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Drive Big Gains in Tony Horton’s Upper-Body Inferno Program

Build muscle mass over three weeks in these ‘spicy’ hypertrophy-focused sessions.

Coach Tony Horton is back with a new program that’s all about giving you a great upper-body burn. Upper-Body Inferno amplifies the attention on your chest, back, arms, and shoulders with a three-week challenge. “It’s hot! And it’s spicy…just like the way we like it,” says Horton. 

Upper-Body Inferno—or Upper-Body En Fuego, in Horton’s words—targets a different upper-body muscle group in each session, maximizing volume and time under tension while minimizing the time working out. 

If you’re a fan of his popular Upper-Body Blaster workout, you’ll love this new program. 

How It Works

Three weeks is the exact length of a training mesocycle, a specific block designed to help you accomplish a particular goal—in this case, major upper-body gains. Over the course of each week, you’ll steadily accumulate the volume needed to build muscle mass and size.

Horton collaborated with Tonal’s performance experts to craft a hypertrophy-focused program that will take you through 12 total workouts, which breaks down into four sessions per week over three weeks. The bulk of the work will target your upper body, with a single block of legs once a week, in workouts typically lasting between 25 and 30 minutes. 

“What’s different about this program is that we used what’s called a cycle split,” says Jenna Moore, a certified strength and conditioning coach and Programming Specialist at Tonal. “Even though you’re working out four times per week, it’s actually a three-day-a-week split,” she explains. On day one, you’ll target your chest; day two, your back; and day three, your arms and shoulders. On the fourth day of the week, you’ll cycle back to whatever you did on day one. Then, the next week starts and finishes with what you did on day two, and so on. 

“What that does is allow you to hit all of the upper-body muscles four times within the three-week timeframe, so you get the most amount of volume and work for those muscle groups in the shortest amount of time,” Moore explains. 

You’ll hit moves like the bench press, overhead press, seated lat pulldowns, bicep curls, and tricep extensions throughout the program. 

Rep ranges will hold steady around 8 to 12 for the first block of each session, then jump to 10 to 15 in the secondary block, where Burnout mode will be there to support you. “The weight’s going to be a little lighter, but what we’re really trying to do is take you as close to muscular failure as possible at the end of the workout,” says Moore. 

On the fourth workout day of each week, you’ll get one block targeting legs, with reps in the 6 to 15 range. The first week will focus on a squats, while the second and third weeks focus on deadlifts and lunges, allowing you to hit all the major lower body movement patterns over the course of three weeks

“We call this a minimal effective dose,” says Moore. “You won’t lose the strength that you had in the lower body before this program because we’ll make sure that you minimally hit the legs for the shortest amount of time that science tells us you can do and still maintain muscle mass.” 

Who It’s For

Upper-body workouts are among the most popular on Tonal, and Horton actually requested to design a program that would specifically appeal to anyone searching for a new way to challenge their chest, back, arms, and shoulders. And Upper-Body Inferno is a no-brainer for Upper-Body Blaster fans: “We really wanted to build on that and blow it up into a whole program,” says Moore. 

Upper-Body Inferno is billed as an intermediate program, but it’s easily scalable to all fitness levels. “If you’re advanced, you’ll be using more challenging weights, and if you’re a beginner, the volume and length of the workouts is still doable,” says Moore. 

But, really, anyone who wants to dedicate time to building out their upper body will benefit from Horton’s latest offering. “It’s a very time-efficient hypertrophy program, so if you’re looking to gain muscle mass in the upper body and maintain what you have in the lower body, this is the program for you,” says Moore. 

How to Do It

The beauty of Horton’s programs, Upper-Body Inferno included, is that they can all be done on-demand, so you can work through the sessions as your schedule allows. The suggested cadence, according to Moore, consists of doing days 1 and 2 back to back, then alternating rest days and work days for the rest of the week (you’d rest on days 3, 5, and 7, then complete workouts on days 4 and 6). 

“Because of the cycle split, we wanted that last day to be a little bit more spread out so you can get proper active recovery between the workouts, especially since we’re using a lot of the same muscle groups,” says Moore. 

But that’s just a recommendation. If you’re feeling refreshed and ready to go, you can jump right into that next workout the next day. On the flip side, if you go to start the next workout after an off day and your arms still feel like noodles, take an extra day of rest. “You always have the flexibility to adjust the schedule to what works for you,” says Moore. “It just comes down to listening to your body.”