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The Best Workout Plan To Transform Your Body

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If your number one health and fitness goal is to add lean muscle to your frame and transform how you look with your top off, then you’ve come to the right place. This workout plan is designed to help you get big by building muscular size across all your major muscle groups, while also chipping away at body fat stores, to enable you to build your best-ever body.

This four-week workout plan, which is made up of four gym-based training sessions each week, is based on the core training philosophies used in the New Body Plan book, which details the complete exercise and eating programme that Men’s Fitness editor-in-chief Jon Lipsey followed to go from an overweight 37-year-old to grace the cover of the July 2018 issue of Men’s Fitness. Over the course of his eight-week plan, Jon lost an incredible 10kg of fat and sculpted a six-pack for the first time in his life.

What’s special about this particular plan is that as well as adding muscular size to your chest, shoulders, back and legs, it pays particular attention to your biceps and triceps – helping you build bigger and stronger arms quicker than you ever thought possible.

When you want to add a significant amount of muscular size to your frame, what you do in the gym takes on a higher importance. Why? Because without the perfect training stimulus your body won’t have the incentive it needs to start laying down the new lean muscle tissue that will transform your physique. This four-week plan has been specifically designed to push your mind and your muscles out of their comfort zone to trigger that muscle-building response. It’s a tough plan, but hugely rewarding if you’re serious about adding size.

How to follow this workout plan

A smart approach is to train on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then Saturday or Sunday, to get the maximum amount of recovery time. 

Every workout in this plan is made up of straight sets. This means you do all the sets and reps of exercise 1, and then move on to exercise 2, and do all the sets and reps, and so on. Use a weight that allows you to only just complete the final rep of the final set for each exercise.

Tempo is the speed at which you perform one rep of an exercise, and the four-digit number is the time in seconds you take to lower and lift the weight, and pause at the bottom and the top. For example, a 2010 tempo for the bench press means you take two seconds to lower the bar to your chest, with no pause at the bottom, then take one second to lift the bar, with no pause at the top. 

You will get the best possible results by following the plan exactly. Always stick to the tempo given for each move because doing so will work your muscles harder for longer, and that’s what causes them to grow.

If, however, you are struggling to lift the same weights for the second or third set of an exercise, you can increase the rest between sets to give yourself a little bit longer to recover. Try resting for 90 seconds between sets and seeing if that allows you to hit the rep target for subsequent sets. If not, increase the rest to two minutes and try again.

Workout 1: Upper Body

1 Incline dumbbell bench press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height. Plant your feet on the floor directly underneath your knees. Brace your core and back muscles, and press your feet into the ground. Keeping your whole body tight and your chest up, press the weights directly up until your arms are straight and the weights touch over the middle of your chest. Slowly lower the weights back to the start position under complete control.

2 Wide lat pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself on the machine with a double shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up, abs braced and back straight, pull the bar down to chin height, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, squeezing your lats hard, then reverse the movement back to the start.

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3 Machine overhead press

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Prepare the machine, following the instructions to make the necessary adjustments so when you sit on it you’re positioned correctly and safely. In the start position you should be sitting upright with your chest up and holding the handles with a wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Take a deep breath in, then breathe out forcefully and press the handles up until your arms are fully straight. Bend your elbows and slowly return to the start position.

4 Cable cross-over

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with a split stance in the middle of a cable machine, holding a D-handle in each hand attached to the high pulley. Keeping your chest up, core braced, and a slight bend in your elbows, bring your hands down in a smooth arc to meet in front of your hips. Hold this bottom position for one second, squeezing your chest muscles hard, then reverse the movement back to the start.

5 Cable bar biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine with your chest up and core engaged, holding a bar with an underhand grip attached to the low pulley. Keeping your chest up and your elbows tight to your sides, curl the bar up until your hands are at chin height. Pause and hold this top position, squeezing your biceps to keep the tension on them. Slowly return to the start position, without letting your elbows move away from your sides at any point. At the bottom position, flex your triceps.

6 Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up in front of a cable machine, holding a bar with an overhand grip attached to the high pulley. Keeping your chest up and your elbows at your sides, press your hands down until your arms are fully straight. Pause and flex your triceps to keep the tension on them. Slowly return to the start position.

Workout 2: Legs And Abs

1 Front squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Hold the bar across the front of your shoulders, holding it either in your hands with elbows forwards and upper arms parallel to the ground, or with your arms crossed. Stand with your feet at least hip-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Keeping your elbows up, chest up and core engaged, squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. From this bottom position, drive through your heels, pushing your knees out to the sides, to return to the start.

2 Romanian deadlift

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip just outside your thighs. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forwards from the hips and lower the bar down the front of your legs until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the movement back to the start and push your hips forwards at the top.

3 Leg extension

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Prepare the machine, following the instructions to make the necessary adjustments so when you sit on it you’re positioned correctly and safely. In the start position you should be sitting upright with your chest up and shins against the padded bar. Lift the bar by raising your feet until both legs are fully straight. Hold this top position for one second, keeping the maximum amount of tension on your quads, then slowly lower your feet back to the start position.

4 Hamstring curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Prepare the machine, following the instructions to make the necessary adjustments so you’re positioned correctly and safely. In the start position you should be sitting upright with your chest up and straight legs, with the padded bar against the back of your ankles, above your heel. Lower the bar by bending your knees and pulling your feet underneath your body. Hold this bottom position for one second, keeping the maximum amount of tension on your hamstrings, then slowly return your feet back to the start position.

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5 Crunch

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 1111 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and bend your arms so your fingers touch the sides of your head. Engage your abs, then raise your torso off the floor without tensing your neck. Keep the tension on your abs as you slowly lower your torso back to the floor. You can make each rep harder by not allowing your upper back to touch the floor between reps.

6 Plank jack

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 1010 Rest 60sec

Get into plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Engage your abs, then raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Without letting your hips sag, jump both feet out to the sides so your toes tap the floor, then jump your feet back in. That’s one rep. Keep repeating this movement, keeping your head and neck relaxed and your breathing controlled – don’t hold your breath.

Workout 3: Upper Body

1 Bench press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie on a flat bench, holding a barbell with a wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Plant your feet on the floor directly underneath your knees. Brace your core and back muscles, and press your feet into the ground. Keeping your whole body tight and your chest up, lower the bar until it touches your chest around nipple-level. Press the bar back up powerfully to straighten your arms and return to the start position. Don’t “bounce” the bar on your chest at the bottom of a rep.

2 Seated row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself on the machine with your feet against the foot rest, holding a double-grip cable attachment in both hands. Keeping your chest up, back straight and core braced, row your hands towards your body, leading with your elbows. When your hands reach your body, pause for a second and squeeze your back and biceps muscles hard, then reverse the move back to the start position.

3 Dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up, abs braced and feet hip-width apart, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with your palms facing one another. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to the sides, no higher than shoulder height. As the weights approach shoulder height, rotate your wrists slightly so that your little fingers are pointing straight up – this will contract your side delts harder. Pause and hold this top position for a second, then slowly lower the weights back to the start under complete control.

4 Hammer curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up, core braced and shoulders back, holding dumbbells with your palms facing your sides. Keeping your chest up and your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up towards shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps hard at the top of the rep, then slowly lower the weights back to the start under complete control. Straighten your arms fully at the bottom and flex your triceps hard before you start the next rep.

5 Cable triceps extension

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your back to a cable machine, holding a double rope handle in both hands behind your head attached to the low pulley, with your chest up and core engaged. Lean forwards slightly from your hips, but keep your chest up and back straight. Keeping your elbows locked in position and pointing straight up, press your hands up and forwards to straighten your arms. When your arms are straight, pause and flex your triceps for one second. Slowly return to the start position and squeeze your biceps hard before the next rep.

6 Press-up

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Get on all fours with your legs and arms straight, your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Raise your hips and brace your core to keep your entire body stable. Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the floor, but don’t let them flare out to the sides – they should stay tight to your sides. Go as low as you can, then press back up to straighten your arms and return to the start position.

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Workout 4: Biceps And Triceps

1 EZ-bar biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up, abs braced and elbows by your sides, using an underhand grip to hold an EZ-bar with your hands just outside your hips. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the bar up, stopping just before your forearms reach vertical. Pause in this top position for one second, squeezing your biceps hard. Slowly lower the bar back to the start position.

2 EZ-bar triceps extension

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie on a flat bench, holding an EZ-bar above your chest with straight arms. Keeping your elbows locked in position pointing to the ceiling, slowly lower the bar towards the top of your head by bending your elbows. Without arching your back, slowly return the bar to the start position by straightening your arms.

3 EZ-bar triceps press

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie on a flat bench, holding an EZ-bar above your chest with straight arms. Slowly lower the bar to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides and not allowing them to flare out. Once the bar touches your chest, press it back up to the start powerfully, without bouncing it back up off your chest.

4 Dumbbell biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight and your elbows by your sides with your palms facing away from you. Keeping your chest up and your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up towards shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps hard at the top of the rep, then slowly lower the weights back to the start under complete control. Straighten your arms fully at the bottom, flexing your triceps hard before you start the next rep.

5 Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your chest up in front of a cable machine, holding a bar with an overhand grip attached to the high pulley. Keeping your chest up and your elbows at your sides, press your hands down until your arms are fully straight. Pause and flex your triceps to keep the tension on them. Slowly return to the start position.

6 Cable bar biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine with your chest up and core engaged, using both hands to hold a bar handle attached to the low pulley. Keeping your chest up and your elbows tight to your sides, curl the bar up until your hands are at chin height. Pause and hold this top position, squeezing your biceps to keep the tension on them. Slowly return to the start position without letting your elbows move away from your sides at any point. At the bottom position, flex your triceps.

Weeks 2, 3, And 4

The second, third and fourth weeks of the plan are similar to the first. You’ll perform the same sessions containing the same moves in the same order, but with two key changes each week to keep your muscles growing bigger and stronger. In the second week you’ll do two extra reps per set of every move, so 12 per set instead of 10 in week 1. This might not sound like a big increase, but just wait until you try it! In the third week, the reps per set drops back down to 10, but you’ll do an extra set of every move. In the fourth and final week, you’ll increase the reps back up to 12 with the higher set count, ending the plan with the hardest week.



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