Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Wide-Grip Flat Bench
60* Incline Dumbbell Bench
Dumbbell Flat Bench
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:
Front Squat – everyone has a tendency to be too far forward which puts extra pressure on the back. This can be fine if your back is strong, but it does reduce the amount of weight you can lift. Instead, sit more onto your heels and get the knees out more. Consider elevating your heels (with heeled shoes or plates) to place less stress on the ankles as you sit into a deeper squat.
Romanian Deadlift – You want to stretch your hamstrings as much as possible to grow them and carry over to your other lifts. This means that you want to initiate the lift from the hips. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings as you begin to initiate the lit. Don’t think about picking the weight up, think about keeping your hips high as you use the weight to crush your feet into the ground. This keeps weight on your hamstrings rather than your back.
Wide-Grip Flat Bench (Pause) – Bring that chest up with intent. As you pause, use your back and chest to support the weight by being in the correct position and keeping your muscles tight. Hold the pause longer than you want to gain confidence. Finally, drive your legs like a leg extension to push your back into the bench as you press to give you power off of the chest.
60* Incline Dumbbell Bench & Dumbbell Flat Bench (Pause) – Train the muscle on this lift. Sacrifice some of the weight to make sure that you are getting the maximum amount of stretch in the muscle.
Deficit Deadlift – Do not make the deficit too large. The goal is to increase the range of motion to force you to develop strength off the ground when you transition back into the regular deadlift. You only need about 1-3 inches or so of a deficit to get the desired effect.
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 12 reps on key lifts and 15 reps on accessory lifts.
I encourage you to pick a single weight for your working sets for each exercise. Use that same weight on each working set to make it easier to track progress. 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 Goldie Lochs week. We want just enough but not too much volume. However, you may be able to tolerate more volume than the previous block if you recovered well. Consider doing slightly more work if you think your body can handle it and if you are doing a good job managing stress in your life.
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: