Welcome to week nine of the new RealJock.com Muscle-Building 12-Week workout program from strength-training specialist Mike Clausen.
|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.|
||Choose a medium-weight tube and attach it to a fixed point level with your lower back. (If you don't have access to tubes, use a dual-cable machine for this exercise.) Stand upright facing away from the tube’s point of attachment with one handle in each hand, your elbows at a right-angle level with your upper back, and with your palms facing downward at a slight angle. Next, drive forward through your chest and straighten your elbows as you push both arms forward and bring your hands toward each other. Your hands should come only as close as is required to fully flex your chest without allowing your shoulders to pop forward. When your chest is fully flexed and arms extended, reverse direction and return to the starting position, resisting the pull of the tubes as you go. Throughout this exercise, work on developing a smooth, powerful motion, and keeping a regular tempo—you’re going for power on these, and should not pause between repetitions.
|Medicine Ball Chest Passes (2 to 1)
||Grasp a medicine ball in both hands and stand facing a wall about six feet from the wall, with your feet shoulder distance apart and the ball held at chest level. Next, throw the ball at the wall, pushing it powerfully from the chest as you throw (rather than throwing with your hands). As the ball bounces back to you off the wall, catch it with both hands, allowing your arms to bend back to the starting position with the ball’s momentum. Then immediately throw again. Once you are comfortable with the two-hand throw, you can progress to the one-arm toss. Stand at a right angle to the wall, with the ball in the hand further from the wall. Bring your arm around and pivot your body toward the wall. When your upper body is facing the wall, throw the ball at the wall one-handed. As the ball comes back, catch it with both hands and use the momentum of the ball to return you to the starting position, passing the ball again to the outside hand.
|Dumbbell 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.|
||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 about 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 your shoulders directly over your hands. For a more advanced version of this exercise, try the on-the-floor variation described below. 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. Lower down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. From the bottom of the push-up, push up with fast and explosive power so that your hands momentarily come entirely off the bench at the top of the push-up. When your hands land back in the starting position, immediately descend into the next push-up. As you push up and descend, engage your core so that your hips never dip below level with your back.
|Speed Flat Bench Barbell Presses
||Use lighter weights for this speed-focused variation of the flat bench barbell press, in which you will lift and lower the barbell quickly while maintaining proper form. 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, swiftly 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, quickly 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.
|Speed One-Arm-Hold Push-ups
||Focus on power and controlled speed as you do these one-arm hold 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. Next, quickly 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 quickly and powerfully push back up to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the movement. At the top of the push-up, raise your left arm up so that it is parallel to your side and hold for a slow count of three seconds. After you have counted to three, immediately descend into your next rep. Alternate arms at the top of each push-up.
|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).|
|Speed Standing Cable Flys
||Focus on power and controlled speed when doing these standing cable flys. Stand in front of the cable machine with a handle in each hand and your arms extended out to the sides. Keep your hands slightly in front of the line of your chest. Stagger your feet so that one leg is forward. The forward knee should not come in front of the ankle or knee injury may result. Press your arms together in front of you until your arms are extended and your hands meet. From the completed chest fly, allow your arms to return to the starting position, moving quickly but maintaining a controlled movement. It is very important not to lock your elbows during this exercise. Keep your elbows soft, with a slight bend in them, throughout the entire movement. Your wrists should also remain straight.
|Plyometric Clap Push-ups
||Take up a plank position on the floor, with your hands directly under your shoulders, your arms extended, and your legs straight and back flat. Be careful throughout this exercise to keep your hips flat—no drooping or piking. Next, 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.
From the bottom of the movement, develop explosive power through your chest and arms as you push hard off the floor, bringing your upper body into the air. As you pop up, engage your core to help lift you. In mid-air, quickly clap your hands together. Again use your center for control as you land in the starting position, making sure not to let your hips dip toward the floor. Follow the downward momentum of landing into your next push-up, focusing throughout on power and control.
||Attach a tube to a fixed point at your head height (if you do not have access to tubes, use a dual-cable machine). Stand with your back to the point of attachment and one tube handle in each hand. Stand with your feet staggered, one in front of the other. Bring the tube to chest level, elbows bent back behind you, palms facing down. The tube should run on the inside side of your arm. Next, punch forward with alternating hands, bringing each arm forward to a full extension in the punch. Make sure not to swing your upper body side to side as you alternate punches—stay stable and reach through your chest. Do the recommended number of punches, and then switch the leading foot and repeat for another set. After you have completed the punches, bring the tube around to the outside of your arms, again with elbows bent back and palms down. Your hands will now be slightly wider than in the starting position. Perform the recommended number of power chest flys—pressing both arms straight forward from the chest, keeping your shoulders retracted even as your arms come forward, and then keeping the flexion in your chest as you pull your arms back to their starting position. After the first set of fly presses, switch the lead foot and repeat for another set of chest presses. Next, drop the tubes and take up a plank position on the floor, with hands directly under your shoulders, arms extended, back and hips flat and center engaged. Perform a pop-up power push-up. Keeping your center strong for stability, lower your chest to the floor as in a standard push-up. From the floor, develop explosive power and pop back up into the air, such that your hands come about an inch off the floor at the top of your movement. Land back in your starting position and control that landing momentum down into the next push-up. Do the recommended number of plyometric push-ups to complete your first set of super chests.
|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.
|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.
|Jump Triceps Bench Dips
||Sit on a flat bench with your hands next to your hips, palms down, fingers curling over the front of the bench in a light grip. Your elbows should be bent back and close to your body. For the feet-up version of this exercise (which is more difficult), put your feet on another flat bench in front of you, near enough that your knees will remain bent throughout the exercise. For a most difficult version, you may add a dumbbell held between your upper thighs. Slide your hips forward until they are just in front of the bench. Lower your hips in a dipping motion by bending your elbows behind you. Your elbows must stay close to you—think of them bending straight back, not at all to the sides. Your hips should stay close to the bench. It is very important that you bring your hips down and up, not front and back. Finally, do not hyperextend your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and your shoulder blades together. Keep the downward motion slow. From the bottom of your motion, push explosively upwards, pressing through your triceps to push yourself off the bench. You should push with enough power that your hands leave the bench briefly at the top of your motion. Land lightly in your hands, with your hips still close to the bench, and immediately lower yourself into the next dip, controlling your downward momentum.
|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.
|Devil's Triceps Press-Downs
||Attach a bent triceps 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. 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. Perform six reps of the exercise, and then rest for six seconds.
At the end of the six seconds, immediately do another six reps, and then rest another six seconds. Continue to alternate six-rep sets with six-second rest periods until you have done a total of 36 reps. When you have finished your thirty-sixth rep, you have completed one set of Devil's triceps press-downs. Try to choose a weight at which you will max out at the sixth rep of each mini-set.
|Devil's Triceps Press-Downs
||Take up a push-up (plank) position, with your hands under your shoulders and your back flat, but with a stability ball under your legs. The ball should be beneath your shins and the tops of your feet, with your toes pointed. Engage your abdominals so that your hips do not droop toward the floor. Next, use your abdominals to fold your body upward, pulling your hips and buttocks straight toward the ceiling. Keep your feet pointed, so that the ball comes under your toes as your hips rise. At the top of your lift, the ball will be held under your pointed toes, and your back will nearly be in a straight line with your arms. Your shoulders should remain above your hands or slightly behind them—never in front. From the top of your lift, lower your hips as you press the ball back carefully with your feet, allowing it to be captured by the tops of your feet as you return to the starting position. Do not allow your hips to dip below a flat line with your shoulders and feet.|
|Stability Ball Pike-ups
||Take up a push-up (plank) position, with your hands under your shoulders and your back flat, but with a stability ball under your legs. The ball should be beneath your shins and the tops of your feet, with your toes pointed. Engage your abdominals so that your hips do not droop toward the floor. Next, use your abdominals to fold your body upward, pulling your hips and buttocks straight toward the ceiling. Keep your feet pointed, so that the ball comes under your toes as your hips rise. At the top of your lift, the ball will be held under your pointed toes, and your back will nearly be in a straight line with your arms. Your shoulders should remain above your hands or slightly behind them—never in front. From the top of your lift, lower your hips as you press the ball back carefully with your feet, allowing it to be captured by the tops of your feet as you return to the starting position. Do not allow your hips to dip below a flat line with your shoulders and feet.
|Speed Decline Situps
||Do these decline situps with a focus on power and controlled speed. Sit on a decline bench with your back toward the lower end. Bring your hands behind your head and your elbows out to the side. Tuck your chin into your chest for safety and slowly lower your shoulders down toward the bench, controlling your downward motion with your abs and keeping your elbows to the side. Keep your chin tucked as you descend. Once your shoulders are touching or almost touching the bench, bring your chin toward your chest and slowly roll your upper body off the bench until you come to fully vertical. Keep your chin tucked as you rise. Think of peeling yourself off the bench—you should not flop or jolt to get momentum.
|V Situps with Heels on Wall and Legs Straight
||Lie on your back on the floor with your feet resting on a wall such that your legs are at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Flex your feet and rest only your heels on the wall. Your legs should be straight and your arms should be extended overhead. Next, begin by bringing your arms up and forward as you tuck your chin down toward your chest. Engaging your abs and exhaling as you lift, bring your upper body off the floor as your arms come forward. Keeping your heels on the wall, try to touch your toes at the top of your lift. Slowly uncurl and lower your upper body back down to the floor, bringing your arms back overhead as you lower down. Keep your chin toward your chest until your shoulders are touching the floor.|
|Single Dumbbell Toe Tap Abs
||Take a single dumbbell in both hands, holding it by the end caps. Lie on your back on the floor, your arms extended overhead. Extend one straight leg on the floor, and bend the other so that your foot rests on the floor. Next, simultaneously raise the dumbbell overhead as you lift the extended leg. Your head, neck, shoulders, and upper/middle back should rise off the floor at the top of your lift. Continue this motion until the dumbbell meets the toe of the straight leg. Lower yourself back to the floor, returning the dumbbell and raised leg to their original positions. Repeat these steps for 20 reps on one side. Then swap change legs for the next 20 repetitions. Keep your breathing regular throughout the exercise. Exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower your arms and leg.