T Nation

Program Critique Please

Coach T can you give me a quick critique on this if you don’t mind.

All of the following are 4 sets 6-8 reps unless otherwise noted.
Barbell Bench Press
Incline Barbell Bench Press
Dips (chest variation)
Ab Work

Barbell Row
Inverted Row
Standing Barbell Calf Raise (5 sets 10-12 reps)

Standing Barbell Press
Trap Bar Shrugs
Push Press
Weighted Carries (5 sets 25-50 meters)

Day 4
Back Squat
Romanian Deadlift
Hip Thrust
Front Squat

Day 5
Hammer Curls
Close Grip Bench
Barbell Curl
Skull Crusher
Ab Work

I am 6’ 183 pounds 13%BF and I would like to use this program to put on 10-15 pounds of lean mass by the end of December. I have been trying to cut down to around the 10% BF mark for the last several months and cant seem to get the last little bit. My theory is If I can add some more muscle to my frame it would aid me in my quest for 10%. I am 36 years old and have only been working out for 2 years now, before that I had only worked out very little in high school; not enough to amount to anything. I feel like I have got a solid foundation under me and have a good understanding of proper form and technique I think I flip flop back and forth between programming too much and it has hurt my overall progress. I also think I have been working in too high a volume range which has also hurt my progress. I am going to start off with nutrition about 200 calories above maintenance which is 2900 so I will be at 3100 cals per day at a 40/40/20 split with most of my carbs consumed at breakfast and around my workout. Thanks for any help.

I dont do full program critiques. It takes me longer and more effort to critique a program than to write a new one. Sorry.

No problem, I understand. More or less just trying to figure out if im on the right track. Thanks for al the info you put out.

I will give you a few pointers nonetheless

Normally I don’t like to have these two lifts in the same workout. The deadlift heavily taxes the lower back and with a tired lower back much of your energy is used to maintain posture in the barbell row instead of lifting the weight with the upper back.

The front squat is heavily relient on lower back strength. Putting it at the end of a workout with 2 exercises taxing the lower back is a very back idea. Drop the RDL or put it on another day, put the front squat 2nd and maybe add a unilateral leg exercise.

I don’t like 6-8 on the following lifts:

Deadlift, front squat, push press (reps should be lower), shrugs, inverted row (reps should be higher)

Coach, why do you prefer lower reps on front squat precisely? Thank you

Because it is either the grip or upper back that gives out first when using higher reps. With lower reps you can maintain proper lifting posture for the whole set and thus focus more on the quads.

Wow! Thanks CT I really do appreciate it, I know your time is valuable. I will make the changes you suggested. Thanks again

Good point. The drawback to this however is less time under tension.


Time Under Tension in itself is not a stimulus for growth, it’s only a qualitative measure of the set. The thing that matters is the fatigue created, of which TUT is AT BEST an indirect and approximative measure of.

And even if it was a direct stimulus for growth, you would not be able to maximize all stimuli at the same time. For example load and TUT are pretty much inversely related: the higher the load, the lower the TUT. So you can’t have maximal tension when TUT is high.

As such there is no need top try to maximize every possible way to stimulate growth on every exercise/set you do. Front squats are an exercise where it is best to use heavier weights and slightly lower reps, period.

I believe that TUT is a gimmick coined to pass another gimmick as “fact”: training tempo. I believe that precise tempo prediction is something used mostly by coaches who want to look more important than they really are.

YES how you perform a rep matters, but you don’t need precise speed formula for this. I prefer to give qualitative recommendations. For example I prefer to tell someone to lower slowly while flexing the muscle. This will accomplish more than saying using a 5010 tempo because even if the person goes slowly, it doesn’t mean that he/she will flex hard (he likely wont, to save energy).

Another issue with tempo is that most coaches do not thing when they write down tempo prescriptions. In their mind 5020 is slow, 3010 is normal and 1010 is fast (for example). Well 3010 might be slow on some exercises (wrist curls, calves, shrugs) and fairly fast on others (squats, front squats). 5020 might be slow on squats but it is suuuuuuuuper slow on some exercises. 1010 (a TRUE 1 second count) can be fast on some exercises but normal on others. Most coaches do not take that into consideration when writing down tempos.

In all honesty I do not know of ANY accomplished bodybuilder, powerlifter, strongman, olympic lifter, etc. who use tempo prescriptions.


That’s correct

It’s not a gimmick, I’ve put it to the test and it 100% works.

Good for you. It’s not the TUT itself that works, it’s the muscle fiber fatigue that occurs with longer set. TUT is just a measure of it. If you can place the same amount of fiber fatigue in less time you get the same training effect.

Another thing is that when using TUT you often change the loading schemes, either changing reps or rep speed. Any variation in training leads to positive adaptations (provided that it is not some stupid s**t), in that case it is the variation not the TUT that causes gains.

BTW EVERY non idiotic training works.

Funny that you talk about this CT. Recently I started to think about the validity of Tempo counting and came to the same conclusion you did. If I may, I would even add that it could be detrimental for many individuals. Let me explain. When I started training many years ago, I would not count tempo neither reps. So I recently tried it again. You know what? My weights went up by 5 -15 % in a matter of a few sessions. I think the explanation is that when you count reps or tempo, you clog your mind with irrelevant information that removes your attention from getting the muscle contraction and succeeding with the rep at work. When I don’t count anything, I am able to dig a lot deeper to get extra reps. I even surprised myself jumping sets by 3-5 reps more than my previous workout. The more you still your mind, the more you increase mind toughness. Would you agree?

Happy that I am not alone thinking that tempo is way over rated.

Just finished writing an article about this