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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The ultimate V-shape workouts


Victory for V

The epic winter is finally over. And your mind, no doubt, is ready. But what about your body? If you want to look your best in your tees, your body needs to be a V. An Archives of Sexual Behavior study found women are most attracted to men whose shoulders are 1.6 times the width of their waists.
This comprehensive workout programme fromPhil Learney, personal trainer at The Third Space gym in London, has been designed to pack lean muscle on your back and shoulders and earn you the body shape she loves.

Instructions

Perform Workout A, then rest for at least a day before attempting Workout B. "If you struggle with grip, use lifting straps,” says Learney. Each workout should take around 50-60 minutes.
Elsewhere, fuel your workouts and keep your waist trim by sticking to a quality six-pack diet plan. And, if you need it, add in a couple of weekly 45-60 minute steady-state cardio sessions to melt away belly fat.
The tempo for each exercise in these workouts is composed of four numbers, which designate the amount of seconds you should take to complete each of the four phases of a rep. “The first number is the initial phase of the lift – be it concentric (lifting) or eccentric (lowering),” says Learney. “The second is the point of stretch or contraction. The third is the concentric (lifting) or eccentric (lowering) phase, and the final number is the stretch or contraction at the top or bottom of the movement.”
Some of the exercises should also be performed as supersets (exercises, A2 and A3, for example). For a superset, you do a set of the first exercise, followed immediately by a set of the second exercise, then rest before repeating the two moves.

Workout A

A1. Overhead squats

Sets 2
Reps 15-20
Rest 30 seconds
Tempo 1-2-1-1
How to do it Hold a light barbell above your head using a wide grip. Keeping the bar in line with the midline of your body, squat back onto your heels, keeping your chest high and head up. “The bar will want to move forward, so as you sit back try to move it further back,” says Learney. Make sure you sit back through your hips first, and try to get as low as possible without lifting your heels – though if you struggle to begin with you can raise them slightly. Lift over one second back to the initial position (see above for advice on rep tempos). Find more squat technique tips here.
Why to do it “You found this move in the four-week abs plan I put together not so long ago,” says Learney. “The reason it's here again is because if you have tight lats you will not be able to do it.” Work at it as that tightness could cost you later in the workout; this is a light mobility movement designed to stretch and warm up your lats.

A2. Straight-arm pull-downs (superset with exercise A3)

Sets 3-4
Reps 12-15
Rest None
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Stand facing a cable stack. Reach up and lean forward so your hands form a straight 45-degree line with your hips. The inside of your arms should be running along the line of your ears. Keep your head in a neutral position as you pull the cable down. Then lift your chest and head and become more upright as your hands finish the move behind the line of your body. Reverse the movement and repeat.
Why to do it This movement again gives you a great stretch and contraction through your lats without involving your biceps. “It allows us to attack the back without having to worry about forearm or bicep fatigue,” says Learney. “This means we can superset it with neutral grip pulldowns.”.

A3. Neutral-grip pull-downs (superset with exercise A2)

Sets 3-4
Reps 10-12
Rest 60 seconds
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Get as upright as possible and pull the cable straight down, with palms facing towards you. Do not lean back. “Focus on keeping your elbows in front of your torso and make sure you give your back a good squeeze for a second [again, see tempo] at the bottom of the movement,” says Learney. If you can’t hold this, you're using too much weight.
Why to do it A neutral grip works with the mechanics of your back and shoulders more effectively. “Pre-fatiguing your lats with the straight-arm pull-downs gives them a good shock,” says Learney. Just keep your form tight.

A4. Wide-grip neutral row

Sets 3
Reps 8-12
Rest 60 seconds
Tempo 1-2-1-2
How to do it Set up either a dual stack cable machine or attach two longer handles to a single stack. With your palms facing each other and in a seated position, pull the weight into your sternum. Your hands should finish the move under your armpits.
Why to do it "This gives a whole new stretch to the back and rear deltoids and also opens your scapulae up," says Learney.

A5. Seated dumb-bell shoulder press (superset with exercises A6 and A7)

Sets 3
Reps 8-10
Rest None
Tempo 1-0-3-1
How to do it The next three exercises comprise a giant superset – performed back-to-back without rest until after the third move. Pay careful attention to your tempo with each. This first press is to be done with a fast concentric (lifting) phase and a slow lowering phase. Sit on a bench with two dumb-bells at your shoulders and press them overhead until your arms lock out. Return to the start position and repeat.
Why to do it This giant set will make you sure you properly attack your shoulders. “Since they’re used in almost all upper-body movements they need to be 'shocked' in order to adapt and change,” says Learney. This will do just that.

A6. Standing lateral raises (superset with exercises A5 and A7)

Sets 3
Reps 12-15
Rest None
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Standing with your knees slightly flexed, raise two dumb-bells up to your sides to form a capital ‘T’ shape with your body. Tip them slightly forward as you do so, advises Learney. Pause at the top position, then 'pull' the dumb-bell down, squeezing your shoulders throughout.
Why to do it This will help 'cap' the shoulder and give that added width at the top of your physique. “Due to the angles we're working with, even a small amount of muscle here can make a big visible difference,” says Learney.

A7. Leaning cable raises (superset with exercises A6 and A7)

Sets 3
Reps 25-30
Rest 90 seconds
Tempo 1-1-2-1
How to do it With palms facing down, grab a cable at thigh height, leaning away from it. Lift the cable to slightly above shoulder level, then lower over two seconds.
Why to do it “This stresses the shoulders through a slightly enlarged plane to get out of them whatever was left from the previous raises,” says Learney.

Workout B

B1. Reverse shrugs

Sets 3
Reps 15
Rest 60 seconds
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Hang with an overhand grip on a pull-up bar. Shrug your shoulders so the rest of your body rises up and hold the contraction for a couple of seconds, then return to a full stretch.
Why to do it Reverse shrugs will get you used to initiating your back before any vertical pulling movements – a lot of which are dominated by arm flexion. “This will help kick the habit and get your back going,” says Learney.

B2. Rack/block deadlifts

Sets 4
Reps 6-8
Rest 90 seconds
Tempo 1-0-3-1
How to do it Set up a barbell on either rack pins or, ideally, off some blocks. You want to be pulling from just below your knees. First, push down on the bar, pulling your shoulders back. Hold this position tightly, then drive your hips forward to lift the bar. Slowly return to the starting position, keeping your shoulders back and chest open. Use straps if your grip is giving in.
Why to do it The deadlift will always be the greatest back builder around. “This variation makes the upper-back work hard at keeping the torso upright and allows a good amount of weight to be used,” says Learney.

B3. Reverse-grip barbell rows

Sets 3-4
Reps 10-12
Rest 60 seconds
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Assume a partial squat position. Lean slightly over the barbell using a slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width underhand grip. From a full stretch, draw the bar into your belly button, following the line marked by your quads.
Why to do it This gives your lats, shoulders and biceps a good hit. “The alternate grip gives some new stimulus to the lats that we haven’t had yet in the program,” says Learney.

B4. Single-arm dumb-bell rows

Sets 3-4
Reps 10-12 each arm
Rest 60 seconds
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Kneel on a bench with one foot supported by the floor. Set your hips and shoulders so they remain parallel to the floor. Let a single dumb-bell hang alongside your body and draw your elbow to the ceiling, pulling the dumb-bell into your rib cage.
Why to do it This is all about the stretch and drawing the elbow nice and high. “It adds some great thickness to your lats while opening them out nicely at the bottom of the movement,” says Learney.

B5. Military push press (superset with exercises B6 and B7)

Sets 4
Reps 6-8
Rest None
Tempo 1-0-3-1
How to do it It’s giant superset time again: move on to the next exercise without resting after performing a set. Unrack the barbell onto your clavicle, using a shoulder-width grip. Flex your knees as though starting to jump and accelerate the bar overhead – get the timing right and the bar will fly. Hold the bar in line with your ears – with arms locked out – before slowly lowering back to your clavicle.
Why to do it The idea is to get some strong loading on the shoulders using a little assistance from your legs. This move allows a nice slow and hugely overloaded eccentric phase.

B6. Single-arm dumb-bell or kettlebell press (superset with exercises B5 and B7)

Sets 4
Reps 10-12
Rest None
Tempo 1-2-2-1
How to do it Holding at shoulder height, press a dumb-bell or kettlebell overhead from a standing position. “If needs be hold on to something with your spare hand to stop bringing swinging into the movement,” says Learney. Again, move on to a set of the next exercise without resting.
Why to do it This single-arm work will force your torso to work to stay in alignment. Using a kettlebell will change the load distribution and improve stability around your shoulder joints.

B7. Neutral-grip high-incline press (superset with exercises B6 and B7)

Sets 4
Reps 15
Rest 90 seconds
Tempo 1-1-1-1
How to do it Lie down on a high-incline bench (60 degrees or above) and with your palms facing towards you, press the dumb-bells overhead. Squeeze the bench with your shoulders and don’t overreach.
Why to do it This move rounds up the giant set and your workout by adding an extra angle of stimulus for the shoulders.


2 comments:

  1. I.m exhausted just reading about the workout!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had to lie down after writin the damn thing !

    ReplyDelete