Today, I want to introduce you to my go-to workout strategy when I want to put on a few extra pounds of muscle while maintaining a natural pump that lasts for days.
I came across this idea years ago while I was studying exercise physiology at SDSU. You see, we were comparing the effectiveness of each individual set of a particular exercise. So, for example, if you were to perform five sets of a traditional bench press, would those sets all be equal in terms of benefit and reward? Would certain sets provide more reward than others?
Some people will argue that set number one is the most beneficial because that is when you are at your strongest. Others will argue that the last set is the most beneficial as fatigue creates a challenging environment which promotes growth. These are both fair points, but when put to the test, the winner is…
Set number two.
That’s right. It turns out that set number two is the most beneficial set of any given exercise. Does that mean sets numbers three, four and five have no value? Absolutely not. But, when compared against each other, the biggest bang for your efforts comes from that second set.
That’s the very same question I asked myself when I first learned about the efficiency of set number two. Shortly after, I created a training method which I call 2B2 (two – breather – two). This is basically my way of benefiting from set number two… TWICE.
Since creating this method, I’ve been able to put on muscle faster than ever before.
Before sharing the method with you, I want to make it clear that this is NOT the holy grail of building muscle. This is instead a proven method that should be part of a larger and more complete training program.
The original method of 2b2 is exactly what it sounds like. You perform two sets, take a short breather, and then complete another two sets.
Here’s how the concept would work with a traditional set of bench press:
After a couple of light warmup sets you would do two sets with about a 45 second break in between each set. Your ideal weight would be such where failure occurs between rep number 8 – 11.
After these first two sets, take a longer, fuller recovery. Take 3 full minutes if you need to. When you’re ready, do another 2 sets with a limited 45 second break between the two.
Repeat this strategy for all your exercises for the day and you’ll quickly see some serious muscle gains.
I have recently added one more techniques to this concept that are sure to give you a long lasting muscle pump.
Bonus Technique Adding a muscular finisher after every “set two” is a challenging strategy that will help you develop size in even the most stubborn muscles.
Let’s use the above example to illustrate this method.
Now, you would perform set number one then take a 45 second break. Perform set number two and immediately go into a light finisher. In this example you would jump off the bench and perform as many pushups as possible. The key is not to waste any time and immediately go into pushups after your second set.
Now, after a long break that allows you to fully recover, you would repeat the above and perform two more sets of bench press followed by a pushup finisher.
Workout 1 Traditional bench press with a pushup finisher.
Workout 2 Cable flyes with light cable presses as a finisher.
Workout 3 Dumbbell or cable presses with light weight low-to-high (incline) cable flyes as a finisher.
Workout 4 Incline dumbbell press with narrow grip pushups as the finisher.
Workout 5 Dips with focuses muscular posing / flexing as a finisher.
Give it a try
Get out there and try 2b2 in a few of your workouts. Let me know what you think in the comments section and don’t forget to supplement your workouts with the Evolution SIX Daily Formula. Learn more about our Men’s Daily Formula or Women’s Daily Formula.
If you’re looking for an exercise program that will help you lose weight while feeling more energized, then be sure to follow this simple pre-designed workout formula. Make sure to read this entire article as I’ll show you how to access my Evolution SIX workout routine – for free.
The very first thing you need to keep in mind when starting an exercise program to lose weigh is the activity itself. Exercise is not always fun, but it needs to at least be tolerable. If your program is more of a chore, then your less likely to stick to it.
Weight loss success is all about commitment and consistency.
Follow this exercise program for at least six weeks and you will begin to see results. You will lose weight. All you have to do is commit to the program.
If you’re a beginner or have been away from a consistent exercise program for a while now, then this section is especially important. Before starting your six week routine, bake sure to:
This is a six week program that is broken down into three phases. Each phase is only two weeks in duration and has a specific purpose.
Assuming you have spent sometime familiarizing yourself with a few exercises, it’s not time to get started. The goal of this first two week period has 3 parts.
You will perform two workout strategies during this phase. The majority of your workouts will be as follows:
Try to complete 5-6 workouts each week. You can reserve 1 or 2 of those workout days for lighter days where you would focus on performing 30 – 40 minutes of cardio. This is a good way to mix things up in the beginning so that you don’t overwork yourself.
Here’s where things will start to get interesting. You have by now built a strong foundation and are ready to pick things up a bit. During this 2 week period, your goal is to increase the intensity and tempo of your workouts.
Instead of a single circuit, you’ll now perform a mini circuit of only 3 exercises. Repeat this mini circuit 3 times as quickly (but stay safe) as possible. After completing all 3 round, then you can take a short break and move on to the next mini circuit of 3 different exercises. Put together a series of 3 – 4 mini circuits. Each mini circuit should contain an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise and and higher intensity cardio exercise like jumproping, sprinting or even speed jumping jacks.
This is it, your last two weeks in your exercise program to lose weight. You worked hard to get to this point, and now it’s time to finish strong. These last two weeks are going to have a slightly different schedule. You’re going to workout for 3 days consecutively and then take 1 day off to rest and recover. You’ll repeat this 4 times to end the last 2 weeks. Here’s what your workouts will look like…
Day 1: Perform a large circuit similar to the first 2 weeks but at a slightly higher intensity.
Day 2: Do your mini circuits on this day.
Day 3: Dedicate an entire workout to moderate / high intensity workout intervals. This workout does not need to be long, but should be challenging.
Your not done yet…
After completing this six week exercise program to lose weight, take a week or two off to evaluate your progress. Wait, don’t get too excited… I don’t mean take a week completely off. Instead, workout regularly at a moderate intensity.
during this “break” you’ll be mentally and physically prepping for the next six week program. that’s right, you get to do it again.
Here’s an important point to remember… All these efforts can go to waste if your nutritional program is not where it needs to be. If you are however eating right and working out regularly, there is one more thing you can do to really take advantage of this program and lose weight even faster. The Evolution SIX Fat Loss Formula is designed to help you lose weight during your exercise program.
We currently have a special offer on this formula. Click Here To Learn More.
That’s right, all you need is a basic gym bench and your body and you’re set for this workout. Although…if you want, dumbbells would be a stellar addition and really kick up the intensity level.
The 8 Exercise Circuit
24 reps per exercise (for a total of 192 total!) with minimized rest from beginning to end. And by all means, if you breeze through the first circuit then go through it again, or even a third time. Great for conditioning, building core strength and enhancing body control. Enjoy!
Exercise #1: Leg lifts/Reverse Crunches
Lay down on the bench and make sure you’re entire spinal column is supported. Now, either grab the bench at your sides, or behind your head and do 24 leg lifts with your legs straight, or reverse crunches with your legs bench and knees together. Or, you could mix them up.
Exercise #2: Step Ups to Knee-Raise
Alternate legs for 12 each this set. Pick a foot to begin with, step up, find your balance and then bring the other knee up and forward into the air then step down. You can choose to hold the knee there a few second, or just make it one fluid motion.
Exercise #3: One-Leg Get-Ups
Again, alternate legs for 12 reps each this set. Sit down on the bench, pick a foot to stand up on, bring the other foot slightly off the ground, and get up using only that one foot. Then, come back down. This is a great way to condition for free-form one-leg squats.
Exercise #4: Decline Planks
Shooting for at least 24 second here, but feel free to go as long as you can without altogether sacrificing solid form. Get your feet up on the bench, keep them together, then get completely stretched out until your spine is flat and you’re upper body is resting on either your hands or elbows. If you need to modify, you can simply flip around and do an incline plank with your upper body on the bench.
Exercise #5: Knee-Ins
Sit at the end of the bench, or you could face sideways as well, extend your legs and then keeping them in the air begin to do 24 knee-ins.
Exercise #6: Dips
These are also pretty straightforward and effective and putting some strain on the core while focusing on the triceps. Perform dips on the bench with your entire body off to the side and your heels on the ground. Don’t let your butt touch down and maintain the tension throughout the set.
Exercise #7: Oblique Lifts
Do 12 on one side, then 12 on the other to spread out the tension across both obliques. Choose a side to begin with and place either your arm/elbow on the bench, or just your hand. Get into a full side-plank position with the other arm held out laterally and begin letting your body slightly dip up and down.
Exercise #8: Decline Pushups
Finish off with 24 decline bench pushups and you’re golden for this circuit. Make sure to keep your back straight!
Even dedicated fitness nerds needs a little reminding once in a while. That said, below are the 8 most common things that you may be forgetting to do at the gym to keep moving onward and upward to/past your fitness goals. Enjoy!
If you’re not writing anything down, that means you’re winging it or using a half-ass plan. Don’t tell me you can effectively do everything in your head from day to day, week to week. Countless have tried, none have succeeded to get fabulous physiques without following a system. What’s yours look like?
Sure, you probably hit up the water fountain a couple times to take a breather but water really isn’t mentally included in your fitness regimen the way protein is. Bummer! Is it really THAT hard to invest in a water bottle? Come on folks…
If you exercise alone without a motivated friend, in a group setting, or with a trainer, you’re probably going to rest far more than you need to. It’s only natural. This is why working out with a buddy, investing in a trainer, and tossing in a couple fitness classes a week is so incredibly effective for just about everyone.
Maybe perfect is too strong of a word, but you get the point. Along with resting too much, the vast majority of Lone Ranger fitness lovers skimp on ideal form because they either don’t know exactly what it looks like, they don’t understand the full benefit, or they’re just not holding themselves accountable for it.
Don’t do a big set and then sit down. Don’t go through a metabolic gauntlet for 40-60 seconds then lean up against a rail. Walk around or do some hops or something to keep the momentum going and play it safe with your cardiovascular system.
This is a big one. Are you consistently challenging your body when you exercise? If not, then don’t complain about average results. Conditioning is all about harnessing the power of your body’s adaptive process. If you’ve reached a plateau in terms of weight, that’s fine, start branching out into performance goals, or experimenting with new fitness approaches.
Many of these blend together don’t they? Listen, there’s countless ways to exercise and hundreds upon hundreds of exercises to choose from. Yet, the average fitness lover is taking advantage of maybe 10 each week. No kidding!
These days the circuit-based approach is crazy-popular, along with functional fitness. Awesome! But, it’s pretty common to see people get stuck into this “light to medium weight only” mind frame and neglect strength training altogether. Everyone should incorporate working with heavier weights at least once a week.
How did you measure up? Chances are you’re not doing at least 3 of these things on a consistent basis. That’s okay. No worries. Now that you’re aware, you can put more attention on areas that need improvement and see much better results!
Before I continue with this post, I have to ask that you please forgive me if what I’m about to say comes off as a little harsh. This is a conversation that I have all the time with my personal training clients and it always starts and ends the same…
I don’t get it, I really want to lose weight, I want to change my body, but I just can’t.
…and my answer is always the same.
You don’t want to change your body. You say you do…
Now, before I get to my point, I have to ask you the same question. Do you want to change your body? I mean it. Do you REALLY want to improve your physique?
Obviously, we all want a better physique. We all want to look better. Just not at the sacrifice of that one cookie. That same cookie is holding us all back.
Now, I’m just using cookies as and example here.
You’re at the office and you have been doing well with your nutritional plan. It’s Friday and a coworker decides to bring a box of cookies. You’ve been good all week, you deserve it. Besides, It’s just one cookie right?
The truth is, that cookie will not set you back. It can’t set you back. If it could, then I would be the first to tell you that this whole exercise and nutrition thing is just not worth it.
The problem comes when we continually try to justify all those little moments when we slip on our diet and exercise program.
You had a long day at work and had to put in a few extra hours. You got up early that morning and worked out hard yesterday anyway. You can take the day off right? it’s just one workout.
Just an hour ago I was working with a client and after a great workout I asked how her nutrition was.
“Oh, I’m doing really well. I did goof a little bit today… but it was only half a burger. I didn’t eat the whole thing”
“It was just half a burger.”
And that’s exactly when i started digging. A new burger joint has just opened up in the neighborhood. Five minutes into the conversation she confessed that she had already (within a one week period) gone to this spot three times and had half a burger on each occasion.
At the end of it all, within a one week period, it turns out that she had accumulated two FULL burgers, enough appetizers for a month, and half a milk shake. And who knows how many little things she forgot to mention.
We tend to justify and quickly forget about all the little things but believe me when I tell you…
It all adds up!
Now this is exactly why I ask my all clients to keep an accurate journal. It is important to record all nutritional and exercise behaviors so that by the end of the week we can accumulate all the little mishaps.
That one cookie along with that missed workout (which quickly became two if not three) along with all those other events that seemed minimal at the time have accumulated to one big set back.
If you’re looking for printable exercise and nutrition journals, then be sure to join our site for valuable fitness tools.
To lose stored body fat, one must expend more energy than is consumed. By now, this is a widely known fact and has driven many people to hit the gym in order to sweat out the calories. Unfortunately many have ignored two very important parts of the weight loss equation, which has led to an excess of wasted time and energy and a lack of results. First of all, the consummation portion of the formula is the primary determinant of lean body success. A bad diet cannot be out trained and eating the correct foods at the right time in the recommended portions will guide fat loss more than any training program available. Secondarily, in the grand scheme of weight loss, the calories expended during exercise do not contribute to energy expenditure as much as commonly believed.
Three main factors contribute to daily caloric expenses. The thermic effect of food, or the energy required to chew, swallow, digest and absorb what we eat, constitutes approximately ten percent of the daily energy expenditure. This effect is maximized by frequent feedings (every two to four hours) and including protein with every feeding (protein takes more energy to absorb and digest than carbohydrate or fat). The caloric output of physical activity contributes twenty to thirty percent to our daily total. However, this number is not derived exclusively from exercise as, in fact, movement from everyday activities carries an even greater impact.
The largest factor, burning sixty to seventy percent of our daily calories, is the energy needed to keep our heart beating, lungs breathing and all the cells functioning. This is also known as the resting, or basal, metabolic rate and is influenced by such aspects as age, height and genetics. One other contributor to resting metabolic rate that can be altered, unlike the others, is our body composition. Muscle mass burns five times the daily calories per day (ten calories per pound compared to two) as fat and, therefore, increasing lean mass should be a priority of any lean body training program.
Although weight training does not expel the same amounts of energy during the workout as aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (interval) training, the effects on increasing metabolism during recovery after the session are similar. However, basing the exercise choice for fat loss on in session caloric expenditure is short sighted. Weight loss studies have shown that performing aerobic and anaerobic training as the sole means of physical activity leads to loss of both fat and lean mass where as incorporating weight training results in fat loss only. Losing lean mass has dire effects on long term weight loss, as the resting metabolic rate will decrease. This indicates that consumption, physical activity, or both will have to be altered further to just maintain fat losses from cardio and interval training alone.
The most successful lean body programs that are sustainable focus on both sides of the weight loss equation. Advantageous consumption and the thermic effect of food plans involve eating smaller meals mostly composed of protein and vegetables every two to four hours. Physical activity is maximized through including extra daily activities when available and performing multi joint, larger load and shorter rest resistance training for at least three hours per week. Interval training is also beneficial and should be incorporated if more than three hours of exercise time is available with aerobic training utilized for recovery alone. These recommendations will aid in turning the weight loss equation into a formula for developing the lean body you desire.
As important as exercise is, you just can NOT make up for a bad diet by spending extra hours in the gym.
So, you have chosen a lifestyle of energy, health, fitness and exercise. Ask just about any fitness trainer what the most important part of a well balanced fitness program is and most will probably answer – Exercise. Sure, we’re fitness trainers and that’s how we are conditioned. Well, as a fitness trainer myself and certified strength & conditioning specialist, I would have to strongly disagree with this far too common misconception.
This might sound backwards coming from someone who comes from a background dedicated to exercise, but there is an old motto that holds the truth…
No Matter How Hard You Train, You Simply Can’t Out Train A Bad Nutritional Plan
Think about it for a second and I’ll give you a quick example:
Imagine, you’re at the gym and you jump on a treadmill. The incline is set, there are absolutely no distractions and you’re zooming for an hour straight. When it’s all said and done, you burned a total of 500 calories – maybe 600 at most. You get home you feel great but all that work makes you hungry of course. Knowing that your post workout meal is important you put together a healthy low calorie dish. You are doing great and you are proud of your accomplishments. The next day you perform the exact same routine… A great workout followed by a perfectly balanced meal. Later that night your friends give you a call and they all want to go out for a quick social get together.
You think, what’s the harm? I’ve been good all week and now I deserve a little reward for all my efforts. With that, you accept the invite and off you go to meet your friends.
Before you know it, you get chatting and the beverages start flowing. First you started off with a vodka and diet Coke – it is, after all, the lowest calorie alcohol. Feeling good about your choice, you decide you still have yet to reward yourself and order a jumbo pina colada. Now the damage is done. Most cocktail beverages easily pack in a good 500-600 each and you didn’t stop at just one. Once your inhibitions were lowered, you proceeded to have three before the night was out.
Not only that but you were so overcome with your good mood after a hard work week that you decided to order up a plate of BBQ wings and then split a piece of German Chocolate Cake with Cherry and Caramel Drizzle with your friend. Now you’re easily looking at a 3000 calorie outing.
This 3000 calorie outing may have just in fact cancelled out the entire week’s worth of progress you made in the gym and with your diet. Essentially, that almost equates to one entire pound of body fat. Since there are 3500 calories per pound of fat and you consumed just about that amount on your social outing, you’ll have really done yourself in.
As you can clearly see by this simple illustration, it’s very easy to undo your effort if you’re not constantly making the right choices.
This doesn’t mean you can never indulge and treat yourself, but you must plan for it and still keep it in moderation. A 3000 calorie night out is not practicing moderation.
Phase 1 – Know Your Metabolism
The very first step is to make sure that you understand your metabolism. Your metabolism essentially represents how many calories your body burns on a daily basis just to stay alive. This includes the energy it takes to keep your heart beating, your lunges breathing, your brain functioning, your digestive system working effectively, as well as any other movements that you may perform throughout the course of the day.
The faster the metabolism you have, the more calories you burn over the course of the day and thus, the faster you will see fat loss take place. This rate is influenced by factors such as your total amount of lean body mass, your exercise volumes and intensity levels, as well as the foods you consume on a day to day basis.
If you work hard, you can actually increase your metabolism naturally so you’ll burn more calories over the course of the entire day. For most people, this is the primary goal.
As a general guideline to use, most individuals will find that their daily metabolic rate, including moderate activity levels (say 3-5 gym workouts per week) is between 13 and 15 calories per pound of body weight.
So you’d take however much you currently weigh in pounds and multiply that by 13 to 15 to get your daily maintenance calorie requirements. If you are someone who is more active (has an active job) use the higher end of that range, while if you’re less active, use the lower end.
Now to get fat loss happening, you’ll want to take in fewer calories than this number you arrived at, keeping in mind it totals a 3500 calorie deficit to equate to one pound of body fat.
Keep in mind that this is just a starting point though and you must learn your own metabolism. Once you know how many calories you’re consuming, if you aren’t losing weight, your metabolism is slightly slower than you thought. If you are losing weight at an acceptable rate, you’re right on track.
It’s easier than you think!
When structuring each meal, the easiest strategy is to follow the simple 4 step plan:
Step one – begin each meal by meeting your protein requirements. Remember that most people will need about 20-30 grams of protein per meal to meet their daily total requirements of one gram per pound.
Step two – Load up on the vegetables and fruits. As for a general rule, since fruit typically increases blood sugar levels consume fruits either early in the day or post workout when blood sugar levels are typically lower.
Step three – keep the meal within you per meal caloric budget (as calculated in phase 1). If and only if you are still within your caloric budget, then you can moderately add “Quality Carbs” to fill the remaining caloric demands.
Step four – do not allow fat content to exceed 30% of the caloric value of the meal. Of this, fats should be consumed from non animal source “healthy fats”