Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Barbell Incline Bench Press (Key)
Single Arm Row (Key)
Wide Grip Push Ups Finisher (Accessory)
Reverse-Grip Pull Ups Finisher (Accessory)
Barbell Bicep Curl (Key)
Banded Tricep Pushdown (Accessory)
Your “Key” Lifts are the ones you want to focus on.
I would recommend you take a video of you doing your top set from one or two different angles to track your progress on your form.
Before you do the workouts, watch the videos linked at the bottom under the “Videos” section to see the form for these exercises. After the workout, compare your form to the videos at the bottom to identify any improvements you need to make.
Any lifts that are not key are accessory movements that are not the priority of progression. Use them to pump blood into the muscles and develop a better mind-muscle connection to get the most out of each rep for growth.
The Single Arm Row can be done with a plate-loaded dumbbell handle. These are cheap, I would recommend buying one because they are awesome if you already have plates. Also, you can do this with a barbell like a landmine row or like a barbarian by gripping the bar in the center and pulling.
Pushup & Pullup Finishers are great to get a huge pump and challenge yourself. Consider making the bodyweight exercises more challenging by making your form very strict and/or adding weight to your body. If you need to go beyond the rep range, you can, just keep the form strict.
If you need to change any exercises: (if you lack access to equipment)
- Single Arm Row Alternative – can be done as a barbell row if preferred.
- Pushups – can be replaced with dips if you want something harder
- Pullups – can be done with a band assistance if needed or a chair.
- If you have access to gym equipment, feel free to substitute exercises that you prefer with equipment you have.
These exercises are your tools for building your back (rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres major, infraspinatus, traps), shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps. Stay focused, make each rep count.
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: