Build Muscle Fast with These Four-Week Workout Plans

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Some people claim it’s impossible to burn body fat and build muscle at the same time, believing that you have to prioritise one training goal over the other. That’s not the case – but to achieve both simultaneously, you have to start training smarter.

This month’s main workout will get you doing just that because each week it combines two total-body sessions, taxing all your muscles to initiate the fat-burning process, with two upper-body muscle-building sessions, which will add lean mass across your torso. The result is that you will transform your physique by stripping away unwanted fat from across your middle while sculpting a bigger, stronger body.

Here’s how the plan works

This month’s four-week workout is made up of four sessions a week. Workout one is a total-body session; workout two targets your chest and back; workout three is another total-body session; and workout four hits your arms and shoulders.

This approach gives you the fat-burning benefits of two tough full-body workouts per week and the muscle-building benefits of also hitting the major muscles of your upper body with their own dedicated session.

Each workout is made up of five moves. The first two moves are big, compound lifts done in a superset for four sets of 12 reps to get your heart rate high and muscles pumped. The final three moves make up a tri-set, which means you’ll do them in order with minimal rest until you’ve completed all the reps of the third move.

Do the workouts in order, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest periods detailed, and you’ll blast away your belly fat while also adding lean muscle mass to your chest, arms, shoulders and back, giving you your best ever body after just four weeks.

Tempo training

To get the full effect from these workouts, you need to stick to the four-digit tempo code for each exercise. The first digit indicates how long in seconds you take to lower the weight, the second how long you pause at the bottom of the move, the third how long you take to lift the weight, and the final digit how long you pause at the top. The accumulated time under tension increases your heart rate to burn body fat and break down muscle tissue so it’s rebuilt bigger and stronger. Keep each rep smooth and controlled so your muscles – not momentum – do the work, and move through a full range of motion.

Workout 1: Total Body

1A Squat

Barbell back squat

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Stand tall with a bar across the backs of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and core braced, squat down as deep as you can. Drive back up through your heels to return to the start.

1B Triceps dip

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Grip rings or parallel bars with your arms straight. Keeping your chest up, bend your elbows to lower your body as far as your shoulders allow. Press back up powerfully to return to the start.

2A Glute bridge

Glute bridge

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

Lie with your upper back supported on a bench, holding a barbell across the tops of your thighs. Thrust your hips up, squeeze your glutes at the top, and then return to the start.

2B Incline dumbbell curl

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

Sit on a bench angled at 45° with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

2C Seated overhead press

Seated dumbbell shoulder press

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up, press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start.

Workout 2: Chest and back

1A Bench press

Bench press

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then lower the bar towards your chest. Press it back up to the start.

1B Bent-over row

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, hands just outside your legs. Hinge forwards from your hips, brace your core, then pull the bar up, leading with your elbows. Lower it back to the start.

2A Incline dumbbell press

Incline dumbbell bench press

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 10sec

Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Brace your core, then press the weights up until your arms are straight. Lower them back to the start.

2B Incline dumbbell flye

Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 10sec

Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face, with your palms facing and a slight bend in your elbows. Lower them to the sides, then bring them back to the top.

2C One-Arm row

Superset workout one: 2C Single-arm row

Sets 4 Reps 12 each side Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Kneel on a bench with one hand on it for support, holding a dumbbell in the other hand. Keeping your chest up, row the weight up, leading with your elbow, then lower back to the start. Complete all the reps on one side, then switch.

Workout 3: Total body

1A Front squat

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Stand tall with a bar across the front of your shoulders with elbows up. Keeping your core braced, squat down as deep as you can. Drive back up through your heels to return to the start.

1B Rack pull

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a barbell resting on safety bars at knee height. Using a double overhand grip, bend down and deadlift the bar up, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.

2A Good morning

Barbell good morning

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

Stand tall holding a light barbell across the backs of your shoulders, feet shoulder-width apart. With your core braced, bend forward slowly from the hips, as far as your hamstrings allow but not past horizontal. Return to the start.

2B Reverse flye

Dumbbell reverse flye

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 10sec

Bend forward from the hips with a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

2C Barbell roll-out

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Kneel on the floor holding a barbell with both hands. Roll the bar forward so you lower your torso, keeping your core braced. Then use your abs muscles to return to the start.

Workout 4: Arms and shoulders

1A Chin-up

Chin-up

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Hold a bar with an underhand grip. Brace your core, then pull yourself up until your chin is higher than the bar. Lower until your arms are straight again.

1B Overhead press

Overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Hold a barbell across the top of your chest with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the bar overhead until your arms are straight. Lower it back to the start.

2A Standing dumbbell biceps curl

Dumbbell biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 10sec

Stand with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

2B Triceps extension

Dumbbell triceps extension

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

Stand tall holding a dumbbell over your head with both hands, arms straight. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight behind your head, then raise it back to the start.

2C Lateral raise

Dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and a bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

NEXT: Four-Week Workout to Add Muscle Faster

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Smartphone Devices Now Compatible with our Online Training Programs

In the News

Take your workout with you! Core Performance’s online training and nutrition programs—the tool designed by the coaches at Athletes’ Performance—is now fully compatible with select smartphones and other devices, including the iPhone, iPod, iPad and the Android 2.2 and higher.

On the heels of our announcement of over 1,000 new exercise videos and a new Reports section, we’re happy to report that you now have full access to your personalized training program right in your phone’s browser.

In addition to workout podcast downloads and workout printouts, the ability to access your workout from your smartphone will help you stay on track and hit your goals.

Click here from your device to bookmark your personlized workout so you can quickly get to your training program wherever your travels take you.


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