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ROCK HARD CHALLENGE TRAINING PROGRAM

Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS
ROCK HARD CHALLENGE TRAINING PROGRAM

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To pick up the Rock Hard Challenge workout DVD, go to musclestuff.com

Congrats for deciding to take on the 2008 Muscle & Fitness Rock Hard Challenge! Many of you have already jumped into the first week, as evidenced by all the activity at the forums. While most of the exercises listed in the RHC are pretty basic — its simplicity is its genius — it never hurts to go back over some general pointers for each lift in order to maximize your efficiency and enhance your results.

Again, we wish you the best of luck. Keep to the diet and supplement guidelines to speed up your progress!

Rock Hard Challenge - Month 1
Need a refresher on the basics? We've got all of your exercise descriptions for this month's program

Month 1 — Exercise Descriptions

Rock Hard Bodypart Split
1	Chest, triceps
2	Legs, calves, abs
3	Shoulders, calves, abs
4	Back, biceps

>> Perform each of these workouts once over a seven-day period (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, for example).

Day 1: Chest, triceps

Incline Bench Press

Start: Grasp the bar with an overhand grip outside shoulder width. Unrack it and hold it directly above your face. Keep your upper back and glutes pressed against the bench, feet flat and spread on the floor or platform for balance.

Execution: Slowly lower the bar to your upper chest, coming to a complete stop without bouncing the bar off your chest. Quickly reverse direction and explode the weight back up to full extension without locking out.

Bench Press

Start: Lie faceup on a flat bench, grasping the bar outside shoulder width at arms' length above you. For balance and power, keep your head, shoulders and glutes in contact with the bench at all times, and your feet spread out flat on the floor.

Execution: Lower the bar to your lower chest; your elbows should point out to your sides at the bottom of the move. Without bouncing, smoothly reverse direction and forcefully press to full arm extension directly above your chest.

Decline Flye

Start: Adjust a bench to a 30-45-degree decline. Hold a pair of dumbbells and carefully position yourself on the bench, securing your feet under the pads. Starting with the weights on your thighs, lie back slowly while moving the dumbbells into position at full extension above your chest, palms facing each other.

Execution: Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, take a deep breath and lower the weights out to your sides in a wide, deliberate arc until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor or you feel a strong stretch in your pecs. Pause briefly and reverse the motion.

Bench Dip

Start: Place two benches parallel to each other about 3 to 4 feet apart. Sit in the middle of one bench and face the other bench. Place your hands on the bench by your hips, fingers cupping the edge of the bench and your elbows pointing rearward. Support your body with your arms and carefully place both heels on the bench in front of you.

Execution: Squeeze your triceps and slowly lower your glutes and upper body toward the floor until your upper arms are roughly parallel to it. Pause momentarily, then press yourself upward until you come to the starting position with your arms extended.

Close-Grip Bench Press

Start: Lie back on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the barbell with a narrow (inside shoulder-width), overhand grip. Press the bar up slightly to un-rack it, then steady the bar above your chest with your arms extended.

Execution: Lower the bar to your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Do not bounce the bar off your chest, but rather when the bar approaches an inch or so away from your chest, pause and press the bar back up to the starting position. Squeeze your triceps and chest at the top.

Lying Triceps Extension

Start: Lie faceup on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp an EZ-bar (or straight bar) and grasp it with an overhand grip. With arms extended, hold the bar above your face and slightly back toward your spotter.

Execution: Squeeze your triceps as you slowly lower the bar toward the top of your head. When your elbows reach 90-degree angles, pause for a moment, then forcefully extend your arms to press the bar back to the start position.

Day 2: Legs, calves, abs

Squat

Start:Stand erect, holding a bar across your upper back with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and your toes turned out slightly.

Execution: Keeping your head neutral, abs tight and torso erect, bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body, as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Pause when your legs reach a 90-degree angle, then forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you arrive at the standing position.

Leg Press

Start: Sit in a leg press machine with your back and hips against the pads, and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Grasp the handles and press through your heels to release the safeties. Your knees should be slightly bent at the start of the movement.

Execution: Inhale and slowly lower the weight until your knees form 90-degree angles. Pause briefly before forcefully pressing the weight back up through your heels, exhaling as you pass the midpoint of the lift.

Lunge

Start: Grasp a pair of dumbbells and stand upright with your eyes focused forward, feet hip-width apart and arms hanging straight down at your sides (or similarly, with a barbell across your upper back).

Execution: Step forward about 2-4 feet with one leg and bend your knee to lower your hips until your front quad is parallel to the floor and your back knee is a few inches off the floor. Pause briefly in the bottom position, then press through the heel of your front foot to extend your hip and knee and return to the start position. Complete all reps for one side or alternate sides for reps.

Leg extension

Start: Sit in a leg extension machine so the backs of your thighs are in full contact with the seat and your back is fully supported. Place your shins behind the resistance pad. Your knees should hang just off the end of the seat, forming a 90-degree angle.

Execution: Grasp the handles, inhale deeply and contract your quads against the resistance until your knees are fully extended. Exhale as you pass the midpoint, hold the peak contraction and slowly lower back to the start.

Leg curl

Start: Lie facedown on a leg curl machine with your knees just past the end of the bench. The resistance rollers should be adjusted so they rest against the backs of your ankles. Grasp the handles and inhale deeply.

Execution: Keeping your torso still, contract your hamstrings to bring the rollers toward your glutes, exhaling as you pass the midpoint of the move. Squeeze your hams hard at the top of the movement and slowly reverse direction back to the starting position.

Crunch

Start: Lie faceup on the floor with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your fingertips touching, and your elbows out to your sides.

Execution: Slowly curl your upper body and shoulder blades off the floor as you raise your chest and shoulders toward the ceiling. Hold the peak-contracted position momentarily while squeezing your abs. Slowly return to the start position, stopping just short of your elbows touching the floor.

Reverse Crunch

Start: Lie flat on your back with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees, arms down at your sides.

Execution: Contract your abdominal muscles to pull your pelvis upward and your knees toward your chest. Pause, return to the start and repeat.

Leg-Press Calf Raise

Start: Sit in a leg press machine with the safety stops locked in a position that allows you to bend your knees slightly when the platform is at rest. Space your feet about hip-width apart on the platform, your toes pointing upward. The balls of your feet should be on the platform, your heels slightly below. Grasp the safety-lock grips for stability.

Execution: Press your legs to near full extension, putting a stretch on your calves. Contract your calves forcefully, driving the platform away from you. Hold for 1-2 seconds in the top position before returning to the start and repeating for reps.

Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

Start: Sit on a flat bench holding a pair of heavy dumbbells on the tops of your knees.

Execution: Press your toes into forcefully into the floor until you are fully flexed at the calf. Hold the top position for a count and return to the start.

Day 3: Shoulders, calves, abs

Overhead dumbbell press

Start: Sit erect against a low-back bench, feet spread wide for balance with your chest out and back slightly arched. Position the weights next to your ears with a palms-forward grip, elbows pointing down and out to your sides.

Execution: Press the dumbbells directly up and together to full arm extension in a strong but controlled motion, just short of locking out your elbows. Control the downward motion and pause momentarily at the bottom so you don't bounce as you reverse direction.

Upright row

Start: Stand erect with your chest out, shoulders back and midsection tight, lower back slightly arched and knees unlocked. Grasp a bar with an overhand grip, hands 8-10 inches apart, holding the bar close to your body with your arms extended down in front.

Execution: Keeping the bar just a few inches from your body, lift it up to your chin by raising your elbows so they point out to your sides. Keep your elbows up and above the level of your hands during the move and lower under control.

Bent-over lateral raise

Start: Grasp a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and bend at the waist, with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, upper torso parallel to the floor. Hold the weights directly below you with your elbows slightly bent, keeping your head aligned by looking forward to reduce tension in your neck and trap muscles.

Execution: Raise your arms out to your sides in an arc; visualize pinching your shoulders together so that they almost touch. Raise the weights as high as you can without flexing or extending at the elbows.

Crunch

Start: Lie faceup on the floor with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your fingertips touching, and your elbows out to your sides.

Execution: Slowly curl your upper body and shoulder blades off the floor as you raise your chest and shoulders toward the ceiling. Hold the peak-contracted position momentarily while squeezing your abs. Slowly return to the start position, stopping just short of your elbows touching the floor.

Reverse crunch

Start: Lie flat on your back with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees, arms down at your sides.

Execution: Contract your abdominal muscles to pull your pelvis upward and your knees toward your chest. Pause, return to the start and repeat.

Leg-press calf raise

Start: Sit in a leg press machine with the safety stops locked in a position that allows you to bend your knees slightly when the platform is at rest. Space your feet about hip-width apart on the platform, your toes pointing upward. The balls of your feet should be on the platform, your heels slightly below. Grasp the safety-lock grips for stability.

Execution: Press your legs to near full extension, putting a stretch on your calves. Contract your calves forcefully, driving the platform away from you. Hold for 1-2 seconds in the top position before returning to the start and repeating for reps.

Seated dumbbell calf raise

Start: Sit on a flat bench holding a pair of heavy dumbbells on the tops of your knees.

Execution: Press your toes into forcefully into the floor until you are fully flexed at the calf. Hold the top position for a count and return to the start.

Day 4: Back, biceps

Bent-over row

Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a barbell with a wide, overhand grip. With your chest up, back flat and knees bent slightly, bend forward at your waist until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor and the bar hangs straight down in front of your shins. Keep your head in a neutral position and your eyes fixed on the floor in front of you.

Execution: Remain in the bent-over position and bring the bar to your upper abdomen by pulling with your back muscles. Squeeze and hold for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering the bar along the same path.

Seated row

Start: Attach a close-grip handle to the seated row cable machine and sit upright on the bench facing the weight stack. Place your feet against the platform with your legs slightly bent. Reach forward to grasp the handle while keeping your back flat, and chest up. Pull back until your torso is erect and your arms are fully extended.

Execution: Pull the handle toward your midsection. Keep your elbows close to the sides of your body. Keep your torso erect and your head in a neutral position as you squeeze your back muscles. Hold for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning to the start position.

Lat pulldown

Start: Grasp the pulldown bar with a wide, overhand grip, thumbs wrapped around the bar for safety, then sit erect with a slight arch in your low back. Fit your thighs securely under the pads with your feet flat on the floor. Fully extend your arms, keep your head straight and focus your eyes forward.

Execution: Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar down to the top of your chest in a smooth motion, keeping your elbows pointed out and down to your sides. Hold this position momentarily before slowly returning the bar to the start. Concentrate on using your back muscles to pull the weight down and avoid unnecessary swaying back and forth.

Barbell curl

Start: Grasp a barbell with an underhand grip, your hands spaced about shoulder-width apart. Stand erect with your chest out, shoulders back and spine in alignment, keeping a slight bend in your knees. The bar should rest across the tops of your thighs, arms extended.

Execution: With your elbows tight to your sides, squeeze your biceps to raise the bar in an arc toward your shoulders. Squeeze for a peak contraction before slowly lowering the bar back down. Stop the bar just short of your thighs to keep tension on the biceps.

Incline dumbbell curl

Start: Set an adjustable bench to an incline (roughly 45 degrees) and sit with your back flush against the pad, dumbbells low at your sides, palms facing up, thumbs around the handles, feet flat on the floor.

Execution: Without swinging the weight, curl one dumbbell up as high as possible while keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the floor. Pause at the top for a second before returning the weight to the starting position. Complete all reps for one arm before switching.

Dumbbell preacher curl

Start: Lean against a preacher bench with your armpits snugly resting on top of the pads and your upper arms firmly on the bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells with a supinated (underhand) grip just short of full-arm extension.

Execution: Flex your arms to bring the weight up, but not so high that the top becomes a resting point. Use a more explosive motion on the positive portion of the rep, controlling the decent back to the starting position and keeping a slight bend in your elbow to maintain constant tension.

 

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