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20 Months to a Champion Physique – Month 2

In this second month of the beginner phase you will again train your entire body at each workout. The routine now consists of 10 exercises ­ one more than last month. Since all the exercises have been changed, you will do an entirely new routine. Notice, however, that the order in which you train the respective body parts stays essentially the same as it was last month – legs, chest, deltoids, back, triceps, biceps and midsection. In months to come we’ll alter the order for the sake of variety.

I want to emphasize some basic points to ensure that your training continues to be both productive and enjoyable. No workout program will make you a champion overnight, and no matter how much progress you make on a program, it does not mean much if you quit training because of boredom or burnout a few months down the road.

Keep in mind that you must make your training interesting, challenging and enjoyable; don’t go over the line by pushing yourself to physical extremes, to the point where your workouts begin to seem more like mind destruction than bodybuilding.

If you are a beginner, remember, too, that you are still familiarizing yourself with the weights, the exercises and your body. Realize that you are building a foundation for what you hope will become a positive lifetime habit – a healthy, fitness lifestyle that will give you the body, strength and vitality you want. To lay that foundation properly, of course, you must first establish a positive relationship with the weight and your training. The best way to do that is to make your workouts fun. And if that’s too much to ask, at least try to make the experience pleasant.

Don’t get me wrong. It takes hard work and real dedication to build an outstanding physique, but there’s a big difference between training hard and making the workouts so demanding the you exhaust your enthusiasm long before you come anywhere near perfecting your body. Most beginning bodybuilders – in fact, most people who train with weights ­ have a tendency to overdo it rather than under do it, and the result is that far too many of them ultimately wind up saying, “To hell with it! What am I putting myself through this for?,” and they quit training altogether. In my many years in bodybuilding and the gym business I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to remember. Don’t let it happen to you.

One of the key points of my weight-training philosophy is that the training has to become a part of your daily regimen. You cannot back off from it. Your body loses strength at a rate of about 5 percent every 72 hours that you don’t exercise, which is a very rapid regression. For example, if you work out for six months and then lay off for six months, all the gains and health benefits that you achieved will be gone.

To put it another way, in order for weight training to be something that continually pays you dividends, you have to continue putting something in the pot, so to speak, month after month, year after year. Your life has to revolve around some kind of fitness program in terms of training, eating habits, rest and so forth. You cannot rely on what you did six months or a year ago to keep you healthy and fit today. The dividends you earned from the training you did back then are all used up now. It’s what you do today, what you plan to do tomorrow and what you do tomorrow that keep you healthy and fit ­ not what you did six months or a year ago.

And that brings us back to the point that I always try to hammer home: You must strive to make your training interesting, meaningful and enjoyable – actually make a conscious effort to do that – and you must make it something that you want to come back to day after day, month after month and year after year. I always try to leave the gym with a feeling that I have something in reserve so that I can return the next day and do it all again. I never try to “take out all the marbles” in one workout. I always leave with something in hand in terms of energy and strength so that I know that I can do a little bit better the next time I go to train. I suggest you do the same.

The Weight-Training Habit

You will notice that I haven’t emphasized diet, weight loss or gain, aerobic exercise or other health factors like smoking or drinking in this program thus far. That’s because I want you to get into the habit of weight training so that you can develop muscle tone, strength and the capacity to handle gradually increasing work loads. Our objective is not to revolutionize all of your habits overnight. In fact, if we tried, chances are it would be overkill and you might abandon your bodybuilding program almost before you got started. Therefore, we’ll take one thing at a time, and the first objective is to get you into the habit of working out. With that as a foundation, or starting point, we can later go on to address the other aspects of a true fitness lifestyle.

Here are a few important tips for beginning bodybuilders:

  • Rest when you feel the necessity. If you are feeling tired, cut back the work load or intensity of a given session. Decrease each exercise by one set or cut back on the weight or reps.
  • Learn to focus on the body part you are training. When you are training a particular muscle, mentally concentrate on that muscle and make it do as much of the work as possible. Strict exercise form is a very important part of this.
  • Take some photographs. This is a great way to monitor your progress as you continue training. Take some before shots in various poses ­ from the front, side and back; both flexed and standing relaxed. Then periodically take additional photos and study the progress you have made. Remember, photos don’t lie.
  • Record your weight and take your measurements. This is another excellent way to evaluate your progress. Use a tailor’s tape and measure your chest when it’s expanded and normal, your waist, your hips, your thighs, your calves and your upper arms. Take these same measurements again a few months later and compare.
Medical Warning and Disclaimer

Please get a physical before starting any of the programs at, especially if you are overweight, have not exercised for a while, have had any health problems or if there is any history of health problems. We also recommend that you then visit your doctor on a regular basis while training and report any problems to your doctor.

Should any exercises in these routines be uncomfortable or dangerous to do because of some sort of physical impairment you have, please substitute another exercise for the same body part which will not aggravate the condition. There is a tremendous variety of exercises available for any body part, as you know if you have seen or read my book, Keys to the Inner Universe, so there’s absolutely no reason to be doing some particular exercise that aggravates a back problem, a weak knee or whatever condition you may have simply because you see it in a workout routine somebody put together. and/or any associates are not prescribing any kind of treatments with these programs.

Exercise Sets/Reps
1. Flat Footed Medium Stance Free Hand Squat 3 sets of 15-25 reps
2. Standing Toe Raise on Wall Calf Machine 3 sets of 20-25 reps
3. Bent Arm Lateral 3 sets of 10-12 reps
4. Medium Grip Straight Arm Barbell Pullover 3 sets of 10-12 reps
5. Seated Side Lateral Raise 3 sets of 10-12 reps
6. Wide Grip Front Lat Pull-Down 3 sets of 10-12 reps
7. Standing Close Grip Triceps Press Down on Lat Machine 3 sets of 10-12 reps
8. Standing Alternated Dumbbell Curl 3 sets of 10-12 reps
9. Dumbbell Side Bend 1 set of 25-50 reps
10. Bent Knee Sit-Up 1 set of 15-30 reps
1. Flat Footed Medium Stance Free Hand Squat
Muscle Group: Upper thighs
Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Stand erect with your arms crossed over your chest. Keep your head up, back straight, and your feet planted firmly on the floor about sixteen inches apart. Inhale and squat down until your upper thighs are parallel with the floor and exhale. Your head should remain up, back straight, and your knees slightly out to the sides. Return to starting position and exhale.

Flat Footed Medium Stance Free Hand Squat
Flat Footed Medium Stance Free Hand Squat
2. Standing Toe Raise on Wall Calf Machine
Muscle Group: Main calf muscles
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Position your shoulders under the extended portion of a wall calf machine. Stand erect and place the balls of your feet on the footpad that is directly below the extended portion of the machine. Keep your back straight, head up and legs locked during the entire exercise. Do not let your hips move backward and forward while performing the exercise. Lower your heels to the lowest possible comfortable position. Inhale and raise up on your toes as high as possible. Hold this position for a short period and return to starting position and exhale. If you turn your toes out and heels in, it will affect the inner calf more. If you keep your feet straight, it will affect the main calf muscle more. If you turn your toes in and heels out, it will affect the outside of the calf more.

Standing Toe Raise on Wall Calf Machine
Standing Toe Raise on Wall Calf Machine
3. Bent Arm Lateral
Muscle Group: Outer pectorals
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Lie on a flat bench with the dumbbells together at arm’s length above the shoulders The palms of the hands should be facing each other. Slowly lower the dumbbells to the down position so the dumbbells are approximately even with the chest but out about ten inches from each side of the chest. Notice that the elbows are drawn downwards and back so they are in line with the ears. The forearms are slightly out of a vertical position. The press back to starting position is done by using the same arc as in letting the dumbbells down. Inhale at the beginning of the exercise and exhale at the finish.

Bent Arm Lateral
Bent Arm Lateral
4. Medium Grip Straight Arm Barbell Pullover
Muscle Group: Pectorals and rib cage
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Lie supine on a flat bench with your head at the end of the bench. With a barbell held at arm’s length above the chest and a hand spacing about twenty-four inches apart, take a deep breath and lower the barbell in a semicircle past the chest and head until it is lowered to a position behind your head that brings no discomfort to the shoulder area. It is possible you may go nearly to the floor if the bench is not too high. From the low position, return the barbell to starting position still keeping the elbows in a locked position. Exhale as you reach the starting position. Keep the head down, your chest high, breathe deeply and do not raise your hips off the bench.

Medium Grip Straight Arm Barbell Pullover
Medium Grip Straight Arm Barbell Pullover
5. Seated Side Lateral Raise
Muscle Group: Front and outer deltoids
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Sit on the edge of a bench with your legs fairly close together and dumbbells at arm’s length, palms facing in toward the thighs. Slowly raise the dumbbells to a position a little above shoulder height, pause, then lower them back to starting position. Keep the arms straight throughout the execution of the exercise. Inhale when raising the dumbbells and exhale as they are lowered.

Seated Side Lateral Raise
Seated Side Lateral Raise
6. Wide Grip Front Lat Pull-Down
Muscle Group: Upper lats
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Place your hands on a lat machine about thirty-six inches apart. Kneel down on your knees until you are supporting the weight stack with your arms while they are extended overhead. Inhale and pull the bar straight down until it is even with your upper chest. Return to starting position and exhale.

Wide Grip Front Lat Pull-Down
Wide Grip Front Lat Pull-Down
7. Standing Close Grip Triceps Press Down on Lat Machine
Muscle Group: Outer triceps
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Stand erect in front of a lat machine with your feet about sixteen inches apart and your back straight. Grasp the lat machine bar with both hands using a palms down grip about eight inches apart. Bring your upper arms to your sides and keep them there throughout the exercise. Your forearms and biceps should be touching as you inhale and then press the bar down in a semicircular motion to arm’s length. Return to starting position using a similar path, in a controlled manner, and exhale. Be sure to keep tension on your triceps while pressing down and returning to starting position.

Standing Close Grip Triceps Press Down on Lat Machine
Standing Close Grip Triceps Press Down on Lat Machine
8. Standing Alternated Dumbbell Curl
Muscle Group: Biceps
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and stand erect with your back straight, head up and feet about sixteen inches apart. With the dumbbells hanging at arm’s length from your sides, palms facing in, inhale and curl the dumbbell in your right hand up past your right thigh and then turn your palm up and keep it in this up position throughout the exercise until you are lowering the weight and again near your upper thigh before turning the palm in again and exhaling. Do a repetition with your right arm and then one with your left arm. Continue going from right to left until the prescribed number of repetitions are completed.

Standing Alternated Dumbbell Curl
Standing Alternated Dumbbell Curl
9. Dumbbell Side Bend
Muscle Group: Obliques
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Stand erect with your feet about sixteen inches apart and grasp a dumbbell in your right hand. Your palm will be facing your upper thigh. Place your left hand on your left oblique. Inhale and bend to the right as far as possible and then bend to the left as far as possible and exhale. You will perform the prescribed number of repetitions and then change the weight to the left hand and repeat the movement. You must remember to keep your back straight and your head up or you will bend too far forward.

Dumbbell Side Bend
Dumbbell Side Bend
10. Bent Knee Sit-Up
Muscle Group: Upper abdominals
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate

Sit down on a sit-up board and hook your feet under the strap. With your knees bent to about a 45° angle, put your hands behind your head and place your chin on your chest. This will keep a slight bow to your back. From this position, inhale and lie back until your lower back touches the board. Exhale as you return to starting position.

Bent Knee Sit-Up
Bent Knee Sit-Up
Training Suggestions for Month 2
  • Do this routine three times a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday — as you did last month. Use the off days for rest and recuperation.
  • Since you progressed to three sets per exercise by the end of last month, I recommend that you continue with that number of sets — except where the routine indicates otherwise. Since last month’s workout didn’t include any calf work, it’s advisable that you start with only one set per workout on standing calf raises and build up to three sets. Your progression with that exercise might resemble the following:
    • Week 1: One set and minimum reps.
    • Week 2: Two sets and medium reps.
    • Week 3 and 4: Three sets and maximum reps.
  • Use a poundage that’s comfortable yet challenging for the indicated reps. At the beginning of this routine you’ll have to do some experimentation to determine what weights you should use. Don’t train to failure! The last rep should feel difficult but not impossible.
  • As you continue training and your strength improves, the sets and reps will begin to feel easy with the poundages you’ve been using. Whenever you reach that point, increase the weight in the particular exercise until the last rep is difficult again. Always keep accurate records of your exercises, sets and reps from workout to workout, week to week and month to month. This will enable you to easily keep track of your progress from one poundage to the next rather than making the whole process haphazard. Don’t get caught in the bind of always trying to top your last workout, however. Remember that the last rep should feel difficult, but it should not be an all-out effort.
  • Concentrate on correct form on each exercise, mentally focus on the body part you’re working.
  • Rest for 30 seconds to two minutes between sets. If you feel any kind of unusual pain during your workout, check with a trainer. Of course, if you’re just starting an exercise program, you should always check with a physician to ensure that you have no health problems that could make training dangerous.
  • If three sets per exercise at the beginning of this month seems a little too taxing or time consuming for you, feel free to go back to one or two sets and work up again. You may feel the need to ease off on the volume of work if you’re a beginner, and this will allow you to regroup and work back up.
Do Not Train to Failure

People ask me why I don’t believe in training to failure at a time when the popular notion in bodybuilding is that the only way to make maximum progress is to always go for that last impossible rep (in other words, train to failure). I tell them the answer is quite simple: If you do a workout of, say, nine exercises, three sets per exercise, and in each set you go to failure, which means you couldn’t complete the last rep, what you have done in these 27 sets is trained yourself to fail 27 times! That doesn’t sound like success in my book.
My approach to training has always been to push yourself in your workouts, but do not train to failure! The last rep should be difficult, but not impossible or unachievable. And I’ve always been a great believer that you should leave the gym each day feeling like you had a great workout but you’ve still got a little bit left in the gas tank, so to speak. Because if you don’t leave the gym with the feeling of having something in reserve, you will sooner or later reach a point where your training begins to seem so hellish and burdensome, you will either start missing workouts or stop training altogether. And then where is your progress?
So speaking from experience, I urge you: Train hard, yes, but not to failure. Complete what you start — and that means every rep. I believe that this approach will not only ensure that you’ll stay with your training program year after year (obviously training longevity is a very important aspect of all of this) but you’ll also make the greatest progress. Why? Because you’ll be training yourself for success in each and every rep, set and workout. Your training will be a positive rather than negative experience. And you’ll be much more likely to keep your enthusiasm high and to avoid injury, overtraining and mental burnout.

Terms of Usage

Bill Pearl grants individuals the right to print and use this program for their own personal use. All content and graphics are copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form other then outlined in the previous sentence.

Editor’s Note

Bill Pearl, 84, is a four-time Mr. Universe and author of the best-selling bodybuilding books, Legends of The Iron Game, Keys to the Inner Universe, Getting Stronger, and Getting in Shape. He has personally coached more major contest winners than anyone else in history. At his own peak as a bodybuilder when he last won the Universe in 1971 at age 41, he weighed 242 pounds at a height of 5’10” and his arms measured 21 inches!