Welcome to Part 1 of the Rock Hard Challenge. We’ve designed a comprehensive training, nutrition, and supplement program specifically for you—an eight-week plan, divided into two four-week segments that will appear in this issue and our June issue. That’s the “Rock Hard” part. As for the “Challenge,” once you’ve completed the program, we invite you to show us your progress by way of photographic evidence. We’ll then pick a winner who will receive $1,120 worth of MuscleTech supps, plus the chance to appear in the magazine in a featured workout.

Follow the program laid out here and in next month’s issue, and show us before-and-after photos for a chance to win. Via our online component, you’ll be able to ask questions and get feedback, motivation, and tips from MF staffers and your fellow MF readers. For complete rules for the 2013 Rock Hard Challenge and details on how to enter, along with the nutrition and supplement portions of our program, click here.
 

How It Works:

The first month of the Rock Hard Challenge program is a classic bodybuild- ing split with a twist. You’ll include a handful of intensity techniques that will help keep your metabolic rate firing while you’re reducing calories (see the Rock Hard Nutrition plan on mensfitness.com). The net effect is that you’ll keep your muscle mass—or even add to it—while you burn body fat. The keys to suc- cess are to weight train with intensity, include cardio activities that emphasize fat burning and also help you avoid overtraining, and reduce calorie consump- tion only enough that you target fat loss while preserving muscle mass. You’ll follow this workout plan for four weeks. In our next issue, look for Part 2 of the Rock Hard Challenge program.

Directions:

Perform the exercises as directed, and make sure to reference the “Specialty Techniques” column on this page for specific instructions on how to complete certain moves. Paired exercises (marked “a” and “b”) are done as a superset— complete a set of the first move and then the next without rest in between. Repeat until all sets are done.

Click to return to THE ROCK HARD CHALLENGE>>>

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Specialty Techniques

In part 1 of the rock hard challenge, you’ll incorporate the following techniques each week. these strategies help support your goals of maintaining or building muscle mass while shedding fat.

Intensity Set

What it is: a superset that includes an exercise for the targeted body part and a leg exercise that ac- celerates your heart rate.
What you’ll do: perform the move that hits your target muscle group, then follow it immediately with a lower-body move that jacks up your heart rate. after you complete a set, rest for as little time as possible. choose light weights. after you finish all four intensity sets, take a short rest before moving on to your next exercise.
Benefits: you’re using an- aerobic moves for cardio and fat-burning benefits.

Steady-State Cardio

What it is: treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, or stair-climbing work per- formed at a comfortable rate. you should break a sweat but be able to talk to someone next to you throughout.

What you’ll do: at the end of your weight-training workouts twice a week, you’ll drink your post- workout shake before do- ing 30 minutes of cardio.

Benefits: compared with other fat-burning techniques, steady- state cardio is easier to perform, and it keeps your metabolism elevated.
 

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

What it is: this form of cardio work includes intense 60- to 90-second intervals followed by 2–3 minutes of easier work.

What you’ll do: after a few minutes of warming up at an easy pace, you’ll increase the intensity to aperceived exertion level of about 9. maintain this for 60–90 seconds, then slow down to an easy pace for a few minutes, allowing your heart rate to come down so you’re ready to perform another intensity interval. in total, perform at least three intervals, working up to five by the end of four weeks. these workouts shouldn’t be long—you should be able to complete this work in 20 minutes or less.

Benefits: research shows that HIIT sessions burn body fat more effectively than other forms of cardio. intensity intervals also have a profound effect on your metabolic rate, burning more body fat in the hours following your workouts.
 

Burnout Set

What it is: a high-rep set performed as the last set that targets a particular body part.

What you’ll do: choose a relatively light weight that allows you to get a deep contraction in the target muscle—not one that makes you use other muscles to lift it.

Benefits: burnout sets encourage growth by forc- ing as much blood as you can into the muscles.

Rest Day

What it is: well, you know what this is—a day where you don’t go to the gym.

What you’ll do: follow your diet plan but take it easy otherwise. you can rearrange your workouts so rest days fit your schedule better, but take two rest days each week.

Benefits: rest prevents muscle breakdown.

Training Split

Below is the schedule you’ll follow for the first four weeks. See above for descriptions of each intensity technique.

Day Body Part Specialty
1 Legs, abs Steady-Rate Cardio
2 Chest, Triceps Intensity Sets
3   HIIT Cardio
4 Back, biceps, abs Intensity Sets
5 Shoulders, Calves, Forearms HIIT Cardio
6   Rest
7   Rest

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Day 1 - (Legs, Abs, Cardio)

Exercise Sets Reps
1a - Leg Extension
Set the cam of the machine so it’s in line with your knees. Extend your legs, hold at the top for a moment, and then control the descent.
4 20, 20, 15, 15
1b - Lying leg Curl
Set the cam of the machine so it’s in line with your knees. Bend your knees to curl your heels toward your butt.
4 15
2 - Squat
Grasp the bar outside shoulder width and squeeze tightly. Step under it and pull your shoulder blades together. Arch your back to take the bar off the rack—it should rest on your traps or rear delts. Step back and set your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath and sit back, lowering yourself as far as you can while keeping your lower back in its natural arch. Push your knees outward as you descend.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
3 - Wide-stance Leg Press
Place your feet outside shoulder width on the foot plate. Turn your toes out about 15 degrees and bend your knees 90 degrees on each rep.
3 15, 12, 10
4 - Dumbbell Walking Lunge
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and step into a lunge. Lower your body and then step forward to begin the next rep.
3 20 (Each Leg)
5 - Stiff-leg Deadlift
Hold the bar at shoulder width and stand shoulder width. Push your hips back and lower your torso as far as you can while keeping your lower back arched and your knees nearly locked.
3 12
6 Leg Extension (Burnout Set)
Perform a burnout set as described on page 86. Hold the top of each rep.
1 30
7 - Lying Leg Curl (Burnout Set)
Perform a burnout set as described on page 86.
1 30
8 - Kneeling Cable Crunch
Attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station. Kneel on the floor and pull the handle down around the back of your neck to put tension on the cable. Crunch your torso to your hips and hold the bottom position for a moment. Focus on your abs.
3 20
9 - Reverse Crunch
Lie on your back and bend your hips and knees 90 degrees. Raise your hips off the floor and crunch them to your chest.
3 20
10 - Steady State Cardio
Choose a low-intensity exercise like walking or use an elliptical trainer or bike and work at a moderate pace. you should be mildly out of breath.
  30 min

 

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Day 2 - (Chest, Triceps)

Exercise Sets Reps
1a - Dumbbell Bench Press
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie back on a flat bench. press the weights directly over your chest.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
2 - Incline Bench Press
Lie back against an adjustable bench set to a 30- to 45-degree angle and perform dumbbell bench presses.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
3a - Pushup (Intensity Set)
Keep your abs braced and your body in a straight line.
4 20
3b - Stepup
Set up a bench or other platform so that when you place one foot on it your thigh is parallel to the floor. step up onto a bench but leaving your trailing leg hanging off.
4 20 (each Leg)
4 - Dumbbell Flye
Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. spread your arms apart while keeping a slight bend in your elbows. then bring your arms together in front of your chest.
1 30
5 - Cable Crossover (Burnout Set)
Perform a flye motion using two facing cable stations. bend at the hips so your torso is 90 degrees.
3 12
6 - Dip
Suspend yourself over parallel bars and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
4 As many as possible
7 - Narrow-grip Bench Press)
Grasp the bar just inside shoulder width. Lower the bar to your solar plexus, tucking your elbows to your sides.
3 15, 12, 10
8 - Triceps Pushdown
Attach a rope handle to the pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. fix your elbows at your sides and extend them downward.
3 15,12,10
9 - Triceps Pushdown (Burnout Set) 1 30

 

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Day 3 - (HIIT, Cardio)

Choose any cardio activity such as running, cycling on an exercise bike, or using a row ma- chine and work as hard as you can for a 60-second interval. Rest for 120–150 seconds, and then repeat three to five times. Add some time to the work interval each week until you reach 90 seconds.

Day 4 - (Backs, Biceps, Abs)

Exercise Sets Reps
1 - Pullup
Hang from a pullup bar and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise your body up until your chin is over the bar.
4 As many as possible
2 - Reverse-grip Lat Pulldown
Sit at a lat-pulldown station and grasp the bar with hands inside shoulder width and palms facing you. Pull the bar to your collarbone.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
3 - Bentover Row
Grasp the bar at shoul- der width and row the bar to your belly.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
4a - Seated Cable Row (Intensity Set)
Attach a neutral-grip handle to a cable station. row the handle to your sternum.
4 20
4b - Stepup (Intensity Set)
See page 90 for a description.
4 20 (each leg)
5 - Lat Pulldown
Grasp the bar outside shoulder width with palms facing away.
1 30
6 - Dumbbell Curl
Keep your elbows close to your sides through- out to keep tension on the biceps and not the shoulders.
3 15, 12, 10
7 - EZ-bar Curl
Use an EZ bar and grasp it at shoulder width.
3 15, 12, 10
8 - EZ-bar Curl (Burnout Set) 1 30
9 - Bench Knee-in
Sit perpendicular on a bench and lean back while extending your legs. crunch your torso forward as you bring your knees in.
3 15
10 - Twisting Crunch
Lie on your back and twist your right elbow to your left knee as you perform a crunch. then repeat on the other side.
3 20

 

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Day 5 - (Shoulders, Calves, Forearms)

Exercise Sets Reps
1 - Arnold Press
Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with palms facing you. Press the weights overhead as you turn your palms to face forward.
4 15, 12, 10, 8
2 - Cable Lateral Raise
Attach a D-handle to the low pulley of a cable station and grasp it far enough away from the ma- chine that your shoulder feels a stretch. raise the handle out to 90 degrees.
4 15
3 - Machine Shoulder Press
Align the cam of the machine with your shoulders and press overhead.
3 15
4 - Bentover Lateral Raise
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend over at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. raise the weights out 90 degrees.
3 15
5 - Dumbbell Shrug
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and shrug your shoulders to your ears..
4 20, 15, 12, 10
6 - Machine Shoulder Press (Burnout Set) 1 30
7 - Standing Calf Raise
Use a standing calf raise machine and lower your heels until you feel a stretch in your calves. drive the balls of your feet into the platform to raise your heels.
3 20, 15, 15
8 - Seated Calf Raise
Use a seated calf raise machine to perform the exercise as described above.
3 20, 15, 15
9a - Wrist Curl
Hold a barbell inside shoulder width and rest the backs of your fore- arms on a bench. Allow the weight to slide down to your fingertips and then close your hand and bend your wrists.
1 30
9b - Reverse Wrist Curl
Place the meat of your forearms on the bench and extend your wrists.
3 15
10 - HIIT Cardio
Choose any cardio activity such as running, cycling on an exercise bike, or using a row ma- chine and work as hard as you can for a 60-second interval. rest for 120–150 seconds, and then repeat three to five times. add some time to the work interval each week until you reach 90 seconds.
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