Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Hip Airplanes (Accessory)
Heel-Elevated Deep Overhead Squat (Key)
Knee Push Ups (Accessory)
Top of Dip Hold Super Elevated Pike Hold (Isometric)
Towel Inverted Row (Key)
Bent Knee Side Plank (Isometric)
Calf Raises (Accessory)
Bent Knee Side Plank (Isometric)
Your “Key” and “Isometric” Exercises are the ones you want to focus on.
Key Exercises – these are the most important movements. They will apply to the best bodyweight exercises and overtime you how to move correctly, confidently, and pain-free.
Isometric Exercises – Make sure to flex your muscles hard to get practice activating your entire body. The more stable you can get in these positions, the more it will carry over into the Key exercises of the next few weeks and then next few blocks.
Our Goal – Use these Key and Isometric Exercises to build up to performing more difficult exercises. In particular, push ups and bodyweight squats with stellar form.
If the exercises are too hard: I recommend adding more support to assist you or anything to make the movement easier. Your range of motion and form will improve over time so start where you are at and know that you will get to where you want to be overtime if you stick to the plan!
If the exercises are too easy: I recommend making them more difficult by making the position more challenging and forcing yourself to recruit more muscle. You also can add weight if you need to which can be increased week after week in a methodology known as “linear progression”.
I would recommend you take a video of you doing your top set from one or two different angles to track your progress on your form.
Before you do the workouts, watch the videos linked at the bottom under the “Videos” section to see the form for these exercises. After the workout, compare your form to the videos at the bottom to identify any improvements you need to make.
Any lifts that are not key are accessory movements that are not the priority of progression. Use them to pump blood into the muscles and develop a better mind-muscle connection to get the most out of each rep for growth.
Super refers to superset. When you finish the first exercise, immediately start the set for the next exercise. Make sure to push yourself!
If you need to change any exercises: (if you lack access to equipment)
- Try to use similar movements. Identify the muscles you are working with the exercises you want to replace and use a movements you prefer which target the same muscles.
- If you have access to gym equipment, feel free to substitute exercises that you prefer with equipment you have.
For more Progress:
- Do more cardio and activity throughout the week. This will improve your work capacity to do more volume (sets & reps) to make more progress faster.
- Stretch daily. If you can make your body move well, you will be able to get better at all movements much faster. Try stretching at the beginning and end of the day.
- Build up to High Intensity. Start small and build towards pushing yourself hard. Learning how to move your body with maximum effort is a skill that takes practice and is the best way to build a strong body.
General Fitness Terminology & Lingo:
- Exercises – a movement that provides resistance for a muscle to work against.
- Isometrics – a static movement that is counted by time which engages muscles
- Form – the best way to perform an exercise to simulate the muscles while protecting the joints
- Weight – a generic term for ‘resistance’ which is the opposite force which the muscle contracts against to overcome in an exercise.
- Reps – Short for “Repititions”; Used for counting dynamic movements (ex: pushup) by completion of both the concentric (contracting the muscle – usually the lifting phase of an exercise) and eccentric (lengthening/stretching the muscle – usually the lowering phase of an exercise).
- Rep Range – the ideal number of repititions to complete in an exercise for a strategic reason.
- Sets – a group of reps; used to count the number of time you perform reps of an exercise. Given sufficient weight, this is the primary driver of muscle growth.
- Volume – the total number of sets you are doing. High volume training is a type of training where you are doing a lot of work, but you may also by accumulating a lot of fatigue. This is why high volume training can be built up to but is not necessarily sustainable year round.
- Rest Periods – the time between finishing a set and doing the next set.
These exercises are your tools for building your upper body. You control the tools, do not let the tools control you.
Stay in a Good Spot this Block
Picking the right amount of weight and sets is vital in the first week. It is better to start comfortably and challenge yourself in the following weeks.
As you read this section, think strategically about your workout and write down the weight, sets, and rep range in the Workout Plan PDF that set you up for success.
The goal is to start week 1 at the top of the rep range, so as the weight increases over the weeks and the reps may fall, you will still fall within the correct range. This means you will want to pick a weight that allows you to do 8 reps with your key lifts and 12 reps with your accessory lifts this week.
For Isometrics, try to make it easy enough to hold for 1 minute on the first week. Over the weeks, you can put yourself in more challenging positions that bring you closer to 30 seconds. The goal is to spend the most amount of time in the most challenging position that you can handle.
This weight selection criteria applies to both key and accessory lifts.
Weight selection is always an estimate that is confirmed by actual performance. Use these different metrics to identify the weight that allows you to stay at the top of the rep range for each exercise to give you leeway in the upcoming weeks.
4 RIR (Reps in Reserve) means that you should finish the set with 4 reps away from failure where you aren’t able to lift the weight without breaking form or at all. This does not have to be a perfect measurement. All that matters is that you are close to assure your weight is not too heavy or too light.
50-60% of Max effort refers to your 1 rep max (1RM) which is when you do a single rep with the maximum amount of tension. This means that you will do approximately half of the weight of your 1 rep max for your sets. It is always better to go lighter than you think and control the weight more in the first week to make the weight feel heavier than it is.
A weight that feels comfortable for an exercise is one that you could perform in the rep range if someone was to wake you up in the middle of the night and tell you to do a set.
For Isometrics, this means you should feel like you should be able to hold it for another 10-20 seconds easily if you needed to.
You might wonder why we are starting so light. It is important to develop coordination in exercises before trying to lift heavy because even if you lifted your hardest on week 1, you would lack the coordination to lift heavy weight effectively. By starting light, we limit fatigue and allow coordination to build over the weeks to lift maximal weights by the end of the block with great form and control.
This is the number of sets you will want to start with for each exercise in the first week.
We want to bias our training volume to focus on the most important lifts for each workout. Our goal is to stimulate the muscle but not annihilate it.
For the first week, try to do the fewest number of sets with the lowest weight possible by making lightweight feel as challenging as possible on each rep. This keeps fatigue low at the beginning of the block and allows room for growth over the weeks.
This is the amount of time you want to rest between working sets on week 1.
You can apply this rest period to warm up sets and between exercises, if you choose, but it is up to you. The main takeaway is that shorter rest periods between working sets prevent you from going too heavy to give you a good pump while keeping fatigue low.
Make sure your rest periods are not too short where it compromises your form!
Fill out the table with your expected weights and sets before you go workout, so you have a clear mission. Then adjust based on actual performance.
Here’s how I would fill it out for a workout: