So on to the details of my Next Level program.
First off we’ll look at exercise selection. Of course, this is a movement based program so you can substitute different exercises as often as you like.
To summarise, on each day we will do the following:
- 1 x major upper body movement / exercise, typically a compound exercise.
- 1 x secondary upper body exercise.
- 1 x major lower body movement / exercise.
- 1 x arm exercise.
We’ll use horizontal pushing and pulling movements on Monday and Tuesday respectively, and vertical movements on Thursday and Friday.
Rep ranges are the crucial part and in this program I am doing something a little bit different as there is NO SPECIFIED REP RANGE on the main compound exercise of each day.
For example on Monday let’s say I am doing flat barbell bench press as my main (horizontal pushing) exercise. What I want to do is a total of 40 reps, over 4 or 5 sets. This doesn’t include a nice easy warm up set of 20 – 25 reps with a lighter weight (but slowly and with strict form! that’s important!)
So, in theory we could just say “4 sets of 10 reps” and get our total of 40 reps that way. Instead though what we want to do is start out with a weight that we’d expect to manage 10 – 12 reps for our first set, and then we go heavier for our 2nd set. Depending on how many reps we manage on the 2nd set we may decide to increase the weight again, or stick with the same weight for the 3rd set. After the third set we can choose the rep ranges to make up the rest of the total 40 reps over. For example if we still need to perform 12 reps I might increase the weight for a set of 8, and then further increase for a set of 4. Alternatively I could just do two sets of 6, or whatever other option takes my fancy on the day.
Of course, I always want to be adding more weight, especially if I am doing less reps. Every set has to be challenging, so in the example above you should be thinking “I only need another 4 reps, and since I just managed 6 reps with this weight I can certainly go a bit heavier for the next 4”.
The beauty of this approach is that your sets, reps and amount of weight lifted are likely to change a little from week to week. This also adds some variety and spontaneity to the work out and keeps things interesting.
Our choice of exercises for each day might look like this;
Monday: Horizontal Push
- Barbell Bench Press, total of 40 reps over 4 – 5 sets.
- Cable Flies, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
- Leg Press, 1 x 20 reps (warm up) and then 3 x 6 – 8 reps.
- Tricep Pushdown, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
Remember that you can substitute any exercise, for example dumbbell press, machine press or even pushups instead of barbell press, and so on.
Tuesday: Horizontal Pull
- Seated Cable Row, total of 40 reps over 4 – 5 sets.
- Reverse Cable Flies, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
- Laying Leg Curls, 1 x 20 reps (warm up) and then 3 x 6 – 8 reps..
- Dumbbell Bicep Curls, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press, 3 x 6 – 8 reps.
- Cable Side Lateral Raises, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
- Barbell Squats, total of 40 reps.
- Tricep Extension, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
Friday: Vertical Pulling
- Latt Pulldown, 3 x 6 – 8 reps.
- Upright Rows, 3 x 10 – 12 reps.
- Deadlifts, total of 40 reps.
- Preacher Curl, 3 x 12 reps.
Once again remember that you can swap any exercise for a suitable alternative, for example Chin Ups instead of Latt Pulldown.
You’ll notice that I’ve used the 40 rep strategy on upper body movements on Monday and Tuesday, and lower body on Thursday and Friday. I’d suggest that you can alternate these from week to week (so that you’ll do 40 reps on the vertical push & pull exercise instead horizontal every other week), and then progress to using 40 reps on both the main upper body and lower body movement each day, once you feel ready. This makes for quite a challenging program!