Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Bent-Over Barbell Row (Pause) (Accessory)
Mid-Grip Lat Pulldown (Pause) (Accessory)
Reverse Pec Deck (Accessory)
Machine Curl (Accessory)
Reverse Curl (Accessory)
Even though lifting lighter weights can help improve your form, the goal is not to lift light weight. Heavy weight will lead to better progress when PR (personal record) weight is combined with PR technique. Pick the right form for your goals and slowly lift as much as possible over time with that form. In short, it is not a choice between light weight with form and heavy weight without form, strive for heavy weight with flawless form.
If you need more arm volume, consider using a straight bar curl at the end of the workout.
Machine Curl – Use whatever machine you have access to that you like. Otherwise, use your favorite cable machine curl. If you do not have access to that, simply use dumbbells.
Reverse Curl – I recommend using an EZ bar to go easy on the wrists.
If you need to change any exercises: (not recommended)
- BB Row = can be replaced by cable rows or dumbbell rows
- Pulldowns = can be replaced by pull-ups (assisted with band or machines as needed)
- Reverse Pec Deck = can be replaced with cable reverse flye or chest-supported reverse dumbbell flye.
- All other exercises can be performed with machines or cable
These exercises are your tools for building your back (rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres major, infraspinatus, traps) and biceps. If you can’t feel the muscle, practice more. Flex between sets, before sets, after your workout, and any time you want to improve the neural connections.
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 12 reps with your accessory lifts this week.
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 1 rep max (1RM) 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.
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.
It is important to rest a little longer when the weights are heavier. If you struggle to maintain RIR 3 on your sets, you may need to rest a little longer between sets.
However, whenever your rest is shorter it does have the advantage of giving you a better pump and it prevents you from lifting too heavy, so you can do more sets in the same time span without giving excessive fatigue.
Above all else: 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: