Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press (Key)
Stiff-Leg Deadlift (Key)
Push Press (Key)
Wide-Grip Barbell Bench Press (Key)
Barbell Back Squat (Key)
Good Mornings (Key)
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press – Make sure that you are working your shoulders by tucking the elbows and feeling the fibers of the shoulders contract along the path of the movement. For example, the more you lean back and pull your chest up, the more you may simply be using your upper chest fibers and not shoulder fibers. Instead, tuck the elbows and think about the fiber orientation of the front delt to lower the weight with the shoulders and press up. Also, do not think about pressing the weight up, think about pushing yourself down into the bench with the weight.
Hack-Squat – Machines are more stable and can allow you to handle more volume. Make sure that the volume you are doing is worth something. This means that you should get a deep range of motion. Activate the muscles by flexing in between sets if needed.
Stiff-Leg Deadlift – Hips should stay high and legs should be mostly straight. This keeps the weight on the stretched hamstrings. However, if you have tight nerves in your hamstrings which burn and radiate as you stretch deeply, do not force the range of motion. Cut the range of motion by a few inches and do not force the leg to be straight if you start to feel non-muscular sensations.
Push Press – As you dip down before you press, move the knees out and over the toes rather than moving the knees forward. This will keep the weight centered over your body rather than in front of your body. If the weight gets in front of you then it makes your technique less efficient.
Wide-Grip Barbell Bench Press – As your elbows come back, imagine rowing the bar into you. Notice that as you touch higher up on the chest, you may get more pec involvement, but it may be harder on your shoulder. Depending on if you are interested in building up strength or mass, you may want to touch lower or higher on the chest, respectively.
Barbell Back Squat – The barbell back squat can turn into a good morning if your technique is bad or if your lower back is weak. The good mornings will assist the lower back and posterior chain strength, however, the technique is up to you to improve. To start, you may want to think about pushing the back into the bar at the bottom of the squat. This will keep your back and core tight as you come out of the bottom of the squat.
Good Mornings – Focus on keeping the chest up and pushing the hips back. Do NOT let your pelvis anteriorly rotate like you are doing a crunch with your abs. This will put your lower back in a bad position. Instead, you want to keep the lower back tight and the pelvis rotated posteriorly. Practice this with bodyweight to get a feel for it, and do not go too heavy before you know and feel exactly what you are trying to do.
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 15 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.
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. 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. Males tend to overestimate how strong they are while females tend to believe they are closer to failure than they are: try to be unbiased. It takes practice.
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.
Think about each set as a chance to practice your technique. You want as much practice as possible, however, you cannot do more than you can recover from. Aim to get a little sore, never a lot, so you always are fresh to practice technique. On days where you practice technique specifically, make sure you are not overworking yourself. Those are days to get low fatigue practice.
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. It is good quality technique practice that gives you an idea of what weights you could lift if you flipped the switch and went hard.
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: