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One Lift a Day?!

These days when I’ve been looking over someone’s training program I’ve noticed more often than not that they’re heavily over saturated with “fluff” or filler exercises or unnecessary duplicates. As a slightly (but only slightly) exaggerated example let’s use someone on a typical “Upper/Lower” split and take one of their “Upper” days:

  • Bench press 3×8-12
  • Dumbbell bench press 3×8-12
  • Machine bench press 3×8-10
  • Pec Dec fly 3×12-15
  • Barbell row 3×8-12
  • One arm dumbbell row 3×8-10
  • Cable row 3×10-12
  • Dumbbell shrug 3×12
  • Behind the neck barbell shrug 3×10-12
  • Smith machine shrug 3×8
  • Etc etc

So you can see here this is a ridiculous and unnecessary amount of volume for drug free or even moderately enhanced lifters, and while I am exaggerating to an extent I’ve seen programs that aren’t far from this. For me this is where the whole idea of “crushing” a workout fails as it implies you have to be doing something outrageous such as this. My advice would revolve around “Stimulate, Don’t Annihilate” meaning you stimulate muscle growth with as little as possible. In the example above we’ve got four movements for the pectorals predominantly, with three of those being presses. Don’t you think that if you used an appropriate load the bench press alone might have been enough? Perhaps add in the dumbbell press for a greater stretch movement or an incline variation but overall that would suffice. There’s really no need for those extra movements. We have a similar issue with the rows, change that to a vertical pull combined with a horizontal pull, sorted. The worst one, and the one I see the most is with the shrugs and at this stage I’m not even going to comment on why doing endless variations of shrugs is stupid.

So with one extreme out the way let’s dive into the title of this article; One Lift a Day. This type of training is exactly how it sounds, you perform only one lift per session. Crazy right? Surely you can’t make gains on that? Well, legendary strength coach Dan John seems to think so and fellow perma-bulker John Phung is living proof that this type of training can work.

Now I wouldn’t really recommend this training for beginners and I feel it’s geared more towards those with very limited time as you can get your training over and done with in about half an hour.

So in order to make this training work you first need to establish your primary goal, be it hypertrophy, strength, power etc. From there you need to decide on your lifts, I highly recommend using big basic compound movements and training all aspects of the movement within the session, for example if you decide to front squat I’d advise involving the paused front squat and Anderson or dead start variation as well as the original lift.

Progression is based off pretty standard methods;

  • Add weight to the bar
  • Do more work sets
  • Break PRs

So if you think this type of training would suit you I suggest you give it a go .Just remember to choose your lifts wisely, leg extensions and kickbacks are definitely not suitable………ever!




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author: Louis Whenlock

Hi I’m Louis, a passionate freelance Personal Trainer on a mission to cut through the BS and gimmicks of the fitness world and deliver honest, hard earned results to my clients.

Lift Strong and Conquer!
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