Welcome to week six of the new RealJock.com Muscle-Building 12-Week workout program from strength-training specialist Mike Clausen. For week six, you'll continue to focus on two body parts per day for most workout days using the same exercises from week five. This week, you'll be doing chest workouts twice and bicep workouts twice. Mix it up, build your intensity, and have fun!
|EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS IN BRIEF
|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.|
|Lopsided Single Dumbbell Push-ups
||Place a single dumbbell on the floor so that it stands upright. Take up a plank position, with one hand on the upright dumbbell and the other hand on the floor. Your hands should point forward. Your feet should be together and your back flat. Next, perform lopsided push-ups by lowering your chest to the floor. Because your arms are bent at different angles, your chest should descend at a slight angle to the floor. From the bottom of the motion, press back up to your starting position. Throughout the motion, maintain your center so that you don't land on the floor with your stomach or end the exercise with your buttocks in the air. Do a full set with one hand on the dumbbell, and then switch the dumbbell to the other hand and perform the exercise on the opposite side. For an additional balance and stability challenge, use a small medicine ball instead of the dumbbell.|
|Dumbell Chest 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 lower the weights down toward the floor. 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. As you return to the starting position, keep the flexion in your chest without allowing your shoulders to pop up; do not let the weights touch at the top of your motion.
|Stability Ball Push-ups
||Place both hands on a stability ball and position the rest of your body like a plank. Your abdominals should be held in so that your stomach does not dip, and your back should be flat so that your buttocks do not come up. Keep your feet hip-width apart for stability, and, if needed, put the ball against a wall for support. Perform a push-up, lowering your chest until it almost touches the ball. Your elbows should come out to the side as you drop down, and your shoulder blades should come together. From the bottom of the push-up, reverse direction and press yourself back up to the starting position. For a more difficult version of this exercise, perform the push-ups with your hands on the ball and your feet shoulder-width apart on top of a flat bench. This will crank up the intensity of the 'hands-on' push-up 10 fold. For an even more advanced version, place your feet on a stability ball as well and perform the push-ups.
|Incline Barbell Presses
||Set an incline bench at a 45-degree angle and sit with your back to the raised end of the bench. Take a barbell in both hands, with hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing toward your feet. Keeping your shoulder blades together and your chest lifted (so that you feel as though our shoulders are behind your chest), press the barbell straight up toward the ceiling, until your arms are almost fully extended. Make sure you have flexion in your chest before you begin to move the bar. Next, keep the flexion in your chest as you begin bending your elbows and pulling the barbell down toward your chest. The bar should not touch your chest at the bottom of your lift—instead, judge how far to go by your elbows, which should go only as far as level with your back, and no farther. Keep your shoulder blades together and your shoulders back as you press straight up, back to the starting position. It is very important that you not pop your shoulders toward the ceiling as your arms come up—keep your shoulders back and down.
|Gravitron Dips (Chest Focused)
||Set the weight setting, 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. 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; do not go any lower or your shoulders will have to do the work. Focus on keeping the pectoral muscles engaged and working. Next, reverse the motion and push yourself up again until you are back at the starting position.
Set the weight setting, 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 (see Photos 1 and 2).
|Standing Cable Chest Presses
||Set both arms on a dual cable machine at chest height or above and stand with your back to the machine. Take one cable handle in each hand with your elbows bent behind you and your palms facing downward. Your hands will be just in front of you at chest level, with your elbows pulled straight back behind you. Stagger your feet, such that one is in front of the other with both knees slightly bent. Next, quickly press both hands forward, straightening your elbows until your fists meet in front of you. As you punch, stabilize through your legs and engage your center so that all of the push comes from your chest and shoulders, not your legs or hips. When you arms are fully extended, bend your elbows and pull them back to return to the starting position. For a more advanced version of this exercise, do the chest presses with your feet together instead of staggered—this will add an additional stability challenge for your core.|
|Two Medicine Ball Push-ups
||Take up a plank, or push-up, position on the floor—arms extended with hands directly below your shoulders, and legs, hips, back, shoulders, and head all in a straight line. Take your feet wide for stability. Place each hand (carefully, and one at a time) on a medicine ball, such that your plank position is now on top of the balls rather than the floor. You must stabilize this position through your core, supporting yourself through your center without letting your hips drop toward the floor or pike toward the ceiling. Do a push-up, lowering your chest toward the floor as you balance over the balls. At the bottom of your push-up, your chest should be slightly below the level of your hands, so that this push-up will be deeper than an ordinary push-up. As you lower through your chest, stabilize through your core to prevent your body from drooping and to prevent your arms from pushing the balls away. Next, press back up to the starting position, again being careful to use your abs and core to prevent the balls from spinning out to the sides. Repeat for a full set of push-ups. If at any point in the set you want to add difficulty, you may bring your feet closer together, making it harder to stabilize.
|Cable Triceps Bar Press-Downs
||Attach a bent tricep bar to the upper connection of a cable machine. Stand in front of the cable machine with your legs in a slight scissor position so that one leg is stepped slightly forward and the other leg is stepped slightly back. Hold the bar up at chest level in both hands with your palms down and your pinkies are on the outside bend of the bar. Your elbows should be bent and held in at your sides. Next, press the bar down toward your thighs, keeping your elbows in as you descend. At the bottom of the movement, reverse position and bring the bar back up to starting position. At the top of the movement, your elbows should come up just past a 90-degree angle, no more and no less.
|Cable Triceps Bar Pull-Downs
||Attach a bent bar to the upper connection of a cable machine. Stand in front of the cable machine with your legs in a slight scissor position so that one leg is stepped slightly forward and the other leg is stepped slightly back. Hold the bar up at chest level in both hands with your palms up, positioned so that your pinkies are resting in each bend of the bar. Your elbows should be bent and held in at your sides. Next, use your triceps to pull the bar down toward your thighs. Keep the top half of your arms steady, elbows in close to your body, and wrists stable as you descend to concentrate the work in the triceps. When your arms are fully extended and the bar is down in front of your thighs, reverse motion and bring the bar back up to starting position.
|Dumbbell Skull Crushers
||Lie on your back on a flat bench with your head near one end and a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms toward the ceiling, but at a 45-degree angle behind the vertical, such that even in the starting position you can feel tension in your triceps. Your palms should be facing each other. Cross your feet at the ankle and lift your legs up off the bench so that your upper legs are perpendicular to the bench, your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Next, keep your upper arms immobile as you bend your elbows and lower your forearms toward your head. Do not hit yourself in the head with the weights—instead, keep your hands at shoulder width throughout. Keep your shoulders back and your elbows high as you do these. At the bottom of the movement, reverse direction and bring your hands back to the starting position, again without changing the position of your upper arm, to complete one repetition; your tightest flexion will be at the top of the movement, so be careful to control the upward movement as much as the down. If you begin to struggle before the end of the set, bring your upper arms closer to vertical to lessen the intensity.
|Single-Arm Rope Press-Downs
||Hook a single-handled rope attachment to the highest position on the cable machine (you may also use a double-handled rope attachment if you don't have a single-handed attachment; just tie off the second rope so that it doesn't get in your way). Stand facing the machine and take the rope handle in one hand. Stagger your feet with one in front of the other. Allow your other arm to hang down at your side. Next, keep your body tall and your shoulder blades together as you bring your hand directly down beside you, ending with your hand held at your side near your hip. Your elbow should stay held in toward your sides throughout and your upper arm steady and still; make sure your shoulders don’t end up pushing forward and taking over the work. At the bottom of your motion, squeeze and hold for a moment, twisting your palm slightly in toward your body to get a full flexion of the triceps. Reverse direction and allow your arm to return to the starting position—but don’t let your arm come above a right angle through your elbow. Do a full set with one arm, and then switch the rope handle to the other hand and do another set.
|Standing Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
||Stand and bend over at the hips with a dumbbell in each hand. Your back should be flat, your neck in line with your spine, and your knees bent, with feet pointing forward at hip-distance apart. Keeping your elbows high above the line of your back, extend your elbows so that you straighten your arm. Your hands should remain in the same orientation throughout the movement, with palms facing inward. From the extended position, bend your elbows again to return to the starting position. As you do the kickbacks, keep your upper arm still so that your elbows stay high; the entire motion should focus on the extension and flexion at the elbow joint. Be especially careful to keep your back flat by maintaining a stable core.
|Triceps Bench Dips with Feet on Floor
||Sit on the long edge of a flat bench, with your hands at your sides on the bench you're sitting on and your fingers facing your feet. Place your feet on the floor in front of you so your knees are a little more than a right angle. The smaller the angle, the easier the exercise will be. Grip the bench with your fingers and tuck your chin down a bit toward your chest. Engage your arms and lift yourself off the bench so that you are being held up by your hands on one bench and the heels of your feet. Next, lean your upper body forward slightly and slowly lower your butt down so that it goes a little beneath the bench you are sitting on. You should feel the stretch and work in your triceps as you lower diagonally down. When you reach the bottom of the dip, reverse the motion and push your body back up to starting position. When you reach the starting position you have completed one repetition.
|Flat-Leg Medicine Ball Sit-ups
||Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended and a medicine ball held in both hands above you. Extend your arms toward the ceiling so that your arms are perpendicular to the floor and the medicine ball is directly over your upper chest. Next, engage your abs by bringing your belly button toward your spine. Do not tip your pelvis upward. From that engaged position, begin lifting your shoulders off the floor in a sit-up, taking your arms forward as your upper body rises. Your legs should remain flat. Do not fling your upper body upward, nor grab through your lower back. Instead, think of peeling your shoulders off the floor from your center, and try to feel that the medicine ball is pulling you from above. Come as close as you can to sitting upright, with your arms extended forward and your legs still flat on the floor. From the top of the motion, reverse direction and lower back to the starting position. Control this downward movement using your abs—but make sure you use your lower abs, not just the area up by your rib cage. Be careful that the bottom part of the motion doesn’t happen more quickly than the top part; you want to lower yourself at a continuous pace.
|Hand to Foot Stability Ball Pass
||Lie on the floor on your back. Hold a stability ball between your feet with your legs extended out along the floor and place both arms over your head. Next, raise your legs up over your body as you raise your arms to meet your feet. At the top of your motion, where your hands meet your feet, transfer the ball to your hands. With the ball now in your hands, lower your legs as you lower your arms back to the floor behind your head. Continue to transfer the ball between hands and feet for 20 repetitions (totaling 10 with the feet and 10 with the hands). Breathe regularly throughout the movement; exhale as your legs and arms rise, inhale as you lower them. Your lower back should remain against the mat throughout the exercise.