T Nation

Program With Few Exercises

basically, i wanna try a month with compound exercises.. and no squats.. 

these are the ones i wanna work with:

  • pullups
  • dips
  • deadlifts
  • hang clean and press
  • leg extensions to fix my knee (need to strengthen inner quads).
  • maybe pushups
  1. can i do a program with just these exercises? is there anything i should remove or add, to create a balance?

2)should i just do them all three times a week, or split them…

3)but here is my main question: is this enough stimulation for each muscle group, (one, maybe two exercises).

4)should i superset the pullups and dips?


Most of that looks good.

  1. Maybe add in some horizontal pullups with the pushups and leg curls or hyperextensions to pair up with the leg extensions.

  2. I’d split them up, it seems like most programs don’t have the same exercises each workout. Probably an adaptation issue.

You could deadlift, pullup and dip for session 1. Cleans and push presses for the 2nd session. Leg extensions, hypers, pushups and horizontal pullups session 3.

  1. Yea absolutely, just the deadlift and dips work just about every muscle in your body. It’s more of a question of intensity and volume.

  2. That’s a good superset.

Are you doing any specific abwork or are you just taking what you get from the core stabilization from deadlifts.

I agree with the addition of a horizontal pull - horizontal pullups are great, so are rows and facepulls.

Deadlifts, when done justice, are VERY taxing on just about everything in your body. Chins and dips on deadlift day is a good idea, other exercises on the clean and press day.

I wouldn’t use leg extensions to strengthen the VM (inner leg). They “work”, but it’s more effective and safer to do a full squat variation (start light and make sure flexibility is there), Peterson Step-Ups (PM me for a description if you want to use these, most on the web are wrong), or single-leg squat variations like the split squat. Terminal knee extensions as described by Tate are good too if you have bands.

Have fun-


I have been doing something rather different for the past few weeks. My program looks something like this:

Day 1:
1)Squat (10x3 or 5x5 all sets are isometric 3 sec pauses at the bottom)
2)Bench (10x3 or 5x5)
3)Chins 3x5 superset with 3x8 bent over rows (This damn near KILLS me!)

Day 2:
1)Deadlift (10x3 or 5x5)
2)Bench (10x3 or 5x5)
3)Chins 3x5 superset with 3x8 bent over rows

Day 3:
1)Clean & Press (10x3 or 5x5)
2)Bench (10x3 or 5x5)
3)Chins 3x5 superset with 3x8 bent over rows

Now, at first glance this looks pretty plain, however the workouts are never the same. If week 1 I squat for 10x3, the next time I squat I do 5x5, or I’ll do front squats, change my stance, something different. Same goes for bench work. Maybe incline one week, decline the next, dumbell the next and so on. You are really only limited to your imagination. As for if it’s stimulating enough? HELL FUCKING YES! I have added about 20lbs to my bench and last night after 4 sets of 5 reps of iso-back squats, I banged out 10 clean speed reps of my previous 5RM. My arms are growing at an alarming rate as well. And the real kicker? My diet has pretty much sucked that last few days and I haven’t been sleeping for shit. I’m also in and out of the gym in about 35mins tops too.

alright thanks a lot guys,

i’m gonna combine what you said and give it a go.
right now i’ll either do a two-day split, or a three… i’ll try it out and see how i handle them.

i’m not doing any specific ab work, i feel like the abs have been sufficiently worked by the pullups, and by the hang clean+press.

if i end up doing a three day press i can add an ab workout with the hang clean+press. i’ll also be doing the leg extensions every other workout day, they’re good enough now if i hold for a long period at the fully extended position as the doctor recommended. might give the others a try tho.

i had done pullups, deads, and dips today just because i felt like it… my forearms were gonna explode from the pullup and dead combination. its the forearms that cause me to fail in the deads, is that the same for everyone? but i think i’ll be able to handle them on the same day.

p.s. if i do one day with only the “hang clean + press” and abs, what set-rep scheme do you recommend?

thanks again

[quote] silencer wrote:

  1. can i do a program with just these exercises? is there anything i should remove or add, to create a balance?

2)should i just do them all three times a week, or split them…

3)but here is my main question: is this enough stimulation for each muscle group, (one, maybe two exercises).

4)should i superset the pullups and dips?

Go to Search…Search Site…“one lift a day”…read, absorb, enjoy.

After you’ve done that, you’ll find the answers would be:
1A) Yes.
1B) No.

  1. Split them.

  2. Yes.

  3. No.

and thanks analog for mentioning your gains, you just motivated me more. i really dont feel like doing benches right now, i’ll save em for later when i follow a magazine or T-Nation workout, since they’re in most workouts.

and yeah, its cool to finish quickly. and yet, since these exercises are quite taxing, i feel like ive been in the gym much longer.

minotoar, why no on the superset for dips and pulls? or is the answer for that in the article as well? i’ll go check it out.

edit: well the answer is in the title… i guess i didnt take the title literally enough.

Behold…the beautiful thing that is a Dan John routine. :slight_smile:

You could superset dips and pull-ups, I’m sure a bunch of people do. It’s just that, in this type of routine, there’s no need to. And in any case, I tend to prefer pull-ups and some kind of overhead press. If you’re really in a superset kind of mood, I’d go dips and push-ups. Doing the push-ups unweighted, for higher reps.

alright which one you guys prefer:

Plan A: 4 Day Split

1: Deadlifts, leg extensions, abs
2. Pullups, Dips, Leg Extensions

  • 2 days rest-
  1. Hang Clean + Press, Abs, Pulldowns
  2. Pushups, horizontal pullups, leg extensions, leg curls
  • 1 day rest-

(or maybe switch positions of day 3, 4)

or Plan B: 3 day split

  1. Deadlifts, dips, leg extensions
  2. Pullups, Hang Clean + Press, abs
  3. Pushups, horizontal pullups, leg extension, leg curl

with rest between each workout, and two days rest in the end.

here ive got the pullups and the press on the same day, and i give my forearms a break between deadlifts and the pullups.

I’m curious to know why you wanted to create a program specifically without squats.

i’m just not flexible enough right now and im not sure i will be able to do them i good posture. i love the idea of doing squats and i did them (box squats) in my second month of training and it felt pretty good, but now im getting a little worried about good form, and decided to leave them for later. i have years to get to them, god willing, no need to rush things (when i find a professional to help me)

1.)I would second what buffalokilla said about single leg movements being the superior choice. You’ll find that leg extensions will do more harm than good to your knees. For more info, check out “Single Leg Supplements” in the archives. I would strongly advise against doing leg extensions multiple times per week

2.) If flexibility is your concerns with squats, I’d recommend overhead squats as a key part of your program. You’ll build flexibility (Polliquin describes this exercise as one big PNF stretch). In addition, you’ll use sufficiently light weights in the begininng to keep stress off your knee if that is a concern.

3.)OLAD is a beautiful thing

Just my $.02 worth.
Best of Luck,
old dogg

Bro, have you ever seen an old person try to learn a computer? I mean, like, my grandmother took 2 months to “trust” the answering machine. You’re better off squatting now, rather than waiting until “later”. The best way to get more flexible for squatting is…to…squat.

You don’t necessarily need a professional to tell you how to squat. If you can find someone in your gym who squats 225 or more, without wearing a belt, ask them to watch you squat, then take some notes. Of course, run those notes past us here before you implement them fully. :wink:

Overhead squats with a broomstick.
10 sets of 10 a day. That’s 3000 a month. At the end of 3 months you will have very good form on your overhead squats. Don’t skip any days. None of this, “I’ll learn them later” shit.


Knee fixers: Backward sled dragging or walking up-hill backwards. Neither of these are as boring as Pederson Step-ups. People will look at you kinda funny, but they’re not boring. The knee action is exactly the same.


What you’re doing sounds like various Pavel-based workouts. Do a few exercises–main one being DL–and do them often. Also, start off your cycle light. If you can DL 200, then start with 120. 2X5. Next day do 125. Next day 130. For the lighter sets do Romanian DLs or finish up with a shrug. Don’t reverse hands–anything to vary it a bit. Then, once weights get a bit heavy go to standard DL. Never go to failure and don’t do too much Will allow your weights to increase and train frequently. I went from 185 to 350 in a matter of months.
Can try side press for the ‘pushing’ movement–dl are ‘pulling’

Also for dips/push-ups/pull-ups there are 2 great ‘Pavel’ programs:
(1) GTG (Grease the gears) Just do sets of about 60% of 1 rm several times throughout the day. Whenever you have a chance do a few reps. Difficult
for pullups if you don’t have a bar around. Pushups easier
(2) Ladders. Start with 1 pullup or some base # if 1 is too low. Then, add 1. Keep adding 1 until exercise gets too hard. Then start back at 1 and work up again. 1 pullup–rest a few seconds–2 pullups–rest–3…until you fail then start back at 1.

Repeat until you can’t do more than 1 or 2. I did this with pushups and pullups and did something like 75 pullups and 225 pushups in about 25 minutes. 3 pushups for every pullup. By the time you reach 7 pullups you’ll
have done 28 total (1+2+3+4+5+6+7)

I am a big fan of whole body workouts. Have been training that way now for a year. And I think that if you are eating right and sleeping, and vary the training loads, you can train whole body more than three days a week. Try every other day, or four or five days a week.

While I don’t know what your knee issues are, I am of the belief generally that well-performed squats are both less stressful on the knee joint, and better at strenthening the relevant muscle structure. I generally squat every workout (varying between back squats, overhead squats, front squats, squat cleans, squat snatch).

Frankly, my knees have started feeling alot better switching from Westside squat protocol to this, even though my total squatting volumn has increased, and I am still back squatting heavy once a week.

And don’t forget deadlifts. If I could only do one exercise…

I agree with what’s been said regarding squats. The sooner you can get the form down the better. It’s too good an exercise to put off learning properly. If I were you I would set a time frame to get your flexibility in check and learn squat form. Otherwise it’s too easy to say “I’ll learn it later”. Just an idea.

you need to add some more exersizes (compound ones)