Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
The Training Plan
> Phase 1, Weeks 1–4: Complete all workouts as outlined in the base program on page 2. Each week, swap one exercise per body part for a new one from the Exercise Exchange List on page 3. Do cardio five days a week for 45 minutes.
> Phase 2, Weeks 5–8: Continue using the base program and swapping out one exercise per body part each week. Keep up with the cardio, five days a week for 45 minutes. On leg day, perform five minutes of high-intensity intervals on a stationary bike between each exercise. Do 60 seconds at 80–90% max heart rate (about an 8–9 on a scale of 1–10), followed by 60 seconds of slower-paced active recovery. On chest day, do one set of close-grip pushups to failure between each exercise. Keep hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.
> Phase 3, Weeks 9–11: Continue the base plan, changing out one exercise per body part from the Exercise Exchange List on page 3. Continue with cardio five days a week for 45 minutes. On leg day, do one minute of pop squats (jump up and land with feet together, then jump feet out to sides as you squat, like a jumping jack with a deep squat), lunge jumps, or alternating dynamic stepups between each exercise. On chest day, do one set of incline pushups to failure between each exercise, keeping hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.
> Week 12: See last page for your final training guidelines.
Day 1: Abs, Back
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Shoulders, Chest
Day 5: Yoga
Day 6: Arms, Abs, Back
Day 7: Rest
Days 1, 2, 4, 5, 7: StepMill or treadmill set to 10% incline.
Days 3 and 6: Rest
*Performed for 45 minutes at a steady pace.
Exercise Exchange List
To keep your workout feeling fresh (and your muscles guessing what will happen next), change up your routine by subbing in these exercises on strength days.
Hanging Knee Raise
Kneeling Cable Crunch
Vertical-bench Leg Raise
Seated Cable Rope Row
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Cable Preacher Curl
Barbell Bench Press
Flat-bench Dumbbell Press
Flat-bench Dumbbell Flye
Seated Hamstring Curl
Lying Hamstring Curl
Machine Lateral Raise
Front Plate Raise
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Weighted Hyperextension (Day 1)
● Lie facedown on a hyperextension bench. Hook your heels under the footpads and place your feet flat on the plate, toes forward.
● Lean forward from your hips, upper body extended over the top edge of the bench, and grasp a weight plate with both hands.
● Raise your upper body, keeping the weight in front of your chest.
● Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower back to start.
Walking Barbell Lunge (Day 3 — not shown)
● Stand tall with a barbell resting across your upper back, with feet together and toes pointed forward.
● Lunge forward with your right foot; bend your left knee 90 degrees, lowering it toward the floor.
● Push off your right foot and step forward with your left, lowering your right knee to the floor.
Stiff-leg Deadlift (Day 3 — not shown)
● Stand tall holding a barbell in front of your thighs with a shoulder-width, over-hand grip, and your feet 6–8″ apart.
● Keeping your chest high, abs tight, and knees slightly bent, lean forward at the hips, letting the bar naturally track away from your body.
● Pause when you feel a good stretch along the back of your legs, then carefully stand back up and reverse the motion by contracting your glutes and hamstrings, allowing the bar to come closer to your body as you approach the top position.
● Squeeze your abs, back, and glutes at the top.
● Repeat for reps.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise (Day 4 — not shown)
● Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip, palms facing your body.
● Bend your elbows slightly, keeping this bend throughout the exercise.
● Raise the dumbbells out to your sides in a wide arc to about shoulder level. Pause for a moment at the top, then return to the start position under control.
● Repeat for reps.
Kettlebell Pullover (Day 6)
● Rest your shoulders and upper back on a flat bench, your body perpendicular to it.
● Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands above your face, arms extended, and elbows slightly bent.
● Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, slowly lower the weight behind your head.
● Pause at the bottom of the movement, then slowly lift the weight back over your chest, keeping elbows slightly bent throughout.
● Repeat for reps.
Close-grip Pushup (Phase 2, day 4)
● Get into a pushup position, hands slightly narrower than shoulder width, fingers pointed forward.
● Keeping your body in a straight line and your core engaged, lower yourself to the floor and press all the way back up.
● Repeat for reps.
Standing Dumbbell Curl (Day 6)
● Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your abs tight, chest up, and head straight.
● Contract your biceps and simultaneously curl both dumbbells up, keeping your elbows tight at your sides.
● Hold and squeeze at the top, then slowly reverse the movement, bringing the dumbbells back to the start position.
● Repeat for reps.
Lying Knee Lift (Day 1)
● Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent, calves parallel to floor.
● Place your hands under your glutes, palms down.
● Keeping your knees bent, lift hips toward the ceiling.
● Hold the contraction at the top, then slowly lower your legs back to the start position, squeezing your abs throughout the range of motion.
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension (Day 6)
● Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand directly overhead, elbows extended and palms facing inward.
● Keeping your elbows in, slowly lower the dumbbells down behind your head until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
● Press the dumbbells back up to the start position.
Incline Dumbbell Flye (day 4)
● Lie faceup on an incline bench set to about 45 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor.
● Hold dumbbells above your chest with your palms facing in front of you, elbows slightly bent.
● Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lower the weights until your arms are just short of parallel to the floor.
● Pause, then slowly return to the start position; repeat for reps.
Achieve peak conditioning with these essential last-minute tips.
Seven Days to Showtime!
The last week of your plan is when all your nutrition and training come together. To look your absolute best for your moment in the spotlight, follow these final instructions in the days leading up to the competition.
> During the first four days of this week (Sunday through Wednesday), follow the diet as outlined in Phase 3, but cut the portion size of carb-heavy foods—like rice or sweet potatoes—in half.
> On Thursday, resume eating the regular amount of carbs outlined in Phase 3. Eliminate all added sodium.
> From Monday through Friday, increase your fluid intake from 1 gallon (16 cups) to 1.5 gallons (24 cups) a day.
> On Friday morning, cut your water intake to roughly two cups until noon. From that point until the day of the show, don’t consume any water. Also on Friday morning, have about 50% more carbs at each meal (so, a portion and a half of the carb-rich foods).
>On show day, cut the serving size of carb-rich foods at each meal.
Week 12: Workout Plan
Train on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday only.
Perform all back exercises outlined in Day 1 of the program, plus two biceps exercises from the Exercise Exchange List. Do these in circuit fashion.
Perform all chest exercises outlined in Day 4 of the program, plus two triceps exercises from the Exchange List. Do these in circuit fashion.
Perform all shoulder exercises outlined in Day 4 of the program. Do these in circuit fashion.
All 3 days: Abs
Choose two or three abs exercises each day, and do 3 sets of 25–30 repetitions each.
All 3 days: Cardio
Each day do 30 minutes of high-intensity intervals (including a five-minute warmup and cooldown) on the StepMill, or walk briskly on a treadmill set to 10% incline. Do two minutes at 80–90% maximum heart rate (8–9 on a scale of 1–10), followed by 60 seconds of slower-paced active rest.
Thursday & Friday: Rest.
Relax, take it easy, and get ready to focus on the show!
GET THE NUTRITION PLAN HERE: 12-WEEK DIET PLAN