Xtend: 21-day challenge

WE BLENDED BODYBUILDING WITH HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING TO DELIVER A BIGGER, LEANER BODY.

 

Bodybuilders in Arnold’s day rarely did any cardio, for fear of burning up muscle mass. But track athletes—especially sprinters—and wrestlers have proven for years that you can build muscle while burning fat with calorie-churning while burning fat with calorie-incinerating exercise that’s far removed from the weight room.

In fact, sometimes sprinters and wrestlers can pass for bodybuilders or power lifters. What’s their secret? Their sport training is essentially  high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is nothing more than brief bouts of extreme effort followed by periods of lighter activity or rest.For three weeks, we’re combining old-fashioned bodybuilding training—which puts muscle on like nothing else—with HIIT, which burns fat and increases endurance without risking your gains. Combine it with the right supplementation, and you’ll be well on your way to a perfectly sculpted physique in of a month.

SAM OKUNOLA

THE ULTIMATE MUSCLE HIIT

The urban legend about cardio eating up muscle comes mainly from decades-old in vitro and rodent studies. They showed that cardio activates a compound called AMPK, which tries to preserve the body’s energy stores by inhibiting a protein called mTOR, which signals muscle growth. However, newer research, as well as the anecdotal evidence of thousands of athletes, is prevailing. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning compared one group of women who strength-trained and performed sprint intervals with another group who only lifted. After 11 weeks, not only did the subjects who did both kinds of training see significant strength gains, they also had greater improvements in body composition. So not only do intervals not hurt your muscle gains, they can enhance them.

Our program will have you lifting four days per week. The first three workouts are standard bodybuilding split routines—back and triceps, chest and biceps, and legs and shoulders—designed to let you use heavy weights and isolate the muscles to deliver the best possible growth stimulus. The fourth lifting day is a high intensity circuit of bodybuilding exercises, which aims to give the muscles a pump but keeps you moving around the gym at a fast pace, hitting upper- and lower-body lifts to keep the blood rushing from place to place. This makes your heart work overtime, burning extra calories and building conditioning like a combat athlete. Improving oxygen uptake through supplementation with ingredients such as PeakO2 can also boost your endurance and conditioning.

On two other days, you’ll do short HIIT workouts. One will be sprints on an exercise bike, a low-impact but highly challenging mode of cardio that won’t disrupt recovery from all your other training. The other is a short circuit of body-weight exercises. Recovery must be a priority, as the intensity is high and frequent. For that reason, we recommend you supplement with branched chain amino acids, citrulline malate, and electrolytes, which support muscle growth and normal muscle functions. A newcomer to the game is PeakO2, a potent compound that in a 21-day study was shown to improve power, endurance, and oxygen uptake in as few as seven days. The drastic improvements are what fueled our 21-Day Challenge.

DIRECTIONS

Perform each workout once per week, resting a day between each session. Perform all exercises as straight sets except for the last weight-training day of the week—the circuit workout (see below). Apart from the weight-training workouts, you’ll do two HIIT sessions per week. Ideally, you’ll perform these on the days in between the weight workouts, as our training schedule shows. But if your schedule doesn’t allow this, you can do HIIT and lifting on the same day—preferably spacing the two workouts several hours apart. If you must perform HIIT in the same session as lifting, do it afterward.

Circuit Complete one set of each exercisein turn, resting as directed in between. That’s one circuit. Repeat the circuit for the prescribed number of sets.

HIIT Workout 1 Perform bike sprints. Get on a stationary or spin bike and warm up using a moderate resistance. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest you can go, work at a pace that’s about a five for three minutes. You should be sweating afterward. Now increase the resistance— not so high that it feels like you’re pedaling through mud, but enough to make you work hard and still let your legs move at a brisk pace. Sprint at the highest intensity you can maintain for three minutes. Repeat for one more round, then pedal lightly for three minutes to cool down. The whole routine should take 15 minutes.

HIIT Workout 2 Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in sequence. Rest 30 seconds between exercises, and repeat for five to eight circuits.

TRAINING SCHEDULE

WEEK 1

DAYS WORKOUTS
Day 1 Back & Triceps
Day 2 HIIT Workout 1
Day 3 Chest & Biceps
Day 4 HIIT Workout 2
Day 5 Legs & Shoulders
Day 6 Off
Day 7 Circuit

WEEK 2

DAYS WORKOUTS
Day 8 Back & Triceps
Day 9 HIIT Workout 1
Day 10 Chest & Biceps
Day 11 HIIT Workout 2
Day 12 Legs & Shoulders
Day 13 Off
Day 14 Circuit

WEEK 3

DAYS WORKOUTS
Day 15 Back & Triceps
Day 16 HIIT Workout 1
Day 17 Chest & Biceps
Day 18 HIIT Workout 2
Day 19 Legs & Shoulders
Day 20 Off
Day 21 Circuit

1. BACK & TRICEPS

1. One-arm Dumbbell Deadstop Row SETS: 3  REPS: 8 (EACH SIDE) REST: 90 SEC.

Place one hand on a bench or other flat surface for support and hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Stagger your legs and bend your torso so it’s parallel to the floor. Row the dumbbell back to your hip and then lower it with control until it rests on the floor. Pause a second and begin the next rep. Complete all the reps and then repeat on the other side immediately.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS, BENCH

2. Lat Pulldown SETS: 3  REPS: 10–12 REST: 60 SEC.

Grasp the handle with hands outside shoulder width and pull it to your collarbone. Drive your elbows down and back, and allow the weight to pull you slightly forward and and stretch your lats at stretch the top of the lift.

YOU’LL NEED: LAT PULLDOWN MACHINE

3. High-cable Rope Row SETS: 3  REPS: 15–20  REST: 60 SEC

Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. Step back and bend your hips back so your arms are pulled over your head and you feel tension on the and you feel tension on thelats. Pull the handle down as you simultaneously raise your torso up so the rope comes to your sternum.

YOU’LL NEED: CABLE STATION, ROPE HANDLE

CABLE NEWS The high-cable rope row combines a pulldown and rowing motion for complete lat activation.

4. Dumbbell Shrug SETS: 2  REPS: 15 REST: 60 SEC.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Take three seconds to lower the weight on each rep.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS

5. Rope Pushdown SETS: 3  REPS: 20, 15, 10 REST: 30 SEC.

Attach a rope handle to a cable station and hold an end in each hand. Extend your elbows, pushing the handle down and away from your body.

YOU’LL NEED: CABLE STATION, ROPE HANDLE

6. Bench Dip SETS: 2  REPS: AS MANY AS POSSIBLE REST: 30 SEC.

Place your hands on a bench behind you at shoulder width. Rest your feet on another bench or box in front of you. Slowly lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and then extend your elbows. Take three seconds to lower your body on each rep.

YOU’LL NEED: BENCH, BOX, OR STEP

2. CHEST & BICEPS

1. Bench Press SETS: 4  REPS: 12, 10, 8, 6 REST: 90 SEC.

Lie back on a bench and grasp the bar with hands just outside shoulder width.  Arch your back and tighten your glutes and abs.  Plant your feet firmly. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum. Push your feet into the floor as you press the bar back up.

2. Incline Dumbbell Press SETS: 3  REPS: 12 REST: 60 SEC.

Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back against it with a dumbbell in each hand. Press the dumbbells from chest level to straight overhead.

YOU’LL NEED: BENCH, DUMBBELLS

3. Cable Crossover Flye SETS: 3  REPS: 15–20 REST: 60 SEC.

Grasp a handle in each hand and step forward to put tension on the cables and stretch your pecs slightly. Bring your hands in front of your chest, flexing your pecs, and then extend them out to your sides again.

YOU’LL NEED: CABLE CROSSOVER MACHINE

4. EZ-curl SETS: 3  REPS: 8–10 REST: 60 SEC.

Hold an EZ-curl bar with hands at shoulder width. Keeping your upper arms against your sides, curl the bar and squeeze your biceps at the top.

YOU’LL NEED: EZ-CURL BAR, PLATES

5. Behind-the-back . Behind-the-back Cable Curl SETS: 3  REPS: 12–15 (EACH SIDE) REST: 60 SEC

Attach a single-grip handle to the bottom pulley of a cable station and grasp it with one hand.  Faceaway from the station and  stagger your stance. Step forward to put tension on the cable—allow it to draw your arm behind your body so you feel a stretch on the biceps. Keeping your arm in place, curl the handle and squeeze at the top. Complete all your reps and then switch arms and repeat immediately.

YOU’LL NEED: CABLE STATION

BICEPS BUILDER The behind-the-back cable curl works much like an incline curl, putting your biceps in a mechanically weak position so they need to work harder.

6. Swiss Ball Stir-the-pot SETS: 3  REPS: 8–12  REST: 60 SEC.

Rest your forearms on a Swiss ball band extend your legs behind you so your body forms a straight line. Brace your abs and begin rotating the shoulders you were holding a long spoon and stirring a pot.  Perform 1 rep then switch directions.

YOU’LL NEED: SWISS BALL

3. LEGS & SHOULDERS

  1. Front Squat Squat 1. Front Squat SETS: 4  REPS: 12, 10, 8, 6 REST: 90 SEC.

Grasp the bar with hands at shoulder width and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor (you can use a crossover grip as shown if needed). Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with toes turned slightly out. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.

YOU’LL NEED: BARBELL, PLATES, SQUAT RACK

2. Dumbbell Reverse Lunge SETS: 3  REPS: 10 (EACH LEG) REST: 60 SEC

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and step back. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Complete all your reps and then switch legs and repeat immediately.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS

SQUAT SAFER The front squat is safer for the lower back than back squats, and it targets the quads and core harder.

3. Dumbbell Stiff-leg Deadlift SETS: 4  REPS: 10–12  REST: 90 SEC.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, push your hips back and lower your torso until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Extend your hips to return to the starting position.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS

4. Scrape-the-rack Press SETS: 3  REPS: 6–8  REST: 60 SEC.

Set a barbell on the pins of a power rack at about chest height. Grasp the bar with hands at shoulder width and stagger your feet. Lean into the bar and press it overhead, scraping the front of the rack the whole way up. Keep the tension on the way down.

YOU’LL NEED: BARBELL, PLATES, POWER RACK

5. Bentover Lateral Raise SETS: 4  REPS: 15–20  REST: 60 SEC.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your hips back until your torso is parallel to the floor. Raise your arms out 90 degrees to your sides, drawing your shoulder blades together.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS

KILLER COMBO The legs and shoulders pair well as they’re both sets of pushing muscles. They also have significant recovery needs, so working them on the same day is smart.

6. Renegade Row SETS: 2  REPS: 5–10  REST: 60 SEC.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into a pushup position with your feet spread wide. Brace your abs and shift your weight to the left side. Row the left-hand with a dumbbell. Repeat on the the other side.

YOU’LL NEED: DUMBBELLS

4. CIRCUIT WORKOUT

A. Leg Curl SETS: 3–6  REPS: 10  REST: 30 SEC.

Lie down on a leg curl machine and line your knees up with its axis of rotation. Hook your feet under the ankle pad and curl your heels up. Avoid extending your lower back. Hold at the top for a second.

B. Inverted Row: SETS: 3–6  REPS: AS MANY AS POSSIBLE  REST: 30 SEC

Rack a barbell at hip level. Hang from it and extend your legs in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your body to the bar. Use perfect form and stop two reps shy of failure.

C. Pushup SETS: 3–6  REPS: AS MANY AS POSSIBLE REST: 30 SEC

Place your hands on the floor at shoulder width and extend your legs behind you. Lower your body until your chest is about an inch above the loor. Stop two reps shy of failure.

D. Leg Extension SETS: 3–6 REPS: 10  REST: 30 SEC.

Sit on a leg extension machine and line your knees up with its axis of rotation. Hook your feet under the ankle pad and extend your knees. Hold at the top for a second.

E. Lateral Raise SETS: 3–6  REPS: 10  REST: 30 SEC

Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Raise the weights out 90 degrees to your sides.

5. HIIT WORKOUT 2

BODY BURNER This body-weight circuit can be done anywhere without equipment, and your heart rate will climb as high as if you were using a state-of-the-art treadmill.

A. Jumping Jack REPS: 30

Jump and land on the balls of your feet with legs spread wide. At the same time, clap your hands together overhead. Jump again and slap your hands at your sides as your feet come together.

B. Mountain Climber REPS: 20 (EACH LEG) Get into pushup position and drive one knee up to your chest. Drive the leg back while bringing the other one up. Alternate back and forth swiftly.

C. Burpee REPS: 10 From a standing position, squat down and touch the floor between your feet. Jump your feet behind you and land in pushup position. Reverse the motion to come back up to standing and jump. That’s one rep.

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