"The thing about my philosophy is that it’s dead simple but doesn’t go 100% along with what you read in the magazines. That’s because its for 100% NATURAL lifters. And I swear by it."
A member of the Lift for Life message board asked me to post my powerlifting routine but I figured I would take a different approach and instead jot down my overall philosophy that I developed over 17 years of lifting. This isn’t a "powerlifting" routing per se as its not set up for peaking or total development of the 3 lifts. Rather, this is more of a "get really f'ing strong" routine and one I used for over a decade.
"The key is to pick an exercise for a bodypart and use that as your primary
one and the one you’ll use to gauge your progress"
The thing about my philosophy is that it’s dead simple but doesn’t go 100% along with what you read in the magazines. That’s because its for 100% NATURAL lifters. And I swear by it.
Alright, here is my entire philosophy - If you can lift 100 pounds 10 times and never try for an 11th, you’ll never get stronger or bigger. Pretty simple huh?
I divided my workout into 3 parts. Monday was legs, Wednesday was shoulder girdle (chest, shoulders and tris) and then Friday was back and biceps. This allowed the maximum amount of rest between workouts and allowed the maximum intensity during workouts.
The key is to pick an exercise for a bodypart and use that as your primary one and the one you’ll use to gauge your progress. For example, let’s use squats for legs. Pick a weight you can do 4 times with GOOD AND PROPER form and then try to add an extra rep to it every workout. When you get to 8+ good, controlled reps with that weight, its time to move up.
Here is where I start to veer off from conventional thinking. Unlike other workouts, I say that you should start out with your heaviest weight FIRST, not last. If you do 200x10, 250x6 and then 275x4 - then you probably could’ve done 275x8 if you did it first. Your muscles will get a better workout doing the 275x8 than it would by doing it x4, so you should start off with 275 first. I’m not saying don’t warm up, but rather don’t tax yourself during warm-ups.
For example, this is a sample of what one of my squat workouts would look like back in my prime. Id start with 135x10 for 2 sets. Then go to 225x8 for 2 sets. Then 315x5 for 1 set. Then 405x3 for 1 set. Then 495x1 for 1 set. Now I was totally warmed up and ready for the heavy stuff which at my best, was 550x4-6 for 4 sets. My first set was usually 6, then 5 then I could usually get 4 the last 2 sets. By not killing myself during warm-up and by using the heaviest weights first, I was able to lift more weight and thus tax my muscles more which made them grow more. I never got any heavier than this but if I had reached a point where I could’ve repped 550 8 times, I would’ve moved up to 600 as a starting weight.
Here is the 2nd place where I veer - I believe in going to muscle failure on EVERY set, even the isolation-machine type exercises. I go back to my mantra - if I can do 10 reps, I’m not overloading my muscles by only doing 8, but by doing 10 and trying for 11, I’m forcing my muscles to grow.
After the main movement like squats or bench, then you go on to the assistance exercises. For these you wont use your heaviest weight first but rather something in the middle. If I would be working out with 315x10 on bench, then Id go to incline and do sets of 12-15 with 225. Go to muscle failure on each of these sets, but you’re not really trying to add extra reps each workout. All you’re doing with these exercises is finishing off a certain muscle group. The main exercise is the one you obsess over adding reps to.
Lastly, one week each workout is your gut busting heavy workout where you try to add reps to your main exercise for the day. The next week you not only give your body a rest but also your mind and do a light workout. This doesn’t mean super light, but stay in the 10-15 rep range. Go to muscle failure on these as well but only add weight when you need to. You’re mainly going for a good solid pump. Also, pick different exercises. Don’t bench 2 weeks in a row. Heavy week is bench press and try something like dumbbell bench for light week.
Well that’s pretty much it. Pick an exercise and get stronger. If you go from benching 200 pounds for 10 reps up to 250 for 10 reps, I guarantee you that you’re bigger.
Thanks for reading!
MacLeod (Member Lift for Life Forums)