Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Programming - The Lifting Templates

Right. So we're back to this. Yea. I know. It was like two months ago. Leave me alone. (I've been working on this post on and off for about a month now trying to put as much information in as small a space as possible. You're welcome.)

Anyway, you can find the first part of this post here.

So, how exactly do I propose you go about your strength training with an adaptable program that you can change as you go? Allow me to introduce you to the templates.


Also all example workouts assume you have already performed a 10-15 minute dynamic warm up (ex. rowing/jumping rope, squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups/body weight rows, leg swings front/side, hip stretches) 

The SwoleBro (Body Part Split 1):
Focus: Bodybuilding (muscular hypertrophy):
every muscle 1x per week (for example: mon/back,tue/chest,wed/legs (quad focus),thu/shoulders, friday/arms, saturday/legs(hamstring focus))

3-4 Compound (multi-joint) lifts per main muscle group
2-3 Isolation (single joint/muscle) lifts per muscle
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 8-12

Monday - Back
Deadlift - 12,12,10,8
Barbell Row - 12,12,10,8
Pull Up - 4x10
Cable Row - 4x10
Straight Arm Lat Pulldown/Pullover - 4x10

The Metro(Aesthetic)Bro (Body Part Split 2):
Focus: Bodybuilding, Metabolic/Conditioning (increased focus on energy systems/fat loss)
every muscle 2x per week (for example mon/upper body, tue/lower body, wed/rest, thu/upper body, fri/lower body, sat/shoulders, sun/rest-active recovery)

1-2 Compound lifts per muscle group
1 Isolation lift per muscle
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 8-12
Alternate Antagonistic Movements (Push/pull, horizontal/vertical, extend/flex)

Monday - Upper Body

Superset 1
Cable Row/Chest Press: 3x12
Superset 2
Cable Lat Pull Down/Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3x12
Superset 3
Fly/Reverse Fly: 3x12
Superset 4
Bicep Curl/Tricep Extension: 3x12

The EliteFitnessBro
Focus: No one is really sure. (Supreme fitness and stuff)
no discernible rhyme or reason to muscles used or program patterning

Okay I'm just kidding. The truth is that this one is a bit harder to quantify simply and I'm pretty sure the organization would have all sorts of problems with me trying to do so but oh well.

Focus:  Metabolic Conditioning
try to stress as many muscles/systems as possible in as few movements as necessary (in a very general sense)

Descending/Ascending Pattern Schemes
like 3-6-9-12-15, 21-15-9, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, 50/25-40/20-30/15-20/10-10/5 (for two exercises ex: 50 squats/25 push ups, 40 squats/20 push ups etc.)
or a set Goal Number (25,50,100 etc.) for time (AFAP) 
or a set of exercises done for as many repetitions or rounds of a circuit (AMRAP)
Or a set of exercises done every minute on the minute (EMOM)

Ex. 1
Pullup - Front Squat/Push Press          

Ex. 2
Pull Ups
Sit Ups
x10 ea
AMRAP 15 min.

Ex. 3
Clean & Jerk complex:
Squat Clean & Jerk - Hang Clean & Jerk - Push Jerk
EMOM 10 min.

The Beginner PowerBro
Focus: Strength (Ability to lift a lot of weight), Power (Ability to lift a lot of weight quickly)
Full Body 3-4x per week (every other day)
Sets: 3-5
Reps: 3-5
Scheme: 1 Upper Body Pull, 1 Upper Body Push, 1 Type of Squat, 1 Type of Deadlift (optional depending on tolerance. Optimal deadlift frequency in training is something that I could devote an entire post to.) 
So this is a thing. Thanks, Google. 

Front Squat 5x5
Deadlift 5x5
Strict Press 5x5
Barbell Row 5x5

The Intermediate to Advanced PowerBro
Focus: Strength, Power
4-5x per week
1 Main Lift Per Day + Accessory Work
Try not to hit same/similar movements 2 days in a row (don't do benchpresses tuesday and strict presses wednesday)
Sets/Reps: This isn't as specific as the others but generally for whatever your main lift is load the bar with about 50% of your 1RM (yes, you need to know your ACTUAL, TESTED 1RM) and do a set of 3-5 reps. 

Lets say you pick 5 reps - Perform each set and then add 5-20 lbs in regular increments (probably 5-10 lbs for upper body lifts but you might use 10-20 lbs for deadlifts/squats/olympic lifts....though they would want me to write it in kg) working your way up to a 5RM. Continue adding weight but move down to 3 reps per set until you hit a 3RM. Then do singles until you can't lift any more. 

If at this point you want/need to add some more volume to your workout you can knock the weight back down and start working back up 3 reps at a time. You could do 5 as well, but from personal experience I can tell you that really, really sucks. You should pick a method that's relevant to your goals. If you're trying to add mass --> High volume. If you're trying to increase the max strength of the mass you have -->Lower Volume/More maxes/multiple rep maxes (for example Olympic Lift Programming often sticks to three or fewer reps/attempts per set)

You can then perform your accessory lifts (typically performed as a Bodybuilding split for the body part corresponding to the main lift (See SwoleBro above))

It's also worth mentioning Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program here. It follows a similar scheme to this one but with slightly different parameters (and was my original exposure to these types of programs). 

The Reasonable FitnessBro

Focus: General Strength, Fitness and Structural Integrity
Full Body 3-4x Wk (Every other day)
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 8-12
Scheme: 1 movement per pattern. try not to do the same  exact movements or directions in consecutive workouts.

Hip Hinge
Loaded Carry/Postural Exercise

Workout A 
Push Up 3x12
Lat Pulldown 3x12 105lbs
Barbell Back Squat 3x12 185lbs
Lateral Lunges 3x12 ea. leg 20lbs ea. hand
Stiff Leg Deadlift (Romanian Deadlift) 3x12 135 lbs
Cable Core Rotation 3x12 ea. side
Farmers Walk 5x50 yds 80lbs ea. hand

Workout B 
Standing Overhead Press (Strict Press) 3x12 95lbs
Front Squat 3x12 155
Cable Row 3x12 120
Deadlift 3x12 205
Alternating Forward Lunges 3x12 ea. leg
Hi-Low Cable Chop 3x12 ea. side 50lbs
Bottoms-Up KB Hold 5x30 sec. or Bottoms Up KB Farmers Walk 5x50yds 

So these are some solid, basic templates for constructing a sound training program. While they can be performed to the letter of the descriptions above, the real fun of this system is the ability to mix and match and how much room for creativity there is within the programs especially when on top of set/rep schemes you start to consider lifting tempos, time schemes and order of exercises.

For Example:
Circuits - Rather than performing each exercise in consecutive sets, it can sometimes be useful to perform one exercise after another with little to no rest in between in one giant set and then rest after one set of each exercise has been completed. This is typically called "circuit training."

Ballistic/Explosive Lifts- rather than performing each rep in a slow and controlled manner, lower the weight slowly and then try to lift it as quickly as possible. These types of exercise tend to focus on building power (the ability to generate force quickly) and also frequently exhibit a high metabolic demand (...they make you puke if you do them a lot).

So say you take the Reasonable FitnessBro above and in order to save time and burn a few extra calories (at the expense of a small amount of muscle growth) you decide to perform it as a circuit. This particular template actually lends itself to this scheme very well and happens to be a program I use with my clients often.

You can also mix and match the templates once you start to understand each individual templates purposes. For example, say you want to retain the strength you've built with your PowerBro program but now you want to focus on a bit more aesthetics. Pretty easy - just combine the PowerBro and AestheticBro templates into one:

Day 1 Lower Body
Back Squat
Performed Following PowerBro Standards (3 rep sets to 3RM etc.)
With our powers combined...
Remaining lifts done AestheticBro style:
Front Squat 4x10
Stiff Leg Deadlift 4x10
Lateral Lunges 4x10 ea.
Box Jumps 5x5

Day 2 Upper Body
Strict Press
Performed Following PowerBro Standards
Chin Up 4x10
Dumbbell Bench Press 4x10
Barbell Row 4x10
Bicep Curls and Tricep Extensions (If you're into that kind of thing) 4x10 ea.

Then take a day off....and start over but this time swap the back squat for a deadlift on lower body day and the strict press for either  a bench or a bent over row on upper body day. Ideally a solid program would be balanced between pushing and pulling movements.

Of course this isn't the only possible combination just one of the easiest examples to provide. The truth is that if you really want to get creative you need to understand the principles that drive your programming. In other words, you need to understand from a physiological perspective what the possible goals of exercise are and how to program for each of them.

In addition it would probably be useful to know how to program aerobic/cardiovascular work and maybe even some agility and plyometrics since this post is just about lifting stuff.

Well guess what? Those posts will be coming at you soon.

And no, it won't take two months. Thanks for waiting anyway.

Good luck and good lifting.


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