Guys lift weights because they want to get stronger, look powerful and feel more confident. Beyond a doubt, you can achieve these and many more goals with a bold and challenging workout program. If you’re serious about taking your body to a higher level, here are some training strategies that will get you some scary results!   

First, free weights are king. Specialized fad equipment may be fun to try on occasion, but keep barbells and dumbbells at the heart of your training. Free weights are versatile and allow you to perform many more exercises and routines than highly specialized machines. In addition to building better overall strength, you’ll also increase flexibility, improve balance and symmetry, and burn more calories.

Second, keep workouts simple and challenging. For building healthy size and strength, I suggest 3-4 sets of eight to twelve repetitions per exercise. Rest no more than 2 minutes between sets. Use four exercises for each of the bigger muscle groups (chest, back, lower body – legs and butt) and two to three exercises for smaller muscles (shoulders and biceps). Try working out with about 65% of your one rep maximum (the amount of weight you could safely and successfully lift for one repetition) with each exercise. Cycle your training so that each muscle group gets trained at least once per week for 20 minutes with a 48 – 72 hour rest each period for each muscle group.  

Third, don’t overdo it! You don’t have to spend endless hours in the gym to achieve superior gains. Keeping your workouts shorter (1/2 hour to 45 minutes) will help you to benefit from hormonal surges (testosterone and human growth hormone) that occur with briefer, more explosive and intense weight training sessions.

Fourth, cardio is a must, but be sensible. True, doing cardio training is essential to staying lean and healthy, but too much can increase levels of hormones like cortisol that break down valuable muscle tissue. To maintain muscle, while getting leaner, do cardio in short, intense spurts. For example, if you’re going for a run, say for half an hour, try power walking for the first 5 minutes. Increase your pace to a healthy trot for another 5 minutes. Next, do wind sprints to speed things up and conclude with a brisk walk to cool down.  

Fifth, keep your training balanced. Make sure that you aren’t always training just the muscle groups you like (biceps and chest) while you neglect equally as important muscle groups (back and legs). Aim for a variety of exercises that take each muscle group through its’ full range of motion.  Follow these with a movement or two that isolates the muscle you are targeting. For example, when working biceps begin with standing EZ curls, followed by seated isolation dumbbells curls.