By now most of you know that I am a minimalist when it comes to my strength training program prescriptions. My goal is to find the least amount of volume that will trigger the maximum growth response. This must be determined on a case by case basis as no two individuals are exactly alike with respects to recovery ability, health, nutrition, injury status etc.
Some of the workouts I create appear quite simple on paper but as many have come to find out, looks can me deceiving. After all it is not the weight you lift but how you lift the weight which determines your ultimate outcome from any training program. When you give your all to a handful of sets you will quickly find that no more work is needed.
Today I am going to outline a brief but challenging upper body workout. It is comprised of five pairs of opposing push-pull exercises. that’s ten total sets for your entire upper body. There is no direct arm work but believe me your arms will get plenty of stimulation from this program.
The five exercise pairs are as follows:
1. Upright Row – Dips
2. Low Cable Row – Decline Bench Press
3. Horizontal Row – Flat Bench Press
4. High Cable Row – Incline Bench Press
5. Chin-up – Standing Press
You may begin with any paring as long as you proceed from that point in the workout forward.
There are two ways in which to begin this program.
First; you can start with a paring that has movements that are challenging for you or which represent areas of your musculature that you feel need work*. Second; you may start with a different paring every workout. This will allow for longer periods of progression with less likelihood of adaptation plateaus (provided you are recovering fully).
The entire workout should take approximately 16 minutes to complete if you are working hard. This assumes that each set will take roughly 60 seconds to complete and that you will rest 90 seconds after each pairing. I suggest that you do all of your warm-up work before hand and then proceed through the bulk of the workout using maximum resistance for each movement pairing.
Choose a weight or resistance level that you feel would be challenging to perform for 6 repetitions. Then do your best to achieve 8-10 repetitions on each set. Do not terminate the set at an arbitrary number, continue until no further repetitions can be completed with perfect form. Besides the 90 seconds rest intervals between parings, strive to keep rest to a minimum and move quickly from one exercise in a pair to the next. Write down your start and finish times (excluding warm-ups) as well as the repetitions completed and the resistance levels used for each movement. When you can complete 10 reps or more with perfect form then bump up the resistance by approximately 5%.
Give this “Rock Around the Clock” workout a go and see if you aren’t getting everything you need for your upper body from this very brief but intense plan.
TAKU’s NOTE: *If you do this I recommend that you still switch the order every 3-4 weeks or so to avoid adaptation plateaus.
Any combination of resistance tools may be used (Barbells, Dumbbells, Resistance Bands, Cable machines, etc. Whatever tools you choose, be sure to keep accurate records to allow for continued progression over time.
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