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The Anatomy of An Aggressive Strength Session

One of the questions I often get asked is how I design my training programs.

While there are literally 1000’s of different ways you can design workouts effectively, I’m going to go over how it is I design a training session that’s geared towards overall performance training.

Now when I say “performance training” I’m talking about training for strength, power, and endurance all at once.  This can mean something totally different to other strength coaches out there, but for me, that’s what training for performance means to me.

What I’ll go over below is from a training session that has the current set up I’ve been personally using for a while and my results have been great!  I’ve seen increases in strength, power, and conditioning.

I’ve also been using this similar set up for the programming within TrainAggressive.com for one of the template options.  (If you didn’t know, I program two different types of programs each month within TA.com)

It’s important to note before I go any further that when it comes to designing workouts, it ALL starts with your goal.

Just because a workout looks cool to do, doesn’t mean that it’s the right one for you.  Always think about what it is you want to achieve overall and then pick out what your workouts will look like from there.

Ask yourself this…

What is it I want to achieve?

Some other important points you need to look at is in regards to this is what your past training history is like. 

How advanced are you? 

What have you done before? 

What are your weaknesses? 

These are all very important things to add into the mix when designing a training program or even a single workout.

Now, for the workout I’m about to dissect, it’s important to note again that the goals of this session were to increase overall performance.  When I say this, I mean the focus is to increase strength, power, and conditioning.

Also, this is taken from the 3rd week of a 4 week phase in which I used progressive loading on the strength movement and decreased rest periods for the conditioning section of the session.  I’ll go into further details below:

***10-20 Mins – Dynamic Warm Up + Foam Rolling***

1A) Burpee Broad Jump 5 x 5  (POWER)

  • I always start my sessions off with an explosive type movement
  • This usually includes a box jump variation or some sort of plyometric skip, bound, or even a sprint.
  • The key is to get the body moving FAST and explosive while NOT getting too fatigued out.
  • A major mistake many people make is they turn this first bit into an all out conditioning session hitting 10-15 jumps with little to no rest.  ***This is a huge mistake as what you want to do it focus strictly on SPEED and POWER. 
  • I often talk about pushing the pace within your workouts and this it what you want, but when you’re focus is on strength and power, a little bit more rest is OK as you want to be able to go near 100% effort on your jumps.
  • For this first movement, The Burpee Broad Jump works well as it’s a more advanced movement, but it’s highly effective at hitting power, explosion, and priming the body for your upcoming session.

2A) Barbell Zercher Squat 2 x 5, 3 x 3, 3 x 1-2 (STRENGTH)

  • The next movement is a strength-based movement with Zercher Squats.
  • The focus here is to work directly on strength specifically geared towards a squat variation.
  • This is the 3rd week on this movement so the rep scheme is focused on lower, HEAVIER reps. 
  • Instead of focusing specifically on reps x sets, like 5 x 5 or something like that, what I always have in mind is how many TOTAL reps I want done for this movement.
  • Since we’ll be going heavy with this, I don’t want to go over 25-30 reps.
  • Up to 25 QUALITY reps is what we want here! 
  • The first few sets of 5 and even the first two sets of 3 I want to focus on lighter, quality reps where I’m hitting the movement very crisp and fast – little to no struggling
  • I DO NOT want to miss reps until the last few sets if possible. 
  • If you miss reps early on in your sets, you have loaded the weight too high.
  • I generally only want to miss reps on the last set or two.
  • That’s when you want to load the bar up and break f*cking records!

3A) OH Squat 4 x 8  (ASSISTANCE)

3B) L-Sit Hold / Practice 4 x submax (CORE / ASSISTANCE)

  • The next section of the workout contains a super set that combines an assistance exercise for squats with the overhead squat then adds a core / “mid line” strengthening movement with L-Seat Holds.
  • For the OH Squat, I call it an assistance exercise in this situation because I’m not maximally loading the movement as instead, I’m using a moderately focused rep scheme with 4 x 8 reps.
  •  Just like with the Zerchers, I don’t want to miss reps until maybe the last set if at all, but since this is an assistance exercise, I shouldn’t be hitting super heavy loads anyways.
  • Your focus should on getting progressively heavier each week as well as heavier on each set if possible. 
  • If you miss reps early on, you’ve gone too heavy.
  • The exception to this rule with the OH squats is that on week 3 where you should be trying to break records and go a lot heavier.
  • Always be trying to go as heavy as possible while still being able to get the allotted amount of reps within each set – don’t take it too easy!
  • For the L-Seats, you either practice the movement, or hit an actual L-Sit hold as best you can. 
  • I like to get at least 30-40 secs of tension in the movement so if you can’t do an actual L-Sit, you practice at your progression level and get at least 30-40 secs of total time under tension
  • If you can hit an L-Seat, go for as long as possible, just make sure to get 40 secs total of time under tension

4A) 4 Rounds (CONDITIONING)

  1. Sandbag Shouldering x 5 / Shoulder
  2. HSPU OR Pike Press x 10
  3. Toes to Bar x 15
  4. HEAVY Farmer Walk x AFAP (As FAR As Possible)

Now this is where we have the FUN!  

  • The set up is to do 4 rounds of 4 different exercises that hit different movements patterns.
  •  The SB Shouldering is for hip explosion and is mainly a full body movement which is why I put it first.
  • It’s a higher skill, high power movement that you can load pretty heavy if you choose which is also why I have it first.
  • HSPU / Pike’s are great for shoulder strength and upper body development – since we hit OH squats already, I wanted to get more volume for the shoulders here.
  • Toes to Bar are GREAT for grip and core work and go well within a circuit.
  • I wanted to make sure to fit in a bit of ore work within my session so these go well and will challenge me conditioning wise as well.
  • The Farmer Walks are added in to further tax the grip and shoulders as well as hit the core.  These are a complete bitch when you’re out of breath as you will be at the end of the circuit.
  • Now, Instead of going straight through the 4 rounds, I add in a “strategic resting period” that’s put there to let you recover just a tiny bit.
  • You could choose to hit this circuit with NO rest, but I can guarantee you that your movements will be very low quality towards the end as you get gassed out.  It will get UGLY (unless you’re HIGHLY conditioned)
  • I use a little bit of rest so you can recuperate just enough so your first two movements are more crisp as these are a bit more high skill and when you attack these totally fatigued, your form will SUCK.
  • The Toes to Bar and Farmer Walks are great movements to use that just flat out challenge you which is why I put these two last.
  • For the Toes to Bar – you can obviously use your progressions but typically the difference maker with these is your grip, not your core so it becomes a bit of a mind game in the later rounds.
  • The Farmers you just have to grab the weight and go! 

***Rest ONLY 30-90 secs once you set the weights down and repeat – Week 1 I used 60 sec break, week 2 I used a 45 sec break and then with week 3, I used only 30 secs.  I also increased the weight on my farmer walk…

Now, if you look at this training session from a birds eye view, this is what it looks like for a LOWER BODY STRENGTH focused day…

1A) POWER MOVEMENT

2A) STRENGTH (lower body)

3A) ASSISTANCE (lower body)

3B) ASSISTANCE (core)

4A) CONDITIONING / FINISHER (Full Body Focused)

5A) OPTIONAL – 3 GRIP / 3 CORE MOVEMENTS

***Always Foam rolling and stretching post workout!

Here’s what I do after ALL of my sessions (unless I’m way strapped for time)…

>>>  FOAM ROLLING

>>> MOBILITY / STRETCHING

Now, this is only a single session and there’s a TON more that goes into the design and planning of my training programs and workouts.

This is only a single type of set up and like I mentioned above, there are literally 1000’s of different ways you can effectively set up a training session.

The outline I have above is one of the BEST set ups I’ve found thus far to produce consistent results overtime not only for myself, but for my clients and athletes as well.

REAL WORLD RESULTS prove it!

While I know there are probably a few flaws in my programming, there will NEVER be a perfect program out there.  There will always be a small gap or missing piece in there somewhere.  All you can do is the BEST you can!

Ultimately, it always comes back to what YOU want to achieve.

I hope that you can take the info I supplied above and use it to help improve your own training sessions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what I’ll be unleashing at The Live and Train Aggressive Weekend.  I’ll be diving DEEP into how to create and design training programs for many different types of goals.

If you want to learn more about how to do this, you will NOT want to miss my upcoming LIVE event! 

There’s ONLY 15 total spots open and 6 are already gone.  CLICK HERE for more info! 

Keep Living and Training Aggressive!

Travis

PS – I should also let you know that I’ll be unleashing a NEW training program that utilizes some of what exactly I have laid out from above which is called The Aggressive Strength Method.

This will have over 20 weeks of workouts you can use with two different type of templates.

To get on the “I want to know FIRST list, make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter! 

If you’re not, SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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  • Ulisse

    This is a wonderful post!

  • PeterDain

    Hello Travis,
    Your positive attitude and a genuine desire to help one improve setsyou
    head and shoulders above all the rest.
    Your helpful e-mails was the reason I was in a Swimming Pool at 5:45 am
    two mornings a week training.