Routine Critique

As some of you guys here have been at this awhile, I would like some criticism and evaluation on the routine I am changing to in two weeks. My main goal is explosive power for martial arts competition and secondly mass (something like a mix of functional strength and aesthetics). My main concern is over training and secondly throwing out what I do not need and adding what I do.

Flat Bench: 2X10,2X6,1X3
Incline db press: 2X5
Incline db flye: 2X15
pec dec: 2X12
skull crushers: 1X12,2X6
close grip bench press: 1X12, 2X6
cardio: sprints

Squat: 1X5, 1X4, 3X3, 2X2, 1X1
bb lunges: 2X10
Calf raises: 2X25
Box Jump: 5X5

L-Chin ups: 2X12,1X10,1X8,1X4
BB stiff leg dead lift+row: 5X3
Wide grip pull ups: 2X8, 2X5
bb curl+shoulder press: 3X6
db preacher curl: 2X12
db swings: 3X5
military press or arnold press: 2X10
hanging leg raises: 2Xfailure
hanging cross leg raises: 2Xfailure


Clean and Press:5X5
hanging knees to elbows:3X3
hanging Window Washer:3X3
Flat Bench press:2X6

various ab exercises


How about adding a few plyometrics for explosive power? What I like to do when preparing for martial arts competition is timed sets with calisthenics. As for cardio, sprints are a very good idea. You should make your sprints approximately the same amount of time as a round. So if your round lasts 2 minutes, run for 600 metres, or what would approximately take you 2 minutes. What else I like for cardio is Mike Mahler’s HOC (High Octane Cardio), with bag work, as well as skipping rope (which does wonders for your footwork).
I don’t know if I’m missing something by not doing this, but I don’t train in the 1-5 rep range (at least when preparing for competition), since my martial art is not full contact, and extra strength is harder to control.

If you want explosive speed, you better be moving the bar as fast as humanly possible when you lift.

Also, I would do something along the lines of 6x3, 3x5 or 8x3 as far as sets/reps go.

If you don’t want to gain weight, stick with less volume and go with the 3x3, 3x5 or 6x3 parameters. If you can afford to add some muscle, try 8x3 or 10x3. You would use about 80-85% of your 1RM on these lifts.

Read some of Chad Waterbury’s articles like Big Boy Basics, the Strength Focused Mesocycle, ABBH and the Single’s Club.


The 1-5 rep range is more indusive to strength over mass (please feel free to correct me if I am wrong). After this routine for four weeks, I will do a strength mesocycle by Chad Waterbury and then onto the Westside for Skinny Bastards. I’ve heard some great stuff comin from the Westside workouts.

You’re right, 1-5 rep range IS inducive to strength over mass (assuming the volume is low). But for my age group (15-17), there are no weight class divisions (that starts at 18 years), and so I wouldn’t worry too much about gaining mass. But the more strength I have, the harder it is to control. If you have a maximum bench press of 300 lbs. and a max. bench of 150 lbs. (completely arbitrary numbers), which punch is stronger? Which punch is harder to control? The stronger one (assuming your speed remains the same), of course.

The 1-5 range ceases to be strength-only when you perform many sets.

If the concern is overtraining then the most obvious thing you should do is get rid of training to failure. Stop a few reps short and you’ll recover much better.

You’ve mentioned that your PRIMARY goal is explosive power and your secondary goal is mass. After reviewing your routine I’d be inclined to believe that the priority of your goals is reversed.

The volume of your training and some the movements you’ve chosen will more likely lead to hypertrophy than explosive power.

The total number of sets in your workouts is quite high given that some of them are for 10-12 reps. I’d reduce the total number of sets AND/OR decrease the number of reps per set. If you want to get stronger and gain some mass cut back on the total number of reps and keep the sets relatively high.

As for specific movements, I’d suggest that you remove the isolation movements (flyes, pec deck, skull crushers, preacher curls) in favour of spending more time on the compound lifts. Again, this comes back to your PRIMARY goal of explosive power. Remember, you become explosive, by training explosively.

Just for “fun” you may want to remove your BB Lunges and replace them with jumping alternating lunges. Try that for explosive.

Personally (and depending on what program you did before this) I’d do a 4 week hypertrophy phase, followed by a 4 week strength phase, take a rest week, and then follow with a 4-6 week explosive phase.

If one of your major concerns is overtraining, then you definitely better take another look. You have high-intensity, high CNS stress work on almost every day.

General rule: alternate high and low intensity days.

Do sprints and strength/power lifting on the same day(high intensity). In between, do low-intensity work. You could probably do some lower intensity lifting to build muscle on low-intensity days. Low intensity days are also good for working on general fitness: tempo runs, jump rope, bodyweight exercises, some GPP-type stuff, med ball stuff, etc.

Thanks for the replies so far. Well, I have taken into consideration the sets/reps scheme and the overtraining and I revised it a bit.

Flat bench: 10X3
Dips: 3X near failure
inc db press: 3X8
bb curl+press: 3X8
wrist curls: 5X5
Rev grip bench: 4X6

Squat: 1X5, 1X4, 2X3, 2X2, 1X1
1 legged db squat: 3X5
glute-ham raises: 4X6
calf raises: 2X25
rope pull down for abs

bb stiff leg dead lift+row: 5X5
military press: 8X3
l-chin up: 4X12
cable scarecrows: 3X15
Tate presses: 3X8


Hang squat clean press: 6X3
knees to elbows: 5X4
window washers: 5X3
db swings: 3X25
box jump: 8X4

Cardio will be done as spints once a week and interval running twice a week.

Re: power and strength (a size as a by product)

It is a lot of volume for each session. 4-6 exercises are hard to do with any intensity. I struggle with 1 maybe 2 exercises per session with any intensitity.

Also there is a lot of duplication. For example if you want to improve the strength of your hip extensors why not just pick one hip extensor exercise and work it hard rather than dividing you focus and thus your results. Hitting a muscle from different angles is just a bodybuilding technique to try and shape a muscle. Not much of a effect on strength more so than doing just one exercise for each muscle group.

Can’t comment since we don’t know what weight you are using on that program


Re what celibrate2047 wrote:
At a glance, ditch the pec dec, preacher curls and the bench press (unless you are built properly for it). I also think you are doing a bit to much in general.