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New Year's Challenge 2019 Program Overview

Crush your fitness-related New Year's resolutions with this 6-week, 5-days-a-week training program.

New Year's Challenge

With the holiday season behind us, it’s a New Year now. And if you’re not currently satisfied with your physique and your fitness, maybe it’s time for a NEW YOU in 2019.

If you promised yourself you’d get in shape last New Year but didn’t see it through, it’s time to put that behind you and focus on the present with my 4th annual New Year's Challenge – a comprehensive training, nutrition, and supplement program that will make you leaner, bigger, stronger, and better conditioned in just six weeks.

If that sounds like the new YOU that you’d like to experience, whether you made official New Year’s Resolutions or not, this is your plan. This year will be different than last. You’ll change your body through proper nutrition and a science-based training program that mixes a proven periodization model with a variety of intensity-boosting techniques.

I’m a bit of a rebel in the world of fitness and strength-training. While many experts will tell you that you can’t lose fat and build muscle at the same time, thousands of JYM Army members are living proof that it is indeed possible. If other programs have failed to deliver the results you wanted, it’s time for something new. New Year, New You.

New Year's Training Split

The New Year's Challenge program employs my Stoppani Full-Split training system, which combines body part split training and whole-body workouts to deliver both muscle gains and fat loss. In each workout, you’ll not only train the focus muscle groups for that day, but you’ll also hit the other major muscle groups with one exercise each to get BIGGER and leaner in the New Year.

For the split training aspect of the program, I’ve broken the body up into two workouts (a two-day split, essentially). In Workout 1, the focus muscle groups are chest, back, triceps, biceps, forearms, and abs; in Workout 2, the focus muscle groups are legs, shoulders, calves, and traps. All 10 major muscle groups will still be trained in all workouts, just with lower volume prescribed for the non-focus bodyparts in each session.

You’ll do these split workouts twice a week for a total of four split-training sessions. I recommend you do them on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, leaving Wednesday available for a non-split workout. I’ll be referring to the “second round” of the split workouts (Thursday and Friday) as “Workout 4” and “Workout 5,” since they involve different exercises for each muscle group than do Workouts 1 and 2.

Why am I not referring to them as Workouts 3 and 4? Because I’ve included a full-body-only dynamic training day to follow Workout 2, before you go back to the split training workout for chest, back, triceps, biceps, forearms, and abs the following day.

The dynamic workout will involve light weight and low rep counts, but all sets will be performed with fast, explosive reps to help you build a new more powerful body in 2019.

Program Overview

All workouts in the New Year's Challenge program – day by day, week by week – can be found later in this article as graphic charts. And then you can download all workouts to your mobile device using the hyperlink at the very bottom of the article. But before that, here's a rundown of the different aspects of the program design, plus some guidelines to follow during the workouts...

Workouts 1, 2, 4, 5 –  Linear Periodized Microcycles

The split workouts (Workouts 1, 2, 4, and 5) follow a linear periodized microcycle scheme for three weeks, and then it repeats for a total of six weeks. Here’s how the reps will progress from week-to-week:

Week 1: 15 reps per set.

Week 2: 10 reps per set, with weight increasing on all exercises from Week 1.

Week 3: 5 reps per set, with weight increasing on all exercises from Week 2.

Week 4: 15 reps per set, with heavier weights than you used in Week 1.

Week 5: 10 reps per set, with heavier weights than you used in Week 2.

Week 6: 5 reps per set, with heavier weights than you used in Week 3.

As you see, the rep counts are the same for Weeks 4, 5, and 6 as they were the first three weeks, but you should be stronger in the second half of the program from the training you did in the first half (Weeks 1-3), so plan on using heavier loads to finish. How about a stronger you in 2019?!

Hitting Your Rep Counts

Keep in mind that you don't have to hit the exact rep count listed on every set. If you're within one rep of the prescribed listing, you're doing fine and can stick with the same weight. For example, if it says 10 reps and you failed at 9, that's close enough. Or, if you did 11 reps (to failure), that's fine, too.

Think about the rep counts more as ranges, where 5 reps basically means anywhere in the 4-6 range; 10 reps means 9-11; and 15 reps means 14-16. That said, if you're only hitting 7 or 8 reps on the 10-rep sets, you should definitely drop the weight a little bit so that you're failing at 9-11 reps; likewise, if you're able to get 12 or more reps on those 10-rep sets, add some weight.

The one exception here is on supersets, specifically after the first set. If the superset calls for, say, 10 reps per exercise, that should be your guide for set #1. If you're doing one or two more sets of the superset after that, however, chances are you won't hit the same reps you did in set #1. That's okay, even if you fall slightly outside of the 9-11-rep range on subsequent sets.

Don't get too caught up in hitting every rep count on the nose. The most important thing is that you're doing the workouts consistently, hitting the volume and intensity, and taking sets to failure.

Intensity Techniques for Better Results

Each of the four split workouts (Workouts 1, 2, 4, and 5) employs multiple intensity techniques to help maximize muscle mass and strength gains while simultaneously enhancing fat-burning and minimizing time spent in the gym.

The three main techniques utilized in the program are supersets, extended sets, and staggered sets. And don’t worry, I designed the workouts such that they can be done in even the busiest gym, assuming you’ll be training among many newbies this January as people flock to health clubs to tackle their New Year’s resolutions.

I’ll use Workout 1 to illustrate the different techniques in the program...

Intensity Technique #1: Supersets

You’ll start the workout by supersetting bench press (chest) and barbell bent-over rows (back), staying right there at the bench press station for both exercises so you don’t lose your bench.

Intensity Technique #2: Extended Sets

After three quick bench press/row supersets, you’ll move to a variety of dumbbell presses in extended set fashion. In case you’re unfamiliar with an extended set, it entails doing multiple variations of a common movement one after the other to failure, starting with the hardest variation and getting progressively easier. You don’t rest between exercises within an extended set, nor do you change the weight; because the movement gets easier, you should still be able to bang out some reps after each variation change.

You’ll start this first extended set with incline dumbbell presses. Choose a weight that limits you on this exercise to the prescribed number of reps for that week (15, 10, or 5).

Important training note: The first exercise in each extended set is the ONLY one on which you need to hit the prescribed rep range (or close to it). All following movements in the extended set (in this case, dumbbell flat-bench and dumbbell decline presses) are to be done to failure, whatever the rep count ends up being.

Here’s how an entire extended set will work, using the same three exercises and the Week 1 workout as an example: Do incline dumbbell presses to failure, hitting at or close to 15 reps; then, immediately lower the adjustable bench to the flat position and rep out on dumbbell presses with the same weight until hitting failure again; then, immediately change the bench, or quickly move to a decline bench, and perform decline dumbbell presses to failure, using the same weight you used on both incline and flat-bench press. At that point, you’re done with those three exercises (one complete extended set).

Intensity Technique #3: Staggered Sets

After reaching failure on decline presses, chest gets a quick break as you repeat the extended set technique for back on the lat pulldown station – wide-grip pulldowns to narrow-grip pulldowns to reverse-grip pulldowns, no rest between variations and the same weight used.

You can consider this a form of staggered set, which is technically defined as training one muscle group during rest periods of another body part. In this case, you’re training back while your chest is resting. 

Next up are single-limb staggered sets. You’ll start with chest, doing one-arm low-pulley cable crossovers. Set the weight so that you hit failure at the prescribed rep count or close to it. Once you hit failure with the arm you started with, immediately switch to the other arm and perform reps to failure. Immediately move back to the arm you started with and again perform reps with the same weight until failure. Continue in this fashion until all arms have completed 3 sets to failure.

Then, do a staggered set by moving to the same technique for back on the one-arm seated cable row.

Intensity Techniques for Smaller Muscle Groups

After a total of nine sets for chest and nine sets for back, done in a matter of minutes, it’s time to move to arms. The same workout pattern follows, only with two sets in the one-arm staggered sets instead of three, since you’re training smaller muscle groups now (biceps and triceps).

The other smaller muscle groups in this workout – forearms and abs ­– get just two supersets and two one-limb staggered sets, and no extended sets.

Rest Periods Within Split Workouts

With supersets and staggered sets, there’s no rest between the two or three exercises, respectively. But after each superset (ie, bench press and bent-over rows), feel free to take a 1-minute rest. If you want to speed up the workout, however, cut that down to 30 seconds between supersets or no rest at all. Same applies to staggered sets where more than one set is prescribed.

After your last superset or staggered set for a group of exercises, rest only as long as it takes to set up for the next exercise. Same with extended sets, which only call for one set per movement – go right into setting up for the next exercise.

4-Minute Muscle Finisher

Each focus workout follows with either four or six exercises for the remaining non-focus muscle groups. These full-body portions, however, employ a different training technique than the linear periodized microcycle followed by the split training.

Workouts 1 and 2 use my 4-Minute Muscle technique to better condition the muscles and enhance recovery. Here, your goal is to complete as many reps as you can on the listed exercise in four minutes.

Select a weight that limits you to 12-15 reps, and aim to complete at least 36 to 45 reps in the four minutes. If you can’t compete at least 36, pick a lighter weight the next time. Once you can complete more than 45 reps, increase the weight 5-10 pounds the next time you do that workout.

Super Slow Reps for More Muscle

The full-body portions in Workouts 4 and 5 use my Super Slow technique to increase time under tension (TUT) and promote muscle growth.

On these sets, select a weight that’s about 50% of your 10-rep max for that exercise. If you can’t perform the prescribed reps with that weight, go lighter. If it feels far too easy, increase the weight.

Each rep should take 5 seconds to complete on the positive portion and 5 seconds on the negative. In Week 1, you’ll start with 2 sets of 2-3 reps. Each week, the weight stays the same (unless you can’t perform the prescribed number of reps or it’s far too easy) and volume increases as follows:

Week 1: 2 sets x 2-3 reps

Week 2: 3 x 2-3

Week 3: 2 x 4-5

Week 4: 3 x 4-5

Week 5: 2 x 6-7

Week 6: 3 x 6-7

Workout 3 – Power Day

Workout 3 (Wednesday if you’re following a typical Monday-Friday training schedule) is a full-body dynamic workout to enhance muscular power, which will support gains in both strength and size.

For each exercise (listed in the below workout charts), pick a weight that’s about 50% of your 10-rep max (10RM) for that exercise. Every rep should be performed as fast and explosive as possible on the concentric (positive) portion and controlled and deliberate on the eccentric (negative) phase. And keep in mind, because you’re training for speed and power, you’ll be stopping well short of failure on all sets. Recovery is important, too, so rest 1-2 minutes between all sets.

In Week 1, you’ll do 2 sets of 2-3 reps. Each week will progress like this:

Week 1: 2 x 2-3

Week 2: 3 x 2-3

Week 3: 2 x 4-5

Week 4: 3 x 4-5

Week 5: 2 x 6-7

Week 6: 3 x 6-7

Optional Active Recovery Workouts for Off Days

For the New Year's Challenge program, I’m including two optional active rest day workouts for those of you having trouble deciding what to do on off days (ie, Days 6 and 7, or Saturday and Sunday).

As you may know, I do NOT recommend being a couch potato on non-training days. Do something active. It doesn’t have to involve the gym. Go for a hike, or a bike ride, or participate in your favorite recreational sport. It can be whatever form of exercise you want.

Of course, if you’re up for another gym workout or two, that’s great. Here are two “active rest” workouts I recommend...

1) Medicine Ball Blast

Option 1 is another dynamic workout that uses my Upper Body Med Ball Blast Workout concept. You’ll do the same six exercises as in the original workout, plus an additional two exercises (Depth Jump and Medicine Ball Slam), but with different sets and reps.

Like the other dynamic workout (Workout 3), the routine progresses in volume slightly each week of the program, as follows:

Week 1: 2 x 2-3

Week 2: 3 x 2-3

Week 3: 2 x 4-5

Week 4: 3 x 4-5

Week 5: 2 x 6-7

Week 6: 3 x 6-7

2) Tabata Builder

Another option is a full-body workout using my Tabata Builder program to help encourage greater muscle endurance and recovery between sets. Here, you start with 2+2 rounds in Week 1; jump to 4+2 rounds in Week 2; then 5+2 rounds in Week 3; 6+2 rounds in Week 4; 7+2 rounds in Week 5; and all 8 straight rounds in Week 6.

(If you’re unfamiliar with how the “+2” rounds work, it’s all explained in the Tabata Builder program overview – use the above link to read that article.)

Cardio in the New Year

Those of you looking to maximize fat loss to start the year are probably wondering about cardio. The New Year's Challenge workouts are fast-paced and intense enough to make additional cardio training not totally necessary, especially if you’re also doing the above active rest workouts on off days.

That said, if you’re dead set on doing extra cardio, you can work it into the program a few different ways:

  1. HIIT workouts at the end of lifting sessions. This can consist of Tabatas, standard HIIT intervals, or even Power HIIT, all of which are covered in this Complete Cardio article.
  2. Cardioacceleration during Workouts 1, 2, 4, and 5 in place of rest periods between supersets and staggered sets, and even between extended sets as you move from one muscle group to the next. In Workout 3, cardioacceleration can be done between power sets, since those are essentially straight sets.
  3. HIIT workouts on off days. If you’re doing the Tabata Builder workout on an off day, you have your cardio covered there. Otherwise, you can do any of the aforementioned HIIT workouts (Tabatas, intervals, Power HIIT) or active rest day sessions like my Lucky 13 circuit on weekends/off days.

Make the Program Your Own

The workouts you see in the below charts are the ones that I’m personally doing myself. Mind you, I have over 30 years of serious training experience, and this is what I need to do to stay photo-shoot-ready all year round.

If you don’t have as much experience as me, or you’re currently not in great shape, these workouts may be too much for you. That’s perfectly fine. You’re always free to adjust any of my programs to fit your individual fitness level.

The simplest way to do this is to decrease training volume. What does this mean? It means to do fewer sets for each exercise than is listed in the workout.

For example, let’s start with Week 1, Workout 1, and the first exercise pairing: supersets of bench press and barbell bent-over rows. I have 3 sets listed there, meaning you do a set of bench, immediately followed by rows, rest briefly, then repeat two more times.

Three sets per exercise is typical for much of the New Year’s Challenge program, and that’s the right amount of volume for ME. But if it’s too much for you, start by knocking that 3 sets down to 1 set. So, for that bench press-barbell row pairing, do one set of each (as a superset), then move onto the next set of exercises – in this case an extended set of incline, flat-bench, and decline dumbbell presses.

It’s that simple. Do 1 set of each exercise instead of 3. If that’s challenging for you, good. Stick with it. When it becomes easier, increase to 2 sets per exercise. Eventually, you’ll want to try and get up to the full volume (3 sets), but don’t rush it. As long as the workouts are pushing you hard and you’re consistent and not missing workouts, the results will come.

A good way to do it is to reassess where you are after each week. In Week 1, just do one set of each exercise and see how you feel. If that felt manageable and you think you can handle more, go up to two sets in Week 2 in all instances where three sets are listed. At the end of Week 2, reassess once again. If two sets kicked your butt, stay there for at least another week.

It’s better to do too little than too much.


New Year's Challenge Workouts

Download All Workouts Here

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Download All Workouts Here



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