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No Gym? No Problem!
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
8/14/2014 3:14:00 PM  

Here's a complete out-of-gym workout that will build serious size and strength.

Are you one of the many people who cannot easily get access to heavy exercise equipment or to a gym membership? Do you feel like your fitness goals are going nowhere as a result? No matter your situation, NOT training should never be an option for you. Most folks don't need expensive equipment to make great progress, only a bit of knowledge and the right exercise program, and you can make gains as good as anyone, anywhere. With the following workout routine and a pair of dumbbells and a bench, you can get totally hard and ripped without breaking the bank — or leaving your house.

Follow this plan over the next 4 weeks and repeat again until you get the results you are after. You can easily alter this program based on your goals, and here are some suggestions on how you can tailor the workout to your individual needs:

Turn into a Strength Plan:

To do this Do Power/clapping Pushups in between every upper body exercise set and Body Weight jump squats in between every lower body and ab exercise for sets of 10 each time you execute. Use the example below:

  • Example Upper Body - Decline Press 3x10 (then in between each set do regular power or clapping pushups for a set of 10 reps)
  • Example Lower Body - Lunges 3x10 (then in between each set of lunges do Jump Squats for a set of 10 reps)

Turn into a Fat Burning plan- To do this Do jumping jacks or jump rope in between every set of upper body movements for 1 minute in between sets, and mountain climbers in between every set of lower body and ab exercises for 30 seconds. Use the Example below!

  • Example Upper Body - Decline Press 3x10 (then in between each set jump rope or do jumping jacks for 1 minute)
  • Example Lower Body - Lunges 3x10 (then in between each set of lunges do mountain climbers for 30 seconds)

Here is the workout:

Week 1 Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Push Ups 3 10 Chest
Decline Push Up 3 10 Chest
Incline Push Up 3 10 Chest
Dumbell Flye 3 8 Chest
One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8 Chest
Alternating Dumbbell Curl 3 12 Arms
Dumbbell Curl 3 6 Arms
Incline Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension 3 15 Triceps
Dumbbell Power Row 3 5 Back
Dumbbell Row 3 10 Back
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 12 Traps
Week 1 Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Dumbbell Lunge 3 12 Legs
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 8 Legs
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 10 Shoulders
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8 Shoulders
Dumbbell Front Raise 3 8 Shoulders
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 8 Shoulders
Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback 3 12 Back
Week 2 Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Push Up 3 12 Chest
Decline Push Up 3 12 Chest
Incline Push Up 3 12 Chest
One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 3 6 Chest
Dumbbell Flye 3 10 Chest
Alternating Dumbbell Curl 3 8 Arms
Dumbbell Curl 3 12 Arms
Incline Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension 3 8 Triceps
Dumbbell Power Row 3 8 Back
Dumbbell Row 3 5 Back
Dumbbell Shrug 3 15 Traps
Week 2 Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Dumbbell Lunge 3 8 Legs
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 10 Legs
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 8 Shoulders
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 12 Shoulders
Dumbbell Front Raise 3 12 Shoulders
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 12 Shoulders
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 12 Shoulders
Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback 3 8 Back
Week 3 Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Push Up 4 10 Chest
Decline Push Up 4 10 Chest
Incline Push Up 4 10 Chest
Dumbbell Flye 4 12 Chest
One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8 Chest
Alternating Dumbbell Curl 4 8 Arms
Dumbbell Curl 4 10 Arms
Incline Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension 4 15 Triceps
Dumbbell Power Row 4 5 Back
Dumbbell Row 4 6 Back
Dumbbell Shrug 4 15 Traps
Week 3 Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Dumbbell Lunge 4 8 Legs
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 4 12 Legs
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 10 Shoulders
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 12 Shoulders
Dumbbell Front Raise 4 12 Shoulders
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 4 12 Shoulders
Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback 4 8 Back
Week 4 Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Push Up 5 10 Chest
Decline Push Up 5 10 Chest
Incline Push Up 5 10 Chest
One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8 Chest
Dumbbell Flye 4 12 Chest
Alternating Dumbbell Curl 5 10 Arms
Dumbbell Curl 5 5 Arms
Incline Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension 5 10 Triceps
Dumbbell Power Row 2 15 Back
Dumbbell Row 3 6 Back
Dumbbell Shrug 3 15 Traps
Week 4 Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Dumbbell Lunge 5 8 Legs
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 10 Legs
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5 10 Shoulders
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 5 6 Shoulders
Dumbbell Front Raise 5 6 Shoulders
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 5 6 Shoulders
Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback 3 15 Back

Currently rated 5 by 2 people

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A Heavy-weight, High-volume Launching Pad for Muscle Growth!
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
3/13/2014 4:32:00 PM  
A Heavy-weight, High-volume Launching Pad for Muscle Growth!

Do a little spring-cleaning and launch your old workout out the door.

Nothing sparks new muscle growth like a fresh training program, and this plan will seriously challenge your muscles with hardcore tonnage and the kind of high-volume output that separates the chargers from the "also-rans." But gut out this hard 'n heavy program, and you'll be rewarded with phenomenal size and strength gains — plus you'll crank your fat-burning metabolism into overdrive too!

The 5-3-1 method of training is just the prescription needed to get back to what truly works when training. The concept behind this program is to maximize both volume (total sets and reps) and weight with the basic movements that are pretty much all you truly need in order to gain brute strength and a thickly muscled physique.

The 5-3-1 technique starts out with you doing 5 working sets of 5 reps, then moving on to 5 sets of 3 reps, and finishing off with 5 sets of 1 rep for each of the main lifts. By keeping the reps no more than 5 per set, you can focus on increasing the weight with each set. For example, start off the first set of 5 with a weight you know you can handle for 5-8 reps, and for each subsequent set increase the weight by 10 pounds. Do the same for the sets of 3 reps and the set of 1 rep.

Research has shown that focusing on heavier weight and fast, powerful reps actually helps speed up the fat burning process more than light weight with high reps. The research also shows that escalating the training poundage in this fashion increases your fat-burning metabolism for up to two days after the training cycle. So be sure to change it up this week with the 5-3-1 workout program, and you'll be on your on your way to getting bigger, leaner, and stronger than ever.

Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Squat 5 5 Legs
Barbell Squat 5 3 Legs
Barbell Squat 5 1 Legs
Barbell Front Lunge 3 6 Legs
Abdominal Crunches 3 20 Abs
Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Bench Press 5 5 Chest
Barbell Bench Press 5 3 Chest
Barbell Bench Press 5 1 Chest
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 5 10 Chest
Bent-over One-arm Dumbbell Rows 5 10 Back
Standing Dumbbell Shrugs 5 10 Shoulders
Day 3
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Deadlift 5 5 Legs
Barbell Deadlift 5 3 Legs
Barbell Deadlift 5 1 Legs
Good Mornings 5 10 Back
Leg Lifts 3 20 Legs
Day 4
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Standing Barbell Military Press 5 5 Shoulders
Standing Barbell Military Press 5 3 Shoulders
Standing Barbell Military Press 5 1 Shoulders
Pull-Up/ Chin 5 10 Back
Dips 3 20 Chest
Standing Two-arm Barbell Curl 5 10 Arms

Currently rated 4.5 by 6 people

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Muscle Building, Fat Burning HIIT Workout
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
3/6/2014 3:27:00 PM  
Cardio Acceleration

ACCELERATE YOUR FAT LOSS - Get shredded faster with a workout that combines the calorie-burning of cardio with the muscle-building power of weight training.

For all the lip service we may give to our love of a challenging workout, and how the journey to a ripped physique is as rewarding as the end result, admit it ... you'd love to drop excess pounds more quickly.

Yet, if you've been relying on traditional cardio methods — 30 minutes on the stationary bike here, an hour on the treadmill there — that fat loss may be coming at an excruciating slow pace.

If that sounds familiar, it's time to hit back. Or more specifically, HIIT back, with a revamped cardio regimen that can fast-track your shredding ambitions. Popularized by exercise expert Dr. Jim Stoppani, cardio acceleration is a form of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short.

In HIIT training, you intersperse low-intensity exercise with short bouts of high-intensity activity. The goal of HIIT is to spike your heart rate, and spur the body to flip on its fat-burning systems. Cardio acceleration, as crafted by Stoppani, intersperses aerobic exercise and resistance training movements over the course of a workout.

The key is to go heavy and hard as you can with the weights, then — instead of resting, as you would in a normal routine — you do cardio, anything from jumping rope to running on a treadmill. Your goal is to keep up the demanding pace throughout.

Research has shown that when you combine cardio acceleration tactics with weight training, you not only burn more calories and fat, but you prompt more muscle fiber recruitment. In short, you can ditch the long, boring cardio sessions, replacing them with a high-impact program that burns more fat while building more muscle. (We've provided a few samples below.) And hey, if you're one of those who love a challenging workout? Cardio acceleration has you covered there, too.

Sample No. 1 Cardio Acceleration with Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Jump Squatsuperset with 3 12
Jump Rope 3 30 sec.
Leg Presssuperset with 4 8
Jumping Jacks 3 30 sec.
Barbell Front Lungesuperset with 4 5
Jump Rope 3 30 sec.
Lying Leg Curlsuperset with 3 12
Alternating Leg Dumbbell Step-Up 3 5
Sample No. 2 Cardio Acceleration with Back
Exercise Sets Reps
Lat Pulldownsuperset with 3 12
Run in Place or Treadmill 3 30 sec.
T-Bar Rowsuperset with 3 15
Run in Place or Treadmill 3 30 sec.
Back Extension 3 20
Jump Rope 3 30 sec.
Sample No. 3 Cardio Acceleration with Chest Exercise
Exercise Sets Reps
Cable Crossoversuperset with 3 12
Push-Upsuperset with 3 15
Jump Rope 3 30 sec.
Flat-Bench Barbell Presssuperset with 3 12
Jumping Jacks 3 30 sec.
Incline Dumbbell Presssuperset with 3 10
Jump Rope 3 30 sec.
Sample No. 4 Cardio Acceleration with Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
V-Upsuperset with 3 12
Treadmill or Recumbent Bike 3 30 sec.
Reverse Crunchsuperset with 3 15
Treadmill or Recumbent Bike 3 30 sec.
Crunchsuperset with 3 20
Treadmill or Recumbent Bike 3 30 sec.

Currently rated 4.6 by 13 people

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The Bookend Workout
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
10/10/2013 8:59:00 AM  
Bookend Training

What is Bookend Training?

Just like a bookshelf where you might find two identical, solid props to hold your literary collection in place, Bookend Training employs the same exercises at either end of the workout program for a particular muscle group, with other different exercises in between the two "ends."

Bookend Training is a training principle that is used when writing a workout program where you are looking to maximize blood flow and muscle fiber recruitment (building muscle). Every muscle group has a foundational lift, or exercises that allow you to maximize strength in that muscle group.

For instance the squat is the foundational exercise for legs, and typically is one of the first exercises you want to perform when training. Bench Press is the foundational exercise for chest. Barbell Military or shoulder press for shoulders, Lat Pull downs, Bent Over Row or Pull Ups for back, and so on. The other exercises are categorized as auxiliary lifts to emphasize one muscle, or parts of the muscles differently.

So with Bookend Training the concept is to start with a foundational exercises for a specific muscle group. Once completed you move onto the auxiliary exercises which still target the muscles you are working, and then finishing off the muscle group with the same foundational exercise you started with.

Why does it work?

Research has shown that because of the load (weight and force) that foundational exercises put on the muscles worked, you can significantly recruit more muscle fibers when you also finish off with the same movement once the muscles are fatigued after the auxiliary lifts are performed. In a sense, its similar to the overload principle that takes place when you do extended set training.

What this means is that by doing this technique your muscles work overtime to recruit more muscle fibers during and after your training is finished.

My advice is to attempt to use the same weight when you perform your final set of your workout as you did with that same exercise when you began your workout. Pretty challenging when you think about that way!

Do the workout program below each week for a total of 4 weeks to maximize your results from this technique.

Week 1

Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Incline Bench Press On Bench 3 8 Chest
Dumbbell Bench Press On Bench Both Arms 3 10 Chest
Laying On Incline Bench Dumbbell Flys Both Arms 3 12 Chest
Standing Mid Cable Flys Both Arms 2 15 Chest
Barbell Incline Bench Press On Bench 2 15 Chest
Standing Bicep Curl Barbell Both Arms 3 8 Arms
Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl One arm 3 10 Arms
Cable Concentration Bicep Curl 3 12 Arms
Standing Bicep Curl Barbell Both Arms 2 15 Arms
Hanging Leg Raise 2 6 Abs
Laying on Ground Abdominal Crunches Hands by Head 1 60 Abs
Hanging Leg Raise 2 60 Abs
Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Squat 3 6 Legs
Machine Leg Press Both Legs 3 10 Legs
Barbell Reverse Lunge 3 10 Legs
Seated Machine Leg Extension Both Legs 3 12 Legs
Prone Machine Leg Curl Both Legs 3 12 Legs
Barbell Squat 2 15 Legs
Standing Calf Raise 3 6 Legs
Seated Calf Raise 2 15 Legs
Day 3
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Standing Barbell Military Press 3 8 Shoulders
Standing Dumbbell Upright Row Both Arms 2 10 Shoulders
Standing Cable Side Raise One Arm 3 12 Shoulders
Standing Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise Both Arms 3 12 Shoulders
Standing Barbell Military Press 2 15 Shoulders
Standing Barbell Shrugs 3 6 Shoulders
Standing Dumbbell Shrugs 2 12 Shoulders
Standing Barbell Shrugs 2 15 Shoulders
Bent Over Cable Crunch 2 8 Abs
Reverse Crunch/ Leg Lifts 3 25 Abs
Bent Over Cable Crunch 2 15 Abs
Day 4
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Barbell Bent Over Wide Grip Rows Both Arms 3 8 Back
Pull-Up/ Chin 3 10 Back
Seated Cable Row 3 12 Back
Seated On Bench Cable Lat Pulldowns One Arm 3 15 Back
Barbell Bent Over Wide Grip Rows Both Arms 2 15 Back
Barbell Close Grip Bench Press with bands 3 8 Chest
Standing Cable Triceps Extension Both Arms 3 10 Arms
Standing Both Legs Over Head Tricep Extension Both Arms 3 12 Arms
Barbell Close Grip Bench Press with bands 2 15 Chest

Currently rated 5 by 6 people

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Legs & Shoulders Workout
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
3/11/2013 4:03:00 PM  

Imagine the perfect bodybuilding-style physique: It starts at the top, with broad shoulders, tapers down in to a tight, ripped waist, then expands outward again in the form of wide, thick thighs and developed calves.

In other words, an "X" frame.

To achieve that look, we've designed a high-powered workout that impacts you on two important fronts, the shoulders and legs. It's heavy on power movements, creating a synergistic muscle-building effect from head to toe.

These power movements — which include deadlifts, cleans and squats — all will help you in another respect as well. You'll be better able to react and move through space much like an athlete does. Instead of feeling limited because of age, injury history or muscular weakness of any sort, these exercises help compensate for what others make excuses for. (Just be sure to thoroughly research the form for any exercise you're not familiar with, or ask a trainer at your gym to teach you.)

For the next two to four weeks, try replacing your current delt and thigh regimen with the workout below. You may find that you never want to return to your "usual way" of training again.

The X-Frame Leg & Shoulder Workout
Exercise Muscle Group Sets Reps
Jump Rope - 1 2 min
Jump Squat Legs 3 10
Box Jumps Legs 3 10
Barbell Deadlift Legs 3 4
Power Clean Full Body 3 4
Box Squatsuperset with Legs 3 8
Barbell Squat Legs 3 8
Lying Leg Curlsuperset with Legs 3 15
Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift Legs 3 12
Standing Dumbbell Presstri-set with Shoulders 3 10
Dumbbell Lateral Raisetri-set with Shoulders 3 8
Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise Shoulders 3 8
Swiss-Ball Cable Crunch Abs 3 30
Reverse Crunch Abs 3 20

Currently rated 4.4 by 11 people

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Pre-exhaust Workout
By Mike McErlane, CSCS
10/31/2012 12:00:00 AM  
Pre-Exhaust Workout

WARNING: MORE MUSCLE SIZE AHEAD
Bring your muscles into sharp relief with this strategic pre-exhaust training plan

We're all familiar with the concept of a "weak link." In an actual chain, it's (sometimes purposefully) designed to break first under stress. Among people, it's the one making the least contribution to the achievement of the group.

And in your workouts, it's the smaller muscle group that gives way before the larger one, stopping you from taking the latter to its ultimate failure zone. For instance, think back to the last time you benched: As you reached your final reps, what was it that caused to you terminate your set: Your chest ... or your triceps?

Same thing on the flip side. Say you're doing rows. What's more likely to hit failure first: The big, strong muscles of your back, or the smaller-sized forearms and biceps that are involved in the movement?

The idea of a "weaker link" compromising the ability to max out a major body part has been inherent in bodybuilding since its inception. However, there is a potent counterattack.

Pre-exhaust training is a technique combines two exercises back-to-back: The first is a single-joint move that directly works the target muscle group, while the second is a compound multi-joint move that brings ancillary muscles (like the triceps in a press) into play. Thus, the target will be "pre-exhausted," and more likely to fail first during the second exercise. Which is exactly what you want to squeeze every last benefit out of the training session.

The following slate of sample workouts all incorporate the idea of pre-exhaust. Pick and choose whole workouts to try, or just borrow some of the supersets for your own existing routines. Either way, by eliminating your weakest link, you can guarantee yourself much stronger results.

Legs Warm-up: Walk/run 1 mile
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Extension superset with 3 12
Leg Press 3 5
Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift superset with 3 10
Barbell Sumo Squat 3 5
Lying Leg Curl superset with 3 12
Barbell Squat 3 5
Chest
Exercise Sets Reps
Peck-Deck Flye superset with 3 20
Barbell Bench Press 3 6
Low Cable Crossover tri-set with 3 5
Mid-Cable Crossover tri-set with 3 5
High Cable Crossover 3 5
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 12
Shoulders, Back & Arms
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise superset with 3 12
Standing Barbell Press 3 15
Dumbbell Front Raise superset with 3 12
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 8
Bent-Over Lateral Raise superset with 3 12
Barbell Upright Row 3 8
Standing Barbell Curl superset with 3 8
Pull-Up 3 8
Standing Cable Curl superset with 3 15
Bent-Over Barbell Row 3 8

Note for all workouts: Choose a weight that will cause muscle failure at the listed rep goal.


Currently rated 4.4 by 18 people

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