How to Build a Workout Pt. 3 – Meat and Potatoes
In Pt. 1 we spoke about the General Warmup and in Pt. 2 we started getting Specific. In Pt.3 we get to work. Remember that I said we’d simplify by focusing on a STRENGTH workout. Other modes are great but I’ll save that for another series.
I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible.
Our goal for the day is STRENGTH:
- Chose a variation of a main lift (Bench, Squat, Deadlift)
- Choose a Rep scheme (see below)
- Execute plan
There are more variations for each lift than is worth writing out here. The idea is that you should pick one and stick with it for 3-4 weeks. At that time you may want to change things up. I’ll do a whole post on favorite variations of the main lifts…
- 5×2 @ 80% 1RM
- 5×3 @ 80% 1RM
- 6×2 @ 85% 1RM
- 4×4 @ 80% 1RM
- 6×1 @ 90% 1RM
Which to chose? Higher up on the chart (i.e. option 1 & 2) are Lower Risk/Lower Reward. Lower options (i.e. option 5) are High Risk/Reward.
What does that mean?
Low risk means “safer” as in less potential for injury and less long lasting effect. BUT the strength gains are slower and not as dramatic.
Lifting on the High Risk/Reward means that the gains are more dramatic but the potential for injury and lasting fatigue are higher.
If you’re a powerlifter you are already willing to risk more. Go big or go home.
For Functional Fitness I recommend you go “safer”. If you’re a beginner or an older athlete play it safe. You’ll still get strong but be able to bounce back from the workout pretty quickly. If you max out 1st thing you’ll be shot for days.
This isn’t as straight forward as you might think. Do I work up to my 80% then keep the same weight across all sets? Do I try to add weight? What if 80% feels super heavy that day???
As usual… It depends.
Its about averages. If your 1RM is 100 lbs (for simplicity’s sake) and you decide to do 4×4@80% you warm up to 80 lbs for 4 reps and thats 1 set.
If it felt light you go up to 85 lbs and that’s 2 sets. Maybe up to 90 lbs but BARELY eek out the last rep: thats 3. Keep it at 90 lbs for the last set and your done.
Or maybe 80 lbs is heavy. Do all sets at 80 lbs. You’re fine. As long as you are in the “window” around that 80% you’ll get a training stimulus. If you push a little harder you are adding a little more risk but also a little more reward.
Honestly, it’s way harder to convince people to reign it in than it is to make them push it. Weigh your goals!
Next week we will start breaking down accessory lifts. Until then, #BecomeGreater