Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Wide-Grip Barbell Flat Bench
Close-grip Barbell Flat Bench
Dumbbell Incline 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:
Wide-Grip Barbell Flat Bench – You previously did a lot of pause work, now you will feel the difference in your pressing without the pause. You should feel a lot more confident off of the chest and now you can see how much it carried over into your regular pressing. Make sure to keep the chest up, abs tight, squeeze the bar, and keep legs locked into the floor.
Front Squat (slow descent) – Feel the quads stretch on the way down as you sink into a deep squat. Make sure to continue to work on your mobility. The thoracic spine stretched on a foam roller can help you keep your chest up. Stretching your adductors will reduce restricted movement when you try to get your knees out. Working on your abductors will actually perform the movement of getting your knees out. All of this combines together to create maximal front squat mobility.
Romanian Deadlift – Focus on keeping your middle back tight. It will keep your torso in the correct position and place the emphasis of the weight on your hamstrings as you go through the movement. If you notice that you are not recovering in time for the second leg workout, make sure you control the movement more and use less weight.
Close-grip Barbell Flat Bench – Keep the elbows in as you press. The more your elbows flare, the more you are using your shoulders. The goal here is to make sure our triceps get strong enough to lock out heavy weight in the coming days.
Dumbbell Incline Bench – Using a lower incline can help you use more weight and use more of the chest than the shoulders. Usually, a 30* incline tends to be a good spot to hit a good amount of the upper and middle chest fibers.
Deadlift – The more upright you start in the beginning, the better the lift will go. Get the chest up. Take hold of the bar and use the bar to get you into a better position. Think about using the bar as a counterbalance that allows you to lean back and press your legs into the ground harder to build up tension before the lift. When you begin to do this right, you will notice that warm up weight will begin to levitate before you even initiate the pull because you are generating so much tension.
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 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.
Start treating each set like a competition. From this point, you will be doing less sets, so you need to make each set count. Our goal is to maintain technique while we unload fatigue.
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 to maintain 3 RIR as you get fatigued within the session.
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.
The best way to have a good peak is to stay on top of your diet and sleep.
In regards to the deadlift, you may consider doing even less volume. Anyone who has a big pull may only need to do one set. It all depends on your individual recovery ability.
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: