Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.

With this in mind, focus less on single-joint movements (sometimes called isolation exercises) in favor of multijoint ones. The bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are examples of solid multijoint exercises that require several muscle groups to work in coordination. These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan.


No one wants to see a friend get hurt in the gym, and I consider anyone who lifts a friend in that sense, so don't be afraid to take a plate off of your lifts in order to practice good form. Looking like you can lift more plates in the gym than anyone else isn't really important, and in the long run keeping good form will keep you healthier and more able to continue lifting.
I will do a video on deadlifts soon. It’s funny you mention that because most people have the opposite issue, their back takes over for weak legs and they aren’t sitting in the position low enough to begin with. You sound like you have great leg strength but your back isn’t engaging enough. You may want to try pre-exhausting your back first with a few high rep sets of hyper-extensions w/ just bodyweight, THEN go to deadlifts

Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.
Is your resting heart rate jacked up today? Are you too sore from your last workout to walk? Did you only sleep a few hours the last night? Skipped breakfast and lunch? Congrats, you just earned yourself a rest day. In other words - go home. You aren't going to get anything but an increased risk of injury by training in any one of these conditions.
If you follow a full-body program built around these seven categories, you'll be amazed at how well your body responds. If your goal is to add mass, these are the movements that will allow you to use the most weight and provide the training stimulus the body will need to grow. If your goal is fat loss, these are the movements that will allow you to burn the most calories and continue working harder in the gym. If your goal is just to get stronger and more athletic for whatever you decide to do later, these movements are the perfect tools.
Resistance training works by causing microscopic damage or tears to the muscle cells, which in turn are quickly repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate and grow stronger. The breakdown of the muscle fiber is called "catabolism," and the repair and re-growth of the muscle tissue is called "anabolism." You're probably familiar with the term anabolic when used with steroids. Anabolic means to grow, and that's exactly what happens after you break down the muscle fibers with resistance exercise. In fact, many biological processes of growth in the body require some breakdown, or catabolism, prior to re-growth. For instance, bones must be broken down first before calcium and other growth factors repair the bone and make it stronger. With muscles, testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, growth hormone, protein, and other nutrients rush to the muscle after a resistance-exercise session to help repair the muscles to make them stronger. Importantly, your muscles heal and grow when you aren't working out, and so that's why it's necessary to leave time between workouts for recovery.
For elite athletes, sports nutritionists and coaches take eating very seriously, because a few fractions of a second in a sprint or a few seconds in longer races can mean the difference between a gold medal and a “thank you for coming.” Even in the amateur ranks, you can maximize your workout by eating in a way that makes the most of your hard work. Meal timing is an important part of this.
Multijoint movements like presses and upright rows are the best mass builders for shoulders, since they engage the greatest degree of deltoid musculature. Arnold would go heavy with these movements, especially early in his workouts when his energy levels were highest. He commonly did presses both behind and in front of his head for complete development.
Use protein supplements wisely. Throwing back a protein shake every morning is not a guarantee that your body will build muscle mass. Although protein shakes are not inherently bad, they are also not a magical means of building muscle. If you decide to implement a protein supplement in your diet, make sure the ingredients are high-quality (i.e. not riddled with sugar and empty carbs).[13]

Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.


Most skinny guys dramatically overestimate how much they're actually consuming. You're going to need hard numbers to make sure you stay on track. You don't need to go crazy and count every macronutrient as if you were dieting, but you do need to roughly measure portion sizes, track overall calories, and at least account for everything you do or don't eat.
An obvious one I know, but many misjudge this. If you have two weeks to get ready for the beach then the quickest way to drop fat (and subcutaneous water that can blur muscle definition) is to drop your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of fibrous carbohydrates. So say hello to broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and kiss goodbye to breads, cereals, fruit, rice and pasta. Where people go badly wrong when dropping carbs is that they simply switch to eating lean proteins and don’t replace some of the lost carb calories with calories from fat. This inevitably leads to an energy crash and the subsequent blowing of the diet because the trainee simply runs out of steam and willpower. A few whole eggs, a piece of steak and plenty of supplemental Omega 3s (I prefer 10 grams a day for carbohydrate tolerant individuals, more if there appears to be insulin resistance) work wonders. 

You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.
If you're using a resistance band, keep in mind that one band might not cut it for your entire body. Different muscles have different strengths, so you may want to buy two different resistance bands in different thickness, which determines how difficult they'll be to use. In general, if you're able to complete 8 reps of an exercise using a band, you'll want to select another that provides a greater amount of resistance. 
The use of cardio exercise to get into shape was surprisingly nearly non-existent in the time period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. As mentioned before, gyms were well equipped with barbells, dumbbells and heavy, basic machines. Cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not developed yet. Some gyms would have a couple stationary bikes included in the establishment but they were not nearly as comfortable or as advanced as the equipment that frequents health clubs today.
Training to a point of momentary muscle failure, at which completion of another repetition on any given set is impossible despite your greatest effort, is the only way to force the body to resort to its biochemical resources sufficiently to stimulate real growth! One of the biggest mistakes I see being made in the gym is when certain individuals will end a set of an exercise just because an arbitrary number of repetitions has been completed.This will do very little to stimulate muscle growth. A set should be terminated only when your muscles have been forced to the point of it being inconceivable to produce 1 more repetition within a working set. I use the word forced because obviously, you know muscle growth doesn’t come easy and literally needs to be forced! Any degree of effort in a set that is less than 100% may yield a bodybuilder some results, but never to the same extent that all out maximum effort will.
Of all our diet tips for bodybuilding, consuming more protein is amongst the most important. Use a variety of protein sources to obtain your daily recommended amount, focusing on whole foods like poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, and lean meat. Unfortunately, greasy hamburgers and fattier cuts of meat like prime rib don’t count. To supplement your meals, use a quick and convenient protein powder. You can add it into your breakfast, bake it into granola bars, or perhaps prepare a post-workout shake.
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.
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