T Nation

Modified Version of Thibs 6 Week Superhero


Over the last 3 weeks, I have been trying to fine tune Thibs 6 weeks to Superhero workout to something that best fits me. I love all of Thibs articles and I think in my 23 plus years of working out and 17 years of training others, he is one of the consistent leaders in the industry that I never fail to learn from. AND feel a sense of motivation from (the longer I stay in the game, the less outside motivation and stimulus to strive to higher levels I have found...so, thank you, Thibs!).

Now...I believe that the program as is would be great for most everyone. I encountered some problems though. Here are the ones I found:

  1. I wasn't recovering soundly enough to perform the big lifts twice a week directly, with indirect work another two days. 2 days of squatting with 2 days of deadlifting was a lot for me to recover AND try to perform at peak levels with. Even the 2 days of shoulder pressing coupled with 2 days of bench pressing was proving to be a little much for me to perform at a high level with (although much more tolerable than the squat and deadlift combo).

  2. With my client schedule, it is hard for me to provide more than an hour to working out. Have you ever tried to warm-up a heavy squat or deadlift and get a full workout in? I use what I consider to be some respectable weights. And I am no spring chicken (turning 39 in a few weeks). Not that I am old by any means, but it definitely takes me more time to ramp up to my maximum training weights than it did when I was 27. Heck...how many pro athletes excel in their sports late into their 30's? Not too many. I have found with time there is a reason :slightly_smiling: Plus, loading and stripping weights takes time when you are training alone. So does setting up multiple stations. I have to maximize that hour I have.

  3. Setting up multiple stations in a crowded gym can be tricky. So I have had to adjust my work and training schedule so I am hitting the gym when it isn't at a peak crowd hour. I have also had to adjust the number of stations.

Taking all of the above into account, here is what I have done:

  1. I find that focusing on one movement pattern a day is the optimal for me. Optimal for time and optimal for performance. I train the Squat on Monday, Shoulder Press on Tuesday, Bench Press on Thursday, and Deadlift on Friday or Saturday (depending on work and life schedule).

2 and 3. I can fit in 4 as opposed to the recommended 5 without issue. This works with both my time constraints AND the problem with training in a crowded commercial gym. So instead of a "star" complex like Thibs recommends, I guess you can call mine a "box." I'll call it the Superman 4 x 4 workout (4 days, 4 exercises).

Now, I try to get 2 overload movements on each day and 2 explosive/speed movements each day. Here is the schedule I have been following:

Monday - Squat Day Complex
Partial Squat from Pins
Front Squat
Hang Clean or Jump Squat with Barbell
Bodyweight Jump Squat

Tuesday - Shoulder Press Complex
Partial Seated Shoulder Press from Pins
Standing Military Press
Push Press
Light Standing DB Press (explosively for 20-30 seconds)

Thursday - Bench Press Complex
Partial Bench Press from Pins
Bench Press
Light DB Bench Press (explosively for 20-30 seconds)
Plyo Push-up

Friday - Deadlift Complex
Rack Pulls
Hang Clean
Jumping Good Morning (never did this movement before Thibs recommended it...LOVE IT!!!)

All sets and reps done for each are the same as recommended in Thibs Superhero program.

I have also added a Back and Biceps workout on Wednesday that concentrates on the contraction of both muscles. I do focus on pulling movement for back rather than rows right now as I feel the deadlifts stimulate a good deal of thickness and I want to train the width factor. I know this sounds simplistic, but it has proved to be a good combination sandwiched between the two pressing days.

I know that you don't want to Frankenstein a workout. Not that this is. I'm not adding multiple training styles. But I have shaved down a workout that is based on Work Capacity. Well...if Thibs emphasizes anything in his articles it's to learn and think for yourself. He gives the fish as well as teaches you to fish. With the above training road blocks, I have had to "auto-regulate" the program, so to speak. This is what I have found to be best for me...for now. As my work capacity improves...who knows. But that doesn't mean my schedule will be any more forgiving (although I am the master of it...but a man has to make a living!).

Results have been great. I just closed out my 3rd week and people have started asking me if I am leaning out for the summer cause I have noticeably started to look as such. The only thing I changed was my training.

Next week I start the Pulse Feast to go with it! Summer here I come!!!



Can you expand on your Back and Biceps day? I just did about 3 weeks of a similar workout and my Wednesday Back/Biceps day was the only day I felt was questionable.



My Back and Biceps day is very similar to that which is found here: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/highperformance_mass_lats_and_biceps_fatigue_loading&cr=

I tend to start my day with a Pullover Machine and do anywhere from 4-6 sets ramping up the weight to a heavy set of 6-10 reps. I really concentrate on holding the contraction on this movement and all movements on this day. I am trying to increase contraction time on each exercise.

Then I move onto any version of a pulldown supersetted with stiffarm pulldowns. 3-4 supersets with 6-8 reps on the first exercise and 8-12 on the second. Again, I am holding the contraction for a good 2 count on each rep.

Biceps I mix it up. This week I started with the Thibs recommended superset of Pinwheel Curls and Hammer Curls. I do 2-3 sets here.

Then I move onto the 1 arm barbell preacher curl. I will do 2 sets here.

Then I do regular preacher curls with the EZ curl bar (may include some partials). That's about it. If I am feeling gung-ho, I will add another set of constant tension alternate DB hammer curls where each rep starts with my arms at 90 degrees instead of arms length.


Just did my Lat/Biceps workout this morning. I tried to start with the Thib lat pulldown and I just can't feel it in my lats, no matter if I pull with low, moderate, or heavy weight. No big deal, I guess.


When it comes down to your schedule set-up, I love it. I find it very difficult to complete two complexes a day in a commercial gym while performing at a high level. However, for natural lifters it has also been proven that frequency is key to growth. How would you recommend hitting the same groups more than (once a week besides your back day as stated)?


Very TRUE that it is now being recognized that frequency is a key to growth for a natural lifter. The other part of that coin is that when frequency is increased, volume of work should be decreased. I, personally, don’t feel that the individual volume and structure of the Superhero workout would fit that bill…if increasing frequency is a key variable that you are focusing on. I just don’t see too many natural liters being able to recover from complexes that are being done too many days per week. Never mind individual muscle recovery, but it would take a hell of a toll on systemic recovery.

With that being said, when the discussion of frequency is on the table, we must not discredit the carryover stimulus from different exercises. For example, although in the split above it appears on paper to only hit each muscle directly once a week, there is a day of direct and indirect stress for each muscle group. The muscles of the squat day and deadlift day are very similar, so there will be a multiple days of stimuli there. Same goes for the two different press days. You could make the press days have even more of a carryover by throwing an Incline Press into the mix on shoulder day (swap out the military press for it). Just something to think about when designing high frequency programs.

What I like to tell people that are transitioning from a conventional style split into the more highly touted frequency focused workouts…at the end of the week, when you compare the two different splits, the total volume of work for each muscle group should be the same. The key to high frequency is get in, hit it hard and quick, and get out to start the protein synthesis cycle. Then comeback and repeat ASAP.

All things to consider when designing a program…Type of Exercise, Intensity of Exercise, and Frequency of Exercise. NOT to mention one’s individual factors such as genetics, age, gender, training history, nutrition, sleep patterns, other stressors in life, etc. The primary goal should be considered, too. If maximum muscle gains is the goal, frequency can certainly be the key to growth. But I don’t feel that complexes, like those shown in Superhero program are not the set structure to get one there.