The concept of “shocking” your muscles into growth is one of the oldest maxims in fitness—but that’s because it’s sound advice. If you’ve hit a plateau in gaining size and strength, it’s time to try this time tested wisdom out and get into something new. I’ll show you what this means over the next eight weeks, using a classic training strategy that will jolt your body into growth all summer.
How It Works:
You’re going to spend one month training with heavy weights, low reps, and a low volume of sets. The following month, you’ll lighten the load, raise the reps, and up the sets. Heavy lifting is very draining, sending the signal that your body needs all its reserves to adapt to stress. When that stress is suddenly removed, your muscles are free to grow faster.
The program has two four-week phases, each containing four workouts.
How to Do it:
Weeks 5–8: Perform the exercises marked “A” and “B” in alternating fashion. So you’ll do one set of A, rest, the one set of B, rest, and repeat. The remaining exercises are done as straight sets. In Phase II, you’ll perform 5 sets of 10–12 reps—except where otherwise noted—and rest 60–90 seconds.
1A Incline Press
Set up as you did for the bench press but set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree incline. Lower the bar to the upper part of your chest and then press back up.
1B Bentover Lateral Raise
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing you. Bend over at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise your arms up until they’re parallel to the floor.
2A One-Arm Overhead Press
Hold a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder level. Keeping your body braced and upright, press it overhead.
2B Single-Arm Cable Row
Attach a D-handle to the low pulley of a cable station and stand with feet staggered. Row the handle with one hand to your side. Complete your reps and then switch sides and repeat.
1 Leg Press
Use a leg press station and lower your knees until they’re bent 90 degrees.
2 Glute Bridge
Rest the back of your shoulders on a bench and sit on the floor. Roll a barbell up your legs so it balances in your lap. Squeeze your glutes and bridge your hips up (drive your heels into the floor) so your body forms a straight line to your knees. You’ll look like a table top in the end position.
3 Cable Woodchop
Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grab it with both hands. Take a staggered stance and rotate your torso, pulling the handel diagonally downward to the outside of your front knee. Keep your lower back flat.
4 Single-Leg Calf Raise
Perform the calf raise with one leg at a time.
1A Overhead Press
Perform as you did the push press but do not bend your knees. Strictly press the bar overhead, pushing your head forward after the bar clears it.
1B Assisted Pullup/Lat Pulldown
Attach an elastic exercise band to a pullup bar and stand in the loop to make each rep easier. Or, simply use the lat pulldown machine and pull the bar to your collarbone with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
2A Lying Triceps Extension
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12
Hold an EZ-curl bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and lie back on a flat bench. Press the bar over your chest and then let your arms drift back so they’re angled toward the floor. Bend your elbows to lower the bar behind your head, and then lock them out.
2B Barbell Curl
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–12
Hold the bar at arm’s length and, keeping your elbows against your sides, curl the bar to chin level.
3 Face Pull
Sets: 4 Reps: 10–12
Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grab an end in each hand with palms facing. Pull the handle to your face, flaring your elbows out.
1 Deadlift Off Mats
Set up the barbell to deadlift and stack some mats so you can rest the plates on them. The bar should come up to the middle of your shins. (Resting the bar on the safety rods in a power rack is another option). Perform a deadlift as normal but in the shortened range of motion.
2 Barbell Reverse Lunge
Hold the bar on the back of your shoulders as in a squat and step back with one leg. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
3 Ab Wheel Rollout
Hold the axle of an ab wheel and get into pushup position. Roll the wheel as far forward as you can without allowing your lower back to sag—use a wall to restrict the range of motion if you need to.
4 Calf Raise on Leg Press
Set up in the leg press machine and place the balls of your feet on the bottom of the foot plate. Allow the weight to stretch your calves, and then press your feet into the plate to push the weight back up.