What’s your reason for training? Are you active with multiple sports looking to improve performance? Or are you the weekend beer league warrior who doesn’t want to lose a step to the younger guys but also doesn’t want to be dragging himself out of bed in DOMS-induced agony for the following week? Or maybe you just don’t want to be winded climbing a flight of stairs.
Whether Hardcore bodybuilding or powerlifting programs aren’t your thing or Eastern European sounding exercises intimidate more than they entice you to try, there’s a workout for you that’s advanced but not impossible, and can still provide the necessary gains to your training goals.
One worth checking out is this four-day a week training program for someone of any level of experience or ability that will help you feel strong and more athletic. This high-level athletic workout program will help you build muscle without feeling like a bodybuilder, give you better energy, and have you moving better through whatever life brings.
High-Level Athletic Workout Program Principles
Your program consists of two pairs of alternating upper- and lower-body workouts. Your upper-body muscles train while your lower body recovers, and vice versa. Four training days allows for plenty of rest, plus room for your other athletic or recreational pursuits. Any good program should deliver results, allowing you to get more out of life, without missing life by spending all your time in the gym. And that’s what aim to accomplish with this routing. We start our workouts with the more challenging exercises and work our way through a deliberate progression of priorities.
Each workout starts out with a power movement. You might hear words like power or explosiveness and think you’re in the wrong place with the wrong program, but hear me out. Power isn’t reserved for Sunday Night Football linebackers and 20-year-old athletes. As we get older we progressively lose muscle mass, strength, and the ability to express strength quickly, aka power.
We don’t lose these qualities as much due to getting older as we do through disuse. Use it or lose it. We’re misled to think training strength and power increases injury risk, but by not training for these qualities, we grow weaker and less powerful, potentially leading to greater injury risk over the long run. We want to be able to retain our strength and our ability to express power as we get older. Whether to enjoy our favorite sports or protect ourselves from harm.
We focus on building strength with exercises like squats and deadlifts. We gain strength by focusing on heavier weight and lower reps. We focus on using weight we can control with good form though safe range of motion. Sets of lower reps help us train our nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers efficiently, making us stronger. Being strong has limitless practical uses in life.
Next we use exercises and rep ranges focused on building muscle. Age-related muscle loss — called sarcopenia — has a strong relationship with early mortality. You’re more likely to sustain a serious fall injury with less muscle. More muscle feels good, even for women who won’t be able to gain so much muscle they resemble bulky bodybuilders. Having more muscle can enhance confidence, sense of well being, and the process of strength training has a strong relationship with better physical and mental health. You’ll focus on sets of 8-12 reps. While it’s true you can build muscle with a wider range of reps, 8-12 is most time efficient.
We finish your workout with a stamina building, low-impact exercise. This enhances your work capacity for your training, sports, and life. Pushing a sled, while challenging, can be a fun way to complete a workout, while providing joint-friendly training that supports your cardiovascular health.
High-Level Athletic Workout Program Q and A
How long should I do this program for?
Program hopping is one of the surest ways you won’t see the gains you expect when you start a routine. Think of it like trying to chase a bunch of cats at the same time — you’ll quickly realize you have no idea which direction you should go next. Commit to a minimum of 12 weeks on this program, but you can progress for significantly longer if you find you’re consistent, progressively getting stronger, and most of all, you’re actually enjoying the program. You don’t “adapt” to strength training in the way we once believed and the results don’t diminish over time. What does happen, however, is that those major gains you made early on as a “newbie,” begin to level off over time and experience and repetition — you can’t expect to make the same muscle and strength improvements at the same rate forever — you’re now getting closer to your genetic potential ceiling.
How do I progress this program?
We can add sets, reps, or weight. We can shorten rest breaks between sets. We will certainly see you improve technique and range of motion. Always adding sets becomes time prohibitive and always increasing reps starts to get out of the target rep ranges for our key goals. If you find you’re easily performing the top reps in the assigned rep range with a lot of gas in the tank, add a little more weight to the bar. Don’t add so much you can’t reach the assigned reps at the bottom of the rep range. Every time it again gets easy to do the top number of reps, add more weight.
What should I do for recovery?
Massage guns, cryotherapy, and biohacking might sound enticing, but good old nutrition, sleep, and hydration are the keys to recovery and maximizing program results. Focus on getting 1 gram of protein per day per pound of lean body mass. This means taking a rough estimate of your body fat percentage(no you don’t need to pay money to test it) subtract that from your weight, and eat this number in grams of protein each day. Overall calories needs will vary by individual but aim to fuel yourself to perform. You’ll see your best performance results if you aren’t concurrently trying to diet aggressively. The increase in metabolic rate from the training and recovery may lead to some fat loss anyway. If you’re otherwise pretty active, you’ll want to ensure you have carbs in your diet. Carbs are a better fuel for athletic performance and active lifestyles. Low carb diets don’t optimize athletic programs and lifestyles. You’re probably ok on hydration, but it never hurts to drink a little more water each day. Clean urine is a good sign. Cloudy dark yellow urine means your probably dehydrated.
Can I substitute exercises?
Sure. Especially if your gym doesn’t have the specific equipment. Try to switch to something similar and not just switch because you’re avoiding something you don’t like. If chinups are way outside your current capability and there’s no assisted machine, it’s OK to do cable pulldowns. If there’s no sled and turf, go do sprint intervals on a treadmill or air bike. Try to retain as much of the challenge and spirit of the program as possible and not remove the challenges that will lead you to your best progress.
Should I do cardio?
You can only recover from so much training volume. If you’re also actively involved in sports, hiking, endurance activities like long distance running, or have a highly physical job, extra cardio might be overkill. Use your best judgement on how much added training volume you can manage, but with the strength and performance focus of this program, it isn’t optimal for chasing both these goals and serious fat loss. This program would serve as an excellent basis for staying strong while losing body fat, but you’re not focused on making significant improvements to strength.