A lot of my friends and acquaintances have been badgering me forever about my strength training routine and how can I manage keeping everything on track - a full-time job, a band, family and training. It is a lengthy and boring subject so I guess the short answer is, I don't. It is physically impossible to be full bore at everything all the time so setting the right priorities at the right time based on my short term goals is probably the key. To avoid getting frequently nagged by annoying bastards in the future I decided to put a detailed description of my training routine here and use it as a reference later on when someone else will ask me the same darn question again.
I like to keep things as simple and as specific as possible, I'm a firm believer that a perfection of a strength training program lies in repeating the same thing over and over again consistently over a great period of time and slowly increasing the load and/or volume you are working with - progressing linearly. The best thing, you as a lifter, can do is not get hurt as you keep adding more weight to the bar. That said the program I've been using with great success for the last few years now is a bastardized version of Wendler's 5/3/1. To learn more about the 5/3/1 pick up your copy of the book here and support the man behind it! To give you a fair expectation about the results, I increased my maximum deadlift by 65kg (from 150kg - 215kg), max squat by 62,5kg (from 130kg - 192,5kg) and my bench by 30kg (from 100kg - 130kg) over a not so long period of 3 years. I've been training different sports since I was around ten and strength training since nineteen, now I'm 27, so not all of my progress contributes to 5/3/1 but it surely makes up a significant part of it. All the lifts were done raw and, not considering my usage of alcohol, I'm pretty much drug free. Here is the template I'm using at the moment.
Main movement percentages:
- Week 1:
- 5 reps @ 65 % from 90% of 1RM
- 5 reps @ 75 % from 90% of 1RM
- 5 reps @ 85 % from 90% of 1RM
- Week 2:
- 3 reps @ 70 % from 90% of 1RM
- 3 reps @ 80 % from 90% of 1RM
- 3 reps @ 90 % from 90% of 1RM
- Week 3:
- 5 reps @ 75 % from 90% of 1RM
- 3 reps @ 85 % from 90% of 1RM
- 2 reps @ 95 % from 90% of 1RM
- Week 4:
- Repeat week 1 and add additional 2,5kg to your 1RM and recalculate the weight based on the percentages specified above (here is a tool I wrote a long time ago to make these calculations somewhat automatic)
- M: Squats
- A: Squats, 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (@ 65 % from 90% of 1RM), (beltless, without, knee wraps, sleeves, wrist bands etc., be as tight and as explosive as possible)
- A: Pullups, 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (Just go heavy on these)
- A: Leg extensions / Leg curls, 3 supersets of 10 reps (go back and forth with no rest in between)
- M: Bench presses
- A: Bench presses, 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (@ 65 % from 90% of 1RM), (beltless, without elbow wraps, sleeves, wrist bands etc., be as tight and as explosive as possible)
- A: Military presses, 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (@ 85 % from 90% of 1RM, this will feel heavy, but I've found that if I drop the weight here my bench goes down immediately) (beltless, without elbow wraps, sleeves, wrist bands etc., be as tight and as explosive as possible)
- A: Tricep extensions / Bicep curls, 3 supersets of 10 reps (go back and forth with no rest in between)
- M: Deadlifts
- A: Deadlifts 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (@ 65 % from 90% of 1RM), (beltless, without knee wraps, sleeves, wrist bands, wrist wraps etc., be as tight and as explosive as possible, do these with an overhand grip occasionally as well)
- A: Pendlay rows, 5 or 6 sets of 5 reps (Just go heavy on these)
- A: Back extensions / Leg raises, 3 supersets of 10 reps (go back and forth with no rest in between)
Essentially my goal is to strength train 3 times a week consistently and not waste any of my precious time on stupid shit like decline bench dumbbell flyes or wrist curls. Doing only the things that count leaves me more flexible and I have the ability to do other stuff besides training in my spare time. I can write music, write my blog and spend time with my girlfriend and son. Once I started building my training around my life instead of building my life around my training everything just fell into its place. I try to live a little, get my ass to a party, hang out with friends and family or spend an occasional training day creating something of an artistic value if the opportunity presents itself. I can always switch the training days or do the "meatgrinder" (training three days in a row) to make up for it. I don't take deloads every fourth week as Jim tells to do in his book, because I consider myself being too weak to actually overtrain.
- Grow a pair;
- Stick to the shit that counts, shit that hurts, trim the excess;
- Stay consistent;
- Bleed under the bar.
Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
/Antoine de Saint-Exupery/