Muscle-Building 12-Week Workout: Week 1

Welcome to the first week of the new Muscle-Building 12-Week workout program from strength-training specialist Mike Clausen. The Muscle-Building 12-Week workout program is a companion to's Strong and Lean 12-Week workout program from super-trainer Billy Polson. 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)
Begin Superset
S Cable Side Rotators Shoulders (rotator cuffs) Light 15 each arm 15 each arm N/A N/A N/A N/A
S Dumbbell Up Rotators Shoulders (rotator cuffs) Light 15 15 N/A N/A N/A N/A
S Tube Pull Ups and Downs Shoulders (rotator cuffs), Lats, Triceps Light 15 15 N/A N/A N/A N/A
S Tube Press Chest Light 15 15 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Push-Ups Chest, Triceps, Shoulders N/A Max out Max out Max out Max out
Wide-Grip Pull-ups on Gravitron with Slow Negatives Back (lats) N/A Max out Max out Max out Max out
Smith Machine Inverted Pull-ups Back (lats and traps) N/A 15 15 12 12
Triceps Bench Dips Back (lats and traps) N/A 20 20 15 15
Gravitron Dips (Chest Focused) Chest, Triceps 65 - 75% Max 15 12 12 10
Begin Superset
S Floor Crunch Abdominals N/A 25 25 25 25
S Stability Ball Crunch Abdominals N/A 20 20 20 20
S Floor Leg Raises Abdominals N/A 20 15 15 15
S Floor Bridge Abdominals N/A Max time Max time Max time Max time
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.
Dumbbell Up Rotators Stand holding dumbbells in each hand in front of you with your elbows and armpit held at a 90-degree angle. As this is a warm-up exercise, use light weights. Being sure to maintain the 90-degree angle of your elbow and armpit, slowly raise the dumbbells until they are straight up and your forearms and perpendicular to the floor. Reverse the motion and bring the dumbbells back to starting position.
Tube Pull Up and Downs Take one handle of a resistance tube in each hand, with the center point of the tube attached to a fixed point slightly below your waist height. Only attach the tube to something that will not move when you pull on it—the leg of an incline bench bolted to the floor, for instance. Stand facing the point of attachment and extend your arms directly forward, with your palms down. Step back until there is significant tension through the tube. Next, lower your arms down and back until they are slightly behind you, with your palms now facing back. You should keep your arms straight throughout this motion. Bring your arms back to the starting position following the same trajectory, and—again keeping your arms straight—raise your arms upward until they are directly overhead. Lower your arms back to the starting position to complete one repetition.
Tube Press 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 motio through your chest.
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.
Wide-Grip Pull-ups on Gravitron with Slow Negatives Stand on the platform of a Gravitron machine and hold on to the grips at the top with your hands wide (about six to eight inches more than shoulder-width apart on each side) and your palms facing away from you. Step off of the platform and onto the foot rests, allowing your body weight to bring you down until your arms are fully extended. Next, lift yourself up until your head fully clears the Gravitron's grips and your shoulders are almost touching the grip bars. Keep your posture tall, neck in line with your spine, shoulder blades retracted, and chest up in order to keep the work in your lats throughout. From the top, reverse position and lower yourself very slowly back down to starting position. You should count down as you descend, ensuring that you take a full count of five seconds to return to the starting position.
Smith Machine Inverted Pull-ups Set the Smith machine bar so that it is on the fourth, fifth, or sixth height setting (the bar height will be below your chest height and above your belly button), depending on your individual height relative to the Smith machine. With your feet on the floor in a wide stance in front of the Smith machine, position your upper body underneath the bar of the Smith machine, holding the bar a little wider than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing down. Hang from the bar with your arms extended fully, and allow only the heels of your feet to touch the floor. Keep your body straight—don't let your butt sag down). Lift your upper body up until your chest touches the bar. Focus on retracting your shoulder blades down and back and opening up your chest in order to maintain proper posture and to activate your lower/middle traps. Reverse the motion and lower yourself down until you are back at the starting position.
Triceps Bench Dip Place two flat benches parallel to each other, leaving approximately the length of your outstretched legs in between them. When estimating the distance between the benches, try to leave just enough room so that you can dip down and engage your triceps without hitting your back on the bench. Sit on the edge of one bench and face the other bench, with your hands at your sides on the bench you're sitting on and your fingers facing the other bench. Scoot your butt forward and place your feet on the opposite bench, with your legs slightly bent. Grip the bench you are sitting on with your fingers. 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 on the other bench. Drop your body down to perform a triceps dip, making sure to keep your hips as close as possible to the bench your hands are resting on. Keep your elbows in throughout the movement. This will help focus the effort on the triceps and will prevent injury to the shoulders. When you reach the bottom of the dip, reverse the motion and push your body back up to starting position.
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.
Floor Crunch Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent so that your feet are resting lightly on the floor and your knees are folded toward the ceiling. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Bend your elbows straight out to the side as you place your fingertips just behind your ears; this will help you balance and will stabilize your head. From the starting position, engage your abdominal muscles, squeezing downward just below your belly button. As you squeeze downward, be careful not to tilt your pelvis upward or dig your feet into the floor. This abdominal squeeze should bring your shoulders just slightly off the floor and generate a slight curve through your center. Keeping your feet light on the floor, use that abdominal contraction to bring your upper body up toward your knees in a rolling motion, until your shoulders come fully off the floor. Keep your neck neutral, so that your chin stays off your chest—you should have room to fit your balled fist between your chin and your chest. Hold for a moment at the top of your lift, and then lower back to the starting position.
Stability Ball Crunch Sit on a stability ball with your feet on the floor in front of you hip-width apart. Lie back on the stability ball so that your body is supported between the top of your buttocks and your shoulder blades, your abdominals are centered right at the top of the ball, and your head is hanging off the other side of the ball. Place your hands behind your head in standard crunch position, with your elbows back and relaxed. Next, engage your core muscles and roll your upper body up until your shoulder blades are off stability ball and your upper body just breaks the plane of being flat. Use your hands to support your head, but do not pull up with your arms. Reverse the motion and, with your core engaged, lower yourself back to starting position.
Floor Leg Raise Important note: Do not perform this exercise if you have lower back pain or hernia. Lie back on the floor or on a floor mat with your legs extended straight up at a 90-degree angle to your upper body and your hands behind your head in standard crunch position, with your fingers just touching the sides of your head. Lift your shoulders off the floor and hold your upper body up by tightening your abs and core. Slowly lower your legs back down until they are almost touching the floor, and then reverse the motion and lift your legs back up to the starting position. Throughout the range of motion, focus on using your lower abdominal muscles to lift and lower your legs.
Floor Bridge Hold In a prone position (face down), position yourself on the tips of your toes and elbows so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep your body flat and parallel to the floor; do not let your lower back arch or your stomach sag. Engage your abs and your lower back muscles to hold the position. Hold the position for as long as you can while maintaining the form.


Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith