Workout Plans
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Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine

The body you’ve always wanted is right around the corner with this 6-week jump-start plan.

Start this program

Whether you’re new to lifting weights or a former gym rat finally getting back to business, your needs are fairly straightforward: Find a program that’s easy to follow, demanding enough to produce some size and strength gains to get you hooked for the long term, but not so intense that it burns you out. These early stages are also a time for establishing good habits in terms of how to perform foundational exercises, how to properly warm up, what to do for cardio, and what to feed your body to enhance performance and recovery.

All of these critical elements are covered in the following six-week program, designed by Justin Grinnell, C.S.C.S., owner and head trainer at State of Fitness in East Lansing, MI. Grinnell’s program is everything a good program needs to be: easy to follow, with tried-and-true principles that will produce gains in muscle size and strength that you’ll likely begin to notice within a month. The program also addresses functional fitness, mobility, cardio, nutrition, and supplements. Most important, this plan will lay the groundwork for more impressive results down the road. 

Training Overview

This program is built around basic, foundational exercises because, well, that’s what works. Multi-joint (compound) movements performed with free weights are what the biggest, strongest men in the world rely on in their training, and these are the staples of any good training regimen worth its salt. In fact, there’s not a machine to be found in this program—not because machines are worthless (they aren’t), but because movements done with body weight, barbells, and dumbbells will produce quicker results than anything done with a machine. 

After you’re done with this program, you can introduce machines to further isolate and overload the muscles and even to work around any nagging injuries you may have. But for now, stick with what’s written here. 

“When starting a new workout program, focusing on the fundamentals is key,” says Grinnell. ­“Pushing, ­pulling, and squatting heavy weight is what it’s all about. Throw in some arms, calves, and abdominal work with the right amount of cardio and you have a solid workout plan.” Grinnell implements a four-days-a-week lifting schedule that utilizes an upper-body/lower-body split—upper body on Days 1 and 3 (Monday and ­Thursday) and lower body and abs on Days 2 and 4 (Tuesday and Friday). 

This design, he says, provides the perfect dose of training stress to promote muscle growth and strength without hindering recovery. Training volume (total number of sets) is somewhat modest in this program to keep the trainee from overdoing it. To promote cardiovascular conditioning and fat burning, cardio workouts are prescribed three days a week.  

As just mentioned, the exercise selection is incredibly straightforward on purpose. Likewise, the set and rep schemes Grinnell prescribes are equally battle tested. You’ll get a heavy dose of strength training via the classic 5x5 protocol (five sets of five reps) balanced out with sets in the hypertrophy sweet spot of eight to 12 reps (and up to 20-plus reps on certain movements). This approach will have you experiencing noticeable gains in both muscle size and strength, provided proper nutrition is adhered to. 


Begin every workout with this quick, simple warmup to prime the body for the ensuing lifting session. “For beginners and veterans alike, a warmup is essential,” Grinnell says. “It prepares your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, increases core temperature, improves joint mobility, and activates the nervous system.” Perform these exercises in circuit fashion for a total of 2 rounds:

 Exercise   Reps
 Spider-Man With Rotation  5 per side
 Body-weight Squat  10
 Pushup  10
 Lateral Raise  5 per side
 Jump Rope  1 min. 

The Split

  • Day 1 Monday: Upper Body Start
  • Day 2 Tuesday: Lower Body/Abs Start
  • Day 3 Rest Start
  • Day 4 Thursday: Upper Body Start
  • Day 5 Friday: Lower Body/Abs Start
  • Day 6 Rest Start
  • Day 7 Rest Start