This year’s Summer Shred, presented by APS Nutrition, combines strength training and high-volume supersets to help you preserve muscle mass while shedding those final layers of flab. All you have to do is bust your ass for 16 workouts, and your best physique, with the strength to back it up, is just a month away.
THIS PROGRAM DISPELS THE NOTION THAT LIFTING heavy is exclusively for strength gains. And while chasing one rep maxes won’t pave the way to massive muscles, , heavy lifting is important for two reasons: First, a stronger muscle can handle more reps and more weight. And since your muscles need a new challenge to adapt to grow—like more reps lifted or heavier weight on the bar—the ability to lift heavier weight for more reps will translate to more inches on your muscles over time. Second, hoisting serious poundage with compound movements like the deadlift, squat, and bench press triggers a greater release of testosterone, a key hormone that’s responsible for the growth and recovery of your muscles.
The cluster sets we programmed will allow you to lift weight close to your one-rep max—and for more reps—than you would normally be able to accomplish. How? By breaking up the sets into subsets (more on cluster sets below). The effect is a greater accumulation of volume and a bigger release of testosterone, which will prime your body to more efficiently build muscle and oxidize— nerd speak for burn—fat. Then we ramp up the reps and intensity for the accessory work, which targets your entire body each day.
The subsequent lifts will still be multijoint movements, as these types of exercises give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to muscle recruitment and strength gains. They will also be supersetted with antagonist muscle groups— like a lower-body pulling exercise paired with an upper-body pushing exercise—so your body is working synergistically.
The supersets are added to simply ramp up the intensity of the workout and increase your heart rate, which is a key reason why you don’t see any traditional cardio programmed here. The point is not to be bothered by the lack of traditional isolation movements in the program; you’ll still build plenty of muscle. That being said, we realize that it’s beach season, so the fourth day will focus on pumping up your trophy muscles with high-rep supersets—we got you, bro!
Cluster sets are sets with built-in, intraset rest periods allowing for more weight, reps, and total tonnage lifted. For example, instead of doing three sets of three reps, you’ll do three sets of 1-1-1 repetitions with 20-second intraset rest between reps, for a total of three sets of nine reps. For the cluster sets below, work with 90% of your one-rep max.
Every exercise marked with the same letter is to be performed back-to-back, as a superset, with no rest in between. Perform two workouts in a row, with a day of rest in between. For all accessory movements, ensure that you’re leaving two reps in the tank. This allows for proper nervous system adaptation and smooth progression week to week.
Bulgarian Split Squat
With a dumbbell in each hand, stand about two feet in front of a bench and place one foot on it. Keep your torso straight and squat down until your front thigh is parallel to the
ground. Do not let your knee touch the floor. Drive through your heel and explode back up to a standing position. Repeat with the other leg.
One-arm DB Bench Press
Set up on a flat bench as you would for a standard dumbbell bench press, but use just one dumbbell. Keep your nonworking arm tense, by your side, and squeeze your core as you drive the dumbbell over your chest. Keep your elbow tucked in at a 45-degree angle during the lift. Lower back to your chest slowly.
|A1. Back Squat||3||1-1-1*||2-3 min.|
|B1. Kettlebell Squat||4||15||–|
|B2. Bentover KB Row||4||10||60sec.|
|C1. Single-leg Hip Raise||4||15||–|
|C2. One-arm DB Bench Press||4||10||–|
|C3. Up-down Plank||4||10||60 sec.|
*Refer to cluster sets sidebar
|A1. Bench Press||3||1-1-1*||2-3 min.|
|B1. Weighted Pushup**||4||10||–|
|B2. Leg Curl with Sliders||4||10||60 sec.|
|C1. Split Squat||4||15(each leg)||–|
|C2. Incline Prone DB Row||4||10||–|
|C3. Straightleg Situp||4||15||60 sec.|
*Refer to cluster sets sidebar.
**Place a plate on your middle back, just below your shoulder blades.
|A1. Trap-bar Deadlift||3||1-1-1*||2-3 min.|
|B2. Eccentric Neutral-grip Pullup||4||5**||60sec.|
|C1. Bulgarian Split Squat||4||15(each leg)||–|
|C3. Pallof Press||4||10(each arm)||60sec.|
*Refer to cluster sets sidebar.
**Lower yourself to a count of five Mississippi.
|A1. Dumbbell Flye with Twist||4||15||60 sec.|
Single-leg Hip Raise
Lie on your upper back across a bench with one leg bent at 90 degrees. Drive through the heel of your bent leg until your hips are raised high off the ground, then squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.
Incline Prone Dumbbell Row
Adjust a bench so it’s at an incline and lie on it, belly down, with your toes planted on the ground. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and row them, leading with your elbows and keeping them at your sides.
Bentover KB Row
Hinge at the hips until your torso is at 45 degrees and pick up two kettlebells. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the bells until your elbows pass your torso. Hold for a second and then lower the bells until your arms are fully extended at the bottom.
Hold two kettlebells of equal weight in a front rack position, with your elbows up and back straight. Descend into a squat until your thighs break parallel, then explode back up.
Trap-bar Romanian Deadlift
Set up as you would for a regular trap-bar deadlift— standing in the middle of the apparatus so you’re centered—but instead of completing a standard deadlift, keep your legs straighter than usual and hinge at your hips until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
Half-kneeling Overhead Press
Get onto one knee with your back leg bent at 90 degrees behind you. Grab a dumbbell with the arm that is on the same side as your down leg, and press a dumbbell overhead until you achieve full lockout with your elbow. Repeat on other side.
Leg Curl with Sliders
Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and both feet placed on sliders. Raise your hips slightly off the ground, then slide your heels toward your butt, holding the contraction at the apex of the exercise. Slowly lower your feet back to the starting position.