Workout Routine—Phase 1

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For a couple of posts now, I’ve been saying that I would post more on my workout routine.  Well, here it is!  We started this routine with the goal of increasing weight on bench press, but we ended up doing everything using this plan.  It worked in the past to increase our bench weight up to 265.  Considering that right now, I struggle under 135 (bar + 45lb plate on each side), I’ll take anything to get that back up!  It has been my experience that bench is one of the first things to go when you don’t lift for a while, and I was out for two years.  I need all the help I can get on bench.  As I said, we applied this to every exercise that we do.

This plan comes in three phases.  The first is the conditioning phase.  This is where I am right now, in the last week of this phase.  I’ll give you this phase now and will come back to the other two when we get there.  One week on this phase and you’ll understand the conditioning part.  Your goal is to do at least one warm-up set, maybe two if you’re lifting heavier.

The numbers:

In week one, you want to do 4 sets of 15 reps.  This is a little tricky to get started.  It may take you a workout or two to get the number right.  Basically, when you hit that 60th rep, you don’t want to be able to push/pull number 61.

In week two, you want to increase the weight by a little bit, 5-10 lbs depending on the exercise, and decrease reps to 4 sets of 12.  This week is much easier for me compared to the first.  Maybe it is the drop from 60 reps per exercise to 48.  Endurance has never been a strength of mine.

Finally, in week three, you’re increasing the weight again, 5-10 lbs, and increasing reps back to 15.  This week is killer.  At this point, you’ve increased the weight a total of 10-20 pounds per exercise over your first week.  This is where we are as of the writing of this post.

The exercises:

We get our bodies moving with 10 minutes of treadmill walking every day.  It gets the blood flowing and the heart rate up a bit to prepare for pushing all of this weight.  The order is key on these workouts.  They are designed to fatigue muscles in a particular order.  Remember, every exercise gets the required number of reps—4×15, 4×12, 4×15.


  • incline bench press (bar)
  • flat bench press (bar)
  • flyes (we use the machine, I get a better squeeze than with dumbbells)
  • pushups (to failure).  We skip the pushups and do 3-4 drop sets of decline bench.  Pushups to failure would be about 2 at that point.
  • We finish the day off with 4×15 crunches (I use the decline bench)


  • wide-grip rows
  • single-arm bent-over dumbbell row
  • straight-arm lat pushdown
  • wide-grip lat pulldowns (to chest)
  • dumbbell shrugs
  • smith machine shrugs
  • back hyperextensions


  • squats (bar)
  • stiff-legged deadlifts
  • seated leg curl
  • leg press
  • leg extensions
  • standing bar calf raises
  • machine (seated) calf raises
  • decline crunches (again)


  • straight bar bicep curls
  • preacher curls (ez curl bar)
  • hammer curls (dumbbells)
  • tricep pushdowns (rope—pull the ends of that rope apart for a great squeeze!)
  • skullcrushers (keep these under control so they don’t result in actual skull crushing)
  • dips (we use the machine)
  • leg raises (I do hanging raises)
  • (even more) crunches.


  • dumbbell shoulder press
  • Arnold press
  • dumbbell lateral raise
  • reverse flyes (deltoid flyes)
  • We do these on arm day so no more crunches necessary

This is a whole week’s worth of exercises.  We do one body part per day, except for shoulders.  We’re going to split those up to shorten our Friday workout a bit.  Arms and shoulders are too much for one workout.  Shoulders suffer because we’re too exhausted to push too much weight, not to mention the workout hits close to two hours at this point. That is simply too long to lift.  We workout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  On Saturday, I try to get a few walking miles in to keep my legs from being too sore on Sunday.  Thursday and Sunday are rest days.

Each of these workouts burns approximately 500 calories with my heart rate averaging just over 100 bpm.  Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on your height, weight and age.  Rodney’s average is probably around 120 for each workout.

If you have questions about any of these exercises, please leave a comment and ask.  Persevere. This is hard, but it is worthwhile in order to build endurance for the coming strength weeks.  60 reps over 4-6 exercises makes for a long, but very satisfying workout.  I’ll post the next section before you have a chance to complete this three week cycle.  Keep me posted on your progress and lift hard!