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    Post 4 Iterations of Towerbrah's Generalized Beginner Program - Strength and Hypertrophy

    Novice programs are generally very simple, but pretty easy to mess up. I'm not going to pretend like this is some new revelation in fitness, because it's not. That said, I'm not necessarily a fan of most bare bones programs. There's too little to account for joint health, and you'd be a fool to neglect hypertrophy and isolation movements. Most beginner programs I've found out there don't address this, and often have trainees developing muscular imbalances due to pattern overload. With the programs below, progression and exercise selection are balanced in such a way that the lifter ends up walking a fine line. Exercises should not be substituted, and progression is already on a more aggressive end, allowing the lifter to add quite a bit of weight from day to day in the beginning, and week to week as the program progresses. I hope this post proves to be informative and helpful.

    Foreword:
    Φ This is, more than anything, a guide to help navigate the muddy waters of the fitness industry, fad programs, and the underbelly of Shanghai when you find yourself on the run from the Shen Long Mafia. I've made many mistakes in my time as a lifter. Some led to quitting for months at a time. Some led to me finding myself swimming through Atlantis with nothing but two pence less than four shillings to my name. Others, however unfortunate, led to chronic pain. All of the information contained herein is information I wish somebody had told me when I began lifting. Remember: there is no shortcut. The only way to get stronger is to put in the time and effort. The most important thing I would like to impress upon you is to be patient. Gains will come to those who are patient. Injury or failure will come to those who are not.

    Common reaction: "I AM SO OVERWHELMED AND NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE AT ALL"
    Φ The most important thing to do is choose a program and check out the form videos. Don't let all of this information bog you down. Everything past Section II is information complementary to the programs and should be utilized when necessary. That said, the prehabilitation routines come highly recommended and have helped me greatly. I've gone from being unable to walk without tremendous pain in my hips due to impingement, to being able to squat over 400 lbs for reps completely free of pain.

    Click on the title of a section to jump to that post
    I. Training Programs
    ▌ Progression
    ▌ Base Alpha:
    ▌ § Thoughts
    ▌ Iteration X:
    ▌ § Thoughts
    ▌ Iteration Y:
    ▌ § Thoughts
    ▌ Iteration Z:
    ▌ § Thoughts
    II. Form
    ▌ Instructional Videos
    ▌ § Squat
    ▌ § Bench Press
    ▌ § Deadlift
    ▌ § Barbell Row
    ▌ Warming Up
    ▌ § Upper Body
    ▌ § Lower Body
    ▌ Shoes
    ▌ Mental & Verbal Cues
    ▌ Why did I just realize I'm on a space ship in the middle of the vast, empty void we call life?
    III. Prehabilitation Techniques - Why and How?
    Why? How?
    Hips
    Shoulders
    IV. Nutrition
    ▌ What should I eat while running this program?
    ▌ § Strategies I Have Used With Myself & Others
    ▌ I can't gain weight. What should I do?
    ▌ I can't lose weight. What should I do?
    V. Lessons From the Gym: Movements to Avoid as a Novice
    VI. F.A.Q.
    ▌ The Next Step
    VII. Closing Thoughts, Words, Further Resources and Acknowledgements
    Last edited by Turtora; 03-19-2015 at 07:15 PM.
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    I. Training Programs

    What program should I choose?
    When choosing which program to run, I generally just have the people I'm training pick whichever looks most interesting to them. If they don't have a default preference or are unsure, I stick with Base Alpha and then progress to Iteration X, given simplicity and the consistent success. I have found that the less complicated a program is, the higher the likelihood the person or friend that I'm training will desire returning to the gym. It's easy to get overwhelmed with information from the start.

    Always consult your physician before beginning any new workout regimen

    For each of the programs listed, warmups are required:
    Φ Warm up to your working sets of 3 x 5 (or 1x5 on deads).
    Φ E.g. – for Squats:
    o Bar x 10
    o 95 x 5
    o 135 x 5
    o 155 x 3
    o 185 x 3 x 5
    Φ Consult the F.A.Q. to figure out how to determine your starting weight for the program. We don’t miss reps. It’s very important to hit each rep during workouts A & B. If you miss a rep, shut the set down, move onto the next movement, and reset by 5-10 lbs for next session on the failed movement.

    In all cases, workouts A and B alternate on nonconsecutive days of the week. See the attached .pdf files for more information.

    For each of the programs listed, weights should generally progress as such:

    For healthy males eating in a state of caloric excess:
    In the first 2-4 weeks on Base Alpha:
    Φ Add 5-10 lbs to squat per day
    Φ Add 5-10 lbs to deadlift per day
    Φ Add 5 lbs to upper body movements per day
    After the first month progressing to Iteration X, Y, or Z:
    Φ Add 10-20 lbs on squat and deadlift per week (stick with 10 lbs if you’re age 35+, unsure, or lifting without a coach).
    Φ Add 5-10 lbs on bench press, barbell rows, incline bench press and/or overhead press per week (stick with 5 lbs if you’re age 35+, unsure, or lifting without a coach).
    Φ I do not care what weight you use on accessory work provided there is an emphasis placed on mind-muscle connection, but the general trend should be adding more weight over time.

    For healthy females eating in a state of caloric excess:
    In the first 2-4 weeks on Base Alpha:
    Φ Add 5-10 lbs to squat per day
    Φ Add 5-10 lbs to deadlift per day
    Φ Add 5 lbs to upper body movements per week
    After the first month progressing to Iteration X, Y, or Z:
    Φ Add 10-20 lbs on squat and deadlift per week (stick with 10 lbs if you’re age 35+, unsure, or are lifting without a coach).
    Φ Add 5 lbs on bench press, barbell rows, incline bench press and/or overhead press per two weeks
    Φ I do not care what weight you use on accessory work provided there is an emphasis placed on mind-muscle connection, but the general trend should be adding more weight over time.

    § Base Alpha:
    ╚ This template is ideal for the first 2-4 weeks of a rank novice's training. In my experience, true beginners progress and recover at such a fast rate that they can train deadlift at high frequency without much risk. My brother added 55 lbs to his squat in the first two weeks on this program. Srs.
    ╚ I would not ride this template for more than the first 4 weeks unless it seems there's no end in sight for progress. Even then, be very wary of continuing past the 4 week mark. Typically, you will transition to one of the iterations below after the 4 week mark.
    Workout A:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlifts 1 X 5
    4. Seated Cable Rows 4 X 12
    5. Hanging Leg Raises 4 X 15

    Workout B:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Incline Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlifts 1 X 5
    4. Accessory Work Superset
    Φ Alternating Bicep Curls 3 X 10
    Φ Facepulls 3 X 20
    5. Standing Calf Raises 4 X 12

    ╚ Sample Week Would Look Like:
    Day 1: WORKOUT A OR B
    Day 2: Rest
    Day 3: WORKOUT B OR A
    Day 4: Rest
    Day 5: WORKOUT A OR B
    Day 6: Rest
    Day 7: Rest



    § Iteration W:
    ╚ This is the barebones template. I don't often advise this unless the lifter has very little time in the gym.
    ╚ Utilizing the prehabilitation routines for shoulders and hips is a MUST with this program. Check Section III.
    Workout A:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Barbell Rows 3 X 5

    Workout B:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Incline Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlifts 1 X 5



    § Iteration X:
    ╚ This is the basic template. It's quick, it's effective, and, with a bit of practice and thrust of the hips, allows one to gain control over space and time. With great power comes great responsibility.
    ╚ I generally try not to sway too much from this. It has a solid base that addresses many neglected aspects within training.
    Workout A:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Barbell Rows 3 X 5
    4. Hamstring Curls 4 X 8
    5. Hanging Leg Raises 4 X 15

    Workout B:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Incline Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlifts 1 X 5
    4. Accessory Work Superset
    Φ Alternating Bicep Curls 3 X 10
    Φ Facepulls 3 X 20
    5. Standing Calf Raises 4 X 12



    § Iteration Y:
    ╚ This is ideal for somebody who only has access to a power rack and dumbbells (i.e. - home gym). Reports of unicorns nesting in lifter's back yard have been noted with use of this program. Proceed at your own risk.
    Workout A:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Barbell Rows 3 X 5
    4. Romanian Deadlifts 4 X 8
    5. Planks 3x30s

    Workout B:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Overhead Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlifts 1 X 5
    4. Accessory Work Circuit
    Φ Alternating Dumbbell Bicep Curls 3 X 10
    Φ Rear Delt Dumbbell Flies 3 x 15
    Φ Dumbbell Shrugs 3 X 12
    5. Calf Raises on a Step 3 x 30



    § Iteration Z:
    ╚ This is a program written for somebody who doesn't have a whole lot of time in the gym in a given session, but is able to attend with higher frequency. Workout C is an integral part of the routine, and should not be skipped unless bad things are happening like dead people and stuff. Reports of people finding themselves randomly within the 4th dimension have occured when beginning this program. Use with caution.
    ╚ Workouts A and B alternated on nonconsecutive days of the week.
    Workout A:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Deadlift 1 x 5
    4. Hamstring Curls 3 x 15

    Workout B:

    1. Squat 3 X 5
    2. Incline Bench Press 3 X 5
    3. Barbell Rows 3 x 5

    Workout C: Shoulders/Biceps

    1. Incline Shrugs - 4 x 10
    2. Facepulls - 4 x 20
    3. Seated Incline DB Curl – 3 x 8
    4. Alternating Standing Bicep Curl – 3 x 10
    5. Standing Dumbbell Flies (like you’re dumping water out of a bottle at the top) – 3 x 12
    6. Seated Machine Rear Delt Flies – 3 x 15

    ╚ Sample Week Would Look Like:
    Day 1: WORKOUT A OR B
    Day 2: Rest
    Day 3: WORKOUT B OR A
    Day 4: Rest
    Day 5: WORKOUT A OR B
    Day 6: WORKOUT C
    Day 7: Rest
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Turtora; 03-19-2015 at 12:05 PM.
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    Form

    II. Form

    II. Form
    Instructional Videos
    ▌ § Squat
    ▌ § Bench Press
    ▌ § Deadlift
    ▌ § Barbell Row
    Warming Up
    ▌ § Upper Body
    ▌ § Lower Body
    Mental & Verbal Cues
    Why did I just realize I'm on a space ship in the middle of the vast, empty void we call life?

    Φ Note - With the verbal/mental cues, when I coach somebody I try to only introduce one cue per movement per week. So if you train by yourself, I would take one cue per lift to the gym each week and focus on drilling that into your motor patterns. I've found that if I expose a lifter to too many cues at once, he or she may not take away any of them at all.

    Squat:



    Mental & Verbal Cues:
    - Pull your sternum to your pelvis to engage your core, but keep spine neutral at the same time
    - Knees out
    - Think about ripping up the floor and twisting your feet out to cue glute activation and help keep knees out
    - Push through the heels
    - Do not squat into spinal flexion (rounded lower back). This is the main cause of back pain in loaded movements.
    - Deep breath before the movement, and hold until the rep is finished
    - Think about breaking the bar across your back to keep upper body tight

    Bench Press:



    Mental & Verbal Cues:
    - Squeeze your shoulder blades together
    - Chest up to put the shoulders in a better pressing position
    - Flare the lats
    - Grip the bar as hard as you can
    - Deep breath before the movement, and hold until the rep is finished

    Deadlift:



    Mental & Verbal Cues:
    - Big breath before you lift
    - Think "push through the legs", not "pull with your back"
    - Bend the bar around your shins
    - Pull your scapula (shoulderblade) down into your back pocket to cue engagement of lats

    Barbell Rows:



    Lower Body Warmup:



    Upper Body Warmup:



    Stabilization Techniques to Prevent Injury in Movements With Spinal Loading:





    Addressing the Dreaded Buttwink:



    Shoes:

    Φ Shoes are an important part of squats and deadlifts. Your shoe is where you press through and exert force. Your pressing platform should be stable and secure. If you're pressing through cross trainers with a squishy sole, you're going to be adding an element of balance and uncertainty to the movement. This is the last thing we want when executing a heavily loaded motor pattern.
    Φ For squats, I am a fan of a converse all-star style shoe, or an olympic weightlifting shoe. Olympic weightlifting shoes have a wedged heel that alter the biomechanics of the squat and generally allow one to achieve a squat to parallel. These shoes were literally built for squatting. Converse's shoes provide a thin layer of contact between the floor and your foot. These are also great for deadlifting. That said, if you have exceptionally wide feet, I would recommend the Reebok Crossfit Lite TR. It's a shoe very similar to the Converse All Star, but offers greater room in the toe area.
    Φ For deadlifts, I am a fan of wresting shoes, indoor soccer shoes, deadlift slippers, converse, or the Reebok Crossfit Lite TR.

    Why did I just realize I'm on a space ship in the middle of the vast, empty void we call life?

    That's actually a really good question.
    Last edited by Turtora; 03-19-2015 at 08:13 PM.
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    III. Prehabilitation Techniques - Why and How?

    If you are injured, you need to see a doctor. Do not try to self-diagnose. There is no substitute for in-person medical evaluation by a qualified physician. This post is for methods to keep yourself injury-free.

    III. Prehabilitation Techniques - Why and How?
    Why? How?
    Hips
    ▌ § Towerbrah's Hip Circuit Routine
    Shoulders
    ▌ § Towerbrah's Shoulder Routine

    Why? How?
    Φ The problem with weightlifting is that it is not normal. Surprise, surprise. Picking things up and putting them back down actually puts quite a bit of stress and strain on your muscles, joints, and bones! Not to mention we often step into the iron game with a host of postural deficiencies, muscular imbalances, and other good stuff. To counteract this, I like to engage in a simple daily routine that takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. It's reasonably easy to follow, and you can perform this in your home right before you go to bed. I have found that as long as I get the work in, I am pain free and can lift safely and effectively.

    It is of my humble opinion that if you have the time to lift, you have the time to engage in prehab work.

    Check out this post for more information on hips:
    Prehabilitation Broscience 101: Hips

    Check out these posts for more information on shoulders:
    Prehabilitation Broscience 101: Shoulders
    Prehabilitation Broscience 202: Shoulders - 5 Exercises to Consider Replacing

    Hips:

    Towerbrah’s Hip Circuit Routine - to be performed 2-3 times
    Φ Circuits A and B alternate on nonconsecutive days of the week
    Φ Perform each circuit 2-3 times, 10-15 reps for each movement
    Φ Approximate runtime: 5-10 minutes



    Circuit A:

    0:06 Adductor Contractions
    0:36 Side Lying Leg Raises
    1:01 Side Lying Clams
    1:34 Glute Bridges
    2:08 Leg Raises
    2:46 Tactical Frog
    Φ 30s flossing the muscle fibers (find where you're tight, and attempt to release those tight areas)
    Φ 3 each leg

    3:47 Circuit B

    3:54 Adductor Contractions
    4:14 Band Walk Circuit
    5:09 Planks
    5:41 Tactical Frog
    Φ 30s flossing the muscle fibers (find where you're tight, and attempt to release those tight areas)
    Φ 3 each leg

    Acceptable movements to add at your liesure:
    Φ Foam rolling IT Band
    Φ Foam rolling adductors
    Φ Bulgarian Split Squats (opens up the hip flexors)
    Φ Hip Airplane
    Φ Bird Dogs
    Φ LAX ball the tensor fasciae latae

    Shoulders:

    Towerbrah's Shoulder Circuit - to be performed 2-3 times
    Φ Perform Circuit A each day you work out
    Φ Approximate runtime: 5-10 minutes

    Circuit A:
    1. 20 Band Pull Aparts
    2. 10 Band Overhead Presses
    3. Spiderman Wall Walk w/ Band - Up & Down
    4. 10 passes on lat/arm pit foam roll to hit teres minor & major
    5. LAX Ball the traps (10 passes) (not part of the circuit)
    6. Thoracic Extensions (working ONLY ON THE THORACIC SPINE) (not part of the circuit)

    Bands can be purchased through EliteFTS. You're looking for the pro mini bands (specifically the long red, and short red).

    Alternatively, this is a great routine for shoulders, but it requires a bit more planning and access to the gym (however, I would skip the posterior capsule stretch. it can put a good deal of stress on the supraspinatus, which I am not a fan of doing unless we are 100% positive that the individual is in ship shape):
    Diesel Crew Shoulder Rehab Protocol

    Why isn't there anything for my knees and elbows?
    Φ Problems that arise within weightlifting are serious, and need to be addressed immediately (unless you're the kind of person that finds the idea of being unable to walk/ride a bicycle/throw a ball/pick things up appealing). Knees and elbows will be protected through proper form, as well as strengthening what's further up the chain (hips, shoulders). Lots of injuries that occur within the knees and elbows are related to overuse, and require medical attention. If they're not overuse injuries, it's stuff like snapping ACLs, MCLs, PCLs, menisci, etc. Medical advice is something one should never seek over the internet. Do not attempt to diagnose your own problems. They may be worse than you had foreseen, and you could wind up causing more damage if you try to push through things because you think you know what's up. Pain is your body's way of speaking to you. Learn your body. Don't push it past its limits, or you may end up getting pushed around in a wheel chair for the rest of your life.

    Further resources:

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    IV. Nutrition

    IV. Nutrition
    ▌ §What should I eat while running this program?
    ▌ §I can't gain weight. What should I do?
    ▌ §I can't lose weight. What should I do?

    Φ Note - This is a rather cursory look at nutrition. Diet and food choices play a huge role in how your body will look, how your body will perform, and how you will feel on a day to day basis. I am not a nutritionist or dietitian, and as such refer out to the experts in most cases. That said, I feel that I've done quite well for myself in terms of weight gain, and have done my best to outline my strategy below.

    What should I eat while running this program?
    Φ This would be dictated by your bodytype and metabolism. I would advise somewhere between 2000 and 3500 calories per day for most healthy individuals based on their goals. Personally, I require 6000 calories to maintain my bodyweight, and 7000+ to gain weight. This is not common, but it just goes to show you that everyone has their own thresholds.

    This is the [fairly basic] strategy I take when approaching diet with somebody who is new:
    Φ Count calories for the first two weeks and track macros. Find some resource that tells you your desired caloric intake for your goals (I like www.swole.me) and base your daily intake off of this. I've heard good things about MyFitnessPal as well.
    Φ Track weight for the first two-ish weeks.
    Φ At the end of the first week, take a look at your log and figure out where you were at your lowest, and where you were at your highest. Analyze whether or not you were in a state of excess or deficit by noting if you gained weight week to week, or lost weight week to week.
    Φ If you lost weight and your goal is to gain weight, add 200 calories to your diet.
    Φ If you gained weight and your goal was to recomp weight, decrease calories by 200.
    Φ Repeat the process until you find a level that allows you to gain or maintain at a comfortable rate.
    Φ Once a rhythm is found, I've found that it isn't necessary to track macros/calories until weight stalls.
    Φ Do not gun the throttle too early. If you starve yourself, you will plateau. You will develop hormonal imbalances. You will recomp weight faster than you can imagine, and you will fail to achieve your goals. Remember: this is not a race. Do it for yourself, and don't give up. If you're patient and put the time in, you will see amazing results.

    What about cutting?
    Φ Given the high CNS demands required by this routine, I would not advise cutting as progress will be slowed and this is a program based around overall strength and hypertrophy (growth). It is more difficult to stimulate growth in a caloric deficit than caloric excess. That said, if you decide to cut weight, make sure to slow progression down to a reasonable pace (i.e. - half as much weight per week as you would normally progress with).

    I can't gain weight. What should I do?
    Φ Read this: 5 Tips to Gain Weight - Brandon Lilly
    Φ Past that, I would recommend to, as they say, "eat until you sweat". LOL.

    I can't lose weight. What should I do?
    Φ There are plenty of resources for recipes on this website. I suggest you use them. Check this out: Calculating Calories and Macronutrients
    Φ Past that, I would highly advise counting calories and being more strict than you normally would. What you're doing isn't working, so something needs to change. Diet is huge, and it can make or break your goals.
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    V. Lessons From the Gym: Movements and Philosophies to Avoid as a Novice

    ▌V. Lessons From the Gym: Movements and Philosophies to Avoid as a Novice

    There's a lot of information out there. A lot. I'm probably just adding to the background noise of stuff getting put out, but i do hope that is not the case. That said, I've learned quite a bit in my short time as a lifter. Specifically, what not to do. Below is a list of movements, programs, and other things that I would recommend avoiding as a novice/beginner lifter.

    1. Crossfit
    Φ Let's be honest. Crossfit already gets a bit of a bad rap among the community on this forum. People saying Crossfit can destroy your rotator cuff. Crossfit can you kill your spine. Crossfit can make your dick fly off. That said, I don't think it's horrible. The problem with Crossfit and beginners is that it has a high entry point for mobility, athletic background, and olympic weightlifting experience. Most beginners do not possess the mobility required to perform a squat to depth, so how are you going to expect them to perform a clean? Or anything past that? Crossfit is popular within mainstream fitness; there's no denying this fact. Unfortunately, Crossfit is not for everyone, and most people who step into that realm of fitness do not realize until it is too late. If you're looking to get into Crossfit, I suggest you build a foundation of strength first. Working through the prehabilitation programs is a must.

    2. Olympic Lift Variations
    Φ These lifts are incredibly technical. I have the utmost respect for olympic weightlifters, but getting into olympic weightlifting as a novice is a terrible idea provided you do not have access to a highly experienced coach. You can say "elbows up" on the clean all you want; a novice is still not going to know how to catch it in a safely racked position without a whole lot of practice. Furthermore, Stuart McGill (legendary spine doctor) has stated numerous times that he's had to deal with countless individuals in various high school and college sports programs who have injured and damaged discs performing these movements. Their bodies are, biomechanically, unable to perform these movements safely and effectively, leading to injury. The fastest way to get sidelined and bring your progress to a dead stop is through injury.

    3. Upright Rows
    Φ Awful, awful movement. These set you up for shredded bicep and rotator cuff tendons. Facepulls are a much safer alternative.

    4. Dips
    Φ A great tool, yes, but to be used sparingly, if at all. Most novices do not have the rotator cuff strength and stability to perform this safely.

    5. Chest Flies
    Φ Another great tool, but doing chest flies with a beginner is like putting a laser sight scope on a stick; it's not going to add much. Improve the stick (gain experience, muscle mass, and strength), and then the scope becomes useful. A solid baseline for adding flies into a lifter's program is a 1.25x bodyweight bench press.

    6. Dumbbell Chest Flies
    Φ I wouldn't recommend these to anyone. The long moment arm required to execute the movement is awful for the shoulders.

    Read more about movements that might be poor for your shoulders here:
    Prehabilitation Broscience 202: Shoulders - 5 Exercises to Consider Replacing
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    VI. F.A.Q.

    ▌VI. F.A.Q.

    What weight should I start with?
    Φ This is a very good question, which is why it's front and center. The first workout requires a tiny bit of autoregulation. On the first day running Base Alpha, work up to a set of 7 reps where you're 100% positive you could not have gotten an 8th rep doing your best to maintain proper form, and rep 9 would have definitely had breakdown in form. After that, complete 3 sets with 5 reps. Below is an example of said process:

    Squat Progression Day 1
    ▌Bar x 7
    ▌85 x 7 (very easy, probably could have gotten 10 reps. we'll add another 10 to each side.)
    ▌105 x 7 (felt pretty tough, but we might have been able to get 10 again. we'll add 5 to each side)
    ▌115 x 7 (could have gotten an 8th rep with good form, but definitely not a 9th. no point in adding more weight. this is our bench mark. we'll do three more sets of 5 and move onto the next lift.)
    ▌115 x 3 x 5

    ▌as such, Day 2 of Base Alpha would look like this:

    Squat Progression Day 2
    ▌Bar x 5
    ▌95 x 5
    ▌115 x 5
    ▌125 x 3 x 5

    5-10 lbs is a wide range to add per day. How will I know the amount I should add to the bar each workout on Base Alpha?
    Φ This is a tough one. The original routine had trainees adding 10 lbs per week, but some were progressing MUCH faster. I had one trainee add 55 lbs onto his squat in the first two weeks. Had I not been there to guide and push him a little bit more each workout, his progress clearly would have been slowed by a substantial amount. As such, the range of 15-30 lbs per week (5-10 lbs per day) takes this into account and allows trainees to push themselves if they feel the weight is just too easy that day. However, I caution you to be conservative. Our goal is to build strength. Strength is physical, but it is also mental. If we go in each workout and miss a rep on each set, we're going to come back and anticipate that we're going to continue missing reps. Then one thing leads to another and we've got reps falling out of our eyeballs. It's a slippery slope, my friends.

    My [insert bodypart here] hurts a little when I perform [insert movement here], but I don't think it's anything serious. What should I do?
    Φ See a doctor.

    I really want to lose weight and get shredded. Is this routine for me?
    Φ If you're checking this out as a beginner and your goals are to lose weight, I would advise building a foundation of strength before beginning a long, drawn out cut. That said, you can make progress on this routine while cutting, it will just be slower and it's not something I would advise unless you're exceptionally overweight. At that point, it's just important to be getting to the gym every day and doing something you enjoy. Cardio + the prehabilitation routines would not be a bad idea. Exercise specificity can be emphasized at a later date. However, you can certainly perform a body recomposition on this routine (maintain weight, but build muscle while losing fat). Just make sure to stay within your caloric intake requirements.

    I can't squat to parallel maintaining a neutral spine! What should I do??
    Φ This is a common mobility issue, and generally stems from 1 (or more) of 3 things:
    - weak abductors
    - tight hamstrings
    - poor form
    Φ If you are experiencing an inability to squat to depth, I would invite you to check out the verbal/mental cues in the Form section of this thread + the spinal stabilization videos by Chris Duffin, as well as the Prehabilitation section focused on the hips.

    Your title has the word "Generalized" in it, and that's a turn off for me. Do you have a catchier, more trendy title that shows you're in step with today's times?
    Φ How does "4 SIMPLE WORKOUTS TO PACK ON 80 LBS OF MASS IN JUST TWO DAYS" sound?

    Can you explain to me why your program is structured the way it is, and what each movement is there for?
    Φ There's quite a bit that went into it, but I'll try to give a cursory glance at the thought process behind designing a program for a novice.
    Φ I take the stance that it is unwise to leave any given muscle group untrained. There's a delicate balance that goes on within the body. Train one muscle group too much, and the opposing muscles can become inhibited. This often leads to postural imbalances as well as overuse injury (read: tendinitis, tendinosis, impingement, bursitis, etc).
    Φ It is generally assumed that any given weight training routine will have anywhere from 1.25x to 2x more pulling volume than pressing volume (this isn't always the case, but it is about 99.99% when designing programs for beginners). The range will vary based on the lifter and their posture. This is, more or less, so that the external rotators and scapular retractors receive more attention than the internal rotators. If you've ever walked into a gym, you've probably noticed some people have hunched posture, or shoulders that rotate internally. This postural imbalance often leads to the injuries noted above. As such, rows are a staple within the program, and there are specific movements to address rear delts and the scapular retractors.
    Φ The body is able to recover quite rapidly as a beginner and similarly as an intermediate, which is why many programs have lifters squatting 3-4 times a week. Front squat is not included in the main template given that I wanted the lifter to have as much time as possible to drill form. The squat is a very technical lift, and often takes quite a bit of exposure to perform at a high level.
    Φ I am of the opinion that the best accessory movement for the deadlift is the squat. As such, I do not see much reason for high frequency or high volume deadlifts past the first 2-4 weeks of training when proper form is grooved. I consider myself a deadlifter, and have seen the most progress in my deadlift when my squat was getting the most attention. Everyone's anatomy is different however, so there will likely be small variations in comparable leverages and motor patterns, but when looking at the average, I have found that as squat goes up, so does the deadlift.
    Φ Bicep curls are important, not just for a balanced physique, but also because there's that same delicate agonist/antagonist relationship within the elbow that we talked about earlier for the shoulder. If the triceps become overactive, I've found that my elbows start to make crunching sounds. Crunching is generally bad. Throw in the bicep work and everything's gravy.
    Φ Why hamstring curls? Most trainees have tight, underactive hamstrings coupled with tight, overactive hip flexors. We need to loosen those up and help pull the pelvis down from the back end and reduce that accentuated lordosis that's so common from living a desk-jockey lifestyle. Even then, hamstrings are a very important muscle group and deserve individual attention. They're part of the deadlift, squat and even bench when we consider leg drive. If you're not training your hamstrings, they're liable to cramp up during a set of bench.

    Movement Substitutions

    Can I substitute in other exercises?
    Φ Ideally, no. The workouts are structured in a way that all of your muscles should be addressed, and tinkering with it will throw off the balance. That said, below are some acceptable substitutions and additions.

    Why isn't there Overhead Press in your workouts?
    Φ You can totally roll with OHP, just sub out incline. I don't like it in my novice templates as most beginners I've trained have pretty awful posture. You can read more about why this is bad in Prehabilitation Broscience 101 and 202.

    Why aren't there pullups or lat pull downs in the routine?
    Φ In my experience, a) novices cannot do pull ups and b) lat pull downs put one at a higher risk for shoulder impingement. That said, vertical pulling movements certainly have their place. If you'd like to incorporate them into your workout routine, add in 3 sets of 8 at the end of Day A for Base Alpha and Iteration X, Y. Add in 3 sets of 8 at the end of Day B for Iteration W and Z.

    What about Romanian Deadlifts over Hamstring Curls?
    Φ This is a fine substitution. Sub in Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 8 at 50-60% of your Deadlift x5 sets. E.g. - Say I deadlift 225 x 5. I would do my RDLs with about 115 to 135 x 4 x 8.

    The Next Step

    I've stalled and had to reset X number of times. What should I do?
    Φ Provided you are being honest with your nutrition and you are legitimately in a caloric excess, it's time to deload. You can read more about this oft overlooked tool in VoxExMachina's fantastic post regarding just this specific topic.

    Here's how I would typically take a deload:

    Deload week:
    Φ All x5 movements drop to 60% of current load
    Φ Accessory weights stay the same
    Week after deload:
    Φ Restart your cycle with 90-95% of where you left off

    I've been on [insert iteration here] for [insert length of time here] and deloaded [insert number of times here]. I don't think I can make anymore progress on your routines. I think it's time to spread my wings and check out an intermediate program. What would you recommend?
    Φ Congratulations! The time has come. Where you choose to go all depends on your goals.
    Φ When it comes to anything powerlifting and strength training related, I'm a huge fan of Mike Tuchscherer's Reactive Training Systems. It's one of the best systems out there. It's based around RPE, or "Rate of Perceived Exertion". This is a method of autoregulation designed to quantify how difficult a set was, and then regulate volume based around percentages of a top set for the day. You can learn more about the program here: RTS Generalized Intermediate Program
    Φ That said, RPE training is not for everyone. Some may find Jonnie Candito's 6-week cycle more appealing. Others might want to switch to a routine such as the Texas Method.
    Φ When it comes to building size, I would recommend either a 5-day bro split (chest/calves, back, legs, arms, shoulders), or a 6-day PPL (push/pull/legs) routine. This is a strength and hypertrophy program, so I won't sully its pages with programs full of isolation movements. You'll have to pm or ask in the thread below and I'll be able to link you a good one.
    Last edited by Turtora; 03-20-2015 at 01:18 PM.
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    ▌VII. Closing Thoughts, Words, Further Resources and Acknowledgements

    When I started lifting, I was 20 years old. I was just getting back into real life (something we won't talk about here). I weighed 165 lbs at a height of 6'9". I was emaciated to say the least. My workout consisted of:

    Φ Bench Press
    Φ Standing Bicep Curls (in front of the mirror)
    Φ Leg Press
    Φ 1 Legged Leg Press in the Smith Machine
    Φ Skull Crushers
    Φ Tricep Pushdowns
    Φ Cable Crunches
    Φ 7 minutes on the treadmill

    I ran this routine 7-9 times a week. How, you ask? I would go twice a day at times. I was obsessed with making progress. I wish I were joking when I say I was doing 1 Legged Smith Machine Leg Press... at least I can say I wasn't doing bosu ball squats, right? ... right? I was full of myself. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the world. I tried writing my own programs. I tried writing my own diet. As you can see, it was nothing short of idiotic. But I wasn't okay with admitting that I was fallible. I wanted something I could call my own. I wanted a program that I could write and be proud of and ride off into the sunset blazing a trail of gains in my wake.

    Unfortunately, I had my head so far up my ass that I was viewing the world through an entirely different reality. I made every mistake in the book. It wasn't because I was ignorant; I was reading nearly everything I could get my hands on. I was reading articles on every single website, watching videos, and taking notes like it was my job. But I was still skinny... why? I was one of those "internet experts" you'd hear the real experts talk about. I was all talk but had nothing to show for myself. After a year of weight training, I was still skinny. After a year of using well-proven, highly effective mind-muscle confusion methods, I was still skinny. Still underweight. Emaciated is putting it lightly.

    I encountered what was called "information overload", and I'm sure you have too at some point. I was taking in so much information that I couldn't process it all. And even then, all of the good information was getting lost in the background noise. I couldn't sort the good from the bad. I couldn't possibly begin to incorporate the max effort kettlebell swings, pistol squats, plyometrics, speed deadlifts, and box squats into a bleeding conglomeration that had some vague semblance of a "workout program". I was majoring in the minors. I was doing everything I could to fill my brain with knowledge and construct the most elaborate training protocol this side of the galaxy, but I couldn't take a step back and see that what I really needed, as a beginner, was simplicity and consistency. This revelation came when I began Mike Tuchscherer's RTS Generalized Intermediate Program. I made more progress in two months than I had in the entire previous year. It was incredible.

    You see, it was this incredible concept of simplicity that I was missing. I was so deep into West-Side-Mandarin-Conjugate-Olympic-High-Squat-Style-VMO-Targeting training that I couldn't give it up and accept the fact that I didn't know anything. I was ignorant with a wealth of information at my hands. I was incorporating way too much mind-muscle confusion in the programs that I was writing that my body wasn't actually adapting. It was shutting down and I was pissing away my hours in the gym. This was the cornerstone of the programs that were written for this guide. They had to address all aspects of a proper training program without introducing mind-muscle confusion. They had to keep the lifter safe, and address proper rehabilitation and prehabilitation principles, while still allowing one to put emphasis on the basic compound movements and progress in strength without taking 2 hours in the gym.

    I know some of you will take the stance that I did and think you know everything about the world, but I hope you'll read this and maybe reconsider. You cannot write your own programs as a beginner. It will not work. This I can guarantee. I have a laundry list of injuries just from my first year of weightlifting alone. Sure, you can call me a moron and say I didn't know what I was doing and that you're not as dumb as I am, which is something I would have said when I first embarked on this journey. But I caution you to at least consider the possibility that there might be a better program out there for you. If it's not mine, it's somebody else's, but I would like to submit to you the possibility that it just might be better than something that you could write.

    What I failed to realize is that, within the advice-based fitness industry, you can only write about the same thing so many times before you have to come up with the best new gimmick to draw in fresh victims. Either that, or you offer terrible advice that keeps your clients' progress stagnant so they have to keep coming back for more. It's a terribly vicious cycle. Guess what? Not much has changed within the world of strength training over the past 100 years. We're still human. We haven't evolved. Training ideologies, philosophies, and methodologies have gradually developed, but there's no need to be doing 2" Heel-elevated Box-Squat Negatives to stimulate growth in beginners in people who still haven't mastered back squat form correctly.

    All in all, I hope this has been informative and helpful. Feel free to give one of the programs a shot if you'd like to. My friends, family, and people that I train have seen fantastic results. If you're in the camp that's on the fence, I do hope you'll post any questions or comments in the thread below.

    As always; stay safe.
    Last edited by Turtora; 03-20-2015 at 10:15 AM.
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    looks good, very good.

    everyone should watch those stabilization techniques videos twice
    log:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=165742981

    nothing but the basics
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    Holy effort Batman! Skimmed the whole thing for now as it is quite a lot of info. My only question thus far is why is there not a single downward pull in any of the programs? Is it a sub or acc lift that I just missed?
    Experience, not just theory
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    Originally Posted by connorpat1995 View Post
    looks good, very good.

    everyone should watch those stabilization techniques videos twice
    Chris Duffin is a wizard when it comes to prehabilitation and performance within weightlifting.

    Originally Posted by davisj3537 View Post
    Holy effort Batman! Skimmed the whole thing for now as it is quite a lot of info. My only question thus far is why is there not a single downward pull in any of the programs? Is it a sub or acc lift that I just missed?
    That's actually a really good point you bring up. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but from what I have read and experienced first hand, lat pull downs put you at a greater risk for shoulder impingement given the position of the humerus and acromion process in relation to the supraspinatus. Couple that with the posture a lot of beginners have, and it's generally not a movement I like to advise for novices. I find you can get the same training effect through horizontal pulls for the lats, as well as targeted work for the traps and rear delts. I get the need to stretch out the intercostals through overhead movement patterns, though, which is why I'm a huge advocate of thoracic extensions via foam roller + other movements to open up the lats and t-spine.

    Would you say otherwise?

    Here's a video that does a better job explaining where I'm coming from:

    Last edited by Turtora; 03-18-2015 at 11:05 PM.
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    not a fan of lat pulldowns, but chinups or chinup negatives are great mass builders for the back
    weight x ROM x reps possible is huge, + they dont take long or beat into recovery much

    they train scapular depression very well too. Rows could so the same but your average noob will go too heavy
    log:
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    nothing but the basics
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    Originally Posted by connorpat1995 View Post
    not a fan of lat pulldowns, but chinups or chinup negatives are great mass builders for the back
    weight x ROM x reps possible is huge, + they dont take long or beat into recovery much

    they train scapular depression very well too. Rows could so the same but your average noob will go too heavy
    Noted! I'll add to the workout routine section and form section a bit. My problem with pullups is that most novices aren't able to do them. It took me 6 months of training before I could do my first pull up! Hopefully nobody sacrifices form for weight on rows. Definitely not the goal of this movement, haha.
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    Sorry, took me a while to get back to you on this. The first thing that comes to mind is training scapular downward rotation. Just like you train upward rotation with OHP, you'll want some type of downward pull so that downward rotation receives similar stimulus that upward does.

    I agree many people have issues with rolled shoulders which big lats contribute to, but to fix that they'd need a completely different program. I'd hate to avoid a good movement just because some people have issues with posture.
    Experience, not just theory
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    Originally Posted by davisj3537 View Post
    Sorry, took me a while to get back to you on this. The first thing that comes to mind is training scapular downward rotation. Just like you train upward rotation with OHP, you'll want some type of downward pull so that downward rotation receives similar stimulus that upward does.

    I agree many people have issues with rolled shoulders which big lats contribute to, but to fix that they'd need a completely different program. I'd hate to avoid a good movement just because some people have issues with posture.
    Not a problem, chief.

    I'm not a fan of OHP for everyone, honestly. I'm on board with Tony Gentilcore and Joe DeFranco in that regard. Specifically, Tony believes you have to earn the right to overhead press (mobility, thoracic extension, opened lats, etc), and Joe just doesn't have his athletes do OHP at all lol.

    I don't have lat pull downs in there not because I'm trying to keep my trainees from getting big lats (lats are probs my favorite muscle group), but more so just because of the safety issues. I see your points, though. I'm making substitution room for OHP even though I don't like the movement for beginners, so it doesn't make sense for me not to include pull ups or lat pull downs as another option.
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    Oh
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    Well. Done. Mate.
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  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by Turtora View Post
    Not a problem, chief.

    I'm not a fan of OHP for everyone, honestly. I'm on board with Tony Gentilcore and Joe DeFranco in that regard. Specifically, Tony believes you have to earn the right to overhead press (mobility, thoracic extension, opened lats, etc), and Joe just doesn't have his athletes do OHP at all lol.

    I don't have lat pull downs in there not because I'm trying to keep my trainees from getting big lats (lats are probs my favorite muscle group), but more so just because of the safety issues. I see your points, though. I'm making substitution room for OHP even though I don't like the movement for beginners, so it doesn't make sense for me not to include pull ups or lat pull downs as another option.
    Great post man. There are half a dozen ways to slice an onion.

    If you need any help editing this thread or the like let me know (all but the last post are probably locked up by now.) SOLID work bud.
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  18. #18
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    Great job OP. Maybe a new "go to" routine for beginners. Subbed. Well done.
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    One question: Could you sub out hamstring curls for say a SLDL or maybe an RDL?
    Goals are achieved one rep at a time, one bite at a time and one nights sleep at a time.
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    Gonna have to wait till I get home to view this whole thing, but looks good. I do however like my OHP and Pulldowns/pullups
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  21. #21
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    Originally Posted by davisj3537 View Post
    Great post man. There are half a dozen ways to slice an onion.

    If you need any help editing this thread or the like let me know (all but the last post are probably locked up by now.) SOLID work bud.
    Thanks! I really appreciated your feedback.

    Originally Posted by EVendettaP View Post
    Great job OP. Maybe a new "go to" routine for beginners. Subbed. Well done.

    One question: Could you sub out hamstring curls for say a SLDL or maybe an RDL?
    Thanks, man. I would sub hamstring curls out for RDL, sure. There's not going to be too much of a difference, save for the stress placed on the back. Most beginners should be able to recover from this for a time, in my experience. Ideally, however, I just want to isolate the hamstrings. If you decide to throw in RDLs, I wouldn't go over 60% of your x5 working set on deadlift. So, if your deadlift is at 185 x 5, I would advise keeping your RDLs below 115 x 8. Ideally around 95 x 8. In Iteration Y (home gym version), that's exactly what was done. Just make sure you're keeping your hips and hamstrings healthy!

    Originally Posted by Squid24 View Post
    Gonna have to wait till I get home to view this whole thing, but looks good. I do however like my OHP and Pulldowns/pullups
    I'd appreciate the input! Those movements are great tools, for sure.
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  22. #22
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    Nice work bud, pretty comprehensive. Going to check out those vids later.
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    Originally Posted by Turtora View Post
    I'd appreciate the input! Those movements are great tools, for sure.
    I will try...might have to print this all out and read it in my home office(bathroom)...lol. Do you have other photos of your progress? The last time I was skinny like that I just got back from Desert Storm . Your progress is/should be very motivating for yourself and everyone!!
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  24. #24
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    Watched some of the vids. Good stuff man, thanks! Chris Duffin has some cool suggestions.

    Also, bump of peace.
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    Originally Posted by sonnydfrizzy View Post
    Oh
    My
    Gosh

    Well. Done. Mate.
    Thanks, dogg!

    Originally Posted by WrathfulOne View Post
    Nice work bud, pretty comprehensive. Going to check out those vids later.
    Thank you!

    Originally Posted by Squid24 View Post
    I will try...might have to print this all out and read it in my home office(bathroom)...lol. Do you have other photos of your progress? The last time I was skinny like that I just got back from Desert Storm . Your progress is/should be very motivating for yourself and everyone!!
    Hahaha, well get back to me when you do, for sure. I do have other photos posted on my bodyspace account. Thank you! It's certainly been a long journey full of growth and development in many different ways, that's for sure.

    Originally Posted by WrathfulOne View Post
    Watched some of the vids. Good stuff man, thanks! Chris Duffin has some cool suggestions.

    Also, bump of peace.
    Thanks again, chief. Chris Duffin's pretty sick. His best raw squat of 881.8 at 220 was insane! It's crazy how that record was just broken today, though! Sam Byrd literally just squatted 915 in wraps.
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    Originally Posted by Turtora View Post
    Thanks again, chief. Chris Duffin's pretty sick. His best raw squat of 881.8 at 220 was insane! It's crazy how that record was just broken today, though! Sam Byrd literally just squatted 915 in wraps.
    Damn, that's mental! Never knew he was such a beast.
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  27. #27
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    Great and thorough explanations on the routines. I'm just getting back into lifting for the first time since High School, and I will be running this routine for the foreseeable future to start putting on size and gaining strength again. Probably not gonna keep a full on log, but I will post up some before/after pics and lifts to show the hopefully fantastic results with this.

    Couple questions though,

    1. What exactly is the protocol for weight resets? How many attempts before resetting, and what percentages to drop?
    2. The form video for squats mention high and low bar, is high bar squatting acceptable for this program?
    Last edited by TheMetaGross; 03-22-2015 at 12:51 PM.
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    Originally Posted by TheMetaGross View Post
    Great and thorough explanations on the routines. I'm just getting back into lifting for the first time since High School, and I will be running this routine for the foreseeable future to start putting on size and gaining strength again. Probably not gonna keep a full on log, but I will post up some before/after pics and lifts to show the hopefully fantastic results with this.

    Couple questions though,

    1. What exactly is the protocol for weight resets? How many attempts before resetting, and what percentages to drop?
    2. The form video for squats mention high and low bar, is high bar squatting acceptable for this program?
    Best of luck!! Eat big and lift big! To answer your questions:

    1. Sometimes we just have bad workouts. If you miss a lift during a workout, you should shut down that movement and move onto the next lift. If it's at the 1st or 2nd workouts during the week, keep the weight the same for the next workout. If it's at the 3rd workout of the week, don't increase weight next week. If you fail the same movement 2 workouts in a row, reset by 10 lbs for upper body movements, and 20 lbs for lower body movements. Remember, it's easier to add weight to the bar than take weight off, so if anything, be conservative. Quoting the FAQ:

    Originally Posted by Turtora
    However, I caution you to be conservative. Our goal is to build strength. Strength is physical, but it is also mental. If we go in each workout and miss a rep on each set, we're going to come back and anticipate that we're going to continue missing reps. Then one thing leads to another and we've got reps falling out of our eyeballs. It's a slippery slope, my friends.
    After the 2nd time you reset, you should take a deload. My preferred mode of deloading can be found in the FAQ, and there's also a link to VoxExMachina's post dedicated to various methods of deloading.

    2. High bar is totally acceptable.
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  29. #29
    Hitting reps for fun EVendettaP's Avatar
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    Bumping this cos its class..
    Goals are achieved one rep at a time, one bite at a time and one nights sleep at a time.
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    Ok, took me a while to get it all...lol. Looks great...like it very much!!
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