A CORE SERIES
Return to CORE SERIES (click here)
Reasons to use this workout for 4 weeks straight:
- You are about to complete 4 weeks of the BEGINNER'S ROUTINE (click here) and you're hungry for more.
- You've lost intensity, discipline, and regularity in your workouts.
- You're dissatisfied with your current program's results
- You've hit your fitness goals, but want to start pushing harder.
- You're impatient and want to try the advanced program before the BEGINNER'S ROUTINE (click here).
If you haven't read the BEGINNER'S ROUTINE (click here), I highly suggest reading it first. Even if you're an advanced lifter. There are certain tactics for discipline and mindset that I assume in this advanced routine.
Foundations of Advanced Lifting
1. GET YOUR PURPOSE STRAIGHT
You've probably had success in the gym. And then, you've seen how success can actually destroy your results. "I achieved my goals! Now just gonna live that #SixPackLife." Then, you watch your abs slowly, tragically disappear. Your discipline slinks back to a resting pace. Your intensity dissolves in your sad self-satisfaction.
Whatever your reasons for working out, this program will make you work so hard you'll find your soul. It will reignite the fire. It will force you to dig beneath superficial goals that sabotage you down the road.
You probably like going to the gym and bench pressing a lot of weight. It feels good. And then, you think, "That was a lot of weight. I'm really strong. I don't need to work out today." Working out isn't about confirming the fact that you are strong. Working out is about humiliating yourself. Working out is about making other people look at you and think, "He's so weak!" as you pick up the 5 pound dumbbells, exhausted from your workout. Working out is about pushing yourself to a feeling of nausea and chest pain, because that's how your body gets stronger. Flashy physique goals are great (six pack, biceps, etc.) — they should absolutely be a driving force in your motivation. But if they're your only motivation, you'll lose them as soon as you get them, because you'll get satisfied with where you are and stop working hard.
You used beginner routines to build your body. Use this advanced program to build your discipline. Don't abandon your physique goals. Use them. Let them be the fire that gets you out of bed. But use this program as a way to fall in love, again, with becoming strong and fit and, most importantly, self-controlled.
2. THE MOST ADVANCED WEIGHT LIFTING SKILL
An advanced lifter doesn't see fitness as a footnote to their daily lives. They see it as their source of energy, of self-control, as a predictor of how their day will go. An advanced lifter picks up the weight and lifts it, despite friend drama, despite feeling sad, despite kids and job and spouse and responsibilities. The day after my dad died, I went to the gym. The day my girlfriend dumped me, I went to the gym. The day I quit my 6 figure job, I went to the gym. I would pick up a weight and 4 reps in, 5 reps in, I'd start thinking about my sadness. "No. That's for outside the gym. 6. 7. 8."
Your body is your primary responsibility. It is a sacred item, and it is your duty to care for it. The less you care for your body, the less you will be able to give to those around you. But your ability to tune out all of your loved ones and work tasks and hobbies is the most fundamental skill to advanced weight lifting. The lifts aren't comlpicated. The concepts aren't profound. But focus is a muscle, and without it, none of your other muscles will experience impressive growth.
3. CHOOSE NOW: STRENGTH OR MUSCLE?
The workout below has two tracks available. The 1st is the Strength Track, which focuses on heavy weight, low reps, and longer breaks between sets. The 2nd is the Muscle Track, which focuses on muscle fatigue, short breaks, and higher reps. As you might guess, the Strength Track will grow your strength, but muscle growth won't be as significant. The Muscle Track will yield lesser gains in strength, but more muscle.
You might be thinking, "Aren't those the same thing? Isn't getting stronger the fastest way to build muscle?" Honestly, it depends on your level of weight lifting experience.
- If you are relatively new to weight lifting, I suggest doing the Strength Track first. Even if your goal is to build muscle, performing 4-8 weights of the Strength Track first will enable you to work with heavier weight for higher reps when you do perform the Muscle Track.
- If you already have years of weight lifting experience, and you'd like to build muscle (especially if you're in a strength plateau), then you are ready for the Muscle Track.
- On the Strength Track, you take timed 90-120 second breaks between sets (your choice). On the Muscle Track, you take times 30-second breaks.
4. DEFINING TERMS
In the workouts below, I will use some odd terms to describe how many sets and reps you should do. Here are the definitions of those terms:
- Set up the equipment for two exercises.
- Perform one set of one exercise.
- Immediately, with no break, perform a set of the next exercise.
- Go back and forth between these two exercises until you have completed the required number of sets.
- Perform seven half-reps from the bottom of the rep to the middle of the rep.
- Perform seven half-reps from the top of the rep to the middle of the rep.
- Perform seven full-reps from the bottom of the rep to the top of the rep.
Run The Rack:
- Perform a lift with a weight for which you can only get 4-6 reps. Perform that exercise until failure.
- After failure, immediately put that weight down and pick up a weight that's only slightly lighter (for example, if your first weight was with 40 pound dumbbells, now pick up the 30 pound dumbbells).
- With no break, perform the same lift with the slightly smaller weight. Perform until failure.
- After failure, again, put down the weight and immediately pick up a slightly smaller weight (moving from 30 pounds to 20, for example).
- Keep repeating this process until you've completed at least 5 sets in total.
1RM: Your "One Rep Maximum." This term refers to the maximum weight you are able to lift for a specific exercise for a single rep. You don't have to know your 1RM for every exercise, but it is helpful to know what it is for major lifts like squat, leg press, bench press, and deadlift, so that you know what percentage of your 1RM you are working with at any given time. For example, if your 1RM on Flat Barbell Bench is 150 pounds, you know that when you are bench pressing 100 pounds, you are working with 66% of your total lifting capacity.
10RM: The maximum weight you are able to lift for a specific exercise for ten reps.
Spotter: Someone who stands next to you (or over you, or in front of you) while you lift, ensuring that if you fail, they will provide assistance to help lift the weight so that you are not injured. Usually, people ask for "a spot" for the purpose of safely failing with barbell exercises (Just ask the kindest, strongest looking person in your gym: "Hey, can I get a spot?").
Negative: You only perform the "downward" part of the rep. So, if you were to perform a "Negative" on Flat Barbell Bench (which you would have to do with a Spotter), you would focus on slowly lowering the bar, and your Spotter would help you easily lift it back to the top of the rep. People perform "Negatives" for two reasons:
- People perform Negatives so that they can work with weight above their 1RM, in order to get their muscles used to heavier weight (you are stronger on a rep's negative than you are on it's positive. For example: You can lower far more weight than you can pick up).
- People perform Negatives with lighter weight toward the end of their workout, after they are exhausted. The purpose here is to push their muscles to total fatigue, so that they can no longer perform a rep's positive, somehow cheat to get the weight to the top of the rep, and slowly lower it, in order to fatigue their muscle beyond their positive strength.
Tabata: A 4-minute exercise following this specific structure. A :20 second period of maximum exertion, followed by a :10 second rest period. Repeat 8 times without any breaks except for the 10 second rest periods. Repeat 8 times, which lasts exactly 4 minutes.
HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. As opposed to walking or light-resistance biking, HIIT, requires you to exert maximum output for short periods of time.
1. CHEST DAY
2. BACK DAY
3. SHOULDER DAY
4. LEG DAY
5. ARMS DAY
1. Just Finish The Workout.
The most important thing you can do is to move through each workout as quickly as you can. That doesn't mean do sloppy reps and sacrifice good form (you'll get injured). Just get in this mindset: "My only goal today is to finish every exercise, every set, every rep. The faster I work, the faster I'll be done."
2. Don't Get Hung Up On Strength Gains/Losses
It's really easy to get discouraged when you go to the gym and you're weaker than last time. It's okay. It happens to everybody. You have really good days and really bad days. You can't make your best days in the gym the bar for enjoying the process. If you're at the gym pushing yourself through the workout, you're getting stronger. Trust the process. Trust the workout. Trust your body. Push yourself, but don't let vanity become the metric by which you measure your fitness progress. Real progress is measured by your consistency.
3. Make Sure You're Consistent In Your Diet
Remember: You can do either the STRENGTH TRACK or the MUSCLE TRACK either to gain muscle or to lose fat.
3. Don't Do This Alone
Join dozens of other people doing this exact same workout routine, and get free workout and diet tips, motivation, submit podcast questions, and get private coaching if you need it at the TheoFit Membership. If you join the annual membership, you get a bunch of free downloads, including ebooks and audio coaching albums.
Now, GO. Do it. Start today.
You have no excuse. You know exactly what to do. The only other things to consider are diet and, if you are deeply committed to avoiding a gym, the bodyweight version of this fitness regemin.