Muscle-Building 12-Week Workout: Week 3

Welcome to week three of the Muscle-Building 12-Week workout program from strength-training specialist Mike Clausen. Weeks three and four are the same exercise plan as week two. Be sure to increase your intensity as you go. We'll be adding a new week of tough muscle-building workouts each week for the next 12 weeks. Ready to get started building a stronger, healthier body? Check it out below!


Superset Exercise Muscles Weight (Goal) Set 1 Reps (Goal) Set 1 Reps (Actual) Set 2 Reps (Goal) Set 2 Reps (Actual) Set 3 Reps (Goal) Set 3 Reps (Actual) Set 4 Reps (Goal) Set 4 Reps (Actual)
Cable Side Rotators Shoulders (rotator cuffs) Light 15 - 20 each arm 15 - 20 each arm N/A N/A N/A N/A
Begin Superset
S Push-ups Chest, Triceps, Shoulders N/A 20 20 20 N/A N/A
S Tube Chest Presses Chest N/A 20 20 20 N/A N/A
Begin Superset
S Dumbbell Flys Chest Rep Max 16 12 12 10
S Flat Bench Push-Ups Chest, Triceps N/A 16 16 16 16
Dumbbell Presses Chest Rep Max 16 12 12 10
Begin Superset
S Flat Bench Barbell Presses Chest Rep Max 12 10 10 10
S Incline Push-ups Chest (upper) N/A 10 10 10 10
Begin Superset
S Single-Arm Pec Deck Chest Rep Max 15 each arm 15 each arm 12 each arm 10 each arm
S Gravitron Dips (Chest Focused) Chest, Triceps Rep Max Max out Max out Max out Max out
Exercise Time Overview
Treadmill 30 Minutes Do 30 minutes of jogging on the treadmill machine. Get your heart rate up to a moderate level.
Exercise Overview
Cable Side Rotators Stand erect next to a cable system machine with the cable set at stomach level and your body facing perpendicular to the machine. Attach a single-handed grip to the end of the cable. Roll a towel in the armpit of the arm farthest away from the cable system machine, and then grasp the single-handed grip in the hand of that arm. Hold your elbow at a right angle to your body with your arm flat across your stomach. Next, with your elbow held at a right angle and your arm flat against your stomach, slowly move your hand from your stomach towards the outside of your body. Use your upper arm as the pivot point and be sure to keep your forearm at a right angle to your body. Keep your wrist flat throughout the movement. Move your forearm as far out as you can go without compromising your form. Reverse the motion, and slowly bring the your hand back across stomach. After you have completed a set, switch sides and repeat with your other arm.
Push-ups Position yourself on the floor in a prone position (face down) with your legs together and extended straight behind you and your arms slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Support yourself on your toes and your hands, with your palms down on the ground. Your arms should be straight but without locked elbows. Your spine should be neutral with no arch. Slowly bend your arms and descend toward the floor. Keep your neck in line with your spine throughout the movement; do not jut your chin out towards the floor at the bottom of the movement. Stop when your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Reverse position and push back up to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the movement.
Tube Chest Presses Attach the center of a resistance tube to a fixed, immovable point at chest height. Stand with your back to the point of attachment and take one handle in each hand. Hold your arms at chest level with your elbows bent behind you and your palms facing inward. Step away from the point of attachment until there is tension in the tube and stagger your feet for balance. Next, keep your shoulders retracted as you press your hands forward and together. Think of leading with your pinkies as you keep your elbows soft, so that your shoulders are the only joints moving. Bring your hands together in front of you with palms facing, keeping a light grip on the handles. Develop flexion through the center of your chest as your hands converge. Your hands should not come so close together that you are unable to keep your shoulders back. Keep your shoulders retracted as you allow your arms to return to the starting position; even as your arms come back, resist the tug of the tube, so that you are in control of your motion through your chest.
Dumbbell Flys Lie on a flat bench with your feet on the floor and dumbbells held in each hand above you, with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing inward with a firm, yes relaxed grip. Hold the dumbbells approximately shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders retracted and your chest high. Engage your abdominals. Next, open your chest and, keeping your arms held in the same position with elbows slightly bent, lower the dumbbells down into a fly. Do not arch your back. Make sure to keep your chest flexed and engaged all the way to the bottom of the movement. Go deep but not too deep-do not allow the dumbbells to go below the level of your back. When you have reached the bottom of the fly motion, reverse and bring the dumbbells back up together to the starting position. Your chest should stay flexed and engaged all the way to the top of the movement. After your have completed your reps, bend your elbows, bring the dumbbells to your chest, and then sit up and simultaneously drive the dumbbells down towards the tops of your thighs in one motion. This will help prevent you from twisting your back unnaturally as you set down the dumbbells.
Flat Bench Push-ups Stand behind a flat bench that is firmly bolted to the floor. Important: Do not do this exercise using a moveable piece of furniture. Place your hands flat on the bench a little bit more than shoulder-width apart and walk your feet back behind you until you achieve an elevated plank position, with your weight on your toes and hands, your back flat and neck in line with your spine, and your shoulders retracted to focus the work in your chest. Turn your hands slightly to the outside. Next, do a standard push-up, bending your elbows to lower your chest to the bench while keeping your back flat and a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. With your chest engaged, lower down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and your elbows are level with your back. Your chest should not touch the bench. Focus on keeping your shoulders back and chest in front as you descend; use your chest muscles to resist the weight of your body. From the bottom of the push-up, exhale and push up back to the starting position using your chest muscles.
Dumbbell Presses Lie on your back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Both your head and your hips should be on the bench, with your feet flat and light on the floor. Extend both arms straight toward the ceiling with palms facing your feet. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Bend both elbows as you pull the weights down toward the floor. As you lower the weights, keep your chest high; try to isolate your pectorals rather than using your shoulder muscles. The dumbbells should remain in a vertical line above your elbows throughout this movement. Continue to pull your elbows down until they are level with your back. Hold briefly and reverse direction, pressing the dumbbells back toward the ceiling as you straighten your elbows.
Flat Bench Barbell Presses Lie on your back on a flat bench with a barbell on the rack over your upper body. The barbell should be at a level corresponding to the distance from your elbow to your hand when your elbows are bent at right angles at your sides. Take the barbell in your hands with your hands wider than shoulder-distance apart and your palms facing toward your feet. With the barbell still on the rack, contract your shoulder blades together and downward to raise your chest toward the bar. Engage your abdominals by pulling them in toward your spine to create a muscular "weight belt". You will use this technique to keep your back flat throughout the exercise—do not, at any time, permit your back to arch. Lift the bar off the rack and, keeping it steady, bend and lower your elbows to the side until they are at the level of your back. The bar should not touch or bounce off of your chest at any point. Keeping your head and neck in line with your spine and your back flat on the bench by engaging your abs, slowly press the bar directly toward the ceiling. Controlling the motion, return the bar to the position just above your chest, with your elbows at the level of your back.
Incline Push-ups Stand with your back toward a flat bench that is firmly bolted to the floor. Note: Do not do this exercise using a moveable piece of furniture. Place your hands flat on the floor with arms extended and put your feet up behind you on the bench, so that you are in a plank position with your feet elevated. Your weight should be on your toes and hands, and your shoulders directly over your hands; keep your center engaged to maintain a flat back. Next, do a standard push-up, bending your elbows to lower your chest to the floor while keeping your back flat and a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. At the bottom of your push-up, your feet will be significantly higher than your head—so as you lower your chest, resist gravity by maintaining a continuous pace. Once your chest is just a couple of inches from the floor, press back up to the starting position, using a single, smooth movement.
Single-Arm Pec Deck Sit at a pec deck machine. Set the bench height such that your hands, when gripping the handles (or forearms when on the pad machine), will be at the level of your chest. Grasp the handle to your left with your left hand, leaving your right arm at your side. Keep your shoulders back throughout. This will generate a slight arch in your back, which is fine provided you support by engaging your abs. Next, bring your left arm and the machine’s corresponding arm in a straight arc just past the center line of your chest. Control this movement so that it is continuous; avoid starting with a jerking motion. On the grip handle machine, the lower portion of your hand should have the most pressure; for a pad machine, your elbow will carry more pressure than your hand. From the flexed position, reverse direction and bring your arm back to the starting position. Be very careful to control this movement; your arm should not come further back than straight to the side, and as you near full extension you should be careful to go slowly and keep your chest muscle flexed to protect your shoulders and prevent injury. After a full set with the left arm, switch to the other side and repeat with the right.
Gravitron Dips (Chest Focused) Set the weight setting, and then step up on the platform of the Gravitron machine. Set the Gravitron dip handles in the wide setting. Grasp the handles in each hand and step off the platform onto the foot bar. Lean your upper body over significantly until you can feel your chest supporting a lot of your weight; for this exercise you want a lot of the burden on your chest muscles. Push up with your chest and straighten your arms with your triceps until you are as high as you can go while maintaining the leaned-over position. Your arms will not straighten fully, keeping your pectoral muscles engaged. Next, slowly lower your body down into the dip. Be sure to continue to lean forward as you descend. Lower yourself down until your body is parallel to your arms. When you have reached the bottom of the movement, reverse the motion and push yourself up again until you are back at the starting position.


Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith