Over the course of this year I made a big change in my training. After speaking with several trainers and watching how actors got into shape for film roles, one common thread seemed to be a lot of them focused on full body training circuits to burn bodyfat, increase aerobic capacity and transform them into superhero shape.
23NovSuperhero Circuit’s for size & strength
Since the majority of my training life has been mainly doing programs based on either bodybuilding or powerlifting styles of training, I decided to switch things up and try out full body training.
At first the transition was HARD! I could lift heavy stuff, but for these superhero workouts (That’s what Im gonna call em from now on!), they demanded a whole new type of strength & stamina that I just didn’t have after years of doing body part splits, with 2 minute rest periods and focusing mainly on low reps.
I trained using these methods for about 12 weeks, doing no more than 4 training sessions per week. I dropped about 6 kg’s of bodyfat, and my loss in strength was very minimal. This of course was coupled with a change in my nutrition, where I slowly reduced my carb intake each week.
ANYWAY… I was really happy with these results and after about 12 weeks, I could no longer hold back that yearning I had to get back into lifting heavy stuff and get back to work on BUILDING SUPERHUMAN MUSCLE & STRENGTH!!! (Always use caps, when you want to add dramatic effect!)
I would have just gone back to the normal power lifting / bodybuilding style of training that I had always done before, but I had grown to really enjoy the intensity and that hardcore feeling of doing full body workouts. The other great thing is that you hardly ever see guys do this sort of training, and to be honest with you, I almost always try to do things different to most people. I prefer to walk to the beat of my own drum! Even if its to my own detriment! haha.
There was a program that I have been aware of for a couple of years that was once posted onto ‘Testosterone Nation’ by one of my favourite strength coaches to learn from, Christian Thibideau. He had posted up a program he once used to build muscle using strength based circuits. They were low reps, focused heavily on progression each week, high intensity and were a full body workout.
The problem I found with Christian’s program, was that each station in the circuit was a barbell based exercise. The problem for me is that I train in a commercial gym, which only has two power racks! Now, I know what that feeling is like when I get to the gym and Im super pumped to get into that rack and do some heavy squats or bench pressing, only to find that all the racks are in use and It’s gonna be a long wait before they are free.
I hate that feeling as I keep looking at them sideways trying to use my non existent jedi powers to will them to get out of my rack!
So I didn’t want to be that guy that is using BOTH racks! and to keep adjusting ONE rack between bench pressing and squatting would just take too long between exercises. So I did have to make some changes to the program to suit my own situation.
Starting the program.
I used the first couple of training sessions to see where I was at with my strength. I am usually pretty strong and I know what my 1RM’s are for the main lifts. But those max’s are with plenty of warm ups where I take my time, and plenty of rest between sets until I reach my 1 rep maximum.
This program works on loading up the weights using a percentage (a high percentage at that) of your 1 rep max. But the killer part of it is that there is hardly any rest between moving from each exercise in the circuit (30 – 45 seconds!) and the rest period between circuits is mainly spent loading up and getting the weights ready for the next circuit. So you never get a chance to sit down and chill, and scroll through your instagram, or watch a youtube video. or checkin at the gym on facebook! Whaaaaat!
Okay so lets check out the program.
You will be doing 5 rounds of 5 exercises. That’s it!
A- Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
B- Barbell Front Squat
C- Standing Military Press
D- Power Clean’s or High Pull
E- Wide Grip Chin up
The rep scheme & Weight range goes like this,
Monday / Wednesday/ Saturday
Round 1: 5 reps x 85% 1RM
Round 2: 4 reps x 87.5% 1RM
Round 3: 3 reps x 90% 1RM
Round 4: 2 Reps x 95% 1RM
Round 5: 1 Rep x 100% 1RM
Tuesday / Friday
Round 1: 5 reps x 80% 1RM
Round 2: 4 reps x 82.5% 1RM
Round 3: 3 reps x 85% 1RM
Round 4: 2 Reps x 90% 1RM
Round 5: 1 Rep x 95% 1RM
Only perform 1 set of each exercise per round.
rest for 30-60 seconds between exercises
Rest for 2 minutes between circuits.
Use that 2 minutes rest between circuits to set up your weights for the next circuit.
Add 2.5Kg’s to each exercise each week.
Stick with the same exercises each session, and progressively get stronger in them. I understand that to some people it may be boring doing the same thing. So this program is definitely not for everybody. For me however, I really enjoyed the non-stop high intensity of the program. This was one of the best program’s I have ever done to add muscle mass in the shortest amount of time. Not to mention the strength increases I made too.
I stuck with this program for 5 weeks. In that time I took my front squat from 122.5kg for 1 rep, up to 135kg.
My Flat Dumbbell Press up to 52Kg
My Standing Military press up to 75kg (This one was tough! I am quite weak in this exercise)
My power clean up to 85Kg.
My wide grip chin up’s up to 1 rep with a 20kg dumbbell hanging between my feet.
Words of advice.
If you want to make progress on this program, INCREASE YOUR FOOD. I was just coming out of a fat loss phase and my carb intake was pretty low still. I had to change this quickly, just to help recovery between training sessions.
Keep increasing your food intake each week. They don’t have to be massive increases each week, But 100-200 calories per day of clean/ whole foods should be sufficient.
Make sure you are properly warmed up before beginning your 5 rounds. These day’s now that I am in my early 30’s I make sure I take the extra time to warm up my shoulder joints with light band pull aparts and stretching my lats overhead with a band. These really help warm up my rotator cuffs, which helps with the pressing and increases my shoulder mobility and flexibility in my Lat’s for front squatting.
I also run through the circuit twice at a slower pace and build up the weight that I am lifting. You don’t want to start out cold and just go straight into round 1 pushing 80 – 85% of your 1 rep max. That’s how injuries happen. Don’t be stupid!
The entire training session, including the warm up rounds should only take you about 45 minutes in total. So if you are going for longer than that, then you are not working hard enough, and really need to pick up your game mate!
Download The Program
So you don’t have to keep referring back to this blog post to keep remembering what the exercises and weight/ rep ranges are. I am going to make things super easy for you and give you the downloadable version of this program, complete with a training log and all!
Just print the sucker out and take it to the gym!