Training and nutrition advice
***This blog entry will be quite detailed to help new lifters understand how to approach this workout. If you want the summary, CLICK HERE to skip all the details and just get to the workout plan.***
This workout consists of only six different exercises, with the last one being optional. This program uses the following moves (click on any exercise to be taken to a video on how to perform the move):
The order in which the exercises are listed is the order I recommend. The squat is first because it's challenging, and you need good balance to perform them correctly. This will work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. With proper bracing, you will get some core work as well. Your calves get some work through keeping you stable throughout the movement.
The deadlift (which can certainly be more intense than the squat) comes second so you have enough energy to perform this full body move without being too warn out from the rest of the workout. This will hit your hamstrings and glutes more than the squat, but you still get some quad activation and calf stabilization. This will also work your forearms and upper shoulder carriage. Your lower back will get a very good workout, building up nice and strong spinal erectors. Bracing your stomach, just like in the squat, is important in protecting your spine and building core stability strength.
The third exercise, the hang clean to overhead press, is mainly a shoulder exercise. I put this one here because it's the last really big labor intensive exercise. You get to lay down on the next one! Your grip strength will be worked while you hang on to the bar. When you "clean" the bar (pull it up to your chest) you will be working your trapezius and side deltoid. The overhead press works your deltoids (shoulders) along with your triceps. Having to hold the barbell over your head works on your balance and core stabilizers.
The bench press, the fourth exercise, will mainly work your chest, front delts, and triceps.
The fifth exercise, bent over rows where you're bent over at a 45 degree angle, will work your lats (side of your back), the middle of your back (trapezius), rear delts, and biceps.
The plank, the final exercise, is for core stability and building a strong stomach (inside and out).
The first three exercises - the squat, deadlift, and hang clean to overhead press - were placed first because I feel these will be the most exhausting. The last three exercises will most likely be the easiest and require a smaller amount of energy to perform.
Now that you have the exercises to perform, and an order to perform them in, let's talk about programming.
Rep ranges and sets will be geared towards beginners, just like this workout. I'm also basing this off of you not having a trainer, or anyone to watch you. If I was training you, things would most likely be a little different.
The first goal with this routine is to learn it. You need some practice. There will be a period of figuring out how much weight you need to be lifting. This may be challenging at first, so PLEASE be careful when trying to determine how much weight is appropriate for you.
Some people base things on percentages and using calculations to determine your one rep max on any given exercise. I don't like this method. You won't have the mechanics necessary to do anything really heavy yet, so let's put those percentages out of your head, for now.
The first exercise is the squat. For your first warm-up set, perform 15 body weight squats. Wait about 30-60 seconds before the next warm-up set. Now, perform 10 reps with the bar.
If the bar proves challenging then stick with the bar. Your goal is to find a weight to perform 3 working sets for 10 reps. Make sure to perform your squats in a power rack, or some type of squat rack with safety bars in case you can't stand back up. Safety first!
How do you find a weight to work with? This is somewhat difficult to explain to someone who hasn't lifted before. For now, stick with 10 reps with any weight you use after the first warm-up set of 15 reps.
If you can squat the bar 10 times and it feels easy, add 20 lbs. to the bar and do another 10 reps. Make sure to wait 30-60 seconds in between sets. If 20 lbs. on the bar seems challenging, stay there. Wait 60-90 seconds and do another set of ten. Wait another 60-90 seconds and then perform a third set of 10.
WRITE DOWN YOUR WEIGHT AND REPS FOR THAT EXERCISE!!!
You NEED to track your progress as a novice lifter. Tracking where you are and where you're going will make it much, MUCH easier to progress in the gym.
If the 20 lbs. added to the bar was too easy on squats, keep adding 20 lbs. (or even just 10 lbs.) to the bar until a challenge sets in. Make sure you have good form throughout EVERY squat. If you begin to feel off balance, stop. Good form is CRUCIAL to getting the most out of your workouts.
If you can't hit 10 reps after you've added weight, go back to the previous weight. That's your working weight.
For example, if you get to 60 lbs. on the bar and you can only do 8 reps, drop it down to 40 lbs. You already did 10 reps with 40 lbs. on the bar, (if you followed instructions properly) so wait 60-90 seconds after you replaced the 60 lbs. with 40 lbs. and do another set of 10. If you CAN'T do 10 reps, that's fine. Stick with that weight anyway.
The goal is to eventually hit 3 sets of 10 reps. You don't have to do it on day one. However, you should be able to do 10 reps on the first set. If you can't do 10 reps on the first set when figuring out what weight is good for you, you're lifting too much weight.
After you have completed your squats, move on to the deadlift.
If you are brand new to lifting, see if you can place the barbell on something to elevate it. Some gyms have boxes you can set the ends of the barbell on to elevate it. If you have a gym like Classic Barbell Club (where I train), you can use bumper plates. I could go into more detail on this, but I feel this belongs in a different blog entry. If you DO have questions about this, please post them in the comments section.
If possible, use only the bar for your warm-up set for 15 reps. This will be easy for most people. The point of lifting so light to begin with is so you can learn the motion. You're practicing the lift right now. After the warm-up set, start adding 20 lbs. to the bar until you find that challenge weight; the same way you did the squats.
Be sure to write down your progress. Make sure you wait 30-60 seconds between warm-up sets and 60-90 seconds between working sets. The sets you do to find your working weight are considered warm-up sets. As soon as you hit your challenge weight you did your first working set.
For the hang clean to overhead press, bench press, and bent over row, use the same method of warming up with the barbell and then start adding weight until you find a challenge weight. However, a word of caution:
Once you have completed those three exercises, it's time to do some planks. You're only going to do one set. You'll need to have a timer. Smart phones have timers. You're going to try holding a plank for 60 seconds straight. That's your goal.
Whatever time length you hold your plank for, WRITE. IT. DOWN. If you can already do a plank for 60 seconds then it's time to make them more challenging. However, most beginners can't do this.
I said that the plank is the optional exercise. Why? Because you already did some core work. The squat, deadlift, and hang clean to overhead press work your core stabilizers. If you don't feel completely wiped out by the end of your workout, do the planks. If you're drop dead tired, skip the planks.
Now, how many days per week should this workout be done? Because this is a full body routine, you could (technically) do it once a week. However, it would be best to do this 2 or 3 times a week. For people brand new to lifting, I suggest aiming for 2 days a week. Make sure you have at least one or two days in between each session. Something like working out on Monday and Thursday is good, or even a Monday and Friday schedule would be fine. A Monday and Tuesday schedule would NOT be a good thing. You need time to rest and recover in between workout sessions. You grow OUTSIDE of the gym, NOT inside.
After you have finished your session of finding your working weights, for the first two or three weeks, the following is your program:
***Your rest periods in between sets are as followed: 30-60 seconds of rest in between warm-up sets. 60-90 seconds in between working sets.***
Most workouts shown online leave out doing warm-up sets, and how long you should rest in between sets. I think this confuses a lot of people and leaves out a very important part of every workout routine. I could have made this a super short blog entry and said the exercise names and told you to do 3 sets of 10. Most people new to training/lifting would not know about the warm-up sets, or how long you should wait in between each set.
Here's the condensed version of all that:
I advise doing this routine with the SAME WEIGHT for two-three weeks so you can learn the movements. It's very important to become comfortable with the moves of each exercise before increasing the intensity. If you have an experienced friend training with you, and they can spot you and give you feedback, then it may be okay for you to start increasing the weight from workout to workout when you hit your rep goals. If you are working with a trainer who knows these movements, you can increase the weight from workout to workout when you hit your rep goals.
Because most of you won't be training with somebody, please take it slow and stick to at least two weeks of the same weight. Do three weeks if you feel unsure of ANYTHING. I don't want you getting hurt while doing this. Remember, injuries suck. Try not to get them!
To keep things simple, here is what to do after you've completed your first two-three weeks:
Your goal is to hit 3 working sets of 10 reps. Once you can do that, it's time to increase the weights for the next routine. On certain exercises, like the squat and deadlift, you can get away with adding as much as 20 lbs. for a weight increase. However, I do not recommend going any heavier. As a general approach to how much you should increase the weight each time you complete your 3 sets of 10 reps goal, go up 5-10 lbs. That's PLENTY of weight.
Increase the weight EVERY SINGLE TIME you complete your rep goal. Your rep goal includes performing each rep with good form. If your form is bad, then it doesn't count. Just because you managed to cheat your way to 10 reps does NOT mean you should increase the weight. Take your time with this. Remember, it's a life long journey, NOT a race.
If you CAN'T complete all 10 reps for all 3 sets, then do NOT increase the weight. Stay at that weight for the next workout, and focus on increasing your reps until you complete your goal. Don't decrease the weight either. It's important to try moving forward with each workout.
Do this for three weeks straight. Then, for week four, do two working sets of 15 reps for everything (expect planks. Either skip planks or cut your work in half). This will be your conditioning week. This will help keep your joints healthy, and aid in overall recovery. That is your very simple periodization program.
You'll need to lift lighter weight for the 2 sets of 15 compared to the 3 sets of 10. Use your judgement. Back off the weight from the last weight you completed 3 sets of 10 and use that for your 2 sets of 15. If you did 100 lbs. on the squat for 3 sets of 10, try 80 or 70 lbs. for the the 2 sets of 15 reps. Did you do 200 lbs. on deadlifts? Try 150 lbs. Did you lift 40 lbs. on the hang clean to overhead press? Try 30 lbs.
Track your progress with this as well. When you can hit your goal of 15 reps for both sets, use more weight the next time around. If you CAN'T hit 15 reps on set one, BACK THE WEIGHT DOWN. If you can hit 15 reps on set one, but not set two, that's okay. Just try again next time with the same weight.
Do this for 6 months and then take a full week off. No weight lifting! Get some rest. Do another conditioning week before you start doing 3 weeks of 3 working sets of 10 reps. It's important to ease back into things. Repeat this process every 6 months.
This entry has gone on long enough!!! Time to close it.
If you're wondering about doing other rep ranges - yes, you can, but that's for a different blog entry. If you want to split this workout into two days instead of doing everything in one day, you can. If you decide to split this routine into two days, I recommend doing your squats and deadlifts on one day, and the other exercises on the other day. You decide which day to put the planks in. You could do them on both if you wanted to. Won't hurt a thing!
If you have any questions regarding this material, please post them in the comments section!