Workout Routines

ROCK HARD CHALLENGE MONTH 3

Time to finish strong. The final month of the Rock Hard Challenge features workouts that are more intense and cardio sessions that are tougher (and more frequent)

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ROCK HARD CHALLENGE MONTH 3

>> Just stumbling onto the Rock Hard Challenge? It's not too late. Month 1 — Training | Diet Month 2 — Training | Diet

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

This is it. The homestretch. If you've stuck to the program and diet, you should be right where you want to be in the M&F 2008 Rock Hard Challenge. Many of you are keeping your workout logs up to date online and a great many more have taken it upon themselves to use the boards to interact with our staff. It's all part of the experience!

But now, it's time to put the finishing touches on your already improved physique. This last month the Challenge, which can be found in the September issue starting August 4, features many of the same exercises but definitely ups the ante with regards to intensity. Plus, the cardio sessions become more frequent in an effort to melt away those last few pockets of bodyfat.

Below, you'll find exercise descriptions for this month's training program. And if you're new to the RHC, you can download Months 1 & 2 above.

We are looking forward to seeing your before and after photos! Best of luck!

Month 3 — Exercise Descriptions

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

>> 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 Bench Press

Start: Lie back on a decline bench set to about a 30-degree angle. Make sure your ankles are secured under the pad and grasp the bar with an overhand grip well outside shoulder width. Carefully lift the bar from the rack.

Execution: Slowly lower the bar to your lower chest, keeping your elbows pointed out to your sides. Without bouncing the bar off your chest, press back up to full arm extension.

Incline Flye

Start: Adjust a bench so that the incline in the bench is roughly 30-45 degrees. Lie face-up on the bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and extend your arms above your chest. Bend your elbows slightly.

Execution: Slowly lower the dumbbells in a wide arc down to your sides. Keep your elbows locked in the slightly bent position throughout the range of motion. Stop when your elbows reach shoulder level before reversing 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.

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.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

Start: Sit erect on a low-back bench, feet flat on the floor or on footpads. Grasp the inner plate of a dumbbell as you hold it overhead at full arm extension. Wrap your thumbs around the bar. Keep your head straight and lower back pressed into the pad.

Execution:Bending only at your elbows and holding them in place alongside your ears, lower the weight behind your head until your arms form 90-degree angles. Hold for a brief count, then press back up to full arm extension, squeezing your triceps hard at the top.

Triceps Pressdown

Start: Stand in front of a high-pulley cable and grasp a straight bar with an overhand (pronated) grip. With your knees slightly bent, lean forward at the waist and position your elbows close to your sides, holding your forearms parallel to the floor. Look forward, keeping your back flat and your abs tight.

Execution: Flex your triceps and press the bar toward the floor until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze your tri's and hold for a brief count before returning to the start position.

Day 2: Legs, abs, calves

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.

Romanian Deadlift

Start: Stand upright, holding a barbell in front of your upper thighs with a pronated (overhand) grip. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.

Execution: Keeping your chest up, abs tight and the natural arch in your lower back, lean forward from your hips, pushing them rearward until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. As you lean forward, keep your arms straight and slide the bar down your thighs toward the floor until it reaches your shins. At the bottom, keep your back flat and head neutral, with the bar very close to your legs. Flex your hamstrings and glutes, and lift your torso while pushing your hips forward until you bring the bar back to the start position.

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.

Lying 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.

Double Crunch

Start: Lie face-up on the floor with your feet together and legs extended, holding them approximately 6 inches above the floor. Support your head lightly with your hands.

Execution: Crunch upward and bring your knees in toward your chest simultaneously. Your glutes should come off the floor slightly. Exhale at the top before lowering your legs and torso to the start position at the same time.

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, abs, calves

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.

Seated Lateral Raise

Start: Sit on a low-back bench with your feet flat on the floor in front of you, holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral, palms-in grip, the dumbbells hanging down at your sides. Maintain a very slight bend in your elbows at the start and keep your knees unlocked.

Execution: Lift the weights out to your sides in a wide arc to shoulder level, turning your thumbs down at the top as if you're pouring water from a jug. Keep your form strict at the beginning of the set with just a slight bend in your elbows; as you start to fatigue, increase the bend a bit to make the move easier. Lower under control to the start position and repeat.

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.

Double Crunch

Start: Lie face-up on the floor with your feet together and legs extended, holding them approximately 6 inches above the floor. Support your head lightly with your hands.

Execution: Crunch upward and bring your knees in toward your chest simultaneously. Your glutes should come off the floor slightly. Exhale at the top before lowering your legs and torso to the start position at the same time.

Weighted Crunch

Start: Lie faceup on the floor with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold a weight plate across your chest.

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 and repeat for reps.

Day 4: Back, traps, biceps, forearms

Deadlift

Start: Stand in front of a loaded barbell with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart, the bar touching your shins. Bend your knees and lower your hips into a deep-squat position; your thighs should be at about a 45-degree angle to your lower legs. Grasp the bar outside of your legs with an overhand grip (thumbs wrapped around the bar).

Execution: Keeping your chest high and back flat, inhale deeply and pull the weight off the floor by pressing through your heels and straightening your legs, keeping your back flat and the bar close to your body with your arms straight. Squeeze your back and glutes hard at the top — do not hyperextend your back — and descend under control into your next rep.

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.

Straight-Arm Pulldown

Start: Stand facing a cable stack and take a shoulder-width grip on a high-pulley straight-bar attachment.

Execution: Begin with your arms extended (but not locked) out in front you and parallel to the floor. Contract your lats while keeping your arms straight to pull your hands down to your thighs.

Barbell Shrug

Start: Stand holding a barbell with a palms-down (pronated) grip, your hands spaced just outside of shoulder-with apart, the bar resting across the tops of your thighs.

Execution: Keeping your eyes forward and shoulders back, raise the weight by shrugging your shoulders toward your ears, being careful not to round your upper back or flex your neck. Hold the top position for a count and return to the start.

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.

Hammer Curl

Start: Stand erect with your chest out and shoulders back, holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip at your sides, arms fully extended.

Execution: Bring your weight across your body toward the opposite shoulder. Lift the weight aiming to go past 90-degree elbow flexion in a strong motion. Hold the peak contraction for a split second and slowly lower the weight, focusing on the negative. Alternate sides.

Wrist Curl

Start: Pick up a barbell with an underhand, narrow grip and sit on a flat bench. Hang the barbell just off of the edge of the bench, your forearms in tight and flush with the pad, elbows bent roughly 90 degrees.

Execution: Keeping your thumb under the bar and moving only at your wrists, slowly roll the weight into your fingertips as far as your strength and flexibility will allow. After reaching a full stretch, forcefully contract your fingers and wrists to roll the bar back up to full flexion. Make sure to keep your thumb under the bar for the best range of motion.
 

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