The premise behind this routine is that there is a heavy, medium, and light day, determined by intensity (what amount of your maximal weight you are using). The heavier the day, the lower the rep range and the heavier the weight.
On all 3 days, the squat is performed. Then, each day has a different pushing and pulling exercise. While this workout is challenging and appropriate for both intermediate and advanced lifters, you MUST take the time to learn the exercises properly. Working with low-rep sets presents the potential for injury if you are not careful about form.
If you’re feeling a little burnt out from squatting, you have a few options. One: don’t squat on the light day. Two: try squatting on the light day with 5 sets of 3 using 65-70% of the weight you used for the heavy day. If you do this, keep rest intervals short, between 30-60 seconds. Three: Use unweighted squats.
Caveats aside, this is one of my all-time favourite routines. The key here is to stick within the rep range. Don’t do more reps even if you can do so easily. Rest about 60-90 seconds between sets (you might want a little longer between squat sets).
Notation: Exercise sets x reps
For example: bench press 3 x 8 is 3 sets of 8 reps per set
day 1 – light
- squat 3 sets x 15 reps
- power shrug (pull) 3 x 5 using light weight
- shoulder press (push) 3 x 15
- calf raise 2 x 15
- ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches 2 x 15
day 2 – heavy
day 3 – medium
- squat 3 x 8
- one-arm dumbbell row OR seated cable row (pull) 3 x 8
- incline bench press (push) 3 x 8
- back hyperextensions 2 x 8-10
This routine requires some knowledge of basic Olympic assistance lifts. I’ve modified it a bit for beginners so that you’re not required to do the full lifts, but if you know how, go ahead.
Olympic assistance lifts are relatively easy to learn compared to the full lifts, which require a bit of coaching to master. Before you attempt these you should have learned the basics of squatting and deadlifting, which help you learn the correct spine and hip position for the Olympic assistance lifts (i.e. neutral or slightly arched spine, sitting back, etc.). Good sites with pictures and descriptions:
Biofitness, WSU Strength and Conditioning (look under “How do I perform a…” and follow the links), the Cable-Bar Guy, and Chris Thibaudeau’s articles on the “Power Clean and Assistance Lifts”, and “The Competition Lifts and Main Assistance Exercises”.
Ideally this would be done over something like a Monday-Wednesday-Friday, so that you have two days of rest before the heavy day on day 1, and a day of rest in between day 1, 2, and 3. Where 5 sets are indicated, the first 2 sets are warmup sets.
You’ll also see that I’ve put down things like “snatch pull OR clean pull”. This means to alternate them from week to week. This gives you a little variety and also gives you a chance to practice the movements.
day 1 – heavy
- squat 5 x 3
- snatch pull or clean pull to shrug on toes 3 x 5
- push press 3 x 5
- calf raises 2 x 12-15
- back hyperextensions OR good mornings
2 x 8-10
day 2 – medium
- power clean or hang clean 5 x 5
- pullups (lat pulldowns if you can’t do pullups yet) OR Smith machine pullups (scroll down for variation #2) 3 x 8-10 (for pullups just do 3 sets of as many as you can do)
- standing shoulder press 3 x 8-10
- ab work of choice 3 x 10-12