If you know how to do the main lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, row, and pull down) and still feel like you can increase your maxes multiple times per month, this program is for you. This is also a great time to enter a caloric surplus so you can pack on some muscle. See the Macros tab in the Coach’s Office for more dietary info.

Quick Overview

This cycle is four weeks long. The first week is the easiest and ramps up from there. In week two, you’ll push a little harder in terms of strength, yet pull back a bit overall. Brace yourself for week three because both ramp up there. Finally, in the fourth week, the overall loading pulls back again to give you a little break but still keeps strength loading relatively high. From there you can restart the cycle back to the easy first week.

General Philosophy

Each movement pattern (e.g., knee dominant) consists of three components. First, you have the representative exercise for the movement pattern (e.g., squat).  The squat serves as our diagnostic exercise to monitor progress in this movement pattern. There is also a selection of exercises we can use to aid the development of the squat. We can use exercises closely related to the squat (e.g., paused squat or front squat) as targeted tools to fix weaknesses in particular aspects of the overall movement pattern. Finally, we can use exercises that are indirectly related to the squat (e.g., leg extension or leg press) to target the main muscle group (i.e., quadriceps) for additional development.

Summary of Exercise Hierarchy

  1. Representative Exercise (e.g., squat)
  2. Supplementary (e.g., paused squat or front squat)
  3. Developmental (e.g., leg extensions or leg press)

All three categories of exercises are used in this program to build each of the fundamental movement patterns. The general structure of the workouts is as follows:

Workout A

  1. Knee Dominant (e.g., squat or variation)
  2. Horizontal Push (e.g., bench press or variation)
  3. Horizontal Pull (e.g., row or variation)
  4. Additional Exercise 1
  5. Additional Exercise 2

Workout B

  1. Hip Dominant (e.g., deadlift or variation)
  2. Vertical Push (e.g., shoulder press or variation)
  3. Vertical Pull (e.g., pull down or variation)
  4. Additional Exercise 1
  5. Additional Exercise 2

The additional exercises are based on your individual needs and preferences. A good rule of thumb for additional exercise is to use these slots for bodybuilding work with the developmental exercises.

Your first run through the program

The default configuration comes with a selection of supplementary exercises that target common weaknesses.

Supplementary Squat 1: Pause at the bottom
This is used to correct a common problem of not squatting all the way down when the weight gets heavy and to develop additional strength from the bottom position.

Supplementary Squat 2: Front Squat
This exercise is used to reinforce certain aspects of good technique, namely keeping your chest up and letting your hip and knee angles open at similar rates throughout the lift.

Supplementary Deadlift 1: Pause at the knees
This supplementary exercise is meant to correct another common problem of letting the bar drift forward over your toes on the way up. Pausing at knee level will encourage you to bring the bar back over the middle of your feet as you hold the bar for two seconds. With practice, you will lift directly to this efficient position, pause, then continue upwards from this point.

Supplementary Deadlift 2: Deficit Deadlift
This exercise helps you build additional strength off the floor.

Supplementary Bench Press: Pause on the chest
This supplementary exercise serves two purposes. Pausing on the chest will prevent you from developing a habit of bouncing the bar off your chest on each rep. It will also help you develop additional strength off the chest.

Developmental Exercises

Work through the first three primary exercises and then minimize the workout screen to scan through your Muscle Group Stress Analysis. Add one or two exercises to your workout for muscle groups that are the furthest left towards the deload zone. Developmental exercises are best done in the 10-20RM range with 0-1 RIR for 3-5 sets.

You’ll test for 8 rep maxes every two weeks. If you are getting stronger in this rep range, you’re also getting bigger. It’s as simple as that.

Assigned weights

The first time you encounter a new exercise you have not previously done, the app will assign an estimated working weight. Use the following procedure to correctly calibrate the weights for future workouts.

  1. Scan through your assigned weights.
  2. Locate the first set with the heaviest weight
  3. That set is your first “workset”.
  4. The target reps in reserve (RIR) for all your worksets is 1-4 RIR.
  5. Adjust the weight of your sets as needed, by either adding or subtracting weight, so that your remaining heavy sets fall in this RIR range.
  6. Your weights will be correctly calibrated the next time you encounter this exercise.

Note: Reps in reserve is how close you took the set to failure. For example, if you stopped the set at the point where you think you may have been able to do 2 additional reps at the very most, your RIR would be 2. RIR is used throughout the app’s training programs because not every set is taken to failure.

Active Recovery

Also included in the program are two active recovery days per week. These days are devoted to low-intensity & low-impact cardio combined with flexibility/mobility. These light workouts can be modified so that they do not need to be done at the gym. Low-impact cardio (e.g., biking, swimming, elliptical machine, Stairmaster, etc.) is recommended.

  • low-intensity steady-state cardio (up to 30 min)
  • 15 min – flexibility/mobility

Cardio sessions call for elevating your heart rate up to around 130 beats per minute and keeping it there for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a way to monitor your heart rate, that’s not a problem. Use the following guide to find the right intensity.

Cardio Intensity

  • Low Intensity (<110bpm) — you have no difficulty carrying on a conversation while doing your cardio
  • Optimal Intensity (~130bpm) –you have difficulty conversing but it is possible
  • High Intensity (>150bpm) — you are unable to converse with others

Note: If you have not done any cardio at all before beginning this program, you can begin with 5 minutes and aim to work up to 30 minutes by the fourth week. If you already have a cardio routine, go ahead and use that in place of the default cardio suggestions.

Enjoy, and get Strongur!