Get Fit With LL Cool J’s Platinum Body Workout

( — Approaching his 39th birthday, James Todd Smith, of course more famously known as LL Cool J, has every right to slow down, rest on his laurels, count his money and perhaps even call it quits. After all, contrary to the fact that many hip-hop artists have fairly short careers, LL has spent over two decades in the limelight, including two Grammy Awards, 11 platinum CDs, a hit TV show and more than 20 feature films.

But instead of winding down, he just cut a new CD’s worth of tracks with 50 Cent as producer and he’s developing a CBS pilot with the creator of CSI. Also, reinforcing his status as one of Hollywood’s very fittest, he’s just come out with the book LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout, collaborating with Scooter Honig, his personal trainer of nearly 5 years.

“Working out is a huge investment in yourself, and it builds equity in your body,” says LL. “It helps in all your decisions. It helps you negotiate. It clears your mind. It gives you strength to overcome obstacles. It’s a deep thing, you know?”

His workout plan was born of necessity during concert tours. LL and Honig would hop off the bus in the middle of a desert for miles of roadwork, or scramble over the fence of a high-school football field to do wind sprints followed by pullups on a goalpost. Their superefficient, use-what-you-have approach, where not one single second is wasted, comes in handy during a time crunch, either LL’s or yours.

One of the reasons LL Cool J looks the way he does is that his trainer, Scooter Honig, combines old-school exercises like bench presses and curls with “cardio blasts” designed to produce maximum results in minimum time. LL’s book blends this unique “combination-platter” approach with free-weight bodybuilding, plyometrics, fighters’ moves, calisthenics and endurance training, all designed to build muscles while burning fat. The beauty is that the added muscle and staggered cardio can make you a fat-burning machine, even while sleeping. The net result? One day you might wake up looking like an LL Cool J version of yourself!

Below are excerpted examples of three of his explosive routines, both the workout schedule and explanations of the key moves.

LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout (Chest, Bicep and Cardio Circuit Excerpts)

Do this circuit plan once a week for a month, replacing your normal chest and biceps sessions. Try upping your poundage and cardio intensity a bit week to week. At the end of the month, go back to your normal training for chest and biceps and use circuits for another part of your body.

Before the workout, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes using a treadmill, a stationary bike, or some other cardio apparatus. Jumping jacks or running in place will also do the trick.

Lastly, when doing a circuit, don’t rest between exercises until you finish the last move. Rest for 1 1/2 minutes before doing the same circuit again. Perform both chest/cardio circuits two times each, and do the biceps/cardio circuit three times. Rest 1 1/2 minutes before moving on to the next circuit.

The Circuits

Chest/Cardio Circuit #1
(Perform two sets of each exercise, 10 – 12 reps each set)
Barbell Bench Press
Explosive Pushup
Jump Rope (1 minute at 70% of max heart rate)

Chest/Cardio Circuit #2
(Perform two sets of each exercise, 10 – 12 reps each set)
Barbell Bench Press
Cable Crossover
Treadmill Run (1 minute, 3% incline, at 70% of maximum heart rate)
Hanging Running Man

Bicep/Cardio Circuit
(Perform three sets of each exercise)
Standing Barbell Curl (4 –6 reps)
Preacher Curl (12 – 15 reps)
Mountain Climber (1 minute at 90% of maximum heart rate)

Extra Body Blasting Tip: Hold the fifth or sixth rep of each exercise in the most difficult position for 5 seconds before continuing.

The Moves

Barbell Bench Press

1. Lie face up with your back flat against the bench, unrack the bar, and raise it above you to arm’s length.

2. Lower the bar for a count of three, until it touches your upper chest.

3. Without “bouncing” it off your chest, push the weight back up to the starting position for a count of two beats.

Explosive Pushup

1. Begin in the standard pushup position, with your body in alignment, arms extended, and abs tight.

2. Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest is an inch or so off the ground.

3. Instead of returning to the starting position normally, “explode” back up–imagine trying to push your hands through the floor–with the goal of getting your hands and torso to leave the floor momentarily.

Cable Crossover

1. Stand between cable stacks with your arms extended to the sides, holding stirrup handles attached to the high pulley cables.

2. Step forward about 18 inches, placing one foot in front of the other for balance if needed.

3. Pull the handles in front of you in an arc until they meet at your chest.

4. Squeeze your pecs hard for a count of two.

Hanging Running Man

1. Grasp the handles of any two parallel bars in the gym. (Dip bars are excellent for this movement.)

2. Assume an upright position by extending your arms and locking your elbows. Raise your left knee toward your chest.

3. As you lower your left knee, raise your right knee, as if you’re pedaling a bike.

4. If you want an even greater challenge, try doing dips while you’re cycling.

Standing Barbell Curl

1. Stand holding a barbell with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, at arm’s length against your thighs.

2. Curl the bar up to the front of your shoulders.

3. Lower it.

4. Keep your upper arms stationary and more or less pinned against your sides.

Preacher Curl

1. Sit at a preacher-curl station and plant your feet on the floor. Resting your upper arms on the pad so its top rests snugly against your armpits, reach down and grasp the bar with an underhand grip, locking your wrists so they’re in line with your forearms.

2. Keeping your body position tight, raise the bar to the front of your shoulders. Squeeze your guns at the top. Pow!

3. Lower the weight to the starting position without relaxing your biceps.

Mountain Climber

1. Assume the standard pushup position.

2. In one smooth motion, bring your right knee toward the right side of your chest.

3. Without hesitating, bring your left leg forward while extending your right leg back.

4. Continue in alternating fashion, running on the floor like an Olympic sprinter two seconds away from that finish line!

Adapted from L Cool J’s Platinum Workout, by L Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O’Connell. Copyright © 2007 by James Todd Smith. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, Pa 18098. Available wherever books are sold, or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735.

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