Simple Programming for Sweet Success
The internet is great in that it gives us access to virtually endless information at the touch of a button or the sound of our voice. The internet is terrible in that it gives us access to virtually endless information at the touch of a button or the sound of our voice. Nature dictates that we thrive on limited and simple choices. In the wilderness, you have a couple of choices of what to eat–you either eat them or starve. You have limited options for water. Perhaps a stagnant puddle, a small pond, maybe a running stream or lake. You drink one or die from dehydration. During inclement and colder weather, you build some form of shelter and/or a fire or you get hypothermia and die. With modern day comforts, we don’t have such life and death decisions to make and we become paralyzed by choice and the quest for the optimal. This is never more true than it is with diet and exercise. It is amazing how knowledgeable many people are in regards to exercise and nutrition, yet they can’t use or implement any of that knowledge due to the paralysis of too much choice. As a fitness professional over the last 11+ years, I have fallen victim to this same dysfunction. I’ve spent hours and days writing up the most carefully constructed nutrition or training plan only to throw it out or get side tracked by the next shiny new trend out there. Over two decades in the gym have shown me a few things though. The people who really make progress long term do a lot of the same stuff over and over again. They use many of the same basic exercises and just gradually do more over time, whether that means reps, sets, or weight. They make small subtle changes, but the backbone of the way they train stays relatively consistent. One of the most freeing things I’ve done was have other professionals in the field put together a training plan that forced me to simplify things so I could focus on what really matters: showing up consistently and training with purpose. The following template is something that I’ve tweaked over the last six months for myself and several clients with great success. I believe that by tweaking the correct variables this can be adapted for virtually any individual.
Your days will alternate between heavy upper body pushing (pressing), heavy lower body pushing (squatting), and heavy lower body pulling (hinging). On the days you do a heavy push, you will pair that with a lighter hinge and squat. On the days you do a heavy squat or hinge, you will do a lighter upper body push (press) and upper body pull (row). For the week, you will pick three different lower body push variations, three different lower body hinge variations, three different upper body push variations, and two different upper body pull variations. The program works best if done 2-4 days per week, depending on age, and recovery ability. Older individuals probably would be better suited for 2-3 days per week, while younger individuals probably would do well with 3-4 days. The heavier lifts should stay the same for a minimum of six weeks and perhaps as many as 18 weeks. The lighter lifts should stay the same for at least three weeks, but 6-9 weeks is probably better. Each week, you will either add sets, reps, or load. Start with less than you think you should use as most individuals over-estimate their capabilities. Even if you don’t, the weekly progressions will challenge you soon enough.
Day 1 Day 2
Heavy Squat (e.g. Goblet Squat) Heavy Press (e.g. Landmine Press)
Lighter upper push (e.g. push ups) Lighter Squat (e.g. Goblet Split Squat)
Light upper pull (e.g. TRX Row) Lighter Hinge (e.g. 1 Leg deadlift)
Day 3 Day 4
Heavy Hinge (e.g. Barbell Hip Thrust) Heavy Press (e.g. Barbell Floor Press)
Lighter upper push (e.g. DB Bench Press) Lighter Squat (e.g. Lateral Squat)
Lighter upper pull (e.g. band assisted pull ups) Lighter Hinge (e.g. Kettlebell Deadlift)
The heavy lifts each day will be performed for 4-10 sets of 2-5 reps. The lighter lifts will be performed for 2-5 sets of 6-10 reps. Warm up thoroughly before beginning your working sets (good warm ups will usually take 5-10 minutes). The actual training portion of the workout should last 30-45 minutes with total time being under one hour. Each week when you repeat a given session, you will either add one rep to each set, one set, or load to the bar making sure to stay within the prescribed sets and rep ranges. One you can no longer progress on a given movement (and only then), you will switch that out for something new. Your base template will stay the exact same until you outgrow a given exercise (minimum of 3 weeks for lighter work and 9 weeks for heavy work). For each day, you will alternate as follows: you will always do double the sets of your heavy lifts, always doing an even number. So, if you are doing six sets of heavy squats, you will perform three sets of push-ups and three sets of TRX rows. Because of the compound nature of the lifts, you shouldn’t need a significant amount of other training. If you are insistent on doing more work such as core stability or muscle isolation exercises, throw it on at the end of your workout or as an additional training day.
For help setting up the ideal framework of this program, we offer a 30 day trial for non-members for $85 or existing members can have a plan set up for $36. We will assess movement, goals, and history to put together the ideal plan for you. This template works great for goals of dropping body fat, building muscle, strength, or toning.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1