This is an age-old question that is often asked by amateurs. When you first started lifting, you probably had visions of yourself as a muscled-out comic book superhero, strutting down the beach like a boss, scaring lesser men and attracting attention from all the right people.
After a week or 2, your fantasies probably hit a great big wall called “reality.” By that, I mean that you probably realized just how hard it could be. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, trained for many years, lifting for 4 hours a day to achieve his legendary physique. It is highly important to understand that you cannot go from skinny to “ripped” overnight.
That being said, it is possible to achieve great progress in only 1 or 2 weeks with an intense workout that focuses on the most important muscle groups. It is this kind of workout that we will be covering today.
The Seven-Day Plan:
The following is a 1-week workout schedule that is meant to provide maximum shred in minimal time. You can do it for 1 week if your need isn’t all that serious, or you could go ahead and do the full 2 weeks if you’re really serious.
Start with 3 sets of weighted squats. Put the barbell on your shoulders and squat deeply. The first set should be 8 reps, followed by 6 reps for the second and third sets. Give yourself about 2 minutes of rest in between sets.
Next, do 3 sets of dumbbell lunges. Just hold the weights loosely in your hand and lunge forward on your front leg, going down as far as possible. Each set should include 12-15 reps,, and you should rest a minute and a half between sets.
Next, do 3 sets of back extensions (leaning forward on a hyperextension bench). Each set should include 15-20 reps,, and there should be no significant rest period. After the third set, immediately switch to your pull-up bar and do 3 sets of hanging knee raises (15-20 reps with a 45-second rest period).
Next is the standing calf raise. Do 2 sets of 20-25 reps with no significant rest period. Immediately transition to weighted swiss ball crunches and do 2 sets of 20 with a 30-second rest period in between.
Start with 3 sets of shoulder presses. The first set should include 8 reps, and the other 2 should include only 6 reps. The rest period is 120 seconds. Next up is the underhand-grip pulldown. Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps with a 2-minute rest period.
Immediately switch to dumbbell bench presses. You’ll do 3 sets of 6-8 reps with no significant rest period. Next up will be 3 sets of seated rowing. The sets should be 6-8 reps and the rest period should be 1 minute.
Next is the tricep pushdowns, which require a rubber band. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps and move right into the dumbbell curls. Do 3 more sets of 12-15 with the dumbbells with a rest period of 45 seconds in between.
This is a cardio day. Put down the weights and focus entirely on cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, or aerobics. It is your choice as to which of these you prefer, but some research seems to indicate that running on a treadmill produces a better cardio workout than a stair-climber or an exercise bicycle.
If you really want to go with the most hardcore option, go outside and run some sprints. This means that you will run as fast and as hard as you can for 12 seconds, rest for about 1 minute, and then run another 12 seconds at maximum intensity. Use these numbers as a “baseline” figure. You can add more running time and reduce resting time as you feel able.
Start with 2 sets of incline dumbbell raises (like a bench press on an incline bench). Do 8-10 reps per set with no significant rest period. Then move right into bent-over dumbbell rowing. Do 2 sets of 8-10 reps with a rest of 90 seconds.
Now do 2 sets of shoulder presses with 8-10 reps each and no significant rest. As soon as you finish, get on that chin-up bar and bang out 2 sets of 10. Rest for 90 seconds between reps.
The punishment continues with 2 sets of weighted squats, 8-10 reps each. Give yourself rest periods of 2 minutes. Now do 2 sets of overhead tricep extensions, doing 8-10 reps per set with 1-minute rest periods. Follow up with two sets of bicep curls, with the same amount of reps and the same rest period.
The final ordeal of this, your toughest day of the week, is a short run. Distance and intensity aren’t a big concern here, just get 30 minutes of solid running and that should be enough.
This is what some people call an “active recovery day.” this simply means that you will not do a full workout today, but you will do some kind of physical activity so that your body doesn’t get too rested and out-of-shape.
Physical therapists have long known that an active recovery, in which you move as much as possible, is superior to a sedentary recovery where you lie in bed all day. The following study, performed on female soccer players, goes into more detail regarding this subject.
This is another active recovery day.
This is a day of rest. No need to engage in any strenuous physical activity at all.
A Few Words About Diet
If you are going to opt for a high-performance workout plan like this one, make sure that you are feeding your body the right kind of fuel. Supplements can be a great way to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need, but there is no substitute for a good diet. It would be hard to overstate the importance of protein for muscle-building, but this study does a good job of breaking down the details.
Conclusion: Use This Workout With Caution!
When you undertake this kind of workout, you should be aware that it is significantly harder on the body than most workouts. Since we are looking for maximum results in minimal time, this kind of workout demands that you push your body toward its limits, and there is no way around that fact.
Science has not determined an exact limit for the amount of exercise that a person can withstand, but this study should at least give you a good idea. As such, you should consult your doctor before beginning and quickly discontinue if you find it to be too much for you. Please feel free to follow us on Facebook so that we can keep you updated with more helpful and informative articles like this one.