T Nation

Help with Program? Too Close to Problem



I would greatly appreciate your advice on a current program for myself...this is an instant of me being too close to a problem and too stressed to really think clearly, much like when one is in the final stages of cutting for a BB competition without a coach to objectively assess what's happening.

Usually I don't like to ask these sorts of questions, as I think I am perfectly capable of figuring problems out for both my clients and myself, but I am simply at a loss. Here it is very briefly:

Currently changing careers into research. I am going to be doing both personal training and academic research, making my work days somewhere near 14-15 hours long for the next couple months. I am going to be in a situation where I will have at most 35-40 minutes TOTAL train on week days--maybe my only chance over lunch, with enough time to shower and jet back. I really would like some advice on how to organize my training for the 2 months until my evening clients leave town and I will have a "normal" schedule to train with.

GOALS--in order of priority: squat pure strength, power snatch pure strength, bench press pure strength, and the "power look" aesthetic. How would you lay out a program week for somebody with this kind of time constraint? I will be working from about 6:30am - 9pm daily.


Sorry to interrupt, and off-topic, but you've always come across as a really friendly and helpful guy Aragorn (and you have a great username) so I just wanted to wish you luck in your new career. All the best!


SECTION 1) Weighted jumps - 5 minutes
Perform as many sets of 3-5 jumps squats with 30-40% of your max in 5 minutes without losing your explosiveness. For most that will be 3-4 sets.

SECTION 2) Lift of the day - Max ramp - 15 minutes
Go from 60% to your max using either sets of 1, 2 or 3 reps

SECTION 3) Lift of the day - Density work - 10 minutes
Here it can vary, the goal is to do a high density of quality work... for example 80% of your max, as many total reps as you can in 10 minutes

SECTION 4) Heavy carries - 5 minutes
Use one type of carry, ideally related to the lift practiced (e.g. snatch = overhead walk, squat = farmer's walk, bench = bear hug carries with a 20 and a 10kg plate, or 40kg).... do three "bouts" of 1 minute trying to get the maximum distance at each bout. Rest 1 minute between bouts.

If you count the transition time between sections it should come up to about 40-45 minutes... if you are really pressed for time you can either:

1) cut down the max ramp time to 10 minutes so you'll have to go faster
2) Reduce the density work to 5 minutes in which case I recommend going slightly heavier (5% heavier)
3) drop the jumps... although this is the most tempting option, I would only drop the jumps on olympic lifting days since you are already getting some explosive work done


CT, I can't say how awesomely thankful I am! This looks like a godsend, and certainly much more detailed than I expected. I am going to put it to work this week on a six day rotation between the three lifts.

I can't wait until this 8 week transition is over (and most of my remaining clients go) but you just helped me focus in a lot sir.

furo, thanks for the well wishes sir. I try to help out best I can. I am going to be taking over a drug design lab (pharmacology). I plan on keeping some coaching in there to stay fresh on it, but mostly nutrition because it is much easier on my time to answer email and phone instead of train hours per day on top of running a lab research group! Also I can multitask that from the lab without losing my mind :).


@CT how does the farmers walk transfer to the squat? Would a yoke walk also work? Thank you


It's not that it transfer but that it works similar muscles. You will not really boost your squat with carries, at least not directly and that's not the main goal.

As for the yoke, read my posts in the easy-had gainer thread and you will see that I did recommend yoke carries with squats.



In SECTION 3 above, is the 80% an 80%of 1RM, 2RM, and 3RM? I'm guessing this is the part that "varies"? Also, how many reps per set under each RM should we shoot for?

Finally, are the loaded carries that tax the grip potentially too CNS taxing?

Thanks as always.


In section 3 the percentage used is of the heaviest weight in the ramp.

There is no number of reps per set or number of set since the goal is simply to get as many total reps as you can in the prescribed time frame. My recommendation is not to go anywhere close to failure otherwise you will have to take too much rest between sets to get a high number.


CT, for the jump squats do you go all the way down (hips past parallel) and then shoot back up or just dip down a little? also do you reset inbetween each rep or do you do the 3-5 reps back to back as quickly as you can?


  1. On a day when the main lift is an upper body press, could one substitute the jumps for things like plyo-pushups? Or maybe do both with a bit less volume?
  2. Is it acceptable to combine the density work with positional strength and do paused reps? I'm mostly thinking about paused-at-the-bottom squats or paused-at-the-knee pulls, as I've noticed that they make wonders for me.


There are many variations of the jump squat. But the classic one, the one used to build as much power as possible, is a quarter squat than jump. You rest and reset between each repetition.


  1. I prefer medicine ball throws

  2. Yes it is, not problem... density work can be done with any training method


CT-- Out of curiosity why do you prefer medicine ball throws to plyo push-ups (say with hands on a bench)? I have used both regularly in my programs but always liked the plyo push-up myself.

Just want to say thanks again. I'm having to split even this program up into separate 20 minute chunks sometimes (because, for instance, yesterday I worked from 6:30 am to 11 pm when our instrumentation failed on a batch of 60 samples that needed to be re-made)

But it's been a lifesaver because I literally have no mental power left to look to my own training. It's been a great thing to just turn off the brain and do your program rather than agonize over my own planning, and knowing it's doing the job.


I personally like plyo push-ups but since most people lack the strength, power and shoulder stability to do them properly I tend to use the med ball throws more.

For example during a push-up we have to lift 70-75% of our body weight. So if you are 220 for example it means that you are lifting 155-165lbs.

A plyo push-up requires the same strength as a ballistic bench press. And best results come from using 30-40% of your bench max in the ballistic bench.

So for plyo push ups are similar to a speed bench on which you need to use 50-60% to get max results. So someone who is 220lbs needs to be a 310-330lbs bench presser to get the most out of plyo push-ups.


Makes sense, thanks!