This 4-Week Workout Plan Will Deliver Functional Muscle and Size - Men's Health Magazine Australia

This 4-Week Workout Plan Will Deliver Functional Muscle and Size

The smarter way to chase the pump.


Build your strength from the ground up with this lower-body workout, which you’ll alternate through the week with the upper-body moves on the following spread. Work through each movement as quickly as possible while maintaining perfect form, performing the prescribed reps in circuit fashion, for eight rounds. Lower your weights if you have to.


Philip Haynes


A contender for the title of “king of all lifts”, the split stance variation of the squat hits your quads like nothing else. Place a foot on a box about 60cm behind you and hold a kettlebell close to your chest (A). Keep an upright torso and bend your front knee, lowering your body until your thigh is parallel to the floor (B). Stand up explosively, and perform all the reps on one leg before switching.


Philip Haynes


Now, let’s light up those hamstrings. Hold a kettlebell to your chest (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push your hips back and lower your chest towards the ground, pinching your shoulder blades back and maintaining a neutral spine (B). When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, pause and return to the start.


Philip Haynes


After the slow, controlled tempo of the first two movements, you’re ready to get functional, fast and furious. Squat in front of a box (A) and explosively jump on to the top, land with soft feet (B) and stand up to full extension. Take a breath before stepping back down. Repeat, alternating your legs
on the step down.


Philip Haynes


Put your all into driving the kettlebell skyward for maximum gains. Holding it between your legs, hinge at your hips, swinging the weight backward (A), drive your hips forward, allowing the bell to swing to shoulder height (B). Let the momentum bring it down between your legs, hinge at the hips, then repeat. 


Philip Haynes


Combine classic bodybuilding moves with a rep scheme and rest times designed to leave every single muscle fibre screaming. This is an upper-body assault that would make even Arnie blush. Work through each movement quickly while maintaining perfect form, performing the prescribed reps of each exercise as a circuit. Do 5 brutal rounds. 


Philip Haynes


Kick off with an old-school staple to build a barn-door back. Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip just over shoulder-width apart. Lift your feet from the floor, hanging freely with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing at the elbows while pinching your shoulder blades together. When your chin passes the bar (B), pause, then lower to the starting position.


Philip Haynes


From the back to the front: next is a humbling movement that will blow your shoulders up. Sit flat on the floor with your legs straight and open, holding two dumbbells at your shoulders (A). Drive the dumbbells upward until your arms are locked out (B). Lower under strict control.


Philip Haynes


Your biceps are up next. Hold two dumbbells with your arms hanging freely at your sides (A). With minimal momentum, curl both dumbbells upward, until your thumbs are near your shoulders (B). Squeeze here for a one count and lower under control.


Philip Haynes


Finish strong with this bodyweight triceps builder that will also blast your chest. Grab two parallel bars with your palms facing inward and your arms straight (A). Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they don’t flare out (B). Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat. 


Philip Haynes

Getting big can be very clever. By fusing old-school hypertrophy with modern movements, our four- week plan will deliver functional muscle and size that will last you for life.

There’s been a rising tide in fitness, arguing that any “authentic” training regimen should focus entirely on measurable, athletic improvements, and that pursuing any kind of aesthetic goal is somehow less noble, or even narcissistic. Some have even felt shamed into avoiding training routines that they would otherwise enjoy, fearful of being labelled an egomaniac for doing a biceps curl or dabbling with the pec deck.

At MH, we’re very much proponents of well-informed strength and conditioning. We appreciate what the rise of functional fitness has done for the community. But for a while there, it seemed the pendulum had swung too far. As our UK editor in chief recently put it, “Since when were we supposed to feel shame for enjoying the aesthetic by-products of our training?” There’s often little difference between chasing after performance goals and pursuing changes in the mirror. So long as you are happy, is a deadlift PB more meaningful than an extra 2cm on your arms?

Fortunately, like all tides, this one has ebbed. On the shoreline are men eager to get their pump on again. Better still, we’re learning that being as jacked as Arnie and moving like Usain Bolt aren’t mutually exclusive ideals. With smart programming, you 
can get swole and hit your other goals.

So, rip off your sleeves and don your shortest shorts. The following workouts combine traditional hypertrophy with modern thinking, for a pump that truly pumps up your mobility, strength and physical preparedness. We are in the age of functional bodybuilding – and, boy, is it a good time to be alive!


For reasons unknown, the bench press has cemented its place as the ultimate dude lift. With nothing more than a few resistance bands, add these three moves to your arsenal to assist in the bro-ly grail of a bigger bench

1/ Band-resisted push-up

5 sets of 15 reps, 90sec rest

Stretch a resistance band across your upper back and assume a push-up position. Lower your chest to the ground under control, before explosively pressing back up against the band’s force. Repeat.

2/ Straight-armed band pull-down

4 sets of 10 reps, 90sec rest

Loop a band around a pull-up bar and kneel, arm-distance away.

Grip the band with both hands and pull it down to full stretch, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return
to the top, repeat.

3/ Triceps pull-down

4 sets of 25 reps, 90sec rest

Loop a band around a pull-up bar and stand, holding it with your palms facing each other and your upper arms tight to your body. Explosively pull the band down and apart, until your arms are straight, return under control and repeat. Feel the burn in your tris? Enjoy it.

By Mens Health Staff

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