T Nation

Program Review for Rookie

Team,

I’ve never been a competitive powerlifter before, but I’ve got a significant amount of free time on my hands and would like to spend a few weeks working up to see what my max bench, squat, and deadlift would be. I’ve always been decently strong by training for sports, but I’ve never really focused on the big three before. My overall goal is a 1500+, but I may not have enough time to get there, at least not by my target date (about 12 weeks from now).

Anyways, the program I’m working with now consists of a push/pull/legs split, with 12 workouts a week. The AM sessions alternate between dynamic effort (or some variation, based on my limited understanding of Westside Barbell and some Louie Simmons articles I’ve read) and max effort. The PM sessions stay the same for each push, pull, or leg day. Essentially, I have 9 different workouts, if that makes sense. I’ll break it down by 1 = Push, 2 = Pull, 3 = Legs and A = Max Effort, B = Dynamic Effort, C = PM session.

Day 1, Workout 1A

  1. Barbell Bench, 8x3
  2. Barbell Military Press, 8x3
  3. Decline Bench, Close Grip, 4x6
  4. Overhead Extension, 4x6
  5. Swiss Ball Jack knife, 4x10

Day 1, Workout 1C

  1. Dumbbell Incline, 4x5
  2. Dumbbell Decline, 4x5
  3. Triceps Extension, 3x8
  4. Dumbbell Side Raises, 3x8

Day 2, Workout 2B

  1. Snatch Grip High Pull, 8x3
  2. Deadlift from deficit (standing on plates) 8x3
  3. Pull ups, 6x5
  4. Cable Row, 4x8
  5. Back Extensions, 4x10

Day 2, Workout 2C

  1. Croc Row, 4x8
  2. Cable Pull Down, 3x8
  3. Machine Row (horizontal), 4x6
  4. Preacher Curls, 3x8
  5. Cable face pull, 3x8
  6. Hanging leg pike, 3x20

Day 3, Workout 3A

  1. Power cleans, 5x2
  2. Squat, 6x3
  3. Leg Press, 5x5
  4. Romanian Deadlift, 4x8
  5. Kneeling cable crunch, 4x8
  6. Plank, 4x1 minute

Day 3, Workout 3C

  1. Leg Curls, 4x6
  2. Leg Extensions, 4x6
  3. 3 x glute workouts from Bret Contreras’ “Dispelling the Glute Myth”

Day 4, Workout 1B

  1. Barbell Bench (Dynamic Effort) 8x3
  2. Push Press (Dynamic Effort) 6x4
  3. Dips, 5x5
  4. Horizontal Medicine Ball Push, 3x12
  5. Vertical Medicine Ball Push, 3x12
  6. Incline Dumbbell Fly, 5x5

Day 4, Workout 1C
Same as Day 1

Day 5, Workout 2A

  1. Deadlift, 8x3
  2. Pull Overs, 6x4
  3. Bent Over Row, 4x8
  4. Rope pulls to chest, 4x8
  5. Back Extensions, 4x10

Day 5, Workout 2C
Same as Day 2

Day 6, Workout 3B

  1. Box Squat (Dynamic Effort) 8x3
  2. Seated Good Morning, 7x4
  3. Skater Squat, 4x8
  4. Standing Long Jump, 3x8
  5. Back Extension, 3x10

Day 6, Workout 3C
Same as Day 3

Sorry that was super long winded. I’ve been working out on this program for three weeks now and have made decent gains, but I’m only doing the big three lifts once a week each (at least with a significant amount of weight). That makes it a little difficult to see if I’m making significant progress. Also, when I’m doing max effort days for the core lifts, even though it’s 8x3 or 6x3, I only have about 3-4 sets at my max weight.

I plan on sticking to this program for another three weeks, then a deload, then six more weeks, then getting my maxes. Any tips or corrections would be greatly appreciated!

What are you current maxes?

Maj

Well many here will probly telly you that youve got too many workouts in the week, but if you’re used to the workload from your collegiate sports I don’t necessarily see it as a problem inherently. I’m gonna take longer look at this program later when I can type on a full computer lol

Team,

Here are a few updates regarding my workouts. Last night, I read Eric Cressey’s article, “The Truth about Leg Extensions”. I no longer do leg extensions. I don’t know what I’m going to do instead, but I’m going to cut those out.

Also, as far as my current maxes, it’s really tough to say as I intentionally didn’t check prior to starting the workout (currently deployed and, prior to deploying, I did what I always do, which is go on a two month bender… My maxes would have been awful). But here’s what I’m working at on max effort days:

Bench: 3x3, 275
Squat: 3x3, 335 (these are extremely deep, though)
Deadlift: 3x3, 475

The volume hasn’t been bad so far - I’m taking 3 protein shakes a day (2 x whey after each workout and 1 x casein before bed, each with about 40 - 50 grams of protein) and eating whatever the DFAC is sending my way, which, since I’m POGing out hardcore this deployment, is quite a bit.

[quote]ZSchaeff wrote:
Team,

Here are a few updates regarding my workouts. Last night, I read Eric Cressey’s article, “The Truth about Leg Extensions”. I no longer do leg extensions. I don’t know what I’m going to do instead, but I’m going to cut those out.

Also, as far as my current maxes, it’s really tough to say as I intentionally didn’t check prior to starting the workout (currently deployed and, prior to deploying, I did what I always do, which is go on a two month bender… My maxes would have been awful). But here’s what I’m working at on max effort days:

Bench: 3x3, 275
Squat: 3x3, 335 (these are extremely deep, though)
Deadlift: 3x3, 475

The volume hasn’t been bad so far - I’m taking 3 protein shakes a day (2 x whey after each workout and 1 x casein before bed, each with about 40 - 50 grams of protein) and eating whatever the DFAC is sending my way, which, since I’m POGing out hardcore this deployment, is quite a bit. [/quote]

He didn’t say don’t do them, just program them accordingly. That is, use them for higher reps if you don’t have a history of knee problems.

Ok, well the first thing that jumps to mind is that if you ARE recovering just fine from the volume and frequency AND seeing results in increased strength then there’s no immediate need to decrease volume immediately, but I’d keep an eye on it because the volume is just so up there. If you plateau for a significant time (say 4-6 weeks), then I’d consider this.

Secondly, I would really switch Day 1 and Day 2 around. You’re essentially doing 4 posterior chain/leg and back workouts in a row. AND you’re fatiguing the back right before you squat (the day before), AND you’re doing deadlifts 2 days in a row (deficit deads, then RDLs).

That’s ridiculous. You need to correct those and the easiest way is to simply give yourself a day in between working legs/back by putting your bench day in between.

OK that’s quite a lot of poundage to make up in 12 weeks… But who cares, aim high!

In my opinion to gain that much strength in that time frame though, you will have to put on a substantial amount of body weight, so if it were me - I would focus on eating!

Regards training: sure, if you can recover from this pretty insane workload then go for it. However, I really don’t think it’s necessary to do that much. Personally that volume would annihilate me. If you’re after improving your total, maybe just focus on that goal; when it comes to getting stronger a lot of people advocate that less is often more. Even if you are physically recovering, I imagine that all of the supplementary work will distract you mentally from the main lifts.

It also gives you an easy excuse to not hit the main lifts as hard as you can. “My squats sucked, but I can make up for it in X or Y”. It’s much more productive to give 100% focus and dedication to you main lifts, in my opinion.

Maj

You make good points, so dont take this as disagreeing with you, but the way I see it the volume does several things for him–assuming he can recover AND still gain some strength obviously…

  1. better GPP, obvious

  2. better resiliency and more “permanent” strength gains…volume based programs are very strong in this regard…strength gains made ala intensification phases or such are more volatile and harder to solidify if you get caught off guard by life or something. Also harder on the CNS to max max max than to do frequent volume (see: olympic lifters weekly volume/frequency, Sheiko training which is volume and frequency more than max weights, and others. Also see Thib’s thoughts on the matter wrt frequency and volume).

I learned that the hard way because I spent years on WSB, and i still really like it. I didn’t buy into the volume based approach (to say nothing of frequency) until I learned the hard way. Interestingly, after changing things up to mimic that approach I was hit with a couple multi-week layoffs in the last year and change and discovered what they’d been saying

  1. easier to recover from volume than super CNS draining work.

  2. not hitting the main movements to your limit as you mentioned is actually a good thing in this program…more frequently you train a movement with volume the less you can or SHOULD push the super duper grind limit. Sheiko is an example–you work pretty much right between 65-80% and still get stronger

Again, I agree with pretty much everything in your post (especially a) insane volume and b) eat eat eat) so I don’t want you to think I’m arguing with you, but this is where I was coming from–assuming he can in fact recover, this is what high frequency and volume does for you.

OH–I also forgot, it’s usually easier to start this kind of program when you can’t push as much weight as a vet too, so a lower absolute strength works better here since the stronger you are the more draining it is, relatively speaking. Take a guy squatting 600 and it’s going to kill him to squat 475 every day if he’s not used to it. On the other hand, take a guy squatting 250, he can probably handle 190-200 daily much easier relatively speaking. Obviously once both athletes are accustomed to it it will work for both, just hurts to adapt more in the vets case.

Thanks for the messages, guys. I’ve gone ahead and switched to a Pull-Push-Legs split and I think I’ll have some more success, especially regarding the posterior chain fatigue. I will say, I’m eating just about everything I can find, probably averaging around 200-250 grams of protein a day. As far as recovery, I’m never completely smoked, but I’m sleeping about 6-8 hours a day.

Like I said, I’m not completely smoked, but I’m a little worried that my body isn’t able to recover and I can’t properly gauge it (if that makes sense). I’m also not super concerned that I’m slacking on my core lifts, but I’m just worried that I’m not doing them often enough for the goals I’ve got. I’ll keep working it and re-check my maxes in about two weeks and request changes if I’m not making a significant amount of progress. Thanks again for the help guys.