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Old-School Strength Training Program

by Robert Maxwell

If you want to build serious strength and muscle, this simple, old-school training program will do the job. I designed it for myself, but enough readers have asked about my personal workouts that I decided to share. They want to know what exercises I do, training frequency, rep ranges, and other details. That's why I decided to give a full explanation in this post. Keep in mind my training style is constantly evolving, and I often make small adjustments as I learn new things. This post covers what I do now, but in a week or a month or a year, things might look different. I wouldn't recommend this program if you've never picked up a barbell. You need to learn the basic movements with an easier routine first. But if you've done some training and want to take things to the next level, this program can get you there. The program is broken into 1 week cycles: a 10's week, 8's week, 5's week, 3's week, and deload week. On 10's week, I try to hit 10 reps on all exercises, choosing a weight that makes this a serious challenge. The next week I repeat the program doing sets of 8 going slightly heavier. Then sets of 5 with one additional set (5 sets instead of 4), then sets of 3 on the fourth week. Week five is deload week. I treat deload like a regular 10's week, but with only 2 sets of everything instead of 4. That way I don't reduce lifting intensity – only volume. After deloading, I restart the cycle with another 10's week, aiming to lift 10 pounds more on each exercise than I did on the previous 10's week. Right now I'm starting the fourth round of this program, and I've added 30 or 40 pounds to most lifts. The layout below shows a 10's week, but all aspects besides weight and rep range are the same on 8's, 5's and 3's weeks.

 

10's Week, day 1 (Monday)

Squats x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set, then remove 2 plates/90 pounds and do drop set)

 

Romanian Deadlift x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Leg Extension x 4 drop sets to failure (begin with 4 plates, removing one each time failure is reached)

 

Calf Raises x 4 sets to failure (bodyweight, one leg at a time while holding weight plate or two)

 

Run 500 metres at 50% maximum speed, repeat  x 2-3

 

10's Week, Day 2 (Tuesday)

Bench Press x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set, then remove 2 plates/90 pounds and do drop set)

 

Dips x 4 sets of 10 reps (Using weight belt/vest. Go to failure on final set) *Superset with pull-ups*

 

Pull-ups x 4 sets of 10 reps (Using weighted belt/vest. Go to failure on final set) *Superset with dips*

 

Barbell Curls x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Weighted Sit-ups x 3 sets of 10 reps (holding weight plates on upper chest, go to failure on final set)

 

Run 500 metres at 40% maximum speed, repeat  x 2-3

 

10's Week, Day 3 (Wednesday)

Run 500 metres at 40% maximum speed, repeat  x 4

 

Heavy Hand Grip Exerciser x 5 sets each hand (go to failure on every set)

 

10's Week, Day 4 (Thursday)

Front Squats x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Deadlift x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Leg Curls x 3 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Calf Raises x 4 sets to failure (bodyweight, one leg at a time while holding weight plate or two)

 

Run 500 metres at 40% maximum speed, repeat  x 2-3

 

10's Week, Day 5 (Friday)

Overhead Press x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Chin-ups x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Incline Bench Press x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set)

 

Tricep Rope Pull-downs x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set) *Superset with curls*

 

Dumbbell Curls x 4 sets of 10 reps (go to failure on final set) *Superset with pull-downs*

 

Ab Roller x 3 sets of 10 reps (weight plates balanced on mid-back, go to failure on final set)

 

Run 500 metres at 40% maximum speed, repeat  x 2-3

 

 

10's Week, Day 6 (Saturday)

Run 500 metres at 40% maximum speed, repeat  x 4

 

Heavy Hand Grip Exerciser x 5 sets each hand (go to failure on every set)

 

10'S WEEK, DAY 6 (Sunday)

Rest and recover

 

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