• Heavy-Light Workout Plan

    workoutTorn between whether to lift heavy to build true, dense, muscle — or lighter weights for the temporary “pump” that it provides?  You can have them both in this challenging workout.

    The Plan:  A 4-day, workout split featuring a variation of push/pull with one heavy and one light day for each body part.  The heavy days will truly challenge your muscles for growth (hypertrophy), while the lighter days will pull the much needed glycogen into the muscle (providing the “pump”).  All sessions will work together spark your metabolism with maximum muscle recruitment.  This workout uses dumbbells (or kettlebells) only, making it perfect for those with limited equipment.  Working with dumbbells will allow for greater range of motion (deeper stretch and stronger contraction), recruit more stabilizer muscles (especially the core), as well as balance strength, muscular development and overall body symmetry.  It is appropriate for reset, cut, or maintenance.  

    Weights:   Begin with a 5-10 minute warmup on a cardio machine, and 1-2 warmup sets of each exercise (using lighter weight).  Then proceed to select a weight that presents a slight struggle for the last few reps.  Keep track of your weight selection, and increase weight whenever possible.  If you can do 2-3 more reps than specified with your chosen weight, your weight is too light, and it is time to increase.  You must push yourself for maximum results, even on “light” days (although you won’t be completely fatigued) every set should be challenging.  Do not perform any “push” (or “pull”) days back to back, due to the nature of the exercises targeting similar muscles.  End with 5-10 minutes of stretching, while the muscle is still warm to prevent injury.

    Cardio: 2 days of optional cardio included in the plan.  If performing cardio and weights on the same day, opt to do weights first (this doesn’t include the warm-up done before weights).  If including more than 2 cardio days, choose to lower intensity every other session to reduce leg swelling.  Be mindful, though, that the amount of cardio that you intend on doing is figured into your food allowance.

    Food:  For best results, eat at TDEE (maintenance) or cut.  This is to provide sufficient energy for lifts, yet also maximize fat loss.  The EM2WL weight loss calculator  (set goal at “lose fat, -15%”) will give you an idea of your best calorie range for losing body-fat, with minimal muscle loss.  Attempt to eat 1-1.2g of protein per lb of lean body mass, or 30-35% of your calorie intake, and sufficient carbs (around 40-45% of your total intake), mostly surrounding your workouts. (If diabetic, insulin sensitive, etc., eat carbs as per doctor/nutritionist orders).

    **Follow plan for 4-6 weeks**

    Day 1 – Push (Heavy)

    Done straight set fashion.  Finish all sets for that exercise before moving to the next.  Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

    Exercise:

    Reps

    Sets

    Neutral Incline Dumbbell Press   12,10,8,8 4
    Dumbbell Bench Press   10,8,8 3
    Bent Arm Dumbbell Pullover
      10 3
    One Arm Dumbbell Press (palm in)   10,8,8 3
    One Arm Side Lateral Raise
      10 3
    Seated Rear Delt Raise
      10 3
    Bench dips
      8 3
    One Arm Tricep Extension   10 3
    Exercise Ball Pull-in 15 3
    Reverse Crunch 15 3

     

    Day 2 – Pull (Heavy)

    Done straight set fashion.  Finish all sets for that exercise before moving to the next.  Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

    Exercise:

    Reps

    Sets

    Dumbbell Squat 12, 10, 8, 8 4
    Dumbbell Lunge
    10 3
    Stiff-legged Deadlift
    10, 8, 8 3
    One Legged Calf Raise  15 3
    One Arm Dumbbell Row
    10, 8, 8 3
    Double Arm Row (palms face body)
    8 3
    Incline Curl (Alternating) 10, 8, 8 3
    Hammer Curl 
    10 3

     

    ~Rest/Yoga/Cardio (opt.)~

     

    Day 3 – Push (light)

    Done straight set fashion.  Finish all sets for that exercise before moving to the next.  Rest 30 seconds between sets.

    Exercise:

    Reps

    Sets

    One Arm Dumbbell Bench Press  15, 12, 12, 15 4
    Incline dumbbell Flyes
    12, 12, 15 3
    Around-the-worlds
    15 3
    Front Incline Dumbbell Raise
    12, 12, 15 3
    Arnold Press
    15 3
    Iron cross
    12 3
    Tricep Kickbacks
    12 3
    One Arm Tricep extension (standing) 15 3
    Weighted Oblique Twist 20 3
    Jackknife Sit-ups 15 3

     

    Day 4 – Pull (light)

    Done straight set fashion.  Finish all sets for that exercise before moving to the next.  Rest 30 seconds between sets.

    Exercise:

    Reps

    Sets

    Dumbbell Plie Squat 15, 12, 12, 15 4
    Dumbbell Split Squat
    12, 12, 15 3
    One-legged Deadlift
    12 3
    Walking Lunges
    20 3
    Alternating Renegade Row
    12, 12, 15 (per side) 3
    Double Arm Row (palms face rear)
    15 3
    Reverse Dumbbell Curl
    12, 12, 15 3
    Cross-Body Hammer Curl 
    15 3

     

    ~Rest/Yoga/Cardio (opt.)~

     

    More of a visual person? Check out the “at-a-glance” options, by clicking on the desired day.

     

     

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8 Responsesso far.

  1. Seema says:

    Thanks so much!

  2. Seema says:

    I have had lower back issues in the past, and am a little gun-shy of trying some of the exercises — deadlift, double arm row, jackknife sit-ups. Should I just avoid these or are there any alternative exercises I could try? Thanks so much for this website and any suggestions you may have!

    • EM2WL says:

      Hi Seema!

      No worries :)

      For the deadlift, you could try using a wider stance, or substitute a move like hip thrusts, or any exercise from here that suits your ability and available equipment selection.

      For the double arm row, you could sub single-arm rows with your leg supported on the bench.

  3. Melanie Scofield says:

    On light days, do you do the same heavy weights as in heavy days?

    • EM2WL says:

      Because the rep range is different, you shouldn’t be able to lift the exact same weights on light days as heavy. If so, then your heavy day isn’t heavy “enough” ;). Each set (on any given day) you should be going heavy enough that you couldn’t do more than 1-2 reps beyond the prescribed amount of reps. If you can do two reps more than suggested, increase your weight. Rep range will always be your ultimate deciding factor on the weight chosen :) Always challenge (but don’t kill!) yourself and you’ll see great results.

  4. Amy says:

    Could you clarify the days on and off? Could I do Day 1 on Monday (for ex), Day 2 on Tuesday, rest or cardio on Wednesday, Day 3 on Thursday, Day 4 on Friday, rest or cardio on Saturday, and nothing on Sunday? Is this the correct sequence?