T Nation

Long Term Program Development



I'm prepping to deploy for about 9 months and I'm struggling with my fitness program development. The last time I deployed, I got very strong, but I didn't have any dedicated long term program. I don't even know the ideal length of a training cycle. I like to think I'm pretty good at coming up with workouts, tweaking them to reach my goals, but I struggle with two things: 1) Staying dedicated and not chasing the new/fashionable workout and 2) Long term training plans. I wanted to get some T-Nation input before I delve deeper into the program, but here's what I'm looking at so far.

Cycle 1 (10 weeks). Strength focus. 12 workouts per week (2 lifts a day, about 30 - 60 min a lift). I want to do a three day split (push / pull / legs), and each lift per day will generally have a different movement plane.
Example: Day 1 (push)
Workout 1 (horizontal) Bench, dips, decline bench
Workout 2 (vertical) Press, overhead extension, side raise
Other days would follow the same general idea. Rep scheme would be 5x5 for core lifts, 4x8 for supplemental lifts.

Cycle 2 (12 weeks). Hypertrophy focus. 4 workouts per week. Two day split (upper / lower). About 1.5 - 2 hours per lift. Based on an article I recently read on T-Nation, I just plan on an extremely in-depth workout, moving from larger to smaller muscle groups. Rep scheme would be about 4x12 to 3x15.

Cycle 3 (8 weeks). Lean focus. 4 lifts per week (no real plan on the lifts yet, I'm thinking 4 strength based circuit lifts, possibly a 5 lift 5x5 circuit). 3 - 5 cardio sessions per week, alternating between sprint work and endurance work.

That's just a real broad idea of what I have so far. It will take me to about 7 and a half months, which is about how long I am expecting this deployment to last. Overall, the goal of this program is to come back super jacked (and tan, if at all possible). A secondary goal is to try out for the All Army Rugby 7s team, which is why I'm putting speed and endurance work at the end. Anyways, thank you for reading and I look forward to the criticism (constructive or otherwise).


12 Workouts a week will be hard on you. Depends on exactly what you’re doing on deployment of course, and I’ve no idea of your MOS so if you’ve got all the time then do it. I would, however, have a flexible layout for the 12 workouts if you are determined to do that schedule. I would have a set of 4-6 “primary” workouts, and then remainder of “charge up” workouts or brief workouts focused on blood flow ala GPP work or pump work.

In other words, only 1 primary workout a day, with the second workout being mostly getting the blood flowing and not super challenging. If you find after a month it is too easy (doubtful), you can always add intensity to 2-3 of the secondary workouts and up the ante. I would not, however, start out that way. Easier to adjust up than down. Of course, if your example above is typical then it will probably be ok to do them as you wrote down because you are essentially just taking 1 “normal” length workout and breaking it down into two “mini” workouts, which is a highly effective method for strength.

If doing this I would definitely keep low back fatigue in mind for your legs day. Meaning if you deadlift in the morning WO, consider going lighter or not close to failure on the squats later in the day. It may not end up being an issue, and more strenuous things have been done, but I would keep an eye on it over the weeks and be prepared to go light if you feel fatigue building up.

Overall the blocks look ok but I would maintain flexibility in your weekly layout. If you hit a wall in the strength section due to fatigue, adjust workouts down and don’t feel bad about it. If you get bored with only 4 hypertrophy workouts a week start doing some extra pump mini sessions (light). Stuff like that. Remember, performance is your goal for the strength block, not “feeling like you got a good workout in” or “feeling tired or sore”.

For the lean block there are two general ways to go about it: 1) take your strength work as strength and power work and keep conditioning in your cardio or 2) mix and match weightlifting for power with conditioning weightlifting. Both can be effective but make sure when you decide on an approach you don’t allow “mission creep” to take over your weight workouts: stay targeted on the specific way you chose.