Heavy Lifting: Sculpt a Stronger, Leaner, Slimmer Body

Health & Fitness

Strong is Sexy

Tired of sweating through multiple cardio sessions a week and still feeling like you’re stuffed into your skinny jeans? Start pumping more iron! This total-body workout was designed exclusively for SHAPE by certified strength coach Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University, to help you add more metabolically active (i.e. fat-burning) lean muscle mass to your frame. The routine is made up of four supersets (two exercises performed back to back with no rest in between) to help you burn the maximum amount of calories in the least amount of time.

How it works: Perform each exercise in the superset back to back, resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets (2 exercises = 1 set). Complete all sets of the first superset before moving on to the second and so on.

For best results, Tumminello recommends doing this workout three nonconsecutive days per week, for up to five weeks. You’ll alternate rep/set schemes each time you do the routine (as noted). This not only mixes things up and keeps your muscles guessing, but it’s also a more effective method of developing muscle than doing the same rep count every time, Tumminello says.

You’ll need: Two sets of dumbbells (a light and a heavy pair, but both should max you out by the end of the set), a resistance band, and a weight bench (or similar object, such as a platform or box).

Superset 1A: Single-Arm DB Romanian Deadlift

The first time you do this workout, do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps on each leg. Next time, do 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each leg. Alternate your rep scheme each time you do the full routine.

How to do it: Grab one of the heavier dumbbells with your left hand and stand on your right leg. Keeping your spine naturally arched, hinge forward at the hips (pushing your hips toward the wall behind you), and allow the dumbbell to lower towards the floor. As you lower, bend your right knee slightly and lift your left leg behind you to counter your balance. Return to the starting position, keeping your back straight, extending right leg (make sure you’re engaging your right glute muscle), and lowering your left leg (left foot should remain off the floor).

Superset 1B: Pushups

For your first workout, place your hands on a bench and do up to 3 sets of as many reps as you can with good form. Next time, do up to 4 sets with your hands on the floor.

How to do it: Position your feet slightly wider than hip width, hands outside of your shoulders. Keeping your body in a straight line (don’t let hips sag or lift), lower down into a pushup, and then press your body back up.

Superset 2A: Single-Arm DB Row

Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps on each side. For your next workout, do 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side.

How to do it: Begin in a split stance with your left foot forward, left hand on hip, holding the dumbbell in your right hand. Bend your knees and hinge forward at the hips about 45 degrees, keeping back naturally straight and abs engaged, reaching right arm towards the floor. Perform a row by bending your right elbow and pulling the dumbbell in towards the right side of your body. Extend arm back to start. Keep your shoulder down and back during the entire movement (you should feel this in your upper back, not your arm).

Superset 2B: DB Shoulder-to-Shoulder Press

First, do 3 sets of 20 to 24 reps. For your next workout, do 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

How to do it: Start standing with feet slightly wider than hip width, knees slightly bent, holding one dumbbell with both hands (grasp the weight like a baseball bat with your hands stacked along the bar). Bend your arms and bring the weight to the front of your right shoulder. Press the weight overhead, and then lower it to the front of your left shoulder. That’s one rep. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating directions until you’ve completed the set.

Superset 3A: Single-Leg Hip Thrust

For one workout, do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps per side. For your next workout, do 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side.

How to do it: Rest your head and shoulders on a weight bench, arms open to the sides, palms facing up. Walk your legs out until your knees are bent at about 90 degrees and your feet are positioned directly below your knees. Lift your hips so that your body makes a straight line from knees to nose.

Keeping your right knee bent at 90 degrees, lift it above your hip. Keeping your right leg lifted, lower your hips towards the floor, and then press hips back up through your left heel. That’s one rep. You can make this move more difficult by adding weight—try holding a weighted bar across your hips.

Superset 3B: Side Plank with DB Lateral Shoulder Raise

One workout do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps on each side. For your next workout, do 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side.

How to do it: Grab one of the lighter dumbbells in your right hand and get into a side elbow plank with your left forearm resting on the weight bench, right leg crossed in front of left. Lift your right arm until it’s in line with your shoulder. Lower the weight towards your hip (but don’t touch arm to body). That’s one rep.

Superset 4A: Band Squat and Row

Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps—no change to the rep scheme on this one.

How to do it: Anchor the resistance band securely at about mid-chest level and hold one end in each hand. Step away from the anchor point until the band is pulled tight (step further away for more resistance, closer for less). Stand with feet hip-width apart and extend your arms in front of your body, palms facing in. Lower into a squat. As you press up to standing, row arms back by bending your elbows outside of your torso. Repeat by lowering into squat and extending your arms back out.

Superset 4B: Band Core Rotations

Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps on each side every time you do the workout.

How to do it: With band still anchored at the same point, turn your body to face one side. Standing with feet slightly wider than hip width, extend your arms straight out in front of your chest, stacking one hand on top of the other (touching both ends of the band together). Brace your abs in tight and rotate your torso away from the anchor point, keeping lower body still as upper body twists. Return to center. That’s one rep.

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