Workout Routines

The no-plateau workout plan

Use the 'one-half plus one' method to get stronger every week.

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The no-plateau workout plan
Westend61/Getty Images
Westend61/Getty Images
Duration 45-60
Exercises 6-8
Equipment Yes

The trick to building muscle over the long haul—for years, not just weeks or months—is checking your ego.

Make gradual but steady increases, working with weights that are challenging but not so heavy that they make your eyes bug out. That's what this workout is all about.

How it works

We call it the "one-half plus one" method. It's a practical, systematic approach that will yield big strength gains on the four best muscle-building exercises—the bench press, deadlift, shoulder press, and squat. Write your max lifts down today, and be prepared for jaw-dropping results within two months (and every month, year, and even decade thereafter).

Directions

Perform the paired exercises (marked A and B) in sequence. So you'll do one set of the first exercise, rest, and then one set of the next exercise, and rest again before repeating. Continue for all the prescribed sets. Perform the last exercise of each workout as straight sets.

Frequency: Do Workouts 1, 2, and 3 in the same week, resting at least a day between sessions. The next week, begin with Workout 4, and repeat the cycle.

Follow this plan for the first lift of each workout:

Week 1: Find your 12-rep max (the most weight you can lift 12 times). Perform 4 sets of 7 reps.

Week 2: Add 6% to the load you used in Week 1 (this is your 10-rep max, roughly). Do 4 sets of 6 reps.

Week 3: Add 6% to the load you used in Week 2 (8-rep max). Do 4 sets of 5.

Week 4: Add 6% to the load you used in Week 3 (6-rep max). Do 4 sets of 4.

Week 5: Repeat, beginning at Week 1, but add weight to your 12-rep max (5lbs for the bench and shoulder press, and 10 for the deadlift and squat).

Rest about 2 minutes between sets. On the fourth set, attempt to do more reps than the prescribed number, but don't go to failure.

Workout 1

Exercise 1.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
4-7 (depending on the week) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Inverted Row You'll need: Power Rack How to
Inverted row thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Isometric-explosive pushup How to
isometric workout thumbnail
2 sets
15-45 sec. (per position) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Face Pull You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Face Pull  thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Dumbbell Side-to-Side Rotation You'll need: Dumbbells How to
How To Do A Dumbbell Side-To-Side Swing thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each side) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4A.

Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Curl thumbnail
2 sets
8 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4B.

Triceps Pushdown You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Triceps Pushdown thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Pallof Press You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Pallof Press thumbnail
3 sets
5 (each side) reps
120 sec. rest

Workout 2

Exercise 1.

Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Deadlift  thumbnail
4 sets
4-7 (depending on the week) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Swiss Ball Leg Curl You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Swiss Ball Leg Curl thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest
Perform this exercise one leg at a time.

Exercise 2B.

Bulgarian Split Squat You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Bulgarian Split Squat thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Isometric lunge with band front raise You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Front Raise  thumbnail
2 sets
10 (each side) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Single-Leg Calf Raise How to
Single-leg Calf Raise thumbnail
2 sets
12-20 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Ab-Wheel Rollout You'll need: Ab Wheel How to
Ab-Wheel Rollout  thumbnail
3 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Workout 3

Exercise 1.

Shoulder Press You'll need: No Equipment How to
Shoulder Press  thumbnail
4 sets
4-7 (depending on the week) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Chinup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Chinup thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Medicine Ball Pushup You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Medicine Ball Pushup thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each side) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

One-arm reverse-grip cable row You'll need: Cable Machine How to
One-arm reverse-grip cable row thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each side) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Shrug thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4A.

Barbell Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Curl thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4B.

Incline Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Press thumbnail
2 sets
8 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Elbows-to-Hands Plank How to
Elbow plank thumbnail
2 sets
5-8 reps
120 sec. rest

Workout 4

Exercise 1.

Squat You'll need: Squat Rack How to
Squat thumbnail
4 sets
4-7 (depending on the week) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest
Use a pair of dumbbells.

Exercise 2B.

Dumbbell Step-Up You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Step-Up thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Cable pullover You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Cable pullover 2 thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Side Lunge How to
Side Lunge thumbnail
2 sets
8-12 (each leg) reps
120 sec. rest
Hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Exercise 4.

Side Plank You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Side Plank thumbnail
2 sets
30-45 sec. (each side) reps
120 sec. rest
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