T Nation

Only Doing The 4 Core Lifts

Hey coach,

I have been training like a bodybuilder in the last time but I am not enjoying it. For me there are to many exercices and I do not have much motivation for the 5x10, 4x8 … work. I just want to feel strong and powerful. I was thinking in minimizing the exercice selection. Just focusing on the Back Squat, Deadlift, OHP and Bench. I was thinking on doing 4 weekly sessions, two lower body workouts (BS and DL) and two upper body workouts (OP and Bench). Which rep sheme would you recommend me to make it work.

I would really aprecciate your help.

I would ask what’s your goal?
Like me, I find myself really enjoying SQ,DL,BP,Press but I don’t plan to compete in powerlifting and right now my goal is lean mass so the main exercises change a little bit (variations).
you can check program Power Look

I wanted to reduce the exercice selection. I was thinking in something like this.
Day 1 Lower Body.

  • Squat 5x5
  • Deadlift 5/4/3/2/1

Day 2 Lower Body.

  • Squat 5/4/3/2/1
  • Deadlift 5x5

Same thing with the Upper Body exercercices.

Do you think this could work?

You could do something like this…

Back Squat - 5x3-5
RDL - 4x8-10
Lunges, Abs, Back Ext

Bench Press - 5x3-5
OH Press - 4x8-10
Rows, Chin-Ups, Curls

Deadlift - 5x3-5
Back Squat - 4x8-10
Lunges, Abs, GHR

OH Press - 5x3-5
Bench Press - 4x8-10
Chin-Ups, Rows, Curls


When I work with athletes we use a minimalist approach because they have to keep their CNS as fresh as possible and avoid excessive fatigue.

With them I use pretty much only big basic lifts. Normally:

A squat variation

A hip hinge variation (could be deadlift, RDL but most of the athletes I work with don’t use the deadlift because they are too strong on it for their needs and the risk/reward ratio is not worth it. So we use mostly variations of the olympic lifts)

A press variation (could be vertical or horizontal)

A pull variation

During accumulation phase we will sometimes do a unilateral lower body exercise.

We do 3 whole body sessions per week based on 3 big lifts and 1 assistance (normally the pull movement or the unilateral leg exercise) per session.

I train at my garge. I have a barbell, a cin up bar and some dumbells. I have read that you need more than ten good sets for each muscle group in order to make it grow In the past I have found myself doing workouts like these:

Back Squat: 5x8-12
Front Squat: 5x8-12
SLDL: 5x8-12
GHR: 5x
(2 min rest between each set)

I have read your articles about the different neurotypes. I like the type 1A workout principles (frequent, short, intense). But I do not see myself doing this back workouts in my garge. Everytime I do weighted pull ups and heavy barbell rows, I do not get good back workouts (back rounding in the pull up, execive hip movement in the row). In top of that I do not have the motivation to go to the gym to do just pull ups and 1 arm rows. I like to have something big. I have also seen that you recommend the bulgarian training system for type 1A. But I do not like those days were you go 80% of your 3RM for 4 sets of 3. I found myself planning all the workouts prior and not actually enjoying the iron.

I would like to find a challenge in the weigh room everyday and still get some good results.

I would appreciate your help.

That is completely incorrect. You need 15 to 30 maximally effective reps to trigger maximal growth in a muscle. A maximally effective rep is a rep where all the muscle fibers are recruited. We could say that the last 5-6 reps of a set are maximally effective reps (I’ll have the demonstration in a future article).

The volume you mention above is excessive.

If I decide to go full body 3 days a week

Day 1
· Back squat
· Bench
· T bar row

Day 2
· Deadlift
· Pull Up

Day 3
· Front squat
· Incline Press
· 1 arm row

How many growth sets do you recommend me do for each movement?
Are sprint intervals (20-30mins)after the workout decrimental for the muscle gains?

Dude, nobody does true intervals for 20-30 minutes unless they are an endurance athlete in elite conditioning.

Intervals, when done properly, are done for 8, maybe 10 minutes. The high intensity part of the intervals is ALL OUT. Just for fun go on a bike with some resistance or assault bike and go ALL OUT for 30 seconds and tell me how you feel.

For the bigger lifts, 3 warm-up sets (these are done with less than 50% of your max), 2-3 preparation sets (these use moderate weight with an RPE of around 6) and then 2-3 work sets with an RPE of 8.5-9.

Thanks for the info.