This is a foundation program. It’s the opposite of the Leeroy Jenkins approach to training in which you just dive into everything right away with no planning or long-term focus. So the first few phases are foundation and resilience building. You’ll kind of feel like you’re doing a bunch of things you suck at and are avoiding your strengths and that’s intentional. It’s developing important movement patterns and biasing your strength into areas that need it most in order to balance preexisting inefficiencies.

It’s a bit like riding a bicycle. Once you’re good at it, you can crush yourself with it, but at first you’re developing the skill and balance needed to ride well. So expect that some of this will feel much more like skill work than getting good at things that are easy to do skill wise, but beat you up physically (running, for example).

Once you’re into the second phase of the foundation program (2-5 months depending on your starting point) you’ll be moving heavier weights for more reps than you ever thought possible and you’ll be more injury resistant than ever. That doesn’t mean that this first phase will be easy. You’ll have opportunities in every workout to move heavy weights and knock out sets of as many reps as possible of various movements, but it’s going to be in a format that’s probably new to you.

Specific traits you’re building:

Movement quality, work capacity (amount of work you can do and recover from), strength (ability to produce force), and biological power (fancy word for saying every body system gets way more efficient so you can do more work, have more energy, and recover faster).

What this allows you to do:

This program starts a little slow and builds. As you go on you’ll notice that joints will stop hurting nearly as much, you’ll move much better, you’ll get much stronger, and you’ll generally be able to do way more stuff physically and mentally and recover from it.

This program is helping you build up the ability to go do anything physical you’d like with no problem. Want to do a 10k? Run for 2 weeks and you’ll hit a PR. Climb a 14er? Not a problem. Play a pickup game of basketball with your kids? Not an issue.

How to read workouts:

Sets x reps

Everything is listed as sets x reps unless there are special instructions. That means 3×5 = three sets of five reps.

Weights and Rest Intervals 

Remember to use as much weight as you can for each set with good form. So if you’re doing three reps of a squat, select the heaviest weight you can squat three times without breaking form (losing speed, range of motion or technique).

Rest as little as needed, and usually less than 30 seconds between exercises. If these workouts take longer than an hour you’re doing them wrong. Remember to pay attention to the performance points for each exercise. If it feels easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. Rest as much as you need to use a challenging weight but not so long that workouts take 2 hours. 3-5 minutes between sets of the same exercise is a good rest period to shoot for.

Aerobic work aka cardio

Aerobic work is anything that is done with an elevated heart rate (120-150ish) that you can do for sustained periods of time (60+ minutes). This type of cardio is intentionally easy work designed to develop specific aerobic capacities that enhance your ability to recover during more intense workouts and improve your body’s ability to burn fat. It’s the foundation that other athletic traits are built upon. 

It’s tempting to not do this work – don’t fall into that trap. You don’t have to sit on a treadmill or elliptical for an hour. Find a way to accomplish this doing things you already enjoy – hiking, playing with your kids, or anything else that gets you moving.

Conditioning class aka “anaerobic work”

Conditioning classes are almost entirely lactic (anaerobic) in nature. They have a significant fat loss effect as well as a significant “I want to throw up and die” effect if you’re doing them right. If repeated bouts of 30-second sprints don’t hurt, you’re doing them wrong. Hurt in a good way, that is. Don’t injure yourself. You won’t get ice cream.

Remember, if you keep up with the “optional (aerobic)” energy systems work as well as the main strength workouts and conditioning classes you’ll be a machine by the end of 12 months.

Suggested Weekly Schedule (see example below)

  • 1-2 strength workouts (2 = optimal)
  • 1-2 conditioning classes
  • 1 aerobic day (60-90 minutes)
  • Move everyday for at least 20 minutes

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