If you were expecting me to go easy on your first day, think again. If you want to see changes in your physique, you'd better be ready to work for it. Today, we're jumping right in by testing your one-rep max for bench press and finishing with two—count 'em, two—full-body circuits.
Charlie Mike Week 1 Try
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Testing Your 1RM
Using your one-rep max (1RM) is a tried-and-true way of tracking your progress and getting the most out of your training time. If you're familiar with 1RM testing and have a warm-up and protocol you prefer to use, go ahead and use it. On the other hand, if you don't have much experience testing your max, try out this protocol before each of your upcoming 1RM testing days.
Before you even pick up a weight, start with a light warm-up of a few minutes on the bike or treadmill, followed by some dynamic stretches. You obviously don't want to exert yourself too much during the warm-up, but going into 1RM testing with cold, stiff muscles is asking for an injury.
Once you've completed the warm up, do 3-4 warm-up sets of whatever lift you're going to be testing. Start light for your first warm-up set, picking a weight that you can easily complete for 10 repetitions without much of a struggle. For each of the following warm-up sets, increase the weight by 10-20 percent and reduce the number of repetitions. The weight should get progressively harder, but not so hard that it's a struggle to finish your warm-up sets. Save your energy for the max attempts!
Once you've completed your last warm-up set, you're ready to begin your attempts.
Use your last warm-up set as a guide to determine how much weight to put on the bar for your first attempt. If you had 5 or more reps left in the tank after your last warm-up set, add about 20 percent more weight to the bar. If you felt you could perform 1-5 more reps, add about 10 percent more weight. Use these same guidelines as you move through your max attempts. Ideally, you'll find your 1RM within 3-5 attempts. Anything more than 5 sets, and you're going get really fatigued, which can compromise your strength.
If your first attempt felt super easy, be more aggressive with the weight for your second attempt. On the other hand, if your first attempt was a real grinder, don't add more than 5-10 percent.
Example warm-up for an estimated 135-pound 1RM:
- Set 1: 8-10 reps using just the bar
- Set 2: 6-8 reps with 75 lbs.
- Set 3: 4-6 reps with 90 lbs.
- Set 4: 3-4 reps with 105 lbs.
- Attempt 1: 120 lbs.
- Attempt 2: 130 lbs.
- Attempt 3: 135 lbs.
Once you determine your 1RM, write that number down! Not only will you retest at the end of the six-week program, but you'll also use your 1RM to help program out your workouts in the following weeks.
After you finish testing your 1RM, you'll move right into your circuits. Most days will prescribe two. Go quickly through each movement, but not so quickly that you sacrifice form. Try not to rest between exercises or rounds.
If you do need to take a quick breather, keep it to 30-60 seconds. As you move through the program, your goal should be to minimize rest. When you complete the first circuit, take 5-10 minutes of rest before beginning the second.
Every day, write down the time it took you to complete each circuit, the weight you used, and how you felt after completing the workout.