Why do you exercise? Do you do it to feel better? Look better? Improve your health?
If you’re like most people, it’s likely a combination of all three. But realistically, deep down, we often have superficial, vain, and completely cosmetic motives which override all others. But hey, who can blame us? What’s wrong with wanting to look amazing?
Based on a lot of emails I’ve been receiving from the SIF faithful, it’s obvious there’s a common theme amongst both our men and women readers…
Which exercises should I do to improve my ________________?
….fill in that blank with any random body part and I’ve likely received an email about it.
So I get it, you guys want to look amazing. You want people to stop and stare at YOU when you’re in the gym. With that in mind, I’ve put together a guide I like to call the “Hot Body Maker”. This guide details the 8 most important things you need to be doing if you want to turn that body from average to awesome in just a few months.
1. Deadlift/Squat Combo (butt and legs) – This power combo is an absolute necessity if you are trying to build a round, tight, and shapely butt and legs. Start with 4 sets of squat, followed by 4 sets of deadlift. Be sure you’re going HEAVY here. Obviously, you’ll want to keep your form because these exercises can really mess you up if you’re not careful, but increase the weight to a degree that your muscles reach fatigue after about 5-7 reps. Be sure to increase weight over time as your strength improves.
2. HIIT Sprints (overall fat burn) – Leave the long, slow jogs to the newbies. From now on, you’re doing your cardio in intervals. Short, intense bursts of all out intensity, followed by a longer and more relaxed period. Something like this would be a great place to start: 30 seconds all out sprint/1:30 jog, repeated 12-15 times. Gradually increase the length of your all out sprints and/or the number of times you repeat the interval as your abilities increase. Keep in mind, HIIT can be done on all sorts of cardio, i.e. stationary bike, jump roping, etc. Mix things up, but make sure you’re always going hard and using HIIT to achieve your goal.
3. Weighted Ab Work (core) – Doing hundreds of crunches sounds like a lot of work, but if you want to really build your core muscles you’re going to need to start training them like any other muscle. Start performing decline crunches while holding a weight, russian twists with a dumbbell, the ab crunch machine at your gym with the weight jacked up, cable crunches with a heavy weight. The point is, you want to fatigue your abdominals just like you do any other muscle. If you’re going heavy, you won’t be able to reel off 40 or 50 reps at one time. Mix up your exercises, but shoot for 8-10 sets total, with 10-15 repetitions per exercise. Again, make sure the weight is heavy enough that you’re inducing muscle fatigue by the time you’re finished.
4. Pull Up Combos (biceps, back) – This doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl, this complete upper body compound workout is going to leave you ripped, lean, and beautiful. If you can’t even do one pull up, it’s no problem. Use the pull up assistance machine and bang out your reps. Sooner or later, you’ll be able to use less and less weight until you’re going without any assistance at all. Bottomline, including a pull up combo into your workouts (especially if you aren’t already doing them) is going to help you build beautifully toned muscles all across your upper body. A great place to start would be 50 wide grip pull ups, 25 regular pull ups, and 25 palms in pull ups. Perform each type of pull up in as few sets as possible. Over time, increase the number of pull ups
5. Dip Burn Out (chest, triceps) – I’ll often include this right after the 100 or so reps of the pull up combo. Get on a dip machine, using assistance if necessary, and start rocking. A good place to start would be 100 dips, completed in as few sets as possible. Over time, you’ll increase the number of dips you can complete per set, as well as progress to using no assistance at all. Dips really help build your triceps and chest, helping you develop a lean, athletic, and sexy body. If you are really advanced, consider holding a dumbbell between your feet or using a weight belt to strap on additional weight, making your dip sets even harder.
6. Plyometrics (butt, legs, overall fat burn) – If you aren’t already, it’s time you unlock the numerous benefits of plyometric training. Not only will plyometric work help build your lower body, it’ll help spike your heart rate and lead to serious caloric burn, or in other words, fat loss. Consider performing plyometric work on days you’re doing heavy leg training to completely tax the muscles and make serious gains. Consider a routine consisting of four exercises, three sets per exercise, 25 reps per set, to start. Some great exercises to start with would be Russian lunges, squat jumps, Bulgarian squat jumps, and long jumps. If you want to really go the extra mile, consider adding some jump roping at the end of your leg/plyometric workout.
7. Clean and Press/Bench Press Combo (chest, shoulders, triceps, and lower body) – These power movements are designed to help you pack on beautiful muscle in all the right places. Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps per set, using a weight heavy enough to cause muscular fatigue on the last rep or so of each set. Consider including this exercise on days you’re doing other upper body work.
8. EAT RIGHT. Okay, so this isn’t an exercise, but it is arguably the most important thing on this list. You want to lose fat, build muscle, and generally develop a lean, mean, athletic physique, right? Those are some lofty goals, so your diet is going to have to be on point. Eliminate as much sugar and simple carbohydrates from your diet as possible. No more fruit juice, white bread, frozen dinners, etc. Avoid fast food like the plague. Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and stock up on the veggies. Eat a simple, clean, and healthy diet, and all of the hard work you put in at the gym will be rewarded. On the flip side, understand that if you aren’t eating enough, your body will not grow new tissue, i.e. muscle. If you want a lean, fit physique, you’ve got to fuel yourself with the right kind of food to allow yourself to grow without adding unwanted body fat.
Putting it all together
Now that you know WHAT you should be doing, I’m going to quickly and easily show you HOW you should be doing it. Keep in mind, this is just a guide, and not set in stone.
Day 1: Deadlift/Squat Combo, HIIT Sprints
Day 2: Clean and Press /Bench Press Combo, Pull Up Combo, Dip Burn Out
Day 3: HIIT Sprints, Plyometric Work, Weighted Ab Work
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Deadlift/Squat Combo, HIIT Sprints
Day 6: Clean and Press /Bench Press Combo, Pull Up Combo, Dip Burn Out
Day 7: HIIT Sprints, Plyometric Work, Weighted Ab Work
This is a 6 day a week workout guideline. The majority of these workouts are short and intense, so you’ll be able to get in and out of the gym in no time. Keep in mind, you should taking a rest every 4th day (or as needed), so don’t go back to Day 1 workout without giving your body time to rest. As I mentioned above, keep pushing yourself and shoot to increase weights, speeds, and times, as needed to keep yourself pushing.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is simply not pushing themselves hard enough, or with heavy enough weight. You can’t expect to develop a killer body if you aren’t pushing yourself to the max. If you feel pretty good after a workout, odds are you didn’t go hard or heavy enough. Look forward to that muscle soreness that sets in a day or two after a tough workout. Take pride in collapsing on the sofa after a tough cardio workout. By learning to workout this way, you’ll learn how to push yourself to the max and make the progress you never thought possible to make.