John Cena isn’t as strong as he looks. He’s stronger. Working alongside longtime friend and trainer Rob MacIntyre, Cena has shifted away from the bodybuilding training he grew up with to focus more on pure strength gains—allowing him to keep aesthetic muscles while improving his athleticism and resistance to injury.

The workouts that follow are Cena’s actual routine, modified only slightly for those less experienced. The 10-time WWE champ and two-time World Heavyweight champ tries to hit a new max on his main lifts every six weeks. Follow the program, and you can break your old records in that same time and reap the muscle gains that come from lifting bigger weights.

DIRECTIONS 

> Perform exercises marked with letters (“a,” “b,” and sometimes “c”) in circuit fashion—complete one set for each in order, resting as needed between sets. repeat until all sets for the circuit are complete. The remaining exercises are done as straight sets.

> Each week, you’ll work up to a certain percentage of your max on the snatch and power clean. If these lifts are new to you, just make a conservative guess as to what your max might be. Warm up with low-rep sets and gradually add weight until you reach a challenging load you can handle with perfect form for the required reps. Do not go to failure—leave a rep or two “in the tank” until Week 6, when you will test your strength. Rest as long as you need between all sets.

The squat, front squat, and bench press will not require percentages. Simply work up to the heaviest load you can handle for the prescribed sets and reps. See the tables at the bottom of each day's workout.

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DAY ONE

1. Squat

* See table for sets and reps

> Grasp the bar outside shoulder width and pull your shoulder blades together. Dip under the bar and raise it off the supports of the squat rack so it rests on your traps or rear delts. step back and set your feet at shoulder width. Take a deep breath and push your hips back to lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.

2. Front Squat

* See table for sets and reps

> Grasp the bar at shoulder width and raise your elbows so your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Nudge the bar off the supports and walk it out of the rack. plant your feet at shoulder width and turn your toes slightly out. Squat down as deeply as you can without losing the arch in your back.

3. Leg Curl

Sets: 3 Reps: 6

Perform in a leg-curl machine.

Sets and Reps for Squat, Front Squat, and Bench Press
Week 1 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6 Test your max

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DAY TWO

1. Bench Press

* See table for sets and reps

> Arch your back and grasp the bar outside shoulder width. Pull it out of the rack and lower the bar to your sternum, tucking your elbows near your sides. Press the bar up.

2. Pause Bench

> Lower the bar to your chest and pause (but do not rest) there for two seconds. Press back up. Use the same weight you did on the bench press, but perform only single reps. Total the number of reps you did in one set of the bench press above (if you did 3 sets of 8, do only 8 singles on the pause bench).

3a. Dumbbell Row

Weeks 1–3: Sets: 4 Reps: 8

Weeks 4–6: Sets: 4 Reps: 5

3b. Incline Dumbbell Press

Weeks 1–3: Sets: 4 Reps: 8 (but leave a little "in the tank")

Weeks 4–6: Sets: 4 Reps: 5 (switch to barbell incline press)

4a. Pullup

Weeks 1–3: Sets: 3 Reps: as many as possible

Weeks 4–6: Sets: 3 Reps: 5 (with weight)

4b. Pullover

Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12

> Hold the end of a dumbbell with both hands on the plates and lie back on a flat bench. lower the weight behind your head so you feel a stretch in your lats. Pull the weight back over your chest.

Sets and Reps for Squat, Front Squat, and Bench Press
Week 1 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6 Test your max

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DAY THREE

1. Snatch

* See table for sets and reps

> Stand with your feet at hip width and your shins against the bar. grasp the bar at double shoulder width and, keeping your lower back flat, drive your heels into the floor to begin lifting the bar. When it’s above your knees, explosively extend your hips and shrug your shoulders. Let the momentum carry the weight overhead.

2. Power Clean

* See table for sets and reps

> Perform as you did the snatch, but use a shoulder-width grip and “catch” the bar at shoulder level so your upper arms are parallel with the floor and your palms face the ceiling.

3. Front Squat

* See table for sets and reps

> See Day 1 for instructions.

Sets and Reps for Snatch and Power Clean

Week 1 4 sets of 3 reps at 75%
Week 2 4 sets of 3 reps at 80%
Week 3 4 sets of 2 reps at 83%
Week 4 4 sets of 2 reps at 85%
Week 5 2 sets of 2 at 90%, then 3 sets of 1 at 95%
Week 6 Test your max
Sets and Reps for Squat, Front Squat, and Bench Press
Week 1 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6 Test your max

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DAY FOUR

1. Push Press

Weeks 1–3: Sets: 3 Reps: 5

Weeks 4–6: Sets: 3 Reps: 3

> Hold the bar at shoulder width and nudge it off the rack. Keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Bend your hips, dip your knees, and then explosively press the bar overhead.

2. Close-grip Bench Press

Weeks 1–3: Sets: 3 Reps: 5

Weeks 4–6: Sets: 3 Reps: 3

> Use a shoulder-width grip.

3a. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Sets: 4 Reps: 6

3b. Cable Backhand

Sets: 3 Reps: 8–10

> Attach a D-handle to the low pulley of a cable station. Standing sideways, grab it with your far hand and raise your arm out to your side.

3c. Seated Dumbbell Curl

Sets: 3 Reps: 8

4a. Bradford Press

Sets: 3 Reps: 8

> Press the barbell overhead (don’t lock out your elbows), lower it behind your head, then press up again. That’s one rep.

4b. Reverse Curl

Sets: 3 Reps: 8

4c. Barbell Shrug

Weeks 1, 3, 5: Sets: 4 Reps: 6

Weeks 2, 4, 6: Sets: 3 Reps: 12

> Hold the bar at shoulder width and shrug your shoulders as high as you can.