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Science and Practice of Strength Training?

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31st Dec 2020

Over time yes… kinda… Now that you bring it up that should probably be step one.

So first things first. There are a couple things you have to keep in mind when building your own program. First and foremost, what are your goals? How does this program fit into your long term goals?

Judging by your rep ranges and exericse selection you are looking to get jacked and stronger on the “big” exercises. The traditional way to do that, and the way that seems to work best for more people, is to build up a strength base first and then build mass on top of that. Summer is six months away, so lets pretend we’re working towards that. 12 weeks towards strength and 12 weeks towards building that donk.

Next we have to look at your exercise selection and judge each one on if it moves you towards your goal. So let’s start with Day 1.

Starting with the biggest exercises and descending in order of “bigness” you have: Squat, RDL, leg press, Hip Thrust, lunges, 2x calf raises, 2x leg curls and extensions, and ad/ab exercises.

Now if you take away “redundant” exercises you are pretty much left with a squat and a RDL. Maybe some calf raises in there too. If you get super ruthless (and I really think you should) you have a squat.

Every single isolation exercise you have is covered by the squat for Day 1. Are there any that you should add back in? Maybe. But if you are squatting 140, I strongly doubt any of them will add any value to your gym time.

So we’ve reduced all exercises with purpose (that is they move us towards our goals) and we’ve reduced your time in the gym by a couple hours. So now you are there for 20 minutes or so doing some squats.

That means we can probably slide in some stuff that are on different days and increase the frequency a bit. Again, unless you weight 75lbs, we’ve got some wiggle room. (I guess also if this is in kilos it would screw up my estimates here, but I think in freedom units.)

So if we do a similar exercise for day 2,3, and 4 we are left with a bench press, pull ups, and another squat day. Although that second squat day, lets make it a dead lift day since we already have the squat in the arsenal and that one is different enough but still moves you towards your goals.

Now that we went through every exercise and evaluated if it serves a purpose, we have to address the next part of programming. Progressive Overload. Simply over time we need to increase the amount of weight you are lifting in order to get stronger and bigger. There are different ways to measure this. Intensity (usually weight), Volume (how much weight you lifted), and Time (this one is very difficult to measure so it often is best ignored. Everything else will work itself out with out measure this).

So super simple way to do this? Linear Periodization. Every workout we’re going to add 5lbs to the main lift. Pull ups will be a bit different due to them being difficult as fuck. But everything else, you will be adding 5lbs every time you do the exercise. When you hit a wall, take off 10-15% from the bar and start over. When you hit a wall 3 times in the same spot, we’ll make volume adjustments.

The pull ups we’ll work on adding volume slowly. Try to add a rep every week. When you get to 5×5 with that, add some weight and try and get 3×5. Keep adding reps till you get to 5×5 and repeat.

So throwing this all together. For your strength phase you are working out 4 times a week. Workout A is going to be squat and pull up. Workout B is going to be RDL and Bench press. Do the easier exercise first. Just do ABABA over and over again for 6 weeks. Then reevaluate if the exercises are working for your goals.

TL:DR: a very very high overview of programming basics. If you are serious about learning programming for yourself there are some good books out there. The classic text “Science and Practice of Strength Training” is really good but hard. “practical Programming for strength training” is great too (just don’t tell reddit you are reading it.) and “Easy Strength” is super simple but kind of difficult to grasp. Reload is dead simple, just plug your numbers and exercises in and you have a fantastic cycle. Dr. Isratel has a fantastic YouTube series about building your own hypertrophy program as well. Check that out when you switch to your hypertrophy phase in 12 weeks.