Written by Jack Boardman
As we mentioned in part one of the Average Joe workout series, your plan will involve three gym sessions a week in which you will build muscle and keep trim.
As we also noted, you’ll already know that cutting corners isn’t an option if your aim is to build lean muscle with minimal effort. There are, however, a secret or two we can share with you that can see you reach the physique you’re hoping for with a limited amount of time spent in the gym.
Let’s first of all address the fat burn.
Light cardio can keep the edge off on a rest day, but on your gym days you’ll need to address your calorie intake. If marathons and long distance, time-consuming exercise isn’t your thing, you’ll be pleased to know we recommend an approach that should take no more than 12 minutes at end of your weights sessions: high intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT means that you perform cardio exercise in a way that goes from high intensity to low intensity. We’ll use the example of running. Sprint for forty seconds as fast as you can so that your heart rate is high and your muscles are pounding, then, using a timer, cut your pace to a walk or light jog for a minute. Repeat this for twelve minutes. It will burn extreme calories in a short amount of time – and continue doing so as you hit the showers.
You can also vary this by performing any cardio exercise that will allow the fast to slow. If you want to eliminate any confusion and keep things simple, let a treadmill and its setting do the work for you. Find a fast pace you’re comfortable with along with a brisk walking pace for the low intensity, then set the intervals depending on your ability to recover – then all you have to do is not fall off.
The secret here is a primary focus on compound lifting – along with a few other things. Compound lifts work for several muscle groups at once using basic movements, as opposed to lifts that isolate smaller muscle groups. Ingenuity doesn’t play a big part in compound lifts, but there can be no cheating when it comes to technique.
The next secret is the number of sets and reps that you perform. A higher number of reps of a moderate weight is arguably effective for lean muscle building, but even better is fewer reps and more sets. If lethargy is an issue, think of it this way: you need only perform 3-5 reps before resting again. By doing 5 sets you’ll still be on target and your technique is likely to stay strong, meaning that every lift and extension will be as effective as possible. This will also make increasing your mass and strength possible as, when you reach a plateau, you can lower the number of reps in a set until you become comfortable enough to put it back up to 5.
The trick here is to lift heavy. Find your one rep max (the absolute most you can properly do one rep of) and work out 85 percent of that number. This will mean you’re building serious volume and strength that will last, as opposed to pumping your muscles up in the short term by doing high reps and light weights.
Because time and motivation are of the essence, we’ve devised an overall workout that will work all of your muscle groups, and it goes something like the below.
Barbell bench press: 5 x 5
Dumbbell bench press: 5 x 5
Seated cable chest fly: 5 x 5
Overhead tricep extension: 5×5
One-handed cable tricep extension: 3×12 (light-moderate weight)
Yoga ball stomach crunches: 4×25
Leg raises: 4x 15
12 minutes HIIT
Lateral pull-down wide grip: 5 x 5
Seated row close grip: 5 x 5
Shoulder shrug with dumbbells: 4×12
Reverse fly using cables: 4 x 12
Preacher curls: 5 x 5
Planks: 3 x 1 minute
Side planks: 3 x 1 minute
12 minutes HIIT
Seated dumbbell shoulder press: 5×5
Lateral raise with light dumb bells: 4 x 12
Deadlift: 5 x 5
Leg press: 5 x 5
Seated twist while holding medicine ball: 3 x 20
Roman chair lift: 3 x 15
12 minutes HIIT