Building Muscle All Over


by Joe Stankowski, C.P.T. Men’s Fitness


“Yeah, he’s got great genes—lucky bastard.” If we haven’t said it, we’ve all thought it. It’s true, some guys are able to achieve out-of-this-world physiques because of genetics that attract muscle to their bodies like a magnet—but more often than not, that’s not the case. The way you take your body to the next level is by looking beyond the lifts you’ve been rotating through since college. It’s time to learn some new moves.




If you went to a trainer, he’d give you an assessment, and the results would likely be the following: You have a weak core, poor grip strength, a lack of mobility in your upper torso, and tight hips. Most guys suffer from these problems—the result of doing only exercises you enjoy. Our program addresses the areas you’ve overlooked, those poor, deflated muscles begging for your attention, attacking them with lifts you’ve never tried (or even heard of) like the Zercher carry and silverback shrug. Other moves, like the quadruped rotation and single-leg RDL, will enhance your mobility, allowing you to activate even more muscle. We also make special use of a sandbag (a loaded duffel bag will suffice), which will improve your grip and strengthen your core at the same time, enabling you to do even more new exercises.




Perform each workout (Day I, II, and III) once per week, resting at least a day between each session. Exercises marked “A,” “B,” and sometimes “C” are done in sequence, so you’ll complete one set of A, then B, (then C, if applicable), and then rest. Repeat until all sets are complete for each exercise in the group and then move on to the next group.





Sets: 4 Reps: Hold 45–60 sec. (each side) Rest: 0 sec.

Lie on your left side, resting your left forearm on the floor for support. Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line and brace your abs—your weight should be on your arm and left foot.



Sets: 4 Reps: Carry for 30–45 seconds (each side) Rest: 30 sec.

Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in one hand. If using a kettlebell, grip it by the handle with the weighted side up in the air. Bend your elbow so you’re holding the weight like a waiter. Hold the position and walk. Complete a set and then repeat on the other side.



Sets: 4 Reps: 12–15 Rest: 0 sec.

Hang from a pullup bar with hands outside shoulder width and palms facing forward. Draw your shoulder blades down and together so that your body moves closer to the bar, but don’t bend your elbows. You’re performing the initial movement of a pullup but no more. Hold at the top for a moment.



Sets: 4 Reps: 4–6 Rest: 30 sec.

Hold a barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your hips back. Keeping your lower back in an arch, lower your body till your torso is parallel with the floor. Draw your shoulder blades back and together. You’re performing the initial movement of a row, stopping before you’d bend your elbows.



Sets: 4 Reps: Carry for 45–60 sec. Rest: 0 sec.

Hold a sandbag (or other weighted object) in front of you. Keep your core braced and your upper back tight. Carry the bag.



Sets: 4 Reps: 4–6 Rest: 30 sec.

Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and let it hang in front of your thighs. Bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s parallel with the floor. Bend your knees a bit to take tension off your hamstrings. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the bar to meet your stomach.





Sets: 4 Reps: 6 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.

Get on all fours on the floor so your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Reach behind your head and cup it with your left hand. Twist your torso to bring your left elbow under your body and through until it points to your right. Rotate back and reach the elbow overhead.



Sets: 4 Reps: 6 Rest: 0 sec.

Kneel on the floor and rest your forearms on a Swiss ball. Brace your abs and roll the ball forward as you extend your arms and hips. When you feel you’re about to lose tension in your abs, roll yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep.



Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 60 sec.

Rest your upper back on a bench and sit on the floor with legs extended. Roll a barbell up your thighs until it sits on your lap. Keep your left leg extended, brace your abs, and drive your right heel into the floor to raise your hips until they’re parallel with the floor.



Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.

Stand holding dumbbells and step back with your left foot. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel with the floor and your rear knee nearly touches the floor. Keep your torso upright. Step forward to return.



Sets: 4 Reps: Drag for 60 sec. Rest: 0 sec.

Place a sandbag on the floor and attach a suspension trainer to it (or use a rope or other straps) to act as handles. Grasp the straps and walk backward briskly so you drag the bag with your arms extended.



Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 60 sec.

Hold a bar with both hands and stand on one leg. Bend your hips back and lower your torso until you feel your lower back is about to lose its arch. Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips to come up.





Sets: 4 Reps: Hold for 30–60 sec. Rest: 0 sec.

Load a barbell on the floor and stand to the right of it, perpendicular, with feet hip-width apart. Bend your hips back and lower your body until you can grasp the barbell in its center with your left hand. Brace your core and, keeping your lower back in its natural arch, push through your heels to stand up and lock out your hips. Squeeze the bar hard to keep it from teetering. Focus on keeping your spine straight—do not bend toward the barbell.



Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 120 sec.

Place a sandbag on the floor and stand over it with legs between hip and shoulder-width apart. Bend your hips back and then your knees and lower your torso until you can grasp the bag. Explosively extend your hips and heave the bag onto one shoulder. Lower and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.



Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.

Get into pushup position with a dumbbell in each hand. Perform a pushup and then, in the up position, shift your weight to the righthand side and row the lefthand dumbbell to your side. Perform another pushup, and row on the right side.



Sets: 4 Reps: As many as possible Rest: 120 sec.

Place your hands on the floor, shoulderwidth apart, and extend your legs behind you. Brace your core. Pull your shoulder blades together and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Press back up, keeping your body position



Sets: 4 Reps: 6 Rest: 0 sec.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, and raise your arms out to your sides 90 degrees. Hold the top of each rep for 6–10 seconds.



Sets: 4 Reps: 4–6 Rest: 120 sec.

Hold the bar at shoulder level with forearms perpendicular to the floor. Dip your knees to gather momentum and then extend them explosively as you press the weight overhead.


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