This program keeps it simple; you’ll train four days a week—two upper-body days and two lower-body days—and gain strength and stamina fast.
The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more calories you burn. If that’s true, then why do so many people neglect to train their legs, which is the largest muscle group? In short, because it can hurt. If you’ve never trained legs before, or if you haven’t done much leg training in a while, then you can expect to be pretty sore even after a basic leg workout.
Well, here’s a neat little trick to deal with that soreness: TOUGHEN UP. Seriously. It’s gonna hurt a little bit. So what? You know what hurts more? Neglecting all of this important foundation work and then being too frail to enjoy your golden years. You’re going to do this workout—which calls for four training days per week, two lower body days and two upper body days—and for the first two, maybe three weeks you’ll resent it. And then it will be part of your new normal. It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger. That’s what you should want. There is nothing to be gained by going an easier route. (And FYI, riding a stationary bike for about 10 minutes after your leg workout will help spread some of that lactic acid around and mitigate some of your soreness. It’s by no means a cure-all, but it can definitely help.)
Directions: Perform the following workout for 6-8 weeks. Alternate between Leg Day and Upper Body Day for four total sessions per week.
UPPER BODY DAY
Bench Press 4 sets of 10
Barbell Row 4 sets of 10
Pushup 4 sets of 15
Inverted Row* 4 sets of 10
Barbell Curl 4 sets of 10
French Curl** 4 sets of 10
Military Press 4 sets of 10
Plank 4 sets of 60 seconds
*Lie under a bar set on the safety pins of a power rack. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and pull your chest to the bar, initiating the move by retracting your shoulder blades. Hold the position at the top for one second and then slowly return to the start. Keep your body straight.
**Hold a single heavy dumbbell behind your head with both hands on the inside of one of the plates; the dumbbell should be straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor. Bend your elbows all the way to let the dumbbell sink behind your head, then contract your triceps to push the weight straight up.
LOWER BODY DAY
Bodyweight Squat 2 sets of 15
Barbell Squat 4 sets of 10
Box Jump* 2 sets of 10
Walking Lunge 4 sets of 20 (10 each leg)
Leg Press 3 sets of 12
Hamstring Curl 3 sets of 12
Quad Extension 3 sets of 12
Calf Raise 4 sets of 20
*(PICTURED ABOVE) Stand in front of a box or bench at least as high as your knees. Squat low to the ground and then explosively reverse direction, jumping with both feet straight onto the box. Land softly, crouching into the landing to decelerate.
Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.