Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Barbell Flat Bench (Key)
Overhead Press (Key)
Barbell Row (Key)
Hack Squat (Key)
Deep Incline Dumbbell Press (Key)
Weighted Dips (Key)
Pull ups (Key)
Barbell Back Squat (Key)
Barbell Romanian (Key)
Barbell Flat Bench – be very particular about your bar path. Figure out how fast you need to flare your elbows to get the weight into a strong position. Some people can press the weight in a straight line, usually due to shorter arms and thick triceps. Others may need to aggressively flare their elbows immediately at the bottom of the lift, this results in a more diagonal bar path (or even a J bar path), usually for people with longer arms. It is always easier to figure this out with lighter weight. Once you get to the heavy weight, just lift explosively. When you do a drop set, use the same form and finish yourself.
Overhead Press – As you press the weight up, think about using it to drive your feet into the ground. Moreover, as your feet go into the ground, think about spreading the floor by pressing on the sides of your feet to create tension in your legs. By having a more stable base, you will be able to press with more efficient energy transfer and not lose any strength in the chain.
Barbell Row – The lower you row the weight, the more you feel your lats. Think about moving the shoulder back and down to really feel the contraction. If you need a wider back, this can be a very effective way for lighting up the entire lat with a nasty contraction. Once you do a drop set, you can use a lighter weight to extend the number of reps for a better contraction and pump.
Hack Squat – Always do a warm up set with low weight and find your bottom position. It is impossible to improve your form when your first set with light weight is already wrong. I like to pause at the bottom of my warm up sets and create tension in the muscles to activate them before I do any real weight. Once you do a drop set, you will experience an insane pump.
Deep Incline Press Dumbbell Press – The goal here is to touch the weights against your body. Lift some big weights with great mobility. That is what real strength looks like.
Weighted Dips – Be explosive at the bottom of the lift. The more power you start with, the easier it will be to power through weak points. This allows you to overload the movement and lift very heavy weights. This is the block to do it. Moreover, you can drop the weight and finish yourself with bodyweight reps. Crazy pump.
Pull ups – Add weights as resistance or assistance needed. Always try to control the movement. It does not matter how much weight you are lifting if you barely feel the muscles. Imagine you are doing a back double bicep flex at the top of the lift and squeeze the back muscles for a temporary hold on the warm up reps to get activated.
Barbell Back Squat – The goodmornings from the previous block should have some carry over. You may be able to get more upright in your squat and feel more stability at the bottom of the squat. The best way to tell is by squeezing the middle back as hard as possible during the lift and keeping the abs braced. When you do a drop set, try to use it as a finisher because it will destroy your ability to maintain performance for the rest of the workout thereafter.
Barbell Romanian – I do not always feel the hamstrings when I do this lift. What I noticed is that I can lift very heavy for just a few sets, and I always get more out of it than if I did a bunch of sets with moderate weight. Hamstrings tend to be fast-twitch, so give them heavy weight and then move on.
Stay in a Good Spot this Block
You want to add just enough sets and weight to feel like you worked out, but it is not quite a challenge yet. You want a solid workout where you leave feeling accomplished.
Plan your workout and write down the weight, sets, and rep range in the Workout Plan PDF to get you ready for Week 2.
The rep range will be the same as the previous week. The only difference is that you may not be at the top of the rep range this week. This means you should still strive to hit 5 reps on key lifts and 12 reps on accessory lifts. Regardless of the number of reps you do, make sure they are improving the quality of your technique rather than detracting from it. Our goal is to find the way that lifts heavy weight with maximum repeatability and stability.
Start treating each set like a competition. From this point, you will be doing less sets, so you need to make each set count. Our goal is to maintain technique while we unload fatigue.
I encourage you to pick a single weight for your working sets for each exercise. As you add more sets, you will notice that on the last set, your reps are most likely to be the lowest to maintain 3 RIR as you get fatigued within the session.
As long as your last set is still in the rep range, this performance drop is okay and expected as your muscles get depleted. However, you need to keep your technique solid because that is our priority. Make sure you choose a weight that allows you to be at the top of the rep range for most (if not all) of your working sets. RIR 3 is the goal for each of your sets, however, it is possible that your last set may get closer to RIR 2.
Stay away from RIR 1! You do not want to build fatigue too fast or have to compromise your technique. It is better to have the reps drop and stay in the rep range. Achieving RIR 3 takes priority over staying at the top of the rep range.
The best way to have a good peak is to stay on top of your diet and sleep.
In regards to the deadlift, you may consider doing even less volume. Anyone who has a big pull may only need to do one set. It all depends on your individual recovery ability.
I like to rest as much as I need before I do a top set for my key exercises. This assures that I give my maximal performance.
Afterwards, I drop the weight to something more manageable (usually around my week 3 weight) and do straight sets at 1 RIR with a given rest period. After my top set, I will drop the weight and try to get a volume PR where I pick a challenging weight that I usually do for only one set (of say, 4-6 reps) and attempt to do multiple sets (each set within the 4-6 rep range). This is a great way to test how good my form is and build confidence in it.
Above all else: Make sure your rest periods are not too short where it compromises your form! Rest periods are always a second priority to 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: