Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Barbell Back Squat (Pause) (Key)
Bulgarian Split-squat (Key)
Machine Hamstring Curl (Accessory)
Smith-Machine Calf (Accessory)
Your week 1 workout are for getting a feel for your technique, less so for what weight. Try to make each exercise work for you. Get a full range of motion. Squeeze the muscle on each rep. Control the weight down with intent. Feel the muscle stretch. Make the weight feel heavy by letting it pull on the muscle in a deeply stretched position. Flex between sets.
Do whatever you can to make a light weight feel like the best set of your life with each exercise.
ALWAYS stay tight throughout the squat to engage as much muscle as possible on each rep. Even though there are not many exercises in this workout, if you treat your reps for all of these exercises with this type of mental focus, it will be enough work to get the stimulus we want.
If you want to finish the workout hard, use the standing calf raise finisher to wreck yourself. It won’t be too fatiguing as long as you stick to flawless form.
If you need to change any exercises: (not recommended)
- Barbell Squat can be replaced by a smith machine. If anything, just use the leg press.
- Hamstring Curls can be done with any hamstring machine of your choice. If not, use a hinge movement.
- Bulgarian Split Squat can be replaced with any sort of single leg pressing on a machine. Also, you could use some sort of lunge with the barbell, dumbbells, or smith machine.
These exercises are your tools for building your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and pelvic muscles (tensor fasciae latae, adductors). Form first, then pack on the plates.
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 practice your technique to lift the most weight possible in a stable way in the weeks to come. It is important to start week 1 at the top of the rep range, so as the weight increases over the weeks and the reps fall, you will still fall within the correct range. This means you will want to pick a weight that allows you to do 6 reps with your key lifts and 12 reps with your accessory lifts this week.
This weight selection criteria applies to Key Lifts Only.
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.This is the most important metric to follow!
65-75% of 1 rep max (1RM) means that you will use between half and 3 quarters 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. This is a weight that you should be able to do a maximal effort set of 10 with.
A weight that feels like easy form practice for an exercise is one that you could perform and experiment with your technique to analyze what feels best without worrying about missing a rep.
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 technique and control.
Accessory Lifts are meant to add muscle to your weak points. I would recommend that you lift lighter weights on these and use them to train muscles more like a bodybuilder. Stick to 4 RIR and try to get a good stretch on the muscle, hard contraction, and huge pump.
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 practice technique but not annihilate the muscle or nervous system.
For the first week, try to do the fewest number of sets with the weight you can easily do. This keeps fatigue low at the beginning of the block and allows you to focus on ingraining perfect repeatable technique before you start challenging your technique with heavier weights.
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 which is good for the first week by keeping fatigue low and allowing more thorough technique practice.
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: