Give celebrity fitness trainer Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S., a month to get you in shape and he won’t put you through a series of fancy HIIT workouts.
Instead, the founder of Dowdell Fitness Systems will give you a list of tried-and-true exercises guaranteed to pack on muscle. Then he’ll tell you to do them at strict tempo. That’s how he gets the likes of Gerard Butler and Mario Lopez camera-ready — and it’s how he’s going to push you to your best body yet over the next 28 days.
STEP 1: The Workout
You’ll follow a strictly regimented plan for the month. Train Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; alternate between Workouts A and B. Do Workout A twice (on Mondays and Fridays) in Weeks 1 and 3; do Workout B twice in Weeks 2 and 4.
Before all workouts, do the cool-down drills. On all other days, either rest or do light cardio. Use these do-anywhere drills to improve mobility and injury-proof your body.
Do 4 sets of move 1; rest 2 minutes between sets. Then do moves 2, 3, and 4 as a 3-round circuit. Rest 45 seconds between circuit moves in Weeks 1 and 2, 30 seconds in Weeks 3 and 4. Rest 1 minute between circuit rounds. Finish with move 5.
Do 4 sets of move 6; rest 2 minutes between sets. Then do moves 7, 8, and 9 as a 3-round circuit. Rest 45 seconds between circuit moves in Weeks 1 and 2, 30 seconds in Weeks 3 and 4. Rest 1 minute between circuit rounds. Finish with move 10.
1. Trap-Bar Deadlift
Bend your knees and hinge your hips, lowering your torso until you can grasp a trap bar loaded with a moderate weight. Without letting your back round, stand with the barbell. Take 2 seconds to lower the bar. That’s 1 rep; do 4 to 6.
2. Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press
Lie on your back on the bench, set at a 30-degree incline, holding dumbbells over your chest, palms facing each other. Plant your feet and keep your butt on the seat of the bench. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then lower the dumbbells to your chest, taking 3 seconds to do this. Press the dumbbells back up. Plant your feet and drive your heels into the ground as you press the weight upward. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12 reps. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.
3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells, palms facing you, knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat and your core tight, hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly, slowly pushing your butt back. Keep the dumbbells close to your legs, and maintain tension in your core. Continue lowering the weights until your hands are just below knee level. Take 3 seconds to do this. Pause, then return to standing. Make sure to squeeze your glutes as you stand. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.
4. Dumbbell Skull-Crusher
Lie on a bench, holding medium-weight dumbbells over your chest, palms facing each other. This is the start. Keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor, bend at your elbows, lowering the dumbbells near your ears; this should take 2 seconds. Without moving your upper arms, return to the start; take at least 2 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.
5. Bench Press
Lie on a bench holding a loaded barbell, arms straight. Bend your elbows, touching the barbell to your chest; this should take 3 seconds. Press upward. That’s 1 rep; do 4 to 6.
6. Cardio Row
Sit on a cardio rower and grab the handle with an overhand grip. Bend your knees and lean your torso slightly forward, then straighten your legs, hinge backward, and pull toward your sternum. Focus on making each pull as powerful as possible. Row for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. That’s 1 round; do 7 rounds. Add 1 round each week. Don’t have access to a rower? Run in place, lifting your knees high with each stride, for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
7. Bulgarian Split Squat
Stand on your left leg, the top of your right foot on a bench, dumbbells in your hands. Keeping your chest up, bend your left knee, lowering your torso until your left thigh is parallel to the ground. Your right knee will lower near to the ground as you do this. Take 3 seconds. Return to standing by straightening your left knee. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12, then switch sides and repeat. Aim for 12 reps per leg by Week 4.
8. Dumbbell Incline Row
Lie with your chest on the bench, set at a 30-degree incline, holding medium-weight dumbbells at arm’s length. Your palms should face behind you. This is the start. Keeping your elbows flared, pull the dumbbells toward the sides of your chest. Slowly lower to the start, taking 3 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.
9. Zottmann Curl
Stand holding dumbbells, palms facing in front of you. This is the start. Keeping your shoulders back, curl the dumbbells upward, turning your palms toward your torso as the weights approach your shoulders. This should take 2 seconds. Hold at the top of the curl, then rotate your forearms so your palms face the ground. Now slowly lower the weights back to the start, taking 2 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep; do 10 to 12. Aim for 12 reps by Week 4.
10. Medicine-Ball Slams
Stand in front of a 10-pound medicine ball, your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat and grasp the ball with both hands. Explosively raise it overhead. Reverse the motion, slamming the ball into the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. That’s 1 round; do 7 rounds. Add 1 round each week.
STEP 2: The Cooldown
Use these do-anywhere drills to improve mobility and injury-proof your body.
1. Thoracic Spine Rotation
Get on all fours, hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Place your right hand behind your neck. This is the start. Slowly rotate your torso toward your left arm, aiming to thread your right elbow past your left elbow. Slowly reverse the movement and point your right elbow upward. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 5 to 6 reps per side.
2. Hip Adductor Stretch
Get down on all fours, hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Extend your right leg out to the side, toes pointing straight ahead. Keeping your hands on the ground and your back flat, lower your butt down toward your left heel until you feel a stretch on your inner thigh. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 5 to 6 reps per side.
3. Reverse Lunge to Straight-Leg Extension
Start standing. Keeping your left leg straight, lift it and reach it back, then place your left foot on the ground. Your right knee should have a 90-degree bend. Lean forward and place your hands alongside your right foot. Hold. Don’t worry if your back rounds slightly as you lean forward in this stretch. Keeping your left leg straight, straighten your right leg. Continue leaning forward as you do, feeling a stretch in your right hamstring. That’s 1 rep; do 5 per side.
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