Hello T-Nation readers,
I’ve been mulling over a good program for myself and came up with the following below. I measure my progress by strength gains. My goals are 365 lbs. for bench and 500 lbs. for squat and deadlift. Please critique my program and give me your opinion if this will get me where I want to go. Much thanks.
A little about me - I classify myself as an ‘intermediate-beginner’ lifter. Here are my stats:
-27 years old, 195 lbs., 6’ tall
-Bench 1RM: most recent is 315 lbs. (335 over a year ago)
-Squat 1RM: 405 lbs. (hit this last week)
-Deadlift 1RM: 405 lbs. (about three weeks ago)
I think my squat and deadlift maxes could definitely be higher, but I’m admittedly very injury-phobic. I’m an army paratrooper and am really paranoid about injuries.
Here is the gist of my workout program:
-6 day program, no rest-day: chest, arms, back, legs (deadlift), shoulders, legs (squat)
-Chest: bench is my main lift, dumbbell flies, dumbbell incline press at higher rep range, pushups
-Arms: No ‘main lift’ focus. For triceps my staples are dips and triceps extensions. For biceps, my staples are preacher curls, barbell curls, and hammer curl variations
-Back: pull-ups, T-bar rows, and bent-over dumbbell rows are my staples
-Legs (day 1): deadlift is my staple followed by leg curls. I also like to do overhead squats on this day
-Shoulders: Overhead barbell press is my staple, followed by lighter weight dumbbell presses, ‘Arnold presses’, and shrugs
-Legs (2nd day): Back squat is my staple. I like to follow up with some lighter weight front squats, Smith machine lunges, and leg extensions
-I use a 5x5 program at 80% of my 1RM for the ‘main three’ (325 lbs. for squat and deadlift, 255 lbs. for bench). I take about 2-2.5 minutes of rest in between sets of the 5x5
-Lastly, I run every other day. The run is usually sprints of distances less than 400m or hills and between 8 to 10 intervals. I also hit up abs every other day.
Personally I would research and go with westside/conjugate method. If strength is your goal no program will get you stronger faster IMO. plus its easy to structure so you can still get in run days and still have some time to recover. Unless your on gear a off day is really important or atleast a very low intensity recovery day. I run mine like this as I am a paratrooper as well on fort benning.
Monday- ME Squat or Deadlift plus 4 assistance exercisesaimed at weaknesses.
Tuesday- ME Bench or Overhead plus assistance
Wednesday- Sprints and sled work
Thursday- DE Squats and Deads
Friday- DE Bench
Saturday- 6-8 mile Ruck 60lbs dry holding 14 min mile/ once every 4-6 weeks I do Strongman events.
Sunday- stretch foam roll and recovery. Atmost very light run.
After every weight session I run 3-4 miles which usually averages out to 20-30mins cardio to keep my distance stuff up. Training this way for me allowed me to continue to progress my main lifts as fast as possible and stay in shape for a surprise pt test. Luckily for me my ETS date is in about three weeks and I wont ever run again lol.
If you make great gains on your program than ignore this but otherwise I highly reccomend the conjugate system to any one.
firstly well done getting into the paras, it isnt easy
there are a few things in your routine I’m not a fan of such as overhead squats, and i’ve never thought much of arnold presses either
6 days no rest is a lot considering you have to do a lot of fitness type stuff (running and what not)… it’s a lot to recover from and recovery is by far the most important part of the equation when it comes to gaining strength or size (less recovery also increases risk of injury)
On the injury front:
make sure you are stretching before you lift (and preferably after too). I advise wearing elbow sleeves and knee sleeves even if you don’t get pains/etc there, and also take some fish oil/flaxseed oil daily (I take about 4-6g flaxseed oil every day and i very rarely have problems with joints hurting anymore).
If you’re not already doing say 5-10 minutes on the cross trainer, or the bike, or whatever before you start lifting, start doing that. I usually do a few minutes on the rower, and then jump onto the bike on leg day for an extra 5 minutes just to make sure everything is warm.
If you insist on doing flat bench, then I would throw in an exercise or two for rear delts. I’ve seen pec tears in person, and met so many guys with shoulder problems, not to mention all the people on the internet who have serious shoulder issues from flat benching for years. I advise against doing it in favour of decline or incline… unless you compete or plan to compete in powerlifting, so if you must do it, then I would avoid doing a 1RM (I know you really really want to, but try and do it as infrequently as possible). In general I would try and avoid doing your 1RM lifts for as long as possible because there’s a higher chance of injury; try and gauge progress through your 5x5 numbers.
lastly although your deadlift is kinda on the low side (relative to your squat/bench), you’re definitely an intermediate imo given your squat and bench numbers
Thanks for posting and congratulations on your impending ETS date! I’m always glad to hear it when soldiers are able to pursue a civilian career. No dobut it’ll be good for your family too. I’m not surprised that you endorse Westside’s techniques coming from Fort Benning. A major in my brigade who also endorses Westside commanded a company in 1st ranger batt, and he was able to get Louie Simmons to teach his guys a seminar. I’ll definitely look into it.
It may just be in my head, but running more than a few miles every day seems to negate my strength training. I used to consistently run under 12 minutes for the two-mile before I started lifting (albeit, I was about 40 lbs. lighter). At my current weight, I can run under 13 on a good day. If I increase my running, I feel weak in the gym, and it’s not worth it to me.
I appreciate the tip on cross-training. I also take fish oils daily and those seem to do wonders for my joints as well as a glucoasmine/chondroitin tabs. I’ve been fortunate to avoid any shoulder or knee pain, and I think those two supplements have been key to that. When I eventually leave my current unit and am off jump status, I’d like to compete in meets, so your tip on avoiding 1RM for the time being in well received.
I’ll chime in later on this bit for the moment
- avoid true maxing. Or, use it in rarely. I say this because of your job. You need to be able to avoid potential injury and do your job while getting stronger–you cant do your job if youre on profile. If you were a regular guy or looking to compete then the answer changes. But you can get a lot stronger without using a true westside template and training more like the athlete you are.
If strength and athleticism are your goals, then look at athletes and olympic lifters training
- less “off” days you get the better. Not meaning you have to hit the iron daily, but active rest is better than totally off. I like your 6 day training idea, you need to be conditioned for repeated workloads