Perfect your technique on the squat, bench press, and deadlift—and break all your PRs in four weeks.
Greg Nuckols 1 / 5
Strength isn’t a goal as much as it is a habit. Practice it regularly and it will come naturally. For the next four weeks, forget about all the fancy newfangled exercises you learned from YouTube and rededi cate yourself to the basics—you’ll need only a handful of lifts to change your body and set big personal records. By this time next month you’ll be putting up huge numbers in the gym and seeing new muscle in the mirror as a result.How it works: To build total-body brute strength, you need to squat, bench, and deadlift. These lifts let you load the most weight and activate the most muscle. The only drawback is that they’re hard on the body. To get good at them, you have to do them a lot. But how can you get the practice you need without overtraining and getting injured?The answer is to vary the intensity. You can train all three lifts in a workout and repeat them several days a week if you change the sets, reps, and weights you’re using every time. The goal is to feel fresh at each workout so you ingrain good technique that allows you to handle heavy weights proficiently when you test your maxes. Be prepared for it to feel too easy at first. The weights and volume will increase each week, so even if you’re not leaving the gym feeling crushed, trust that your training is working. You’ll know for sure in four weeks when you lift weights that would have flattened you before.Directions: Perform each workout (Day I, II, III, and IV) once per week, resting a day between each session. The weights you use for the squat, bench press, and deadlift will be based on your max in each lift—the heaviest load you can handle for one rep. Test these numbers before you begin the program or take your best guess. (But be conservative; it’s better to go too light than too heavy.) The volume and intensity will change each week.10 Reasons You're Not Building Muscle >>>
Week 1 - Sets: 4 Reps: 4 at 70% of max.
Week 2 - Sets: 5 Reps: 4 at 70% of max
Week 3 - Sets: 5 Reps: 5 at 70% of max
Week 4 - Sets: 5 Reps: 3 at 50% of max
Grasp the bar as far apart as is comfort- able and step under it. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and nudge the bar out of the rack. Step back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out slightly. Take a deep breath and bend your hips back, then bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back. Extend your hips to come back up.
Week 1 - Sets: 3 Reps: 2 at 80% of max
Week 2 - Sets: 4 Reps: 2 at 80% of max
Week 3 - Sets: 4 Reps: 3 at 80% of max
Week 4 - Sets: 4 Reps: 4 at 60% of max
Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows about 45 degrees to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up.
Week 1 - Sets: 4 Reps: 3 at 75% of max
Week 2 - Sets: 5 Reps: 3 at 75% of max
Week 3 - Sets: 5 Reps: 4 at 75% of max
Week 4 - Sets: 4 Reps: 1 at 60% of max
Stand with feet about hip-width apart. Bend your hips back to reach down and grasp the bar so your hands are just outside your knees. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your heels into the floor and pull the bar up along your shins until you’re standing with hips fully extended and the bar is in front of your thighs.
Week 1 - Sets: 3 Reps: As many as possible
Week 2 - Sets: 4 Reps: As many as possible
Week 3 - Sets: 5 Reps: As many as possible
Week 4 - Off
Hang from a pullup bar with hands shoulder- width apart and palms facing you. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Don’t let your body swing.
Hold dumbbells at your sides and bend your hips back slightly so your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor. Keep your lower back in its natural arch. Raise your arms out to your sides until they’re parallel to the floor. On your last set, reduce the load and perform reps to burnout.