toward your sternum. Focus on making each pull as powerful as possible. Row for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. That’s 1 round; do 7 rounds. Add 1 round each week. Don’t have access to a rower? Run in place, lifting your knees high with each stride, for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.

    7. Bulgarian Split Squat

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Stand on your left leg, the top of your right foot on a bench, dumbbells in your hands. Keeping your chest up, bend your left knee, lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel to the ground. Your right knee will lower near to the ground as you do this. Take 3 seconds. Return to standing by straightening your left knee. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12, then switch sides and repeat. Aim for 12 reps per leg by Week 4.

    8. Dumbbell Incline Row

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Lie with your chest on the bench, set at a 30-degree incline, holding medium-weight dumbbells at arm’s length. Your palms should face behind you. This is the start. Keeping your elbows flared, pull the dumbbells toward the sides of your chest. Slowly lower to the start, taking 3 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.

    9. Zottmann Curl

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Stand holding dumbbells, palms facing in front of you. This is the start. Keeping your shoulders back, curl the dumbbells upward, turning your palms toward your torso as the weights approach your shoulders. This should take 2 seconds. Hold at the top of the curl, then rotate your forearms so your palms face the ground. Now slowly lower the weights back to the start, taking 2 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.

    10. Medicine-Ball Slams

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Stand in front of a 10-pound medicine ball, your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat and grasp the ball with both hands. Explosively raise it overhead. Reverse the motion, slamming the ball into the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. That’s 1 round; do 7 rounds. Add 1 round each week.

    STEP 2: The Cooldown

    Home Stretch

    Use these do-anywhere drills to improve mobility and injury-proof your body.

    1. Thoracic Spine Rotation

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Get on all fours, hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Place your right hand behind your neck. This is the start. Slowly rotate your torso toward your left arm, aiming to thread your right elbow past your left elbow. Slowly reverse the movement and point your right elbow upward. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 5 to 6 reps per side.

    2. Hip Adductor Stretch

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Get down on all fours, hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Extend your right leg out to the side, toes pointing straight ahead. Keeping your hands on the ground and your back flat, lower your butt down toward your left heel until you feel a stretch on your inner thigh. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 5 to 6 reps per side.

    3. Reverse Lunge to Straight-Leg Extension

    BETH BISCHOFF

    Start standing. Keeping your left leg straight, lift it and reach it back, then place your left foot on the ground. Your right knee should have a 90-degree bend. Lean forward and place your hands alongside your right foot. Hold. Don’t worry if your back rounds slightly as you lean forward in this stretch. Keeping your left leg straight, straighten your right leg. Continue leaning forward as you do, feeling a stretch in your right hamstring. That’s 1 rep; do 5 per side.

    The Ultimate Body Transformation Plan

    How much can you change your body in four weeks? More than you think – but only if you have three things: a good exercise plan, smart eating rules, and the right attitude to follow both with focus and determination.

    This four-week plan has been designed to constantly test your body and push it outside of its comfort zone so your body has no choice but to build new muscle mass and burn away body fat to radically change your physique. That’s why there are small tweaks to the programme each week: these changes keep your body guessing and, therefore, changing.

    Making a big alteration to your body in just four weeks is hard, but it can be done. Start as you mean to go on, both in the gym and the kitchen, and soon these small steps will lead to big changes in how you look with your shirt off .

    1. The plan

    The plan contains two two-week blocks. The first has four sessions a week: chest and back; legs and abs; arms; and shoulders and abs. The second has four sessions a week, and they’re different: chest and triceps; legs and shoulders; chest and triceps; and back and biceps.

    2. Strong start

    The workouts for the first week of the first block are below, then the sessions for the second week of the block are detailed in the tables below that. Do the workouts in order, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest periods detailed to start the plan as strongly as possible.

    The tempo code refers to the number of seconds taken to complete each part of the exercise. Taking the bench press as an example, the first digit refers to how long you take to lower the weight, the second digit how long to pause at the bottom of the lift, the third how long taken to lift the weight, and finally the fourth digit refers to how long you pause at the top of the movement.

    3. Big finish

    The big change in the second block of the plan is that you’ll train your chest, back and arms muscles twice a week. This increase in training volume will shock your body into building more muscle mass, while also stripping away unwanted body fat so you get both bigger and leaner.

    4. Steady gains

    The workouts contain the same exercises in the same order for weeks one and two, and then weeks three and four, but the sets and reps change from week to week so you push your muscles harder. This approach will keep your positive body composition changes coming.

    5. Get your rest

    We won’t lie: this four-week plan is tough, but that’s what it takes to transform your body for the better quickly. This means that good nutrition and quality rest are essential. Follow the food rules below to give your body the nutrients it needs, and try to get to bed early each night.

    What Next?

    Ready to take your training to the next level? Our friends at the New Body Plan can help. Their training and nutrition plans can transform your body in just eight weeks.

    Start today | £69, use code coach20 for an exclusive £20 discount

    Diet Tips

    To build lean muscle mass and get a flat belly, what you eat is as important as how you exercise. Follow these four rules for success

    Protein

    If you don’t eat enough protein – red and white meat, fish and eggs – then don’t be surprised when you don’t add muscle as fast as you want. Lifting weights causes microscopic tears in your muscles, and it’s the consumption of protein that repairs this damage and rebuilds your muscles bigger and stronger. Aim for at least a fist-sized portion of high-quality lean protein at every meal.

    Carbs

    You don’t need to cut out carbs altogether to transform your body, but making smarter carb choices will help you get bigger, stronger and leaner. Avoid sugar and limit consumption of fast-release carbs like processed white bread and pasta, which have been stripped of many of their nutrients and fibre. Instead choose slow-release carbs, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice, as well as plenty of fibre-rich, nutrient-dense veg.

    Vegetables

    If you struggle to get your daily five-a-day then you’re missing out on a wealth of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential to both better health and getting leaner. Eat a wide variety of different-coloured veg to give your body the nutrients it needs after hard training, as well as fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar levels so you won’t be tempted by sweet snacks.

    Alcohol

    To make the biggest positive change to your body in four weeks you should consider cutting out alcohol. It’s high in calories you don’t need, and too much booze will kill your motivation to hit the gym hard and eat well. Your best bet is to stick to water, green tea and black coffee to stay hydrated and load up on antioxidants that will help you recover from exercise.

    Block 1: Week 1

    Monday Workout: Chest And Back

    1 Bench press

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on a bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

    2 Bent-over row

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Bend forwards, hinging from your hips, but keep your chest up and your core braced. Row the bar up to your body, leading with your elbows, pause at the top, then lower.

    3 Incline dumbbell flye

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Lie on an incline bench, holding two dumbbells directly over your chest with straight arms. Bend your elbows slightly, then lower your hands out to the sides until you feel a stretch across your chest. Squeeze your pecs to return to the start.

    4 Lat pull-down

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

    5 One-arm cable press

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall with your back to a cable machine, holding a D-handle in one hand. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press your hand forward until your arm is straight. Reverse back to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

    6 Dumbbell pull-over

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 4010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell in both hands above your chest with straight arms. Lower the weight behind your head in a slow and controlled movement, keeping your arms straight, then raise it back to the start position.

    Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

    1 Back squat

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding the bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tight, bend your knees to squat down as low as you can but don’t let your knees roll inwards. Push through your heels to stand back up.

    2 Romanian deadlift

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend forwards, hinging at the hips, to let the bar roll down the front of your legs until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the movement.

    3 Leg extension

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the bottom of your shins. Keeping your upper body tight, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

    4 Hamstring curl

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the back of your lower legs. Keeping your upper body tight, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

    5 Crunch

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on your back with hands by your temples and knees bent. Engage your upper abs to raise your torso off the ground, then crunch your upper body up to meet your knees. Lower slowly, keeping tension on your abs throughout.

    6 Plank

    Sets 3 Time 30sec Tempo N/A Rest 60sec

    Get into position with your elbows under your shoulders, your feet together, and your hips raised with abs and glutes engaged so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position without letting your hips drop.

    Friday Workout: Biceps And Triceps

    1 Underhand lat pull-down

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width underhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

    2 Triceps dip

    Sets 3 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Grip parallel bars with straight arms and your legs crossed behind you. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend your elbows to lower your body until your elbows are bent at 90°. Press back up to return to the start.

    3 Dumbbell biceps curl

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

    4 Dumbbell triceps extension

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight over your head. Keeping your elbows pointing to the ceiling, lower the weights behind your head, then straighten your arms to return to the start.

    5 Cable biceps curl

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a double-rope handle attached to the lower pulley with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, curl your hands up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower.

    6 Cable triceps press-down

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a double-rope handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

    Saturday Workout: Shoulders And Abs

    1 Seated dumbbell overhead press

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Sit on an upright bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the weights directly overhead so your arms are straight. Slowly lower back to the start.

    2 Seated dumbbell lateral raise

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

    Sit on an upright bench, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows, then return slowly to the start.

    3 EZ-bar upright row

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding an EZ-bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, row the bar up to chin height, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower the bar back to the start under control.

    4 Hanging knee raise

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 1111 Rest 60sec

    Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and straight legs. Brace your core and glutes and keep your feet together as your draw your knees up towards your chest. Hold this position, then straighten your legs to return to the start.

    5 Weighted crunch

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell or weight plate against your chest with both hands, with your knees bent. Engage your upper abs to raise your torso off the ground, then crunch your upper body up to meet your knees. Lower slowly.

    6 Reverse crunch

    Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on your back with your arms flat on the floor and knees bent. Keeping your abs fully engaged throughout, use your lower abs to draw your knees in towards your chest, then raise your hips off the ground. Lower back to the start.

    Block 1: Week 2

    Keep adding lean muscle and blitzing belly fat by upping your effort levels and pushing hard

    With the first four sessions of week 1 in the bag, you may already been feeling a little stronger and lighter on your feet, which is why we are now going to up the ante to accelerate your positive body composition changes.

    The four workouts of the second week are similar to those of the first week. In order you’ll train chest and triceps; legs and abs; arms; and then shoulders and abs. But there are two big differences in the programme design to keep you on track. First, you’re going to do an extra set of the first and second move of each workout. Then, for the final four moves of each session, the rep count increase by two to 12.

    Why? Because you now know how to do these workouts well, so increasing the amount of work your muscles must do will encourage your body to keep adding muscle and burning off excess fat. Stay focused and maintain good form throughout all four sessions to keep progressing as fast as possible.

    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Bench press 4 10 2010 60sec
    2 Bent-over row 4 10 2011 60sec
    3 Incline dumbbell flye 3 12 2010 60sec
    4 Lat pull-down 3 12 2011 60sec
    5 One-arm cable press 3 12 2011 60sec
    6 Dumbbell pull-over 3 12 2010 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Squat 4 10 2010 60sec
    2 Romanian deadlift 4 10 2010 60sec
    3 Leg extension 3 12 2011 60sec
    4 Hamstring curl 3 12 2011 60sec
    5 Crunch 3 12 2011 60sec
    6 Plank 3 45sec N/A 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Underhand lat pull-down 4 10 2011 60sec
    2 Triceps dip 4 6-10 2010 60sec
    3 Dumbbell biceps curl 3 12 2011 60sec
    4 Dumbbell triceps ext 3 12 2010 60sec
    5 Cable hammer curl 3 12 2011 60sec
    6 Cable triceps extension 3 12 2011 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Dumbbell overhead press 4 10 2010 60sec
    2 Dumbbell lateral raise 4 10 2011 60sec
    3 EZ-bar upright row 3 12 2011 60sec
    4 Hanging knee raise 3 12 2011 60sec
    5 Weighted crunch 3 12 2011 60sec
    6 Reverse crunch 3 12 2011 60sec

    Block 2: Week 1

    1 Incline bench press

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar down until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

    2 Wide lat pull-down

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself at the machine with a double shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

    3 Dumbbell bench press

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on a flat bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Press the weights straight up so your arms are straight, then lower them under control.

    4 Seated cable row

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Sit on the machine, holding a double-grip cable attachment in both hands. Keeping your chest up, row your hands in towards your body, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top position, then return to the start.

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall with your back to a cable machine, holding a D-handle in one hand. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press your hand forward until your arm is straight. Reverse back to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

    6 Straight-arm cable pull-down

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall facing a cable machine, holding a straight bar handle with both hands. Keeping your chest arm, pull the bar down towards your thighs in a smooth arc, pause at the bottom, then reverse the movement back to the start.

    Wednesday Workout: Legs And Shoulders

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding the bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tight, bend your knees to squat down as low as you can but don’t let your knees roll inwards. Push through your heels to stand back up.

    2 Overhead press

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding the bar across the front of your chest with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, press the bar directly overhead so your arms are straight. Lower it under control to return to the start.

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the bottom of your shins. Keeping your upper body tight, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

    4 Seated dumbbell lateral raise

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Sit on an upright bench, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows, then return slowly to the start.

    5 Hamstring curl

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the back of your lower legs. Keeping your upper body tight, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

    6 EZ-bar upright row

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding an EZ-bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, row the bar up to chin height, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower the bar back to the start under control.

    Friday Workout: Chest And Triceps

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on a flat bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

    2 Incline dumbbell flye

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Lie on an incline bench, holding two dumbbells directly over your chest with straight arms. Bend your elbows slightly, then lower your hands out to the sides until you feel a stretch across your chest. Squeeze your pecs to return to the start.

    3 Triceps dip

    Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Grip parallel bars with straight arms and your legs crossed behind you. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend your elbows to lower your body until your elbows are bent at 90°. Press back up to return to the start.

    4 Incline dumbbell shoulder press

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height with palms facing. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Press the weights straight up so your arms are straight, then lower them under control.

    5 Cable triceps press-down

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a double-rope handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and elbows fixed to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

    6 Press-up

    Sets 4 Reps 10-15 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

    Start in the press-up position – hands on the floor, shoulders, elbows and wrists aligned, and feet together. Brace your core, then bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Press back up powerfully to return to the start.

    Saturday Workout: Back And Biceps

    1 Chin-up

    Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Hang from a bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip. Engage your abs and glutes and, keeping your chest up, pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Pause in this position, then slowly lower yourself back to the start.

    2 Lat pull-down

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

    3 Prone dumbbell row

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your chest against the bench, row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Hold the top position, then lower the weights back to the start .

    4 Prone dumbbell reverse flye

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 60sec Rest 60sec

    Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your chest against the bench, raise the weights to the sides, leading with your elbows. Hold the top position, then lower the weights back to the start.

    5 Dumbbell biceps curl

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

    6 Dumbbell hammer curl

    Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

    Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

    Block 2: Week 2

    As you noticed in the first week of the second block of this plan, some new moves have been introduced to the programme to shake things up and keep your muscles guessing so they keep on growing. The sets, reps and tempo have also been adjusted to make each set of each workout a little more testing for both your mind and muscles. That means the second block of the plan is mentally and physically challenging, but stay focused and determined to complete each session to the best of your abilities and you’ll be amazed by how much progress you can make in sculpting a bigger, stronger and leaner body.

    The final week’s workouts are listed in table form below and while they use the same exercises in the same order as the first week of the block, the sets and reps have again been tweaked. This means you’ll keep pushing your muscles a little harder every time you step into the gym, because that’s the only way to keep your results coming.

    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Incline bench press 5 10 3010 60sec
    2 Wide lat pull-down 5 10 3011 60sec
    3 Dumbbell bench press 4 12 3010 60sec
    4 Seated row 4 12 3011 60sec
    5 One-arm cable press 4 12 3011 60sec
    6 Straight-arm pull-down 4 12 3011 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Squat 5 10 3010 60sec
    2 Overhead press 5 10 3010 60sec
    3 Leg extension 4 12 3011 60sec
    4 Dumbbell lateral raise 4 12 3011 60sec
    5 Hamstring curl 4 12 3011 60sec
    6 EZ-bar upright row 4 12 3011 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Bench press 5 10 3010 60sec
    2 Incline dumbbell flye 5 10 3011 60sec
    3 Triceps dip 4 8-12 3010 60sec
    4 Dumbbell hammer press 4 12 3010 60sec
    5 Cable triceps press-down 4 12 3011 60sec
    6 Press-up 4 12-15 3010 60sec
    Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
    1 Chin-up 5 6-10 3011 60sec
    2 Lat pull-down 5 10 3011 60sec
    3 Prone dumbbell row 4 12 3011 60sec
    4 Prone dumbbell flye 4 12 3011 60sec
    5 Dumbbell biceps curl 4 12 3011 60sec
    6 Dumbbell hammer curl 4 12 3011 60sec

    The One-Month Muscle Metamorphosis!

    I’m not usually the biggest guy in the room. Growing up I was always the smallest kid in class. I graduated high school at 115 pounds soaking wet. So when a guy comes up to me in the gym and tells me how he’s tried everything and can’t put on muscle, I feel fairly well qualified to call bullshit.

    Typically, the first thing I want to know from this so-called “hardgainer” is what he ate over the past couple of days. While asking, I prepare myself for the inevitable explanation of how he eats so much, but his metabolism is just too fast. Then we’ll talk about his training.

    The end result of years of these experiences, plus breaking my own ass to put on weight, almost always reaches the same conclusions: You’re not eating enough, you eat like crap, and your training sucks.

    Nobody ever wants to hear that, but in 9 out of 10 cases, it’s the truth. But instead, hardgainers would prefer to blame their genetics. DNA, it seems, has left them devoid of the ability to build muscle. Alas, they must suffer forever as the smallest guy in the room.

    Maybe not. Over the years I’ve learned my lesson about blaming my metabolism. I plugged away in the gym, struggling for a pound of muscle here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I got much stronger; that was primarily my training focus, but I didn’t put on much size. I have, however, tried pretty much everything and learned what works and what is a waste of time.

    With that said, let’s break down my three explanations from above.

    Reason 1. You’re Not Eating Enough

    If you call yourself a hardgainer, I can say with 99 percent certainty that your diet is the cause. Either you don’t eat enough, or what you do eat is crap. Most likely, it’s a combination of both.

    For instance, it’s become really trendy for men to utilize some form of intermittent fasting over the past few years. But if you’re a skinny guy trying to put on muscle, this probably isn’t the most effective way to go.

    So before you send me an email proclaiming the excellence of your 18/6 fasting schedule for muscle-building, save both of us the time. It’s difficult—not impossible, but very difficult—to get the kind of calories you need when using extended fasts.

    I understand that nobody wants to be a calorie-counter. Fine, but that means you need to learn to eat intelligently when it comes to macronutrients. I’ve found that hardgainers benefit from getting at least 1.5 g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 2 g of carbs and .5 g of fat.

    These are general numbers that I’ve seen work effectively with my clients and myself. They’re not set in stone, but they are a good place to start. If you’re trying to put on muscle and failing, the chances are good that you aren’t hitting these kinds of numbers with your diet.

    Which brings us to the second part of how your diet can hold you back:

    Reason 2. You Eat Like Crap

    One of the problems with processed foods—i.e., crap—is that even the ones that contain meat, like hot dogs and fast food, are surprisingly weak protein sources. They’re far better carb and fat sources, but only to a certain point—after all, they’re crap.

    So if that’s how you’re trying to meet the “eating enough” benchmark, ask yourself: Are you really getting enough protein? Probably not. That number I mentioned above, 1.5 g per pound, is on non-training days.

    On training days, with the addition of pre- and post-workout nutrition, that number should get closer to 2 g per pound. This is simply easier to do with solid whole food protein sources like quality meat and dairy rather than, um, crap.

    If you’re truly getting enough protein but still not putting on muscle, your next step is to look at your carbs. Ironically enough, considering a typical American diet, this is where many guys miss the target. We’re often told to focus on protein so much so that we forget that carbs are important, too. The immense recent backlash against carbs hasn’t helped, either. Adequate carb intake not only fuels you for your workouts; it also keeps your glycogen stores full, which signals your body that it’s OK to grow.

    Once you’ve got your carbs and protein in line make sure you’re getting adequate fat in your diet. Dietary fat is crucial to hormonal function and it’s hard to build muscle when you’ve got the testosterone levels of a teenage girl.

    Reason 2(a). Your Workout Nutrition Is Crap

    Nutritional timing around your workout is especially important if you are trying to put on muscle. You already drink a post-workout protein shake—which is great, but what about before your workout?

    The inclusion of a pre-workout shake does a couple of things. First, it helps up your calories and protein total for the day—always good things when focusing on adding weight. Second, it supplies your body with amino acids and carbs for the coming workout. I’ve found that for many, simply including this shake can be the game-changer they need.

    Intra-workout nutrition, meaning during your workout, is another often overlooked element that plenty of people have found helped kickstart their gains. Sipping on amino acids throughout your workout is great for recovery, sure, but it can also impact muscle-building. This is something every frustrated hardgainer should consider.

    And of course, you need to get some protein after you train. Not just shakes, but food. Duh.

    Reason 3. Your Training Sucks

    I’m not sure if guys take it more personally when they’re told their diet sucks, or their training. It seems about equal.

    Hey, nobody wants to admit they’re doing something wrong. That’s natural, especially for men. But if your training isn’t producing results, you need to accept that maybe it’s just not that effective. There are many pieces of the training puzzle that can go awry, but let’s focus on the three main offenders.

    1. Crappy Exercise Selection

    If upon entering the gym you immediately start off with triceps kickbacks before progressing to the seated calf-raise, you’re doing it wrong.

    Exercise selection is one of the most important aspects of training. If your exercises suck, your results are going to suck. You should be focusing the overwhelming majority of your training on multi-joint compound movements like squats, deadlifts, standing overhead presses, bench presses, pull-ups, and rows.

    I’ve written entire programs that used nothing but those movements. In the program below (Yes, there is a program! I’m not just here to pick on you.) you’ll get an idea of how to choose effective exercises. Pay special note to how many are compound movements, and the select number of isolation exercises.

    2. Never Changing Your Rep Range

    Manipulation of rep ranges is pretty much the heart of basic program design. Your body adapts rather quickly to a rep range, so if you’ve only been doing 3 sets of 10 for years, that’s probably one of the reasons you stopped seeing results.

    An effective program makes use of multiple rep ranges to target many strength qualities and muscle fibers. And while we’re talking about reps…

    3. Using the Wrong Volume

    Volume refers to the number of sets and reps you do of a given exercise. Don’t use enough volume, and you won’t elicit results. Use too much, and you won’t recover and could get hurt. Assuming you’re using a variety of rep ranges—you are, aren’t you?—you need to manipulate the number of sets you do in order to encourage adaptation.

    Look at it this way: If you’re doing sets of 4 and only do 3 sets, you’ve done 12 reps total for that exercise. Think you’re going to build muscle from 12 reps? Nope. Now if you do 6 sets of 4 instead, you’re approaching the money zone.

    A great general rule is to aim for approximately 25-40 reps if you’re trying to build muscle. Obviously this isn’t concrete: you can go as low as 15 or as high as 50. Between 25 and 40 is generally accepted to be the sweet spot, however.

    There’s lots of room for variation, which means there are lots of different ways for you to build muscle in the weight room.

    Month of Mass Hypertrophy Program

    By now you should get the idea: Eat, lift, eat some more. So how about a strength program that works? The program below is based on lifting four days per week: two days will on the upper body and two on the lower body.

    This month of training utilizes lots of heavy, compound movements and lots of different rep ranges. This ensures you’ll get maximum muscle recruitment while developing multiple strength qualities and a range of muscle fibers.

    6 Weeks to Sick Arms: The Program Follow this full 6-week program in BodyFit Elite! You’ll get a customizable workout tracker and app, with demonstration videos for all movements. Earn free shipping and store discounts, plus access to 70+ additional programs! GO NOW

    The Last Set

    One final thing I’d like to touch on is the last set. I’m usually a strong proponent of keeping away from failure as much as possible in the gym. Training to failure too often is a surefire way to compromise your results. Strategically training to failure, however, can be one of the best things you can do in the gym.

    In this program, I suggest taking your last set on most exercises, particularly your main movements, to the point of technical failure. This means you can’t do another rep with reasonable technique. In other words, if you need a spotter to assist you—even if it’s just fingertips on the bar!—you need to stop. You can’t complete any further reps on your own.

    With adequate nutrition there is no reason why a trainee can’t put on at least 4-5 pounds of muscle over the course of the program. Just make sure to monitor your weight over the course of the four weeks. If you’re not moving in the right direction, modify your nutrition as necessary. You don’t need to count calories, but you definitely need to have an accurate idea of what you’re consuming.

    2 month workout plan

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