14 Weeks Out, Session 3

Warm Up Sets Reps  
prowler 2 40 yards
bird dogs 2 5
HELCs 2 10
TKEs 2 15
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Deadlifts RPE 8 5 3
Equipment:
belt only  
 
 
  % or RPE Sets Reps
3″ block pulls RPE 7 3 5
belt only
RDLs Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
 
Step ups Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
 
ReverseSled drags Reps
  5 trips
Rolling Planks Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 15

14 Weeks Out, Session 2

Warm Up Sets Reps  
farmers walk 2 30 yard
bird dogs 3 5
rolling planks 2 10
Glute bridge 3 10
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Bench RPE 8 5 3
Equipment:
raw
 
CG bench RPE Sets Reps
Equipment RPE 8 3 5
  shoulder
saver  
laying db tri ext Reps
90 second RI 60
 
Band tricep push downs Reps
90 second RI 100
 
Band chest flyes Reps
90 second RI 100
 
Lat Pulldowns Reps
90 second RI 100

14 Weeks Out, Session 1 *read everything*

Notes!  For the piston squats (based on RAW squat), if your max squat is 375, you’ll use 3 chains (no rounding up).  1 chain is used per 100lbs of your RAW max.  If your raw max is 205, you’ll use 2 chains.

 

Also, there should be some added resistance to the walking lunges and GHR.  No just bodyweight, stuff.  Add some weight!

 

Warm Up Sets Reps  
prowler 2 40 yards
bird dogs 3 5
HELCs 2 10
TKE 2 15
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Squat RPE 8 5 3
Equipment:
belt
  knee wraps
Piston squats % Sets Reps
Equipment: 70% 3 5
  1chain per 100lbs
  of your max squat
 
 
Walking lunges Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 8
 
GHR Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 8
Stir the Pot Reps
90 second RI 60

15 Weeks Out, Session 4

Warm Up Sets Reps  
farmers walk 2 40 yards
bird dogs 2 5
rolling planks 2 10
Glute bridge 3 10
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Pendlay rows RPE 7 4 8
Equipment:
 
McGill Pull ups Sets Reps
90 second RI 20 1
 
incline db press Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 15
 
Overhand BB shrugs Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 15
 
chest supported rows Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 12
Seated DB OH press Sets Reps
90 second RI 4 10
 
Blast strap body rows Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 burn
 
Prowler: 140lbs 5 trips

RPE for food

I wrote this a while back and with Thanksgiving so close, figure I’d give y’all something to read.

Almost every person that gets the weight lifting bug decides they want to get big.  Tons of guys want to be the next Arnold or Ronnie Coleman.  These guys trained big and their training was no secret.  So why don’t we see more massive guys walking around?  It’s simply from the standpoint that you have to eat as hard as you train.  Hardgainers love to toss out “I eat all the time, but I still can’t gain weight.”  I’m guilty of saying that.  Truth be told though, I just wasn’t eating hard enough.  I just wasn’t consuming enough calories.  It’s hard work to eat through the calories you burn working hard and on top of a fast metabolism.

I’m not going to tell you what to eat but rather how to eat.  Too many times, guys are crushing it in the gym only to eat as half-heartedly as they train.  There are 168 hours in the week.  Let’s say training takes up 10 hours a week.  That’s only about 6% of your week.  What you do with the remaining 94% of the week makes a huge difference.  Getting in that food is just as important as the training, and some might argue that it’s more important.

I’m going to introduce the Rate of Perceived Exertion of Eating.  For those not familiar with scale for your Rate of Perceived Exertion I would suggest reading some of Brian Carroll’s work and specifically his excerpt from his 10/20/Life book.

The portion I’m specifically interested in, is this part and I’m going to take some creative liberties for the purpose of this article:

RPEs below 4 are not important.

4- Recovery.  Usually 20+ rep sets.  Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.

5- Most warm-up weights

6- Light speed work.  Moves quickly with moderate force.

7- Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight.

8- Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle.  2-4 reps left.

9- Last rep is tough, but still 1 rep left in the tank.

10- Maximal.  No reps left in the tank.

 

This is how I’d like to view my food consumption.  I especially like the part about RPE’s below 4 are not important.   For weight gain, if you’re eating below an RPE of 5 you’ll never make it happen.

 

Take a look at the RPE of Eating.

 

 

RPE of Eating:

1-Starving, weak, dizzy

2-Very hungry, cranky, low energy, lots of stomach growling

3-Pretty hungry, stomach is growling a little

4-Starting to feel a little hungry

5-Satisfied, neither hungry nor full

6-A little full, pleasantly full

7-A little uncomfortable

8-Feeling stuffed

9-Very uncomfortable, stomach hurts

10-One spoonful away from Se7en style gluttony

 

 

If I’m looking to get stronger, I’m training in the 7-9 (pushing 10 sometimes) on the RPE training scale.  When I’m looking to gain weight, I’m eating in the same range.  If I’m only satisfied (RPEE at 5), I’ve still got a long way to go.  All this just isn’t for a meal or 2 through the day.  This is at every feeding.  I’ll try to get as many as five to six meals here.  You’re not going to only do one set at an RPE of 7 but several.  What would make you think that one meal at 9 through the day would be enough?

For some, myself included, gaining weight is harder than losing it.  I started lifting weights at a whopping 115lbs.  Over the course of 12 years I’d managed to double it at one point and had achieved a top weight of 230lbs.  That averages out to only 9lbs gained per year.  Over the past couple of years that’s slowed down to only about 2lbs gained per year.

I’ll say it again, gaining weight (at least quality weight) isn’t easy.  Eating yourself into a nauseous state isn’t fun, but if getting big is your goal, you have to push those calories in and constantly work on getting that RPEE up.

RPE re-revisisted

I’ve drafted this up and will keep it up where you folks can refer to it.  Please read, reread and pass it on.  Nothing drives me bonkers more than seeing someone doing an RPE of “7” without a single rep left in the tank.  And if technique falls off, assume that you’re at an RPE of 11 and to seriously re-evaluate your critical thinking skills.

 

RPE re-revisited

Your Rate of Perceived Exertion is YOUR rating of how something feels.  Unfortunately most folks really aren’t honest with themselves when it comes to this.  Granted it takes a bit of experience to make this work, but always remember Rule #1: don’t be stupid!

 

I’ve been using some form of RPE for quite some time.  It’s a version of auto-regulatory training.  Life is dynamic and training must be as well.  Brian Carroll’s 10/20/Life is a great example of this.  His training principles for this are currently the backbone of my training and how I program for my athletes and lifters.  The ability to change training on the fly is huge.  We can’t always have control over all aspects of our lives but we can control our training.  Huge shout out to Brian for really hammering these concepts into me and for putting out a quality program.

Take a look at his program here:

http://www.powerrackstrength.com/1020life/

 

I first became aware of the RPE scale from Mike Tuchscherer and his Reactive Training Systems.  Mike had a wonderful graph that he posted.  I’ve taken it and expanded a bit but all credit still goes to him for this:

RPE

Let that sink in for a bit.  It’s a very, very rough estimate of what percentage might be applicable to a certain rep range and associated RPE. There are lots of different versions of the RPE scale but this one tends to be the easiest to follow.  However, I don’t think it is most accurate because it doesn’t take into account how your feeling or where you are in training. I use it as a guideline and that’s it.

 

To expand on that statement: the above graph doesn’t take into account where you are in life.  Let’s say that after a rough week of work, little to no sleep, and poor nutrition all add up to make a training day feel like absolute crap.  What then?  You back it down, of course.  Play it smart.  Lifting is a hobby.  Most of us are not making any money beating ourselves into the ground.

 

But let’s say that things are rocking.  Several days in a row of low stress, great sleep, and pin point nutrition as we walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks.  Warm ups feel amazing and working weight feels like there is nothing in our hands.  What then?  We go up!  BUT… again, play it smart.  No missed lifts.  If the RPE for the day is 7 and you miss that last rep, you’re well out of your prescribed limit.  You should have been able to do at least 3 more reps.  What the hell happened?  You got greedy and it didn’t pay off.  Rarely does it.

 

With some of the basics out of the way, one thing I really want to address is technique and using the RPE scale.  I will scream at all my athletes; if you lose technique, I don’t care how it feels, it was an RPE over 10.  If you can’t do it without technique failing, the weight is too heavy.  Again, I DON’T CARE HOW IT FEELS OR LOOKS!  This holds especially true in the off-season when the main goal is to address weak points and technique flaws.  There are times during in-season training where a lack of technique might be somewhat acceptable.  This is never the case during off season.  Practice makes permanent!  If bad technique is practiced, then bad technique is the end result.  Every single rep that is performed is (and always should be) done so with shining technique.  Watch all the top lifters across multiple disciplines and the one thing that stands out is amazing technique at every weight.  When form breakdown occurs, then the RPE threshold has been crossed.

 

As an example, if I’m to do a set of 5 reps at an RPE of 7.  I should have 3 to 4 reps left in the tank.  When picking my weight to do, I ask myself (being honest!), “with good technique, can I do 8 reps with this weight?”  Using the chart above, if my max were 300lbs, then my RPE of 7 for 5 reps would be 195.  How many of you would have picked something that light?  Be honest!  A show of hands….

*crickets*

Yep.  That’s an RPE of 7.  Master that technique!

 

Now the next question is, what to do about exercises where the max is unknown?  This is where experience comes into play.  As training evolves we start to get an idea where some exercises stand in relation to our main lifts.  My max safety squat bar (SSB) squat is less than my straight bar squat.  Hence my SSB RPE of 7 for a set of 5 would be less than what my straight bar RPE 7 for a set of 5.

 

As previously mentioned, there are times that come up when everything is clicking and everything feels good.  The weight can be adjusted up but do not, and I repeat, DO NOT get greedy.  Just because it feels good, doesn’t mean that it should be a blow out kind of set.  The one thing to remember is that there is another training session tomorrow.  There is another training session next week.  There is always another training session.  If today doesn’t bring a PR, it isn’t the end of the world, nor is it the end of your lifting career.  Save it, knowing that the goal was already exceeded and that gives us a lead going into the next session.  The strongest in the game have been doing it the longest with fewer injuries.  Those how show up on meet day or competition day, might not always be the strongest but hopefully the healthiest.  The strongest could be at home nursing an injury because they didn’t listen.  The smartest show up on meet day and crush it then, when it matters, on the platform and not in a basement gym without witnesses or windows.

15 Weeks Out, Session 3

Warm Up Sets Reps  
prowler 2 40 yards
bird dogs 2 5
HELCs 2 10
TKEs 2 15
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Deadlifts RPE 8 5 5
Equipment:
belt only  
 
 
  % or RPE Sets Reps
3″ block pulls RPE 7 3 5
belt only
RDLs Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
 
Step ups Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
 
ReverseSled drags Reps
  5 trips
Rolling Planks Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 15

15 Weeks Out, Session 2

Warm Up Sets Reps  
farmers walk 2 30 yard
bird dogs 3 5
rolling planks 2 10
Glute bridge 3 10
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Bench RPE 8 5 5
Equipment:
raw
 
CG bench RPE Sets Reps
Equipment RPE 8 4 8
  shoulder
saver  
laying db tri ext Reps
90 second RI 50
 
Band tricep push downs Reps
90 second RI 100
 
Band chest flyes Reps
90 second RI 100
 
Lat Pulldowns Reps
90 second RI 100

15 Weeks Out, Session 1

Offseason stuff for another couple weeks.

Warm Up Sets Reps  
prowler 2 40 yards
bird dogs 3 5
HELCs 2 10
TKE 2 15
 
Exercise: % or RPE Sets Reps
Squat RPE 8 5 5
Equipment:
belt
 
squats w/ buffalo bar % Sets Reps
Equipment: 50% 6 2
  bands attached to bottom
  <300 squat = orange band
>300 squat = grey band  
 
Walking lunges Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
 
GHR Sets Reps
90 second RI 3 12
Stir the Pot Reps
90 second RI 60

Deload, Session 4

Little lighter today in prep of a couple really heavy weeks.

Warm Up Sets Reps  
farmers walk 2 40 yards
bird dogs 2 5
rolling planks 2 10
Glute bridge 3 10
 
McGill Pull ups Sets Reps
90 second RI 20 1
 
incline db press Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 15
 
Overhand BB shrugs Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 20
 
chest supported rows Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 15
Blast strap body rows Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 10
 
Face Pull Sets Reps
90 second RI 2 burn
 
Prowler: 140lbs 5 trips