Words: Chris Jones (@chrisjonesgeek)
Weight training is more popular than ever and we are spoilt for choice in how we approach it.
There’s old school bodybuilding, crossfit, metabolic conditioning but the one thing we all want from these methods is the results, and we want them now.
We want the muscle mass now, we want the leaner waist now, we want to look good on instagram with our shirts off NOW.
With summer approaching, we put pressure on ourselves to keep any sort of muscle mass but also wanting to slim down too.
Cue Jack Hanrahan, PT to some of Hollywood’s finest, who often need to build up muscle for a role but lean down at the same time.
Jack Hanrahan with Chris Jones
Basically, it’s achievable and that’s music to my ears. Also the fact that Jack has trained the X-Men cast is pretty awesome.
Jack’s new three-month programme is called Re-Build Yourself. And it’s aptly called that because, even though I’m an intermediate gym goer, the moves he took me through destroyed my body.
He focuses a lot on mobility and the quality of a rep in a holistic fashion without the use of machines. “Using too many machines can ignore those little muscles that we don't see. Those ‘non mirror muscles!’," he says.
"So over time, the prime movers your chest, your back, your shoulders, they start develop imbalances and then the joint doesn't function properly.
“Also, people need to slow down at the gym. It’s not a race and there’s no badge for finishing quickly. Take time over your reps."
Below is just one of the upper body sessions available on Jack’s Re-Build Yourself plan:
Facepulls (3 sets x 15 reps)
Use this as your warm up. The best exercise to activate the shoulder stabilising muscles like the rotator cuff which gets them primed and ready for the main exercises.
Hold the ropes with your palms down and pull them towards your face with your elbows leading the movement, keeping your upper arms parallel with the floor.
Super Set 1 (Horizontal Pull / Push)
A1 TRX Rows (3 sets x 12 reps)
This works the middle & upper back. The lower your body is to the ground, the harder it is. TRX rows are a very functional and joint friendly way to work the back.
A note on technique - always keep the chest up and the body in a perfect straight line. Pause for a split second at the top of the movement to fully contract the back.
A2 Band Push Ups (3 sets x 8-12 reps)
Push ups are neglected by most people but it’s the most functional way of working the chest while also being very shoulder friendly.
Adding a band for extra resistance makes the push up significantly harder on the chest and triceps. The chest will be super pumped after this!’
Super Set 2 (Vertical Pull / Push)
B1 Stretch Pulldowns (3 sets x 12 reps)
This pulldown variation allows you to work through a full range of motion and get a big stretch on the lats.
As you reach up, lean the chest forward to get a big stretch, then lean back slightly, and drive the elbows back to contract the lats.
B2 1/2 Kneeling Landmine Press (3 sets x 8 x reps)
Jack taught me that this is an overhead press variation that’s a lot more shoulder friendly because its not directly overhead.
It’s also very demanding on the core as the load is on just one side of the body. Works the shoulders, triceps and core.
Jack says that 'these four movements (Pair 1 and 2) are considered the primary movement patterns of the upper body.'
Super set 3: Bicep / Triceps
C1 Incline Bicep Curls (3 sets x 8-10 reps)
This exercise will train the biceps through a full range of motion as it allows for a full stretch at the bottom.
The key to getting a good pump is to go down slow (3 seconds) and pause for a split second at the top, keeping the elbows pinned back.
C2 DB Tricep Extensions (3 sets x 12 reps)
Using dumbbells is very easy on the wrists and elbows. The goal of this exercise is to get a good pump in the triceps.
Keep the elbows directly above the shoulders. Don’t let them drift forward.
Jack tells me this is what we call “bro time! These arm exercises really fill your sleeves!”
Super set 4: Rear delts and core.
D1 Prone Rear Delt Raises (3 sets x 15 reps)
Most people neglect the rear delts. Not only is it important to prevent muscle imbalances but it also gives a well rounded look to the shoulders as this muscle makes up 1/3rd of the delts!
Lay on your front on a low incline bench. Use a light weight and pause for a split second at the top of the movement, with the weights in-line with your ears.
This is a humbling exercise when you perform it with such strict technique. The back of the shoulders will be on fire after this!
D2 Body Saws (3 sets x10 reps)
This is a challenging plank variation and will torch the anterior core / abs. You start in a plank position with feet on sliders or towels.
Push your body back 4-6 inches then pull the body forward until the elbows are back in line with the shoulders. Repeat for 10 reps. Keep the hips up, glutes squeezed and don’t sag the low back!
Jack’s plan is for beginner or advanced lifters who want to new routine and he says: “This is a more sort of functional bodybuilding plan where we really try and rebuild the foundations and rebuild functional muscle and strength to improve our overall joint health and mobility.
"The whole goal of this is lifting longevity. Build your body in a smart way and with smarter training comes superior results.”
Jack's brand new 3 month online programme Rebuild Yourself will be launching via www.jackhanrahanfitness.com
Photos: Markus Bidaux