The Feel Good, Kick Ass Program

oldbb

This program isn’t for everybody.  This program was set-up for a reasonably specific subset of the lifting population.  It was created for those that meeting the following criteria:

  • You are older than 30
  • You have been training a reasonably long time (5 years for sure, 2+ decades is more common)
  • You are more focused on fitness and less focused on improving your 1RM for a specific lift
  • You want to work around any existing injuries you may have and you don’t want to make them worse
  • You like the feeling of working hard in the gym and you love lifting weights
  • Setting PR’s, even rep PR’s or PR’s on assistance exercises, makes you happy
  • You want bigger arms
  • You know you fall apart and feel like crap if you stop lifting so stopping training is not an option

This just so happens to describe me.  I love powerlifting and have been focused on maximal strength in one form or another for 20 years.  But at some point, either for a moment time or for the rest of time, you have to switch your target.  You can’t aim for max strength forever, certainly not if you expect to climb indefinitely.  Personally I want to be fit, be in-shape, look like I workout, and still be able to hold my own at the gym even if I can’t match my all-time best PR’s in certain lifts.  I have 3 younger boys and it is very important to me that I can throw the football, do sprints, and in general keep up with them.  They are young enough so that I am still their “hero” but if I am laid up or limping around because of a bum shoulder or busted knee it is hard to maintain that image.  And I know it won’t last forever so I want to enjoy it while it does.

To that end, here are the rules for the creation of this program

  • You’ll lift weights 3 x week – the idea here is to promote recovery and also have a life outside of the gym. Cardio/conditioning workouts can be done as much as you desire.
  • You will not perform any exercise that causes pain – there is no mandatory exercise on this program. I love bench but if it hurts your shoulders, do DB Press or ring push-ups or something that doesn’t hurt.  And I don’t mean it just kind of hurts and you work through it, I mean the exercise needs to be pain freeIf it is not pain-free, you won’t do it.  You don’t feel good and you certainly don’t feel like kicking ass if you are dealing with an injury.
  • This program is based off of a 5 week cycle. At the end of the cycle you will add a small amount of weight (~5-10 lbs) and then repeat.  For some of you that might sound like slow progress, but if you met the criteria I listed above then you have been in this game long enough to know that going up even 5 lbs on an exercise every 5 weeks is actually decent progress.  Do that for 6 months and you are lifting 25 more lbs than you were when you stared – for the same number of reps.  Even if you start intentionally light (which you will) that is still 10-15 lbs of honest progress which is pretty good.  The goal is that you get through 4-10 repeats of this 5 week cycle.
  • The weight you will use for your main exercises stays the same throughout the 5 weeks. Reps, rest, etc will change, but the weight stays the same.
  • It is okay to start light, I would encourage that. You’ll likely be using higher reps and a higher volume than you are used to, so start light (in the 60-70% range).  Think to yourself, in 3-4 months I will be lifting X, will I be happy with that?  If the answer is yes, then start with the weight that will lead to that.  If you fail on the first 5 week cycle at any time your initial weight was way too high.

Each week the weight stays the same but the reps are going to increase.  You are going to choose between 2 rep ranges.  Pick the one you desire, you can use one set up for one exercise and another set up for another exercise.  In general the lower reps is a little better at building strength and is good for compound exercises; the higher reps are better at building size and muscle endurance and goes nicely with isolation exercises.  If you start with plan B and reach a max you can always move to plan A and still go up.

Rep Range A: 4-12 reps

Rep Range B: 8-20 reps

Here are the general guidelines.  You have a lot of freedom with this program, again if you have been lifting for a long time you should have a good idea of how your body works.  However I will include a more detailed specific program at the end of this article so you can see everything fleshed out.

  • You’ll do 2-3 exercises per main muscle group
  • You’ll do 5-16 challenging sets per muscle group, 13 sets is the norm
  • You’ll do 100-200 working reps per muscle group
  • You’ll do cardio/conditioning at least 2 times a week
  • If you want to just follow a maintenance program for your legs that is fine with me. I am assuming you have put your time in under the bar over the years, I know I did.  However you can use the 5 week program for legs no problem and it works well.

 

I’d suggest the following routine but you don’t have to do exactly this:

Day 1: Core, Chest, Back, Conditioning

Day 2: Arms

Day 3: Core, Shoulders, Legs, Conditioning

 

Here is how the 5 week routine is laid out.  This is using rep range B (8-20 reps as a goal)

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Key Exercise A 5 sets

8 reps

Rest: 1:00

5 sets

10 reps

Rest: 1:30

5 sets

12 reps

Rest: 2:00

5 sets

15 reps

Rest: 2:30

5 sets

20 reps

Rest: 3:00+

Key Exercise B 5 sets

8 reps

Rest: 1:00

5 sets

10 reps

Rest: 1:30

5 sets

12 reps

Rest: 2:00

5 sets

15 reps

Rest: 2:30

Optional

5 sets

20 reps

Rest: 3:00+

Optional

Assistance Exercise 3-6 work sets

Reps, weight, rest as you see fit

3-6 work sets

Reps, weight, rest as you see fit

3-6 work sets

Reps, weight, rest as you see fit

3-6 work sets

Reps, weight, rest as you see fit

Optional

3-6 work sets

Reps, weight, rest as you see fit

Optional

 

Some important notes:

  • The weight stays the same each week
  • The reps increase, in this instance using rep range B it goes 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 reps over the 5 weeks. If you are using rep range A it goes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 reps, going up 2 reps a week.
  • The rest time increases each week by 30 seconds.
  • If you want to add to the challenge, and save time, superset Key Exercise A and Key Exercise B. When you do this you may want to skip exercise B on weeks 4 and 5, otherwise you might be too fatigued, it is up to you.
  • The third exercise is the most flexible, think of it as a bonus and do what you think will help you. You can be specific and plan out your progression or just play it by feel.  If you are really tired from weeks 4 and 5 this becomes optional.
  • This is for one muscle group, if you are training 2 muscle groups in a day you would repeat this entire plan for the second muscle group.
  • You don’t have to follow this routine for core or any muscle group you just want to maintain.

 

Here is a complete workout fleshed out including sample exercises, sets, reps, weight, rest, everything.  This person could bench 300 lbs and only wants to maintain the size and fitness of their legs and doesn’t/can’t squat heavy.

 

Day 1: Core, Chest, Back, Conditioning

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Toes to Bar 8 reps, 3 sets 8 reps, 3 sets 10 reps, 3 sets 10 reps, 3 sets 12 reps, 3 sets
Cable Rotation 30×10 ea side 30×10 ea side 35×10 ea side 35×10 ea side 40×10 ea side
Bench Press (A) 205×4 paused

5 sets

 

205×6 paused

5 sets

 

205×8 paused

5 sets

 

205×10

5 sets

Rest 2:30

205×12

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Cable Fly (B) 60×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

60×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

60×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

NA NA
Assistance Chest DB Incline

70x8x4

Band Push-ups 3 x 20 1 Arm Push-ups  4 x 6 DB Incline

60, 70, 80 x 8

Incline

155 x 12 x 3

Lat Pulldown (A) 140×4

5 sets

 

140×6

5 sets

 

140×8

5 sets

 

140×10

5 sets

Rest 2:30

140×12

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Straight Arm Lat Pulldown (B) 30×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

30×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

30×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

NA NA
Assistance Back DB Row

80×10 x 3

Pull-ups

12

T-bar Row

115x20x2

Cable Row

140, 160, 180×8

DB Row

60, 80, 100, 120 x 6

Conditioning Sprints on TM

100 x 8 run

100 x 8 walk

Hill Sprints

6@30% :30

3@6% 2:00 x 4

Suicides

3

Steps

40 flights total

1-2 flights per sprint

Sprints on TM

200 x 3 run

200 x 3 walk

  • Note: Exercises A & B are supersetted, the rest comes after exercise B
  • On week 6 add 5-10 lbs to each lift and repeat the cycle
  • Only work sets are listed – warm-up as you see fit
  • Note how light the person started – they could do bench 300 and yet started with 205 (~70%) for sets of 4. The short rest, supersets, and increasing reps make this plan pretty hard even with lighter weight, and lighter weight is likely better for the joints anyway (since the base of strength has already been established).

Day 2: Arms

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Standing Cable Curl 90×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

90×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

90×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

90×15

5 sets

Rest 2:30

90×20

5 sets

Rest 3:00

DB Cross Body Curl 25×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

25×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

25×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

25×15

5 sets

Rest 2:30

25×20

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Bicep Assistance Barbell Curl

Slow Negatives

80×8 x 4

Preacher Curl

60, 70, 80, 90 x 8

EZ Curl

110 x 20, 16, 12

NA NA
DB Tricep Pullover (A) 70×8

5 sets

 

70×10

5 sets

 

70×12

5 sets

 

70×15

5 sets

 

70×20

5 sets

 

Overhead Rope Tri Ext (B) 90×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

90×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

90×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

90×15

5 sets

Rest 2:30

90×20

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Tri Assistance Tricep X Extension

20×8

5 sets

Tricep X Extension

20×10

5 sets

Tricep X Extension

20×12

5 sets

NA NA
  • Note: Tricep Exercises A and B are supersetted. The rest time comes after exercise B
  • On week 6 add 5 lbs to all exercises (or less if you want) and repeat

Day 3: Core, Shoulders, Legs, Conditioning

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
TGU Decline Sit-up 20 x 10/10/10/10 20, 40, 60, 80 x 6 30 x 8/8/8/8 60 x 6 4 sets 25 x 12/12/12/12
Barbell Mil Press (A) 105×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

105×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

105×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

105×15

5 sets

Rest 2:30

105×20

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Leaning Lateral Raise (B) 20×8

5 sets

Rest 1:00

20×10

5 sets

Rest 1:30

20×12

5 sets

Rest 2:00

20×15

5 sets

Rest 2:30

20×20

5 sets

Rest 3:00

Shoulders Assistance Rear Delt Mx

90, 100, 110 x 8

DB Rear Delts

30×12 x 4

Rear Delt Mx

80 x :30 hold

X 3

DB Rear Delts

40×8 x 4

Rear Delt Mx

90, 100, 110 x 12

Legs See Below
Conditioning Row

250 M on x 5

250 M off x 5

Tabata Bike

:20 on x 8

:10 off x 8

Row

500 M on x 3

500 M off x 3

Elliptical

Burn max cals in 10 min

Reverse Tabata Bike

:10 on x 8

:20 off x 8

  • Note: Superset exercises A and B, the rest comes after exercise B
  • On week 6 add 5 lbs to each exercise and repeat the cycle
  • See video for a TGU Decline sit-up demonstration

 

Legs: Do a circuit.  Pick 3-6 exercises that target different areas of the legs you want to work on, that don’t cause pain, and do them in a circuit for 3-6 rounds.  It doesn’t have to be heavy and at this stage in the game incorporating some balance, single leg work, etc is likely a good idea.  This should be enough to maintain the size and shape of your legs (most likely), build conditioning, burn fat, and make your legs feel fresh and quick again.

 

Sample Circuit

Goblet Squat 55 x 8
KB Swing 70 x 12
Goblet Lunge 25 x 8 ea
GHR 6
Hypers 12

No rest between exercises, repeat for 3-6 rounds.  If you do a lot of rounds this might also substitute as your conditioning that follows.

If you are enjoying the conditioning and want to do more, great.  My favorites outside of the gym include chopping and sawing wood (be safe with this), walking, riding the bike, and sprints outside.  If you are hoping to lose weight and drop fat combine this with a lower calorie diet (eating 10 kcal/lb works well so a 200 lb man eats 2000 kcal/day) and you’ll lean up in no time.

If you have been powerlifting for a long time that base of strength, and likely your base physique, isn’t going anywhere.  But you might feel a little banged up, maybe a little stiff and slow from the intense blasting over the years.  Maybe some of those hard earned muscles are starting to disappear under a layer of fat from a bit too much food and beer.  Give this workout a try.  It isn’t designed to prep you for the platform, but it will satisfy that training fix you need to feel normal.  In fact, you’ll feel better than normal.  You’ll feel good and feel ready kick ass (in life) once again.

 

 

 

Know someone who wants to get strong?...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on RedditEmail this to someone

One thought on “The Feel Good, Kick Ass Program

  1. Kristen Winters

    Just as I was feeling lost at what to do next, this was in my inbox!! I will do this for the next 6 months- with pics of progress! Once again, you are the MAN! Thank you Tim!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *