If you’re one of these people that have decided they’re sick and tir
ed of being fat and out of shape come the new year, or if you’re just simply clueless about what to do in the gym then fear not, Christmas ain’t over and Coach Lou’s got your back!
Ok, so it’s that time of the year where all the gyms and personal trainers try and capitalise on the thousands of “new year’s resolutioners” wanting to get “in shape” in order to make a quick buck or gather new clients. And that’s all well and good, despite my own views and personal opinions on new years resolutions, if it does lead to you getting “in shape” and continuing lifting/training then I’m all for it.
However, I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna slash my rates or give super “exclusive” deals or “limited time” offers because that just isn’t me. You get what you pay for with me; an honest, decent and dependable Coach who’s actually fairly knowledgeable and who’ll become invested in you.
What I am gonna do though, is give out a free simple program for all you newbies to follow, designed to make you stronger and fitter over around 15-20 weeks.
Firstly, this program is going to consist of 5 waves which will each run between 3-4 weeks. This program will be assuming you’re training 4 days a week and will be focused on the big basic lifts; the barbell back squat, barbell deadlift, barbell strict press and barbell paused bench press. The waves will look as follows:
– Wave 1 – 3×8
– Wave 2 – 4×6
– Wave 3 – 5×5
– Wave 4 – 6×4
– Wave 5 – 8×3
With sets preceding repetitions e.g. for the 3×8 wave you would perform 8 repetitions of an exercise (i.e. Squats), rest and then repeat that for a total of 3 sets/rounds.
As I mentioned earlier each wave will run between 3-4 weeks, and that is entirely down to preference.
You will be adding weight to the bar EVERY week. Non-negotiable. If you can’t add weight during the first few waves then you started too heavy. You should be able to add weight to the bar weekly throughout the entire program. My advice would be to try and add between 1.25-2.5kg to upper body lifts (Presses and Bench Presses) and 2.5-5kg to lower body movements (Squats and Deadlifts). If you’re lucky enough to go to a gym that has microplates (0.25-0.5kg) then use them!
Now, how to set up a typical day:
Power Exercise (Optional) – This should somewhat mimic your days heavy lift and act as a method of getting your CNS fired up and ready for lifting. For example, if you were doing heavy squats then box jumps would be suitable whereas if you were benching then either plyometric push ups or medicine ball throws would be ideal. If you are an absolute beginner with zero training experience, then my advice would be to either learn these movements from a decent Coach or avoid these until you’ve built a suitable strength base.
Main Movement – This will be your Squat, Press, Deadlift or Bench Press depending on the day
Assistance Movement – These are lifts that use very similar motor patterns to the main lifts, but by their very nature aren’t as taxing or stressful. For example, a suitable assistance movement for the Deadlift would be the Stiff Legged Deadlift and a decent assistance movement for the Standing Barbell Strict Press (Aka the Press) would be the Z – Press. I’d aim to get around 15-20 reps here, across 3-4 sets.
Accessory 1 – Accessories, unlike assistance lifts do not necessarily mimic the main movement. Accessories are used to bring up weak or lagging body parts. For example, your triceps could be a lagging area and weak link during your bench press or overhead press, or your hamstrings could be comparatively weak and hindering your deadlift. Use movements to target and address these areas. The use of single joint exercises here is fine, though I’d still opt to use multi joint movements.
Accessory 2 – Similar to the above.
Accessory 3 – Again, like what I said above however, for this movement I’d go for a more antagonistic approach. Strength training requires balance so if you’re pushing a lot (benching and pressing) then you need to be pulling too. That means lots and lots of rows, chin ups and band pull a-parts or face pulls. For accessory work I’d aim for 30-50 reps over 3-5 sets.
Conditioning (Optional) – Here I’d just say do something awesome that gets your heart rate going and is similar to the main lift you’ve hit that day. Farmers walks every minute on the minute (EMOM) for 10 minutes on your deadlift day, for example.
So, let’s look at a couple of example days, so as not to confuse anyone;
Power exercise – Box jump 3×5
Main Movement – Squat 3×8
Assistance exercise – Paused Squat 3×5
Accessory 1 – Romanian Deadlift 3×10
Accessory 2 – Lunge or Split Squat 3×8 per leg
Conditioning – Prowler Pushes 4-8 sets of 15-20m pushes
Bench Press day:
Power Exercise – Plyometric Push Up 3×5-8
Main Movement – Paused Bench Press 3×8
Assistance Movement – Incline Bench Press 4×5
Accessory 1 – Bent over row 5×10
Accessory 2 – Skull-crusher 3×10
Accessory 3 – Face pull 3×12
Conditioning – Battleropes/Tire Hammer Hits Tabata
So, there you have it. A simple linear program that I guess really anyone could make use of. Again, if you are a rank beginner and have never stepped foot inside a gym then I’d urge you to find someone who can teach you how to perform the main lifts correctly before attempting to add weight. Additionally, don’t get caught up on your accessory work, because it’s likely as a beginner your entire body is a weak link, so no need fretting over certain individual muscle groups.
You’ve now got at least 15 weeks of solid progression to get you going and you should be able to add a huge chunk to your numbers by the end of the program. And if nothing else, at least you won’t be going into the gym doing some half assed training making pitiful or no gains, or worse end up doing a bro split.
This really shouldn’t be complicated. Go lift 4 times per week, add weight each week, every 3-4 weeks alter your set and rep scheme slightly and use suitable assistance and accessory movements to help improve your main lifts.
But what do I do after the program?
You can either; test your maxes (under the eye of a decent Coach, ideally), run the program again or find another program. As long as you keep training you should be golden.
As a little update I’ve included videos of both the outline of the program and a little follow up addressing any issues and FAQs;
Now go forth and ascend!
Lift Strong and Conquer!
The Time is Now!