Transform Into a Superhero With This 4-Week Workout Program

This month, in the sixth installment of our yearlong series that’ll get you the specific workout results you want, we give you the tools for a superhero transformation from one of the best trainers in the business. Next month, we’ll give you more.

Celebrity trainer Don Saladino, NASM, specializes in rapid transformations.

The brains behind the new Men’s Health workout-video program, Superhero Shred, he’s spent his career packing muscle onto the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Zachary Levi. “A four-week transformation is possible,” Saladino says. “But it’s not easy.” The workout that’ll get you started on the road to a superhero body is here. Cape not included.

Directions: Do this workout 4 days a week, lifting heavy while maintaining good form. In week 1, do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for each move. In week 2, do 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps. In week 3, do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps. In week 4, do each move for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds; do 3 rounds of each move. On nontraining days, aim to spend a half hour jogging, walking, or playing a sport.

Feeling extra powerful? Check out Saladino’s new Men’s Health workout program, Superhero Shred.

The Warmup

Side Plank Knee-to-Elbow

Lie on your left side, left forearm on the floor, legs extended and stacked. Raise your hips off the floor, forming a straight line from torso through feet. Extend your right hand straight over your head. This is the start. Tuck your right knee to your chest; tuck your right elbow toward your knee as you do this. Squeeze your abs, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep.

Eb says: Your first focus on this exercise is owning that side plank. Don’t let that position get sloppy as you bring knee to elbow.

The Workout

Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat

Stand in front of a bench or box about 18 inches high, holding dumbbells at your sides. Place the top of your right foot on the bench. This is the start. Bend your left knee, lowering until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. (Your right leg will bend as you do this.) Pause, then stand back up. That’s 1 rep. Do a full set on each leg.

Romanian Deadlift

Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides, feet hip-width apart, core braced, knees slightly bent. This is the start. Hinge at your hips and push your butt backward, lowering your torso. Hinge forward until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings; take 5 seconds to do this. Pause, then stand up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep.

Dumbbell Bilateral Tempo Row

Stand holding dumbbells, your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hinge forward. Let the dumbbells hang naturally. Squeeze your shoulder blades and tighten your core. This is the start. Without moving your torso, row both dumbbells toward your hips, then pause once they are as high as you can get them. Lower back to the start, taking 3 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep.

Eb says: Focus on driving your elbows high, not on contracting your biceps. Your goal with this move is building lat size and strength, not getting big arms.

Single-Arm Half-Bench Press

Lie on a bench holding a dumb-bell in your right hand. Slide toward the right side so that the right half of your torso is off the bench.Extend your left arm straight above or straight out to your side. This is the start (a). Bend at your right elbow, lowering the dumbbell until it’s within an inch of your chest (b).Press back up. That’s 1 rep. Do a set of the required reps on each side.

Eb says: This is as much about your chest as it is about your abs. Squeeze your abs and glutes on the off-bench side hard throughout each set.


A. Bent-Over Triceps Kickback

Stand holding light dumbbells at your sides, then hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Raise your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. This is the start. Moving only at the elbows, press the weights straight back. Pause. Return to the start. Do the required reps, then shift into position for the next move.

B. Tempo Biceps Curls

Return to standing position; this is the start. Curl both dumbbells upward toward your chest; pause and squeeze your biceps hard at the top. Lower back to the start, taking 3 seconds to do this. That’s 1 rep. Do the required reps.

The Finisher

Rack-Down Carry

Stand holding 1 dumbbell at your right side and 1 at your left shoulder. Tighten your core and work to stand perfectly upright. This is the start. Walk forward for 40 seconds (if you’re working out in a small area, take 3 steps forward, then 3 steps backward until time runs out), rest for 20 seconds, then immediately begin the next set. Do 3 sets per side.

Want more from Saladino? Check out his new workout-video program, Superhero Shred.

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