T Nation

Routine with Unconventional Exercises


#1

I've been lifting for a 1.5 solid years now with decent strengh levels (250bench, 345 squat, 360 deadlift).

I want to take a try at something slightly unconventional in terms of exercises used - in hopes of improving those specific lifts on a full body routine.

A
Front Squat 3x5
Chin Ups(weighted) 5x5
Dips (weighted) 5x5
Deadlift 2x5

B
Deadlift 3x5
Chins 5x5
Dips 5x5
Front Squat 2x5

A
Front Squat 3x5
Chin Ups(weighted) 5x5
Dips (weighted) 5x5
Deadlift 2x5

Those will all be straight sets and will follow a deload like stronglift 5x5 in that I'd increase weight every to every other workout until I cannot add more weight. Once I hit that point I'll drop down to 10% of that weight and build back up.

I know some will suggest I do not squat and deadlift on the same day, from past experiences I have faired well doing both, but this time I'll be using front squat (instead of back) to soften the blow on cns/muscles. Note: It might be another story if i was squating 500lbs but as of now, no).

Im also thinking about removing deadlifts from Workout B to reduce weekly fatigue.

Goal would be strength with some hypertrophy.

Workout's wouldn't be rotated (ABA, BAB, ABA, etc.) as the difference would be relatively small.

Would anyone see a problem adding a short session a few hours later for arms say: A 15-20 Heavy reps bi/tri, B 25-30 medium weight bi/tris (isolated movements like curls or extension) to add some more volume on those muscles?

Thanks in advance for any critique. While I wouldn't mind suggestions of other programs, I'd perfer suggestions/comments on this one specificly.

Jon

Edit: Guess admin changed the title... so its not so much unconventional exercises but rather and unconventional emphasis on them (Dips - Chins vs Bench - Row - Squat).


#2

Doesn’t look too bad. I just have a couple suggestions, which are primarily based on you being more of an intermediate lifter than a raw beginner.

Don’t use straight sets. Ramp up to a top set of 5, using 10-15% jumps. Or at the very least, do this on friday.

I really think at your level the squatting and deadlifts three times a week is too much. I would absoloutely at the minimum get rid of deadlifts on wednesday, and keep the squatting light. Maybe light back squat, or do some unilateral work like step ups, lunges, or split squats.

With the change of keeping B day a bit of an easier day (even with the chins and dips), I wouldn’t rotate days. Just do ABA every week. Then you could do your arm workon your A day after your main exercises.

Dips, chins and front squats are fantastic exercises, and if you’ve been benching, rowing, and back squatting near exclusively, this routine is likely to definitely put some meat on your bones and increase your strength levels quite a bit.

Oh, and I definitely wouldn’t call anything exercise you’re doing unconventional. They’re very conventional. :slight_smile:


#3

Thanks for the response goochadamg.

I’ve had some good progress using both straight sets and ramping - while tending to enjoy straight more, but will defiantly take into consideration ramping the load on friday. Maybe ramp up to for the first two or three sets with the last two (or three) straight?

Deadlifts will be removed on day B, I intially wanted to only deadlift at most two days a week, so Im kind of dumbfounded as to how/why I added them there.

Dips and chins have always been in my routines, just have never given them this much attention.

Thanks
Jon


#4

[quote]Pull14 wrote:
Thanks for the response goochadamg.

I’ve had some good progress using both straight sets and ramping - while tending to enjoy straight more, but will defiantly take into consideration ramping the load on friday. Maybe ramp up to for the first two or three sets with the last two (or three) straight?
[/quote]

Yeah, ramping up to the last two or one would be good on friday would be good. Give it a shot.

Start a log in the training section. I’d like to see how you progress on this.


#5

Instead of doing heavy deadlifts three times a week, why not omit them on Day 2 and add powercleans on Day 3. If you’re shooting for a full body workout, it’s hard to beat powercleans.

Also, are there any rest days between A and B? If so, you should probably add a set or two or a few more reps on the front squats and deadlifts. The muscles these two moves target are high-threshold muscles that are capable of handling pretty large volumes compared to the muscles targeted during dips and chinups.

If you go lighter one day a week or have a planned deload week every month, then you should be fine going heavier or higher in volume for fsquats and dlifts. Otherwise, you might not see the best results that you could.

You could also probably be fine doing the two workouts EVERYDAY if you stick to 2x5 on all the movements. There was an article posted on here recently that had a workout plan on it similar to this where you basically hit each muscle group with ten reps every day for 40 straight days.

The volume per day isn’t high enough to warrant a rest period of more than 24 hours, but as the days pile up, the total volume starts to be pretty significant.

Oh yeah. Since when are deadlifts, front squats, dips and chins considered “unconventional” exercises?


#6

[quote]artw wrote:
Instead of doing heavy deadlifts three times a week, why not omit them on Day 2 and add powercleans on Day 3. If you’re shooting for a full body workout, it’s hard to beat powercleans.

Also, are there any rest days between A and B? If so, you should probably add a set or two or a few more reps on the front squats and deadlifts. The muscles these two moves target are high-threshold muscles that are capable of handling pretty large volumes compared to the muscles targeted during dips and chinups. If you go lighter one day a week or have a planned deload week every month, then you should be fine going heavier or higher in volume for fsquats and dlifts. Otherwise, you might not see the best results that you could.
[/quote]

Terrible advice. “High-threshold” muscles? What the hell? Squats and deadlifts are far more likely to CNS fatique, and halt progress than dips or chinups.

My experience (my own training, and training of others), and the experience of many other people, goes completely against what you just wrote.


#7

[quote]artw wrote:
You could also probably be fine doing the two workouts EVERYDAY if you stick to 2x5 on all the movements.[/quote]

Holy shit, I just saw this. (I kinda ignored the rest of your post after that second paragraph.)

You’re off your rocker, dude.


#8

I think this is a good-looking plan all in all. Seven sets of five of deadlifts in a week is not unreasonable, and the progression looks smart. Some suggestions to consider:

-Replace dips with overhead presses or push presses on one day (day A, maybe). You don’t want to neglect your deltoids, and its good for the shoulder joints to put weight on them at a wider range of angles.

-In a similar vein, replace chin-ups with power cleans or hang cleans on one day (day C, I’d say). Keep them light and explosive. If you do this exercise first, that’s a lion’s share of deadlift workout accomplished.

-If you feel that deadlifting three times a week is too much - I don’t, just as long as the total number sets isn’t excessive - think of replacing them with light clean pulls or high pulls on one day.

Of course, a small selection of exercises has an appeal of its own, so I understand if you don’t want to clutter up your neat program. In that case, I’d consider replacing dips entirely with overhead presses or push presses. You’d sacrifice a good deal of your pectoral development and might not do quite as well going back to benches, but I believe your shoulders will thank you in the long run. Incline benches are a possibility too - but they’re awful close to flat benches, so I understand if you’d like to avoid them.

Not that I’m much of anybody to give advice, I’m just as inexperienced as you and not as strong! :smiley: What’s your bodyweight?


#9

[quote]Beluch wrote:
Not that I’m much of anybody to give advice, I’m just as inexperienced as you and not as strong! [/quote]

Ugh. Then [i]don’t[i].


#10

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
Beluch wrote:
Not that I’m much of anybody to give advice, I’m just as inexperienced as you and not as strong!

Ugh. Then don’t.

[/quote]

Heh. That’s why I offered suggestions. If you want to point out why they’re bad ideas, that’s great!


#11

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
artw wrote:
Instead of doing heavy deadlifts three times a week, why not omit them on Day 2 and add powercleans on Day 3. If you’re shooting for a full body workout, it’s hard to beat powercleans.

Also, are there any rest days between A and B? If so, you should probably add a set or two or a few more reps on the front squats and deadlifts. The muscles these two moves target are high-threshold muscles that are capable of handling pretty large volumes compared to the muscles targeted during dips and chinups. If you go lighter one day a week or have a planned deload week every month, then you should be fine going heavier or higher in volume for fsquats and dlifts. Otherwise, you might not see the best results that you could.

Terrible advice. “High-threshold” muscles? What the hell? Squats and deadlifts are far more likely to CNS fatique, and halt progress than dips or chinups.

My experience (my own training, and training of others), and the experience of many other people, goes completely against what you just wrote.[/quote]

My own experience does not run contrary to the advice I gave at all, as well as my lifting partners’ experience. I can handle heavy weights and a high volume twice a week on these muscles with no CNS fatigue, as long as I go light every 3 or 4 weeks, hence the deload week I suggested. But I’m not the only one who understands this. Here’s a little clip from Eric Cressey’s last article.

“And if you hammer the muscles of the upper, middle and lower back, as well as the glutes and hamstrings, you’ll not only see muscle growth there, you’ll see it virtually everywhere in your body,” Cressey says. “But first, these muscles need to be primed for growth by activating high-threshold motor units as often as possible and with the right volume.”

Recruiting high-threshold motor units â?? the muscle fibers that have huge potential for building strength and size â?? is of course a matter of lifting heavy weights (at or above 80 percent of your 1RM)."

Your triceps, pecs, delts and biceps are not high-threshold motor units, meaning that they can’t handle a huge workload and consistently heavy weight like the glutes, hams, spinal erectors and lats. Of course some rest is required, but 2x5 isn’t going to wipe anyone out at all. On squats and deadlifts, with proper form and the heaviest weight you can comfortably handle for 5 reps, you could go heavy regularly.

As far as the suggestion about performing either workout A or B everyday, I was simply relating a workout program that was featured in an article on this site recently. 2 sets of 5 reps isn’t shit. I could do that everyday with squats no problem. I should have mentioned that the point is to stay close to failure, but not to reach failure. Of course, nobody has the time to workout everyday for 40 straight days as suggested in the article, so you will have some rest days. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about this approach, but I can see where it makes sense on a short-term basis. I’ve tried it and made some gains after about 20 days, but I got sick of doing the same 4 exercises everyday and that’s why I stopped, not because of a lack of effectiveness.


#12

Looking good


#13

Sorry about that, was using my bro’s comp forgot to logout.

Beluch, appreciate the advice but Im going to stick with these lifts. Im have particularly weak triceps, so a clos(er) gripped dip will still keep delts, pec, etc. involved but will also put more of an emphases on triceps. As far as the state of my bench after this program, I expect to maintain if not slightly improve with the work on my tri’s. If I lose some strength it shouldn’t take to long for me to work back up.

As far as chin ups, I’d really like to improve on them and as you put, keep the exercise list simple. I like keeping things simple stupid hence the original idea of straight sets for all 3 days - but will probably end up changing that. Leave the lifts alone!!!

Artw, to clear things up, it’ll be a 3xweek full body so it would look like:

D1 A
D2 Rest
D3 B
D4 Rest
D5 A
D6&7 Rest

I’ve also removed DL from B, but are you recommending heavy cleans on B to replace DL? If so I think that would at the very least partially defeat the purpose. I removed DL to reduce some of the fatigue it would place on me, powercleans would have same/similiar affect.

As far as volume, I’ll stick with what I have now. If its to low for the results Im looking for I can always add some in the future, however if its to high right off the bat I’ll be seeing problems quickly.

40 day program is good, I’ve already done something similiar before Dan John posted it (pavel’s grease the groove). Keep in mind however that you choose the weight based on how you feel that day, if you constantly going heavy/near failure, it’ll burn most people out quick. As DJ points out, it should be on the easy side.

Also, check my “Edit:” Admin changed title, the whole unconventional was more geared towards the emphasis on dips and chins as opposed to most programs you see today - benchx10, rows, etc.


#14

I think they changed the title of the thread to get people to rag on your for saying dips and chins are “unconventional”.


#15

Fuzz, maybe hehe. Might be better/more “popular” than the original “Program critque,” but I called it for what it was - a critique.

goochadamg, would you see any benefit should I mix it up with say ramp up with 2 or 3 set and then have 2 or 3 straight sets ( 2 ramp 3 straight or 3 ramp 2 straight) for the first and third training days while keeping the second/B day on the lighter side (15-20% lighter)? In my mind - misguided or not - I’d be able to lift a bit closer to my 1rm/heavier then say 5 straight sets while keep a slightly higher volume of intensity then just one set.


#16

[quote]
Beluch, appreciate the advice but Im going to stick with these lifts. Im have particularly weak triceps, so a clos(er) gripped dip will still keep delts, pec, etc. involved but will also put more of an emphases on triceps. As far as the state of my bench after this program, I expect to maintain if not slightly improve with the work on my tri’s. If I lose some strength it shouldn’t take to long for me to work back up.[/quote]

I have no doubt that you’ll improve on your bench on this program. I think you’d do so with overhead presses too, just not as much, which is what I meant.

Hehe, that’s cool! Simplicity is very much something I can appreciate. And chin-ups are my number one favorite exercise, don’t drop those no matter what!

Well, I suggested high pulls or clean pulls. Clean pulls are a good support for deadlifts and cleans, what with the explosiveness, but because the weight is lighter than with a deadlift, yet you lower it the same way, you get less eccentric strain and therefore less muscle fatigue. But that’s another move with its own technical learning curve, so maybe not for this program.


#17

Yeah, im hoping they will improve my bench/ohp.

I’ve never left chins out of a program but they’ve only been bw. My bro’s been preaching heavy chins so I figured I’ll give them a shot.

The last bit was more so directed to Artw, but the suggestion was similiar to yours so it might as well warrent the same response on my part.

Thanks for the words
Jon


#18

[quote]artw wrote:
… Here’s a little clip from Eric Cressey’s last article.

“And if you hammer the muscles of the upper, middle and lower back, as well as the glutes and hamstrings, you’ll not only see muscle growth there, you’ll see it virtually everywhere in your body,” Cressey says. “But first, these muscles need to be primed for growth by activating high-threshold motor units as often as possible and with the right volume.”
[/quote]

This is obvious. If you “hammer” any muscle, you’re going to see muscle growth there! It seems , by saying “… you’ll see it virtually everywhere in your body” here he’s an advocate of the squat & get big arms theory? Maybe he says that just because, well, damn, the upper, middle, and lower back combined with the glutes & hamstringers virtually is your whole body!

In short, this quote has nothing to do with the absolute absurd recommendation you made.

Let’s take a look at the rest.

[quote]artw wrote:
Recruiting high-threshold motor units â?? the muscle fibers that have huge potential for building strength and size â?? is of course a matter of lifting heavy weights (at or above 80 percent of your 1RM)."
[/quote]

Here he is actually supporting the program! 80% of 1rm is essentially a perfect place to start the routine the OP suggested with my recomendations. He can add weight weekly, and work up to 85% (over 3 or 4 weeks). It just so happens that 85% of ones 1rm is their 5rm. (It actually depends on the exercise and ones distribution of fast/slow twitch fibers, so it could be higher or lower and change from exercise to exercise. This is one reason why 1rm calculators aren’t 100% accurate.) After he works up to 85% of his 1rm over a few weeks, he’ll undoubtedly be able to add weight to the bar for the next few weeks. It simply works. I’ve done it, and I’ve had others do it, and seen others do it, doing the exact volume I suggested.

Here’s a link to a more “high profile” poster on this site that followed what you’d probably consider a “terrible” program: http://tnation.tmuscle.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_strength/franks_raw_squat_milestone%3Bjsessionid=37651779C1FCC769ADC46BEBFE24362E.hydra?id=2147998&pageNo=1 You’ll see he did nearly the exact same thing I’m suggesting to the OP, except I recommended working up to a top set twice a week, as the OP has a lower training age than frank.

High threshold motor units are what are going to fire the fast twitch muscle fibers. It is true, indeed, that for most lifters the muscles stimulated by the squat/deadlift tend to be fast twitch. Do you know what this means? This means that those muscles are MORE sensitive to fatigue! This runs completely contrary to what you suggested.

Please read http://www.coachr.org/fiber.htm

You seriously misunderstood what Cressey was writing here and were unable to apply it to the OP’s situation. Sorry. You gave terrible advice.

[quote]artw wrote:
… but 2x5 isn’t going to wipe anyone out at all. On squats and deadlifts, with proper form and the heaviest weight you can comfortably handle for 5 reps, you could go heavy regularly.
[/quote]

My squat 6rm is 405. If I did this:

(warmup)
135x8
225x8
275x5
314x5
350x5
(work sets)
390x5
390x5

I’d be wiped, as would most anyone. It would be doubtful that I could go very long (two weeks) doing this twice a week. Yet alone doing this twice a week AND deadlifting twice a week!

[quote]artw wrote:
As far as the suggestion about performing either workout A or B everyday, I was simply relating a workout program that was featured in an article on this site recently. 2 sets of 5 reps isn’t shit.
[/quote]

When done at the correct intensity, in a program that calls for constant progression, uhm, no, infact, it is far from “not shit.”

[quote]artw wrote:
I could do that everyday with squats no problem.
[/quote]

Hey, go for it. I don’t care if you want to stay small & weak. :slight_smile: Don’t get injured! :wink:

[quote]artw wrote:
I should have mentioned that the point is to stay close to failure, but not to reach failure.
[/quote]

No shit. It is presumed the OP knows this. This doesn’t support your point at all, btw.


#19

[quote]Beluch wrote:
-Replace dips with overhead presses or push presses on one day (day A, maybe). You don’t want to neglect your deltoids, and its good for the shoulder joints to put weight on them at a wider range of angles.
[/quote]

Hm. I think for shoulder health purposes, he’d be better off adding in some more upper back work (face pulls) and some smaller prehab exercises (like cuban presses.)

Overhead pressing might be a good idea to help with growth of the deltoids. However, if this is what you’re looking for (deltoid hypertrophy) I’d do them seated and avoid doing them standing (and certainly not do push presses). Why? More weight can be lifted because the body is stabilized, which will hit the shoulders harder.

Push presses aren’t as great a choice because they’re primarily effected by lower body strength, even though higher weights can be used. If he had been doing overhead presses for a while and hit a plateau, then yeah, maybe push presses might help with that.

[quote]Beluch wrote:
-In a similar vein, replace chin-ups with power cleans or hang cleans on one day (day C, I’d say). Keep them light and explosive. If you do this exercise first, that’s a lion’s share of deadlift workout accomplished.
[/quote]

May not be a bad idea, but I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary. Also unless the poster has bumper weights, I recommend not doing them at all. If you can’t drop the weight, you have to drop the weight and have your arms catch it. It sucks, and it’s a recipe for an injury IMHO. If anything, I’d do these on his B day (assuming he’s doing ABA). (He doesn’t even have a C day?)

[quote]Beluch wrote:
-If you feel that deadlifting three times a week is too much - I don’t, just as long as the total number sets isn’t excessive - think of replacing them with light clean pulls or high pulls on one day.
[/quote]

Once a week is certainly plenty. You could do it three times, but will you be able to progress doing this? Probably not. Look at what any of the strong guys do on this site, or any other site, and you’ll see.

[quote]Beluch wrote:
Of course, a small selection of exercises has an appeal of its own, so I understand if you don’t want to clutter up your neat program. In that case, I’d consider replacing dips entirely with overhead presses or push presses. You’d sacrifice a good deal of your pectoral development and might not do quite as well going back to benches, but I believe your shoulders will thank you in the long run.
[/quote]

Why? If shoulder health is a concern of yours, why didn’t you actually suggest any shoulder prehab exercises? I don’t even know why you’re so worried, anyway.

Anyway, since the other guy mentioned Cressey, I direct you (and the OP) to http://www.tmuscle.com/readArticle.do?id=1053531&cr= (Shoulder Savers Part 1)

Here he actually says:
“You’ll get virtually all the stimulus you need to build big shoulders from your bench presses, rows, chin-ups, and external rotation work. If you feel like you need to do direct traditional shoulder work, add in some overhead pressing and lateral raises sparingly â?? not on a day of their own.”


#20

[quote]Pull14 wrote:
Fuzz, maybe hehe. Might be better/more “popular” than the original “Program critque,” but I called it for what it was - a critique.

goochadamg, would you see any benefit should I mix it up with say ramp up with 2 or 3 set and then have 2 or 3 straight sets ( 2 ramp 3 straight or 3 ramp 2 straight) for the first and third training days while keeping the second/B day on the lighter side (15-20% lighter)? In my mind - misguided or not - I’d be able to lift a bit closer to my 1rm/heavier then say 5 straight sets while keep a slightly higher volume of intensity then just one set.
[/quote]

If you’re dead set on doing more volume (Why? Ramping up to one top set of 5, with 10% jumps, works great), 3 ramp 2 straight. If progress slows, ramp up to a top set.

Alternatively, you COULD do straight sets on your first day, then ramp up to a top set on your third lifting day. This leads to more fatigue though. Take a look at the link I sent to artw; it outlines how to do this very well (which, actually, is an idea taken from http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm and is where I’ve first heard of all this.)