Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Incline Dumbbell Bench (Key)
Overhead Press (Key)
Barbell Row (Key)
Neutral-grip Pull ups (Key)
Hack Squat (Key)
Medium-grip Barbell Flat Bench (Key)
Incline Dumbbell Bench – The best pump always happens when your muscles are activated and then you do a drop set on top of that. Before your intensity technique set, flex between sets, use your warm up sets to squeeze the dumbbells hard, and feel the nervous system and muscular system getting ready to go. As you do the drop set, keep yourself safe by controlling the weight and keeping your reps strict. Identical reps is the goal.
Overhead Press – Experiment with your grip. A closer grip can make the press stronger at the bottom but weaker at lockout to stress the triceps more. A wider grip is a shorter range of motion that usually can be performed heavier. Think about what you need and consider adapting your form to give you what you need.
Barbell Row – On your first few reps on your warm up sets, consider pausing the bar against your body and try to pull it through you. Pull your elbows back. Pull your chest up as you flex the back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pull the shoulders as far behind you as possible. Hold the squeeze in your warm up sets, and feel how activated your muscles are on your working sets.
Neutral-grip Pull ups – Do not just think about getting your chin over the bar. Try to pull your chest up to the bar. Get the elbows back. Pull the shoulders back. Don’t be afraid to use assistance to get a better contraction, this is great for people who have trouble feeling their back. For those who can already feel their back and do pull ups, don’t be scared of adding some weight!
Hack Squat – Work on burying each rep. If you can loosen up your hips, you will be able to get your knees out and over your toes. This will allow you to get a deeper stretch in the quads and adductors. Additionally, if you keep the weight on your heels, your glutes will also be more engaged. Depending on what you want to focus on, try to activate the musculature by flexing in between sets. Make sure you keep the feet tight. Grip the floor with your toes and drive through the side of your foot as you press through the foot as you move out of the bottom of the hack squat. Finally, on your intensity techniques, go hard.
Medium-grip Barbell Flat Bench – When you do your intensity techniques, either use a spotter or use safety pins. This will allow you to focus more on getting a huge pump rather than not dying. Keep fatigue in check by keeping the form strict. Lock out each rep. Touch the chest or at least get as close as your shoulders can permit. And lower the weight slowly and think about being explosive on the way up no matter what weight is on the bar.
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. 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 8 reps on key lifts and 12 reps on accessory lifts.
For your key lifts, consider doing an intensity technique on the last set. Keep in mind that the more you use these intensity techniques, the more you are training BEYOND failure. This means that they are extra fatiguing even if you lift with RIR.
Remember, for the first two weeks, DO NOT REST BETWEEN REPS. The goal of this block is to get gnarly pumps on your accessory lifts.
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.
As long as your last set is still in the rep range, this performance drop is okay and expected as your muscles get depleted. 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. 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.
Try to do the fewest amount of sets you need to get a good pump in the muscle. However, if you need more to feel a pump then this is the week to do a little more.
Do enough sets where you struggle to maintain RIR 3 on your last set of each key lift. This is a great way to measure your effort to make sure that you are not going too hard too early but also that you are not taking it too easy.
Week 2 is the Goldilocks week. We want just enough but not too much volume.
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: