THE NO MEAT ATHLETE 12-WEEK STRENGTH PLAN

In the fall of 1999, I made the unconventional decision to set aside my athletic strength to pursue an athletic weakness. I had completed one season of NCAA collegiate cross-country running for Oregon State University, but lifting weights and the sport of bodybuilding tugged at my heart.

To illustrate how foreign weight lifting and bodybuilding were to me at the time, consider that I became vegan as a 120-pound fifteen-year-old, and at the time of my change in athletic pursuit, I was a 155-pound nineteen-year-old devoted to running. Weight training was seemingly not my thing—I thought running was. Nonetheless, in an effort to achieve greater happiness, I hung up my running shoes and replaced them with weight lifting gloves.

How do you succeed in this kind of transformation, one that requires a whole new lifestyle and set of demands on the body? Here are the steps I took, and recommend to those serious about weight training:

  •  Determine specific goals and be as detailed as possible. Include concrete timelines, identify the meaning behind the goals, and create a plan.
  •  Be consistent with nutrition and training. Consistency leads to adaptation, improvement, and success. You can’t get to point C without going through points A and B first.
  •  Learn from those who have been there before. The changes in your nutrition and training programs are best left to trainers, teachers, or mentors who have advice based on first-hand experience. It’s not just about eating more and training more. It’s about eating right and training smart.
  •  Don’t expect results overnight. If you’re new to lifting weights, your body is likely to respond faster than someone who has been weight training for a while. At the same time, you need to cultivate a measure of patience to ensure success over the long term.
  •  Be realistic. I’m the first person to encourage others to dream big and pursue their passion, but don’t think that after a year or two of weight lifting you’ll look like the people in muscle magazines. Understand that the body has limitations and work within them, naturally and drug-free. But work hard and dream big anyway.
  •  Don’t buy into the hype. We all know bodybuilders and weight lifters need to consume more protein than chess players. But don’t get sucked into the idea that you have to go out and buy a bunch of supplements, pills, powders, and packages of “vegan meats” to achieve your muscle-building goals. Eating whole foods in adequate quantities with proper ratios of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is the most nutritionally sound method to fuel your body. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, and seeds will be your fuel sources.
  •  Document your meal plans and workouts. Having a record to reflect back on will help in the assessment of your progress or lack thereof. Without a record, you won’t know what you’re really doing from day to day.
  •  Continue to educate yourself. Study anatomy and physiology to learn how the body works. When you understand how muscles, joints, and the nervous system function and the role food plays as fuel, you become a smarter athlete.
  •  Take a break. Your muscles need rest to repair and grow. Not allowing proper recovery time can result in, at best, exhaustion and a lack of wellness, and at worst, torn and damaged muscles that leave you sidelined for weeks or months, unable to progress. I find five days of weight training a week to be enough for optimum results.
  •  Have fun. If weight training isn’t fun at least most of the time, it’s time to find something else to do. You never know what activity might resonate with you. As long as you’re pushing yourself hard in any form of fitness on a regular basis, you are likely building a stronger body.

The 12-Week No Meat Athlete Strength Plan

No matter what type of athlete you are, incorporating some form of strength training into your routine is beneficial. Stronger, more efficient muscles help us to prevent injuries, move heavier workloads, produce more overall power, and enhance our endurance for whatever activities come our way. Since it can be advantageous to improve our strength, let’s talk about how to actually do that in the real world.

To build physical strength, we have to put our bodies under stress or tension from exercise to allow adaptation to occur, and improved strength is a by-product of our training. Resistance weight training is ideal for strength building, but not required. Resistance training of any type will do, from manual labor to bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and dips, with no special weight lifting equipment required. But barbells and dumbbells are ideal, and they were designed to help build strength by incorporating free weight exercises into a consistent routine. Barbell and dumbbell exercises are truly the foundation of a successful workout routine for most strength athletes around the world, from football and basketball players to Olympic champions across the sports continuum—including many runners and endurance athletes. That is because efficiency is such a valuable component in athletic performance, and strong muscles are often efficient muscles (pushing harder, running faster, moving more mass, being more explosive in dynamic movements).

A strength routine should have consistency but also variation over time, so as to not get stagnant or complacent. The exercises need not be complicated though—in fact, the simpler the better, I think. If you just select the best proven exercises to add strength, and perform those on a continual basis, that is one sure way to build strength without having to complicate things in the gym. For example, rather than including lots of machine and cable exercises that you first have to learn how to perform, and then vary the angles, range of motion, or degree of difficulty as you progress over time, sticking with basic barbell and dumbbell lifts and presses will engage all muscles and work cohesively to build strength.

Let’s say you want to create your own strength-building plan that is both simple and practical. After all, simple and practical are things that we can do. They’re manageable, not intimidating. You’d want to stick with the basics by performing exercises such as squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. All the cable biceps curls in the world can’t come close to the total body strength-building impact that the aforementioned compound, multi-joint, free weight exercises (squats, presses, and deadlifts) can do.

Squats and presses of all types, and variations of deadlifts, are the true cornerstone of strength building. There is a reason why those are precisely the three and only three lifts involved in the sport of powerlifting. Other exercises (such as barbell or dumbbell bent-over rows for back; lateral, front and overhead raises for shoulders; dumbbell flys for chest; and dumbbell biceps curls and triceps extensions for arms) can enhance the variety of exercises within a strength-building program, and they can also have measurable benefits.

The exercises listed in the strength-building programs below consist of the following:

Squats = A free weight exercise focused on developing lower body strength.

Bench press = A free weight exercise focused on developing upper body strength.

Deadlifts = A free weight exercise that targets both lower and upper body in one of the most comprehensive and effective ways.

Barbell or dumbbell bent-over rows = A free weight exercise designed to build back strength.

Dumbbell flys = A dumbbell exercise that develops chest strength.

Lateral/front/overhead dumbbell raises = A dumbbell exercise focused on developing shoulder strength.

Dumbbell biceps curls = A free weight exercise targeting biceps.

Dumbbell triceps extensions = A free weight exercise focused on strengthening triceps.

Leg press = A plate-loaded hip sled targeting hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

Pull-ups = A bodyweight exercise that targets and strengths back muscles.

Push-ups = A bodyweight exercise that targets chest, shoulder, and arm muscles.

Dips = A bodyweight exercise targeting triceps.

Planks = A bodyweight exercise engaging abdominals and core muscles.

Lunges = A bodyweight exercise strengthening legs, especially hamstrings.

GETTING STARTED

In order to follow a strength-building program, access to barbells and dumbbells is preferred, but one could start out slow just using bodyweight to perform many key exercises. For example, if you don’t currently have access to a gym, you could perform bodyweight squats in place of barbell squats, complete various styles of push-ups in place of bench presses, do lunges on your living room floor, and try pull-ups on a bar in the park rather than doing deadlifts. The bodyweight exercises may not stimulate quite as much muscle growth or produce as much strength as performing their free weight exercise counterparts, but with the right focus, intensity, and consistency, at-home bodyweight exercises can be very beneficial and productive.

If you’re just starting out and are brand-new to weight training, you will want to ease into it. In fact, perhaps before you even begin the 12-Week No Meat Athlete Strength Plan, you will want to establish a foundation of performing push-ups, pull-ups, dips, lunges, squats, and other exercises at home, or at a gym, a few days per week so your body can adapt to the new stress. If you’re already running or performing another type of regular exercise, such as swimming, or recreational soccer or basketball, or perhaps you’re an avid hiker, you can still incorporate weight training or bodyweight strength-training exercises on top of your current training program. As long as you get adequate nutrition, adequate rest, and fuel and recover efficiently, there is plenty of room for diversity of exercises in your routine. You’ll likely realize that resistance weight training enhances whatever program you’re currently doing. By building muscle and strength, you also put yourself into a position to burn fat efficiently. Having more muscle helps burn more fat, so a natural by-product of adding muscle and strength can be improved muscle tone and definition.

If you don’t know how to perform some of the weight training or bodyweight exercises, you can search any of them by name on YouTube and get a video tutorial. This can be incredibly helpful and there are seemingly endless free resources online demonstrating basic barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight exercises.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

As you progress through the weeks, try to increase the weights that you are using by small, manageable increments. You still want to get to the peak of your repetition range, where on your 8th or 10th or 12th repetition, it is very challenging. If you increase the weights too much too fast, you might only be able to complete six reps when your goal is ten, for example. Increasing by increments of 5 or 10 pounds at a time, depending on the exercise, is a good formula to follow as you continue to adapt and get stronger. For larger muscle groups, such as legs, you might be able to do a 20-pound increase on a given exercise from week to week.

The cadence of your lifting, pressing, pulling, squatting, curling, or any other range of motion related to completing the exercise should be at a slow, manageable pace, without jerking or risking injury from relying on gravity, momentum, or speed to complete a movement. This is especially important with back, chest, and leg exercises. For a pressing movement, perhaps you will lower the weight for 11/2 to 2 seconds, pause for half a second in contraction, and then press the weight upward for 11/2 to 2 seconds. The same can be said for pulling, rowing, curling, and squatting movements. The concentric and eccentric contractions (flexion and extension) should ideally be equal in length of anywhere from 1 to 2 seconds, depending on the range of motion, and have a very slight pause at peak contraction. This is helpful to ensure muscles are being trained adequately without relying on momentum or gravity to move the weight for you.

Weeks 1 to 4

During the first 4 weeks of our 12-week program, we will focus on big compound exercises, and will train multiple muscle groups per day.

PRIMARY EXERCISES: SQUATS, PRESSES, DEADLIFTS

Follow this same weekly program for 4 weeks. As you adapt with each week, you can increase the weights that you lift, increase your intensity (getting closer to 100 percent effort on your final set for each exercise), and emphasize mental focus to enhance your workouts. Over time, exercise will become routine, or second nature, and adaptation will kick in, making weight training more enjoyable as you progress.

MONDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Squats (approximately 12 minutes to complete 4 sets, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Barbell bench press (approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Deadlifts (approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

TUESDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps ride a bike for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

WEDNESDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Leg press (approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell flys (approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Barbell bent-over rows (approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour, 5 minutes

THURSDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps swim or row for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

FRIDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Squats (approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Barbell overhead press (approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell hammer curls (approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell overhead extensions (approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

SATURDAY

Rest day

SUNDAY

Warm-up: (5 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Pull-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Push-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Lunges (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Planks (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets x 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

Weeks 5 to 8

During weeks 5 through 8, we will incorporate a variety of different exercises to target specific muscle groups directly, including isolated movements such as dumbbell lateral raises that only train shoulders (whereas dumbbell rows train back and biceps, for example). We will still incorporate variations of squats, presses, deadlifts, and supplemental chest, shoulder, and total body exercises.

PRIMARY EXERCISES: FRONT SQUATS, INCLINE/DECLINE PRESSES/SUMO DEADLIFTS

Follow this same weekly program for 4 weeks. Again, as you adapt with each week, you can increase the weights that you lift and your intensity.

MONDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Front squats (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Barbell incline bench press (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Sumo deadlifts (Approximately 12 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets x 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

TUESDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps ride a bike for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

WEDNESDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Lunges carrying dumbbells (Approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell chest press (Approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: One arm dumbbell rows (Approximately 15 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour, 5 minutes

THURSDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps swim or row for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

FRIDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Front squats (Approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell lateral raises (Approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell front raises (Approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Sumo or regular deadlifts (Approximately 10 minutes, factoring in rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

SATURDAY

Rest day

SUNDAY

Warm-up: (5 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Pull-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Push-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Lunges (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Planks (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 70–90% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

Weeks 9 to 12

During weeks 9 to 12, we up the intensity all the way to 100 percent on the final set of each exercise, we incorporate more specific isolated movements for quads, hamstrings, biceps, and triceps, and continue to use the foundation and core of our workout based upon compound multi-joint lifts, such as squats, presses, and deadlifts.

PRIMARY EXERCISES: PAUSE SQUATS, INCLINE/DECLINE PRESSES/ROWS

Follow this same weekly program for four weeks. Again, as you adapt with each week, you can increase the weights that you lift and your intensity.

MONDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Pause squats (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set (pause at the bottom for 1 to 2 seconds)

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Barbell decline bench press (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Deadlifts (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

TUESDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps ride a bike for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

WEDNESDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Leg press (Approximately 15 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Dumbbell incline chest press (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Lat pull-downs (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

THURSDAY

Rest day from lifting weights (perhaps ride a bike for 30 minutes for cardiovascular strength)

FRIDAY

Warm-up: (10 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Leg extensions (Approximately 10 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Hamstring curls (Approximately 10 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Straight bar biceps curls (Approximately 10 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Triceps rope extensions (Approximately 10 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps per set

Increase weight each set, and decrease number of reps as weight increases

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

SATURDAY

Rest day

SUNDAY

Warm-up: (5 minutes jogging, stationary bike, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercise: Pull-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Push-ups (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets x 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Lunges (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Exercise: Planks (Approximately 12 minutes, including rest)

Sets/Reps: 4 sets, 8 to 12 reps per set

Level of intensity: 80–100% effort, increasing with each set

Rest for 2 minutes (or as necessary, based on feel) between each set

Cool-down/stretch: 10 minutes

Length of workout: Approximately 1 hour

Summary

Once you have completed twelve weeks of consistent weight training, you will have adapted to a new workload, and will likely be stronger than when you started. You may also have more muscle mass by this time, and perhaps a newfound level of enthusiasm and appreciation for resistance weight training.

Following twelve weeks of training, you can start to incorporate new exercises, adjust your rep ranges, and do more advanced movements. You might also add in drop sets, super sets, forced reps and other more advanced techniques to take your strength and your body to the next level.

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