We highlight some of the routines that helped you reach your fitness goals this year.
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Where did the year go? If you are ready to kick back and reflect one the events of 2014, why not check out some of the most popular workouts we featured over the past 12 months. We tried to keep out workouts creative, structured, interesting and kick-ass difficult, but only so your body could fully reap the rewards of your toil in the gym.
So, with no further ado, check out some of the workouts that have resonated most with you, our readers. You might be familiar with some, and if you encounter new routines that pique your interest, then get your ass down to the gym and get working!
Army bases, city parks, church gyms, and state prisons are full of guys with wide shoulders, thick backs, and big chests and arms. And if you asked them what they do to achieve this look, you’d always hear the same answer: pullups and pushups. These simple, timeless exercises work the entire upper body and can be performed virtually anywhere.
We’ll show you how to take full advantage of these moves, and some of their most effective variations, to build your back, arms, chest, and shoulders—no weights, or jail sentence, required.
When you’re busy there isn’t always time for a workout. One or two exercises maybe, but not a whole routine. Most of the time you skip it altogether; after all, what good is just a half-hour session? But that’s a mistake. A short workout forces you to perform only the most essential exercises—the ones responsible for most of your gains—with an increased focus and intensity that revs your metabolism harder and keeps your heart rate elevated. Spend the holiday season mastering those cornerstone movements with this routine. When your calendar clears up again in the New Year, you’ll wonder who needs all that “extra” time anyway.
One muscle-building strategy is a concept known as time under tension (TUT). The idea is that the longer you can keep tension in your muscles during a set, the more you’ll exhaust them, forcing them to grow to adapt. One way to increase TUT is by doing more reps (duh). The other is to pause an exercise at a point in its range of motion and hold it for time. With countdown sets, you accomplish both simultaneously, delivering the maximum stimulus.
You don’t have to train for long before you realize what your favorite exercises are. Maybe you relish the ego boost of a heavy bench press, or love what deadlifts do for your overall power. And pullups? You’ve been the king of those since high school. But now ask yourself: What if you couldn’t do those lifts anymore—would you quit working out altogether?
If you’ve been training for a few years, chances are you’re no longer able to do all your favorite lifts, due to injury or age. But that’s no excuse to bail on hard training entirely. Instead, with a few exercise substitutions, you can continue to challenge yourself, build muscle, and burn off the fat to see your abs inside of a month. Our routines work the whole body with joint-friendly movements that help you burn more calories and see your six-pack. This won’t hurt a bit.
Some celebrities are known as much for their bodies as for their bodies of work—sometimes even more so. For instance, Usher will always be associated with ripped abs. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie may have the most famous lips in the country (not that the rest of her isn’t also lovely). And in Mark Wahlberg’s case, his arms have become as iconic as his characters, like Micky Ward in The Fighter and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. No matter how his roles change film to film, Wahlberg’s biceps stay pumped. Now it’s time to stop envying them and start building a pair of your own—and you can do it using one of the actor’s very own routines.
You’ve heard it your whole life. To get in shape, burn fat, and build muscle, you have to “feel the burn.” This means doing lots of reps and cutting your rest between sets very short so you feel your muscles ache. This approach has its value, but it’s lacking in one key area—it will never get you strong. Instead, follow this program for the next six weeks: You’ll break all your records on lifts and add slabs of muscle, and you’ll do it, mostly, with sets of only one rep.
No one’s seen you without a shirt on—in public, anyway— for the past several months, and that’s probably just as well. Between holiday partying and the cold winter, you haven’t had much incentive to keep your belly in check. Until now. Warm weather’s around the corner, and you might even have a vacation to some tropical destination planned. In short, you’re ready to start training again so when that shirt does come off, it’s not so big people mistake it for a bed sheet. Use this plan to cut up in six weeks.
If there’s one type of body that clients ask personal trainers to help them get more than any other, it’s a boxer’s physique. And that’s fine by me, because I’m a former pro myself. Let me be your cornerman for the next six weeks and you’ll see how a regimen of simple punches, light weights, and total intensity can build a knockout physique in as few as 30 minutes per session. It’s the exact same method I use to train Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the Victoria’s Secret models, excerpted from my new book, Sleekify! train like a boxer to look like an idol.
“Yeah, he’s got great genes—lucky bastard.” If we haven’t said it, we’ve all thought it. It’s true, some guys are able to achieve out-of-this-world physiques because of genetics that attract muscle to their bodies like a magnet—but more often than not, that’s not the case. The way you take your body to the next level is by looking beyond the lifts you’ve been rotating through since college. It’s time to learn some new moves.
Regardless of style, there’s one detail that all suits, from the baggy business ones to slim-fitting tuxedos, invariably share: two lapels tapering to form a “V” shape. That’s because a good suit is supposed to create the illusion of a muscular body, accentuating the shoulders and narrowing the waist. The idea, of course, is to project power. We’ve got news for you: The same principle applies when you’re not wearing a suit. And this summer, you’re likely to fi nd yourself wearing a T-shirt far more often than a three-piece, so now’s the time to start cutting the impressive fi gure you deserve. To carve the perfect torso, read on.
Apart from following a diet made up exclusively of pizza and beer, the worst mistake a man can make when training for abs is clinging to the same old exercises for way too long. Crunches, situps, and planks are fine, but they’re not the only tools you need to sharpen your midsection. (Surely you’re devastated by the thought of taking a break from planks.) The good news is that adding new ab moves to your workouts won’t necessarily add time to them; in fact, we’ll show you how to get more variety in your training in even less time than you’re used to.
For a lot of serious bodybuilders, it’s simply not enough to lift the weights—they take the extra mental step of actively thinking about the body parts they’re working, too (an effort intended to will the muscles into cooperation). Of course, it’s not something science can prove, at least not yet, but thousands of successful lifters with incredible physiques swear by the so-called “mind-muscle” technique. (Who are we to argue?) Here is a workout designed to help you tap into that unexplainable yet undeniable connection, and grow a bigger chest in just six weeks.
When you put a time constraint on your workout, you work more efficiently and you work harder, and that’s the game changer, because the intensity of your workout is really what supercharges your capacity to burn fat both during your training sessions and in the hours after they’re over. So instead of focusing on the weight or volume of your reps, race the clock and work harder.