Back-to-the-Gym Program to Optimize the Loading Process

TAGS: split style, 3 day program, COVID-19, full body workout, Ashley Jones

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In this month’s column, I am moving away from rugby specific physical preparation to the training of civilian’s in a commercial gym setting. I know that all readers of these columns are not elite level athletes, so I thought with many of us coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world that it was timely to adjust my focus.

If you have read any of my columns over the years, then you will remember that I place a high degree of training emphasis on simplicity and also variety. This is to ensure that no matter what your background is, you can pick up the ideas presented and start training and also keep going long-term to get the results that you are after.

I believe in utilizing an array of different equipment and also sets and rep schemes to ensure you are targeting muscles and movements from a variety of angles and also modifying the loading stimulus. Since my earliest days of working in this industry, I was impressed by the work of Bill Starr in his book The Strongest Shall Survive. He shared a three-day-a-week program modulating between heavy, medium, and light.


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The other rationale for this article is that many commercial gym members enjoy using the vast number of different training equipment that is usually on offer in most gyms around the world. There are no hard and fast rules with exercise selection other than you have to stick with the type of modality for the training day. So, feel free to substitute in with the movements and exercises that I am going to use below for the sake of example.

The program I am about to outline can be used as a three- or a six-day-a-week program depending on your time availability, training intent, and recovery. I will be using a split program to ensure that the sessions themselves are kept under an hour each time you train. If you prefer to train full body, three days a week, this can be easily adjusted using the same principles. I will outline, but the exercise number per training session will need to be reduced.

So, to the program. I am using three different key training types for this program: barbells, machines, kettlebells, and dumbbells, to provide the training stimulus on different sessions throughout the week plan.

Using the heavy, light, and medium approach, the first workouts each week will be using barbells, then onto machines for the next days, and finishing the week off with DBs and KBs.

I will be using a split style of programming, day one upper body pushing plus triceps and day two lower body, upper body pulling, and biceps. So, a six-day-a-week plan will look like this:

Screenshot 2020-06-17 14.26.00

If you prefer a four-day-a-week plan then this is what you will follow over a three-week plan to ensure you get each training mode performed twice:

Screenshot 2020-06-17 14.27.03

If you are more a fan of a three-day-per-week full-body workout then your week plan will look more like this:

Screenshot 2020-06-17 14.27.22

Next in the development process is to allocate exercises to each of the training days to give you an example of what you can use. Every gym around the world will have different types of equipment so substitute freely but keep the spirit of the day as the focal point.

Screenshot 2020-06-17 14.26.00

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Hammer Incline
  • Hammer Bench
  • Seated Machine Shoulder Press
  • Machine Dips

Thursday

Friday

  • 45-degree DB Incline Bench Press
  • DB Bench Press
  • KB Seated Shoulder Press
  • DB Floor Press

Saturday

  • KB/DB Goblet Squat
  • KB Swings
  • KB/DB One Arm Row
  • Seated DB Clean
  • DB Twist Curl

I also will add loaded carries and core training into the mix, usually performing an unloaded core movement on the same day as I program upper body pushing movements and then use loaded carries on the next training day.

If you are using a three-day full-body training approach, I would rotate the upper body movements around each week, so they all get a variety of loading patterns. This also can be done on a three-week rotation as per below:

Screenshot 2020-06-17 14.20.00

Once again, you can include loaded carries and core after each session, alternating which you do each training day so that you can keep the session under the hour. As Poliquin says, “If you are in the gym longer than an hour, you are making friends.” Please let me know how you respond to this type of training. Stay safe and well.

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