You might think actors have an arsenal of secret weapons to get ridiculously fit: a trainer watching their every move, a private chef forcing healthy food down their throat, a fully stocked home gym.
Sure, those things help. But they don’t truly move the dial. The two things that do are a great workout plan, and a will to work hard. With this program, you have the first requirement: the exact same plan as the stars.
You can’t buy the second prerequisite.
The effort you put into your workouts was, is, and always will be the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter if your annual income is 20 million or 20 thousand—no one can do the exercises for you or force you to go the extra mile. If you rise to the occasion, choosing to make each of these 36 workouts a fitness crucible, you have just as good a chance of looking like an action hero as an A-lister.
Dive in, work hard, and make a change. This Ultimate Upper Body workout plan from Men's Health and celebrity trainer Ben Bruno is the first place to start. Want to learn more? Read on. If you're already sold, get started with the workout below.
How to Take on the Ultimate Upper Body Workout
If you're taking on the Ultimate Upper Body program, you’ll do three workouts a week (this is just one of them). Perform the workouts on the days that are most convenient for you. One rule: Avoid doing the workouts three days in a row.
The workout is comprised of three groups of exercises, which are composed of either two exercises (supersets) or three exercises (trisets). For supersets, do each pair of exercises—1A and 1B, for instance—in back-to-back fashion. Perform 1A for the prescribed number of reps, followed immediately by 1B for the prescribed number of reps. Rest for as long as you feel you need. That’s one set, or in this case, one superset. Repeat this procedure until you’ve performed all the prescribed sets of 1A and 1B. Then move on to the next group of exercises.
If there are three exercises in agroup—2A, 2B, and 2C, for instance—that’s a triset. This time, you’ll simplydo all three exercises before resting.Continue in this manner until you’vedone all of the exercises in the workout.
Each exercise includes the number of sets and reps you’ll perform. If you see “per side” after your reps—as in “4 sets of 8 reps per side”—that means you’re to do eight reps for each limb or each side of your body every time you do that exercise. You may also see“AMRAP,” which stands for “as many reps as possible.”
You’ll find that in some cases, you’re to do more sets of one exercise than the others. For example, you may be instructed to do 4 sets of 2A, but only 3 sets of 2B and 2C. Simply do 3 sets of each exercise, but then finish any extra sets of an exercise on its own. So you’d do three sets of 2A, 2B, and 2C in succession, and then finish that group per-forming a fourth set of only 2A.
Phase 1, Workout 1
Low-Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
4 sets of 8 reps
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie with your back on a bench set to a low incline (15 to 30 degrees). Lift the dumbbells up so they’re over your chin with your arms straight. Hold them with your palms turned to the front (thumbs facing each other). Slowly lower the weights to your upper chest, pause, and push them back up over your chin.
Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
4 sets of 10 reps
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie chest down on the bench set to a low incline. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, your palms facing each other. Without moving your torso, pull the 5weights to your sides. Pause, lower, and repeat.
Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift
4 sets of 5 reps
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Your knees should be slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Without rounding your lower back, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Pause and then rise to the starting position.
Dumbbell Single-Arm Row
3 sets of 10 reps per side
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, and place your left hand and left knee on a flat bench. Let the dumbbell hang at arm’s length from your shoulder. Pull the dumbbell to the side of your chest. Pause, and return to the starting position. Do all your reps, switch sides, and repeat.
Hanging Leg Raise
3 sets of 10 reps
- Hang from a pullup bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Keeping your legs straight and torso upright(don’t swing forward), raise your feet directly out in front of you. Pause, and lower your legs slowly to the starting position.
3 sets of AMRAP
- Assume a pushup position with your arms straight and your hands slightly beyond shoulder width. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position.
3 sets of 20 reps
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a resistance band overhand, with your arms straight out in front of your chest and parallel to the floor. Keeping your arms straight, slowly pull your hands back and out to your sides. The band should be tight and touching your chest. Pause, then reverse the move back to the starting position. Note: If you don’t have a large continuous loop resistance band, you can perform the chest-supported reverse fly instead.
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