52-Week Strength & Conditioning Series

In this series, we've created a 52-week strength and conditioning program to help you look and feel good, plus maintain your active lifestyle. Each month we'll present a new phase of training to help you maximize your time spent in the gym.

Yes, it's that time again. Time for resolutions and articles about resolutions: Get chiseled abs and big biceps in just six minutes per day! Truth is, the muscled, rippling physiques which grace the covers of health and fitness magazines worldwide are a product of proper nutrition, adequate sleep, stress management and a carefully designed exercise program. Good genetics help too, but the average guy can achieve his goals by following a scientific game plan.

In this series, we've created a 52-week strength and conditioning program to help you look and feel good, plus maintain your active lifestyle. Each month we'll present a new phase of training to help you maximize your time spent in the gym. Let's face it, if you want to perform better you need to train smart.

Follow this yearlong series to get bigger, stronger muscles and improve your endurance too. Best of all, if you combine these workouts with proper nutrition, regular slumber sessions and relaxation strategies, you will see the first wave of progress in late March.

Your initial goal is to boost muscular strength. The solid strength foundation will help prepare you for future workouts in this series. "A conditioning base needs to be established before high stresses are placed on the body," says Juan Carlos Santana, M.Ed., C.S.C.S., director of the Institute of Human Performance (ihpfit.com) in Boca Raton, Fla. In other words, too much too soon will result in crippling soreness, thus slowing your progress from the start.

Metabolic Basis

The initial eight weeks of this program train your muscles to deal with maximal forces—any increase in muscle size at the start is a bonus, not the primary goal. Pay particular attention to exercise technique, since you'll be handling heavy weights at relatively low repetitions. Remember to consult your physician before starting this program.

Training Guidelines

Frequency Of Training

Beginner: If you're new to the iron game—that is, if you have less than 12 months of consistent strength and conditioning activity under your belt—consider yourself a beginner. In addition, it's a good idea to follow the beginner plan if you've been away from the gym for two or more months.

Contrary to popular belief, for the beginner, less is more. You will make steady progress with just two sessions each week. Be sure to rest 48-to-72 hours between training days. Monday/Thursday, Tuesday/Friday or Wednesday/Saturday training splits work best. For example, perform Schedule A on Monday and Schedule B on Thursday.

Intermediate/Advanced: If you have been involved in organized strength training and conditioning exercise for the previous year or more, you're in the Intermediate/Advanced category. Perform three workouts per week, alternating between Schedule A and Schedule B.

Track Your Progress

Workout Journal A training diary is an invaluable organizational tool. It will also help you avoid the symptoms of overtraining, in that you can make adjustments if you experience undue fatigue or joint pain.

Also, a training log allows you to determine what formula works best for you, so you can customize future workouts.

Keep track of the forces used, as well as the number of repetitions completed for each set. We've provided a training log for the Intermediate/Advanced athlete; however, beginners can use the same template by eliminating the third workout in each week.

Dynamic Warm-Up

Before you get started with each training session, warm up on the stationary cycle or treadmill for five minutes. This will help you increase your core body temperature and reduce the chance of injury.

Cardiovascular/Flexibility Exercise

Perform 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity at the end of each session, followed by the flexibility routine provided. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.


Resistance Training Exercises

Core Exercises

Resistance Training Exercises

Bench Press

Core Exercises

Phase 1: Strength 1A/C

(Excel) Click Here For A Printable Log Of Phase 1: Strength 1A/C

Cardiovascular Exercises

Flexibility Exercises

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