T Nation

Design a Program Experiment


#1

I'm doing a research paper on "Program design for the desk athlete". That won't be the title of my paper, but that gives you the basic idea of it lol.

This paper is based around what can someone do that doesn't want to do the typical SS, SL, GreySkull, Dan Johns, Bill Starr, etc. strength programs. They just don't care about squatting 315 or deadlifting 405.

This is for the guy that doesn't have huge aspirations in lifting, but just wants to be strong (relatively), move well, decently athletic, and stay healthy. For example this guy might want to be able to do reps at 225 for squats, but never increase the weight past that. I think for the average person a 225 squat with PERFECT form is more than enough for everyday things. I work in IT and I feel this paper/program would aide a BUNCH of them to just get healthy, but also put them on the path to get into weightlifting.

I think the program should address a few things:

  1. Mobility and perfect form
  2. Letting them know DIET is huge
  3. Correcting posture
  4. Man muscles (strong legs, back, core, shoulders--> I guess more of a pure Olympic lifting mindset)
  5. Balanced (hitting weak points early from sitting all day)
  6. 3 Day full body (that can turn into a 2 day split to maintain for life)

These are the exercises I feel would be perfect for that person:

Front Squats
Overhead Squat (with just the bar/broomstick to maintain/increase mobility)


Deadlift
Power Clean
Rows
RDL
GHR
Good Morning
Pull Ups (BW, once can do 3x10, then add weight) (Vary from pull ups, chins, neutral grip)
BB Hip Thrusts


Overhead Press
Dips (BW)
Push Ups (BW-different variations)


Farmers Walks
Plate Pinches


Abs

Jumps
Swim
Sprints

===============
Typical Week:
Mon - Lift
Tue - Swim/Hike
Wed - Lift
Thu - Sprint/Hike
Fri - Lift

=====================================

So I need this forums help to help me design a program using the exercises I mentioned. I can explain why I chose the exercises I did, but I think you guys will understand based on the demographic I'm writing about. For example the front squats will fix A LOT of issues at once. IT guys usually sit ALL day, so their hamstrings are weak as hell and they have no idea how to fire their glutes ,etc.

I can explain my reasoning in detail if you want. Also I'd like to hear if I should remove any of these exercises and the reason why you think I should.

I just started my thinking with this paper a few days ago, so I got another 3 months before it's due!


#2

There is no such thing as an overhead farmer’s walk.


#3

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
There is no such thing as an overhead farmer’s walk.[/quote]

Glad you read that thing, that was actually a typo lol. But yes just good ol fashioned normal farmers walks!


#4

Just so you guys know this was the template I had laid out:

MON
fs 3x5
ohp 3x5
bb row 3x5
bb hip thrust 2x10
pull ups 3xF
abs + gm (gm would be used in place of back ext, so light weight, dynamic) (3x10 superset)
box jumps (5x3)

TUE
swim or hike or walk

WED
ohs 3x10 (broomstick until form is perfect)
deadlift 3x5
dips/push ups 4xF
ghr 3x10
abs 3x10
farmers walk 4 Rounds

THU
swim or sprint or hike

FRI
power clean 4x3
fs 3x5
ohp 3x5
rdl 3x8 (light)
pull ups 3xF
abs + gm (gm would be used in place of back ext, so light weight, dynamic) (3x10)
plate pinches 2xF


#5

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
Just so you guys know this was the template I had laid out:

MON
fs
ohp
bb row
bb hip thrust
pull ups
abs + gm (gm would be used in place of back ext, so light weight, dynamic)
box jumps

TUE
swim or hike or walk

WED
ohs
deadlift
dips/push ups
ghr
abs + gm (gm would be used in place of back ext, so light weight, dynamic)
farmers walk

THU
swim or sprint or hike

FRI
power clean
fs
ohp
rdl
pull ups
abs + gm (gm would be used in place of back ext, so light weight, dynamic)
plate pinches[/quote]

A few thoughts:

  • Where are the sets, reps, rest, and intensity prescriptions? In my opinion those are far more important variables than exercise selection and you can create the same or very similar adaptations with different exercises if you get the rest of the variables “right.” As it stands this is not a program, its just a list of exercises.

  • I wouldn’t put any overhead work in a program designed for people with poor mobility/ “classic” desk jockey posture. That means OHP and chin-ups.

  • Why are box jumps placed last on day 1?

  • What do you mean by “abs”? Crunches and stuff? Do you plan to specify or leave it up to the trainee?

  • In what way do you think this is a superior program to the ones you mentioned in your OP, for a specific population or just in general?


#6

The Deconstructing Computer Guy series already discussed everything you should do for the situation you’re addressing:



I suggest reading those and considering each of the points raised.

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Where are the sets, reps, rest, and intensity prescriptions? In my opinion those are far more important variables than exercise selection and you can create the same or very similar adaptations with different exercises if you get the rest of the variables “right.” As it stands this is not a program, its just a list of exercises.[/quote]
Super agreed. The set/rep scheme can make or break a program. “Deadlift 6x1” is different than “deadlift 5x5” is different than “deadlift 4x10”.

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
Typical Week:
Mon - Lift
Tue - Swim/Hike
Wed - Lift
Thu - Sprint/Hike
Fri - Lift[/quote]
I think this is a solid template for someone with the goals you stated. However, I’d suggest that a very brief, very simple daily prehab-type routine is crucial for this demographic. An IT/desk athlete’s Agile 8, so to speak.

Was this a typo supposed to be “main muscles”, or do you mean building large pecs, shoulder, and arms? If the latter, why is that a goal when maintaining a beginner-level squat is acceptable?

Can’t we expect that 3 days of lifting can also be maintained for life? That’s not exactly an extreme level of time/effort to be committed.

It’s your research paper. Will “Internet forum” be cited as a reference? This is why I also get irked by trainers coming to forums literally asking for advice on what to do with their clients.

Every exercise should have a purpose. If it’s not needed, it probably doesn’t belong. I’d suggest that, perhaps, you don’t need deadlifts and power cleans and rows (presuming you mean bent over barbell rows) and RDLs and GHRs and good mornings and hip thrusts. There’s quite a bit of redundancy there.

I’m also interested why you don’t feel the need for any unilateral training for either the upper or lower body.


#7

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
A few thoughts:

  • Where are the sets, reps, rest, and intensity prescriptions? In my opinion those are far more important variables than exercise selection and you can create the same or very similar adaptations with different exercises if you get the rest of the variables “right.” As it stands this is not a program, its just a list of exercises.

  • I wouldn’t put any overhead work in a program designed for people with poor mobility/ “classic” desk jockey posture. That means OHP and chin-ups.

  • Why are box jumps placed last on day 1?

  • What do you mean by “abs”? Crunches and stuff? Do you plan to specify or leave it up to the trainee?

  • In what way do you think this is a superior program to the ones you mentioned in your OP, for a specific population or just in general? [/quote]

  1. I knew when putting this list of exercises together I would have to remove a bunch of them. That’s why in the OP I listed everything out there. My goal is by end of this thread to have a much more “streamlined” version of what is listed. More of the typical 3x5 for 3 big compound exercises, 2 assistance, and abs at the end.

  2. I can understand the OHP with the bb being an issue with this. But to me OHP can also mean neutral grip with dbs. But I understand where you are coming from. It took me 2 months before I could OHP properly. But I think at light weights, OHP can help with mobility as well. But why no chin-ups?

  3. For abs I would let it be specific to that person, but I think for most people the ab wheel + planks is the way to go since FS and all the other compounds will hit the abs hard if done right. Like for me personally, After I do deadlifts and front squats my abs are sore as hell.

  4. I don’t think this would be a superior program compared to the others. But I think this program could set up a good base to move into those other programs. I think for a non-trained person to just jump into SS or SL is a recipe for disaster. Not saying it happens to everyone, but it happens more than not.

I guess to clear up everything, this program/paper I’m writing is supposed to geared toward the typical IT demographic. I think for how long a lot of these people have been inactive and sitting, they need a different approach so they don’t hurt themselves. And usually these guys don’t care about how much they squat, etc. Plus I’m trying to get an A+ on this paper lol.


#8

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
4. I don’t think this would be a superior program compared to the others. But I think this program could set up a good base to move into those other programs. I think for a non-trained person to just jump into SS or SL is a recipe for disaster. Not saying it happens to everyone, but it happens more than not.

I guess to clear up everything, this program/paper I’m writing is supposed to geared toward the typical IT demographic. I think for how long a lot of these people have been inactive and sitting, they need a different approach so they don’t hurt themselves. And usually these guys don’t care about how much they squat, etc.[/quote]

In this case, I wouldn’t even get this person NEAR a barbell. Most folks lacking an athletic background need to perform some ATHLETICS. Get them playing a sport and moving their body through space for a few months so that they develop some balance, mobility, coordination, body awareness, strength, agility, flexibility and maybe even a little bit of tenacity if they are competitive. After some time doing this, some time spent doing push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, sled drags, and chin ups would be great to start the very basics of strength training.

Basically, give these people the childhood that no one else did, because back in the day you PLAYED before you ever thought about training, and these days that seems to be lacking.

Dave Tate talks about this quite a bit here

"What would I do if I had access to a 13 year-old Dave Tate who wanted to be the ultimate bad ass? How would I train him to make him among the strongest men on the planet, yet jacked and muscular, with outstanding health as well?

Next to Westside, what I’m doing now with Meadows is the most productive training I’ve ever experienced. But neither of these systems is appropriate for a novice.

Most raw novices are too weak for either method. Hell, most are too weak for weight training period.

A raw novice’s time would be better spent doing bodyweight training. You should be able to perform 100 push-ups, minimum, before even approaching a bench press. Add in pull-ups, lunges, and the other bodyweight staples to complete the program.

After a decent base of bodyweight strength has been developed, I’d next perform a sensible linear progression routine until respectable strength levels are achieved. 5/3/1 by my friend Jim Wendler and Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe would fit the bill perfectly, with assistance work programmed to target any emerging weak points in size and strength."


#9

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
I’m doing a research paper on “Program design for the desk athlete”. That won’t be the title of my paper, but that gives you the basic idea of it lol.

This paper is based around what can someone do that doesn’t want to do the typical SS, SL, GreySkull, Dan Johns, Bill Starr, etc. strength programs. They just don’t care about squatting 315 or deadlifting 405.

This is for the guy that doesn’t have huge aspirations in lifting, but just wants to be strong (relatively), move well, decently athletic, and stay healthy. For example this guy might want to be able to do reps at 225 for squats, but never increase the weight past that. I think for the average person a 225 squat with PERFECT form is more than enough for everyday things. I work in IT and I feel this paper/program would aide a BUNCH of them to just get healthy, but also put them on the path to get into weightlifting.

I think the program should address a few things:

  1. Mobility and perfect form
  2. Letting them know DIET is huge
  3. Correcting posture
  4. Man muscles (strong legs, back, core, shoulders–> I guess more of a pure Olympic lifting mindset)
  5. Balanced (hitting weak points early from sitting all day)
  6. 3 Day full body (that can turn into a 2 day split to maintain for life)
    [/quote]

I feel like this is basically what Crossfit, and other similar gyms, are about. The majority of crossfit participants that I know (I’m not talking about the ultra-competitive athletes) do it for exactly these reasons. Some of these people will eventually strive to do something actually worthwhile, some are content with achieving the sorts of things you mentioned.


#10

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
The Deconstructing Computer Guy series already discussed everything you should do for the situation you’re addressing:



I suggest reading those and considering each of the points raised.[/quote]

Thanks for that article. I’ll check those out!

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Where are the sets, reps, rest, and intensity prescriptions? In my opinion those are far more important variables than exercise selection and you can create the same or very similar adaptations with different exercises if you get the rest of the variables “right.” As it stands this is not a program, its just a list of exercises.
Super agreed. The set/rep scheme can make or break a program. “Deadlift 6x1” is different than “deadlift 5x5” is different than “deadlift 4x10”.[/quote]

I’m editing the parameters associated with the program right now so you guys will have a better feel.

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
Typical Week:
Mon - Lift
Tue - Swim/Hike
Wed - Lift
Thu - Sprint/Hike
Fri - Lift
I think this is a solid template for someone with the goals you stated. However, I’d suggest that a very brief, very simple daily prehab-type routine is crucial for this demographic. An IT/desk athlete’s Agile 8, so to speak.[/quote]

I would want to have the Limber 11 + some Upper body mobility drills to really help in this aspect.

[quote]4. Man muscles
Was this a typo supposed to be “main muscles”, or do you mean building large pecs, shoulder, and arms? If the latter, why is that a goal when maintaining a beginner-level squat is acceptable?[/quote]

I wrote what I meant in the OP again. So man muscles bring strong legs, back, core, shoulders, and grip.

[quote]6. 3 Day full body (that can turn into a 2 day split to maintain for life)
Can’t we expect that 3 days of lifting can also be maintained for life? That’s not exactly an extreme level of time/effort to be committed.[/quote]

Yes, but you’d be surprised how many people I’ve encountered in my field that HATE working out, but they do it because they know it’s the way to stay healthy. So I figure 2x a week like Mon/Thur would be a great way to balance it without stressing. I’m a 3x a week lifer now though lol.

[quote]So I need this forums help to help me design a program using the exercises I mentioned.
It’s your research paper. Will “Internet forum” be cited as a reference? This is why I also get irked by trainers coming to forums literally asking for advice on what to do with their clients.[/quote]

Oh yes, this whole thread will be quoted. When I was in HS we couldn’t use forums as a source. But in today’s world with all the Wiki’s and open source and the way people communicate forums are a source that can be cited. And you guys are all intelligent. I don’t like just reading medical papers and all that. I like reading what people that have tried it and done know. T-Nation has some more of the insightful people out of all the lifting forums I’ve been on.

[quote]I can explain my reasoning in detail if you want. Also I’d like to hear if I should remove any of these exercises and the reason why you think I should.
Every exercise should have a purpose. If it’s not needed, it probably doesn’t belong. I’d suggest that, perhaps, you don’t need deadlifts and power cleans and rows (presuming you mean bent over barbell rows) and RDLs and GHRs and good mornings and hip thrusts. There’s quite a bit of redundancy there.

I’m also interested why you don’t feel the need for any unilateral training for either the upper or lower body.[/quote]

I think unilateral training is good, but I think a basic level of strength should be reached before doing so. This is just my personal opinion.


#11

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
And usually these guys don’t care about how much they squat[/quote]

No one who has never squatted before cares about how much they squat. The question is, should they care.

Should they care about how much they bench press? How many pullups they can do? While being content to squat a few reps at 225?


#12

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
4. I don’t think this would be a superior program compared to the others. But I think this program could set up a good base to move into those other programs. I think for a non-trained person to just jump into SS or SL is a recipe for disaster. Not saying it happens to everyone, but it happens more than not.

I guess to clear up everything, this program/paper I’m writing is supposed to geared toward the typical IT demographic. I think for how long a lot of these people have been inactive and sitting, they need a different approach so they don’t hurt themselves. And usually these guys don’t care about how much they squat, etc.[/quote]

In this case, I wouldn’t even get this person NEAR a barbell. Most folks lacking an athletic background need to perform some ATHLETICS. Get them playing a sport and moving their body through space for a few months so that they develop some balance, mobility, coordination, body awareness, strength, agility, flexibility and maybe even a little bit of tenacity if they are competitive. After some time doing this, some time spent doing push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, sled drags, and chin ups would be great to start the very basics of strength training.

Basically, give these people the childhood that no one else did, because back in the day you PLAYED before you ever thought about training, and these days that seems to be lacking.

Dave Tate talks about this quite a bit here

"What would I do if I had access to a 13 year-old Dave Tate who wanted to be the ultimate bad ass? How would I train him to make him among the strongest men on the planet, yet jacked and muscular, with outstanding health as well?

Next to Westside, what I’m doing now with Meadows is the most productive training I’ve ever experienced. But neither of these systems is appropriate for a novice.

Most raw novices are too weak for either method. Hell, most are too weak for weight training period.

A raw novice’s time would be better spent doing bodyweight training. You should be able to perform 100 push-ups, minimum, before even approaching a bench press. Add in pull-ups, lunges, and the other bodyweight staples to complete the program.

After a decent base of bodyweight strength has been developed, I’d next perform a sensible linear progression routine until respectable strength levels are achieved. 5/3/1 by my friend Jim Wendler and Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe would fit the bill perfectly, with assistance work programmed to target any emerging weak points in size and strength."[/quote]

T3hPwnisher I agree with this 100%! The only issue is most of these people (or people in general) do not have the patience to do something like this. So since I know most of them will not, might as well put something in place to get them further than they are now.


#13

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
I’m doing a research paper on “Program design for the desk athlete”. That won’t be the title of my paper, but that gives you the basic idea of it lol.

This paper is based around what can someone do that doesn’t want to do the typical SS, SL, GreySkull, Dan Johns, Bill Starr, etc. strength programs. They just don’t care about squatting 315 or deadlifting 405.

This is for the guy that doesn’t have huge aspirations in lifting, but just wants to be strong (relatively), move well, decently athletic, and stay healthy. For example this guy might want to be able to do reps at 225 for squats, but never increase the weight past that. I think for the average person a 225 squat with PERFECT form is more than enough for everyday things. I work in IT and I feel this paper/program would aide a BUNCH of them to just get healthy, but also put them on the path to get into weightlifting.

I think the program should address a few things:

  1. Mobility and perfect form
  2. Letting them know DIET is huge
  3. Correcting posture
  4. Man muscles (strong legs, back, core, shoulders–> I guess more of a pure Olympic lifting mindset)
  5. Balanced (hitting weak points early from sitting all day)
  6. 3 Day full body (that can turn into a 2 day split to maintain for life)
    [/quote]

I feel like this is basically what Crossfit, and other similar gyms, are about. The majority of crossfit participants that I know (I’m not talking about the ultra-competitive athletes) do it for exactly these reasons. Some of these people will eventually strive to do something actually worthwhile, some are content with achieving the sorts of things you mentioned.

[/quote]

I agree with you. The only thing is A LOT of Crossfit gyms have people doing things that they are just not ready to do. I have a friend who’s a physical therapist and she tells me about 60% of her clientele come in because of injuries caused by Crossfit. Now I know it’s not Crossfit within itself that is causing these injuries, but people just trying to do too much too fast. Everyone wants to get fast, strong, big, agile, cut, flexible all at the same time. No way that’s going to happen lol, but people don’t want to hear that.


#14

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
T3hPwnisher I agree with this 100%! The only issue is most of these people (or people in general) do not have the patience to do something like this. So since I know most of them will not, might as well put something in place to get them further than they are now.[/quote]

I cannot say that I agree with this.


#15

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
And usually these guys don’t care about how much they squat[/quote]

No one who has never squatted before cares about how much they squat. The question is, should they care.

Should they care about how much they bench press? How many pullups they can do? While being content to squat a few reps at 225?
[/quote]

I don’t think it’s they don’t care, but A LOT of these guys are scared of big weights or exercises. Even my parents to this day are like don’t do that it’s going to break your break lol. But come on now, we all know better!

But I guess it’s more about giving them a standard to hit so they feel good about themselves and they have good relative strength. I think these would be good standards for anyone:

3x5 225 Squat
1x5 315 DL
3x5 135 OHP
10 Strict Pull Ups

Now these are not crazy numbers at all. But if the average IT guy has these numbers, THEY WILL BE HAPPY! Plus it’s pretty decent relative strength.


#16

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
T3hPwnisher I agree with this 100%! The only issue is most of these people (or people in general) do not have the patience to do something like this. So since I know most of them will not, might as well put something in place to get them further than they are now.[/quote]

I cannot say that I agree with this.[/quote]

I figured you wouldn’t. But realistically people won’t want to go through that whole process. Typical instant gratification type mentality a lot of people have it. I don’t agree with it, but that’s how it is.

BUT thank you for bringing up that point and article. I’ll definitely be including that in my paper how a person with NO athletic background should go a different route. They should play sports for a few months, get good a BW exercises, get mobile, and then once they hit a few standards, then it’s time to move onto barbell training.


#17

And just so you guys know I’m not going to be personal trainer or anything like that. This is for my masters program MIS class. I convinced my teacher that your own body should be the #1 business you have in life lol. So the IT demographic I felt would be suitable for me to address.


#18

I guess I don’t understand this demographic that is too obsessed with instant gratification to go play a fun game but totally willing to spend time lifting weights in a gym.

Like, the only reason I lift weights is because I want to win my sport, which is the fun game I get to play.

I may be misunderstanding you.


#19

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
But I guess it’s more about giving them a standard to hit so they feel good about themselves and they have good relative strength. I think these would be good standards for anyone:

3x5 225 Squat
1x5 315 DL
3x5 135 OHP
10 Strict Pull Ups

Now these are not crazy numbers at all. But if the average IT guy has these numbers, THEY WILL BE HAPPY! Plus it’s pretty decent relative strength.
[/quote]

In my opinion, these strength standards are not well-balanced. The squat is way too low relative to the other lifts, and overall it is weighted toward upper body strength.

There will be some variation across the genetic spectrum but I’d say most healthy adult males can hit a 225x5 squat in 3 months of training, 6 months at the most. 135 3x5 OHP will take a lot of people 1-2 years or longer. Same with Deadlift 315x5. Pullups are dependent on BW but there are a lot of guys lifting for years who can’t do 10 strict.


#20

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
But I guess it’s more about giving them a standard to hit so they feel good about themselves and they have good relative strength. I think these would be good standards for anyone:

3x5 225 Squat
1x5 315 DL
3x5 135 OHP
10 Strict Pull Ups

Now these are not crazy numbers at all. But if the average IT guy has these numbers, THEY WILL BE HAPPY! Plus it’s pretty decent relative strength.
[/quote]

In my opinion, these strength standards are not well-balanced. The squat is way too low relative to the other lifts, and overall it is weighted toward upper body strength.

There will be some variation across the genetic spectrum but I’d say most healthy adult males can hit a 225x5 squat in 3 months of training, 6 months at the most. 135 3x5 OHP will take a lot of people 1-2 years or longer. Same with Deadlift 315x5. Pullups are dependent on BW but there are a lot of guys lifting for years who can’t do 10 strict.
[/quote]

What would you say are more balanced strength standards for an absolute average across all spectrums? Btw, I meant a 225 3x5 Front Squat, not a BS.

Like I said, I’m not a trainer and never will be and I knew I would be a bit over my head using this topic as a project, but I feel I’d learn a lot by the end of it as well.

This is good though. It’s getting everyone involved and talking. This will do wonders for my research and final paper!