elitefts™ Sunday edition

Start Moving


I recently stood in the driveway of my new home looking at a 30 x 30 foot garage full of crap unloaded from a moving truck and placed with no particular rhyme or reason. However, seeing that crap-in-question was a good problem to have, because it included various items I paid decent money for over the years to build my home gym. I spotted my 3 x 3 elitefts™ Power Rack, Deluxe GHR, Selectorized Lat Pulldown/Low Row and various other works of art. The problem was that I had no idea where to start to get this cluster-bomb unpacked, set up and organized. After staring blankly for a while and pondering how to begin, I decided to just start doing something and not worry about the larger picture. After a few hours of moving things around, almost only for the sake of moving them, one piece after another started finding its way to the proper area. At the end of the day, a functional layout started to emerge and the big picture was in reach.

This was similar to roughly 20 years earlier in my life. I concluded university studies and stood with a fancy undergraduate business degree in hand. I knew a career path of some sort lie ahead of me. I even generally knew where I wanted to end up and how to get there. I just had no idea where to start, given the inescapable catch-22 that no one will hire you without experience, but you can’t get experience until someone will hire you. After a couple months of job searching and realizing that a part-time roofing gig was not going to pay the bills (even on my $285 per month shack-of-an-apartment), I realized it was time to just start moving things around. So, I took a full-time job as a hotel night auditor at a wage of $6 per hour so that I could job-hunt during the day. After a couple more months of no luck on the job front, I took a second full-time job (during the day) via a temp agency as a credit analyst making $6.50 per hour.

Both of these positions would be scoffed at by many of my sheepskin-wielding peers living in their parents’ basement, holding out for a position worthy of self-perceived talents. Thankfully, I did not have that luxury. I was on my own and needed to just start moving things around to get my career started and pay the bills.  And, there's no way in hell I was going to ask anyone for a handout. After a few months of getting home from the day job at 6PM and leaving for the night job 10PM, my mighty work ethic was recognized by a company seeking an internal auditor. I was rewarded for my short-term sacrifice with a cushy job, steady salary and company car to travel the country and build a resume.

So What?

So, why am I telling you dumbass stories about organizing a garage and finding an auditing job? Because I can think of many areas where not getting paralyzed by the forest and just focusing on a tree or two in seemingly overwhelming situations can lead to success, both in corporate life and in training. A few examples:

  • Many smart young folks graduating from high schools, technical programs and universities in the next couple months, will face the same situation described above. If you're one of them, you must not take anything for granted by assuming something will come along eventually. Getting your foot in the door, while easier in the age of Monster, Careerbuilder and LinkedIn, can still be a daunting task. You do need to pay heed to the long-term prize in your daily activities, but don't let that keep you from doing something today. Better yet, do anything – as long as it relates to your job search objective. Temp work, unpaid internships, volunteering for charity, academic or trade coursework all demonstrate qualities that employers seek. Without experience and a track record to fall back on, job seekers must demonstrate maturity and a strong work ethic. Neither of these come while sitting in your parents’ basement. Doing something is almost always viewed by interviewers in a more positive light than doing nothing.
  • Corporate careers are often made or broken on a single high-profile project. I’ve seen middle-manager types, with careers firmly stuck in neutral, who were in the right place at the right time to be given a significant project. After guiding that project to a successful completion, they began to leapfrog peers, set up shop in corner offices with corresponding fat expense accounts, and start making bank. When given one of these career-making projects, many people flounder because they become overwhelmed and cannot establish momentum. Usually, this comes from trying to tackle too many tasks at once and never seeing any one thing to conclusion. In this case, map out a general plan, break it down into blocks and just pick a block to start moving. Focus your efforts on bringing it to completion and the other blocks tend to fall into place more easily.
  • In the training world, this tends to apply more to those early in their training lives with understandably no clue where to start, given the bombardment of (usually wrong) fitness information. If you fit that bill, put down that magazine, get off the internet, go to the gym and just start moving things around using a limited number of basic compound movements. After a few months of doing this, you'll get a feel for how your body responds to the workload and better understand what it is you enjoy doing. For me, that is powerlifting. For you, it could be something else. Once you figure it out, set some long-term goals and move things around that relate to what you enjoy. As time moves on, your under-the-bar experience will allow programming to become more structured and efficient as the pieces start to make sense and the big picture becomes clear.

That’s it. Nothing complicated. No Gantt charts, needs hierarchies, five forces, statistical regressions or other brain-sucking tools. Just do something, start moving things around and see what happens.


Week 1 of 15 for the meet training cycle is in the books. It's great to be picking things up and putting them down with a purpose again. The next meet is June 2012. Training will consist of two speed days and two max effort days per week. No deloads. Percents will be based on a perceived max on any given day for that movement. This can be tricky at first, but gets easier over time, and requires that you estimate what your 1-rep max would be on that day if you tried it. Once learned, it is a great way to push hard without overtraining and ensures that your lifts are not based on a pre-conceived training max that may no longer be relevant. The first four weeks are programmed as follows:





DE Lower

  • Box Squat - 40% for 8 sets 5 reps
  • Good Mornings - light for 4 sets 8 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise - 3 sets 12 reps

DE Upper

  • Bench Press - 40% for 10 sets 5 reps
  • 1/4 Dips - heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps plus 4th set to failure
  • Dumbbell Rows - rest pause heavy for 3 sets 6 reps
  • Face Pulls - 3 sets 25 reps

ME Lower

  • Pin Pulls - off pin 2 for max single
  • Close Stance Low Box Squats - moderate weight for 2 sets 10 reps
  • Back Raises on GHR - work up to heavy set of 6 reps
  • Pulldown Abs - 4 sets 12 reps

ME Upper

  • Floor Press with Chains - 60% straight weight plus chains for max set of 3
  • Cross Body Dumbbell Extensions - light weight for 3 sets to failure
  • Seated Cable Rows - heavy for 3 sets 8 reps


DE Lower

  • Box Squat - 44% for 8 sets 4 reps
  • Seated Leg Curls - 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Weighted Decline Situps - 4 sets 15 reps

DE Upper

  • Bench Press - 45% for 10 sets 3 reps
  • 1/4 Dips - heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps plus 4th set to failure
  • Dumbbell Rows - Rest Pause for 3 sets 10 reps
  • Face Pulls - 3 sets 25 reps

ME Lower

  • Reverse Band Box Squats - 2 heavy sets of 5
  • Pin Pulls - off pin 5 for a heavy set of 3
  • Back Raises on GHR - 1 heavy set of 6 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise - 2 sets 10 reps

ME Upper

  • Floor Press with Chains - triples to 60% straight weight plus 2 chains then add 20 lbs per set to max single
  • Cross Body Dumbbell Extensions - 3 sets 20 reps
  • Seated Cable Rows - heavy for 3 sets 8 reps
  • Free Time - do whatever you want for 15 minutes


DE Lower

  • Box Squats - 44% for 8 sets 3 reps
  • Seated Leg Curls - 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises - 2 sets 10 reps
  • Weighted Decline Situps - 2 sets 10 reps

DE Upper

  • Bench Press - 45% for 12 sets 3 reps
  • 1/4 Dips - heavy for 3 sets of 6 reps, drop 50% for 4th set to failure
  • Dumbbell Rows - Rest Pause for 2 sets 5 reps
  • Face Pulls - 2 sets 35 reps

ME Lower

  • Reverse Band Box Squats - 2 heavy sets of 3 at max weight
  • Speed Pulls Standing on 2 Mats - 10 sets 1 rep
  • Back Raises - 2 sets 30-40 reps
  • Cable Pulldown Abs - 2 heavy sets of 8

ME Upper

  • Reverse Band Press - strong band for 60% of best bench using triples then work to max single
  • Seated Cable Row - heavy for 3 sets 8 reps
  • Free Time - do whatever you want for 15 minutes


DE Lower

  • Box Squats - 40% for 8 sets 5 reps
  • GHR - 3 sets to failure
  • Flat Leg Raise - 3 sets 20 reps
  • Reverse Hypers - heavy for 4 sets 8 reps

DE Upper

  • Bench  Press - 44% plus 2 chains per side for 9 sets 3 reps
  • Dumbbell Extensions - 4 sets of 12 reps with a moderate weight
  • Machine Rows - heavy for 3 sets 8 reps
  • Face Pull - 2 sets 35 reps
  • Free Time - do whatever you want for 15 minutes with high reps and low rest

ME Lower

  • Yoke Bar Box Squats - briefs - two heavy sets of 5
  • Speed Pulls with Fat Bar - 10 sets 1 rep
  • Back Raises on GHR - pyramid up with weight using 5 reps until you get to a set that makes you feel like your eye balls want to pop out then one set 50 reps using a band

ME Upper

  • Flat Bench Dumbbell Presses max set of 15; rest 5-10 minutes and try to break the rep record you just set
  • Vertical Pulls (chins, pull downs, whatever) - heavy for 3 sets 8 reps
  • Free Time - do whatever you want for 15 minutes



Gym Pic of the Day – Home Edition

My last couple gym pictures showed pieces of equipment at the silly commercial gym, where I was temporarily training, along with an explanation of why I thought they were awful and sometimes dangerous contraptions. This month is more positive and brings a message of hope. As in, "I hope my awesome recently-ordered elitefts™ Deluxe Monolift gets here soon to fill a huge void in my life."

As you can see, this empty space behind the glute ham raise in the garage is asking for it like a virgin on prom night. By the time next month’s MBA Meathead installment hits the elitefts™ Sunday Edition, I won't ever have to walk out a squat again.

Looking Ahead

The purpose of this column is to give the perspective of a multi-ply meathead in the corporate world, while also passing along useful training information. On the training front, next month should be solid, with a recap of the first four weeks of the meet prep cycle along with weeks 5-8 of the 15 week program. Thus far, the business side has been non-technical. It seems like I should delve into a complex topic or two, but that's hard to do without boring people to tears. If you have a business subject you’d like covered, let me know in the comments section and I'll do what I can without putting you to sleep. Or, I could just discuss the finer points of reducing purple facial coloration when you have executive strategy presentations during meet week when blood pressure levels are high enough to take your pulse based on the throbbing in your lower back. Either way is fine with me.