Getting yourself in enviable shape by spring takes easing yourself into an intense regimen the right way — and ditching excuses so you never fall off track of your goals. This monthlong plan incorporates both so you always have time to transform your body from average to astonishing.
With two months worth of training under your belt, you should be more than ready to shift your workouts into super overdrive for serious results. But to keep you from quitting from the intensity, we’ve designed a routine so complex (yet flexible) that your mind and muscles will never get bored as you build and nothing will get in your way from shredding and sculpting your body from head to toe.
To keep your muscles in a permanent state of confusion, you’ll perform three different full-body routines each week, resting 48 hours between each workout. The three types of routines include the following:
A traditional straight-set workout allows you to lift as much weight as possible so you preserve — and potentially add — even more lean muscle.
A mix of supersets — two exercises performed back-to-back — are designed to target similar (or opposing) muscle groups so you recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.
A 14-move circuit races you through every exercise, designed to blast fat and boost your endurance.
Monday: Workout No. 1
Perform each exercise using either a weight heavy enough to allow you to perform the recommended number of repetitions or exhaust out your muscles in the recommended amount of seconds. Perform each exercise in the order shown, resting 60 seconds in between each set, and do the required number of sets before moving on to the next exercise.
Ramp it up by … reducing the time between sets to 30 to 45 seconds, performing each rep at a three-second up/three-second down tempo, or perform an extra set of every exercise.
Dial it down by … increasing the time between sets to 90 seconds, and/or speed things up to a one-second up/one-second down tempo.
Wednesday: Workout No. 2
Perform the first exercise of each superset for the reps/time shown, then immediately do the same for the second exercise (with no rest in between). Perform each superset in the order shown, resting 60 seconds in between each superset, and do the required number of supersets before moving on to the next set of moves.
Ramp it up by … reducing the time between supersets to 30 to 45 seconds, performing each rep at a three-second up/three-second down tempo, or perform each superset three times instead of twice.
Dial it down by … increasing the time between supersets to 90 seconds, and/or speed things up to a one-second up/one-second down tempo.
Friday: Workout No. 3
Perform one set of each exercise (in order) for the reps/time shown (with no rest in between). After performing all seven exercises, rest for 60 seconds, then move on to the second seven-move circuit. Once finished with the entire 14-move super-circuit, rest for another 60 seconds, then repeat the entire routine once more.
Ramp it up by … adding five to 15 seconds onto each exercise, lowering the rest time between circuits to 30 to 45 seconds, or perform the entire 14-move super-circuit three times instead of twice.
Dial it down by … shaving five to 15 seconds off each exercise, resting for 90 seconds to two minutes between circuits, and/or only doing the super-circuit once instead of twice.
Do some form of aerobic activity for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week (in between your weight-training workouts).
On Tuesday, do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio but up the intensity by alternating between working out at an all-out pace for 15 seconds, followed by exercising at a low-intensity pace for 45 seconds.
On Thursday and Saturday, stick with steady-state cardio that keeps your pulse within 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate for 45 minutes.
What You’ll Need
- Several pairs of different-size dumbbells
- A kettlebell
- A weight bench
- An incline weight bench
- An exercise mat
- A barbell
- A leg press machine (optional)
- A chin-up bar (optional)
Before each workout, always warm up your muscles by either jogging or walking in place (or performing some form of light aerobic activity that gets your arms and legs moving) for at least five minutes.
Muscles targeted: back, glutes, legs, shoulders and core
Setup: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell with both hands with an overhead grip. Push your hips back and lean forward at the waist — your knees will bend slightly as you go. Your arms should hang straight down in front of you between your legs, palms facing back.
Move: Swing the weight back between your legs, then quickly push yourself back into a standing position as you squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward — the kettlebell should swing up and in front of you about chest height. Let gravity bring the kettlebell back down between your legs and repeat.
Ramp it up by … quickly taking a small step forward with each foot just as the kettlebell reaches its highest point (about eye level), then bring your feet back in line before the kettlebell swings between your legs.
Dial it down by … swinging the kettlebell only as high as your midsection.
Tip: Never let the kettlebell go any higher than your shoulders.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, glutes and core
Setup: Lie on your back holding a kettlebell in your left hand and straighten your left arm so that the weight is directly above you, the kettlebell resting along your forearm. Extend your right arm by your side, palm flat on the floor. Bend your left leg and place your left foot flat on the floor — your right leg should stay straight.
Move: Keeping your left arm straight and the kettlebell above you, roll onto your right side to prop yourself up on your right elbow, then straighten your right arm until you’re resting on your right hand. Push yourself up into a half kneel by threading your right leg behind your left leg, then stand up. Reverse the motion to return to the setup position, then repeat. After performing the required number of repetitions, perform the exercise again with your right arm.
Ramp it up by … going as slow as possible.
Dial it down by … stopping after you’ve pushed yourself into a seated position — instead of standing up.
Tip: Keep the foot of your bent leg pressed into the floor at all times.
Hang Clean and Press
Muscles targeted: legs, shoulders, triceps, chest, back, core and glutes Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip (palms facing in). With your arms straight and in front of you, push your hips back and bend your knees slightly so the dumbbells drop down to rest just above your knees.
Move: Swing the dumbbells upward toward your shoulders as you push your hips forward and straighten your legs. Once the weights reach above waist height, bend your knees to help “catch” the dumbbells in front of your shoulders, then stand up. Next, dip down a few inches by bending your knees, then quickly push the dumbbells up over your head. Reverse the motion to lower the dumbbells back down into the setup position and repeat.
Ramp it up by … trying the exercise using a barbell or using one dumbbell at a time.
Dial it down by … performing fewer presses. (Try doing one press per two to three cleans instead.)
Tip: Make sure you can wiggle your toes at the start. If you can, it means the weight is loaded more along the back of your body.
Muscles targeted: trapezius, lower back, hamstrings and glutes
Setup:Stand facing a barbell with the bar over your toes, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and grasp the bar with an alternating grip (one hand pronated and one hand supinated) and your hands shoulder-width apart.
Move: With your chest up and back flat, stand up (keeping the bar close to your body as you lift) until your legs are straight, knees unlocked. Pause, lower the bar back down to the floor and repeat.
Ramp it up by … standing on a pair of weight plates to allow a greater range of motion.
Dial it down by … using a pair of dumbbells instead.
Tip: Keep your arms straight and resist the urge to raise your shoulders or bend your elbows as you go.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, upper back, shoulders, triceps and core
Setup: With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand holding a kettlebell in your right hand and bring it up to the front of your shoulders. (The kettlebell should rest in the crook of your elbow between your shoulder and wrist.) With your left arm hanging down by your side, push your hips back and sink down into a deep squat.
Move: Press the kettlebell overhead until your right arm is locked above your right shoulder, lower and repeat. Once you’ve performed the required number of repetitions, stand back up, switch hands, rack the kettlebell on your left shoulder and repeat.
Ramp it up by … doing a full squat each time the kettlebell is pressed over your head.
Dial it down by … trying the move from a quarter-squat position instead.
Tip: Don’t let your butt rise. If it does, you’re using your legs to press the kettlebell up.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core
Setup: Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging straight down from your sides, palms facing in.
Move: Take a big step forward with your left foot and lower your body until your left thigh is almost parallel to the floor. (Your right leg should be extended behind you with only the ball of your right foot on the floor.) Keeping your left foot planted, push off with your right foot and bring your right leg forward to take another big step. Alternate between stepping forward with your left and right foot throughout the set.
Ramp it up by … resting the dumbbells on the front of your shoulders — or pressing them above your head — as you lunge.
Dial it down by … doing the exercise without weights.
Tip: Don’t let your knee travel past your toes.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves
Setup: Sit in a leg-press machine with your back and butt flat against the pads and your feet hip-width apart on the platform above you. Push the platform up until your legs are straight (knees unlocked), then release the support bar.
Move: Bend your knees and lower the weight until your legs form a 90-degree angle. Your feet should stay flat the entire time. Press the weight back up until your legs are straight (knees unlocked) and repeat.
Ramp it up by … pausing every few inches or trying the move one leg at a time.
Dial it down by … only bringing the platform halfway down.
No Leg Press In Your Gym? Do a barbell squat for the same number of sets/reps recommended.
Tip: Don’t bend your legs farther than 90 degrees — you’ll place unnecessary strain on your knees instead of working your muscles.
Muscles targeted: latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, lower trapezius, biceps and forearms
Setup: Grab the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing you), hands shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms straight, elbows unlocked.
Move: Pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself back down into the start position and repeat.
Ramp it up by … having a partner place a dumbbell between your legs just above the knees — or wedged between your ankles — and hold it there.
Dial it down by … putting a chair underneath the bar and using it to rest one to two seconds between reps.
Tip: Don’t grip the bar too tightly — your hands will quit before your back muscles.
No Chin-Up Bar In Your Gym? Use a lat pulldown machine, or perform one-arm dumbbell rows.
Barbell Bent-Over Row
Muscles targeted: latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius and lower back
Setup: Stand behind a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the waist and grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the barbell off the floor and position your torso so it’s slightly above parallel to the floor, arms hanging straight below you.
Move: Keeping your back flat and legs slightly bent, quickly pull the bar up until it almost touches your midsection — right between your lower chest and your bellybutton. Slowly lower it back down until your arms are straight and repeat.
Ramp it up by … pausing at the top for several seconds every rep before lowering the weight.
Dial it down by … angling your torso at a 45-degree angle.
Tip: Don’t lock your knees — keep them slightly bent throughout the move.
Barbell Bench Press
Muscles targeted: chest, shoulders and triceps
Setup: Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the weight off the rack and position it above your chest, keeping your arms straight.
Move: Lower the bar down to your chest, then press the weight back up into the start position. Repeat.
Ramp it up by … adding a pause at the halfway point whenever you lower and/or raise the barbell.
Dial it down by … bringing the bar down a few inches from your chest instead of all the way down.
Tip: Don’t arch your back — your torso should stay flat on the bench as you press.
Incline Bench Press
Muscles targeted: upper pectorals, plus shoulders and triceps
Setup: Lie back on an incline bench with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Reach up, grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and lift the weight up so that the bar is directly over your chest. Your arms should be straight, elbows unlocked.
Move: Keeping your back flat on the bench and feet on the floor, inhale as you slowly lower the bar down to the top of your chest. Once it almost touches, exhale as you quickly press the bar back above your chest (elbows unlocked) and repeat.
Ramp it up by … pausing for a second at the bottom of each rep.
Dial it down by … lowering the bench from a 45-degree angle to about 30 degrees — the angle will let you handle the same amount of weight a little easier.
Tip: Don’t follow the bar down with your eyes — it can cause you to tilt your head forward and raise your head off the bench.
Muscles targeted: latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, core, chest, shoulders and triceps.
Setup: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into a push-up position, palms facing each other, hands directly below your shoulders; legs together.
Move: Balancing yourself with one arm, slowly lift the opposite arm and raise the dumbbell up to your side. Lower back to the floor, then repeat with the opposite arm. Alternate back and forth for the entire set.
Ramp it up by … performing a push-up or burpee (or both!) after every two rows.
Dial it down by … raising the dumbbell only halfway off the floor or starting the move on your knees.
Tip: Keep your eyes facing down — staring at the dumbbell as you raise it could throw you off-balance.
Muscles targeted: abdominals, shoulders and lower back
Setup: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a light dumbbell with a hand-over-hand grip, your arms extended above your left shoulder.
Move: Keeping your knees slightly bent and core engaged, quickly twist your torso to your right as you draw your arms across and down — the dumbbell should end up just outside your right knee. Quickly reverse the movement and repeat for the required amount of repetitions. Then switch sides — holding the dumbbell over your right shoulder and rotating to the left — and repeat.
Ramp it up by … standing on one leg by bending your knee and raise your opposite foot behind you.
Dial it down by … pausing at the bottom every few swings.
Tip: Your arms should stay nearly straight throughout the exercise.
Muscles targeted: back, shoulders and core
Setup: Hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of your torso and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging down.
Move: Contract your core muscles as you release the kettlebell into your left hand and move both arms behind your back. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand, bring it back to the front — completing a full circle around your body — and repeat. (Every few rotations, reverse the direction of the kettlebell from counterclockwise to clockwise.)
Ramp it up by … moving your hips as little as possible and/or using a heavier kettlebell.
Dial it down by … slowing down your pace and/or rest for a second every few rotations.
Tip: Keep your arms straight — bending your elbows too much will tire out your biceps.
Click here for Month 1
Click here for Month 2