Get Stronger In Just Three Workouts A Week With Shaun Stafford’s Compact Workout Plan

When it comes to getting bigger and stronger Optimum Nutrition athlete Shaun Stafford is a world-beating expert – here’s Part Two of his exclusive RISING plan for building new muscle with three workouts a week

Why Your Body Is More Adaptable Than You Think
In case you’re taking a look at your winter physique and thinking: ‘There’s a lot to do here, maybe it’s too much of an ask?’, Shaun Stafford sees firsthand that our bodies are more adaptable than we often give them credit for. ‘One guy that comes into the gym here wasn't the most physically gifted human being in the world – but he was really interested in calisthenics; doing handstands and muscle-ups. He's dedicated and after 18 months he’s now here now walking on his hands up and down the track. Everyone is looking at him going: ‘Jeez! He's a freak! He's really good!’

Whatever your personal goal, it’s a good idea to get in three functional strength and conditioning workouts a week, to provide a bedrock. ‘Anything you can have on top of that, so whether it's a five-kilometre run, a yoga class, taking your boy swimming, whatever, is a bonus. That'll help keep your heart strong, help keep your body fat levels down. I'm not really interested in being someone that just looks good. I want to be somebody that looks decent and can perform – if he's asked to run a ten-kilometre race for charity he can strap on a pair of trainers and do it.’

‘If you can get comfortable outside your comfort zone, the only way forward is to progress’

Of course, life gets in the way of the best-laid plans, but Stafford says you can keep your training on track by making sure you spend some time out of your comfort zone. ‘If you can get comfortable outside your comfort zone, the only way forward is for you to progress. I think that learning to – not necessarily switch off the pain – but to be able to push through and appreciate the pain, but know that where it's taking you is going to be a better place.’

He says it’s like being four kilometres into a five kilometre ace. ‘Your lungs start to burn. But you know that you've got to kick on now to beat your personal best.’ You don't sit back and say, 'Actually I'll do this next week.' You crack on; you're 80% through, you give it everything you've got for that last 20%, and that last kilometre is going to be the quickest of all of them. It's about getting the right mindset before before your session, having a little pep talk and then going from there.’

New Muscle Workout Two
How To Do It: After a 10-15 minute warm up, do these exercises in order, with 90 seconds rest in between each set and two minutes between each exercise. (If you have not done the exercises before ask a PT to demonstrate and monitor your form.) Combine this workout with Workout One (see last week’s story) by doing them alternately, aiming for a consistent total of three workouts per week.

1. Wide-Grip Pull Up
Reps: 6-10 Sets: 4
Pull all the way up so your chin is over the bar
Briefly pause at the halfway point and brace your core (as shown in photo two) to stop leg swing
Lower all the way down before pulling up again – don’t cheat.

2. Barbell Squat
Reps: 6-8 Sets: 4
Place feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and toes pointing slightly outwards
Lower slowly until thighs are parallel then drive up through your heels
Keep your lower back netural, your knees in line with your feet and glutes back.

3. Bent-over Row
Reps: 8-10 Sets: 3
Bend over at the hips and draw your shoulder blades together
Lift the weight up without moving your torso up or down
Keep your back neutral and elbows unlocked.

4. Leg Press
Reps: 8-10 Sets: 3
Place feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and toes pointing slightly outwards
Keep your head in a comfortable position
Drive your legs out but do not fully extend your knees.

5. SUPERSET: Dumb-bell curl/ lunge
Reps: 10-12 of each Supersets: 3
Use a rotating curl grip to work the biceps and brachioradialis in the forearms
Lower the weight all the way down before curling up
As you step forwards into the lunge, make sure your knees stay in line with your ankles.

WHAT NEXT? Done the workout? Then make sure you fuel your post-session recovery with a meal or shake containing 30g of protein and carbs – don’t forget to put your feet up too!

Shaun Stafford is an Optimum Nutrition athlete - you can follow him on Instagram @shaunstafford and and Facebook

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.

Workout images ©Matt Ray

Follow the writer @mattfitnessray