WORKOUTS

Muscle-Building 12-Week Workout: Week 1

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DAY 4: STRENGTH AND FORM - PULL EXERCISES FOR BACK AND BICEPS

WARMUP
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 Tube Rows Back (lats, traps, rhomboids) N/A 30 - 45 secs 30 - 45 secs N/A N/A N/A N/A
S Tube Pull-Downs Back (lats, traps, and rhomboids) N/A 30 - 45 secs 30 - 45 secs N/A N/A N/A N/A
WORKOUT
Begin Superset
S Smith Machine Inverted Pull-ups Back (lats, traps, and rhomboids) N/A 16 16 12 N/A N/A
S Tube Rows Back (lats, traps, rhomboids) N/A 20 20 20 N/A N/A
Begin Superset
S Gravitron Neutral-Grip Pull-ups Back (lats, rhomboids) 65% - 75% Max 16 16 12 N/A N/A
S Floor Crunches Abdominals N/A 30 30 30 N/A N/A
Begin Superset
S Seated Wide-Grip Pull-Downs Back (lats, rhomboids) 65% - 75% 15 12 12 10
S Floor Leg Raises Abdominals N/A 15 - 20 15 - 20 15 - 20 15 - 20
Begin Superset
S Narrow-Grip Pull-Downs Back (lats, rhomboids) 65% - 75% 15 12 12 10
S Standing Dumbbell Rows Back (lats) 65 - 75% Max 15 12 12 12
S Tube Rows Back (lats, traps, rhomboids) N/A 30 secs 30 secs 30 secs 30 secs
Begin Superset
S Standing Barbell Curls Biceps, Forearms 65% - 75% Max 16 12 12 10
S Floor Crunches Abdominals N/A 30 - 40 30 - 40 30 30
Begin Superset
S Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls Biceps 65 - 75% Max 12 12 12 N/A N/A
S Standing Dumbbell Curls Biceps 65 - 75% Max 30 secs 30 secs 30 secs N/A N/A
Begin Superset
S Standing Cable Curls Biceps 65 - 75% Max 16 12 12 10
S Knee Tuck Floor Crunch Abdominals N/A 15 each leg 15 each leg 15 each leg 15 each leg
EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS IN BRIEF
Exercise Overview
Tube Rows Take one handle of a resistance tube in each hand, with the center point of the tube attached to a fixed point level with your waist. Be careful to attach the tube to something that will not move when you pull on it. 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. If you do not have access to tubes, use a cable machine instead. Next, begin to bend your elbows and pull them straight back as you simultaneously rotate your palms to face each other and scoop your pinkies back toward your body. Continue to bend your elbows and pull them back until they pass close to your rib cage and fold behind your back; your palms will be close to your chest, with your shoulder blades flexed together. Lower your arms back to the starting position, allowing your elbows to open as they come forward, and rotating your hands back over to be palms down. Move immediately into the next tube row, keeping a steady, fluid, and constant rhythm.
Tube Pull-Downs Take one handle of a resistance tube in each hand, with the center point of the tube attached to a fixed point level with your breastbone. Be careful to attach the tube to something that will not move when you pull on it. 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, keep your arms extended as you pull them straight down and back behind you. Your arms will pass wide of your torso, until they are behind your hips, with your palms facing back. Make sure you keep your grip on the tube handle light throughout this movement. Raise your arms back to the starting position, keeping your arms fully extended throughout. Move immediately into the next pull-down, keeping a steady, fluid, and constant rhythm.
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.
Gravitron Neutral-Grip Pull-ups Stand on the platform of a Gravitron machine, holding the parallel pull-up handgrips in each hand, with your palm facing inward in a neutral position. Step off of the platform and onto the foot rests, allowing your body weight to bring you down until your arms are fully extended. Quickly and powerfully pull yourself vertically upward while keeping your elbows close to your ribs, retracting your shoulder blades, and opening your chest. Try to keep your entire lower body (hips, knees, ankles) stable and still as you lift to ensure that you isolate your back muscles. At the top of your motion, your head should be above your hands, your chin level with the bars, and your neck in line with your spine. Reverse motion and lower yourself with controlled speed back to the starting position.
Floor Crunches 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.
Narrow-Grip Pull-Downs Seat yourself at a cable station beneath a narrow-grip attachment suspended from the cable. Stabilize yourself using the pads above the knees. Reach up and grip the handles so that the palms are facing each other, with your hands a little less than shoulder-width apart. Pull the handles downward toward the chest, keeping your chin up. As you pull down, keep your shoulders down and broaden your chest. Bring the bar close to your chest, with your elbows at your sides. Pull through the pinky side of your hands to get the bicep muscles involved. Slowly resist the upward motion of the handles, and let your back muscles stretch as you return to the starting position.
Seated Wide-Grip Pull-Downs Seat yourself at a cable station beneath a long-bar attachment suspended from the cable. Stabilize yourself using the pads above the knees. Reach up and grip with bar with palms facing away from you, hands a little more than shoulder width apart. Pull the bar downward toward your chest. Keep your shoulders down throughout the movement. As you pull down, broaden your chest, pull through your pinkies and slightly tuck your elbows a little bit forward to isolate your lats. Bring the bar close to your chest, as you exhale and squeeze your lats. Slowly resist the upward motion of the bar as you return to the starting position.
Floor Leg Raises 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.
Standing Dumbbell Row Standing as if in mid-stride, lean forward while holding one dumbbell in the hand opposite your forward leg. Keep the palm facing in toward your body, and do not drop your shoulder. Stabilize yourself by resting your free hand on the forward leg. Pull the dumbbell back toward your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body. Bring your elbow as far back as possible, allowing your trunk to twist a little. Squeeze the muscle between your shoulder blades and spine. Reverse direction and return toward the starting position, while keeping your lat muscles contracted and your shoulder stationary.
Standing Barbell Curls Stand with a barbell held in front of you so that your palms are facing away from your body. Hold your elbows in front of your ribs. Your hands should be positioned on the bar directly in front of your shoulders so that your upper arms are touching your ribs. Curl the bar up toward your chest. Be careful to engage your core so that you do not swing your body. When you have brought the bar up so that you fully flex the bicep (while keeping your wrists straight), reverse the motion and bring the bar slowly back down to the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Curls Lie on your back on an incline bench set at at 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms upward. Press your shoulder blades into the bench and keep your elbows slightly bent. Bend your elbows into a curl. Keep your upper arms at your sides and your wrists flat. When your hands are slightly past vertical, lower your hands back to the starting position.
Standing Dumbbell Curls Stand with dumbbells held in each hand so that your palms are facing away from you. Hold your elbows in front of your ribs. Next, curl both weights up at the same time until you fully flex the muscle. Do not alternate the weights. When you have reached the top of the movement, reverse direction and bring the weights slowly back down to the starting position.
Standing Cable Curls Attach the long bent bar to the lowest setting on a cable machine. Stand facing the machine with your feet slightly staggered. Hold the bar with your arms fully extended down toward the floor. Hold the bar in an easy open-handed grip, with your hands about shoulder-width apart in front of your groin. Keep your elbows in front of your body line and make sure they stay there throughout the movement. Next, use a scooping motion to lift the bent bar up in a curl. Keep the top half of your arms stationary as you curl the bar up toward your chest. Make sure you lift with your biceps and not with your shoulders or body; keep your core engaged and do not swing your body. When you reach the top of the curl, flex your biceps to make sure you get the full range of motion, and then reverse the movement and return the bar to the starting position. Resist the weight all the way down. Do not fully lock your elbow at the bottom, and move right into the next curl without allowing your bicep to rest.
Knee Tuck 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. Engage your abdominal muscles, squeezing downward just below your belly button. As you do this, be careful not to tilt your pelvis upward or dig your feet into the floor. The abdominal squeeze will bring your shoulders just slightly off the floor and generate a slight curve through your center. At the same time, begin to bring your left foot off the floor, with the idea of taking your knee toward your chest. Lower the left leg back to starting position as you return your shoulders to the floor. Do a full set with the left leg, and then repeat with the right leg.

EXERCISE IMAGES

Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith