Training with weights has always been a passion of mine dating back to my junior year of high school or so. My school didn’t put as large of an emphasis on weight training as I did. I lifted “hard” often five days a week, monday through friday my junior and senior year of high school. I thought I was a pretty tough guy because I just threw on heavy weights and did as many exercises as I could until I got “tired.” Back then I didn’t know any better I thought by doing this I was going to turn into Ray Lewis. At first the results were great. I was putting up huge numbers for about the first month or two and seen myself beating PR’s constantly. After the two months I began to plateau and was puzzled to why? Why would I not keep getting stronger if I was contantly lifting heavy weights with tons of different exercises a day? This same thing went on until about half way through my Junior year of college. For five years I thought I was big, bad, and a great lifter! But was I?
The answer is no! I didn’t know how to program a workout. I didn’t follow a workout plan and I didn’t ever give my body the proper rest it deserved! Second semester of my Junior year in college I had been amazed at the physical speciment Brian Cushing was so I youtube’d his training. In one video he benched 225 35 times and from there I was hooked. I began looking up workouts and lifts that were actually beneficial. Then I met my boy Dylan Poesch playing semi-pro ball. I thought I was pretty bad ass then I did a dynamic effort lower body day with him. We did box squats with 225 and monster mini bands. I was overwhelmed. I never done anything like that in my life. We did 8 sets of 2 and I was dead. We then followed it up with some heavy ass one legged split squats and band good mornings but we didn’t stop there. I was introcuded to heavy ass sled drags and prowler pushes. I watched videos of guys sled dragging and thought man that looks easy. We had over 200 pounds of weight on and dragged it 20 yards. I never worked so hard in my life. From that day I knew I was going to take my training seriously and start to sample a workout plan made famous by Joe DeFranco.
It was that summer where I saw my biggest gains! Do you think I lifted heavy ass weights five times a week doing as many exercises until I “tired” myself out? NO!!! I trained smart, ate smart, and was in the best shape out my life! If I wasn’t lifting heavy ass weights five days a week what exactly was I doing? Well to start out I sank the five training days a week down to four. I learned that rest is just as important if not more important than the workout itself! My typical Monday included a “Maximal-Effort Upper Body” day. In this I followed Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 workout. This program may not be liked by everybody but I love it. I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is that 400 pound bench everybody is after. The 5-3-1 is designed to slowly increase your maxes by 5 pounds every 4 weeks. Think about it, four weeks is roughly a month so if you increase your bench max five pounds every month and times that by the number of months in a year that’s a 60 pound increase in your bench over the course of a year. I think I’d take a 60 pound increase rather than seeing huge gains right away then wearing out and plateauing because of overtraining.
My Tuesday was very similar to my Monday. I did “Maximal Effort Lower Body.” In this I also used the 5-3-1. My main lift was a box squat and what I learned from box squats is that they are more benefical to me than regular squats. I have a bad left knee and doing regular squats killed my knee! When I switched to box squats with an adequate stretching routine my tendonitis in my knee got WAY better! So the first time I maxed out in the box squat I was doing roughly 400 pounds. By the end of the summer I put up a 1RM of 500 pounds. Now I bounced off the box a little in doing it but still gaining almost 100 pounds in your squat in one summer is pretty good I’d say! After I followed this up with a One-Legged exercise for example one-legged split squats, lunges, step-ups. Then I finished with either band good mornings or glute ham raises. Notice I only did three lifts on this day but they were VERY effective lifts and I saw major gains doing it.
Wednesday was my rest day! But just because it was my rest day I didn’t take it lightly! I still dieted well this day and I stretched out to keep the lactic acid from building!
Thursday was my “Repitition Upper Body” day. On this day I benched 50% of my max on bench and worked on bar speed. Notice I didn’t go heavy on bench this day! I do a 50% day so I can work on good bench speed. Bar speed is very important in having a BIG bench. That is the major difference between my Monday workout to my Thursday workout.
Friday I did a Dynamic Lower Body day which I think is my favorite day! This day you work more on speed and explosion and power. Notice again I don’t go and squat heavy weight I go in and squat around 50% of my 1RM again working on speed and explosion while keeping proper form! I didn’t limit myself on the other jumping/sprinting exercises I did either.