You are here

The Barely Legal Workout

Get as big as the law will allow

LET'S BE HONEST-You're probably never going to look like the cover boy of a bodybuilding magazine. (And if you've already decided you don't want to, you're more enlightened than most.) But to your credit, your inability to pack on freaky muscle mass probably isn't because you're not training hard enough or because you have Adrien Brody's genes. Rather, it's more likely due to the fact that you've been following the workouts inside bodybuilding magazines when you should have been reading this one all along. The sad fact is that most bodybuilding workouts have been designed by and for guys who regularly use steroids.

For them, the laws of exercise physiology if not nature seldom apply. That means they can train for hours, thrashing each body part separately without fear of overtraining or under-stimulating their muscles. And their programs reflect that, often prescribing too many exercises, sets, and workouts per week to give the average drug-free guy a chance to recover and grow. (To be fair, it's important to note that most of the bodybuilding world's poster boys are also animals in the gym who not only work hard to make gains but also have a tremendous natural gift for building muscle, with or without drugs.) That said, regardless of these guys' effort and genetic potential, steroid use gives them an overwhelming advantage over guys like you and me. Still, that does not mean you have to get on the juice to make great gains. You can build awesome muscle mass without breaking the law or jeopardizing your well-being-you just have to train as efficiently and intelligently as possible.

That's why we've come up with the Barely Legal Workout, a no-nonsense guide to an attainable yet extremely formidable physique that will help you maximize your own genetic potential for muscle-building without putting your health at risk. You may never look like the monsters in the bodybuilding mags, but you might one day pass for the type of guy we show in this one.

THE BIG DEAL
You're probably asking, "So how big can I expect to get?" While that's impossible to estimate, we're willing to bet that, regardless of your age or present condition, you can lay the foundation for becoming a brick shit house in the next four weeks. Keep with the principles outlined below and you can achieve the look of, say, a lean, twenty-something college linebacker-or maybe even a mini version of pro-wrestler/football player Brock Lesnar. (Do a quick check on Google that should be big enough for ya, Slim.) Here's how to get there:

Go one rep short of failure. Studies show that you don't have to lift to the point where you can't complete a solid rep you can stimulate all your muscle fibers by stopping one rep before. If you work yourself to exhaustion on every set, you'll burn out before the workout is over (and as you'll see, most of the exercises are done with little or no rest between them, so pacing yourself is critical). Furthermore, due to the frequency with which you'll be training, it's essential that your body's central nervous system the organizer of all your muscle activity recovers after each workout. Leaving one rep "in the tank" will allow you to keep each workout's intensity high and prevent you from overtraining.

Train each muscle group twice a week. By not annihilating yourself in every workout, you'll have the capacity (not to mention the energy) to train more frequently the real key to adding muscle. One of the benefits of steroids is that they help your muscles recover more quickly from workouts, leaving them fresh and ready to be worked again soon. That's why steroid users can train up to six days a week if you can recover fully from every workout, each additional session will only build on the progress of the previous one, leading to faster growth. In lieu of drugs,you have to train more conservatively per workout, but you can make up for it with additional sessions: two for the upper body, and two for the lower body. The first upper-body day of every week will focus on heavier weights, primarily increasing your strength. The second upper body day will work the same muscles with higher reps, giving the nervous system a slightly different stimulus and leading to better gains in pure muscle size. The same procedure applies to both lower-body days.

Go from one exercise to the next. Straight sets in which you do one set of one exercise, rest, then perform an-other set, rest again, and so on are outdated when it comes to bodybuilding workouts. Instead, use alternating sets (in which you switch back and forth between exercises), super sets (two exercises back-to-back), or even tri-sets (three exercises back-to-back). By combining sets of exercises and moving swiftly between them, you not only work more total muscle in less time than the old straight set method, you also dramatically improve your conditioning for heavy lifting and burn loads of calories from fat in the process.

Stick with four sets of eight reps. There are plenty of set and rep schemes that build muscle, but if you were to pick one as a mainstay, it should be 4x8. Research indicates that it's perfect for blending gains in size and strength simultaneously, providing just enough volume (your total number of reps) and intensity (heavy weight) to bring fast growth. More of your workouts should follow this prescription over any other.

Click below to for workout tutorial:

Workout's A & B

Workout's C & D

Want more Men's Fitness?

Sign Up for our newsletters now.