Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
1) Barbell Back Squat (Key)
2) Barbell Back Squat Downsets (Pause) (Accessory)
3) Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (Accessory)
4) 45* Back extension (Accessory)
5) Seated Calves (Accessory)
I recommend that you pick your favorite squat variation and stick with it for the next few weeks. I personally prefer High Bar Squats for quads and low bar for overall leg size and strength.
Down sets are a way to get more practice with your form without as heavy as weight. Look below to see how the rep range changes from key to accessory lifts. To stay in the rep range, you will need to decrease the weight. Focus on form and getting a good contraction, not weight on your down sets.
If you need to change any exercises: (not recommended)
- Seated calf raises can be replaced with a slight bent-leg calf raise to hit the soleus better. I especially recommend the leg press or machine leg press.
- Any squat movement or variation works great. Use a leg press if you do not have the mobility.
- 45 Back Extension can be swapped with your choice of hamstring or posterior chain exercise.
- Romanian deadlifts can be done with dumbbells or barbells.
These exercises are your tools for building your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and pelvic muscles (tensor fasciae latae, adductors). Think about the amount of weight as the degree of how much you can challenge your technique.
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.
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.
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: