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Beginner to Advanced: Phase 1 Overview

A detailed breakdown of Phase 1 of my Beginner to Advanced training program

Beginner to Advanced: Phase 1 Overview

In the first 3-week phase of Beginner to Advanced, you’ll be introduced to 8 classic movements, each one targeting a major muscle group of the body. The order of the exercises are designed to complement each other and allow assistance muscles to rest before making them the main focus in later exercises. This routine will be repeated 3 times each week, for a total of 9 times by the end of Phase 1. 

Exercise 1 – Bench Press

Targeted Muscles 

Pectoralis Major and Minor (Pecs, Chest)

Assistance Muscles 

Anterior Deltoid (Delt, Front Shoulder), Triceps Brachii (Triceps, Back of the Upper Arm)

Bench Press Overview and Instruction

Set and Rep Scheme

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Rest Periods

2-3 minutes

The Bench Press is one of the most well-recognized weightlifting exercises. While in later weeks of the program you’ll be performing chest exercises at different angles to better emphasize certain portions of the chest muscles, here you’ll be doing classic flat bench presses to train your nervous system to synchronize muscle contractions in your pectoral muscles, as well as assistance muscles like your anterior or front deltoids, and your triceps. These muscle groups working in sync with each other are what make the pressing movement of the bench press possible. 

To perform the bench press, lie face up on a bench press bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Be sure to maintain five points of contact at all times: Each foot on the floor, and your hips, shoulders, and head on the bench. Additionally, retract your shoulder blades by squeezing them together. This will enable you to better stretch and engage the muscle fibers in your chest for better overall strength and impact. 

With enough weight to limit you to 10 to 12 repetitions loaded onto the bar, unrack the bar and slowly lower it toward your chest. Keep your wrists aligned with your elbows and your elbows out to your sides at roughly a 45-degree angle.

When the bar just touches your chest, press back up explosively, driving the weight away from you until your arms are almost completely straightened. Repeat until you’ve reached 10 to 12 repetitions, rerack the bar, and rest for 2 to 3 minutes before beginning your next set.  

Exercise 2 – Barbell Bent-Over Row

Targeted Muscles 

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats, Sides of the Back) 

Assistance Muscles 

Middle Trapezius (Traps, Top of the Back), Teres Major and Minor, Rhomboids (Upper Back), Erector Spinae (Lower and Middle Back), Biceps Brachii (Biceps, Front Upper Arm)

Barbell Bent-Over Row Overview and Instruction

Set and Rep Scheme

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Rest Periods

2-3 minutes

The Barbell Bent-Over Row is a classic and comprehensive lift that involves a number of muscle groups, but primarily focuses on the muscles of the upper back. There are other back exercises which can be used to target these muscles more specifically, but the bent-over row is perfect for beginners because of the way it incorporates so many muscle fibers in a single movement. 

To perform this movement, start with a barbell on the floor or positioned low in a power rack if you prefer, loaded with enough weight to limit you to 10 to 12 reps. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Bend forward from the hips, keeping your torso just above parallel to the floor and your chest lifted to maintain the natural arch in your back. Take an overhand grip on the bar, hands just outside shoulder-width. 

Pull the bar into your lower abs, contract your lats and middle-back muscles hard, then slowly lower the bar all the way down to full arm extension. Repeat the movement until you’ve hit 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 2 to 3 minutes before moving on to your next set. 

Exercise 3 – Squat

Targeted Muscles 

Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius (Quadriceps Femoris or Quads, Front Thigh), Gluteus Maximus (Glutes, Buttocks)

Assistance...

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