Workout Program 101

■ Overview

  • Training hours:
    1. Warm-up: stretch + 6 km/h treadmill for 5 min in winter
    2. Main menu: 60-90 min at most
    3. Cool-down: stretch with foam roller as needed
  • Intervals between set:
    • Weighted training: at least 4-5 min
    • Body-weight muscle: at least 2-3 min
  • Recovery time:
    • Sleep at least 7 hours per night
    • Or skip exercising

■ Main Menu

The quantitative objective helps to keep your motivation. For tracking your progress, the three competitive lifts are useful to refer to – namely squat, deadlift, and bench press. Find your own targets at the Weightlifting Strength Standards. For reference, this article introduces the “untrained” targets designed for 75 kg adult males — generally they can expect a 10 kg increase per 1 sprint (= 14 days) for squat and deadlift; and 5 kg for bench press. Briefly saying, it will take about 6 months to reach the intermediate levels. So make sure to prioritize the safety first to focus on the long-term outcome. Do not hesitate to reduce the weight to correct the lifting form.

Although having a quantitative objective is the key element to keep persistence and enthusiasm, it potentially jeopardizes your health if obsessed. Track your progress from the bird-eyed view. That is why pull-up is in the menu to make it a benchmark in the functional mobility of your body. Spot your target at the PFT Standards according to your age, such as 23 reps for 21-35 years old males.

“Don’t settle for being one-dimensional” (Cavaliere, 2019).

Here’s the recommended workout cycle. Feel free to adjust the training intervals depending on your condition:

  • Workout sprint: 1 sprint = 6 workouts per 14 days
  • Menu routine: A•B•A•• B•A•B•• …
    • Menu-A: complete A1 to A4
    • Menu-B: complete B1 to B4

For example, 1 sprint would be:

  • Day 1 (Sun): menu-A
  • Day 2 (Mon): off
  • Day 3 (Tue): menu-B
  • Day 4 (Wed): off
  • Day 5 (Thu): menu-A
  • Day 6 (Fri): off
  • Day 7 (Sat): off

  • Day 8 (Sun): menu-B
  • Day 9 (Mon): off
  • Day 10 (Tue): menu-A
  • Day 11 (Wed): off
  • Day 12 (Thu): menu-B
  • Day 13 (Fri): off
  • Day 14 (Sat): off

As an example, let’s look into the routine of the 1st sprint designed for a 75 kg adult male assuming the bar weight as 20 kg:

  • A1 & B1: Squat 📺 — aim to 50.0 kg *1RM or less
    1. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    2. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5) for (5 reps *1 set)
    3. 25 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5) for (3 reps *1 set)
    4. 35 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (10) for (2 reps *1 set)
    5. 40 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (10 + 5) for (5 reps *3 set)
  • A2: Overhead Press 📺 — aim to 32.5 kg *1 RM or less
    1. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    2. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    3. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (3 reps *1 set)
    4. 25 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (2.5) for (2 reps *1 set)
    5. 30 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5) for (5 reps *3 set)
  • A3: Deadlift 📺 — aim to 62.5 kg *1RM or less
    1. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    2. 30 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5) for (3 reps *1 set)
    3. 40 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (10) for (2 reps *1 set)
    4. 50 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (10 + 5) for (5 reps *1 set)
  • B2: Bench Press 📺 — aim to 55.0 kg *1RM or less
    1. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    2. 20 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (0) for (5 reps *1 set)
    3. 25 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (2.5) for (3 reps *1 set)
    4. 35 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5 + 2.5) for (2 reps *1 set)
    5. 40 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5 + 5) for (5 reps *3 set)
    6. 35 kg = (20 + 2w) kg where w = (5 + 2.5) for (5 reps *0..6 set) — optional: to add extra volume
  • B3: Choose one to redeem your weakness:
  • A4 & B4: Pull-ups 📺
    • Only for B4: Measure your best reps per week with BW before starting the 1st set
      • If you barely did once or less with BW, try your best with inverted row 💬
    • Assisted, weighted, negatives, and/or partial ROM 💬: 12 reps * 3 set

Skip the upper body workouts A2 or B2 when you have no enough time. If you have to choose only one, go with pull-up to reduce the risk of injury.

Progressive Overload Chart for Powerlifting & Pull-Up

■ Blueprint Your Plan

A customizable planning sheet is available online:

  1. Make a copy for yourself via File > Make a copy at docs.google.com.
  2. Change the values in yellow cells as to (1) your body weight, (2) 5RM weights, and (3) the starting date.
  3. Game on.

Couldn’t you make it complete the working set within the sprint? Not a problem. Failure is a side effect of the challenge. You can hang on with the same weight or increase the volume with lighter weight 📺 (e.g., double the number of the working set from the previous sprint) in the following sprint. Remember, progressive overload is a core concept in powerlifting; however, you are allowed to adjust the progressive ratio. Tip: the planning sheet has a parameter backtrack for target adjustment.

■ Rationale: Muscle Mass

Here’s a list of the largest muscles in each of the body component:

  1. Legs: 1417 cm^3
  2. Hip: 764 cm^3
  3. Shoulders: 381 cm^3
  4. Arms: 372 cm^3
  5. Inner muscle: 353 cm^3
  6. Chest: 290 cm^3
  7. Back: 262 cm^3

Refer to Fig-1 for more details. Insights: (1) the lower body dominates the majority of the total muscular volume. That is the reason why you want to enhance legs and hip primarily. (2) regarding the upper body, notice that the chest muscle is relatively smaller than shoulders’ and arms’. Therefore we better consider the bench press as an output brought by combination mainly of these three muscles.

■ Equipment

Weightlifting equipment is highly recommended even for novice trainees to ensure safety. You still can try out semi-equipped or even unequipped lifts occasionally, such as for warm-up set.

  1. Lifting belt: for all the lifts 📺
  2. Lifting straps: mainly for deadlift, especially where chalk is not allowed 📺
  3. Gloves with wrist wrap: anything – replace gloves every 4-6 months as these are expendable items

One thing worth mentioning is what “Raw Lifting” stands for is a controversial topic among powerlifters. Still, it’s safe to say that wearing the lifting belt is a consensus in most of the competition rules. So to say, the lifting belt is spike shoes for soccer.

Besides, if you live in the middle of nowhere or cannot simply afford a commercial gym membership, build your gym with wood gymnastics rings.

■ Learning Resources

You may wonder why most of the routines consist of barbell workouts. It is because the barbell is easy to access and proven to be effective, which is elaborated in the classic textbook masterpiece “Starting Strength(Rippetoe, 2011).

To balance the safety and outcome, seek knowledge. Take time to learn how to do the lifting properly. How-to video series is available at Barbell Training 📺. There are many awesome video creators, Thrall for instance:

■ Dietary Habit

  • Have healthy foods
    • Choose whole grains over refined grains 💬
    • Limit the amount of added sugar 💬
    • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats 💬
  • Drink at least 2L of water per day 💬
  • Preferable supplements:
    1. Whey protein: number of spoons per day = 1.5 * BW (kg) / spoon (25 g); have twice a day with leaving time between 2 (1-2h before training + after breakfast/dinner, etc) for athletic performance 💬 Good to shake with cold coffee for a boost of energy 💬
    2. Creatine: take 1 rounded teaspoon per day for athletic performance 💬
    3. Dietary fiber: optional to aid digestion and prevent constipation 💬

■ Abbreviations

  • 1RM: one-repetition maximum 🔢
  • BW: body weight
  • ROM: range of motion
  • TUT: time under tension

That is it. Good luck with your barbell journey!

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