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The Muscle Makeover Workout

Whereas most workouts focus on just one goal, like boosting strength, this routine has multiple pay-offs. You’ll lift heavy weights to increase strength, and you’ll perform exercises with explosiveness to bolster power and athleticism. What’s more, by using a classic training technique called isometric holds, you’ll stimulate muscle growth and stabilize your most injury-prone joints. Begin each session with a quick warm-up.

How to use this Workout

1. Start with four sets of three repetitions for the first exercise in each workout, resting 45 seconds between sets. Use a weight that’s half as heavy as you can lift once (50 percent of your one-repetition max). Lower the weight in one second, pause, and lift the weight as quickly as you can.

2. Do three sets of eight reps of the first exercise, using as much weight as you can handle with perfect technique. Rest for two minutes between sets.

3. Perform the first exercise once more, using the weight from your first set (half your one-rep max) and a technique called isometric holds. Here’s how they work; you’ll pause for 30 seconds at the top, middle and bottom of the move. That’s one set. Do three sets, resting for one minute between sets. This technique builds bigger muscles and eliminates weaknesses. Example; for the bench press, pause when your arms are nearly straight (but don’t lock them out), again when the bar is halfway down, and once more when it’s at your chest.

4. Move to the second exercise in the pair. Perform one set of eight repetitions, again using weights that fully challenge your muscles. Rest for 30 seconds, and do another set of as many reps as you can.

Monday

Barbell Bench Press

Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grab the bar with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and hold it over your chest. Pull your shoulder blades down and together and lower the bar to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in. Quickly push the bar back up.

Stability-ball Hamstring Curl

Lie on the floor with your ankles on a stability ball and your arms at your sides. Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line. Squeezing your glutes, pull the ball towards your butt with your legs. Then roll the ball back out.

Tuesday

Front Squat

Stand holding a barbell across the front of your shoulders, and bring your elbows forward so your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Initiate the move by pushing your hips back. Lower your body as far as you can while maintaining a natural arch in your lower back. Then quickly press back up to a standing position.

Dumbbell Bent-over Row

Stand holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with an underhand grip. Bend forwards at the hips until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Pull the weights up towards your ribcage until your elbows pass your torso, then lower them.

Thursday

Pull-up

Grab a chin-up bar with an overhand grip (palms forward) and your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Hang with your arms straight, and pull your shoulder blades down. Pull your chest to the bar. Then lower yourself to the starting position.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Stand with a bench behind you and a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Place the top of your right foot on the bench. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Then quickly push yourself back up.

Friday

Romanian Dead Lift

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, push your butt back and bend forwards until the weights are at mid-shin level. Push back up to the starting position.

Military Press

Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, and grab a barbell with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, press the bar overhead until your arms are straight. Then lower it to the top of your chest.

Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.

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