As many of you know, I love programming gym plans for the fitness industry and sports performance (or rugby-specific week plans). I thrive on discussing ideas with coaches, medical staff, and players to develop a weekly action plan that gives the team the best opportunity to express itself come game day.

I was introduced to weight training as a 15-year-old in 1976 at the American Health Spa in Brookvale—a northern beach suburb of Sydney, Australia. I learned under the tutelage of Vince Basile and two local powerlifters, Dennis and Pat (I never got to know their last names). I transferred to Tony's Gym in Narraweena, where the same two powerlifters trained and other serious trainers in my local area. 

Since those informative days and hours of studying the latest editions of the original IronMan magazine published by Peary and Mabel Rader out of Alliance, Nebraska, I think I have trialed every program under the sun. 

RECENT: Solving the Conditioning Paradox

As Dave Tate has often said, "everything works, but nothing works forever." 

Even a few years of Nautilus training, when I got my first instructor's job in the fitness industry (1979), helped improve my size, strength, and metabolic condition. 

I owe a debt of gratitude to many people who have guided my thoughts as I trained my body. What I present here is the combination of over 45 years of a work in progress. 

Special thanks to Louie Simmons, Bruce Walsh, EJ "Doc" Kreis, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Dan John, Christian Thibaudeau, Ian King, Charles Poliquin, Charles Staley, Alwyn Cosgrove, Chad Waterbury, Istvan Javorek, and so many others.

I want to share my ideas for a rotating weekly plan that I've been trialing this month. I have experienced significant DOMS, but I am 61, and maybe my recovery protocols are not as good as they could be. Hasten slowly and utilize a less aggressive sets and reps plan than the one used here. 

WeekStrength & BilateralSize & Unilateral
Week One3 x 63 x 12
Week Two3 x 43 x 8
Week Three3 x 53 x 10
Week Four3 x 33 x 6

Compare that to the plan that I have been using:

Bilateral Movements – Sets & Reps

  • Week 1: 2 x (7, 5, 3) wave @ 83%, 87%, 93% (2 minutes rest between sets, 4 minutes rest between waves)
  • Week 2: 4 x 2/2 cluster @ 90+% (30 seconds rest between doubles, 4 minutes rest between clusters)
  • Week 3: 2 x 3/6 contrast load @ 90-95% & 80-85% (2 minutes rest between 3 & 6 then 4 minutes rest
  • Week 4: 4 x 2 plateau load @ 90+% (3 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

Unilateral Movements – Sets & Reps

  • Week 1: 4 x 12
  • Week 2: 4 x 8
  • Week 3: 4 x 10
  • Week 4: 4 x 6

Stick with the same exercises for the four-week cycle, allowing enough time for adaptation but not too long to begin experiencing accommodation. 

Also, the weekly variation in sets, reps, and methods is another layer of programming to avoid accommodation even though the percentage of 1RM is above the 80% threshold for the entire month. You may need to take a deload week, but I believe that if you change the exercises and look at the sets/reps/methods, you will not need a deload.

Week 1

1 x Hinge (bilateral)
1 x Knee (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (bilateral/horizontal)
1 x Upper Body Pull (bilateral/horizontal)
1 x Knee (bilateral)
1 x Hinge (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (bilateral/vertical)
1 x Upper Body Pull (bilateral/vertical)
1 x Hinge (bilateral) 1 x Knee (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (unilateral/horizontal)
1 x Upper Body Pull (unilateral/horizontal)

Week Two

1 x Knee (bilateral)
1 x Hinge (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (bilateral/vertical)
1 x Upper Body Pull (bilateral/vertical)
1 x Hinge (bilateral)
1 x Knee (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (bilateral/horizontal)
1 x Upper Body Pull (bilateral/horizontal)
1 x Knee (bilateral)
1 x Hinge (unilateral)
1 x Upper Body Push (unilateral/vertical)
1 x Upper Body Pull (unilateral/vertical)

Here are the exact exercises and training loads I have been using for the last two weeks:

Week One


  • Deadlift with Straight Bar 2 x (7,5,3) @ 60, 80, 90 & 70, 90, 100
  • Telemark Squat 4 x 12 @ safety bar only 15kg
  • Swiss Bar Bench s/s Pendlay Row with Straight Bar 2 x (7,5,3) 40, 50, 60 & 45, 55, 62.5 60, 70, 80 & 65, 75, 85


  • Zercher Squat 2 x (7,5,3) @ 45, 55, 65 & 55, 65, 75 (2 reps only)
  • Landmine Contralateral RDL in Kickstand Stance 4 x 12 step load @ 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5kg + Bar
  • Swiss Bar Standing Shoulder Press s/s MAG Close Grip Pulldown to Chest 2 x (7,5,3) 30, 35, 40 & 32.5, 37.5, 43.5 (2 reps only) 50, 60, 60 & 55, 65, 75


  • Good Morning 2 x (7,5,3) 40, 45, 50 & 50, 55, 60
  • Step-ups 4 x 12 BW, 4, 8, 12.5
  • One Arm DB Bench 4 x 12 @ 15, 17.5, 20, 20 s/s One Arm DB Row 4 x 12 @ 15, 17.5, 20, 20

Week Two


  • Zercher Squat 4 x 2/2 @ 65,
  • Landmine Contralateral RDL in Kickstand stance 4 x 8 step load @ 15, 20
  • Swiss Bar Standing Shoulder Press @ 40, 42.5 s/s MAG close grip Pulldown to Chest 4 x 2/2 70, 75


  • Deadlift with straight bar 4 x 2/2 90, 100, 105, 110
  • Telemark Squat 4 x 8 25kg
  • Swiss Bar Bench s/s Pendlay Row with straight bar 4 x 2/2 60/80


Utilizing the Prilepin's Chart, I have developed this in relation to loading ideas with variations. When programming unilateral movements, I like to keep to the plan as outlined in the table used previously.

Bilateral Movements Only, Unilateral Refer to Lower Table

% 1RMReps per SetRange per ExerciseOptimal Total RepsExample SessionsTraining Type
60 – 69%3 - 618 - 30244 x 6, 5 x 5, 6 x 4 2 x (7, 5, 3) waveMechanical 1
70 – 79%3 - 612 - 24185 x 3, 3 x 6, 2 x 3/6 contrast loadMechanical 2
80 – 89%2 - 411 - 20154 x 4, 6 x 3 4 x 2/2 clusterNeural 1
90+%1 - 24 – 1074 x 2, 5 x 1, 2 x 2Neural 2

By combining the above ideas with a CARE program, you can cover the entire body and minimize the risk of injury. If you are primarily interested in size and strength, you can add a core movement and loaded carry to each training day and not follow the complete CARE program outlined below.

CARE Program: “Prehab to Eliminate Rehab” – Louie Simmons /2 sets x 8-12 reps

Body Part/DaysTuesdayThursdaySaturday
Groin/HipsLateral Sled WalkCopenhagen PlankLateral Lunge
KneeSingle-Leg Squat to BenchReverse NordicsPoliquin Step-up
HamstringsNordicsForward Sled WalkNatera Landmine
RDL 2:1
CalvesProwler® Push on Balls of FeetSeated Calf RaiseSingle-Leg Calf Raise
NeckIron Neck SeriesBand Look AwayFlexion/Extension
Rotator Cuff/ShouldersCuban PressFace Pull + External RotationTRX Shoulder Press
Upper Back/RhomboidsRhomboid ShrugTurkish RowSeated DB Cleans
Biceps/TricepsDB Hammer Curl
DB Tate Press
DB Twist Curl
DB Rolling Extensions
EZ Bar Curl
French Press
CoreRoll OutsHanging Leg RaiseSwiss Ball DB Sit Up
RotationalCable Wood ChopSledgehammer Tyre HitsRotational Deadlift to Press
Loaded CarryFarmer’s WalkSuitcase/Waiter ComboSandbag Bearhug

If you are more interested in an athlete development program, you can alternate types of training weekly utilizing a monthly undulating plan: 

  • Week 1 – Mechanical 1
  • Week 2 – Neural 1
  • Week 3 – Mechanical 2
  • Week 4 – Neural 2

3 days a week: Athlete (Balanced Training) - Alternate the A & B workouts each week

  • Week 1: Squat, Hinge, UB Push, UB Pull
  • Week 2: Explosive Push, Pull, Squat
  • Week 3: Squat, Hinge, UB Push, UB Pull
  • Week 4: Explosive Push, Pull, Squat

Week 1 and 3 - Mechanical Programming

Work A
Bi-Lateral Squat
UB Push
UB Pull
Loaded Carry
Workout B
Bi-Lateral Hinge
UB Push
UB Pull
Loaded Carry
Workout A
Bi-Lateral Squat
UB Push
UB Pull
Loaded Carry

Week 2 and 4 (Neural Programming)

Workout A
Bi-lateral Explosive Pull (Hip)
O F FWorkout B
Uni-Lateral + Contrast Explosive Pull (Hip)
O F FWorkout A
Bi-Lateral Explosive
Pull (Hip) Push

3 Days-a-week: Athlete (Size & Strength/Metabolic priority)

Week 1 – 4: Squat, Hinge, UB Push, UB Pull

Workout A Bi-Lateral Squat
Uni-lateral Hinge
UB Push UB Pull
Loaded Carry
Workout B
Bi-Lateral Hinge Uni-lateral Squat UB Push
UB Pull
Loaded Carry
Workout A
Bi-Lateral Squat
Uni-lateral Hinge
UB Push UB Pull
Loaded Carry


Exercise Selection Chart

KneeHinge (Hip)Upper Body PushUpper Body PullJumpsLoaded CarryCARE
Squat variations  (B) Front, BackDeadlift or Trap Bar (B)Bench Press (H)Bent-over Row (H)Knees to feetFarmer’s WalkCopenhagen Plank
Sprinter’s Squat (U)Single Leg/Arm RDL (U)Incline Bench Press (H)One Arm DB Row (H)Knees to boxOverhead CarrySingle-Leg Squat to Bench
Step-ups (U)Good Morning (B)Military Press (V)Pulldown to Chest (V)Knees to long jumpSuitcase CarryCuban Press
Box Squat (B)Split Stance RDL (U)Z Press with Bar/DB/KB (V)Wide Grip Upright Row (V)Knees to splitOne arm KB Overhead CarryCalf Raises
Split Squat / Telemark Squat(U)Power Clean/Snatch or Pull (B)One Knee Kneeling Landmine Press (V)Bench Pull (H)Knees to Single LegCombination Overhead + SuitcaseLateral Lunge
Lunge (U)Single-Leg Hip Thrust (U)Floor Press (H)Yates Row (H)Power Clean Off kneesZercher CarryRollouts
Zercher Squat (B)KB Swing (B)Javelin Press (V)Chin/Pull-ups (V)Power Snatch Off KneesProwler® PushNeck Flexion/Extension
Reverse Lunge (U)Single-Leg Clean/Snatch (U)Push Press (V)Shrugs (V)Power Split Clean/Snatch Off kneesSled DragNordics
Skier’s Squat (U)Zercher Lift in Rack (B)DB/KB Seated Shoulder Press (V)  Seated DB Cleans (V)Box JumpsSandbag Bearhug CarryFace Pulls
Overhead Squat (B)Romanian Deadlift (B)DB/KB Bench Press (H)Incline DB Row (H)Box HopsWalking LungePoliquin Step-up

B = Bilateral U = Unilateral H = Horizontal V = Vertical

In my eBook Engineering Physical Performance, I wrote about three training plans based on individual player needs. These three groupings were Mechanical (size and strength), Neural (speed and power), and Metabolic (fitness and strength). This is how I plan a week for each type of athlete.

MechanicalFB Strength or SizeConditioning GamesFB Strength or SizeConditioning GamesFB Size or StrengthCross Country Fartlek RunOFF
NeuralSpeed Power Combo + UB OR French ContrastConditioning GamesFB StrengthConditioning GamesTraditional ContrastCross Country Fartlek RunOFF
MetabolicCircuit + Hinge or Knee UB Push or Pull Loaded CarryConditioning GamesCircuit + Hinge or Knee UB Push or Pull Loaded CarryConditioning GamesCircuit + Hinge or Knee UB Push or Pull Loaded CarryCross Country Fartlek RunOFF

I have discussed the Mechanical programming in detail in the first part of this article. Below are the details around the neural training depending on recovery status, training age, and player preference:

Reviving (Explosive Pull, Push, Squat – Straight Sets)Surviving (Traditional Contrast)Thriving (French Contrast Method) Westsiding (Dynamic Effort Method)
1 x Explosive Pull (Hip/Hinge) 1 x Explosive Push 1 x Explosive Knee (Squat)Explosive Hip + MB or LB Plyo Explosive Knee + MB or LB Plyo Explosive Push + MB or UB Plyo1 x Heavy Compound (80+% 1RM) 1 x Bodyweight Plyometric 1 x Secondary Movement 1 x Assisted Plyometric3 week pendulum wave 50, 55, 60% using bar weight, + chains, + bands, + weight releasers + accessory strength movements

Here is a summary of the content details for each session I would program for training throughout the year. Considering the details for the Mechanical sessions, if a player chooses to do a bilateral knee dominant movement, then they would do a unilateral hip/hinge dominant movement next in the program. Conversely, if they chose a bilateral hip/hinge dominant movement, they would perform a unilateral knee dominant movement in the sequence.

Session Content in a Week Plan across the Year

MetabolicNeuralMechanical FB  Mechanical LBMechanical UBCaptain’ Run/Primer
1 x CircuitReviving1 x Knee dominant Bilateral or Unilateral1 x Knee or Hip dominant1 x Horizontal Push s/s Pull1 x Concentric only power movement
1 x LB (Knee or Hip)Surviving1 x Hip dominant Bilateral or Unilateral1 x Unilateral Hip s/s Unilateral Knee1 x Vertical Push s/s Pull1 x Medicine Ball Throw
1 x UB Push s/s PullThriving1 x UB Push s/s Pull1 x Hamstring specificCARE (5)1 x Jump/LB Plyometric
1 x Loaded CarryWestsidingCARE (5)CARE (5)1 x Sled/Prowler/Sprint
CARE (5)Speed Power ComboDynamic Warm-Up Movements
CARE (5)

Hybrid options combine movements from two or three categories. 

For example:

  • Neuro-Metabolic could be Reviving + Circuit + Loaded Carry + CARE
  • Neuro -Mechanical could be Thriving + UB Push s/s Pull + CARE
  • Mechano-Metabolic could be Mechanical FB + Circuit + Load Carry + CARE

Here are the details in relation to the speed-power combination option that could be programmed for the Neural group. I have also used this as a three-day-a-week program rather than the one-day as suggested in the planning tables.

Speed Power Combos Pre-Season Week Plan

Lateral Speed Agility FocusPower Acceleration FocusMaximal Velocity Focus
F: Ladder patterns/Lateral Running drills
G: Hang Split Power Snatch 8 sets x 3 reps
F: Lateral resisted march/skip/run & release
G: Hang Power Clean 6 sets x 4 reps
F: Agility drills, Pro Agility, as per sheet
G: Lateral Squat/Reverse Lunge into Step up with slosh bag 4 x 6
F: Lateral plyometrics G: Heavy Olympic - Snatch, Clean or Pull + Single Leg super set Hinge movement/Knee movement
F: Hurdle patterns with range of hurdle sizes, hops/jumps
G: 3 position power snatch 8 sets
F: Starts over 10 – 20 metres from a range of different starting positions G: Clean Pulls 6 sets x 4 reps
F: Harness & Release sprints G: Jump Squats 4 x 6
F: Sled Pulls & Prowler Pushes
G: Heavy Squat - Front, Back or Box + Single Leg Hinge movement
F: Sprinters movement pattern warm-ups
G: Med Ball Throws        
F: Plyometrics – Bounding, Hopping
G: Snatch Pulls 6 x 4
F: Flying Sprints
G: Power Step-ups + Plyometrics (Box Jumps)
F: 20m, 40m, 60m straight-line sprints
G: Heavy Deadlift - Trap bar or regular + Single leg quad/knee dominant movement  

There are many circuits to choose from for your metabolic group players. Here is a list from my last wall chart at the Houston Sabercats outlining my preferred options for the players.

Circuit Options

Warm-up: Sledge Hammer Hits, KB Swings, Skipping, Battle Ropes (3x30 secs on each)

1. Otago Circuit (5) 

Row 300m in <1 minute/10 Hindu Pushups/10 x 36kg 2 arm swing with KB/10 x KB Jump Squats/10 x 25kg DB Hang Clean/10kg Med Ball "Around the World" slam to ground 10 each side/Prowler® 4 x 15m shuttle

2. Power Circuit (5 x 5 + 500 metres row after each circuit)

Power Snatch from Hang – Clean + Push Press from Blocks – Band Bench Press – Full Body Twist (Power Tackler) – Band Box Squat

3. Beastly Circuits

(6 sets x 6 reps, then 3 minutes of hard cardio after each circuit)

  • Option 1: Deadlift/Power Clean from Hang/Front Squat/Push Press/Bent Over Row/Romanian Deadlift
  • Option 2: Power Clean from Floor/Split Jerk/Front Squat/Hang Clean/Lunge/Bent Row
  • Option 3: Power Snatch from Floor/Push Press/Back Squat/Hang Clean/Split Jerk/Romanian Deadlift
  • Option 4: 3 position Clean/Push Press/Jump Squat/Hang Snatch/Split Jerk behind Neck/Good Morning
  • Option 5: Power Snatch from Floor/Overhead Squat/Push Jerk Behind Head/Combo Good Morning/Jump Squat/Power Clean from Hang

4a. Bodyweight GPP Circuit

10 reps on each non-stop circuit: Grasshoppers/Hindu Push-ups/Knees to Feet Jumps/Scorpions/Mountain Climbers/Alternate Lunges/Rock & Rolls/Push-ups/Prisoner Jump Squats/Sit-ups

4b. BW Blast

BW Chin-ups x 5 reps/BW Dips x 5 reps/BW Horizontal Row x 10 reps/BW Push-ups x 10 reps

*Continuous for 20 minutes

5. Kettlebell GPP Circuit

  • A1. Alt. KB Cleans
  • A2. Alt KB Press
  • A3. Alt. KB Upright Rows
  • A4. Alt. KB Snatches
  • A5. Alt. KB Floor Press
  • A6. MMA KB Row

*30 seconds on each, rest 90 seconds, and repeat for a total of 6 sets

6. Strongman Circuit

40m Prowler®/20m Tyre Flip/40m Farmer's Walk/20m Bear Crawl/40m Cross Carry or Zercher

7. The Warren Metabolic Blast

  • 30 seconds Prowler® (loaded carry of any type)/30 seconds REST
  • 30 Seconds Assault Bike or Rower or Ski Erg/30 seconds REST
  • 20 seconds of each, then 10 seconds of each, then 20 seconds of each, then 30 seconds of each, then rest 90 seconds, 4 times through

8. Tumminello Weight Plate 8's

  • Overhead Squat
  • Swings
  • Bent-over Row
  • Reverse Lunge & Twist
  • Shoulder Press
  • Diagonal Chops
  • Overhead Walk

9. Medley Conditioning (6) 

30 seconds Prowler® Push/15 seconds rest/30 seconds Sledgehammer hits/15-second rest/30-second Kettlebell Swings/15 seconds rest/30 seconds Tyre Flips/15 seconds rest/30-second Battling Ropes/15 seconds rest/30 seconds Push-up + Burpee/15 seconds rest/Bear Crawl/15 seconds rest 

10. Pull – Push – Squat EMOM (Thibadeau)

  • Minute 1: 4 Squats @ 75%
  • Minute 2: 4 Bench Press @ 75%
  • Minute 3: 4 Deadlifts @ 75%

*Repeat for 4-8 circuits. Use any combination of movements you wish.

11. Poliquin Lactate Circuit x 3

  • 12 Squats @ 12RM/60-second REST, 12 Chins @ 12RM, 60 seconds REST,
  • 12 Deadlifts @ 12RM, 60 seconds REST, 12 Dips @ 12RM

12. Strength as a Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Circuit

  • Squat Option
  • Hinge Option
  • Upper Body Push Option
  • Upper Body Pull Option
  • Loaded Carry Option

*Work across the list. Feel free to mix and match. Sets and reps can vary depending on training age and goal.

SquatHingeUB PushUB PullCarry
Box SquatDeadliftBench PressBench RowWaiter
Back SquatTrap BarIncline BenchPulldownSuitcase
Safety BarRDLHammer PressChin-upsFarmer’s
Cambered BarHip ThrustMilitary PressPendlay RowZercher
BulgarianGood MorningFloor PressYates RowKB Rack

12: Kettle T-Rex Circuit

  • Kettlebell Single Arm Circuit, 8 reps on each movement, do all sets on one side before switching to opposite side, 4 complete circuits on each side
  • Hang Power Snatch/Push Press/Over Head Squat/Hang Clean/Swing/Contralateral Single Leg RDL/Waiter's Walk (20metres)

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Ashley Jones has worked in three professional sports across 30 years and four continents. He was awarded the NSCA's Professional Coach of the Year in 2016. Ashley holds his CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) since 1988 and is an honorary lecturer in the School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA.

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