A Workout Routine to Live By: Part I
These days everyone wants to get the perfect, sculpted body. The muscular torso, the ripped arms, the toned abs, and what now people always hear touted in commercials as “the Bowflex body.” You know, the ones where you see a guy sitting on the couch eating six bags of pork rinds and drinking a twelve pack of beer, then after a few weeks, he suddenly looks like the second coming of Hulk Hogan?
Well, that’s not exactly how things work. However, with dedication, time and effort, you too can get the results you’re looking for, or at least improve your health and well being. You may not be winning any Mr. Olympia competitions, but you’ll at least be able to take your shirt off at the beach without worrying about those pesky fat rolls or man boobs messing up your cred with the ladies.
Over the next little bit, we’ll break things down bit by bit to try and simplify a workout regime that works for you. It will be a cycle of course, with day one focusing on the chest and arms, which of course, means hitting the weights.
Of course, proper stretching and such is a key before starting, and you also want to start with low weight and work your way up. Don’t try to be a hero and lift something well out of your comfort range, or you’ll end up hurting yourself, possibly seriously. Let’s take a look at a range of exercises and what they target in your quest for becoming lean and mean:
Day 1 – Chest & Triceps
Low weight, high reps to develop lean muscle – increase weight after each set. Stretch in between sets and rest 30-60 seconds in between sets.
6 sets of 15-20 reps – incline bench (upper chest): You’ll want to start by setting your bench at about a 45 degree angle with your feet roughly shoulder width apart solidly on the floor. Hold the bar over your upper chest with your arms straight, and slowly lower it until it makes contact with your upper body. Then push the weight directly straight up until your arms lock back out. This is one repetition. Make sure as you push the weight up, you exhale, and when you lower the weight down, you inhale. Controlled breathing is a key in this exercise. Be sure to use controlled, fluid motion, as dropping the weight can lead to serious injury.
6 sets of 15-20 reps – flat bench (middle chest): Follow the same instructions as you would for the incline bench, except with the following alterations: make sure that you keep your back flat on the bench and parallel to the ground. Make sure your grip is wider than shoulder width, and lower the bar slowly, without bouncing it off your chest, then driving the weight back up until your elbows lock out.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – fly machine (chest): Sit facing away from the machine, holding the handles or with your arms behind the pads. Your arms should be parallel with the floor and in line with your body. Bring your arms in front of you in an arc fashion until your hands meet in front of your chest. Reverse the movement on the way back.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – Pec Deck (chest): Using a Pec Deck machine, seat yourself in it accordingly. Perform the exercise by squeezing your forearms and elbows in together so that you virtually touch them together at the peak of the movement. Be sure to really squeeze your pecs at the peak of this movement for a one-count. Return to the start position and repeat. A fly machine is similar to the Pec Deck, only the Pec Deck allows for greater range of motion.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – cable cross overs (chest): This exercise is performed using the cable pulley machine that has a pulley on two opposite sides. Set each pulley up so that it is locked in the high position (if you are not sure how to do this, ask a trainer at the gym you workout at to assist you). While standing, grab each high pulley using a small one-hand attachment for each hand. The position your body will be in will look like a giant letter “T.” Slowly bring your arms together in a slow and controlled fashion. While doing so, visualize that you are hugging a giant tree trunk. At the peak of this movement, really flex your pec muscles together for a one-count and then return to start position and repeat.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – reverse cable fly (lower chest): Attach handles in lower position and set weight. Grab handles with an underhand grip placing arms at your side. Bend knees slightly and raises both arms in an upward motion about head level with your arms locked straight. Slowly return arms back to your side and repeat
4 sets of 15-20 reps – overhead tricep barbell extensions (tricep): While seated, hold a barbell with both hands behind your head. Push the weight upwards by locking out your arms, extending your elbows and hyperextending your wrists. Return to the starting position and repeat.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – standing bent tricep barbell extensions (tricep): Hold two dumbbells, palms facing in. Bend over until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Pull your upper arms up to your sides but keep your lower arms vertical. Press dumbbells back in a semicircular motion until entire arm is parallel to the floor. Squeeze triceps at the top. Return to starting position. Your elbows and upper arms should NEVER move. Can also be done with one dumbbell at a time.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – Angled cable triceps extension (tricep): Stand in between two high pulleys with single handles. Grasp the right handle with your left hand and the left handle with your right hand. Hold the handles in front of your chest so that your elbows are pointing to the floor at an angle. Keep the upper arms rigid and extend your arms. Return your arms to the beginning position by slowly bringing the handles back to your chest.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – standing tricep cable pushdowns (tricep): Take a few steps back from the machine and using an overhand grip, space your hands on the bar slightly less than shoulder-with apart. You can also perform this movement with one foot in front of the other if it feels more comfortable. Lean forward and start with the bar touching your forehead. With force, drive the weight down to your waist by extending your elbows. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your sides at all times. Once you have locked your elbows out at the bottom, squeeze your triceps and then return the bar back to the starting position by touching your forehead.
4 sets of 15-20 reps – arm extension machine (tricep): STEP 1. Adjust the pad to support your chest. Sit with your chest against the pads and bring the handles up. Grasp the handles with your palms facing each other and arms parallel to each other, resting the back of your arms on the chest pad. Maintain a straight back by pushing your hips toward the back of the seat.
STEP 2. Without letting your shoulders rise, and keeping your arms parallel to each other, exhale and push the handles down and away from you.
STEP 3. Push until your arms are straight, then inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
Hopefully, this at least gets you started or at least thinking about getting off the couch and into the gym or to some sort of workout program. After all, while winter is coming, summer won’t be that far off, and if you want to pick up the babes, you can’t be a blob. We’ll see you next time.