I’m pleased to give you completely free access to this four week strength training programme, suitable for a wide variety of people.
Before getting started it might be a good idea to have a read of this Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire to see if you are ready to begin an exercise regime, if you are not currently exercising regularly.
Who Am I?
I’m David Whittington, ASCC, head coach and owner of Gorilla PT. I have twelve years of coaching experience, and am a fully accredited UKSCA strength and conditioning coach, and British Weightlifting level two coach.
In addition to this I have nearly twenty years of weight lifting experience, and was a high level competitive strongman, competing in two England’s Strongest Man finals.
Who Are You?
You are simply someone who wants to get stronger! This may be because you want to improve your performance in sport, whether that be rugby, swimming, crossfit or something else. Maybe you want to gain some muscle so you look and feel better. Or maybe you simply want to function as a stronger human being. It doesn’t matter why, but following this programme will definitely help with your goals!
Ideally you should have some lifting experience already, and be able to competently and safely perform movements such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses. If you would like some help learning these important skills, drop me a message here and we can arrange some one to one coaching.
Here is the link to the programme. Simply open it, then go to ‘FILE’ and ‘SAVE AS’ to get your very own free copy.
For more information on the structure and execution of the programme, along with some options for you to consider, please read on.
I am a fan of the ‘RAMP’ method (developed by Dr Ian Jeffreys) for warming up in most instances, and that’s exactly what I suggest for this programme. This warm up methodology is divided into four headings, that I have grouped into three segments. They are as follows:
- Raise – Five to ten minutes of activity to raise your heart rate, breathing rate and temperature, preparing you for exercise. This can be on any piece of cardio equipment, a quick spot of fartlek running, or even just charging around with your dog. Aim to reach a 7 out of 10 effort score by the end.
- Activate and Mobilise – This segment will vary hugely from one person to another. Use this opportunity to stretch any tight areas, foam roll any knots, perform any rehabilitation movements, waddle around with resistance bands around your knees, or whatever it is that YOU as an individual need to do to ensure your movement quality is at it’s highest. If you don’t have any existing issues, a general foam roll and stretch, focusing on the body parts that are about to be worked, will serve you in good stead.
- Potentiate – A fancy word, that means getting better and stronger at a movement by practising it, and increasing the intensity or speed as you do so. For the purposes of this programme, this will be incorporated into the primary movement and will be outlined in more detail below.
Each session begins with a primary movement, a barbell compound lift that will build significant strength.
By completing several sets, beginning with an empty bar and adding weight each set, you will take care of the potentiation from the warm up, and leave yourself in an excellent position to lift really well. Ensure that the warm up sets are of just as high quality as the working sets.
The primary movement relies on the system of daily maxes, something I am a huge fan of, both in my own training and for a lot of the strength athletes I coach. A daily max isn’t an absolute max, but is the most you can manage on that particular day, without breakdown of technique or needing to get super amped up and aggressive. For instance, in the first week you will build up, in sets of eight, to the heaviest set of eight you can manage, this is your daily eight rep max (D8RM). Some guess work may be needed initially, but if in doubt play it conservatively and do more sets if you succeed.
Then you will be required to perform three sets with 85% of your top set to ensure that your total effective volume is significant enough to stimulate an increase in strength.
These daily targets then drop to sets of five, then three, and ultimately one over the course of the four weeks. This should see you lifting progressively heavier throughout the block, and probably hitting personal bests along the way!
This section of the session includes two important movements that will support your progress, although they aren’t quite as important as the primary movement.
Perform either three or four working sets of these depending on how much time you have available and how accustomed to regular lifting you are. Again, I recommend taking a couple of sets to warm these movements up with lighter weights, building up until you are at a working weight.
The repetitions on these drop from twelve, to ten, and then to eight over the first three weeks. This should allow you to consistently add weight to your working sets over the course of each session and indeed over the course of the programme in a linear fashion.
In the final week, the sets drop to two or three, and the reps climb to twelve to fifteen. This is to take into account the overall requirements of big, heavy singles in the final week, and performing these exercises with higher reps and much lighter weights will assist with your recovery.
Finishing the sessions off is a superset of two assistance exercises. Perform these back to back in traditional fashion, always with the emphasis being on controlled movements here. You won’t be flinging around any big weights with these movements, so really hammer the quality.
Bench Press Bias
Inevitably some people will want a bench pressing bias, rather than an overhead pressing bias in this programme. This can be done very simply by substituting a couple of movements in Session Two. Simply swap out the push press for bench press, and swap out the close grip bench press for military press. Keep the sets and reps the same.
Limitations of the Programme
If you are a very inexperienced lifter, I recommend getting some input from a good coach to ensure that you are performing these movements correctly before embarking on this, or any other, programme. If you are based in, or can travel to, the Midlands, UK, I will be happy to help you with this.
Similarly, if you are a very seasoned or competitive lifter, it is unlikely that this template will accurately target your relative weaknesses, and be of an appropriate workload. In this case bespoke programming will benefit you far more than an ‘off the rack’ solution. I provide personalised training plans to people all over the world, so send me an email with any enquiries you may have here.
You should be able to run this programme for several cycles and continue to see improvements. You can have a rest, or easy week in between if you wish, although you may not need to.
I hope you enjoy this programme, and gain a lot of strength from using it, best of luck!