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The Workout World Champion Fitness Model Shaun Stafford Uses to Build Muscle in 20 Minutes

Jamie Millar
·2-min read

“Hypertrophy” is a fancy word for “building muscle”. It involves “effectively damaging the muscle in order for it to grow back bigger”, says Shaun Stafford, director of London’s City Athletic and former beanpole-turned-WBFF World Fitness Champion.

Stafford’s formula for growth is to lift at 80% or more of your max for 45-70 seconds for each of your three or four sets per exercise. That works out at 8-12 reps, each lasting five seconds – likely slower than you’re used to. If you want to cram enough metabolic stress to trigger growth into 20 minutes, Stafford recommends targeting a single muscle group. A weekly split might be: chest, back, rest; legs, arms and abs, rest; active recovery. (Leave 48-72 hours before hitting the same group again.)

A/ Bench Press

4 sets of 8 reps, 90sec rest

With a dumbbell in each hand, retract and depress your shoulder blades and squeeze your glutes. Lower to your chest (A), then press up (B).

B/ Incline DB Press

3 sets of 10 reps, 60sec rest

Set up with the bench at an incline (A). Driving your glutes and shoulders into the bench, press the weights above you (B). Lower as far as is comfortable.

C/ Weighted Dip

3 sets of 10 reps, 60sec rest

Wear a dip belt, or hold a bell between your feet (A). Leaning forward, flare your elbows and lower yourself (B). Pause at the bottom, then drive up.

D1/ Chest Fly

3 sets of 12 reps

Lie on a bench with a pair of dumbbells held high above your chest. Lower until you feel a stretch (A), then return (B). Don’t let the weights touch.

D2/ Press-up

3 sets of AMRAP, 60sec rest

Drop and give us AMRAP. Get into a high plank, with your shoulder blades retracted. Lower your chest to the ground (A), then press up (B).

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