Phases and workouts

In order to help you achieve long-lasting fitness, the program begins by helping you bring your entire body back into alignment. That's essential, since your muscles tend to move in ways that cause the least aggravation, regardless of whether that's the way they were designed to move. Depending on the postures we adopt and any injuries we sustain over the years, some muscles get stronger than others and the body begins to move differently than it's meant to. If you don't correct these imbalances, the effectiveness of your training is diminished and you become more prone to injury. In our program, during the first four weeks especially, you'll even things out, setting the stage for better and faster aesthetic results in the weeks (and years) to come.

The training consists of core work, but not just for the abdominal core you already know. Major joints such as those in the hips and the shoulders can also be considered "cores," as they too must be stable to prevent injury and provide a foundation for strength. Several of the exercises target the muscles surrounding these joints, and they require slow, deliberate movements and concentration. You'll notice that you don't hit your chest directly until Week 4. Since most people spend hours a day behind a desk, at the wheel of a car, or staring at a computer, their shoulders are rounded and their chest muscles are tight. Bench pressing only worsens this problem, so we want you to build up the pulling muscles in your upper back and shoulders to compensate.

Because you'll be concentrating on shoring up weaknesses, you'll have to give up many of the ego-building, big-weight exercises you're used to (though you will get to hit some of them in this phase, and there will be more in the phases that follow). Believe us, it will be worth it, both by the time you take your shirt off on the beach this summer, and when you take it off 20 summers from now.

Directions for Phase I

FREQUENCY: Perform each workout (I, II, III, etc.) once per week, resting at least a day between each session. You'll complete three workouts per week. Though many of the exercises will be the same, you'll perform a slightly different workout each session.

HOW TO DO IT: Perform the exercises as straight sets, completing all the prescribed sets for an exercise before moving on.

WEIGHT: Unless otherwise stated, use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the prescribed repetitions for each set. For most of these exercises, you'll need to be conservative. Focus on keeping perfect form and completing each rep without momentum.

Phases and workouts