Battlezone is a concept I came up with while fighting my own less-than-desirable genetics, as well as coming back from repeated setbacks. It is a user-friendly workout system designed to work both for beginner as well as advanced bodybuilders. The idea is to provide the tools necessary to build a workout program, without excessive lecturing, or worse sounding like an anatomy teacher. If you want to learn anatomy, there are plenty of articles covering that on Bodybuilding.com.
If you want to learn as many exercises as possible to build muscle without the needless rhetoric, then read on. Every week I will cover a new muscle group, complete with pictures and workout tips. I will also be devoting a section each week to the beginner bodybuilder. Whether you are looking to gain mass, tone up or are just looking for an easy way to put together an effective workout program, Battlezone will work for you.
Note: I am always looking for ways to improve Battlezone. Please email me your suggestions and comments at TankSergeant@military.com! Please be sure to include "Battlezone" on the subject line. If you have suggestions on specific exercises you'd like to see added, include as much information as possible, to include pictures.
Battlezone Beginners (Week 1) ///
When starting an exercise program, one has a tendency to want to hit everything hard all at once. The key is to exercise patience. Avoid over training at all costs, however do not shortchange yourself and simply "go through the motions" when starting out.
When starting a workout routine, it is good to limit the total number of sets. On the Battlezone workout chart, you see that you are supposed to do three sets of each exercise. If you are new to weight lifting, still do every lift, but limit your sets to two per exercise. Even only doing one set per exercise will help. After two weeks, experiment with increasing your number of sets. For starting weight, choose a weight that is slightly lighter than what you think you would do for a working set, but will still tax your muscles.
Given that we are all built differently, there is no exact weight that everyone should start with for each exercise. You may have to experiment a bit your first day on each exercise. As you grow stronger through each cycle, the weights you are using will become easier. If it becomes so easy that you are performing more repetitions each set than the max requirement, increase the weight a little. It is surprising how much difference even a slight increase in weight can make.
The frequency at which you work each muscle group is the same, whether you are new to weight training, or a competitive bodybuilder. Each muscle group should only be worked once per week, and if possible on the same day each week. This gives your muscles ample time to recover and rebuild. Remember you don't build your muscles while working out. They build after your workout, usually over a period of seven days.
With seven different muscle groups to work, it is good to combine two into the same workout. The things to look for are what muscle group requires the least amount of time and energy. Example: Forearms take less time and energy, so they can be combined with another muscle group. Legs probably take the most time, so it would not be advisable to combine legs with another muscle group. Another thing to keep in mind is to try and keep your pushing movements (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps) and pulling movements (Back, Biceps, Forearms) in the same workouts. Example: Combining Triceps and Shoulders are better than combining Triceps and Back due to the similar ranges of motion with triceps and shoulders.
Cycling is a term used frequently in weight training. However, if you are new to the sport, you may have no idea what everyone is talking about. Cycling is when you do certain exercises for each body part for a given period of time. This is usually four to six weeks. At the end of that time, it is advisable to take three days to a week off. After that, you start a new cycle. For the new cycle, try to change the exercises you do for a specific body part. Example: Doing Straight Bar Curls for one of your compound bicep lifts one cycle, then doing Alternating Dumbbell Curls the next cycle instead.
Too many workout programs today tell people exactly what exercises they are supposed to do for each body part. "You HAVE to do EZ Bar curls on Bicep day!" Well what if you just don't like doing EZ Bar curls? I designed the Battlezone workout chart with the idea that it is a guideline that anyone can customize to fit his or her individual needs.
Instead of saying exactly what exercises you should do for each body part, I felt it best to give an outline, advising the types of lifts one should do per body part, then giving you all the different exercises that fall under each type. Also keep track of the weight you use for each workout. This will help you keep track so that you don't have to search for a good workout weight each workout. It will also help you measure strength progress throughout each cycle.
Too often we see people slinging ungodly amounts of weight, and we want to do the same, or we feel that we'll be embarrassed. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are going to the gym simply to try and impress people that you don't even know with how much weight you can lift, you need to rethink why you are doing this. Check your ego at the door, and only use weight that allows you to CORRECTLY perform each repetition in a given exercise. Cheating is a much-disputed topic that falls into this category. All too often I hear about how on certain lifts it's ok to cheat "just a little." Well how much is that??? This is especially talked about when it comes to compound bicep lifts.
It's a common sight at the gym to see someone cheating "just a little" as they turn blue in the face while trying to curl their bodyweight with one arm. While cheating may actually be acceptable in moderation, it is a bad habit to get into, especially as a novice weight lifter. Get into good habits early, and focus on form and control. Don't worry about everyone else at the gym. Trying to impress them will neither help you attain your goals, nor will it impress them in the least. If you really want to impress the regulars at the gym, let them see your progress over time. As you attain real results and get the body you desire, you will turn a lot more heads than by throwing you back out while doing curls.
All of us are different, and no one's workout plan is exactly right for everyone. Therefore, I am only showing you my program for this cycle as an example of how to put everything together.
I weight train five days per week. Monday: Biceps and Forearms, Tuesday: Chest, Wednesday: Legs, Thursday: Back, Friday: Shoulders and Triceps. After much experimentation, I found this schedule to be most effective for me.
Here is an example of how I used the Battlezone workout chart for biceps.
Barbell Curl (*Replaces Arnold Curls)3 Sets, 12-15 Reps
Please note that these are the lifts, repetitions and weights I am using for this cycle. At the end of four weeks, I will be changing the lifts I do. Also note that the amount of weight I am using right now is anything but extreme. I have just gone through a six-week recovery period, following double-hernia surgery. I am anything but in the mood to try and win new friends by curling Volkswagens.