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The 4-week Back-to-basics Workout for Muscle Growth

Whether you haven’t missed a training session or cancelled your gym membership two weeks into the new year, you want to make certain that you steamroll into a fitter version of you by giving yourself the best opportunity to get in the greatest shape of your life.

With that in mind, we’re going to spend the next four weeks building a strong foundation. By becoming proficient at the nuts-and-bolts exercises that should make up the bulk of your training program, you’ll also develop a base level of strength and conditioning to set the stage for your greatest gains yet in the months to come.

Each workout in the foundation program begins with a superset of two big compound movements focused on developing strength. Then, you’ll move into some higher-rep, unilateral (one limb at a time) work to develop structural balance and help with injury prevention. Finally, each session ends with a bout of conditioning to build work capacity and provide additional volume to your workouts.

This program has you training four times per week and follows an undulating periodization model—which means the reps, sets, and total volume change each week of the program. Solidifying your foundation is all about sticking close to the basics, so all the movements included should be familiar to you.

It should go without saying, but to get the most out of this or any training program, you should eat nutritious foods designed to fuel your workout and optimize body composition, as well as get adequate recovery and sleep. If we’re talking about building your fitness foundation, what you do outside the gym truly is just as important as what you do in the squat rack.

Program notes

On each exercise, when the rep ranges increase during a certain week, reduce the weight. When the reps decrease, increase the weight. You should use a load that allows you to perform all reps perfectly with one or two reps “left in the tank” at the end of each set. Always prioritize good and safe technique over adding additional weight.

Each of the three conditioning exercises should be done with maximal effort. You should attempt to push the pace on the sprints, bike sprints, and rower for every set. The shorter the length of time/distance on the conditioning set, the more speed you should be able to generate per set.

On each exercise, perform the eccentric (lowering) phase under control and lift (concentric) phase explosively. Be sure to pay attention to rest intervals, as they’re key to producing the proper training effect.

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