A Continuation in Pursuit of an Optimal Physique
So, you've made it through the first month in your Year's Worth of Workouts. At this point, you should have completed a full 12 workouts using the first month basic whole body workout. The following is a list of things you should have experienced during the first month, and also some things you should expect during your second month basic whole body program.
Month 1 Experiences
1. After completing your first two or three workouts, you should have experienced some general soreness in all of your bodyparts. The soreness should have been such that your musculature felt a tight feeling, but it should not have been significant. You likely felt a decreasing amount of soreness as you progressed through the month. This is explained by the principle I call "What have you done for me lately?", that I addressed in the intro to the first month workout. Basically, after your body adapts to the program, it will not be as difficult for your body to adapt to the stimulus, therefore, it will be less likely that you will damage the muscle significantly enough to create the muscle soreness that you did initially.
2. You should have noticed that weights that you found challenging in the first few workouts seemed light during the last week of the program. This is due to the fact that your body adapted to the program. If you followed my directions correctly, you should have been trying to increase your weights on each of the exercises at least on a weekly basis. The result of this should be that you are now much stronger on each of the exercises you have been performing. This increased strength is a pre-requisite to developing muscular hypertrophy.
3. You should notice that each of your muscle groups "feels" tighter. This is due to the physiological adaptations that your body has to the weight training you are performing.
4. As I addressed in my intro article, you should have been keeping your rest intervals at 60-90 seconds between sets. Initially, the rest interval probably seemed somewhat short, but as the month progressed, you likely felt like the rest interval was almost too long. This is due to your increased endurance that I told you would be an added benefit to this program.
5. Summarizing 1-4 above, you should now be stronger and have more endurance, and at least to a small degree, you should be noticing an increase in muscle mass.
Month 2 Experiences
1. This month we will continue to build on the foundation laid in month 1. We will introduce new exercises for each bodypart, which we will then combine with the exercises you learned in month 1 for your month 3 workout. That is where we are headed, but, first, here is what you can expect from the month 2 workout.
2. Your leg workout will consist of two basic compound movements and one movement for your hamstrings. During the first month, you performed Leg Presses, which is an excellent movement for beginners, because your hips are fixed, and the performance of the movement does not require balance. This month, we will move you into Squats and Lunges, which will require a great deal of balance, and which have a much higher learning curve than the Leg Presses. These movements will tax every major muscle group in your body, as you will be required to support the weight with the muscles of your upper body (as opposed to the Leg Press). You will notice that your stabilizer muscles of your upper and lower body will be required to aid in your balance. Initially, these will be difficult movements to perform, but as your neuromuscular patterning (mind working with the muscle), improves, the exercises will become easier. I suggest you invest in a qualified personal trainer for a session or two to help insure you are performing these exercises correctly. If this is not a viable option for you, you can reference Bodybuilding.com for proper performance instruction. (Click here!) The Romanian Deadlift will replace the Lying Leg Curl as your primary hamstring exercise. Since the hamstring is a muscle which crosses both the knee and the hip joint, a well structured program should have exercises that work at both of these joints. The lying leg curl is an excellent exercise for the knee joint portion of the hamstring, and the Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise for the hip joint portion.
As mentioned earlier, we will combine the two exercises in month 3 to be sure you are hitting the hamstrings most effectively. Please be very cautious with this exercise, as it is high risk. Do not go heavy on this at first, and instead try to make sure you get the proper form down. This exercise can cause a significant amount of soreness due to the stretch that it requires, so again, be cautious when increasing weight. Your legs will likely be more sore than they were during your first month program, and it will likely take your body well in to week 2 or even week 3 before you notice the soreness diminishing. At that point you should concentrate on starting to increase your poundage on these exercises. Your calf exercise for this month will be the seated calf raise. This exercise better isolates the portion of your calf musculature known as the soleus. The standing calf raise better isolates the portion known as the gastrocnemius (gastroc.). Next month we will combine the two exercises.
3. After that exhaustive explanation of the lower body portion of the month 2 workout, here is what to expect form your upper body portion. The barbell bench press will be replaced by an incline dumbbell press. This will allow you to get used to the different stimulus that the dumbbells provide, as well as allow you to focus on the often neglected upper chest. The Latissimus Pulldowns will make way for Seated Rows. This will allow you to focus on your rhomboids which are the muscles that draw your shoulder blades toward your spine. The Dumbbell Overhead Presses will be replaced by Dumbbell lateral raises which will help you focus on the medial (side) portion of your shoulders. This exercise will help to increase your shoulder width and will allow you to increase that coveted V-taper that is the trademark of all championship physiques. Alternate Dumbbell Curls will replace the Barbell Curls and will again allow you to learn the dumbbell movement that will compliment the barbell movement in future workouts. The Rope Triceps Pushdowns will step aside for the Overhead Dumbbell Extensions. This movement will allow you to get a better stretch of the triceps muscle. Rather than performing crunches, you will perform reverse crunches which will shift the emphasis from your upper abs to your lower abs.
4. This month's program should produce a greater amount of general soreness throughout your entire body than the month 1 workout, especially in your legs. You will notice that the soreness becomes lesser as the month progresses. You will also notice that the workouts will be much more difficult that the month 1 workout had become (at least initially). Please do not let this discourage you, as your body will be forced to adapt to these new stimuli which will result in even better endurance, increased strength, and a greater degree of muscular hypertrophy.
5. As I have mentioned several times, next month, we will combine the first two months into a workout program that will allow you to continue to see progress. Please, concentrate on getting very good at performing all of the movements in these programs, and you will be well on your way to the body you have always wanted.
A Brief Word on Diet and Cardiovascular Exercise
You have probably noticed that I have not addressed the topics of diet and cardio up to this point. This is because I believe that trying to introduce too much at the same time is often the reason a lot of programs fail. People often get frustrated that they can't do everything at once, so they instead decide to do nothing. This is not the right answer. Certainly, the strength training portion is a critical part of developing your ideal physique, and I encourage you to focus wholeheartedly in this area. However, diet and cardio also play critical roles in the pursuit of a great body.
Without going into a great amount of detail, I offer the following advice to get you started in these two areas.
1. Cardiovascular exercise is primarily utilized as a fat burning endeavor, but at this point, I suggest you utilize it to compliment your strength training. What I mean by this is that if you perform a moderate amount of cardio (2-3 x per week at a heart rate of 60-70% estimated heart rate max), you will further enhance your endurance capacity, which will make your strength training easier. If you increase your cardio beyond this, you will likely see a drop in strength, as your body has a limited amount of recovery ability. In other words, use cardio. to make your strength training better at this point, rather than specifically as a fat burning method.
2. Webster's defines "diet" as daily fare. That is what I would like you to define it as. This is a very simplistic way to look at it. If you have a daily fare of cheeseburgers, sodas, and ice cream, your body will be made up of these substances. You are what you eat. If instead you provide it with adequate protein from lean sources (chicken breast, egg whites, and cottage cheese for example) and carbohydrate from quality sources (oatmeal, potatoes, rice, vegetables, and fruit for example), your body will be made up of these substances. You can choose the best route for you, but you know what my thoughts are in regard to your best choice. As far as the proper percentages of calories and overall calories that you should take in, there are many different opinions on this. A basic guideline that should get you started would be a diet that consists of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and 2-3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight. You should keep your fat intake at approx 15-20% of total calories. These guidelines should be divided into 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day to optimize the absorption of these nutrients. Again, these are general rules, and in no way can I guarantee that these rules are perfect for everyone. I will however, say that this is the best ratio that I have found for me as well as the majority of my clients. You must also keep your water intake high (I suggest a minimum intake of approx .66 times your bodyweight in ounces per day). For example, a 200 pound person would need approx 132 ounces per day or about a gallon.
|Bodypart||Exercise||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|Compound Legs||Barbell Squats||12||10||8|
|Compound Legs||Dumbbell Lunges||12||10||8|
|Hamstrings / Lower Back||Romanian Deadlifts||12||10||8|
|Calves||Seated Calf Raises||12||10||8|
|Chest||Incline Dumbbell Presses||12||10||8|
|Shoulders||Dumbell Lateral Raises||12||10||8|
|Biceps||Alternate Dumbbell Curls||12||10||8|
|Triceps||Overhead Dumbbell Extensions||12||10||8|
Good luck with your continuation to your optimal physique. Train hard, eat smart, and most importantly, be consistent.
See you next month!