Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Barbell Bench Press (Key)
Barbell Pause Back Squat (Key)
Add sets to these key exercises first when you are planning your workout. The accessory movements are not as important for you to add sets to because they can add extra fatigue too fast.
It is imperative that you focus on developing your form with these exercises to maximize the stimulus and have the best progressions week to week possible. Form is foundational to everything else.
View more cues on the movements in the section “Videos” to further improve your form. Cues are the secret to getting your body to move the way you want it to.
Visualize your form often. When you get to the gym, the only thing that changes is the weight because your form should look just like how you practiced on every single rep
Here are some more tips for your key lifts:
Barbell Bench Press – Focus on bracing and leg driving this week. It is still early in the trilogy of this program, so experiment with your technique now to find what works best for you. Once you get to block 2, that is when you want to stick to a specific technique. However, if your technique already feels good, you might want to just practice it rather than experiment.
Barbell Pause Back Squat – Make sure your technique is efficient. When you drop into the hole of the squat, you want to keep the bar centered over your mid foot. This is where your shoelaces are. This is possible by pushing your knees forward as your hips come back to keep the bar in a straight line on the way down. As you get to the bottom, make sure to get your knees out otherwise you will not hit depth. Tight adductors and tight ankles are common culprits of a high squat.
Deadlift – The lever is the ultimate way to maximize your technique. This is when you use the bar as a counterbalance while you lean back at the starting position. This creates tension in the bar and pushes your legs into the ground. You will notice that light weight will levitate when you get your chest up and back tight. The ideal starting position makes the most of this before you fully initiate the lift.
Technique Bench Press & Squat – Use a light weight (50-60% of 1RM) and do in between 1 & 5 reps. Focus on lifting explosively and perfectly. Imagine you are in competition. You may consider doing more sets if you enjoy the practice (stay between 2-6 sets throughout the block). Avoid doing too much to get sore! The goal is to keep fatigue low, but get technique practice.
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 6 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.
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.
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.
Here’s how I would fill it out for a workout: