12 Week Workout Program

Everyday I get dozens of e-mail & comments from folks asking me all sorts of exercise related questions such as:

– How many days per week should I workout?
– How many exercises should I do for each body part?
– How many sets and reps should I do?
– Should I lift heavy weights / low reps or light weights / high reps?
– How often should I train each body part?
– Etc. Etc. Etc…

The challenge is that there is no “Right” or “Wrong” answer to these questions. There are countless variables that come into play when designing a workout program for someone; (i.e. level of training experience, individual fitness goals, previous workout routines, etc.)

In this blog post I’m going to cover this topic in more detail, my main goal is to try and clear up some of the confusion about working out. While providing you with a sample 12 week workout program that you can follow to make some solid muscle and strength gains.

Like I already mentioned, there is really no RIGHT or WRONG way to workout. You could ask 10 different bodybuilders to explain their workout routine and most likely you would get 10 different answers.

“Everything works, but nothing works forever.”

That is probably the most important thing to remember for making consistent progress with your workouts. You can follow most any type of workout routine and you will make good progress for the first few weeks (provided that you are getting adequate nutrition, rest, etc.). But generally after a few weeks of following a set workout program your progress will start to slow down and eventually you will no longer make progress with that routine.

Our bodies are very smart and naturally accommodate to stress. Your body will add as little muscle as necessary to get the job done. This is why construction workers get only big enough to handle the exact amount of work they do during a days work and no bigger, even though they are doing physical work All Day Long.

Adding muscle is a very unnatural thing to your body. You must constantly throw “curve balls” at your muscles to get them to grow. Generally, you will make the best progress for the first 3 weeks of starting a new workout routine. After 3 weeks your body starts to adapt and your progress will slow down.

Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t continue making progress after 3 weeks of following a particular program. But for the most part you’ll see your fastest results (i.e. muscle gains, strength gains, or fat loss) during the first few weeks of starting a new routine.

So to maximize these mini 3 week growth spurts, I designed the following workout program into 4 different 3-week workout cycles that you’ll follow back-to-back in order to make a 12 week workout program.

This program requires you to workout 4 days per week. Ideally you would workout on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. And rest on Wednesday’s and weekends. But if this doesn’t fit your schedule you can workout on other days of the week. Just make sure that you do not workout for more then 2 days in a row before taking a day off.

By doing this you will give your body plenty of time for recuperation and muscle growth. Muscles do not grow while you are working out; they grow while you are resting. Working out will stress and damage the muscles slightly. Then your body reacts by building up the muscles in order to handle the extra work and stress.


Note:
With each of the exercises do as many warm up sets as you need to get to your top working weight. Then perform the required sets and reps with the same weight.

For example:
So let’s just say your top weight for 5 sets of 5 reps is 100 lbs.

– Do one warm up set with 50 lbs.
– Do another warm up with 75 lbs.
– Then go to your top weight of 100 lbs. and perform 5 x 5 with 100 lbs.

If you get all 5 x 5 with good form, then up the weight to 105 lbs. for your next workout and repeat the process.

If you can’t get all 5 x 5 or you found them extremely difficult, keep the same weight for your next workout.



The 12 Week Workout Program

Weeks 1, 2, and 3 do the following weekly workout routine.

====================================

Monday: (start with five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Squats:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Dead lifts:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Standing calve raises:
– 5 sets of 10 reps

Hanging leg raises:
– 5 sets of 10+ reps*

Incline sit ups:
– 5 sets of 20+ reps*

*You can super set the leg raises and sit ups back and forth.

====================================

Tuesday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Incline barbell bench press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Seated dumbbell shoulder press:
– 5 sets of 8 reps

Bicep cable curls: (from low pulley)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Tricep push downs: (using straight bar attachment)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Bent over dumbbell lateral raises:
– 3 sets of 10-15 reps

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

====================================

Thursday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Leg press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Leg curls:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Wide grip pull downs:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Hyper extensions:
– 4 sets of 15 reps (add weight if needed)

Pull down ab crunches:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

====================================

Friday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Incline dumbbell bench press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell side lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Bicep dumbbell curls:
– 4 sets of 12 reps*

Tricep push downs: (with rope attachment)
– 4 sets of 12 reps*

Barbell upright rows:
– 3 sets of 15 reps

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

Keep records of the exercises, weights, sets, and reps that you do. Each workout try to beat what you did for your previous workout. With the squat, dead lift, and incline barbell bench press try to add 5 lbs. to the bar each week and do the same number of sets and reps.



Weeks 4, 5, and 6 do the following workout routine.

Monday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Bent over barbell rows:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 8 reps

Barbell shoulder shrugs:
– 5 sets of 10 reps

Leg extensions:
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Leg curls:
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Seated calve raise:
– 5 sets of 10 reps

Incline sit ups:
– 3 sets of 15+ reps

*You can super set leg extensions and leg curls back and forth.

====================================

Tuesday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Decline barbell bench press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Seated barbell shoulder press: (i.e. military press)
– 5 sets of 8 reps

Preacher barbell curls:
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Lying tricep extensions: (with the EZ bar)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Cable upright rows: (from the low pulley)
– 3 sets of 15 reps

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

====================================

Thursday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Hack Squat:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Stiff leg dead lifts:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Seated cable rows:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Leg raises:
– 4 sets of 12 reps

Crunches:
– 4 sets of 25+ reps

====================================

Friday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Flat dumbbell bench press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell front lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Bicep barbell curls:
– 4 sets of 12 reps*

Tricep push downs: (with V bar attachment)
– 4 sets of 12 reps*

Close grip pull downs:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

Keep records of the exercises, weights, sets, and reps that you do. Each workout try to beat what you did for your previous workout. With the decline bench press and the bent barbell row try to add 5 lbs. to the bar each week and do the same number of sets and reps.



Weeks 7, 8, and 9 do the following workout routine.

Monday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Squats:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Partial Dead lifts: (use a power rack and set the bar just below your knees)
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Chin ups:
– 4 sets of as many reps as you can do

Pull down ab crunches:
– 5 sets of 10 reps

Leg raises:
– 5 sets of 10 reps

====================================

Tuesday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Flat barbell bench press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Bent over dumbbell lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell side lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell front lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Bicep cable curls: (from low pulley)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Tricep push downs: (using straight bar attachment)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

====================================

Thursday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Hack Squat:
– do a couple lighter warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 10 reps

Leg press:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Chest supported row: (i.e. T-bar row, hammer strength seated row, etc.)
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Hyper extensions:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Pull down ab crunches:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

====================================

Friday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Dumbbell bench press on the stability ball:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Dumbbell shoulder press sitting on the stability ball:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

EZ bar bicep curls:
– 4 sets of 15 reps*

One arm over head dumbbell extensions:
– 4 sets of 15 reps*

One arm dumbbell rows:
– 3 sets of 15 reps

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

Keep records of the exercises, weights, sets, and reps that you do. Each workout try to beat what you did for your previous workout. With the squat, partial dead lift, and flat barbell bench press try to add 5 lbs. to the bar each week and do the same number of sets and reps.



Weeks 10, 11, and 12 do the following workout routine.

Monday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Leg press:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Stiff leg dead lifts:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Wide grip pull downs:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Incline sit ups:
– 5 sets of 15 reps

Leg raises:
– 5 sets of 15 reps

====================================

Tuesday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Dips: (add extra weight if needed)
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 5 sets of 5 reps (train heavy, but don’t train to failure)

Chin ups:
– 4 sets of as many reps as you can do. If you can do more then 10 reps, add weight.

Side lateral raises:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Seated barbell shoulder press: (i.e. military press)
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Bicep dumbbell preacher curls:
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

Tricep push downs: (using rope attachment)
– 5 sets of 10 reps*

*You can super set biceps and triceps back and forth.

====================================

Thursday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Squats:
– do a couple light warm up sets first
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Leg curls:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Leg extensions:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Seated cable rows:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Standing calve raise:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

Pull down ab crunches:
– 4 sets of 15 reps

====================================

Friday: (five minutes of light cardio to warm up)

Push ups with feet elevated on the stability ball:
– 4 sets of as many reps as you can do

Seated dumbbell shoulder press:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

Standing one arm dumbbell curls:
– 4 sets of 10 reps*

One arm over head dumbbell extensions:
– 4 sets of 10 reps*

Close grip pull downs:
– 4 sets of 10 reps

(*Super set the curls with the over head tricep extensions. For example, set of curls with one arm, set of curls with the other arm, set of extensions with one arm, set of extensions with the other arm, with no rest in between.)

Keep records of the exercises, weights, sets, and reps that you do. Each workout try to beat what you did for your previous workout. With the weighted dips and leg press try to add 5 lbs. to the bar each week and do the same number of sets and reps.



Conclusion…

Each 3 week phase of the 12 week program is different. As the weeks progress you’ll be focusing on training the muscles with different exercises during each phase. And the reps you perform for the exercises will vary during the weekly workouts. This will ensure that the muscle stimulation provided is unique and fresh and this will help to keep your body on the “anabolic edge” for maximum muscle growth. Training like this will allow you to make consistent progress over the long term.

These short training cycles work perfectly with our body’s natural adaption and growth patterns. Like I mentioned before, our bodies are very smart and quickly accommodate to stress. Adding muscle is a very unnatural thing to your body, so you have to constantly throw “curve balls” at your muscles in order to get them to respond to your workouts and grow.


Taking Your Muscular Development To The Next Level…

After you complete this 12 week workout program you can go through the entire program again and strive to beat your personal best lifts from the first time through. Or if you want, you can move on to something totally different to better suit your training needs.

And if you are looking for a more advanced and in depth training & nutrition coaching, then I’d recommend you sign up for the Total Fitness Bodybuilding “Inner Circle” Coaching Club.

This is a private members only club where you can work directly with me and get personalized help with reaching your muscle building and fitness goals. As a member you’ll get set up with your very own diet and workout program for building muscle, burning bodyfat, and quickly achieving your personal fitness goals.

To learn more about the Total Fitness Bodybuilding “Inner Circle” Coaching Club and get started with a risk free 8 week trial, just click on the link below:
www.TotalFitnessBodybuilding.com



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About The Author

leehayward

Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you... lee@leehayward.com

72 Comments

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  • Shaun Rogers

    Very impressive Lee, I have always followed your workout videos. After having a few months off I am now going to use this 12 week workout program to get me back into shape. This will give me the structure I need to successfully maintain my training and focus properly whilst at the same time getting stronger and adding more muscle mass.

  • roy gibson

    looks good lee. roll on the new year to try this out. been doing the same thing for 8 weeks now so good time for a change.

  • There have been hundreds of people over the years use this 12 week program with solid results. You can rest assured that you’ll come out bigger, stronger, and more muscular after 12 week of strictly following this program.

    Keep me posted with your results!

  • Tris

    Really appreciate it Lee, ill be giving this a go and show you my results.

    cheers mate,
    your muscle building student from Ireland 🙂

  • Steve

    Lee How would I set this up if I can only get to the gym Monday – Thursday. With my work schedule i can only get to the gym on those days. I work 18 hours a day so i dont get to the gym until around midnight. I’m 51 years old and i’m looking to get in the best shape i can. Thanks for all the help

  • So why do everybody’s different workouts, work. Or do they? We the human race are learning more with every new study the science of “muscle hypertrophy physiology” and its getting really interesting. work a muscle, (it doesn’t know if the weight is heavy or light) max it out. rest it 48 hrs and work it again, optimum. Or less for less. Muscles are lazy they go as small as you let them. time and effort = change. how much change= how much time+effort. simple right?
    Don’t forget balance, tendons ligament need reps to strengthen, muscles strengthen faster than tendons and ligaments. Joints need proper balance, strong muscles that pull in one direction without the antagonist muscles balance creates pain and problems. get it right and your a dude, get it wrong and your finished.

    later, check through all these related websites for the pearls of wisdom, save your money there ain’t no silver bullet

  • John Moore

    I have been following your advise for sometime now and I must be honost,I am 53 years old and your training advise is awsome. I have been body building for 15 years now and I am making fantastic progress on your training tips. I am 5ft 7ins and weigh 95 KG
    Thanks for your help really appreciate it.

    John

  • Guðmundur Pétursson

    Hi there Lee
    I have followed programs in the gym for years and keep journal. I have followed MGS from JF for 2+ years and now I have finished Blast your bench, and i am in week 7 of this 12 week program.
    Great workout plan, great to combine low/high reps, great to divide body mostly to 2 days and take each 2x per week, … and great selection of exersices. The only downside is that you really really have to keep the speed up to be able to finish in less then an hour … and i usually keep my pace up 😉
    Great program for strength ( the fast twitch muscle fibers ) and allso the 12-15x reps are great for muscular endurance and the slow twitch muscle fibers … which is the most change for me.
    Again … GREAT stuff
    Regards from Iceland 😉

  • Glenn

    Lee,

    I’m 59 years old and in my 3rd year of body building. I’ve been following you’re advice since the beginning (thank you) to build a plan that fits my schedule and circumstance. I’ve made good gains and use my before and after pictures to stay motivated.

    My question to you is in regard to rest periods between workouts for each muscle group. My last upper body “push” routine was Thursday as follows;

    Push-ups, wide elevated
    Flat Bench Press
    Dumbbell Flys
    Dips
    Triceps extension, DUMBELLS
    Push-ups, narrow

    Today is Monday and I’m still a bit sore (pecs and triceps); should I work this muscle group again at 4 days rest even though I am still sore or should I wait until the soreness is completely gone? I do a full warm-up plus cardio before each workout.

    Thanks again for your help,

    Glenn

    P.S. Due to naturally occurring joint pain (shoulders & knees primarily) I target 12 reps with lower weights instead of low rep / high weight for maximum gain.

  • Jim

    This is a great workout. I BOUGHT this workout some time ago and I’ve cycled throught it twice.
    I used a specialization workout inbetween the 12 week cycle.

    I am unable to workout more than 3 tmes a week, so this workout takes longer than 12 weeks for me to complete. But, it is the best workout I have ever done. It’s never boring and I always look forward to it.

    I should know, I’m a former Korean War U.S. Marine Sergeant; now 78 years old with two titanium hips and I haven’t missed a workout in almost 3 years.

    Lee, your advice and approach to nutritoin and bodybuilding is surpassed by no one.

    All the Best – Jim

  • Steve:
    Lee How would I set this up if I can only get to the gym Monday – Thursday. With my work schedule i can only get to the gym on those days. I work 18 hours a day so i dont get to the gym until around midnight. I’m 51 years old and i’m looking to get in the best shape i can. Thanks for all the help

    =============

    You could follow the exact same workouts, just space them out so that you workout twice a week. This would make the entire program a 24 week program, but you will still make gains from following it.

  • mike:
    So why do everybody’s differentworkouts, work. Or do they? We the human race are learning more with every new study the science of “muscle hypertrophy physiology” and its getting really interesting.work a muscle, (it doesn’t know if the weight is heavy or light)max it out.rest it 48 hrs and work it again, optimum.Or less for less.Muscles are lazy they go as small as you let them.time and effort = change.how much change= how much time+effort. simple right?
    Don’t forget balance, tendons ligament need reps to strengthen, muscles strengthen faster than tendons and ligaments. Joints need proper balance, strong muscles that pull in one direction without the antagonist muscles balance creates pain and problems.get it right and your a dude, get it wrong and your finished.

    later,check through all these related websites for the pearls of wisdom, save your money there ain’t no silver bullet

    ==============

    The key to building muscle is providing unique muscle stimulation so that your body has to adapt and grow. So if done properly literally any type of training split could provide unique muscle stimulation.

    For example, if you are always doing heavy weight low rep workouts in the gym. Then decide to change things up and do lighter weight, higher rep workouts then you have just provided your body with totally unique muscle stimulation and thus you’ll experience a new growth spurt just from this change in training.

  • Glenn:
    Lee,

    I’m 59 years old and in my 3rd year of body building. I’ve been following you’re advice since the beginning (thank you) to build a plan that fits my schedule and circumstance. I’ve made good gains and use my before and after pictures to stay motivated.

    My question to you is in regard to rest periods between workouts for each muscle group. My last upper body “push” routine was Thursday as follows;

    Push-ups,wide elevated
    Flat Bench Press
    Dumbbell Flys
    Dips
    Triceps extension,DUMBELLS
    Push-ups,narrow

    Today is Monday and I’m still a bit sore (pecs and triceps); should I work this muscle group again at 4 days rest even though I am still sore or should I wait until the soreness is completely gone? I do a full warm-up plus cardio before each workout.

    Thanks again for your help,

    Glenn

    P.S. Due to naturally occurring joint pain (shoulders & knees primarily) I target 12 reps with lower weights instead of low rep / high weight for maximum gain.

    =================

    In your situation at age 59 I’d recommend taking an extra rest day if you are still sore from your previous workout. You can do cardio and stretching workouts in the mean time if you still want to keep active. But I wouldn’t train the same muscle group again until the soreness is gone.

  • Mark

    Lee, about how long should this workout take to complete?

  • Mark

    Mark,

    Mark:
    Lee, about how long should this workout take to complete?

    I mean how long should it take on each day. Obviously the program takes 12 weeks, but approximately how long should I plan to be at the gym each day?

  • I can’t wait to start using this. I check out some of the things on your site and there usally very helpful. I do pretty good myself, But i’m the kind of guy who needs to be told what to do, like a trainer. s far as reps changes etc. Thanks

  • BIG JOE

    sounds great il give it a try thanks.

  • Vin

    Lee,

    How much time should i take between sets?

    I’m a little concerned that this isn’t strenuous enough. Are 5 reps really enough?

    There is very little chest in this program. Would it be beneficial if I include 100 pushups every morning

  • Aleksander Stavne

    Hello Lee! Very impressive workout routine !
    I bet this routine is excellent for those who are going to the GYM. I myself do not go to the GYM. I workout at home “ghetto style” with benchpress and bar only. So If you could make a routine for those of us who don’t go to the GYM, and don’t have much more than our body to work with that would be amazing! Thank you very much 🙂

  • Tim

    Your program was awesome Lee. It is time for me to get in track and do this program this new year. Merry X’mas & happy new year Lee.

  • Mark:
    Lee, about how long should this workout take to complete?

    ======================

    It will vary from workout to workout, but you should be able to get it all done within an hour.

  • Vin:
    Lee,

    How much time should i take between sets?

    I’m a little concerned that this isn’t strenuous enough.Are 5 reps really enough?

    There is very little chest in this program.Would it be beneficial if I include 100 pushups every morning

    =======================

    For big power moves (i.e. the 5 x 5 exercises) rest 3 minutes between sets.

    For the smaller moves you can rest between 1 and 2 minutes between sets.

    I personally wouldn’t add anything to this workout. The thing that’s going to make or break this (or any workout) is the effort you put into it.

    Trust me, doing 5 x 5 workouts are NOT easy. The low reps mean that you can use heavier weights and this will stimulate muscle fibers that you never touch with the typical higher rep workout programs.

  • Aleksander Stavne:
    Hello Lee! Very impressive workout routine !
    I bet this routine is excellent for those who are going to the GYM. I myself do not go to the GYM. I workout at home “ghetto style” with benchpress and bar only. So If you could make a routine for those of us who don’t go to the GYM, and don’t have much more than our body to work with that would be amazing! Thank you very much :)

    ===================

    Check out my basic home workout program at:

    http://leehayward.com/homeworkout.htm

  • Hi Lee,

    Just read through this 4 x 3 phase 12 week program and it looks impressive while not complicated. Some v good compound exercises threw in. I’ll give this program a go in the new year (2012) and record the results – cheers m8.

    stevie – belfast, n ireland

  • Chris

    Lee,

    I am on a bit of a slow side. I worked out for a year straight. Taking on maybe 2 days off a week for rest (workout routine outline to follow). So my question is how do I know how hard to push since it has been a little over a month since my last workout.

    Workout routine.
    Day 1, Chest and Cardio
    1 mile treadmill
    Incline BB Bench, 3 sets of 10
    Flat DB Bench, 3 sets of 10
    Decline BB Bench 3 sets of 10
    Incline DB fly’s 3 sets of 12-15
    20-30 min Stair machine

    Day 2 Legs, light cardio
    1 mile treadmill
    BB Squats, 3 sets of 10
    Hack Squats, 3 sets of 10
    Leg extensions, 3 sets of 10
    laying leg curls,3 sets of 10
    Single leg, leg press 3 sets of 10
    calve raises, 3 sets of 10

    Day 3 Biceps, and abs
    Standing DB Curl 3 sets of 10
    BB standing curl 3 sets of 10
    EZ Bar preacher curl 3 sets of ten
    Preacher bench concentration curl 3 sets of 10 [standing]
    Incline sit ups super set knee raises

    Day 4 Triceps and cardio depending leg soreness
    1 mile jog treadmill
    Reverse grip smith machine bench press, 3 sets of 10
    incline skull crushers, 3 sets of ten super set with close grip bench
    Triceps pull down 3 sets of 10
    cable triceps kickback 3 sets of 12
    20-30 min on stair machine

    Day 5
    Back and Cardio
    1 mile jog on treadmill
    BB Dead-lift 3 sets of ten
    Lat pull down 3 sets of 10
    machine seated row 3 sets of 10
    DB Row 3 sets of ten
    Cable Scap pull (lack of better term) 3 sets of 12
    Back extension 3 sets of 10
    15-20 min stair machine

    Day 6 Shoulders and Cardio
    1 mile treadmill
    DB seated Shoulder press 3 sets of 10
    BB Shoulder shrugs 3 sets of 10
    Machine shrug variation (on calve raise machine) 3 sets of 10
    DB seated side raises 3 sets of 10
    Cable upright rows 3 sets of ten
    Plate front raises 3 sets of 10
    15-20 min on Stair machine

    Day off somewhere in there when I get sore or tired. Also the lifts change a little bit ever couple weeks (i.e. No flat DB bench on Chest day, but DB incline). looking for some tips, and constructive criticism. Trying to lose body fat and gain muscle = HELL!

    Started at 510 lbs, and now I weigh 285!

    Thanks for all your help been a fan for a year or 2 now.

  • Zaffar

    I am Just beginner , is this 12 week work out for me ?

  • Hassan Barnawi

    Well i have a question regardinging the article, do I have to increase the weight after each rep or i’m going to do the same weight for all the 4 or 5 reps ?

    Thanks

  • Brandon

    Hi lee. What diet plan would you recommend for the 12 week workout program? I’m currently in week two and want to optimize muscle growth as best possible. I’m not overweight and have a high metabolism. The only area of concern would be my gut.

  • Chris,

    ======================

    Whenever you start back training after a layoff always start off light, just like a beginner again. Take it easy for the first month. Just focus on being consistent and going through the motions with your workouts. After a month back in the gym you can gradually start building back to doing higher intensity workouts.

  • Zaffar:
    I am Just beginner , is this 12 week work out for me ?

    =======================

    I’d recommend this beginners workout routine instead:
    http://leehayward.com/bodybuilding-for-beginners.htm

  • Hassan Barnawi:
    Well i have a question regardinging the article, do I have to increase the weight after each rep or i’m going to do the same weight for all the 4 or 5 reps ?

    Thanks

    ===================

    Warm up and then keep the same weight for all working sets. If you can get all the working sets and reps with good form, increase the weight by 5 pounds for your next workout.

  • Brandon:
    Hi lee. What diet plan would you recommend for the 12 week workout program? I’m currently in week two and want to optimize muscle growth as best possible. I’m not overweight and have a high metabolism. The only area of concern would be my gut.

    ===================

    I’d recommend the 21-Day Fast Mass Building Cycle Diet Program. This is a great program to help you gain lean muscle mass without getting fat in the process. And it would work great when followed in addition to this 12 week workout program.

    You can get this online at: http://www.21dayfastmass.com

  • jacqueline santos

    Hi Lee, thanks for all your great advice. I have been on and off trying to do a so called workout but I never go pass the first week, now I’m ready to really tackle this wieght loss for good so I would like to do this 12-week program that you have here but what about my cardio? I had always been told that if I wanted to loose wt I had to do 30-45min of cardio, so when should I do my cardio before I hit the wieghts or after my work-out?

    Once again thank you Lee

  • jacqueline santos,

    =============

    You can do cardio after your weight training if combining weights and cardio in the same workout. Or you can do it separately from your workouts all together. I like to do my cardio in the morning and weight training in the afternoon.

  • denise

    Nice article, simple and understandable.

  • Kevin

    Hi Lee, I’m on a bulking phase now and im wondering if you would recommend this as a fast bulking program

  • jeff austin sr.

    Lee,

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing you’re 12 week workout program with all of us out here. I also want to let you know that i have tried and it really works. It has really made me fill better about myself. I have tried everything coming and going since i was 14 but nothing has worked until now. Man am i glad i ran on to you’re web sight. I almost forgot, i’m 54 now is it to late for me to be doing this? I hope not because weight lifting has been a big part of my life. I also just signed up for you’re free start up bodybuilding kit can’t wait to read up on it. Thank’s again Lee.

  • Greg

    Hi Lee,

    First let me congratulate you for some straight-shooting tips and advice on your website. Great stuff!

    Q1: Would this 12 week program still be beneficial to me if training only 3 days per week? (In this case it would take 4 weeks to complete each phase and 16 weeks in total). Or would you suggest another different program? Recently, I have been training 3 days per week using push/pull/legs split, thus hitting each muscle group just once per week. So following your program 3 days a week would still be a slight increase in frequency for each muscle group.

    Q2: I have not trained with low reps/heavy weights (like 5×5 training in your program) but I suspect that my ability to complete the number of reps would diminish with each set. So if, for example, I achieved 5 reps in set 5, then I would not have worked very hard in set 1. Alternatively, if I’m close to failure at 5 reps on set 1, then I will almost certainly not get 5 reps by set 5. So my question is, where in between these two extremes should I target my training? If I train to failure on all 5 sets, it’s unlikely I will be doing 5×5 (more likely 7,6,5,4,3 or similar). This question also applies to all 5 set exercises: 5×8 etc.

    Thanks! Greg

  • Greg:
    Hi Lee,

    First let me congratulate you for some straight-shooting tips and advice on your website. Great stuff!

    Q1: Would this 12 week program still be beneficial to me if training only 3 days per week? (In this case it would take 4 weeks to complete each phase and 16 weeks in total). Or would you suggest another different program? Recently, I have been training 3 days per week using push/pull/legs split, thus hitting each muscle group just once per week. So following your program 3 days a week would still be a slight increase in frequency for each muscle group.

    Q2: I have not trained with low reps/heavy weights (like 5×5 training in your program) but I suspect that my ability to complete the number of reps would diminish with each set. So if, for example, I achieved 5 reps in set 5, then I would not have worked very hard in set 1. Alternatively, if I’m close to failure at 5 reps on set 1, then I will almost certainly not get 5 reps by set 5. So my question is, where in between these two extremes should I target my training? If I train to failure on all 5 sets, it’s unlikely I will be doing 5×5 (more likely 7,6,5,4,3 or similar). This question also applies to all 5 set exercises: 5×8 etc.

    Thanks! Greg

    =================

    Good questions Greg.

    You can follow this program 3 days per week. You would do the exact same workouts, in the same order, just space them out longer. So instead of thinking Monday’s workout, Tuesday’s workout, etc. Just think Workout #1, Workout #2, etc. and go through them in same order, regardless of what day of the week they fall on.

    And as for the 5×5 routine, that confuses a lot of people because we are all conditioned to think
    that we have to “rep out til failure” with every set. But that’s not the case. It’s ok to rack the weight before you reach total muscular exhaustion. If you ever get the chance to watch Olympic weight lifters or powerlifters train, they rarely rep out til failure. In fact, the only time they usually hit failure is when attempting a new personal record and they miss a weight, meaning they can’t lift it.

    So how you should do the 5×5 sets is work up to a weight that feels heavy, but one that you could do more then 5 reps with if you really had to, but stop at 5 reps. Rest and then do another set of 5 reps. And continue until you get all 5 sets of 5 reps. What usually happens is the 1st set feels a little hard because you are still kind of “warming up”. The 2nd set usually feels a bit easier because you are in the groove now. The 3rd set should also feel good as well. The 4th and 5th sets maybe a bit of a struggle because of muscular fatigue, but you should still be able to do them with good form.

    Then if you are able to get all 5×5 with good form. Increase the weight for your next workout. If you didn’t get all 5×5, meaning you had to stop at 3-4 reps on your last set. Keep the same weight for your next workout.

  • Eric

    Hey Lee, I have couple quick questions for you.
    What is your recommendation on rest periods between sets? Is 90 seconds to 2 minutes okay?

  • Eric,

    Just keep it simple, rest long enough to catch your breath and mentally prepare for the next set. Usually around 1-2 minutes for smaller exercises and 2-3 minutes between sets for bigger heavier exercises.

  • Jim

    Eric:
    Hey Lee, I have couple quick questions for you.
    What is your recommendation on rest periods between sets? Is 90 seconds to 2 minutes okay?

    Here’s a good trick for getting your breath back.
    #1 Take a deep breath & hold it for 3 seconds.
    #02 Let your breath out and ttry to take 2 deep breaths normally.
    #03. On the third breath take a deep breath and hold it for a count of 3..
    #04. Exhale andnow breath normally.

    You will find you are completely relaxed and recovered.. All the gulping and huffing and puffing will be gone.
    Let me know how it works for you. This is the method used by boxers trying to get their breath back between rounds. As needed, I’ve done it for years.

    Good Luck – Jim age 78 and still kickin’ it! 🙂

  • Joe

    Hey Lee. I was wondering if this program is for beginners or if it will also work for people like me who are advanced and already have a relatively well rounded physique? I’ve been training for about 5 years now.

  • Aditya Singh

    Hi Lee,i have been working out since one year . but my body is still not in Shape. i can lift heavy weights Suggest me some proper exercise. I am a big built person. been working in proper manner

  • josian

    hi lee:
    i have a question for you:
    i want to workout 4 times per week with dumbbells only,
    like on monday, wednesday, friday and sunday?
    can you show me a good 4 day body split that i can do on those days?
    thank you!
    your friend,
    josian.

  • ALi

    Hey Lee ,
    One heavy set of deadlifts leaves me pretty wrecked for the next few days , isn’t 5 heavy sets of 5 on deadlifts overkill ?

  • ALi:
    Hey Lee ,
    One heavy set of deadlifts leaves me pretty wrecked for the next few days , isn’t 5 heavy sets of 5 on deadlifts overkill ?

    ==============

    For these sets you are not repping out to failure. Use a weight that allows you to get 5×5 with good form.

  • Wow excellent one I like it very much this 12 weak program thanks lee

  • Nick

    Lee,

    Thank you so much for sharing this workout program. I really like to read your articles and view your videos regarding the workout training. It really helps me to progress in my workout program.

    P/S : Please send me more about the workout programs.

    Thanks

    Nick

  • Westley

    This workout just doesn’t look like it has enough to make you grow! It has one excercise for biceps and one for triceps! Can some tell me how this will make you grow!

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