Workout Reboot - Muscle & Performance

Workout Reboot

Been away from the gym for a while? No worries. Get back in the game with this six-week training program.
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How long has it been? 

Months? 

Years?

Life happens, and you’ve been slacking on getting your workouts in. There’s a good chance you’ve been loose with your diet, as well, because the two often go hand in hand. But we won’t dwell on that. It’s time to move on, which means it’s time for a training program to get you back on track, to “reboot” your system, so to speak. 

The following six-week plan will do just that. It starts off relatively easy, then gets a little tougher every couple of weeks until by the last week you’re in the thick of some serious training. At that point, your slacking streak will be history — as will much of your body fat. 

Program Breakdown

Weeks One to Two: Waking Up the Muscles

The first couple of weeks of the program aren’t meant for breaking records. If it’s been a while since you’ve frequented the gym, the goal at first should be simply to get back in the habit of working out. Besides, if you’re deconditioned (read: out of shape), it won’t take much for your body to get a sufficient workout. Being overly aggressive right out of the gate will do you no favors; the last thing you want to do is injure yourself and go right back to sitting on the sidelines. Think of these early sessions as a time for “waking up” the muscles and getting them reacquainted with resistance training. 

>You’ll train three days a week for the first two weeks, and training sessions will consist of basic exercises with relatively low volume and intensity. All large muscle groups will be hit (chest, back, shoulders, legs), while small bodyparts like arms and calves won’t be trained directly with isolation moves. The abs, however, will be trained as a means of engaging the core and stimulating everyone’s favorite beach muscles for some immediate gratification. The first training day of each week works the upper body, Day Two focuses on the lower body, and Day Three consists of a full-body workout that mimics circuit training, only with more rest between exercises to keep intensity levels in check.

Weeks Three to Four: Upping the Challenge

In these two weeks, the program takes a sizable step forward by introducing more intensity, higher volume and new exercises. You’ll train four days a week now. Days one and two are strength and hypertrophy sessions that introduce supersets. In these sessions, smaller bodyparts (biceps, triceps, calves) are worked into the program. 

The latter two days of the week are when exercise selection changes significantly. On Day Three (upper body), bodyweight exercises are emphasized to help you further develop size while also improving functional strength. On Day Four, a power move (box jumps) kicks off the workout, followed by a demanding walking lunge for size and stamina, then kettlebell swings, which touch on full-body conditioning with emphasis on the muscles of the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back). Box jumps and swings are a departure from traditional bodybuilding programming, but they’re great for boosting the metabolism for fat burning as well as improving athleticism. This final workout finishes with 10 minutes of high-intensity interval-training cardio, a highly efficient means of dropping body fat for a more defined physique. 

Weeks Five to Six: Getting Serious

With four weeks of training under your belt, volume and intensity will be ramped up once again; at this point, you’ll be full go in a training program. You’ll still work out four days a week, but the training split switches to a classic push/pull/legs scheme (only in a different order: push/legs/pull) plus a full-body circuit-training day to finish the week. On Day One, you’ll train the “pushing” muscles of the upper body (chest, shoulders, triceps). On Day Two, you’ll focus on the lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) and abs. On Day Three, you’ll work upper-body “pulling” muscles (back, biceps). Finally, on Day Four, you’ll train the entire body via high-intensity resistance-training circuits. It’s recommended that you take a day of rest between the third and fourth workouts of the week so your body is fully recovered and ready for the latter. 

Days one to three are geared toward building size and strength via straight sets, with the exception of calves and abs. Day Four focuses on conditioning (to improve cardiovascular function and burn fat) and gaining functional strength. HIIT cardio is implemented after both upper-body lifting sessions, and steady-state cardio is programmed on your lower-body day. These last two weeks build on practices introduced in weeks one to four, only with more work completed over the course of four days. 

Weeks One and Two

Day One (Monday): Upper Body

Warm-up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Incline Dumbbell Press

Day Two (Wednesday): Lower Body, Abs
Warm-Up Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity.

Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift

Day Three (Friday): Full Body 
Warm-Up: Do three sets of 10 to 15 burpees with as little rest as possible between sets. 

Weeks Three and Four

Day One (Monday): Upper Body (Strength/Size)
Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity.

One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

Day Two (Tuesday): Lower Body (Strength/Size), Abs
Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity plus two sets of light leg extensions.

Day Three (Thursday): Upper Body (Strength/Bodyweight)
Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity, followed by one to two sets each of push-ups and inverted rows. 

Day Four (Friday): Lower Body/Full Body (Power/Conditioning)
Warm-Up: Do three sets of 10 to 15 burpees with as little rest as possible between sets. 

Weeks Five and Six

Day One (Monday): Upper-Body Push

Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity.

Day Two (Tuesday): Legs, Abs

Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity plus two sets of light leg extensions.

Day Three (Wednesday): Upper-Body Pull
Warm-Up: Do 10 minutes of light cardio activity.

Day Four (Friday): Full-Body Circuits
Warm-Up: Do two sets of 10 to 15 burpees with as little rest as possible between sets. 

Circuit One (Dumbbells):

Growth Tips

Though specific exercises were selected for a reason, you have the freedom to substitute different moves for the ones prescribed in this program. If you’d rather do cable rows than dumbbell rows, that’s fine. Likewise for presses: Dumbbells, barbell or machine versions are all acceptable. If your gym doesn’t have a plyo box, do standard vertical jumps or standing broad jumps instead of box jumps. 

Unless otherwise noted in the workout charts, rest one to two minutes between straight sets. 

Pay close attention to how your body is feeling and alter your workouts accordingly. If the program feels too difficult, select less advanced exercises, take more rest between sets, do fewer sets per exercise than prescribed and/or bypass the HIIT cardio sessions until your fitness level improves. 

Developing greater flexibility will be an important factor going forward. Perform static stretching on the muscles and joints you just trained at the end of every workout. 

If you miss a workout for whatever reason, do that workout the next day and push the rest of the week’s workouts back. Because you’re only training three or four days a week, do workouts on the days that work best for you.