You WANT to get stronger …
But you’re afraid that you don’t have the time.
And it’s true … many strength training routines can be time consuming.
But they don’t have to be.
Today, I’ve got a really, really good guest article from Mike Samuels that’ll show you exactly how to design your training plan to get strong as hell, in only 3 hours a week.
He gets deep into the ins and outs of programming in this article … it’s about 1500 words long … but it’s a GREAT breakdown of how to program your workouts to get as strong as possible, as fast as possible, in as little time as possible.
*If you enjoy today’s the article, but you’re not necessarily interested in designing your own strength training program – you can also check out Mike’s newly released DUP Method HERE*
How to Get Strong as Hell in Only 3 Hours A Week
By Mike Samuels – Co-Creator of The DUP Method
Mastering the Basics
A finely-tuned strength routine needs only a few exercises.
We’ve got the “Big 3” –
– Bench Presses
These alone are awesome, but not quite enough to get optimal results, so we also need:
– Squat accessories
– Bench press accessories
– Deadlift accessories
Go with these six and you’re nearly there. There’s just one final component that you need:
– Prehab work
Between these 7 categories, you have EVERYTHING you need for the perfect strength routine. Let’s take it a bit further –
Breaking Down the Categories
The Big 3
The big 3 are fairly straightforward.
Squats, bench presses and deadlifts – there’s not much more to it.
You can squat high bar or low bar, deadlift with a conventional or sumo stance and bench with whatever grip you find most comfortable. However you do them, the big 3
are the big 3.
Accessories aid with your strength on the big 3. Your best options are:
– Paused Squats (with a 2 second count in the hole)
– Front squats
– Box squats
– Safety bar squats
– Bench Press
– Paused bench press
– Close-grip bench press
– Board press
– Incline bench press
– Deficit deadlift
– Paused deadlift
– Snatch-grip deadlift
– Block pull
(Other exercises can be used, of course. Above are the ones I’ve found to be most beneficial because they have the most carryover to strength gains.)
Prehab work covers a number of different exercises which aid injury prevention, and target areas that the big 3 and the accessories miss.
– Direct hamstring/ lower-back work – back extensions, glute ham raises, barbell hip thrusts, heavy kettlebell swings.
– Upper-back work – any row variation (dumbbell, barbell, machine, chest-supported) any vertical pull (chin-ups, pull-ups or pull-downs.)
– Core work – rollouts, planks, leg raises.
The Format for How to Get Strong
That’s enough exercise chat. Here’s how your 3-hour week will run down:
– You’ll do 3 one-hour sessions each week.
– Every session will have one main lift, two accessories, and two prehab exercises.
– You’ll hit each main lift once a week.
– The big 3 lift will always come first and be the focus of your session.
– Your two accessories will be for the other 2 of the big 3.
– The two accessory and two prehab exercises can be any that you choose, but aim to vary them as much as possible.
– You’ll work in 4-week periodised cycles, with volume increasing each week.
Here’s a sample week of workouts to give an idea of how a session might look.
For instance, you may decide that your first workout of the week will be –
– Big 3 – Squat
– Accessory #1 (Deadlift) – Deficit Deadlift
– Accessory #2 (Bench Press) – Paused Bench Press
– Prehab #1 (Upper back) – Wide Grip Pull-ups
– Prehab #2 (Core) – Weighted vest ab wheel rollouts
After a day or two for rest, your second session would be –
– Big 3 – Bench Press
– Accessory #1 (Squat) – Front Squat
– Accessory #2 (Deadlift) – Paused Deadlift
– Prehab #1 (Upper back) – Chest supported dumbbell rows
– Prehab #2 (Glutes/hams) – Heavy kettlebell swings
Your final session of the week would then be –
– Big 3 – Deadlift
– Accessory #1 (Bench Press) – Incline Bench Press
– Accessory #2 (Squat) – Safety Bar Squat
– Prehab #1 (Glutes/Hams) – Glute-ham raise
– Prehab #2 (Core) – Hanging leg raises
Programming the Big 3
The foundation of this program, and the key to success, is properly programming your big 3.
Each week, the goal with the big 3 exercises is to increase the intensity from the week before. Week 1 should be relatively straightforward, week 2 is a little more challenging, week 3 gets serious, and week 4 is where things are tough.
Take a look at the loading guidelines for each lift –
Week 1 – 5 sets of 4 at 80% 1RM
Week 2 – 5 sets of 6 at 80% 1RM
Week 3 – 5 sets of 3 at 85% 1RM
Week 4 – 3 sets of 3 at 90% 1RM
If you picked your loads correctly, you should hit every single rep of every set in every week.
Programming the Accessory and Prehab Work
For the accessory and prehab work, you’ll use the RPE scale, as outlined earlier.
Be smart about this – the accessory and prehab exercises should be tough, but not brutal. They are there to assist you, build strength, hit weak parts and increase your main lifts. If you’re going all out on them, it will negatively impact recovery, you’ll miss lifts, and strength will start going backwards.
I encourage choosing different exercises throughout a cycle, and aiming to beat your previous reps or weight on an exercise each time you perform it.
This is similar to the method used for main lifts at Westside Barbell, wherein you don’t train a lift too frequently, but each time you do perform it, you beat your previous performance.
For example, we’ll look at your accessory work for the bench press. Here are two 4-week cycles, utilizing 4 exercises, and sticking to an RPE of around 9 –
Paused Bench Press – 185lbs – 4 sets of 6
Incline Bench Press – 195lbs – 4 sets of 6
Flat Dumbbell Press – 70lbs – 4 sets of 8
Board Press – 225lbs – 4 sets of 8
Paused Bench Press – 185lbs – 2 sets of 8, 2 sets of 7
Incline Bench Press – 195lbs – 2 sets of 8, 2 sets of 7
Flat Dumbbell Press – 75lbs – 4 sets of 6
Board Press – 235lbs – 4 sets of 6
Paused Bench Press – 185lbs – 4 sets of 8
Incline Bench Press – 195lbs – 4 sets of 8
Flat Dumbbell Press – 75lbs – 4 sets of 8
Board Press – 235lbs – 4 sets of 8
Paused Bench Press – 195lbs – 4 sets of 6
Incline Bench Press – 205lbs – 4 sets of 6
Flat Dumbbell Press – 80lbs – 4 sets of 6
Board Press – 245lbs – 4 sets of 6
This gives an idea of how you can increase a lift fairly substantially in just a few weeks, while remaining in your given set and rep range and incorporating the RPE scale.
The same method can be used for the prehab exercises, though these require an RPE of 8.
Should you stall or plateau on an exercise two times in a row, switch it out for something different. On the above example, this could mean changing to incline dumbbell presses, pin presses, chain bench presses and decline bench presses.
Cycle to Cycle Adjustments
Progressing on the accessory and prehab work from one 4-week cycle to the next is incredibly easy using the above guidelines, but the big 3 exercises take a little more planning.
The idea is to increase your 1 rep max weight each 4-week cycle, then use the same percentages (80, 80, 85 and 90) so that you’re lifting a little heavier than the previous cycle each time.
How much you increase your max depends on how you found the previous cycle –
– Hit every rep and found the program “easy” – add 15lbs to your squat and deadlift max and 10lbs to your bench press
– Got all the reps and found it do-able – add 10lbs to your squat and deadlift max and 5lbs to your bench press.
– Really struggled and only just about got every rep, or missed the odd one here and there – keep your maxes the same.
– Missed more than 1 rep, or had some poor sessions – reduce your maxes by 10-15lbs for the squat and deadlift and 5-10lbs on the bench.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Not much really.
If you stick to the given rep ranges, sets, RPE guidelines and choose your exercises wisely, you’ll make better gains in strength than ever before, all in just 3 hours per week.
I’d advise deloading after two 4-week cycles, though you can deload more or less frequently should you feel the need. On a deload week, the easiest template is to simply pick exercises as you usually would, but perform just three sets of eight to 10 reps on everything at an RPE of 6 or 7.
Eat big, train wisely and get strong as hell in only 3 hours per week!
Got all that?
Now in case you’re busy like me and not interested in designing your own strength training program, I have good news.
You can automate long-lasting muscle and strength by grabbing a copy of the newly released DUP Method to get you stronger in less time:
Thanks again, hope you enjoyed today’s article, and talk soon!
– Forest Vance
Master of Science, Human Movement
Certified Level 2 Russian Kettlebell Instructor
Certified Progressive Calisthenics Instructor