How to get buff

How to get buff

The models and athletes in our magazine are so lean and ripped that they almost make it look easy to attain a taut, muscular body. But we’ve got to be honest: It’s hard, it takes time, and it demands an unwavering degree of discipline. In our ongoing efforts to assist you in sculpting the body you’ve always wanted, we’ve laid out the golden rules to getting ripped.

Rule 1: Have a carbohydrate strategy

You’ve probably heard that “carbs are the enemy.” Well, not really. Completely slashing your carbohydrate intake will certainly help with dropping the pounds (and fast), but you’ll also be left feeling cranky, tired, and lethargic.

“Carbs are essential for life, as our brain and [central nervous system] continuously require them to work properly,” says Tim McComsey, a trainer, dietician and correspondent to HUMANFITPROJECT. “Restricting carbs completely will allow for any muscle mass to be metabilized to provide us with energy.”

Therefore, it all comes down to consuming carbs correctly, not cutting them completely. “To get lean, a balance of the right amount of carbs first thing in the morning and after a workout is ideal,” McComsey says.

Rule 2: Eat more fat

Yeah, we said it: eat more fat.

“Fat doesn’t make you fat, too much food makes you fat,” says McComsey. Consuming more fat in your diet will actually help curb cravings after you’ve reduced your carb intake.

“Fats help curb hunger because it takes the body longer to break down, use, or store,” he says. Hormones also play a role, especially when it comes to muscle-supporting testosterone. “Fats are needed to create and balance out hormones in our body to function normally,” McComsey adds.

Rule 3: Swap fruit out for veggies

Fruit is great—it’s full of nutrients and antioxidants to help protect the body—but the downside is that it’s also full of sugars (read: carbs). How do you not lose out on all the benefits? Swap in veggies (or fruits that people typically consider as vegetables) for fruit.

This strategy allows you to keep the necessary nutrients and antioxidants in your diet, but reduces your overall sugar/carb and total calorie intake. One apple has 125 calories and 25 grams of carbs. One large red pepper—okay, technically a fruit, but generally prepared like a vegetable—has 40 calories and 5g of carbs. You do the math.

Rule 4: Ditch cardio for weights and circuits

Here’s another fitness myth: If you want to get lean and strong, hit the cardio machine. That’s not true.

“You will not make more muscle this route,” says McComsey. When you do cardio, you’re burning calories, but you’re missing the muscle growth stimulation from weight training. “The more muscle that you have, the more calories and fat you’ll be burning,” he says.

McComsey recommends hitting the weight room 3-4 days per week with one of the days being a circuit with a variety of exercises. If you need to do cardio, try one day of 20 minutes of fast-slow intervals.

Rule 5: Lay off the sauce

Party boy, are you? If you’re serious about losing weight and getting lean, you’d better start seriously considering the effects of alcohol on the body.

“Alcohol causes fat to be stored instead of being used for energy. Essentially, your body will put a hold on the digestion of any food until the liver can excrete the alcohol,” McComsey says. Alcohol also hurts you in two other areas: “It’s a diuretic, which dehydrates you and reduces energy levels. It also can decrease testosterone in our bodies, which is critical for creating muscle,” he adds.

Next time you’re planning a guys night, stick to one or two light beers or hard liquor with a diet soda mixer. A six-pack starts in the kitchen.

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For someone struggling to gain mass, a different approach must be taken. Here are the benefits of a 30-day program for ectomorphs. Check it out!

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How to get buff

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How to get buff

Think of this program as a slingshot, but not a long-term plan. The principles within can be used forever, but this is just the first step in making career gains in the next 30 days for the ectomorph.

  • What Is “Hardgainer”? Considering the increased amount of fruitless results in the gym, it appears to be a mix of poor training, nutrition and genetics. Although no direct etiology is found.
  • Do I Have “Hardgainer”? Perhaps. It’s hard to tell at this point, but with proper nutrition principles and exercise prescription most signs point to no.
  • Can I Catch “Hardgainer” From A Friend? Yes. In fact, it seems to travel in packs of men influenced by faux-workouts printed in popular press magazines with empty promises.
  • How Do I Avoid Others With “Hardgainer”? You’ll be deprived of the exact equation, but a standard assumption is anything under a tight large T-shirt for males taller than 5-foot-9.

Recognizing deception is key, especially in the lay population (i.e. cutting sleeves off a T-shirt from a youth baseball league 10 years ago so it appears tight and they large). Early detection is the key to prevention.

The Best Strength Training Program

The primary goal of this phase is to introduce proper tension, volume, and intensity over the course of the month to allow for the most rapid strength gains without inhibiting recovery.

The best strength training program for the hardgainer is surprisingly a full body workout 3 times per week, or an upper/lower split each done 2 times per week. Why? With typical bodybuilding programs you need to use multiple exercises to induce hypertrophy in the muscle.

Isolation exercises in intermediate to advanced bodybuilders can create a lot of muscle breakdown (and subsequent amino acid uptake by the muscles).

In the amateur lifter who lacks muscle mass, less total volume is needed to get the same relative amount of breakdown. Not to mention, isolation exercises in the beginner are done with such insignificant weight it’s common sense to stick with heavier exercises.

How to get buff

Isolation exercises in intermediate to advanced bodybuilders can create a lot of muscle breakdown (and subsequent amino acid uptake by the muscles).

The 3-day full body program is rather difficult for many to digest. We’ve been bred to think that more is better. But more isn’t better. Better is better. For someone struggling to gain mass, a different approach must be taken. Allow me to explain the benefits of a 3-day program.

A 5-day per week body part split only gives us 4 opportunities to hit each muscle group for the month (once per week). With a full body split we have 12 growth opportunities (3 per week) over same period and an upper/lower split, 8 (2 per week).

With a high metabolism, more time is better spent out of the gym. Exercise causes an increase in energy expenditure and, in terms of gaining muscle, can only be countered by increased food intake.

To my way of thinking, 12 growth opportunities without too much of an increase in metabolism is a phenomenal way to ignite muscle growth.

We know that muscle is built outside the gym, so prioritize rest. Couple this with the fact that Rhea and colleagues (2003) found 3 times per week training to be best for beginners.

The Workout

How to get buff

So given a 3 day split, the next step is to use daily undulating periodization. Coach Alwyn Cosgrove likes this method for a one reason: it works.

It has been shown by, again, Rhea and colleagues (2002) to be better for strength gains. This brings us to a 3-day per week full body program with a rotating rep scheme for maximal hypertrophy gains over the next 4 weeks.

You may have expected the next high volume program packed with tons and tons of exercises and workouts over the next 30 days, but this isn’t it. Evidence based knowledge is going to prove superior if you do two things:

  1. Train hard
  2. Believe in the program

You’ll notice I’ve selected 3 tempos for this phase: slow, controlled and fast. The only thing you need to be counting during a set is the number of reps. If you know what tempo is prescribed you can easily adjust the rhythm of each rep to roughly match it close enough.

Tempos are one variable guys look at on a program, but never pay much attention to. Let me tell you this is critical to increasing the time under tension – which will ultimately influence the quantity of muscle growth.

A slow tempo should come out to roughly a 4-5 second rep. A controlled tempo is a 2-4 second rep and a fast rep is a typical just-lift-the-dang-bar pace.

The concentric, or exertion, portion of every lift shouldn’t be controlled. When you accelerate a weight fast, or attempt to, you increase the amount of force the muscle is producing. This will help increase the growth response. With tempos, only tweak the eccentric (lowering) or pause at the bottom.

  • Day 1 (Monday): 5 x 5 reps, slow tempo, 120 sec. rest
  • Day 3 (Wednesday): 4 x 10 reps, controlled tempo, 90 sec. rest
  • Day 5 (Friday): 3 x 15 reps, controlled tempo, 60 sec. rest
  • Day 8 (Monday): 2 x 20 reps, fast tempo, 30 sec. rest
  • Day 10 (Wednesday): 5 x 5 reps, slow tempo, 120 sec. rest
  • Day 12 (Friday): 4 x 10 reps, controlled tempo, 90 sec. rest
  • Day 15 (Monday): 3 x 15 reps, controlled tempo, 60 sec. rest
  • Day 17 (Wednesday): 2 x 20 reps, fast tempo, 30 sec. rest
  • Day 19 (Friday): 5 x 5 reps, slow tempo, 120 sec. rest
  • Day 22 (Monday): 4 x 10 reps, controlled tempo, 90 sec. rest
  • Day 24 (Wednesday): 3 x 15 reps, controlled tempo, 60 sec. rest
  • Day 26 (Friday): 2 x 20 reps, fast tempo, 30 sec. rest
  • Day 29 (Repeat): repeat reps, repeat tempo, repeat rest

During this 30-day period, each workout will have a different rep range each week, and it will repeat on the 29th day, carrying into day 60 and beyond.

How to get buff

A 13-year-old can get buff by improving muscular strength, fortifying the tendons and ligaments that surround his bones and muscles and improving self-esteem through strength training. Bodybuilding, weightlifting and powerlifting are not recommended for children and teenagers, because these disciplines place too much stress on developing cartilage, tendons and bones. However, it is safe to improve muscle tone through dietary adjustments and exercise.

Strength-train for 30 minutes two or three times per week. Use your body weight, rather than weight machines or free weights, to perform exercises such as lunges, pushups, chinups, squats and pullups. Once you can complete 15 repetitions of each exercise easily, you can add a 1- to 2-pound dumbball to your workout routine.

Add resistance bands to your workout. Resistance bands are like giant rubber bands, which you use in your exercise routines. Use resistance bands in a variety of exercises that target every part of your body, such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, crunches, standing twists and seated rows.

Participate in a physical activity for 60 minutes a day to help build muscle mass and improve strength. You can do anything that you like, including dancing, bike riding, running or playing basketball with friends.

Join an organized sport, such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer or swimming. Training for a sport with a qualified coach provides a routine of drills and practices that increase your stamina, skills and knowledge of your favorite sport activity. It also gradually builds up your muscles as your body matures.

Eat a variety of foods from each food group every day. Include foods such as eggs, which are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and protein-rich legumes and whole grains, which slowly release carbohydrates into the body, helping you to rebuild muscle and increase your exercise endurance.

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation notes that you cannot actually build muscle until you enter puberty, when your body begins to produce hormones. However, you can exercise and strengthen your muscles with physical activity and exercise in the meantime.

Always warm up and cool down with five minutes of light activity such as walking before and after your strength training or cardiovascular workout. This will help stretch out your muscles and reduce your chances of injury.


Get your doctor’s approval before starting a strength-training regimen. And if your doctor approves, the KidsHealth website warns that you must be properly supervised at all times. Have an adult show you an age-appropriate routine and how to safely use any equipment. Failing to do so can result in injury.

How to get buff

Getting buff is equal parts building lean muscle and losing body fat. Working out in a gym — where you have access to almost every conceivable piece of exercise equipment — certainly helps. But with a little creativity and perseverance, you can get the same results at home. You don’t even have to buy any weights.

Body-Weight Strength Training

You can’t build muscle without some sort of resistance for your muscles to work against. If you don’t want to invest in weights, you can use your own body weight as the resistance. In fact, body-weight exercises like pushups, pullups, lunges and squats do more than “just” build muscle: They also train your muscles to work together, moving your body as an entire unit, in a way that gym machines just can’t quite duplicate. That’s a big step on the path toward getting buff.

Furniture and Other Equipment

The more you work out, the stronger — and more buff — you’ll get. That means you have to find new ways of challenging your muscles; otherwise you’ll hit a plateau and improve slowly, if at all. Up your body-weight workouts by using other equipment you might find around the home: Prop your feet on a chair to do decline pushups, or place them on a stability ball. Use the same chair for chair dips or bench lunges and do calf raises on the stairs. If you’re willing to invest in a little nonweight exercise equipment, purchase a suspension trainer to amp your workouts to the max.


Just building muscle isn’t enough to get you buff — you also need to trim back any excess body fat. If you have the money, a home exercise bike, elliptical, treadmill or rower is a convenient way of getting your fat-busting cardio in. If you’d rather save your pennies, though, you can get a challenging cardio workout by doing calisthenics like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees and squat jumps.

Create Your Own Equipment

If you’re trying to do without weights because of their cost, you can create your own — albeit limited — weights at home. Hefting soup cans, bottles of water and sacks of potatoes will only get you so far; before long, you’ll get strong enough that these makeshift weights just don’t offer enough of a challenge. Still, they’re a worthy start for beginners.

For easy-to-grip — and adjustable — homemade weights, fill plastic milk jugs with water, gravel or sand. Add or remove some of the fill to adjust the weight.

How to get ripped. It’s probably not by typing those words into a search bar that the fitness models you follow enviously on Instagram acquired the abdominals of an Adonis or shoulders that could dislodge a doorframe. It’s their job to be in that type of shape, right? Well, yes. Kind of.

What these body types are really more indicative of is that there is no quick fix; a low body fat percentage is a matter of consistency. The best way to achieve it, according to the powers that be of the fitness industry, is through habit-forming – incorporating subtle lifestyle tweaks into everyday routine.

A short-lived resolution list and gym membership gathering dust are not the ways to get ripped. Instead, try adding these daily habits into your regimen to see your waistline shrink and muscles grow. Best start making friends with your tailor because you’ll soon be in need of some serious alterations.

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

Never Fail To Prepare

Because, as the old saying goes, they’d then be preparing to fail. “Mapping out your sessions and meal prepping for the week are the most effective first steps to success,” says Third Space personal trainer, Leo Savage.

That doesn’t mean cooking 80 steaks on a Sunday night. Just book in a fitness class that costs cold hard cash to avoid any urge to drop out. And if you’re not a morning person, score more sleep by soaking oats overnight for a pre-prepared carb-loaded breakfast. A little prior thought goes a long way.

How to get buff

Never Skip Breakfast

Whether it’s the aforementioned overnight oats or smoked salmon and eggs on rye bread, making a proper breakfast every day is essential. That cereal bar on the train doesn’t cut it.

Researchers at the University of Bath revealed that opting for an extra 10 minutes in bed eats into your weight loss potential. Instead, a morning bowlful kick-starts your metabolism to the sum of an additional 442 calories burned every day.

Add a black coffee (put down the latte, please) and further investigation found you’ll burn calories 11 per cent quicker, too. A useful safety net when you’re booked in for a client lunch that doesn’t exactly fit the rest of your nutrition plan.

How to get buff

Set An Alarm

Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Health Psychology found a trigger cue (be that a ringing phone before every workout or a calendar reminder to signal your next protein shake) associates an action with a sound, forming an internal prompt.

This conditions your brain to crave a workout every time you hear it. It’s nerdy science, but it works. And who said alarm clocks are evil?

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

How to get buff

Never Take A Rest Day

For those with even a passing knowledge of exercise plans this may seem sacrilegious, but listen up. “Skipping rest days does not mean daily strenuous exercise,” says founder of the Brotherhood Training Club, Kemo Marriott. “However, it does mean that some form of activity is completed every day – you need to move daily in order to maintain a habit of exercise.”

This not only increases your total calorie expenditure but promotes the hormonal releases that can help you recover from major sessions. So, in addition to your boxing training and deadlift session, add in some low-intensity hot yoga and a long slow swim to your week. No one said a habit has to be boring.

How to get buff

Prioritise Protein

Protein may be best associated with the lumpy shakes chugged by tattoo sleeve-toting gym bros, but this macronutrient is also incredibly important for fat loss. “Protein has a high thermic effect,” says Marriott. “Around 25 to 30 per cent of its energy is utilised in its metabolisation.”

For the bamboozled among you, this means that you burn more calories digesting foods high in protein than others, helping you to lose weight. Protein is also filling, making diets more manageable, and it also reduces the amount of muscle you lose while restricting your calories. Stock up, get ripped. Simple.

How to get buff

Set And Reset Goals

“The guys you want to emulate in the gym always have a clear goal,” says Savage. “They don’t just exercise for the sake of it, but train for a purpose.”

Looking good on holiday shouldn’t be one. Make it objective, quantifiable and achievable. Things like ‘do 10 pull-ups’ or ‘tighten my belt by one notch’ are more effective, and more positive.

Make sure you update the way you plan to achieve these goals, too. The same bench press session every Monday for two months will end in plateaued results, so consider using a fitness watch to keep tabs on your progress.

Build a beach bod with these tips from the fitness industry's top experts.

How to get buff

Our goal with this piece is to give you enough information to get yourself ripped this summer, no matter what condition you’re in now or how little you may know about training or nutrition.

It’s all here: how to set up a workout program, a diet, exercises you should do, ways to boost your intensity and metabolism, foods you must eat, and when to consume them for the best results. We’ve taken years of science and experimentation, culled from some of the brightest minds in the fitness game, and condensed it all into 25 ways you can get ripped to shreds—fast.

How to get buff

Arno Images / Getty

Hit Your Numbers

Just winging it with your diet will yield results as long as you make healthy food choices, but if you want to look movie-ripped, you need to count calories and macros. “Twelve calories per pound of lean body mass is a good starting point,” says Nate Miyaki, C.S.S.N., a nutritionist and trainer in San Francisco and author ofThe Truth About Carbs. You can also use the weight you want to be. So if you’re a soft 200 pounds and think you would look ripped at 180, start at 2,160 calories per day (12×180). Set your protein at one gram per pound of your target weight, your carbs at one gram per pound, and your fat at 0.4 gram per pound.

How to get buff

Petri Oeschger / Getty

Keep Going Heavy

“A lot of guys will lower the weight they use when they’re trying to lean out,” says Derek Poundstone, a two-time Arnold Strongman champ and owner of Poundstone Performance in Waterbury, CT. “But it just robs you of strength.” Poundstone keeps going heavy while maintaining training volume, so he does multiple sets of low reps, such as eight sets of three.

How to get buff

Do More Workouts

Adding a few short, low-intensity sessions to your training week can increase your metabolism and recovery. “The trick is to keep these workouts to only 15 to 20 minutes,” says Jim Smith, a strength coach and author of Diesel Mass. And be sure to go light. You can even train twice in one day—morning and night. Take these sessions to work on weaknesses.

How to get buff

Have Heavy And Light Days

If you follow a body-part split, have a heavy day when you work in the range of five to eight reps and another day later in the week when you hit the same muscles with 12 to 15 reps. The undulating intensity promotes recovery and prevents injuries and burnout.

How to get buff

Flavor Your Carbs

Rice and potatoes are carbs that should be a major part of any diet to build muscle or shred fat. But, as you’ve noticed, they’re bland. “Boil them in low-sodium chicken broth,” says Gavan Murphy, owner of the L.A.-based catering company the Healthy Irishman, “and add some freshly grated ginger as well. “It adds a ton of flavor and no time to your meal prep.”

How to get buff

Do Full-Body Workouts

“If you’ve been doing a body-part split, switch to full-body,” says Ben Bruno, a Los Angeles trainer to celebrities. Two good reasons why: Full-body workouts work more overall muscle in a session, thereby burning more calories. They also reduce the total volume you can perform for each body part, which means you’ll recover better and be able to train the muscles more frequently. “Higher-frequency training yields faster gains,” Bruno says.

How to get buff

Blow Up Your Lats

Want to make your waist look smaller? Make your lats wider. Here’s a tip from Chad Waterbury, author of High Frequency Training 2: Do one set of as many pullups as possible in the morning. At night, go back and do another set. Repeat this every other day. “After 30 days, retest your max,” says Waterbury. “You can expect an 8- to 10-rep increase.”

How to get buff

Make Your Own Salad Dressing

Green vegetables don’t count as carbs, and you can eat them with wild abandon without consequences. Here’s a recipe for a high-protein honey mustard to dress them up: Whisk together a ½-cup, fat-free Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp yellow mustard, ½ tbsp raw honey, and 1 tbsp lemon juice. It’s that simple, and it packs 12g protein and 8g carbs.

How to get buff

Kristina Lindberg / Getty

Keep Moving

Most of your fat loss will come by way of your diet, but the rest comes from physical activity—and we don’t just mean your workouts. Non-exercise physical activity (called NEPA) may account for 20 percent of your fat loss, according to Miyaki. “Walk or ride a bike to work, walk to do your errands, take a hike on the weekends, or enjoy more sexy time with your significant other,” says Miyaki. “This type of informal, low-intensity activity can give you many of the same benefits as traditional cardio without the drawbacks—like joint wear and tear, repetitive strain, and impaired recovery from strength training.”

How to get buff

Stay In the 8-12 Range

No, we’re not contradicting what we said earlier, just amending it. Heavy lifting will preserve muscle and strength while dieting, but Bruno says sets of eight to 12 will do the most to maximize muscle gains while in a caloric deficit. “Moderate rep ranges give you the most bang for your buck.”

How to get buff

A lot of people spend years training hard in the gym without any real results but if you follow a well-structured programme and nutrition plan, you can expect to get an impressively ripped physique in as little as two months. To demonstrate this, I’ve enlisted one of London’s leading personal training and fat loss experts, Dave Fletcher, and top nutritionist Sharmain Davis.

Over the next eight weeks I (Nick Hutchings (opens in new tab) ) am going to follow Fletcher‘s innovative function fitness programme designed to strip fat and improve power, strength and agility, as well as Davis‘s muscle-boosting eating tips.

This isn’t going to be the kind of transformation that ends up with me looking like a Men’s Fitness cover model. I’m hoping to come away from this with the kind of lean, muscular frame you’d see on a UFC middleweight or light heavyweight fighter, and a similar level of athleticism.

How the programme works

‘Having assessed your body, it’s clear that you’re a mesomorph [has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique] so I’ve tailored the reps, sets, rest periods and weight vs cardio element of the workouts to suit your body shape as well as your goals,’ Fletcher tells me in the assessment before our first workout.

‘This eight-week programme has been split into two phases of four weeks. The first phase is volume-based, so it’s all about lots of sets and reps and minimal rest to help shift body fat. The second phase will be focused on intensity, which means the weights will be heavier but there will be fewer reps and sets and the rest periods will be longer. The focus here will be on strength and power while maintaining the endurance gains and leanness achieved in phase one.’

‘All the routines chosen have been designed not only to improve your body composition, ie reduce body fat levels and increase lean muscle mass, but also to help you make significant gains in functional strength and endurance. This means you’ll end up a stronger, leaner, fitter, more supple athlete.’

Dave’s description left me keen to get started, which we did with a full-on chest workout (which you can see in the video above). Every week during this challenge, I’m going to post a video of one of my workouts so you can follow it and come on this fitness journey with me. I hope at the end of all this we’ll look great and work like well-oiled machines.

Weeks 1-4 workouts

In each superset, do six reps of the first move, then 12 of the next. Repeat this three times with no rest, then rest for two minutes before repeating.

Move on to the next superset until you’ve got through the workout. If the move requires you to work each side independently, do half the reps on one side and half on the other.

Tempo – 3010 (the eccentric contractions should take three seconds so they recruit more fast twitch muscle fibres)

Day 1 – Chest and back

Barbell bench press, gym ball press-up push

Jumping chin-up knee raise, dumbbell lateral shoulder raise

Power press-up, dumbbell explosive turn and press

Dumbbell press-up row, inverted row

Day 2 – Interval training

10x10sec hill sprints (10sec rest between sets)

5x30sec runs (60sec rest between sets)

3x60sec runs (90sec rest between sets)

Day 3 – Rest day

Day 4 – legs and abs

Barbell deadlift, explosive lunge chop

Bodyweight roll-out, explosive oblique twist (band)

One-leg assisted squat jump, dumbbell lunge jump

Hanging straight leg raise, gym ball forearm roll-out

Day 5 – kickboxing*

2x3min rounds (90sec rest between sets)

3×2 minute rounds (60sec rest between sets)

4×1 minute rounds (30sec rest between sets)

5x30sec rounds (15sec rest between sets)

6x15sec rounds (10sec rest between sets)

*If you can’t do this for whatever reason do treadmill or rowing intervals

Treadmill – adjust the incline to 5˚

3min run, 1min walk

2min run, 1min walk

1min run, 1min walk

Rest for 3 minutes and then repeat

10x50m sprint, aiming to complete each in under 10sec, with a 20sec rest between sprints.

Day 6 – Rest day

Day 7 – Legs and arms

Barbell stiff-leg deadlift, gym ball hamstring curl

Explosive dip, dumbbell biceps curl

Dumbbell lateral lunge jump, box jump

Dumbbell shoulder turn and press, dyna-band biceps curl

What I’ll be eating

After after asking me a barrage of questions about what I usually eat, Davis came up with a perfectly structured eating plan for this programme. Here, she explains how it works.

‘Your nutritional intake should mirror your training programme over the eight-week period, so it will change from phase one to phase two. In the first four weeks the dietary goal will be to meet the energy demands of the volume sessions, while providing a calorie surplus to facilitate muscle mass gain. Your diet should be high protein (2g per kg of bodyweight), high-carb (complex, low to medium-GI) and low-to-moderate-fat.

‘It was great to see that you were already having regular meals and snacks each day, eating every two to three hours with plenty of protein, fruit and veg, although carbohydrates were less consistent in your meals. Some of your meals, such as pie and chorizo, are too high in fat. Due to the explosive nature of your training, you’d be better off taking in more of your calories from healthy complex carbs, so add them to as many meals and snacks as possible.’

‘I’d also suggest some supplements. Have a Maximuscle Progain (opens in new tab) or Cyclone bar (opens in new tab) mid-morning as a high-protein, high-energy snack. The Cyclone bar also contains creatine to help improve explosive/fast energy regeneration and HMB (a metabolite of leucine) to help reduce the muscle catabolism effects of intense training. A Cyclone (opens in new tab) shake should be taken immediately after training and in mid-afternoon on non -training days.

‘Take Maxipower (opens in new tab) 20-30 minutes before training. This all-in-one pre-workout drink provides beta-alanine to increase muscle carnosine, which is responsible for buffering the acidic effects of exercise, caffeine to provide an extra focus and boost to your nervous system, and alpha-ketogluterate, which can help increase blood flow to the small capillaries within muscle, optimising nutrient delivery when you need it most.’

Check out week two of Nick’s mission to get ripped here. And in case you’re wondering, the gym Nick’s training in is The Vault (opens in new tab) .

For more training and nutrition plans, subscribe to Men’s Fitness (opens in new tab) . We’ll give you five issues for £5.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.

Great muscular definition is the goal of many non-competitive weightlifters, bodybuilders, and professional, competitive bodybuilders. But you can't just get big by simply bulking up all your muscles in a random fashion. You should take a more scientific approach and make sure to target individual muscles and muscle groups that are responsible for that highly-defined look.


A comprehensive program of diet and exercise is key to getting a muscular look. You have to reduce any body fat that covers your muscles to make them shine through. In addition to a healthy diet, target these areas during your workouts

Pectoral Muscles (Chest)

The “pecs” are the muscles of the chest. These are the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles. The bench press is a good exercise for developing the pecs. Well-defined pecs with low body fat—under 10%—and a small waist are important components of that good-looking upper body.

Lats (Back)

The "lats" are the latissimus dorsi, the somewhat large muscles of the upper back on the outside below the armpit. When well-developed, as they are in some elite swimmers, they tend to bulge outward. Build the lats with lat pulldowns.

Trapezius Muscles (Back)

Your "traps" are the fan-like muscles that spread around back and sides of the neck. In bodybuilders, you can see that they protrude significantly.

You may not wish to build your traps to such epic proportions, but enhancing the traps, along with the shoulder muscles, can provide that meaner, leaner look.

The bent-over row, shrugs, and the farmers carry are all good exercises for the traps.


The “glutes” are the muscles of your butt—gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. Everyone wants a nice, rounded, firm butt like an Olympic sprinter. To get them, you’ll need to achieve low body fat levels and develop those muscles with deadlifts, bridges, hip extensions, hip thrusts, and leg presses.


The “quads” are the muscles at the front of the upper leg (thigh). These include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius. Bulk out those quads with squats of any type.

Many young, casual weight trainers are obsessed with the upper body, especially the arms For that fantastic, balanced look, you need to work on the upper and lower body, and that means legs.


The hamstrings are made of or several muscles including the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Improve the shape of the hamstrings with leg curls, deadlifts, and “good mornings.”


The calves include the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles—the gastrocnemius being the large muscle that mostly gives a nice definition to the lower leg. Build up this muscle with any exercise with which you push against weight with the front of the foot, heels raised. Standing heel raises with or without dumbbells is an example.


The biceps muscles (biceps brachii) of the upper arm are important working muscles and also provide a fine sense of width and bulk in conjunction with solid chest and shoulders. Dumbbell or barbell arm curls are popular exercises, but cable curls are also useful for variety and a slightly different engagement of muscle in the whole arm.


The triceps muscles are at the back of the upper arm.

Big triceps make your arms look better, even with adequate biceps muscle.

Don't neglect them. Use pushdowns, overhead extensions, and dips.

Delts (Shoulders)

The "delts" are the big, compound shoulder muscles that include the front, middle and rear deltoids. They go nicely with the chest, arm and back muscles to give that powerful upper-body look. Bulk them out with overhead presses, front raises, upright rows, or an incline press. That's what they're there for.

And for a bonus—of course, the one and only abdominal muscles, which seems to be a firm favorite muscle group of many.

Trouble is, those rippling, exposed abs are probably not possible for everyone. Genetics determines the best lookers in this department.  

Even so, you can get solid-looking abs by working hard on the main muscle, the rectus abdominis, while shedding fat—under 8% body fat for men and 12% for women. Use crunches, rollouts, bicycles, and captain's chair.

Strength training (also called resistance training) is a way to build muscles and strength using free weights, kettlebells, weight machines, resistance bands, or a person’s own weight. Teens may want to strength train to improve sports performance, treat or prevent injuries, or improve appearance.

People who work out with weights can use:

  • free weights, including barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. Free weights are portable and inexpensive, but it might take some practice to learn good technique.
  • weight machines, which make it easier to follow good technique, but you may have to go to a gym or weight room to use them.

People can also use resistance bands and even their own body weight (as in push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and squats) for strength training.

If you haven’t started puberty, strength training will help you get stronger but your muscles won’t get bigger. After puberty, the male hormone helps build muscle in response to weight training. Because guys have more testosterone than girls do, they get bigger muscles.

What Are the Benefits of Strength Training?

Besides building stronger muscles, strength training can:

  • improve overall fitness
  • increase lean body mass (more muscle, less fat)
  • burn more calories
  • make bones stronger
  • improve mental health

How Do I Get Started?

Before you start strength training, visit your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to lift weights. When you get the OK from your doctor, get some guidance and expert advice.

Coaches and trainers who work at schools, gyms, and in weight rooms know about strength training. Many schools offer weight or circuit training in their gym classes. Or check out your local gym to see if you can sign up for a strength training class or work with a personal trainer. Look for someone who is a certified strength training expert with experience working with teens.

The best way to learn proper technique is to do the exercises without any weight. After you’ve mastered the technique, you can gradually add weight as long as you can comfortably do the exercise for 8–12 repetitions.

When lifting weights — either free weights or on a machine — make sure that someone is nearby to supervise. Having a spotter is especially important when weightlifting. Even someone in great shape sometimes just can’t make that last rep. It’s no big deal if you’re doing biceps curls; all you’ll have to do is drop the weight onto the floor. But if you’re in the middle of a bench press — a chest exercise where you’re lying on a bench and pushing a loaded barbell away from your chest — it’s easy to get hurt if you drop the weight. A spotter can keep you from dropping the barbell onto your chest.

Is Strength Training Safe?

Strength-training programs are generally safe. When done properly, strength training won’t hurt growing bones. Teens with some medical conditions — such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, seizures, or heart problems — will need to be cleared by their doctors before starting a strength-training program.

When you’re in the middle of a strength-training session and something doesn’t feel right to you, you feel pain, or if you hear or feel a “pop” during a workout, stop what you’re doing. Have a doctor check it out before you go back to training. You may need to change your training or even stop lifting weights for a while to allow the injury to heal.

Many people tend to lump all types of weightlifting together. But there’s a big difference between strength training, powerlifting, and bodybuilding. Powerlifting concentrates on how much weight a person can lift at one time. The goal of competitive bodybuilding is to build muscle size and definition.

Powerlifting, maximal lifts, and bodybuilding are not recommended for young people who are still growing because they can cause serious injuries.

Some people looking for big muscles may turn to anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. These substances are risky and can cause problems like mood swings, acne, balding, and high blood pressure. They also increase a user’s risk for cancer, heart disease, and sterility.

What’s a Healthy Routine?

Here are some basic rules to follow in strength training:

  1. Warm up with dynamic exercises for 5–10 minutes before each session.
  2. If you are new to strength training, start with body weight exercises for a few weeks (such as sit-ups, push-ups, and squats) and work on your form and technique without using weights.
  3. When you’ve learned proper technique, start with a relatively light free weight or low-resistance bands. Increase the weight, number of sets, or types of exercises gradually as your strength improves.
  4. Start with 1–2 sets of 8–12 repetitions. A certified trainer, coach, or teacher can help put together a program that’s right for you.
  5. Learn correct technique and always train with supervision.
  6. Cool down after each session with light activity and static stretching.

For best results, do strength exercises for at least 20–30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Take at least a day off between sessions. Work the major muscle groups of your arms, legs, and core (abdominal muscles, back, and buttocks).

Strength training is just one part of a balanced exercise routine. Experts recommend at least 1 hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, including strength exercises and:

  • (cardio) activity, which strengthens your heart and lungs. Walking, running, and swimming are good aerobic activities. , which improves your flexibility

Also, drink plenty of liquids and eat a healthy diet for better performance and recovery.