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Yearlong Workout: Phase II Intro

The second installment in our 12-month series is designed for faster muscle gains

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So far, we've had you using light weights and doing a high number of reps. The tempo for each set was fairly slow, because we wanted you to develop muscle endurance and stability. There was no heavy benching and no marathon "arm workouts," and while that may have been a blow to your ego (sorry), if you were responsible and did as we asked, you're about to reap some tremendous rewards. Now that you're better conditioned, you're ready to lift heavier and start blasting muscle groups for maximum growth. In other words, you're ready to kick it up a notch.

The next four weeks will consist of three full-body workouts per week. Many of the exercises we'll have you doing will require a lot of work from your core, reinforcing the stability you built last month and helping chisel out your abs. You may also notice that some old-school bodybuilding moves pop up in the mix as well, preparing you for even heavier lifting in the next month.

Phase II's goal is to build size. You'll have to eat like a hippo, but to avoid turning into one, try to keep your food choices as clean as possible. Aim for about one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, and let the bulk of it come from complete sources such as chicken, lean beef, fish, and eggs. At the same time, you should attempt to eat twice that many grams of carbohydrates, which will fuel your workouts and give you ample calories for recovery. Any and all vegetables are good choices, but don't skimp on starchier carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, and rice, either. About 30% of your diet should come from fats, particularly unsaturated kinds as found in olive oil and nuts.

Tip: To minimize fat gain during this bulking phase, avoid combining carb-rich foods with fat. For example, if you make yourself a hamburger, eat it on a whole-grain bun or without bread entirely. Keeping insulin levels low helps prevent calories from being stored as body fat.

Directions:

Frequency: Perform each workout once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

How To Do It: Perform the exercise pairs (marked A and B) as alternating sets, resting the prescribed amount of time between sets. (So you'll do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest again, and so on for all the prescribed sets.) Perform exercises that are not marked with a letter as straight sets, completing one set after the other before moving on.

Exercises that call for "21" reps, should be done as follows: Perform seven reps in the hardest range of motion. For instance, for the dumbbell shoulder press, you would press the weights from shoulder level to about halfway overhead. Then perform seven full-range reps as normal. Finally, complete another seven reps in the easiest range of motion (from halfway overhead to lockout on the shoulder press).

Tempo: The first digit is how many seconds you should take to lower the weight. The second digit is how long you should pause at the bottom (when your muscles are under the most tension). The third digit is how long you should take to lift the weight.

Weight: Use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the prescribed repetitions for each set.

Phase II Workouts:

Workout A
1A Lateral Lunge
1B Dumbbell Shoulder Press
2A Underhand-Grip Seated Cable Row
2B T Pushup
3 Cable Woodchop
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Workout B
1A Three-Point Dumbbell Row
1B Dumbbell Split Squat
2A Ball Bridge
2B Close-Grip Chinup
3 Superman
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Workout C
1A Lunge
1B Swiss-Ball Pushup
2A Alternating Swiss-Ball Leg Curl
2B Lateral Raise w/Rotation
3 Forward Ball Roll
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