8-Week Base Building Program for Busy Lifters

TAGS: three day training setup, busy lifter, 8 week base building program, training minimums, RPE, training cycle, Joe Schillero

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Over the past few weeks, you have probably seen social media flooded with memes and quotes either promoting New Year’s resolutions or making fun of them. The exact same stuff gets recycled with each January. But when you clear away all the positivity and negativity, I think most people on both sides can agree that the toughest part of taking on a new training goal is establishing something you can stick to consistently.

There are plenty of programs out there that boast effectiveness and seem alluring, but how many of us have started the “perfect” program and then realized within a few weeks that it is not sustainable? Especially if training is not your number one priority and you are balancing a family, work, and/or school, spending hours at the gym every single day just may not be feasible (or optimal).


RELATED: 12-Week Conjugate Program for Raw Powerlifting


I am a firm believer that during busy and high-stress times in life, it is important to establish your training minimums that you know you can accomplish no matter how crazy things get or how exhausted you are. Even if it’s half the volume and frequency of what you would ideally like to do, establishing consistency in an area of your life (like training) that benefits your physical and mental strength will carry over to other areas of your life too. Sometimes dedicating a few days per week to going in and “punching the clock”, even when you are not hitting huge numbers or feeling awesome, is what you have to do. In all honesty, you will be surprised how much strength you can gain with a program that seems “too simple.”

I have trained with and written many different program variations, and they all have their pros and cons. This particular program has the busy lifter in mind, is three days per week, and sessions should be able to be completed in about an hour once you get in the swing of things. It also requires minimal setup and equipment (everything should be available in your average gym). Eight weeks is a short training cycle but if you can be consistent for that time, you will have two months of solid training in the books and break past the February/March time when most people fall off with their New Year's training resolutions.

At the end of these eight weeks you will have...

  • ...established consistency and habits.
  • ...practiced technique.
  • ...built momentum by beating your rep counts from the beginning of the program if you follow the RPE instructions correctly (these small “victories” will set the tone for training moving forward).
  • ...established rep PRs and maxes to build upon in future programs (I would not recommend repeating this exact program over and over).

Some notes before you get started:

  • The training days can be distributed however you like, and the nice thing about a three-day setup is that days can be adjusted easily if traveling or if you encounter a scheduling conflict.
  • This program is based on daily maxes and RPE (rating of perceived exertion), so you don’t have to know your “true max” before starting the program. This was designed with keeping those that haven’t been training heavy or consistently recently in mind.
  • RPE is listed on a ten-point numerical scale (one being easiest and 10 being heaviest you could go or the hardest you could push).
  • The program is designed into two blocks, where your goal should be to beat your Block 1 numbers in Block 2.
  • In a program setup like this, there’s nothing wrong with leaving a session feeling like you could have done more. If anything, that is what we want: for you to leave each session ready for the next one, not mentally and physically destroyed.
  • If movements are listed as A1 and A2 (B1/B2, etc.), it means that those two movements are supersetted with each other.
  • Primary movements should have two to four minutes between top sets (initial light warm-ups can be done more quickly).
  • Secondary and assistance movements should be done with less rest (30 to 90 seconds). Remember, this is designed to be time-efficient and assistance work is often done as a circuit.

Download 8-Week Base Building Program

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