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If you can spare the time, working out four days a week is the ideal amount of time to build muscle and increase fitness. While building muscle and looking good is a goal for many men, too many people neglect their fitness levels in the process. A four-day workout allows you to spend two days building muscle and two days working on your fitness. Do your upper body workout on Monday, lower body Wednesday, complexes on Friday, and intervals on Saturday.
Day One - Upper Body
"Upper body workouts should consist of two back exercises, two for the chest, and two for your arms" says Christian Thibaudeau, author of "The Black Book of Training Secrets" Your first two exercises should be a horizontal push, such as bench presses or pushups, and a horizontal pull like barbell rows or face pulls. Perform five back to back sets of six to eight reps on each of these, taking minimal rest between exercises. After this, do another combination of a vertical push such as shoulder presses and a vertical pull -- chin-ups or lat pulldowns are your best choice. Follow the same pattern with sets and reps. Finally, finish with one biceps curl exercise and a triceps exercise like dips or pushdowns for three sets of 12 each. (See resource 1)
Day Two - Lower Body
Start this workout with back squats. According to Mark Rippetoe, author of "Starting Strength" squats are the ultimate exercise for building your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core. Do five sets of five reps, going as heavy as you can, while still using perfect form. After squats, do three sets of 12 on a hamstring exercise such as stiff legged deadlifts, glute ham raises, or leg curls. Finish with a mini circuit of standing calf raises, hanging leg raises and dumbbell lunges. Do four sets of 10 reps on each, with no rest in between.
Day Three - Complexes
"A complex is a circuit using one piece of equipment, one load, and one space, " says strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness Gym in California. Grab an empty barbell, and do eight Romanian deadlifts, eight clean and presses, eight front squats, then eight back squats. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat this three more times. Use a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete all the reps. According to Cosgrove, no other method of training is as effective at boosting your metabolism leading to fat loss as complexes.
Day Four - Interval Cardio
The traditional method of cardiovascular fitness training is steady state cardio, where you exercise at a low to moderate intensity for a sustained period. However, to really ramp up your fitness levels, choose interval training instead. Owen Anderson, author of "The Science of Running" says that training at or above 90 percent of your VO2 max is the quickest way to increase fitness. To do this, choose a piece of cardio equipment at the gym, or hit the roads --in the cooler part of the day -- or local indoor running track. After a thorough warm up, sprint as quickly as you can for 15 seconds, then go at a steady pace for 45 seconds. Repeat this eight times, then cool down. As you get fitter, do more intervals, or increase your sprint:steady ratio to 20 to 40.
- The Black Book of Training Secrets: Christian Thibaudeau