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Program Question

I picked up a copy of “The Complete Keys to Progress” - John McCallum. And the program he mentions in the first chapter seems weird to me. It is supposed to be a beginner mass building routine. Here it is:

Behind the Neck Press 2 x 12
Bent Row 3 x 15
Bench 3 x 12
Curl 1 x 10
Squat 2 x 15
Pullover 2 x 20 (alternate with squats)
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 1 x 15
Leg Raises 1 x 25

My only experience with programming is Starting Strength and I’ve read the first half of Practical Programming. So it seems counter intuitive to put squats (the big lift for mass gain) near the end after Press and Rows which will definitely put some stress on your glutes and lower back - which you need for maximum performance on squats

Also, in the description of bent rows he says to “round your back when the bar is in the low position.” I assume he means thoracic rounding? and what benefits does this have compared to keeping a flat back?

It’s exactly that, a beginners program. There really isn’t anything wrong with the program I would say. There are better ones but nothing wrong with this split.

I’m sure the program will transition from this to something more traditional. However, for the time being its a beginners program.

I’m not asking about how good the program is, but rather do you think there’s a reason McCallum chose to put squats later on?? Or are you saying, as a beginner, the program shouldn’t have primary emphasis on squats and lower body development?

I’m thinking squats should go first, separated by something upper body then the deadlifts…

[quote]vadertater wrote:
I’m not asking about how good the program is, but rather do you think there’s a reason McCallum chose to put squats later on?? Or are you saying, as a beginner, the program shouldn’t have primary emphasis on squats and lower body development?

I’m thinking squats should go first, separated by something upper body then the deadlifts…[/quote]
McCallum did have several routines where squatting was first or second (usually after some easier ab or low back work). So it’s definitely not like he didn’t prioritize it.

By doing some upper body work (in a relatively-higher rep range) first, you’re warming up the whole body before attacking the hard squats. Remember he was always an advocate of breathing squats - taking a few breaths between every rep - so you’re basically doing 15 singles with brief rest, which will use a heavier weight than a straight set of 15. And yeah, you’re going to get some general fatigue from the rows shortly before squats, but it’s nothing that you can’t/won’t adapt to fairly quickly.

Anyhow, Doggcrapp training (a popular bodybuilding training method) has their biggest leg exercises toward the middle or end of their leg day, figuring they can go 110% balls out on the exercise and don’t have to go hard and still save energy for more training after. It’s an interesting theory.

No major benefit. It was essentially to increase the ROM, kinda like when guys used to do barbell rows standing on top of benches. It’s just not a good idea from a general risk to benefit comparison. But also, you’re doing sets of 15, so you’re not using super-crazy insane heavy weights.

McCallum did, however, recommend taking a closer grip on barbell rows. I’ve played with it and it does increase the ROM. You just need to expect increased biceps work as well (taking a false/thumbs-over grip helps), and some increased wrist stress.

Understand that different coaches have different methods, and one’s not necessarily “more right” than another. If you’re thinking about doing one of McCallum’s routines, try it as is without necessarily comparing it to something another coach recommends. Over time, you’ll figure out what’s what and what you respond best to.