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How to Squat

Common Mistakes in the Squat

Squat Variations

How to Bench

Common Mistakes in the Bench

Bench Press Variations

How to Deadlift

Common Mistakes in the Deadlift

Deadlift Variations

Bracing + Breathing

1RM Test Guide

Self Talk

High-Bar Squat

Demo Here

Set up for a squat in a high bar position (bar resting on your traps / on top of your shoulders, compared to a traditional low bar squat, where the bar is placed on the shelf of your rear-delts). The higher bar positioning allows for a more upright torso angle during the squat, placing more emphasis on the quadriceps. Maintaining a fairly upright torso position, descend in a squat until you reach parallel depth (hip crease below top of the knees). Press back up to standing by pushing your feet into the floor and your shoulders back into the bar. If a pause is prescribed, pause at the bottom of the squat for the prescribed duration, focusing on maintaining tension throughout your body as you resist the barbell.

If your primary (main) squat is already High-Bar and the program prescribes High-Bar Squats at another time in the week, you may perform them again, but we would recommend considering an alternative variation. That could be a paused high bar squat, front squat, heel elevated goblet squat, close stance leg press, or another quad-dominant squat variation).

For full squat tutorial, see our Extended Video Library or written guides on this movement.

Substitutions 

Quad-dominant barbell squat variations (front squat, safety bar squat, etc.); other lower body compound exercises (hack squat machine, leg press, belt squat, goblet squat, etc.)

Front Squat

Demo Here

Unrack the bar across your shoulders, placing it as close to your throat (across your clavicle) as possible while still allowing yourself room to breathe. Barbell should rest behind the delts, and hands and fingers help balance the bar outside of the delts. If you are unable to maintain hand position on the bar, you can use lifting straps to hold on to the bar as shown here, or use a cross arm position with your right hand supporting the bar on your left shoulder, and vice versa.

Bend at the knee and the hip, placing an emphasis on knee flexion as it will travel farther in front of the knee than your back squat variation. Keep the torso as upright as possible and continue to keep the elbows high throughout your repetition.

Substitutions 

Quad-dominant barbell squat variations (high-bar squat, safety bar squat, etc.); Goblet Squats; Other quad-dominant compound movements (hack squats, narrow stance leg press)

Goblet Squat

Demo Link

Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest, perform squats to depth while keeping an upright torso. Perform with feet flat on the ground, unless specified otherwise (e.g. Heel Elevated Goblet Squat, as demonstrated above).

Substitutions 

Heel Elevated Goblet Squat; Band Abducted Goblet Squat; Goblet Squat w Adduction; Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Belt Squat

Demo Here

Straddle two blocks and hang the weight of a weight-loaded belt between your legs. Perform squats to depth while keeping an upright torso. Can also be performed on a Belt Squat machine if available, or by attaching a dip-belt to a cable rack with a pulley set to a low position.

Substitutions 

Leg Press; Front Squat; Goblet Squat; Zercher Squat; Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

Hip Thrust

Demo Link

Sitting on the floor in front of a bench, roll the bar so it is over your hips. Support your mid back perpendicular to a bench. Squeeze your butt and drive your feet through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Aim to keep your shins vertical throughout the repetition to better target your glutes.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Band Abducted Squats

Demo Here

With a band on your legs above your knees, perform squats while maintaining tension in the band. Press into the band by pushing the knees out in the squat. To be performed unweighted, unless otherwise specified (e.g. Band Abducted Goblet Squat).

Substitutions 

Band Abducted Goblet Squat; Monster Walk; Banded Lateral Walk; Side Lying Abduction; Hip Thrust with Band Abduction

Pause Squats

Demo Link

Pause at the bottom of the squat, maintaining tension in the legs and lower back and keeping position throughout the pause. Press back up by pushing your feet into the floor and your shoulders back into the bar.

Substitutions 

Paused barbell squat variations (low-bar, high-bar, front squat, safety bar squat, etc.); Pause lower body compound exercises (leg press, hack squat machine, goblet squat, etc.)

1.25 Squats

Demo Link

Perform the eccentric portion of the squat, after getting out of the hole of the squat on the way up, change directions and return to the bottom, then stand all the way back up to complete the rep.

Substitutions 

One and a quarter barbell squat variations (low-bar, high-bar, front squat, safety bar squat, etc.)

Bulgarian Split Squat

Demo Here

In a lunge position with back leg supported on a bench or box and with weight loaded (barbell on back, goblet in front, or one dumbbell in each hand), sink into lunge position, and squeeze your glutes and quadriceps on your front leg to stand back up.

Substitutions 

Walking Lunges; Reverse Lunges; Box Step-Ups; Split Squat; Front Foot Elevated Split Squat; Single Leg Leg Press; B-Stance Squat

Single-Leg Leg Press

Demo Link

On the leg press machine, load weight appropriately (roughly half what you would use for a regular Leg Press, or more conservatively if needed). Set up as you normally would (with feet roughly shoulder width apart). Maintain your hip and torso position, and then remove one leg from the press and place it safely out of the track. Push upward on the sled, unlock the safeties, and lower the sled to a comfortable depth. From there, push back up to perform a repetition. Repeat. Aim to keep your hips square in the same position throughout the repetition.

Substitutions 

Lunge variations; Split Squat variations; Cossack squat; Box Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body exercises.

DB Box Step Ups

Demo Here

With one dumbbell in each hand, step one leg onto a box and use that leg to drive your body to standing on top of the box. Lower down and repeat for the prescribed reps, then switch legs and repeat.

Substitutions 

Lateral Box Step Ups; Bulgarian Split Squat; Split Squat; Front Foot Elevated Split Squat; Lunge; Reverse Lunge; B-Stance Hip Thrust; Single Leg Leg Press

Bench Press

Demo Link

Your competition (or strongest) style bench press. Perform these with your strongest grip width, maintaining head, shoulder, and hip contact with the bench and your feet pressed on the floor unless specified otherwise (e.g. Feet Up Bench Press). For full bench press tutorial, see our How to Bench video, our Extended Video Library or written guides on this movement.

Substitutions 

Barbell Bench Press Variations (competition-style, close grip, wide grip, incline, decline, etc.); Push Up Variations; DB Bench Press Variations; Machine Pressing variations or any other upper body pressing movements.

Close Grip Bench Press

Demo Here

Take a moderately (1-4″ per hand) narrower grip than your competition or regular bench press grip. Lower the bar to your chest with control (aim to tuck your elbows a little bit closer to your torso than a normal bench press) and press back up to lock out. Set up with your shoulders and butt on the bench and feet on the floor as normal, unless specified (e.g. feet up close grip bench press).

Substitutions 

Close Grip Bench Press Feet Up; Neutral Grip DB press; Close Grip Push-Ups; Bench Dips; Chest Dips

DB Bench

Demo Here

Set up on a flat bench with your head, shoulders, and butt on the bench and your feet on the floor, while holding a pair of dumbbells – one in each hand. Bench Press the dumbbells from chest level to lockout. We recommend keeping a roughly 45-degree angle between your arms and your torso, striking a balance between too flared out and too tucked in to your torso.

Substitutions 

Pushup, DB Incline Bench; DB Flye; Cable Flyes

DB Incline Bench Press

Demo Here

Set up on an incline bench, or angle a flat bench with plates or blocks. Keep your head, shoulders, and butt on the bench and your feet on the floor, while holding a pair of dumbbells – one in each hand. Bench Press the dumbbells from chest level to lockout. We recommend keeping a roughly 45-degree angle between your arms and your torso, striking a balance between too flared out and too tucked in to your torso.

Substitutions 

Incline Barbell Bench Press; Pushups; and Cable Crossover variations

Board Press

Demo Link

Use a bench block or board to limit the range of motion of the bench press. Lower the barbell with control, complete a pause when the block or board makes contact with your chest. Can also be done with a partner holding the board on your chest.

Substitutions 

Pin press, Spoto press

T-Shirt Press

Demo Here

Set up as you would for a traditional bench press (unless specified otherwise, e.g. Feet Up or Close Grip). Unrack and lower the bar, aiming to control the descent through the entire range of motion. The goal of this exercise is to stop right as the bar touches your shirt, but before the bar touches your chest. You should remain actively resisting the bar at this point.

Allow the bar to become motionless (a very slight pause to ensure you are not losing control of the bar or bouncing off your chest), and then begin pressing the bar back up to your start position. You should remain in constant tension here, not allowing the bar to rest on the chest at all. Aim to keep the contact with your shirt as light as possible, but don’t stop above the shirt (make sure you touch your shirt, after all!).

Substitutions 

Spoto press, pin press

Spoto Press

Demo Here

Unless noted otherwise (e.g. feet up, close grip, etc.), set up in your competition style (regular) bench press. Control the descent of the bar path, and rather than lowering all the way until the bar touches your chest, pause the bar before it makes contact, about 1 inch above your chest. Maintain tension during the pause, and drive back up to complete the rep.

Substitutions 

Board Press, T-shirt press, DB or Machine Bench Press variations

Kroc Rows

With one hand and one knee on a flat bench, row a dumbbell in the opposite hand from the bottom of your range of motion to the lower rib cage

Substitutions 

DB Row, cable row, chest supported row

Deadlift

Demo Link

Competition style deadlift. This can either be conventional, or sumo position. For full deadlift tutorial, see our How to Deadlift video, our Extended Video Library or written guides on this movement.

Set up with the bar above your midfoot (aim for you mid-shoelaces), and get into the start position by reaching down with your arms straight down while hinging at the hip and bending slightly at the knee. Shins should be close to perpendicular to the floor at the start of the pull. Tighten the upper back, brace the core, then pull the bar from the ground up to the hips. Think about pushing the feet through the floor while keeping the barbell as close to your body as possible.

Substitutions 

Banded Deadlift; Barbell deadlift variations (conventional, sumo, trap bar); Other posterior chain compound exercises (Good Mornings, Romanian Deadlifts, Stiff- leg Deadlifts)

Good Morning

Demo Link

Unrack the bar setup in a low bar position. Walkout, and hinge at the hip by pushing your hips back. Allowing a little bend in the knees is good (not stiff-legged), but aim to maintain that same knee angle as you hip hinge, as opposed to actively squatting or flexing at the knees. Once your torso is near parallel to the ground, reverse the movement and return to an upright position. Can also be performed seated, and/or with specialty bars (eg. safety squat bars)

Substitutions 

Banded Good Morning; Banded Sumo Good Morning; Supermans or Back extensions; Reverse hyperextensions; Stiff-Leg or Romanian Deadlifts

Stiff-Leg Deadlifts

Demo Here

Set up in a conventional deadlift position. Setup and execution of this movement will be very similar to the conventional deadlift, but should have a higher hip position, and less knee flexion. Do not completely lockout knees, but take note to keep legs more intentionally straight and maintain the same knee angle and a vertical shin during the entire repetition. Unlike a Romanian Deadlift, we tend to think of this lift as bottom-up (starting from the floor), focused on reaching the butt back, maintaining a constant knee angle, and focusing on hinging at the hip. Can be loaded with barbell, DB, KB. Can also be performed from a slight (1-3″) deficit.

Substitutions 

Romanian Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Reverse Hypers

Sumo Deadlift

Demo Link

KB Sumo Deadlift Demo

DB Sumo Deadlift Demo

Refer to our Video Library and written resources for more information on this more technical lift.

Set up with feet wide and hands inside of legs. Hinge at the hip and bend at the knee to get in a pulling position where shins are perpendicular to the floor. Tighten the upper back, brace the core, then pull the bar from the ground up to the hips. Think about pushing the feet through the floor while keeping the barbell as close to your body as possible. Extend the knee and then open the hips in rapid concession.

Substitutions 

Sumo KB/DB deadlifts, other Barbell deadlift variations (conventional, trap bar)

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Demo Here

Set up with your feet hip width apart and toes pointed forward. Shins should be close to the bar, similar to the deadlift position. Pick the barbell up (as a conventional deadlift) to the hip. Unlike a Stiff-Leg Deadlift (where we start from the floor), we will be performing RDLs from the top down. Focus on hinging at the hip and keeping the back neutral through the entire movement. Maintain a slight bend in the knee, and push the hips back as you descend (you should feel a light stretch in your hamstrings at the bottom). Also unlike the Stiff-Leg Deadlift, our goal is constant tension (no resetting on the ground between reps), and a bit more knee flexion as the bar descends past your knees. Some amount of hip movement is natural as we move up and down throughout the repetition, whereas our hips would remain at a fixed height in a Stiff Leg Deadlift.

Substitutions 

KB/DB Romanian Deadlifts, Stiff-Leg Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Trap Bar Deadlift, Glute Ham Raise

Deficit Deadlift

Demo Here

Stand on an elevated plate/board/block and perform your competition style deadlift (conventional or sumo, your preference) with the additional range of motion. Keep in mind that if your bar is loaded with plates smaller than traditional 45lb/20kg plates (or bumper plate equivalents), you may already be pulling from a deficit. For full size plates, we recommend using a deficit height of 1-2″ – this tends to be enough to overload the range of motion, but not so high that our mechanics, pulling technique, start position, and bar path are drastically different.

Substitutions 

Pause deadlifts, tempo deadlift

Low block pulls

Demo Here

Set up a barbell on low blocks (or stacked plates) so the bar is below the knees. Approach the bar as you would for your normal deadlift (either conventional or sumo, whichever is your preferred stance), and perform a deadlift. From lockout, be sure to lower the bar with control until it gently resets on the blocks. Keep in mind that if your bar is loaded with plates smaller than traditional 45lb/20kg plates (or bumper plate equivalents), you may need more height. For full size plates, we recommend using a block height of 1-4″ – this tends to be enough to overload the movement, but not so high that our mechanics, pulling technique, start position, and bar path are drastically different.

Substitutions 

Pause deadlifts, tempo deadlift

Cable Pull-Through

Demo Here

Lower cable machine to lowest rung with a rope handle attached. Standing with your back to the cable, straddle the cable and pull the handles through your legs and lockout the hips by squeezing your glutes. Pause to remove any momentum (or for prescribed duration, if specified), then return to the start position with control, focusing on hingeing at the hips. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Hip thrusts, Glute Kickback, Back Extensions (shoulders rounded)

Split Stance RDL

Demo Link

Set up in a staggered stance, and soften the front knee slightly. Put your weight on the front foot and hinge at the hip and push your hips back. The back foot should support like a kickstand. Control your slow negative and keep your back flat.

Substitutions 

Single leg RDL, Single Leg Press, Split squat variations, Lunge variations, Single Leg Hamstring Curls, other unilateral lower body work

DB Romanian Deadlifts

Demo Here

Start standing upright with a DB in each hand, and feet roughly hip width apart. Begin the rep by reaching your hips back while allowing your torso to tip forward, focusing on maintaining a strong and rigid trunk as you descend. Continue descending until you feel a light to moderate stretch in your hamstrings and/or glutes. Then, return to the start position by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.

Try to maintain constant tension throughout the set, not resting the DBs until all reps are completed. Can also be performed holding a single kettlebell with one hand, or one kettlebell in each hand.

Substitutions 

Barbell RDLs, Split Stance RDL, Hamstring Curls

Single-leg DL

Demo Link

Standing on one leg with knee slightly bent, perform a stiff legged deadlift, extending the free leg behind you for balance.

Substitutions 

Unilateral hip hinge, split stance DL

Lat Pulldowns

Demo Here

On cable pulldown machine, choose a long handle. Keeping your torso upright, chest tall, and elbows pointed down, squeeze the lats/armpits and lower the handle to below your chin or to roughly collarbone level. Try to tuck your elbows in towards your ribs as you pull the bar down, better engaging your lats. Perform these with an overhand grip unless specified otherwise, such as neutral grip or supinated (underhand) grip.

Substitutions 

Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups); Horizontal Pulling movements (DB Rows, Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

Seated DB Overhead Press

Demo Link

Get in an upright seated position with a dumbbell in each hand. Elbows should be in a 90degree angle at the start position. Push DB and fists up to the ceiling, completing the rep when elbows are locked out overhead. Return to start position and repeat. Can be completed with back support on an adjustable bench press or without. Back support may help form at higher intensities.

Substitutions 

Barbell OHP; Seated Cable OHP; (Modified) Handstand Push-Up; Overhead Pressing Machines

Bentover Rows

Demo Here

In a bent over position with back parallel to the floor (or close) and knees slightly bent, row the bar by pulling it to the lower chest. Control the bar throughout the movement.

Substitutions 

Banded Bentover Row, Pendlay Row, DB Row, Inverted row, Chest Supported Row

Cable Lat Pullover

Demo Here

Attach a rope, EZ-bar, or straight bar attachment to a cable pulley machine at the highest position. Standing facing the cable machine, grab the bar with an overhand position at shoulder width apart or wider. While maintaining a slight elbow angle, pull the bar down towards your waist. Think about leading the pull with your elbows, tucking your arms back to your torso throughout the repetition. When your elbows reach parallel with your torso, perform a slight pause to avoid any momentum (unless a specific pause or tempo is prescribed) and control the movement back to the starting position.

Substitutions 

Banded Lat Pullover; DB Pullover; Lat Pull Down variations (wide grip, single arm, etc); Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Rows

DB Rows

Demo Link

Using a bench or box, place same side knee and hand on the surface. Extend free arm straight down with the dumbbell and bring dumbbell back to your hip. Can also be performed with a KB, or with both legs on the floor creating a tripod between your legs and supporting hand.

Substitutions 

Banded Row; Chest-Supported Row; Inverted Row; Single Arm Cable Row, Single Arm Lat Pull Down

Face Pulls

Demo Here

Facing a cable machine, set the pulley at or above your shoulder-level and use a rope or split handle attachment. Pull the weight directly towards your face while keeping the upper arms parallel to the floor. Control the cable on the way back to the start position. Can also be performed with a band. Note that the higher you pull (band or rope towards your eye-level), the more you will train your overall upper back, including your shoulders and external rotators. The more that you pull in line with your shoulders, the more directly you will target your rear deltoids. Neither are inherently right or wrong, and we recommend training a combination or alternating (for balance), or whichever is more comfortable for you.

Substitutions 

Blackburns; Banded Face Pull; Band Pullaparts, Prone I-T-W-Y, Rear Delt Flyes

Chest-Supported Rows

Demo Link

Use an incline bench or row machine setup to support the chest so you can take your lower back out of the movement. Keep feet on the ground or straddle the bench to get into position.

Grab the bar/DB/KB or cable and row by moving the weight back towards the hip. Control the weight to return to the start position. Your torso should remain in the same position throughout the repetition. Can be performed single arm (when using DBs, KBs, or a Hammer Strength row machine) or with both arms simultaneously, unless specified – just perform the prescribed number of repetitions as “reps per arm” (e.g. 3×8 would be 3×8/arm).

Substitutions 

DB Row, Inverted Row, Barbell Row, any other horizontal pulling variations or machines

Rear-Delt Flyes

Demo Link

With a dumbbell in each hand, bend at the hips so that the chest is parallel to the floor. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and raise each dumbbell out and up away from the torso. Control the weight on the way back to the bottom. Option to use DB, KB or Cable machine.

Substitutions 

ITWY, Band Pull Aparts, Face Pulls

Pendlay Rows

Demo Here

In a bent over position with back parallel to the floor, row the bar from the floor into the lower chest, and return the bar back to the floor. This movement should be an explosive concentric contraction (pulling the bar from floor to chest), and controlled negative (slowly lowering the back back down).

Keep in mind that if your bar is loaded with plates smaller than traditional 45lb/20kg plates (or bumper plate equivalents), you may already be pulling from a deficit, and you may instead want to set up your barbell on top of blocks or plates to accommodate.

Substitutions 

Barbell row, Kroc rows, chest supported rows, seated cable row

Hammer Curls

Demo Here

Perform curls using DBs or a neutral grip bar. Keep your palms facing together throughout the entire movement. Can be performed with both arms simultaneously or alternating if not explicitly prescribed – just be sure to perform the total prescribed reps as reps per arm.

Substitutions 

Cable Rope Hammer Curls; Neutral Grip Curls; Cable Curls; Machine Curls; Any other bicep variation

DB Curls

Demo Here

Using DBs, perform bicep curls. Can be performed alternating each arm (as demonstrated above) or simultaneously, if preferred/not specified. Keep bicep and elbow close to torso and control the weight through the entire movement. Can be performed standing or seated, if not specified.

Substitutions 

Barbell Curls; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls; DB Iso-Hold Curls

DB Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Holding a weight above your head with your arms extended, bend at the elbow to lower the weight with control behind your head. Return the weight to an extended overhead position.

Substitutions 

Banded or Cable OH Tricep Extension; Cable push downs; Skullcrushers; any other tricep-specific exercise

Barbell Curls

Demo Link

Stand and hold a barbell with an underhand grip, palms facing away from your body. Keep the upper arms stationary, and curl the bar forward and up while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for reps.

Substitutions 

Barbell Curl 21’s, EZ bar curls, Alt. DB Curls, Hammer Curl, Cable Curls

Inverted Rows

Demo Here

With a barbell fixed in a low position in a squat rack, hang underneath the bar with your feet on the floor and your hands spaced bench press-width apart. Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the bar maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position. To scale this movement, bring your feet closer (easier) or further away/elevated (harder). Can also be performed with a TRX or Rings.

Substitutions 

Pronated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Cable Row; Chest Supported Row; Machine Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Lat Pull Down

Bench Dips

Demo Here

Starting with a bench perpendicular to your body, grip the surface or edge of the bench with your hands. Keep your feet flat on the floor, bending 90-degrees at the hip and knee. Lower your body until your elbow joint reaches 90-degrees, and then press yourself back up to the top by pushing into the bench. If training at home, this exercise can be performed on the edge of a strong & stable bench, chair, couch, or coffee table, but we recommend first checking for stability as well as if possible, having a partner or family member spot you and the furniture to avoid tipping.

Option to scale up (harder) by extending your feet away from your body, elevating your feet, or adding weight to your lap. Moving your feet closer to the bench and bending your knees (as demonstrated) will scale this easier.

Substitutions 

Tricep Push Down; Tricep Kick Back; Skullcrushers; BW Tricep Extension

Plank

Demo Here

High Plank Demo

Single Arm Plank Demo

Lateral Moving Plank Demo

Low-to-High Plank Demo

Plank Pull Across Demo

Plank Shoulder Taps Demo

Modified Plank Shoulder Taps Demo

Set up in a pushup position with forearms and balls of your feet on the ground. maintain neutral spine by tucking the ribs and squeezing the glutes and abdominals. You should have a straight line from heels to knees to hips to shoulders. Lift your hips off the ground, and maintain that position for prescribed amount of time. If the prescribed time is too short or long for your current strength, consider scaling:

Scale easier by performing your plank to your knees and/or raising to your hands (vs. forearms). Scale harder by balancing on forearms only, adding weight to your back, or by placing your hands or feet on an unstable surface like a Bosu ball or suspension system like TRX. Can also be performed as a single arm plank (alternate sides each set).

Plank Pull Across is a more dynamic plank variation, and can be performed with a DB or household item (like the shaker cup in the demo).

Substitutions 

Hanging Leg Raises; Bear Crawls; Side Plank; L-Sit

Suitcase walk

Demo Here

Hold a weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc) with one hand and walk. Switch hands with the weight and walk the same distance back. Carries are always counted by time, so do not rush. Control your pace and do your best to keep your hips and shoulders square, stacked, and balanced despite the resistance in one hand.

These can also be performed at home or without access to a DB or KB – load a backpack or suitcase with books, shoes, and other heavy items, and walk for the prescribed time. Even with limited space, the most important thing is maintaining a square torso position – even if you are simply marching or taking a few steps back and forth.

Substitutions 

Any unilateral heavy carry; KB/DB Windmills; Side Planks

Barbell Rollouts

Demo Here
Set up a loaded barbell with round plates. Start in a kneeling position with enough room to extend forward. Engage your abs by tucking your ribcage down, then initiate by pushing the bar forward away from your thighs. Control the speed and distance the bar travels by engaging the core. You should feel a light stretch in the abdominals. Keep ribs down and glutes tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position. Attach a band to the bar and fixed behind you to scale this movement easier, and a band to the bar fixed in front of you to scale this movement harder. Can also be substituted for an Ab Wheel, or by performing the bodyweight only variation — Ab Fallouts.

Substitutions 

Planks; Hanging Leg Raises; L-Sit; Sit-Ups; Cable Crunches; Any other abdominal flexion exercise

Band Pullaparts

Demo Here

Hold a band in with both hands and extend arms in front of you. Raise hands to shoulder level. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and separate the band in a fly-motion. Option to supinate grip (palms facing up) for a reverse or underhand band pull-apart.

Substitutions 

Underhand Band PullapartsFace Pulls; Rear Delt Flyes; Prone I-T-Y-W; Prone Incline I-T-Y-W; any upper back/shoulder health/external rotation movements

McGill Big 3

1. Curl Up Demo Here
2. Side Plank Demo Here
3. Birddog Demo Here

A series of 3 core exercises performed in a row: the Curl-Up, Side-Plank, and Bird-Dog

Curl Up: Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other extended on the floor. Raise your head a few inches off the ground and hover the extended leg at the same time. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, then lower back to the ground with control. Repeat for 3-8 repetitions (each rep is a 5-10 second long hold) if rep range is not prescribed, then relax and switch sides.

Side Plank: Get into a side plank position and raise + hold for 7-10 seconds, then lower back to the ground with control. Repeat for 3-8 repetitions (each rep is a 7-10 second long hold) if rep range is not prescribed, then repeat on the other side. For an Advanced variation, hold for the same 7-10 seconds, but alternate sides by rolling from side to side between reps, rather than resting between holds.

Birddog: Start in a quadruped position. Tuck the ribs and the hips, ensuring you do not hyperextend the spine. Extend one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg out behind you while maintaining a neutral spine. Hold each position for 2-8 seconds before lowering back towards the ground with control. Repeat for 3-8 repetitions per side, if rep range is not prescribed. Can be performed all repetitions on one side before moving to the other side, or by alternating opposite arm/opposite leg with each rep.

Substitutions 

Any core series (deadbugs, bird-dogs, planks, l-sit, hanging leg raises)

KB Windmill

Demo Here

Take a wide stance, and angle feet. Press kettlebell or dumbbell overhead in one hand. Keep the elbow overhead locked out at all times, push the hips back and away from the direction of the toes. Hinge at the hips and reach towards the floor with your free hand. Ok to touch shoes or shin if you cannot reach the floor. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times.

Can also be performed at home by substituting a KB/DB for a water bottle or small backpack weighted with books or other objects. Since this exercise is so technically demanding, the absolute load used is less important

Substitutions 

Suitcase Walk, Side Plank variations, Turkish Getup, Half Turkish Getup

Bird Dogs

Demo Here

Start in a quadruped position. Tuck the ribs and the hips, ensuring you do not hyperextend the spine. Extend one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg out behind you while maintaining a neutral spine. Switch opposite arm/opposite leg. Hold each position for 3 seconds.

Substitutions 

Deadbugs, Planks

Back Extensions

Demo Here

On a Glute-Ham-Developer or hyperextension machine, lock in the feet with the hip pad under the pelvis/lower trunk. Fold at the hip so you are perpendicular to the ground (with your head near the floor) and squeeze the erectors/lower back and glutes to pull the torso up above parallel from the floor.

These can also be performed with a Glute Emphasis. To better target your glutes, set up on a GHD or hyperextension machine and actively round the upper back. Squeeze at the glutes and focus on pressing your pelvis into the pad as you raise your torso and pause at the top.

Substitutions 

Good mornings; Supermans; Reverse Hyperextensions; Romanian Deadlifts;

Glute Focus Substitutions

Hip Thrusts; Glute Bridges;

Deadbugs

Demo Here

Laying on your back, raise arms directly over shoulders and knees over hips, with shins parallel to the floor. You can opt to extend legs for a more difficult variation. Tuck ribs down and press lower back into the floor.

Lower one arm back behind your head and the opposite leg down towards the floor. Control the descent and do not make contact with the ground. Instead, hover arm and leg over the ground. Maintain contact with the lower back on the floor and squeeze the abdominals to hold the position. Switch sides and perform same exercise with opposite arm and opposite leg.

Can also be performed with resistance, using a band (as demonstrated above), or holding a DB/KB above your shoulders. Focus on keeping the ribs tucked down and pelvis neutral to your spine.

Substitutions 

Banded Deadbugs; Birddogs; V-situps; Hollow body holds; Bear Crawls

Turkish Get-Up Position Repeats

Turkish Get-Up

Demo Here

Starting Position: Lie on the floor with one kettlebell in one hand. Bend the knee on the same side as your kettlebell and press that foot into the ground. Extend your free arm out, palm pressing into the ground.

Punch the kettlebell upward and forceful press your extended arm into the floor so your torso rises up. Shift the weight onto the forearm and transition to your hand.

Raise the hips into a bridge, then sweep your extended leg under onto your knee.

Perform the half kneeling windmill to shift the weight evenly on knee and foot, then press into your heel to stand.

Reverse all steps to come back to the starting position.

Can also be broken down into Half Get-Ups or Position Repeats to build proficiency and confidence in the movement.

Substitutions

Half Get-Ups; Turkish Get-Up Position Repeats; Windmills (standing or half kneeling); Suitcase Walks

Shoulder Pass Through

Demo Here

Hold a PVC pipe, broom, or band in front of your body with arms extended straight. Lift the implement up and over your head. Externally rotate your shoulders and continue to bring the pipe behind your back. Then reverse the movement to bring the pipe in front of your body again.

Keep ribcage pulled down and avoid overextension of the back. Make the movement easier with a wide grip, or more difficult with a narrow grip.

Substitutions 

Reverse grip shoulder pass through, Around the World, Down Dog Position

Around the World

Demo Here

Grab a PVC pipe, broom, or band in front of your body with arms locked out. Slowly rotate one arm overhead, bringing the PVC pipe over and around your head and body. Follow the revolution with the other arm and repeat. Continue in one direction for prescribed reps, and then reverse directions.

Substitutions 

Shoulder Passs Through, Reverse grip shoulder pass through, Down Dog Position

Single Arm DB Floor Press

Demo Here

Lie flat on the ground with a dumbbell in one hand. Extend your free hand out to your side for stability, or use a rack or piece of equipment to press into.

Slowly pull the dumbbell down to the body as you would in a normal bench press. Return the dumbbell to the top of the movement. Can be performed on either a bench or on the floor, if not specified.

Substitutions 

Single arm fly and cable crossover variations

Half Turkish Get-Up

Demo Here

Starting Position: Lie on the floor with one kettlebell in one hand. Bend the knee on the same side as your kettlebell and press that foot into the ground. Extend your free arm out, palm pressing into the ground.

Punch the kettlebell upward and forcefully press your extended arm into the floor so your torso rises up. Shift the weight onto the forearm and transition to your hand.

Raise the hips into a bridge. Hold that position for one count, then reverse all steps to come back to the starting position.

Substitutions: Turkish Getup, Kneeling Windmill, Windmill

Banded Lateral Walk

Demo Here

Place a glute band just above or just below the knees. Create tension in the band by taking a slightly wider than hip width stance, and bend the knees to get in an athletic stance. Take small steps laterally on one side and complete all reps. Then switch sides.

Substitutions 

Monster walk, Clamshells, Fire hydrants

Glute Ham Raise

Demo Here

Set up on a GHR/GHD machine with the knees slightly behind the pad and feet firmly on the platform. Start with the torso perpendicular to the floor and squeeze the hamstrings and glutes to lower until the torso is parallel to the floor.

Return to start position by pulling up with the hamstrings. Avoid breaking at the hip and hyperextending through the spine.

Substitutions 

Assisted GHR (with band), Hamstring Curl

Strict Pull-Up

Demo Here

Grip a pull-up bar slightly wider than hip width apart, palms facing away from your face (supinated grip). Hang from the bar, and pull yourself up by pulling elbows down to the floor. Continue pulling until your chin passes the bar. Descend back to the start position and repeat.

Substitutions 

Lat-pull down, assisted pull-ups, chin-ups, negative pull-ups

Negative Pull-Up

Demo Here

Grip a pull-up bar slightly wider than hip width apart, palms facing away from your face (supinated grip). Complete either a strict pull-up, or jump up to hang with biceps flexed, and chin over the bar. Slowly descend for desired amount of time, ensuring the range of motion, and time are evenly spaced out.

Substitutions 

jumping pull-ups, assisted negative pull-ups, negative chin-ups, negative pull-ups

Monster Walk

Demo Here

Place a glute band just above or just below the knees. Create tension in the band by taking a slightly wider than hip width stance, and bend the knees to get in an athletic stance.

Take short steps by bringing the heel towards the midline, then pushing the foot back out diagonally. Alternate steps between left and right. Aim to maintain band tension throughout your step.

Substitutions 

Clamshells, fire hydrants

Overhead Press (OHP)

Demo Here

Setup a barbell on a squat rack at shoulder height. Unrack the barbell and walk out from the rack. Press the bar up over the head, pushing your head forward once the barbell passes eye level. For a more comprehensive overview, check out our longer YouTube instructional video linked here.

Substitutions 

Standing OHP, Barbell OHP, Seated/High-Incline OHP; DB OHP (seated or standing); Machine or Hammer Press; Viking Press, Push Press, etc.

Scap Pull-Up

Demo Here

Start in a normal pull-up position. From a full hang, draw the scapulae (shoulder blades) down and together, raising your body slightly. From this contracted position, slowly lower back to the dead hang start position with control. Do not bend the elbows during your repetition. The range of motion is only a few inches, and our goal is active control through the shoulder blades and engagement of the lats.

To scale as an easier movement, perform this on a lat pull down machine, and try to build up your strength and control and gradually push the resistance.

Substitutions 

Scap Pull-Up on Lat Pull Down machine; Cable Lat Pullover; Scap Push-Up

Clamshells

Demo Here

Lie on your side with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Keep feet in contact with each other and raise upper knee as high as possible, without moving the hips or pelvis. Keep lower leg in contact with the floor.

Substitutions 

Clamshells with Hip Extension, Seated Banded Clamshells, Fire Hydrants, Banded Lateral Walk, Monster Walk

Fire Hydrant

Demo Here

Start on a quadruped position on hands and knees. Keep knee in a bent position and move the knee away from the midline of the body. Pause at the top of the motion and return to the starting position.

Substitutions 

Clamshells, banded lateral walk, monster walk

Banded Shuffle

Demo Here

Place a short band around both feet. Create tension in the band by taking a slightly wider than hip width stance, and bend the knees to get in an athletic stance. Take small steps laterally on one side and complete all reps. Then switch sides.

Substitutions 

Banded lateral walk, Monster walk, Clamshells, Fire Hydrants

Strict Chin-Up

Demo Here

Grip a pull-up bar at shoulder width apart, palms facing towards you (pronated grip). Hang from the bar, and pull yourself up by pulling elbows down to the floor and flexing biceps. Continue pulling until your chin passes the bar. Descend back to the start position and repeat.

Substitutions 

Neutral grip lat pull-down, assisted chin-ups, negative chin-ups, weighted chin-ups

Bear Crawl

Demo Here

Start in a quadruped position and curl toes under to press into feet and hands at the same time to raise the knees. Slowly move opposite hand and knee to move forward and then backwards. This is a core strengthening and activation movement, and your focus should be on maintaining flat shoulders and hips throughout the movement (avoid tipping). Actively engage your abdominal muscles by keeping your ribs pulled down and your pelvis tucked under your hips.

Substitutions 

Bear Crawl Shoulder Taps; Bird Dogs; Deadbugs

Blackburns

Demo Here

Start lying face down (prone) on the floor or bench. Raise both arms overhead with a slight bend in the elbow. Keep thumbs up towards the ceiling. Retract your shoulder blades. Slowly and with control, lower your hands in a circular motion as far as comfortably possible. Once you cannot lower the arms further in this position, rotate your arms (aiming to keep your shoulders retracted through this rotation) and complete the repetition when your hands reach the small of the back. Return to start position. Aim for 4-5 seconds from overhead to behind your back, and another 4-5 seconds to return your hands over your head — while maintaining scapular retraction during the entire range of motion.

If you find this exercise too easy (or you are struggling to find this exercise effective), you can scale to an advanced variation by holding light plates or DBs (1-5lbs can be plenty of resistance), or perform them from a Deficit as demonstrated above. Ensure you are maintaining retraction the entire time. For more information and a technique comparison, check out this IGTV link.

Substitutions 

Deficit Blackburns; Face Pulls; Prone I-T-Y-W; Rear Delt Flyes; Band Pull-Aparts; Any other upper back, shoulder health, and external rotation exercises.

Cossack Squat

Demo Here

Take a wide stance and descend into a squat while shifting your weight on the active leg. Keep the opposite leg straight and out to the side. Keep the heel or entire foot on the ground. Option to hold arms out for balance. Can also be performed with a KB or DB (goblet style in front of the chest), two DBs (hands on the shoulders, front rack position), holding a loaded backpack, medball or sandbag in front, or for more advanced variations, with a Barbell or Safety Squat bar.

Substitutions 

Alternating Side Lunge; Pistol squat; Single Leg Press; any other unilateral lower body movement.

DB Lateral Raise

Demo Here

With a dumbbell in each hand and a slight bend in the elbow, lift weights out to the side and slightly in front (elbows coming 10-30  degrees in front of your torso) until your arms are parallel with the floor. Lower back down with control and repeat. Can be performed standing or seated, if not specified. Can also be programmed as an isometric hold, in which case you would maintain your top position for the prescribed amount of time. If performing these single arm (whether DB or Banded), perform the prescribed reps per side instead of total.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Raise; Prone Incline DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Cable Lateral Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Deficit KB Stiff Leg Deadlift

Demo Here

Stand on an elevated plate/board/block and perform a kettlebell deadlift with an increased range of motion. Since this is a stiff leg deadlift, aim to maintain the angle in your knees and reach depth by pushing your hips back, hinging at the hip and lowering the weight while maintaining a strong, rigid torso position.

Substitutions 

Romanian Deadlift (BB or DB), Stiff-legged deadlift, Good Mornings, Reverse Hyperextensions, Glute Ham Raise

EZ Bar Curls

Demo Here

Stand and hold an EZ Curl barbell with an underhand (supinated) grip, palms facing up/away from your body. Keep the upper arms stationary, and curl the bar forward and up while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for reps.

Substitutions 

Barbell Curl, Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment), Alternating DB curls, Hammer Curl

Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

Demo Here

In a split squat position with front foot supported on an elevated surface (aim for 2-6″) and with weight loaded (barbell on back, goblet position in front, or one dumbbell in each hand), sink into lunge position on front leg and press into the foot to stand back up.

Can also be performed facing a cable rack, holding onto a single hand attachment fixed to a low pulley. Demo Here.

Substitutions 

Split Squat Variations; Lunge Variations; Box Step-Up Variations; any other unilateral lower body exercises

Hamstring Curl

Demo Here

Set up on a hamstring curl machine — either seated or lying. Ensure that the machine is adjusted to your height so that your knee is directly in line with the axis point (fulcrum) on which the pad rotates. Begin performing your curls by squeezing your hamstrings, focusing on squeezing your hamstrings as you drive your heels back towards your hips, all while maintaining the same femoral (upper leg) position. Perform these with a slow and controlled tempo for the prescribed reps. These are to be performed with both legs together, unless specified otherwise (e.g. single leg hamstring curl). If a hamstring curl machine is unavailable, these can be substituted by using a band or swiss ball.

Substitutions

Banded Hamstring Curls; Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls; 2-Up, 1-Down Hamstring Curl; Hamstring Curl 21’s; Glute Ham Raise; Romanian Deadlift; Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Inchworms

Demo Here

Start in a standing position and bend down to touch the toes. Walk the hands out away from your body into plank position, then walk the feet to meet the hands. Repeat. If space is limited, perform these moving forwards and backwards rather than down a line.

Prone I-T-Y-W

Demo Here

Perform these lying face down flat on the floor or on a bench. Start with your arms down by your side and palms facing up. Retract your shoulder blades and reach your palms to the ceiling (this is the “I” movement of the exercise).

Perform this movement for the prescribed number of repetitions, then bring your arms out to the side, externally rotating your arms and making a “T” with your body. Retract your shoulder blades and raise your thumbs towards the ceiling.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then bring your arms out at a 45-degree angle from your body (making a “Y” with your body. Retract your shoulder blades and raise your thumbs towards the ceiling.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then (while holding your shoulder blades retracted), tuck your elbows back towards your torso until your arms make a “W” shape). Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then rest.

Bodyweight alone is often challenging enough, but you can also hold light weight plates or DBs in your hands for an added challenge.

Substitutions

Prone Incline I-T-Y-W; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Blackburns; Face Pulls; Band Pullaparts; Rear Delt Flyes; Any other upper back, shoulder health, and external rotation exercises.

Reverse Lunge

Demo Here

Starting standing upright with feet together, reach one foot back and perform a lunge. Return both feet together, and then repeat with the other foot. Alternate for the prescribed repetitions. Can be performed bodyweight or weighted (typically with DBs or KBs).

Substitutions

Lunge variations; Split Squat variations; Box Step Ups; Split Stance or Single Leg Deadlift; Single Leg Press, Extension, or Curl; any other unilateral lower body movement.

Scap Push-Up

Demo Here

Starting in a push up or modified (knees down) push up position, maintain your locked-arm position and pinch your shoulder blades together as your chest lowers slightly to the ground. From there, extend and try to reach your spine up to the ceiling as your shoulder blades separate. The total range of motion on this movement is slight, so try to maintain control and a solid trunk position (not sagging at the hips).

Seated DB Shrug

Demo

Sitting on a box or bench with a slight torso angle forward, perform shrugs for the prescribed number of repetitions, pinching your shoulder blades back and together and aiming to reach your shoulders up to your ears. Can be performed with a DB or EZ Curl Bar behind your legs.

Substitutions

Standing or Machine Shrug variations; Heavy Farmer Walks or Yoke Carries

Split Squat

Demo Here

In a split stance position with both feet flat on the floor, and with weight loaded (barbell on back, goblet in front, or one dumbbell in each hand), sink into lunge position, and squeeze your glutes and quadriceps on your front leg to stand back up.

Substitutions 

Walking/Alternating/Reverse Lunge variations; Box step-ups; Flat or Front Foot Elevated Split Squat variations

Sun Salutation

Demo Here

Move through a series of various different postures and stretches. If you’re not a yogi, don’t worry. Watch the demo link for the movements. You should move through standing, to touching your toes, out to plank, up dog, then down dog, into a lunge and back to touching the toes. The goal is to get moving and wake the body up.

Alt Lunges

Demo Here

Starting with feet together, take a step forward and perform a lunge. For alternating lunges, return the front foot to meet the back.

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

EZ Curl Skullcrushers

Demo Here

Laying on a bench, hold a EZ bar above your body directly above your shoulders. Without moving your upper arm, hinge at the elbow and lower the weight in a controlled manner towards your skull, stopping a few inches above your face. Then reverse the movement and return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

Tricep push-downs; OH Tricep Extension; Dips; Any other tricep exercises

Leg Press

Demo Here

Using a leg press machine, load weight appropriately (taking warm up jumps to your working weight as needed). Push upward, unlock the safeties, and lower the sled working through as full of a range of motion as possible. Once you’ve reached this depth, push back up to perform a repetition.

Substitutions 

Any barbell squat variations (low bar, high bar, safety bar); Lower body compound movements or machines (hack squat machine, smith machine squat, hip thrust, goblet squats, etc.)

Prone Incline Curls

Demo Link

Lying face down on an incline bench, hang your arms straight up and down (perpendicular to the floor). Holding DBs in each hand and keeping your upper arms still, perform curls. Aim to minimize arm movement above the elbow and focus on contracting your biceps to perform your curls, rather than swinging and using momentum. Squeeze and hold at the top, then control back to the bottom and repeat. Also known as Spider Curls. Can be performed with an EZ Bar or straight bar. Perform with both arms at the same time, unless specified as Alternating (demonstrated here).

Substitutions 

Preacher or Concentration Curls; Machine or Cable Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Any other bicep variations

Tricep Pushdowns

Demo Here

Stand upright in front of a cable machine, lat pull down, or band attached overhead. Starting with your arms slightly in front of you and your elbows pointed down, perform tricep pushdowns. Without moving your upper arm, contract your triceps and hinge at the elbow, pressing down in a controlled manner until your arms are straight and elbows extended. Pause slightly to avoid any bounce (or for the prescribed tempo), then reverse the movement with control and return the weight to the start position. Can be performed with a rope, straight bar, or v-/ez-bar handle attachment.

Substitutions 

Skullcrushers; OH Tricep Extension; Dips; Any other tricep exercises

Side Lunge

Demo Here

Starting from an upright position with both feet together, take a step out wide with one leg into a wide stance and descend into a squat while shifting your weight to the active leg. Keep the opposite leg straight and out to the side. Keep the heel or entire foot on the ground.

Can be performed bodyweight, holding a KB (goblet style), holding DBs in each hand, or loaded with a BB (either on your back or in a front-rack position). Can be performed alternating (as demonstrated in the demo above), or all prescribed reps per side in a row.

Substitutions 

Cossack Squat; Pistol squat; Single Leg Press; any other unilateral lower body movement.

Side Plank

Demo Here

Laying on the ground on your side, extend your knees so your whole body is in a straight line from knees to hips to shoulders. Place your forearm on the ground with your elbow directly under your shoulder, then raise your hips off the ground. Aim to maintain a neutral spine and maintain that straight line from your shoulders through your head. Hold that position for 2-3 seconds (unless explicitly prescribed), then lower your hips back to the ground — that’s 1 rep. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Can be scaled easier by bending your knees 90-degrees, shortening the length between contact points (from feet-to-forearm to knees-to-forearms). Can be further scaled easier by raising from your forearm up to your hand (with a straight arm and locked elbow). Can be scaled harder by elevating your feet on a bench or unstable surface (bosu ball, TRX, etc.).

Substitutions 

Plank, Windmills, Turkish Getups, Suitcase Carries

Cable Lateral Raise

Demo Here

On a cable machine, hold the cable in one hand using a rope or single handle attachment. Slowly lift weights out to the side until your arm is parallel with the floor. Lower back down and repeat.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Raise; DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Tricep Kickback

Demo Here

Set up in a bent over position with the torso almost parallel to the floor. Hold the dumbbell with one arm bent at 90 degrees. Engage your tricep and push the weight back to straighten the arm. Pause and flex your tricep while holding the weight at the top, then return to the start position and repeat. Can also be performed with a cable & rope attachment (or a band) rather than a DB. Aim to keep your elbow high and your humerus (upper arm) behind your torso, rather than in line with it.

Substitutions 

Tricep Push Down, Bench Dips, Skullcrushers

Cable Curl

Demo Link

Perform curls using an attachment and a cable machine. Option to use a rope, single arm handle, EZ/v-bar, or straight bar attachment unless specified.

Substitutions 

Barbell Curl; EZ Bar Curls; DB Curls; Hammer Curls; Machine Curls; Any other bicep variation

Incline Seated DB Curl

Demo Link

Sit back on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Extend the arms out past the seat and complete dumbbell curls. Perform with both arms at the same time, unless specified as alternating (like in demo above).

Substitutions 

Single Arm Cable Curls (facing away), Standing DB Curls, Any other curl/bicep variation

Hollow Body Hold

Demo Here

Laying on your back, raise arms overhead and extend your legs and feet. Engage your abs while pressing your low back into the floor, and hover your feet and hands ~6 inches over the floor. Maintain tension in your core and brace your abs. Focus on keeping your ribs tucked down and continue pressing the low back into the floor. Hold the position for the total prescribed time (e.g. 20 seconds), or if prescribed as reps (e.g. 3 sets of 6 reps), hold the position for 2-3 seconds for each repetition before returning to the floor.

Option to scale down by using the modified demo linked above (moderate) by keeping your hands down by your side rather than overhead. Further options to scale this movement (novice) would be keeping your arms on the floor during the repetition, or keeping your hands on the floor while only lifting one leg at a time.

For the Hollow Body Rock variations, the goal is to maintain your hollow body position throughout the motion while rocking back and forth.

Substitutions 

Modified Hollow Body Hold; Hollow Body Rocks; Plank; Birddogs; V-situps; Deadbugs;

Squat

Demo Link

Competition style squat. This can either be high-bar, low-bar, or somewhere in between (hybrid). For full squat tutorial, see our How to Squat video, our Extended Video Library or written guides on this movement.

Set up with the bar on your traps. Lift the bar up straight out of the squat rack, and step back in a few steady, stable steps. Take a breath into the pit of your belly, think of expanding your trunk (creating 360-degrees of pressure around your abs and lower back), and begin your descent by breaking at the knees and hips at the same time. Descend (aiming to keep the bar in as straight and vertical of a bar path as possible) until you reach depth, which is the point at which your hip crease has descended below the horizontal plane made by the top of your knee. From there, squat back up until you are fully upright. Breathe, brace your core, and repeat.

For air squats (bodyweight), check out our detailed breakdown in the Instagram TV video linked here.

Substitutions 

Barbell squat variations (low bar squat, high bar squat, front squat, safety bar or other specialty barbell variations); Other compound lower body exercises (Belt Squats, Leg Press, Hack Squat Machines, etc.)

Farmer’s Carry

Demo Here

Hold a weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc) in both hands and walk. Carries are always counted by time, so do not rush. Control your pace and do your best to keep your hips and shoulders square and balanced despite the resistance.

Substitutions 

Heavy Carry; Suitcase Walks; Shrug Variations; Walking Lunges

Ankle/Wrist Roll

Demo Here

Complete wrist rotations with fingers interlocked, while rotating one ankle at a time, creating circles with the ankle.

Runners Lunge

Demo Here

Start in a plank position and bring one foot at a time as close to the same side hand as possible. Pause momentarily and allow a light stretch of the hips and groin, before returning to a plank position and alternating legs. To scale, plank on a higher surface like a bench. This is an active / dynamic stretch that we use to help open the hips and raise our heart rate as we prepare for heavier training to follow.

Preacher Curl

Demo Here

Use a preacher curl station, GHD, machine, incline bench, or other surface to keep your upper arms in a fixed position, and perform a curl. Keeping the upper arms stationary, and curl the bar forward and up while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for reps.

Substitutions 

Barbell Curl, Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl, Hammer Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Concentration Curl

Single Arm Preacher Curl

Demo Here

Use a preacher curl setup, an incline bench, or other like surface to perform a curl with one arm at a time. Keep the upper arm stationary, and curl the dumbbell forward and up while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for prescribed reps.

Substitutions 

Preacher Curl; Concentration Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl

Leg Extension

Demo Here

Typically performed on a machine; Perform a leg extension using your quads to extend at the knee. These are to be performed with both legs together, unless specified otherwise (e.g. single leg extension). Can also be performed seated on a bench with a band around your ankles, with the other end secured against a strong anchor.

Substitutions

Other quadriceps focused exercises (goblet squat, leg press, etc.)

Curl Up

Demo Here

Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other extended on the floor. Raise your head a few inches off the ground and hover the extended leg at the same time. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then relax and switch sides. Focus on pressing your lower back into the floor. Maintain contact with the floor and your lower back, keeping your ribs pulled down and your hips/pelvis tucked under you.

Substitutions 

Any core series (deadbugs, bird-dogs, planks, l-sit, hanging leg raises)

Pull-Up Progression

Since we all have different experiences and starting levels of pull-up strength, you will first need to conduct a baseline test to ensure our progression is appropriately scaled to your starting point. To find your starting Level, check out our information page at this link here.

Once you’ve identified your starting level, perform a baseline test on your first available session (even if you join us mid-cycle). Record your test score, as we’ll use this score for our progression.

Baseline Tests & Training Movements

For each of levels 1-4, please find your movement below. Perform the baseline test only at the start of the challenge (or when you first start programming, if you are just joining us). Each day and week of training will be prescribed relative to this baseline test.

How to Read “Pull-Up Progression” in Your Program

When you see Pull-Up Progression in the program, it will look something like this: “4 sets @ 50% of baseline”, which means…

Level 1 and Level 2: take 50% of your baseline test (negative pull-ups) and complete 4 sets of that time. So if you scored 4 seconds on your negative pull-up, then training calls for 4 sets of 2-second negatives. If you are unable to perform negative pull-ups, perform Dead Hangs for the prescribed percentage of your baseline test max Dead Hang time.

For Level 3 and Level 4: take 50% of your baseline test (max pull-ups or weighted pull-ups) and complete 4 sets of that amount of reps. For example, if you completed 6 reps, then training calls for 4 sets of 3 reps. For weighted pull-ups, use the same added weight that you used to perform your baseline test for each session.

Round up or down as needed based on the prescribed percentage work, but aim to hit at least the total cumulative rep goal for the session. For example, if your baseline test is a 5-second max negative, you can perform sets of 2-second or 3-second negatives, but try to get at least 10-seconds total across all sets. If your baseline test is 5 reps, you can perform sets of 2 or 3 reps, but try to get at least 10 total reps.

Substitutions 

Lat Pull Downs; Inverted Rows; Any other back & lat movements

Half Kneeling Single Arm Lat Pulldown

Demo Here

On a cable machine, choose a single handle attachment at a high position on the pulley. Taking a half kneeling position (right knee down, left knee upright), grab the handle with the same side hand that is kneeling on the ground. Perform a single arm lat pull down, aiming to pull your right elbow in towards your right hip while keeping your torso upright and holding the rest of your body as steady as possible. Perform the prescribed number of repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Any unilateral pulling or rowing movements (DB Rows, Cable Rows, Hammer Strength Rows); Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Lat Pull Down); Horizontal Pulling movements (Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

Weighted Pull-Up

Demo Here

Using a dip belt, add additional weight and perform strict pull-ups. This is an advanced variation — if you cannot perform strict pull-ups for reps, please see the recommended substitutions below.

Grip a pull-up bar slightly wider than hip width apart, palms facing away from your face (supinated grip). Hang from the bar, and pull yourself up by pulling elbows down to the floor. Continue pulling until your chin passes the bar. Descend back to the start position and repeat.

Substitutions 

Strict Pull-Ups; Lat Pull Down, Assisted Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Negative Pull-Ups

DB Front Raise

Demo Here

Standing upright, hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral/parallel grip (palms facing each other). Maintain an extended arm position and raise the weight from in front of your hips/thighs to up over your head. Keep constant tension here, and try to avoid resting the weight on your thighs at the bottom. Can also be performed seated. Resistance implement can be substituted if needed — if a plate, band, or pair of DBs are unavailable, you can substitute for a loaded book bag for resistance.

These can also be prescribed as a Front Raise Hold. Set up the same as a traditional DB Front Raise, but hold the weight or resistance isometrically at shoulder height (arms extended) for the prescribed time.

Substitutions 

Banded Front Raise; Front Plate RaiseCable Front Raise; DB Overhead Press

Single Arm Cable Curl

Demo Here

Set up a single handle attachment on the low anchor of a cable pulley machine. Grab with one hand, and perform single arm curls using a handle attachment and a cable machine. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest. Option to use a rope, or other attachment unless specified.

Substitutions 

Concentration Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl

Neutral Grip Cable Row

Demo Here

Sit on the floor or a seated cable machine and hold a parallel grip attachment. Set up far enough away from the pulley so that there is tension on the cable when your arms are extended. Start your rep by pulling the handle back towards the lower abdomen. Return to the starting position and repeat. Focus on driving your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together during the contraction, and allowing the cable to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulders and stretching your lats. If you do not have access to cables, you can perform these variations with bands.

Substitutions 

Banded Rows; Barbell Row; Pendlay Row; Dumbbell Row; Inverted Row; Any other horizontal pull/row

Single Arm Substitutions: Chest Supported Row, Single Arm Lat Pull Down, DB Row

Cable Stiff-Leg Deadlifts

Demo Link

Set up in a conventional deadlift position and hold an attachment to a low cable. Setup and execution of this movement will be very similar to the conventional deadlift, but should have a higher hip position, and less knee flexion. Do not completely lockout knees, but take note to keep legs more straight.

Substitutions 

DB Stiff-Leg Deadlift, BB Stiff-Leg Deadlift, Hamstring Curls

Single Arm Tricep Push Down

Demo Link Here

Set up with a cable in one hand, bent at the elbow. Engage your tricep and push the weight down to straighten the arm. Maintain your upper arm position, and avoid using momentum to press down the weight. Return to the start position and repeat. Can be performed with a single handle attachment, a rope attachment, or other attachment of your choice. Can also be performed with a band if cables are unavailable, by attaching your band to a higher anchor point and/or tilting your torso forward.

Substitutions 

Tricep Pushdowns; DB Tricep Kickback; Bench Dips; Skullcrushers

Supermans

Demo Here

Laying on your stomach, extend your arms overhead and extend legs and feet. Raise the shoulders, head, feet by extending the back and squeezing the glutes. Hold and squeeze at the top, then lower to the start position.

Substitutions 

Back Extensions; Glute Ham Raise; Reverse Hyperextensions

Stir-the-Pot

Demo Here

Using a Bosu ball, set up in a low plank, with forearms on the ball. Slowly circle the bosu ball with your forearms (stirring the pot). Each rotation is one rep.

Substitutions 

Planks, Bosu Ball Plank

Pull-Up Progression Retest

Warm up using an easier scaled version of your working sets. If your prescribed variation is a deadhang or negative pull-ups, perform a couple of sets of lighter resistance, shorter duration, or assisted/lat pull down reps. If your prescribed variation is unassisted pull-ups or weighted pull-ups, perform some sets with reduced reps or weight. Remember, the goal here is to increase blood flow and prepare yourself (both mentally and physically), not exhaust yourself before even beginning your retest.

 

When you feel warm and ready, let’s perform our retest. If your initial baseline test was a deadhang or negative pull-up measured for time, we would encourage you to repeat that same test, and try to beat your total time score. If you could almost do an unassisted pull-up during your baseline test, you can also shoot for your first pull-up! If your initial baseline test was for max reps (either bodyweight or weighted), aim to beat your total rep goal from your baseline test. If you entered our challenge for prizes, don’t forget to film your retest set! Post a link to your new Instagram video next to your name at this link here to finalize your challenge submission. If you didn’t submit an initial test video, you won’t be eligible for prizes this round, but we’d love to see your progress — tag @strongstrongfriends on Instagram!

 

Remember, our goal here is progress. It can take months and/or years of dedicated training for many lifters to get their first pull-up. If you are able to improve your score relative to your baseline test, then we are definitely moving in the right direction, and we are proud of you. Improving the amount of time you can actively deadhang from the bar, or increasing the number of seconds you can lower your body during a negative pull-up is exactly our goal — development of strength in the direction of getting your first pull-up! If you aren’t able to get your first pull-up, that is 100% okay and we encourage you to keep working here and aiming for incremental progress in your variations and accessories to continue supporting your goals.

Negative Chin-Up

Demo Here

Grip a pull-up bar at or slightly wider than shoulder width apart, palms facing towards you (supinated grip). To reach your start position, complete either a strict chin-up, or jump up to hang with biceps flexed, and chin over the bar. Slowly descend for desired amount of time, doing your best to evenly distribute the tempo throughout the entire range of motion. A narrower grip will place more emphasis on your biceps, while a wider grip will place more emphasis on your lats and back.

Substitutions 

Assisted Negative Chin-Ups (using a band or assisted pull-up machine), Negative Pull-Ups

Seated Cable OHP

Demo Link

Get in an upright seated position facing a cable pulley, with handles attached at the low position.  If grip is not specified (e.g. neutral grip), use an attachment of your choosing (straight bar, individual handles, parallel v-bar, etc.).

Raise the weight in front of you, starting with your elbows bent and your forearms vertical. Press the weight up towards the ceiling, being mindful of the cable in front of your face. Try to keep your arms in front of your body while you press, to better target your front (anterior) deltoids.

Substitutions 

Seated DB OHP; Standing DB OHP; Barbell OHP; Viking or Landmine Press; Machine Shoulder/OHP; Front Plate Raise

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Demo Here

Lie on floor with feet flat on the ground. Extend one leg fully, and with the other, press into the foot to raise the hips. Squeeze your butt and drive your foot through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Aim to keep your shins vertical throughout the repetition to better target your glutes. Press yourself to the end of the range of motion, pause for one second and return to the start position.

For another challenging variation, perform these as Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge by placing your rooted foot on an stable elevated surface (like a box, bench, or stair) before performing your reps. This will increase the effective range of motion of your repetitions.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

3-Position Cable Curl

Demo Here

Set up a single handle pulley in the low position of a cable rack. Start facing away from the rack, and take ~3 steps away so that the pulley is behind your body, and your upper arm is behind your torso (position 1). Perform curls for the prescribed rep range. Then, turn around so that you face the cable rack and your upper arm is then in front of your torso (position 2), and perform the prescribed rep range. Finally, step closer to the cable rack until you are almost standing above the pulley, and keep your upper arm directly by your torso perpendicular to the floor (position 3). Perform the prescribed reps. Now you’ve completed one set.

Each position of this exercise group trains the biceps, however we are now biasing fibers along different areas of the muscle, by achieving peak resistance at different shortened/lengthened states (i.e. resistance profile is hardest in the lengthened position for Position 1, and hardest in the shortened position in Position 2). If substituting for another curl variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

Substitutions 

3-Position Banded Curl; 3-Position DB Curl; Any Bicep Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; Barbell Curl, Concentration Curl, Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment), Preacher Curls, Alternating DB Curls, Hammer Curl

Concentration Curl

Demo Here

In a seated position, hang your upper arm vertically (perpendicular to the ground) and rest it against your inner thigh. Use your leg to prevent your upper arm from moving or swinging, avoiding momentum. Keep the upper arm stationary and curl the dumbbell while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for prescribed reps.

Substitutions 

Preacher Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; Barbell Curl

High Bar Pause Squats

Demo Here

Set up for a squat in a high bar position (bar resting on top of your shoulders). Maintaining a fairly upright position, descend in a squat. When you reach depth, pause for ~1 second (unless a set duration is defined), keeping tension in the legs and trunk. Maintain position as best as possible during the pause. Press back up by pushing your feet into the floor and your shoulders back into the bar.

For a full squat tutorial as well as breakdowns of other barbell squat variations, see our How to Squat video, our Extended Video Library or written guides on this movement.

Substitutions 

Paused barbell squat variations (low-bar, high-bar, front squat, safety bar squat, etc.); Pause lower body compound exercises (leg press, hack squat machine, goblet squat, etc.)

Seated Cable Front Raise

Demo Here

Sit just past arms length away from the cable machine. Hold a rope attachment from a low pulley. Maintain an extended arm position and raise the cable from in front of your hips/thighs to up over your head. Keep constant tension here, and try to avoid resting the cable at the bottom. Control the weight during your descent, resisting the rope as it pulls back towards your start position.

Substitutions 

Banded Front Raise; Front Plate Raise, DB Front Raise, Cable Front Raise

Slider Hamstring Curl

Demo Here

Find a stretch of floor that is relatively low friction (something like wood or turf, not rubber or asphalt). Start by lying down face up, with sliders or small towels below your feet (or wearing just socks). Raise the hips into a glute bridge, and perform a hamstring curl by pushing heels out away from the body, then back to the start position, all while maintaining your bridge position as best you can.

To scale this version to an easier variation, modify this exercise to alternate one leg at a time until you reach the prescribed number of reps per leg.

Substitutions

Any Hamstring Curl or Hamstring Isolation machine; Other hamstring focused exercises (Glute Ham Raise, Romanian or Stiff-Leg Deadlift, etc.)

Banded Abduction in Glute Bridge

Demo Here

With a glute band just above the knees, lie on the ground. Extend your hips into the bridge position. While in the bridge, perform reps of banded abduction, pushing the knees out and returning to the start with control. Maintain your bridge position during your entire set, and keep tension on the band during and between each rep where possible.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Walks or Monster Walks, Glute Bridge, Abductor Machine

Half Kneeling Paloff Press

Demo

In a half kneeling position (close knee on the floor), use a cable machine or a band and bring the handle to the torso. From there, extend your arms out and away from the body. The start position should be difficult to hold, and you should feel resistance as the band/cable try to pull (rotate) you. Your goal throughout the entire range of motion is to keep your hips and shoulders facing square in front of you and resist the rotation.

While maintaining extended arms, bring the handle/band up to roughly nose height with control. Once you reach nose height, lower the handle/band to belly button height with control, then return to starting position (chest height). That is one repetition — repeat until you’ve completed the prescribed number of reps.

Substitutions 

DB Windmill, Turkish Getup, Half Turkish Getup, Russian Twist

Glute Bridge

Demo Here

Glute Bridge with Band Abduction Demo

Glute Bridge Against Band Demo

Lie on floor with feet flat on the ground. Squeeze your butt and drive your foot through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Aim to keep your shins near vertical throughout the repetition to better target your glutes. Press yourself the the end of the range of motion, pause for one second and return to the start position.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Training Max

What is a Training Max?

We prescribe all percentages relative to a Training Max. Your Training Max should be a number you can hit for a confident rep on any day of the week without a doubt (even when you don’t feel your best). On a good day, this is a weight you might be able to hit for 2-3 repetitions when just starting out. Each non-deload week, we’ll provide instructions on how/when to change your Training Max to fine-tune the prescribed intensity to your individual capacity. Since we all have different levels of experience and technical proficiency (e.g. one lifter may hit 5 reps at 85% while another may hit 12), this process of refining your Training Max based on the weekly guidelines will ensure you’re making the most out of your training — even if your Training Max veers away from that “2-3 repetitions” starting point.

Not sure where to start, or how to pick a Training Max?

Don’t sweat it! Start by picking a Training Max that is a number you know you can hit no matter what for 2-3 tough reps. This will give us a starting point. Each regular training week will provide suggestions on how to adjust your Training Max based on numbers you hit, so you’ll be up to speed in no time even if you start with a conservative guess.

Why do we program off of a Training Max?

We strongly recommend starting with a conservative Training Max as defined above, even if you know your true 1-Rep Max. Why? Think of it this way: your day-to-day training goes through ups and downs over the course of a week/month/cycle. This impacts your relative strength and capacity on any given day. Since your average daily training session is just that—average—we find that basing your training off of a peaked, ideal-condition scenario (like a 1RM) is not as flexible as working off a Training Max.

By programming based on a Training Max you could hit on any day of the week (similar to the concept of a “daily minimum”), we are able to plan a progression that keeps you moving forward on both your best and worst days — and everything in between. By starting with a more conservative Training Max, you will better set yourself up for long term progress as intensities climb, and ensure that you can still complete the planned work on even the worst of days while pushing for new PRs when things feel great. And don’t worry — even if your first session feels light, we’ll provide instructions on how and when to increase your Training Max from week-to-week based on your performance. After all… If your first session was hard to the point of failure, how are you supposed to build momentum and actually progress from there?

I think my Training Max is too light! What do I do?

Don’t worry — even if your first session feels light, we provide instructions on how and when to increase your Training Max from week-to-week based on your performance. That’s one of the biggest benefits of following Stronger by the Day over the long term, as every week of training builds on previous weeks. That means we’ll tell you exactly how and when to increase your Training Max and make real progress. Besides… If your first session was hard to the point of failure, how are you supposed to build momentum and actually progress from there?!

Cat-Cow

Demo Here

Intended as a motion exercise, not a stretch. Focus on movement throughout and in between the reps, not just stretching at the end-range of motions. Aim to move through your entire back, allowing your lumbar, and thoracic, and cervical spine (lower, mid, and upper) to flex and extend together.

B-Stance RDL

Demo Link

Set up in a staggered stance, with one foot’s toe in line with the other heel. Soften the front knee slightly. Put your weight on the front foot and hinge at the hip and push your hips back. The back foot should support like a kickstand (we recommend only using the ball of your foot for balance), with most of the weight should be on your front leg. Control your slow negative and keep your back flat. Can be performed with DBs, KBs, Band, or a Barbell. Perform for the prescribed repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Split Stance/Single Leg RDL, Single Leg Press, Split squat variations, Lunge variations, Single Leg Hamstring Curls, other unilateral lower body work

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Rate of perceived exertion, or RPE, is a method of evaluating training effort, typically ranked on a scale up to 10. This is a useful tool in prescribing or adjusting loads based on how challenging a set feels to the lifter.

While there are a number of different ways that people define RPE, we will be linking our RPE scale to the concept of Reps-in-Reserve for the purposes of this program. Something that is an RPE 10 would be a truly maximal effort, where no more weight could be added or reps could be performed at the given load and rep scheme. An RPE 7 would be a solid effort, but the set would be less challenging and the lifter would have ~3 reps left in the tank at the end of their set (10 minus 7 equals 3).

If you’re not too sure, we recommend not trying to overthink things. Each set that prescribes weight using RPE will have more specific instructions to aim for with your sets, and it’s okay to err on the conservative side. For your first time performing a set to a prescribed RPE, your goal should be to establish a baseline, evaluate how things felt on that set, and adjust as needed for subsequent sets or sessions if things felt easier or harder than the description.

 

Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart (unless grip width is specified) and balls of the feet on the ground. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest to the floor, coming close to touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms through the floor, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position. With this hand position, we should be aiming to keep your arms roughly 45-degrees from the torso at the bottom.

Substitutions

Modified (Hands Elevated) Push-Up; Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Modified Handstand Push-Ups; Bench Dips; DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press variations; Subs for Close Grip or Diamond Push Ups include more tricep dominant exercises (Skullcrushers, Rope Pushdown, Dip variations, etc).

B Stance Hip Thrust

Demo Link

Sitting on the floor in front of a bench, roll the bar so it is over your hips. Set feet in a b-stance by placing one foot flat on the ground, and the other with only the heel on the ground.

Support your mid back perpendicular to a bench. Squeeze your butt and drive your feet through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Aim to keep your flat foot shin vertical throughout the repetition to better target your glute on the flat foot side.

These can also be performed as Bodyweight only, or loaded with a DB on your hips rather than a Barbell.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

B-Stance Glute Bridge

Demo Link

Lie on floor with one foot flat on the ground and the other with only the heel on the ground (B-stance). Press your flat foot into the ground to raise the hips, using the other foot as a kickstand for balance. Squeeze your butt and drive your foot through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Press yourself the the end of the range of motion, pause for one second and return to the start position.

Substitutions 

Single leg glute bridge; Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Welcome Video (Stronger by the Day Sample)

Ascending Sets

Ascending sets refer to sets where we increase weight where possible with each passing set. Like AMRAPs, ascending sets are a form of autoregulation (something that allows us to adjust training based on individual performance variations day-to-day and week-to-week).

For ascending sets, we will prescribe a Set x Rep scheme for the day, as well as a starting intensity relative to your training max. If your sets feel strong, we encourage you to increase weight before your next set, and reevaluate (and potentially increase) again. These weight increases can be anywhere from 2-5%+ of your training max. These sets will allow us to use heavier (ascending) weights when we feel good and move well, yet stick with the minimum prescribed percentage on “off” days, to make sure we’re making progress and moving forward no matter what.

**Please ensure you are using your Training Max as defined in the FAQ below, as this will best set you up for long-term sustainable progress.**

As Many Reps as Possible (AMRAP)

AMRAPs refer to sets where we aim to complete as many reps (or rounds) as possible with a given weight. Like Ascending sets, AMRAPs are a form of autoregulation (something that allows us to adjust training based on individual performance variations day-to-day and week-to-week).

The goal here is to push yourself on these sets to complete as many reps as you can with good technical consistency. We aren’t trying to go all the way to absolute or technical failure, but we still want to really challenge ourselves and use these as a barometer of our directional progress. All AMRAPs are prescribed as a percentage of your Training Max. These sets will allow us to hit new rep max PRs when we feel good and move well, yet stick with the minimum prescribed reps even on “off” days, to make sure we’re making progress and moving forward no matter what.

**Please ensure you are using your Training Max as defined in the popup or FAQ below, as this will best set you up for long-term sustainable progress.**

Zercher Squat

Demo Here

Setup a barbell on a squat rack at about elbow height. Unrack the barbell by placing the bar in the crook of your arms. Bend arms to fold hands so the bar is stable and balanced. Drive yourself upward and walk out from the rack. Push your hips back and bend the knee to lower into a squat. You’ll notice that you need core and trunk control to keep the bar steady and to stay in position. Make sure you maintain an upright torso throughout the movement, and push your entire foot back into the floor.

For a more comprehensive overview, check out our longer YouTube instructional video linked here.

Substitutions 

Front squat, Goblet squat, Belt Squat, Narrow-Stance Leg Press

Calf Raise

Demo Here

Standing on the edge of a platform, plate, stair, or other elevated surface, position yourself so that the back half of your feet are off the edge. From there, raise up on to your tip-toes by flexing your calf muscles, and hold for a moment at the top. Then, lower yourself down so that your heels reach below the elevated surface until you feel a light (but not painful) stretch in your calves.

Can be performed with bodyweight or weighted (DBs, KBs, or even BBs!). Hold a wall or squat rack for balance if needed. Can also be performed in machines (such as in a leg press or hack squat machine).

Substitutions 

Calf Extensions in Leg Press; Calf Raises in Hack Squat; Seated Calf Raise Machine

A Note on Exercise Order & Sequencing

“What’s with the exercise order? Can I change things around?”

Can you change the exercise order? Of course you can! Programming is always yours to run as you choose, and we aren’t here to enforce anything. However, everything is written intentionally to optimize YOUR progress. Changing the exercise order might make some things a little easier right now, but also might be self-handicapping your long-term results. We’re going to dive into some programming ideology below to provide you with more context.

A strength program is more than just a routine. We are’t simply throwing together exercises, reps, and sets before calling it a day. A program is a system of training designed to achieve a goal, which in our case, is to get jacked and strong as heck. More than just exercises, this involved balancing fatigue and volume accumulation, developing skill proficiency and ingraining movement patterns, developing a well-rounded and resilient body, and much more.

Because of this, our programming isn’t like a static routine where you train a specific movement or body part a fixed number of times per week. Components of our programming adapt and change depending on our broader macrocycle, including exercise selection, frequency, intensity, volume, and sequencing–just to name a few. For example, an accumulation block may be moderate intensity, higher volume, and includes wider array of movements with the intention of building muscle, increasing work capacity, and raising our potential for strength. Exercise sequencing is a single variable in our toolkit that we can manipulate to accumulate stress and fatigue before your heavy compound lifts (squat/bench/deadlift/OHP), which is directly in line with our goals for the cycle. Over successive weeks of training, we can build a tolerance and improve our work capacity from a fatigued state, which increases our ceiling for absolute strength down the road.

Training our heavy compound lifts later in a session rather than first thing when we’re fresh means those lifts will feel harder in the moment. However, we can achieve a greater training effect (supercompensation) when we taper volume, remove that initial stress, and hit your heavy compounds in the future when retesting from a rested state. That directly drives greater long term results. So to answer the question, sure, you can change up the order and hit your heavy compounds first to make your sessions easier… Just remember that our programming goal isn’t easy. Our goal is effective. We care less about how strong you can look today, and more about how strong you can become over the following weeks, months, and years.

Hanging Leg Raise

Hanging Knee Tuck Demo Here

Captain’s Chair Demo Here (Easiest)

Demo Here

Hanging from a pull-up bar, keep your knees extended and contract your abs, raise your legs until your lower body makes an L-shape, parallel with the floor. Momentarily pause (to demonstrate control of the position), then slowly lower them to the floor with control. Throughout the repetition, aim to keep your scapula depressed (shoulders down, lats engaged) and maintain a tucked rib cage, allowing your abs to control the movement.

This is a fairly advanced movement. To scale to the easiest variation, perform on a Captain’s Chair rather than hanging from a pull-up bar. To scale to an slightly less easy (intermediate) variation, perform Hanging Knee Tucks from a pull-up bar.

Substitutions 

Other Knee/Leg Raises; Hollow Body Holds; Barbell or Ab-Wheel Rollouts; Planks; Sit-up/Crunch variations; Other Abdominal Flexion movements.

3-Position Tricep Burnout

1. Close Grip Push-Up Demo

2. DB OH Tricep Extension Demo

3. Bench Dips Demo

This is a three-exercise giant set, intended to be performed continuously with no rest in between exercises. Start by performing Close Grip Push-Ups for the prescribed reps/time, then immediately grab a dumbbell and perform Overhead Tricep Extensions for the prescribed reps/time, followed by Bench Dips for the prescribed reps/time. Once you’ve completed one round of each exercises, you can then rest (or move onto the next exercise). If you are unable to perform more than 5 Close Grip Push-Ups, we suggest performing as modified (knees down, or hands elevated) to achieve the prescribed reps. If substituting for another tricep variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

You can perform this 3-Position Tricep Burnout with any number of variations, but we recommend picking 3 exercises with different tricep (humerus) positions relative to your torso. Start with something in front of your torso (e.g. Banded Tricep Pushdowns or Skullcrushers), then something overhead (e.g. Banded, DB, Cables or EZ Bar OH Extension), then something behind your torso (e.g. Bench Dips or Tricep Kickbacks). An example series that can be done with bands and BW only is below:

1. Banded Tricep Pushdown Demo

2. Banded OH Tricep Extension Demo

3. Banded Tricep Kickback Demo

Substitutions 

Any Tricep Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; Rope Pushdowns; OH Tricep Extensions, Skullcrushers, Dips; Close Grip Pressing Variations, etc.

Cable Flyes

Demo Here

Set up in a cable rack with the pulleys set at roughly shoulder height. Grab a handle in each hand, and step forward so there is some tension in each arm. From an extended position with your arms starting away from your body and a slight bend in the elbow, bring your arms together until they meet in front of you. Then with control, return them to their starting position. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

This movement can be performed in a number of different planes, whether parallel (as demonstrated here), low-to-high (low anchor with hands finishing together in a high position), or high-to-low (high anchor with hands finishing together in a low position). If no plane is specified, perform the variation most comfortable for you.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Banded Flyes; DB Flyes; Incline DB / Barbell Bench Press; Push-ups; Pec Deck Machine

Dumbbell Flyes

Demo Link

On a flat bench, hold a DB in each hand and press until your arms are extended above your shoulders. Keep a slight bend in your elbow, and slowly begin descending the weight without breaking at the elbow (as you would in a press). By maintaining the same elbow angle throughout the entire range of motion, your movement should be controlled by your pecs.

Substitutions 

Incline DB Flyes; Cable Flyes; Incline DB / Barbell Bench Press; Push-ups; Pec Deck Machine

CheckIn Photos

Overview:

While not always the most fun, checkin photos provide more data to assist in our coaching process as we work towards your goals. Before we go further, we want to start by emphasizing the importance of cultivating an environment of trust, safety, respect, and confidentiality. Your checkin and progress/transformation photos will not be shared without your express written consent. If you do not feel comfortable sharing, please know that you are in no way compelled to upload photos, and you can always tell your coach this with 100% understanding on their end. If at any point you feel uncomfortable in this process, please contact us at sales@strongstrongfriends.com so we can best support you and ensure your safety and trust are maintained.

How to take a checkin photo:

We recommend taking your photos first thing in the morning after you’ve used the bathroom (but before any food or drink).

To make the most of your checkin photos, we recommend setting up your phone on video mode with the front-facing camera somewhere around your mid-section height. You can use a tripod if you have one, otherwise just prop your phone up on a chair, bench, table, or stool. Hit record on the video, and step back roughly 10 feet (ensure that you can see your entire body). Start by facing forward, and maintain a relaxed pose for a few seconds. Then turn 90-degrees to the side, and hold that relaxed pose for another few seconds. Finally, turn away from the camera completely, and hold a relaxed pose for a few more seconds before ending the recording.

From there, you can screenshot still-frames of your video to be used for your checkin. While these photos (and relaxed posing in general) are not always the most flattering, they can provide us with useful objective data when evaluating your progress.

For future check-ins, recreating this video as closely as possible (from the same camera set up, distance from the camera, and even the same clothes & lighting) will help considerably as your coach tracks your progress.

How to upload your checkin photos:

To upload photos, click the tab on the left labeled “CheckIn Photos“, and then click “Add” in the top right. From there, you have the ability to upload a front, side, and back photo. Select your files, and then click submit. Your coach will review these during your checkin, and may provide further comments or instructions from there.

Bodyweight & At-Home Training

We’ve had a number of questions around training & disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve been working on a few different options to try and provide as many resources as possible (these will be included in the Notes section on your programming page over the coming weeks).
1) Regular programming. We are updating the programming to be a bit less equipment dependent so that more people can follow as closely along as possible even without consistent gym access, but also not completely deviate from our general progression or limit training for those who are not yet impacted. This will pick up more as of 3/22 and beyond since it does require some tweaks and changes!
2) Gym-less training companion & BW guides. Here is a link for a PDF with different bodyweight-only movements and workouts that can hopefully support training goals for those of you who are missing full sessions altogether. While following regular training and substituting as needed may be preferred, we always understand and acknowledge that many factors are beyond our control, and some movement is better than no movement. The first video link from bullet 3 below is the companion video for this PDF.
3) Other BW only resources.

We’ll be keeping you all updated as we are able to provide more resources during these challenging and unpredictable times.

Wishing everyone all the best in their health, safety, and livelihoods,

Team SSF

Bodysaw

Demo Link

Get in a forearm plank. Use your elbows to push your body back, maintaining the plank position the entire time. Return to start position and repeat.

Substitutions 

Plank; Hanging Leg Raises; Bear Crawls; Side plank; L-sit

L-Sit Pull Through

Demo Link

Sit on the ground with legs extended, feet on sliders, and hands flat on the floor by your hips. Press both hands into the floor and raise your hips a few inches off the floor. While holding them at this height, tuck your ribs down and squeeze your abs while reaching your hips back as far as you can. Then, slowly relax your abs and push the sliders away from you. That is one repetition – repeat for the prescribed reps. You can also perform this with your feet on a foam roller. If you have a hard time elevating your hips off the ground, try elevating your hands on bumper plates to create a deficit.

Substitutions 

Bodysaw, Hanging Leg Raises, Bear Crawls, Side plank, L-Sit Hold, V-Ups

2-Up; 1-Down Hip Thrust

Demo Link

Sitting on the floor in front of a bench, squeeze your butt and drive your feet through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Complete the hip thrust with both legs, then at the top of the rep, extend one leg. Slowly lower down on 1 leg.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Singe Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

One-Arm Plank

Demo Link

In pushup position with forearms on the ground, maintain neutral spine by tucking the ribs and squeezing the glutes and abdominals. Once stable, bring one arm to your side, flexing the tricep and keeping the hand in a fist. Maintain that position for prescribed amount of time. If the prescribed time is too short or long for your current strength, consider scaling:

Scale easier by performing your plank to your knees and/or raising to your hands (vs. forearms).

Substitutions 

Regular Plank (both arms); Hanging Leg Raises; Bear Crawls; Side Plank; L-Sit

Bodyweight Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Place your hands on the edge of a bench and shoulder width apart. Extend arms and get into an elevated push up position. Maintain a straight torso and bend your elbows to lower hips and shoulders. Keep your elbows close to the side of your head and return to start position.

To scale easier, perform on a higher bench, set of stairs, or against a wall. To scale harder, perform flat on the floor (palms down), descending until your entire forearms are against the floor, then pressing your body back up by extending at the elbow, like a skullcrusher.

Substitutions 

Tricep push-downs; Skullcrushers; OH Tricep Extension; Dips; Any other tricep exercises

Bodyweight Reverse Hyper

Demo Here

Lie face down on a bench with legs hanging off the bench. Grip the sides of the bench firmly with the upper body. Try to flatten the lower back, and remove any lower back arch. Begin with bent knees and hips and extend to straight legs. Return to start position and repeat.

Substitutions 

Good Mornings; Back Extensions;  Supermans; Reverse Hyperextensions; Romanian Deadlifts;

Straight Leg Bridge

Demo Here

Lying on your back, place your feet on an elevated surface. Place hands out to the side for support. Flex your toes up towards your shins and bring your butt off the floor slightly. Raise hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line.

Substitutions 

Hip Thrust; Glute Bridge; Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Sissy Squat

Demo Here

Set up standing next to a piece of equipment or door jam for support. Place feet shoulder width apart and elevate heels. Bend knees and bring forward and tilt the torso backwards. The body should form a straight line from head to knees. Complete the rep by pulling the knees in and lifting the torso back to the start position.

Substitutions 

Bodyweight Leg Extension, Leg Extension, Bodyweight Lunge

Bodyweight Leg Extension

Demo Here

Set up in a kneeling position. Press shins into the ground and slowly lower your upper body, ensuring knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Press shins into the floor to return back to start position and repeat.

Substitutions

Other quadriceps focused exercises (goblet squat, leg press, etc.)

Heavy Carry

Demo Here

Hold a heavy weight (backpack full of books, water bottles, cans, etc.) and walk. Hold the weight overhead or to your chest. Carries are always counted by time, so do not rush. Control your pace and do your best to keep your hips and shoulders square and balanced despite the resistance.

Substitutions 

Any heavy carry; KB/DB Windmills; Side Planks

Banded Supine Transverse Hip Abduction

Demo Here

Lie down on your back with knees bent and a band around your knees. Abduct the knees, and come back to the start position.

Substitutions

Glute Bridge; Hip Thrusts; Monster Walk; Banded Lateral Walk

Curtsey Lunge

Demo Here

Start standing with hips and shoulders square. Step one foot back and across your other leg, while bending the front knee and hip. Return the start position and repeat. These can also be performed weighted by holding a DB or KB (goblet style), pair of DBs or KBs (at your sides), or holding a weighted book bag (worn on your back, held goblet style, or tucked to your chest).

Substitutions

Curtesy Lunge with Sliders; B-Stance Squat; B-Stance Hip Thrust; B-Stance Glute Bridge; Split Squat , Bulgarian Split Squat, Front Foot Elevated Split Squat; Walking Lunge; Alternating Lunge; Reverse Lunge; Box Step Up

Frog Pump

Demo Link

Lie on floor with knees bent and soles of feet pressed together. Squeeze your butt and drive your foot through the floor, extending until your hips are in line with your torso. Press yourself the the end of the range of motion, pause for one second and return to the start position.

Substitutions 

Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Ab Fallout

Demo Here

Start in a kneeling position with enough room to extend forward. Initiate by pushing the sliders forward away from your thighs. Control the speed and distance the by engaging the core. You should feel a light stretch in the abdominals. Keep ribs down and glutes tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position.

Substitutions 

Ab Walkout; Plank; Hanging Knee Tuck; Hollow Body Hold; Any other abdominal flexion exercise

Slider Mountain Climbers

Demo Here

Find a smooth, safe surface like carpet or tile to perform the exercise. Start in a plank position with sliders, paper plate, or towels on each foot. Bring one foot at a time in, bending the knee and hip. Aim to get the thigh perpendicular to the floor with each rep. Keep ribs down and glutes tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position.

Substitutions 

Slider Pike, Slider Fallouts, Planks; Hanging Leg Raises; L-Sit

Slider Knee Tuck

Demo Here

Find a smooth, safe surface like carpet or tile to perform the exercise. Start in a plank position with sliders, paper plate, or towels on each foot. Bring both feet, bending the knee and hip. Aim to get the thighs perpendicular to the floor with each rep. Keep ribs down and glutes tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position.

Substitutions 

Slider Mountain Climbers, Slider Pike, Slider Fallouts, Planks; Hanging Leg Raises; L-Sit

Slider Pike

Demo Here

Find a smooth, safe surface like carpet or tile to perform the exercise. Start in a plank position with sliders, paper plate, or towels on each foot. Bring both feet, bending the hip only, keeping the legs extended. Aim to raise the hips as high as possible with each rep. Keep ribs down and hips tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position.

Substitutions 

Slider Mountain Climbers, Slider Pike, Slider Fallouts, Planks; Hanging Leg Raises; L-Sit

Jefferson Curl

Demo Here

Using bodyweight or a PVC Pipe, slowly start to lower the upper body by tucking the chin and rolling down, one vertebrae at a time. Keep your arms straight and hanging down in front of you. Fold down as far as you comfortably can. stretching the spine and hamstrings. Reverse the movement to come back to standing, making sure you’re again rolling up one vertebrae at a time.

Start with bodyweight or PVC pipe, and then advance to an empty barbell after regularly programming the Jefferson Curl for 4 weeks.

Substitutions 

Yoga Flow

B-Stance Squat

Demo Link

Set up in a staggered stance, with one foot’s toe in line with the other heel. Soften the front knee slightly. Put your weight on the front foot and hinge at the hip and knees to squat. The back foot should support like a kickstand (we recommend only using the ball of your foot for balance), with most of the weight should be on your front leg. Can be performed with DBs, KBs, or a Barbell. Perform for the prescribed repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Pistol Squat, Single Leg Press, Split squat variations, Lunge variations, Single Leg Leg Extension, other unilateral lower body work

Slider Reach Push-up

Demo Here

Starting in a plank position with one hand on the floor, and the other on a slider, paper plate, or magazine. Slowly lower, while reaching away from the body as you lower. Return to start position and repeat.

Substitutions

Push-Ups, Modified Hand Stand Push Ups, DB Bench Press, DB Chest Flys

Low Ceiling Lunges

Demo Here

Starting with feet together, take a step forward and perform a walking lunge. Rather than fully contracting and reaching a tall, upright position between steps, take the next steps while maintaining the low, engaged position, as if there were a low ceiling. Can be performed bodyweight or loaded (goblet with a KB, with DBs in each hand, or with a Barbell on your back or in a front rack position).

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Copenhagen Plank

Demo Here

Lay on your side with your feet under a bench or elevated surface. Place your top foot on top of the bench. Place your bottom elbow and forearm directly under your shoulder and, lift your hips off the ground by driving your top foot down into the bench — you should feel the groin muscles of your top leg working hard. Lift your bottom leg up until it touches the bottom of the bench. Hold this position for the prescribed duration, maintaining a straight line from shoulder to hip to to knee to ankle, before lowering back to the start position with control.

Substitutions 

Copenhagen Plank Raise; Modified Copenhagen Plank; Modified Copenhagen Plank Raises; Cossack Squat; Side Lying Adduction; Hip Adduction Machines; Goblet Squat with Adduction; Hip Thrust with Adduction

Modified Hand Stand Push-Up

Demo Here

Set your lower body on a stable surface with your hands on the floor so that you’re bent over in a 90 degree position. Lower yourself toward the ground as far as possible, keeping the 90 degree angle. The closer you are to being vertical, the harder the push up will be. Scale accordingly.

Substitutions

Push-Ups, DB Bench Press, DB Chest Flys

Squat with Adduction

Demo Link

Place a block or towel in between the knees. Press into the block. Perform squats to depth while keeping an upright torso with bodyweight or with a light kettlebell. Perform with feet flat on the ground, unless specified otherwise (e.g. Heel Elevated Goblet Squat, as demonstrated above).

Substitutions 

Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Wall Sit

Demo Here

Set your feet about shoulder-width apart and then about 2 ft out from the wall. Keep your back flat against the wall, then bend your legs until they’re in a 90 degree angle. Hold the position for the specified amount of time.

Substitutions 

Tempo Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Pause squats, any isometric squat work.

Push-Up with Single Arm Deficit

Demo Here

Use a stair, low box, or other stable surface (e.g. stack of textbooks). Starting in a plank position with one hand on the floor, and one hand elevated, begin your push-ups. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to  lower, coming close to touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Can be modified by performing on knees (scaled easier) or by elevating feet (scaled harder).

Substitutions

Slider Push-Ups & Other Push-Up Variations; Alternating DB Bench Press; Alternating DB Overhead Press

Kang Squat

Demo Link

Unrack the bar setup in a low bar position. Walkout, and hinge at the hip by pushing your hips back to perform a good morning. Once your torso is near parallel to the ground, transition into a squat by bending the knees and lowering the hips. Reverse the movement and return to the bottom of the good morning, and then fully standing.

Substitutions 

Barbell loaded or banded; Back extensions; Reverse hyperextensions; Stiff-Leg or Romanian Deadlifts

Banded Bicep Curls

Demo Here

Holding a band (pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps to perform curls. Can be performed single arm or simultaneously, if preferred/not specified. Keep bicep and elbow close to torso and control the weight through the entire movement.

Substitutions 

Banded Isometric Curl; Banded Hammer Curl; Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curl; Banded Bicep Curl 21’s;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Eccentric Step Downs

Demo Here

Setup beside a box that is roughly knee-height. Place your closest foot on the box, and your other foot on the floor. Ideally, your elevated leg should have no more than a 90-degree angle at the knee at the deepest position. Step up to the top of the box, so that all of your weight is on your elevated foot. Then, slowly lower your body with control, aiming for ~3 seconds to return to the bottom (if no tempo is explicitly prescribed). Whatever your target time, you should be evenly distributing your tempo with your range of motion, so that when you are 75% of the way done your tempo, you are 75% of the way down the rep. Can be weighted with DBs in both hands, or holding a DB or KB in front of you (arms extended, weight at belly-button height) to act as a counter balance.

Substitutions 

Box Step Ups, Lateral Box Step Ups, Split Squat Variations, Lunge Variations; Any other unilateral lower body exercises

DB Upright Row

Demo Here

Stand up straight and hold two dumbbells with arms down and the weight in front of the thighs. Lift the weight straight up toward the chin, leading with the elbows and keeping the weight close to the body. Stop at parallel and return to the start position. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Front Plate Raise, Cable lateral raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Push-Up Mechanical Dropset

Position 1: Feet Elevated Push-Up

Position 2: Standard Push-Up

Position 3: Modified Push-Up

Position 3 (Alternate): Hands Elevated Push-Up

If you can perform fewer than 5 feet elevated push-ups, we recommend starting on the scaled version below!

Advanced: Start in a feet elevated push-up position (Position 1). Perform the prescribed number of reps (or to failure, if prescribed as an AMRAP). After completing these reps, immediately drop to Position 2, lowering your feet to the floor and complete the prescribed reps here (or to failure again, if prescribed as an AMRAP). Then immediately drop to Position 3, dropping to your knees and finishing your set. Once you’ve completed all 3 positions for the prescribed repetitions, you’ve completed 1 set.

Scaled: Start in a push-up position where you can perform at least 5 reps, either standard (flat on the floor) or hands elevated. Perform the prescribed number of reps (or to failure, if prescribed as an AMRAP). After completing these reps, immediately elevate your hands. If your hands were already elevated in position 1, elevate further (e.g. moving from the bottom stair to a second stair) and complete the prescribed reps here. After you’ve completed your reps in Position 2, immediately move to Position 3, elevating your hands further (e.g. moving to the third stair) and finish your set. Once you’ve completed all 3 positions for the prescribed repetitions, you’ve completed 1 set.

Substitutions

Regular Push-Ups; Bench Dip Mechanical Dropset; 3-Position Tricep Burnouts; Bench Dips; Tricep Pushdowns; DB or Close Grip Bench Press Variants

Jump Squat

Demo Link

Start in a standing position with your feet roughly hip-width apart. Begin by descending into the bottom of a squat, then explosively drive back up and jump once you reach a fully extended position. As soon as you land, drop straight back into a squat, and repeat. Continue for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Substitutions 

Box Jumps; Goblet or other Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Russian Twist

Demo Here

Advanced Demo Here

Start sitting on the floor with your feet flat on the ground. Descend your torso back until you’re roughly 45-degrees off the floor (think half-way through a sit-up). Hold this position, and rotate left and right for the prescribed repetitions. These can be performed weighted (holding a DB or medicine ball), or bodyweight. For an added challenge, lift your feet a few inches off the ground, and hold them elevated while performing your repetitions (see the Advanced demo above).

Substitutions 

Side Plank, Paloff Press, DB/KB Windmill, Turkish Getup, Half Turkish Getup

Glute Kickback (or Donkey Kick)

Demo Here

Start on the floor in a quadruped position (hands and knees down), with your arms shoulder-width apart. Start your repetition by raising one leg just off the floor, and then contract that glute while kicking your heel back and up until your leg is fully extended, holding and squeezing your glutes at the top. Return to the starting position and repeat the process for the prescribed number of reps. Switch legs, and repeat to complete your set.

Substitutions 

Banded Glute Kickback; Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Top Sets & Backdown Sets

Top sets and Backdown (or Back off) sets are a common programming & autoregulation technique in strength training. A top set would be your heaviest prescribed set for the day, typically followed by volume work at some reduced load relative to that top set (hence, backdown).

By prescribing your volume work for the day as a percentage of your Top Set rather than a (somewhat arbitrary) Training Max or All Time PR means your training can be tailored based on your specific capacity on any given day. Top sets (when performed submaximally or shy of failure) can also be used as an objective measure of fatigue or preparation at various points in a training cycle, and can act as a barometer of your progress.

Jumping Lunges

Demo Here

Starting in a split stance, dip into a lunge position. From the bottom, drive back up explosively and jump, switching your leg position and landing with your other foot forward. Continue alternating sides for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Burpees

Demo Link

Begin in a standing position. Drop into a squat position, place your hands on the ground, then kick your feet back into a plank position while keeping your arms extended. Immediately return your feet into squat position, and stand up from the squat position, extend or jump upright, and reach your hands overhead. Once you’re fully upright, that’s the end of your repetition — repeat for the prescribed reps.

Substitutions 

Thrusters, Renegade Rows, Squat Jumps, Jumping Lunges

Chest Dips

Demo Here

Using parallel bars or stable chairs/stools/benches of the same height on each side of your body, jump up and straighten your arms. Begin your rep by descending your body and leaning forward. If you cannot fully support your bodyweight in this position (or are unsure), start by keeping one or both feet on the ground to add assistance. Continue dipping down until your shoulders are at or below your elbows, as comfortable, then press yourself back up by straightening your arms until you are back at the top.

If chest dips are uncomfortable for you (or not feasible based on equipment), substitute for Bench Dips, or any of the other substitutions listed below.

Substitutions 

Bench Dips; Push-Up variations (wider grip will have greater chest focus); Tricep Push Down; Tricep Kick Back; Skullcrushers; BW Tricep Extension

Nordic Hamstring Curl

Demo Here

Start in a kneeling position with your feet anchored (under a rack, a heavy piece of furniture, heavy DBs/medicine ball/plates, or having a partner hold them down). As you maintain a straight position at the hips (aiming for a straight line from knee to shoulders), begin to lean your torso forward, controlling your descent with your hamstrings. Keep your hands in front of your body to support and catch yourself as you get closer to the floor. Then, raise your body back up to the start position by actively contracting your hamstrings. This is a fairly advanced exercise, and you may find it helps to press yourself up with a push-up to get some momentum going from the beginning.

To scale / modify to an easier version, perform as an eccentric-only. In this variation, descend as far as you can as slowly as you can, while lengthening the hamstrings until your arms catch yourselves. From this position, walk your hands backwards until you return to your start position.  If you are unable to perform these, that’s okay! We recommend a Glute Ham Raise as another great substitute, or any other hamstring curl with a slow eccentric (negative), such as slider hamstring curls.

Substitutions

Glute Ham Raises, Slider Hamstring Curls, Any Hamstring Curl or Hamstring Isolation machine; Other hamstring focused exercises (Glute Ham Raise, Romanian or Stiff-Leg Deadlift, etc.)

Clapping Push-Up

Demo Here

Set up in a push-up position. If you are able to perform more than 5-6 regular push-ups, we recommend performing these in a regular push-up position, and if you can preform fewer than 5-6 regular push-ups, we recommend setting up in a modified (knees down) position. Descend from the top to the bottom of a push-up position as normal. When you press into the floor to drive your body back up to the top, press as explosively as possible, lifting off the ground where possible. While at the peak of your rep (and in the air), clap your hands together, then return them to the position and catch yourself before you descend into your next rep.

 

Substitutions

Regular or Modified Push-Ups, DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, BB Bench Press variations; Subs for Close Grip or Diamond Push Ups include more tricep dominant exercises (Skullcrushers, Rope Pushdown, Dip variations, etc).

Box Jumps

Demo Link

Start in a standing position with your feet roughly hip-width apart in front of a low box. Begin by descending into a short dip, then explosively drive back up and jump on top of the box. Pause in a stable position when you land, then stand up fully to ensure you are stable before stepping off the box. Continue for the prescribed number of repetitions. If you don’t have access to a box, you can perform these onto a sturdy bench, ledge, or stairs.

Substitutions 

Jump Squats; Goblet or other Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Broad Jumps

Demo Link

Start in a standing position with your feet roughly hip-width apart. Begin by descending into a short dip, then explosively drive up and jump forward as far as you can. Pause in a stable position when you land, then stand up fully to ensure you are stable. Continue for the prescribed number of repetitions. If you are limited on space, turn around and jump back (rather than continuing to jump in the same direction).

Substitutions 

Box Jumps; Jump Squats; Medicine ball Throws; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat

Arch Body Rock

Demo Here

Starting in a Superman position prone on the floor, extend until your hands and feet are both raised. Then, begin rocking forward and backwards, aiming to maintain your position throughout the entire range of motion.

Substitutions 

Supermans; Hollow Body variations; Birddogs; V-situps; Deadbugs

Bow and Bend

Demo Here

Start standing upright with your feet hip-width apart. Reach your hands together overhead and back, extending as far as you can. Once you’ve reached a full stretch, pause for a moment, then reach down (while keeping your legs relatively straight). Repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions

Sun Salutations; Inch Worms; Runners Lunge; Punter Kicks

High Knees Marching

Demo Here

With a bit of space in front of you, perform high knees by driving one knee up to wards your torso, then alternate and perform the same movement with your other leg after your first foot touches the floor. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions or time. Can be performed in place, or inching forward.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.

Butt Kicks

Demo Here

With a bit of space in front of you, begin by marching (for warm ups) or running/sprinting (for working sets) in place while driving your heels back to your butt. Repeat for the prescribed reps, time, or distance. Can also be performed while inching forward.

Substitutes

Sun Salutations; Inchworms; Runner’s Lunge; Punter Kicks

Punter Kicks

Demo Here

Stand upright, with your hand on a sturdy wall, beam, doorframe, or squat rack for support. Lift your opposite foot slightly off the ground, and with a relatively straight knee, kick your leg up in front of you. If you can, try to touch your toe with your opposite-side hand. You should feel a mild stretch in your hamstrings with each kick. Can also be performed while walking, alternate legs with each step, and repeat for the prescribed reps, time, or distance.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate,increase blood flow, and provide a dynamic stretch.

Karaoke

Demo Here

Start with a bit of space to the side of you. While facing forward the entire time, start by crossing one foot over the other while stepping explosively in that direction. Alternate by crossing your training leg over and then under your leading leg for the prescribed time, distance, or repetitions. Then, repeat in the other direction.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate,increase blood flow, and provide a dynamic stretch.

Jumping Jacks

Demo Here

Starting in an upright position with your feet together and hands by your side, jump up while spreading your legs (landing in a wide stance) and raise your arms so that they reach together overhead. Do your best to time them so that your hands touch together at the same time as your feet land in your wide stance. As soon as you land, jump back up and bring your feet together and hands back to your sides. Repeat for the prescribed time or reps.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate,increase blood flow, and provide a dynamic stretch.

Kneeling Jump

Demo Here

Starting in a kneeling position with the balls of your feet down, sit your hips back towards your heels, then drive up explosively, jumping up and landing in a squat position. This is a fairly advanced variation — if you are unable to (or uncomfortable with) this exercise, we recommend the Kneel-to-Squat variation above.

Substitutes

Box Jumps; Broad Jumps; Jump Squats; Jump Lunges

V-Ups

Demo Here

Laying on your back, raise arms overhead and extend hands and feet, creating a starfish position. Pressing your low back into the ground, contract your abdominal muscles and crunch while bringing your hands and feet together. Lower back to the ground with control, and repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Hollow Body variations; Planks; Birddogs; Dead Bugs

Sprint

Demo Here

In an open space, run as quickly as possible for the time or distance as prescribed. Our goal here is max speed and explosiveness. Ensure that you are warm before you sprint at max effort, and we recommend some moderate speed running before going into your full sprint.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.

Side Lying Abduction

Demo Here

Lie on your side with legs stacked and extended. While keeping your leg fully extended, raise your top leg towards the ceiling with control, and bring back down. Repeat for the prescribed time or repetitions. If you only feel this in your hip flexor (and not at all in your glutes), try rotating your hips so that you are angled down and facing closer to the floor (rather than towards the ceiling). The more that the front of your hips is pointed to the floor, the more this movement will require contraction at the glutes.

Substitutions 

Fire Hydrants, Banded Lateral Walk, Monster Walk, Clamshells

Side Lying Adduction

Demo Here

Lie on your side with legs stacked and extended. While keeping your leg fully extended, raise your leg that is closer to the floor up towards the ceiling with control, pause at the top, and then bring back down towards the floor. Repeat for the prescribed time or repetitions. You should feel this primarily in your hip adductors (think inner thigh or groin), and if not, try adjusting your pelvis relative to the floor (rotating your hips down towards the floor more).

Substitutions 

Hip Adduction Machine; Copenhagen Plank or Raises; Goblet Squat with Adduction

Straight Leg Raise

Demo Here

Lie on your back with legs extended. While keeping your knees fairly straight, raise one leg towards the ceiling with control, and bring back down. Repeat for the prescribed time or repetitions, alternating legs each repetition if preferred. This movement is a hip flexor dominant movement, and you may also feel a light stretch in your hamstring.

Substitutions 

Punter Kicks; Fire Hydrants; Leg Swings

A-Skip

Demo Here

In an open space, maintain an upright posture (tall torso) while mimicking your sprinting mechanics (knees driving high, arms driving forward) in a march or skip. The goal here is to eventually work towards a skip while keeping the knees high and reinforce good ground contact to improve sprint technique. Drive the knee up high above the hip and bring it down fast, aiming to make contact with the ground using your full foot (not just your heels or toes). If comfortable, a skip can be added in between steps.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.

B-Skip

Demo Here

In an open space, maintain an upright posture (tall torso) while mimicking your sprinting mechanics (knees driving high, arms driving forward) in a march or skip — just like in the A-Skip. Once you drive your knee up high though, the B-Skip differs from the A-Skip in that rather than driving your foot straight down to the ground, instead you want to extend your knee and reach your foot forward before driving to the ground. This will make your stride and leg movement look more circular than the A-Skip, and help reinforce the forward propulsion mechanics we’re looking for in good sprinting technique. If comfortable at a slower pace (marching), a skip can be added in between steps.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.

Seated Banded Row

Demo Here

Set up similar to how you would for a seated cable row — with a resistance band anchored at mid-torso height. Grab the band with both hands and pull back towards the lower abdomen. Return the the starting position and repeat. Focus on pulling your elbows back behind your torso and squeezing your shoulder blades together during the contraction, and allowing the band to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulders and stretching your lats.

To make this movement more challenging while using the same band, try grabbing each end of the band rather than looping the band through itself, or perform these as a Single Arm variation, performing the total prescribed repetitions as reps per side.

Substitutions 

Barbell/Bentover Row; Pendlay Row; Dumbbell Row; Inverted Row; Chest Supported Row, Single Arm Lat Pull Down

Kneel-to-Squat

Demo Here

Starting in a kneeling position, bring one leg up into a half-kneeling position, then bring up your second leg until you reach a squat. Pause, then return to a half-kneeling position before returning to your knees. Throughout the entire repetition, aim to keep your head and torso at the same level – don’t allow your body to raise! Holding this deep squat throughout this keep this a challenging variation.

Substitutes

Wall Sit; Low-Ceiling Lunges; Other Lunge or Split Squat Variations; Box Step Ups

Spanish Squat

Demo Link

Set up by wrapping a band around an upright pillar or column, then step into each end of the band so that each end is wrapped behind your knees. Descend into a squat, and as you progress through your range of motion, the band will pull your knees forward. Once you get to the bottom, drive back while squeezing and flexing your quads. Pause at the top (for time, if prescribed), and continue squeezing your quads and resisting the bands. For an advanced version, you can perform this with a DB or KB in your hands as a goblet style Spanish Squat.

Substitutions 

Goblet Squat; Leg Extensions; Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Terminal Knee Extensions

Demo Link

Set up by wrapping a band around an upright pillar or column, and step one foot into the loose end of the band so that the band wraps behind your knee. Starting with your feet together and both legs extended, allow the band to pull your knee forward – a bit of heel lift on that leg is okay! Then, drive your heel into the floor and extend your knee back to the start position by squeezing your quad. Hold it and continue squeezing while at the top (aiming for 2-4 sec each rep unless specified otherwise), then repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Spanish Squats; Single Leg Extensions; Goblet Squat; Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat

Banded Overhead Press

Demo Here

Set up in a stance with feet shoulder-width apart, standing on a long resistance band (light or moderate). Press overhead similar to a DB or BB overhead press. Do your best to keep your ribs down, hips forward, and glutes squeezed (so that your pelvis is stacked under your torso), rather than arching back. Adjusting your stance width (and how much tension is on the band under your feet) will adjust the resistance of this exercise.

Substitutions 

Barbell or DB OHP; Single Arm DB OHP; Banded Front Raises; Banded Lateral Raises; Machine Overhead Press

Scap Wall Walk

Demo Link

Standing close to a wall, loop a small elastic rubber or fabric band around your wrists, and place your forearms against the wall vertically while bending at the elbows 90-degrees. While keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor (straight up and down), slowly walk your arms up and down the wall. The band will add pressure to your forearms to internally rotate, and your goal is to resist that pressure (through external rotation) throughout the range of motion.

Substitutions 

Band Pullaparts with External Rotation; Prone I-T-W-Y; Blackburns; Face Pulls

Barbell Stiff Leg Sumo Deadlift

Demo Link

Set up just behind a Barbell with a wide stance (feet externally rotated) and hands inside of your legs. Hinge at the hip with minimal bend at the knee to get in a pulling position. Tighten the upper back, brace the core, then pull the Bar from the ground up to the hips. Think about pushing the feet through the floor while squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips forward, hingeing at the hips. Lower the Bar in the same movement pattern.

Substitutions 

Sumo KB/DB deadlifts, other Barbell deadlift variations (conventional, trap bar)

Zottman Curls

Demo Here

Grab a pair of DBs and begin to perform a normal bicep curl, with your palms facing up. Once you reach the top (DBs near your shoulders), rotate your wrists and DBs so that your palms now face down. In this position, slowly control your descent back to the bottom (DBs near your hips). That’s one rep. Rotate your wrists and DBs again so that you are palms up, and repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Regular DB Curls; DB or Cable/Rope Hammer Curls; Single Arm Cable Curl; Barbell Curls; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls

Cluster Sets

Cluster sets are a training method that incorporate intra (within) set rest periods between prescribed reps. For example, programming may call for:

In this example, you would perform 3 reps with 80%, rest 20 seconds, perform 3 more reps, rest 20 seconds, perform 3 reps, then rest for 3 minutes before repeating 2 more times (3 total sets).

Cluster sets allow us to overreach intensity, using a heavier than average weight for a given rep range (you may be able to work up to a 5RM weight and perform 6 total reps via Clusters of 2+2+2). We recommend racking the bar during your intra-set rest.

DB Z-Press

DB Z-Press Demo

Holding a moderate set of DBs (similar or slightly lower in weight than you would use for a traditional standing/seated DB Overhead Press), sit on the floor with your legs extended and your torso upright. The wider you spread your legs, the more stable your base will be. Begin pressing the DBs overhead for the prescribed number of repetitions, aiming to keep a vertical torso. Focus on keeping your rips down and your chin tucked during your repetitions.

Substitutions 

Seated/Standing DB OHP; Barbell OHP; Seated Cable OHP; Modified Handstand Push-Up; Overhead Pressing Machines

DB Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Holding a DB above your head in one hand with your arm extended, bend at the elbow to lower the weight with control behind your head. Return the weight to an extended overhead position. This variation can be performed with a DB, Band, Cables (rope or single handle), as well as standing or seated if not specified.

Substitutions 

OH Tricep Extension (DB/Band/Cable – with both arms); Single Arm Cable Push Downs, Single Arm DB Skullcrushers; Single Arm DB/Band OHP

High-to-Low Wood Chop

Demo Here

In a standing position, set up a band in a high position. This can also be performed on a cable machine using a rope attachment on a high pulley position. Stand a few feet away from the anchor, facing sideways, orienting yourself 90-degrees from the resistance. Grab the band (or rope) with a double overhand grip. Keeping your arms extended, pull the band/rope across your body from shoulder to hip (high-to-low) or hip to shoulder (low-to-high).

Unlike any type of oblique twist (where you actively are rotating your torso), our goal with these is anti-rotation, similar to a Paloff Press. With that in mind, we want to think about keeping our entire torso square, with our shoulders in line with our hips. Focus on minimizing movement of your body, allowing your shoulders and arms to pull the band/rope and using your trunk to resist any rotation or twisting of the torso while the band tries to pull you towards the anchor.

Substitutions 

Paloff Press, DB Windmill, Turkish Getup, Half Turkish Getup, Russian Twist

Reacclimating to Training

As gyms begin to open back up, we encourage flexibility with programming – adjusting exercise order, substituting based on equipment constraints, and breaking up supersets/circuits are absolutely fine if it helps you social distance. If you’ve been away from the barbell for more than 4 weeks, we recommend dropping 5-10% off your training maxes where needed to hit recommended rep ranges. If you’ve been away from the barbell for more than 4 months, you may find a larger decrease is warranted.

While that may feel discouraging at first, taking one step back in your Training Max will act like a deload over your longer term macrocycle, and give you room to build momentum as you ramp back up from week-to-week based on the suggested adjustments in your training notes. Have faith in yourself and your progress, and ease back in where you can! We strongly recommend decreasing your max and adjusting back up week-to-week rather than modifying the prescribed percentages, as this approach will give you a more dynamic and personalized re-adaptation rate as you build back up to your previous Training Maxes.

3-Position Delt Burnout

1. Prone Incline Rear Delt Flye Demo

2. Prone Incline Y-Raise Demo

3. Seated Incline DB Lateral Raise Demo

This is a three-exercise giant set, intended to be performed continuously with no rest in between exercises. Start by performing Prone Incline (chest-supported) Rear Delt Flyes for the prescribed reps/time, then immediately from the same position, perform Y-Raises for the prescribed reps/time. Turn over, and finish with Seated Incline DB Lateral Raises for the prescribed reps/time. Once you’ve completed one round of each exercises, you can then rest (or move onto the next exercise). If substituting for another delt variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

Substitutions 

Any Delt Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; DB Lateral Raises; Prone Incline Y-Raises; Band Pullaparts; Face Pulls; DB or Plate Front Raises

DB Lateral to Front Raise

Demo Here

With your palms together and a dumbbell in each hand, slowly lift weights out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor. From there, (rather than lowering your arms back down to your sides, as you would in a traditional DB Lateral Raise), keep your arms at the same height and bring them forward until your hands are in front of your torso (horizontal adduction, like a DB Flye). From there, lower your weights in front of your body with control. Repeat the movement in reverse (up the front, arms abduct to a “T” shape, then back down to your sides). That’s one repetition. Complete for the prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Plate Front Raise; DB/Cable lateral raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Ab Walkout

Demo Here

Start in a kneeling position with enough room to extend forward. Initiate by walking your hands forward away from your thighs. Control the speed and distance the by engaging the core. You should feel a light stretch in the abdominals. Keep ribs down and glutes tucked, being sure not to get into a hyperextended spine position.

Substitutions 

Ab Fallout; Plank; Hanging Knee Tuck; Hollow Body Hold; Any other abdominal flexion exercise

Supinated (Underhand) Band Pullaparts

Demo Here

Hold a band in with both hands and extend arms in front of you, with an underhand (supinated – palms facing up) grip . Raise hands to shoulder level. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and separate the band in a fly-motion.

Substitutions 

Band PullapartsFace Pulls; Rear Delt Flyes; Prone I-T-Y-W; Prone Incline I-T-Y-W; any upper back/shoulder health/external rotation movements

Prone Incline I-T-Y-W

Demo Here

Perform these lying face down on an Incline bench. Start with your arms down by your side and palms facing up. Retract your shoulder blades and reach your palms to the ceiling (this is the “I” movement of the exercise).

Perform this movement for the prescribed number of repetitions, then bring your arms out to the side, externally rotating your arms and making a “T” with your body. Retract your shoulder blades and raise your thumbs towards the ceiling.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then bring your arms out at a 45-degree angle from your body (making a “Y” with your body. Retract your shoulder blades and raise your thumbs towards the ceiling.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then (while holding your shoulder blades retracted), tuck your elbows back towards your torso until your arms make a “W” shape). Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then rest.

Bodyweight alone is often challenging enough, but you can also hold light weight plates or DBs in your hands for an added challenge.

Substitutions

Prone I-T-Y-W; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Blackburns; Face Pulls; Band Pullaparts; Rear Delt Flyes; Any other upper back, shoulder health, and external rotation exercises.

Prone Incline Y-Raise

Demo Here

Perform these lying face down on an Incline bench. Start with your arms down by your side, then raise them out at a 45-degree angle from your body (making a “Y” with your body. Retract your shoulder blades and raise your thumbs towards the ceiling. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, then rest.

Bodyweight alone is often challenging enough, but you can also hold light weight plates or DBs in your hands for an added challenge.

Substitutions

Prone Incline I-T-Y-W; Prone Incline I-T-Y-WBlackburns; Face Pulls; Band Pullaparts; Rear Delt Flyes; Any other upper back, shoulder health, and external rotation exercises.

Single Arm Banded Row

Demo Here

Set up similar to how you would for a seated cable row — with a resistance band anchored at mid-torso height. Grab the band with one hands and pull back towards the lower abdomen. Return the the starting position and repeat. Focus on pulling your elbow back behind your torso and squeezing your shoulder blades together during the contraction, and allowing the band to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulders and stretching your lats.

Substitutions 

Chest Supported Row, Single Arm Lat Pull Down, DB Row; Barbell/Bentover Row; Pendlay Row; Inverted Row

Barbell Curl 21’s

Demo

For 21’s, perform these as 7 partial reps through the bottom half of the range of motion, 7 reps for the top half of the range of motion, then 7 reps as full range of motion — this is one set. See demo link above (shown as 3+3+3 rather than 7+7+7). Can be performed on an EZ curl bar, with DBs, or on cables. May also be prescribed with different rep ranges (e.g. 8+8+8 would be 8 reps in bottom half range of motion, 8 top half range of motion, 8 full range of motion).

Substitutions 

Barbell Curls, EZ bar curls, Alt. DB Curls, Hammer Curl, Cable Curls

Bear Crawl Shoulder Taps

Demo Here

Start in a quadruped position and curl toes under. Press your feet and hands into the ground at the same time to raise the knees. While maintaining this position, lift one hand off the ground and slowly tap your opposite shoulder. Return your hand to the ground with control, then repeat for the opposite side. You’ve now completed 1 rep per side — continue for the prescribed repetitions. Focus on maintaining flat shoulders and hips throughout the movement (avoid tipping). Actively engage your abdominal muscles by keeping your ribs pulled down and your pelvis tucked under your hips.

Substitutions 

Bear Crawl; Bird Dogs; Deadbugs

Bench Dips

Position 1 Demo Here

Position 2 Demo Here

Position 3 Demo Here

Starting with a bench perpendicular to your body, grip the surface or edge of the bench with your hands. Begin by extending your legs, and elevating your feet if possible (shifting more load to your upper body and away from your lower body, as you add more resistance to your dip). This is Position 1. Perform dips by lowering your torso until your elbow joint reaches roughly 90-degrees, then press yourself back up to the top by pushing into the bench. Perform the prescribed number of reps. Then, lower your feet to the floor while maintaining extended legs (Position 2). Without rest, perform the prescribed number of reps. Finally, bend your knees until your feet are flat on the floor, bending roughly 90-degrees at the hip and knee (Position 3). Perform the prescribed number of reps, then rest.

Option to scale up (harder) by extending your feet away from your body, elevating your feet, or adding weight to your lap. Moving your feet closer to the bench and bending your knees (as demonstrated) will scale this easier.

Substitutions 

Bench Dips; Push-Up Mechanical Dropset; Tricep Push Down; Tricep Kick Back; Skullcrushers; BW Tricep Extension

Banded Bentover Rows

Demo Here

In a bent over position with back parallel to the floor (or close) and knees slightly bent, loop a long band below your feet with one end in each hand. Maintaining your position, row the band by pulling it to the lower chest, then return to your starting position. Control the band throughout the movement.

Substitutions 

Seated Banded Row, Bentover Row, Pendlay Row, DB Row, Inverted row

Deficit Blackburns

Demo

Start lying face down (prone) on the floor or bench, with plates or stacked books 2-4″ off the ground surrounding you at 12:00, 3:00, and 9:00. Raise both arms overhead with a slight bend in the elbow. Keep thumbs up towards the ceiling. Retract your shoulder blades. Slowly and with control, lower your hands in a circular motion as far as comfortably possible. Once you cannot lower the arms further in this position, rotate your arms (aiming to keep your shoulders retracted through this rotation) and complete the repetition when your hands reach the small of the back. Return to start position. Aim for 4-5 seconds from overhead to behind your back, and another 4-5 seconds to return your hands over your head — while maintaining scapular retraction during the entire range of motion.

Substitutions 

Blackburns; Face Pulls; Prone I-T-Y-W; Rear Delt Flyes; Band Pull-Aparts; Any other upper back, shoulder health, and external rotation exercises.

Single Arm Banded Flye

Demo Here

Set up with a band anchored at chest height. Hold the band in one hand, and step away from the anchor until there is some tension in the band when your arm is straight out to your side with a slight bend in your eblow. Take a step back as well, so that the band is perpendicular to your arm when your arm is extended in front of your chest. Perform your flyes by squeezing and contracting your pec in order to bring your arm arm towards the midline, while maintaining a constant slight bend in the elbow. Perform for the prescribed repetitions, then repeat on the other side.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Cable Flyes; DB Flyes; Incline DB / Barbell Bench Press; Push-ups; Pec Deck Machine

Clamshells with Hip Extension

Demo Here

Lie on your side with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Keep feet in contact with each other and raise upper knee while also extending at the hips (squeezing your butt and pushing your pelvis forward), like a side-facing frog pump. Keep lower leg in contact with the floor.

Substitutions 

Clamshells, Seated Banded Clamshells, Fire Hydrants, Banded Lateral Walk, Monster Walk

Seated Banded Abduction

Demo Here

Take position sitting upright on a bench, block, or chair, with a short band wrapped around your knees and your legs together. Keeping your feet in contact with the floor, begin your rep by abducting & externally rotating your legs, driving your knees out against the band. Keep this movement controlled and smooth, focusing on squeezing your glutes and resisting the band.

Substitutions 

Clamshells, Clamshells with Hip Extension, Fire Hydrants, Banded Lateral Walk, Monster Walk

Close Grip Bench Press Feet Up

Demo Here

Setup on a bench, placing your feet on the bench rather than on the floor (reducing your ability to use leg drive in your reps, unlike a regular Close Grip Bench Press). Take a moderately (1-4″ per hand) narrower grip than your competition or regular bench press grip. Unrack the bar and lower to your chest with control (aim to tuck your elbows a little bit closer to your torso than a normal bench press) and press back up to lock out.

Substitutions 

Close Grip Bench Press, Neutral Grip DB press; Close Grip Push-Ups; Bench Dips; Chest Dips

Curtsey Lunge with Sliders

Demo Here

Start standing with hips and shoulders square, with a slider under one foot. Slide your foot back and across your other leg, while bending the front knee and hip. Return the start position and repeat. These can also be performed weighted by holding a DB or KB (goblet style), pair of DBs or KBs (at your sides), or holding a weighted book bag (worn on your back, held goblet style, or tucked to your chest).

Substitutions

Curtsey Lunge; B-Stance Squat; B-Stance Hip Thrust; B-Stance Glute Bridge; Split Squat, Bulgarian Split Squat, Front Foot Elevated Split Squat; Walking Lunge, Alternating Lunge; Reverse Lunge; Box Step Up

Lateral Box Step Ups

Demo Here

Stand beside a box with one foot on the floor and one foot on the box. Try to pick a box where your elevated leg has no more than a 90-degree angle at the knee at the deepest position. Can be weighted with DBs in both hands, or holding a DB or KB in front of you to act as a counter balance.

Substitutions 

DB Box Step Ups; Bulgarian Split Squat; Split Squat; Front Foot Elevated Split Squat; Lunge; Reverse Lunge; B-Stance Hip Thrust; Single Leg Leg Press

DB Iso-Hold Curls

Demo

Start by holding one DB with your arm at 90-degrees (an isometric contraction) while performing the prescribed repetition with your other arm. Without lowering the DBs, switch which arm is holding the isometric contraction and perform the prescribed reps with the other arm. Then, perform the final amount of prescribed reps with both arms at the same time. See the demo link above for more detail, as an example of 3+3+3 Iso-Hold Curls.

Substitutions 

DB Curls; Single Arm Cable Curl; Barbell Curls; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Banded Deadbugs

Demo Here

Lay on your back with a band anchored above your head, holding the band with both hands. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band until your arms are stacked directly over your shoulders (perpendicular to the floor). Focus on keeping your ribs tucked down, as if you were actively performing a crunch and pressing your lower back into the floor.

Next, raise your legs with knees bent at 90-degrees until your knees are stacked over your hips and shins are parallel to the floor. You can opt to extend legs for a more difficult variation. Maintain your arm and torso position (actively contracting your abdominals), and begin lower one leg down towards the floor. Control the descent and do not make contact with the ground, instead stopping just before touching. Maintain contact with the lower back on the floor and squeeze the abdominals to hold the position.  Slowly return your leg to the start position, then perform the same movement with the other leg — you’ve now done 1 rep per side.

Substitutions 

Deadbugs; Birddogs; V-situps; Hollow body holds; Bear Crawls

Banded Deadlift

Demo Here

Standing on a long band, grab a loose end in each hand. Ideally, you should be able to grab the band so that there is tension when you are in your start position (at the lowest part of the lift). With a slight bend at the knee, hinge at the hip and maintain a solid torso position (engaged trunk), descending until you have a mild stretch in your hamstring — your hands should be 10-16″ off the floor here. Return back to the start position, focusing on maintaining that trunk position and pushing your hips through to lockout. Remember: this is a deadlift, not a squat. Better to overemphasize the hip hinge and turn this into more of a Stiff Leg or Romanian Deadlift (both with little if any change in knee angle throughout the range of motion) than to turn this into a banded squat.

Substitutions 

Deadlift; Barbell deadlift variations (conventional, sumo, trap bar); Other posterior chain compound exercises (Good Mornings, Romanian Deadlifts, Stiff-Leg Deadlifts)

Incline Dumbbell Flyes

Demo Here

On an incline bench, hold a DB in each hand and press until your arms are extended above your shoulders. Keep a slight bend in your elbow, and slowly begin descending the weight without breaking at the elbow (as you would in a press). By maintaining the same elbow angle throughout the entire range of motion, your movement should be controlled by your pecs.

Substitutions 

Cable Flyes; Incline DB / Barbell Bench Press; Push-ups;

Single Arm Banded Front Curl

Demo Here

Anchor a band in front of you in a low position. Step back until there is tension in the band, and hold it in one hand. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Banded Away Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl; Single Arm Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Single Arm Banded Hammer Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl

Single Arm Banded Away Curl

Demo Here

Anchor a band in front of you in a low position. Turn around, so that you are now facing away from the anchor. Step away from the anchor until there is tension in the band, and hold it in one hand. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Banded Front Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl; Single Arm Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Single Arm Banded Hammer Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl

Single Arm Banded Curl

Demo Here

Anchor a band below your feet, and hold one end in your hand. Adjust your stance width (or the amount of excess band between your feet) until you feel tension in the band when holding it with your arm down by your side. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps, using a supinated (palm facing up) grip. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Front Curl; Single Arm Banded Away Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl; Single Arm Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Single Arm Banded Hammer Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl

Single Arm Banded Reverse Grip Curl

Demo Here

Anchor a band below your feet, and hold one end in your hand. Adjust your stance width (or the amount of excess band between your feet) until you feel tension in the band when holding it with your arm down by your side. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps, using a pronated (palm facing down) grip. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Front Curl; Single Arm Banded Away Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl; Single Arm Banded Hammer Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl

Single Arm Banded Hammer Curl

Demo Here

Anchor a band below your feet, and hold one end in your hand. Adjust your stance width (or the amount of excess band between your feet) until you feel tension in the band when holding it with your arm down by your side. Begin performing curls with your banded arm for the prescribed reps, using a neutral (thumb facing up) grip. Aim to maintain a neutral posture (keeping your elbow by your sides, and hips & shoulders square facing towards the anchor), with the only movement coming from flexing your bicep. Complete for the prescribed reps, then repeat on the other side before taking any rest.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Front Curl; Single Arm Banded Away Curl; Single Arm Banded Curl; Single Arm Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Single Arm Preacher Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Alternating DB Curl; Hammer Curl; DB Iso-Hold Curl

Banded Glute Kickback

Demo Here

Start on the floor in a quadruped position (hands and knees down), with your arms shoulder-width apart. Place a long band around one foot, anchoring the loose end with your hands. Start your repetition by raising one leg just off the floor, and then contract that glute while kicking your heel back and up until your leg is fully extended, holding and squeezing your glutes at the top. Return to the starting position and repeat the process for the prescribed number of reps. Switch legs, and repeat to complete your set.

Substitutions 

Glute Kickback; Glute bridge variations (banded, single leg, etc.); Leg Press variations (especially glute focused, such as wide stance or feet further in front of you); Step Up, Lunge, or Split Squat variations

Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

Demo

Elevating your heels will create greater forward knee travel as you maintain your upright torso, meaning more quad-focus and knee flexion during your repetition. This can also be performed at home without a DB/KB by hugging or holding by the straps a loaded backpack to your chest.

Substitutions 

Goblet Squat, Band Abducted Goblet Squat, Goblet Squat w Adduction, Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Band Abducted Goblet Squat

Demo Here

For a Band Abducted Goblet Squat variation, set up with a glute band just above the knees. Perform squats to depth while keeping an upright torso and maintaining tension on the band throughout the repetition (so that your knees do not collapse inwards).

Substitutions 

Goblet Squat; Heel Elevated Goblet Squat; Goblet Squat w Adduction; Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Goblet Squat w Adduction

Demo Here

For a Goblet Squat with Adduction, place a block or rolled towel in between the knees. Press into the block. Perform squats to depth while keeping an upright torso with bodyweight or with a light kettlebell. Perform with feet flat on the ground, unless specified otherwise (e.g. Heel Elevated Goblet Squat, as demonstrated above).

Substitutions 

Goblet Squat; Heel Elevated Goblet Squat; Band Abducted Goblet Squat; Front loaded (DB, KB, barbell) squat; Belt Squats; Leg Press or Hack Squat; Leg Extensions

Banded Good Morning

Demo Here

Set up in a standing position, with a long resistance band looped under your feet and over your shoulders. Begin your rep by hingeing at the hips — focus on not only dipping your chest down, but by pushing your hips back, all while maintaining a straight torso position. Allowing a little bend in the knees is good (not stiff-legged), but aim to maintain that same knee angle as you hip hinge, as opposed to actively squatting or flexing at the knees. Once your torso is near parallel to the ground, reverse the movement and return to an upright position.

Substitutions 

Good Morning; Banded Sumo Good Morning; Supermans or Back extensions; Reverse hyperextensions; Stiff-Leg or Romanian Deadlifts

Banded Sumo Good Morning

Demo Here

Set up in a standing position, with a long resistance band looped under your feet and over your shoulders. Widen your stance and angle your toes out until you are in a sumo position. Begin your rep by hingeing at the hips — focus on not only dipping your chest down, but by pushing your hips back, all while maintaining a straight torso position. Allowing a little bend in the knees is good (not stiff-legged), but aim to maintain that same knee angle as you hip hinge, as opposed to actively squatting or flexing at the knees. Once your torso is near parallel to the ground, reverse the movement and return to an upright position.

Substitutions 

Good Morning; Banded Good Morning; Supermans or Back extensions; Reverse hyperextensions; Stiff-Leg or Romanian Deadlifts

Cable Rope Hammer Curls

Demo Here

Set up in front of a cable machine with the pulley set in the low position, and a rope handle attached to the pulley. Grab one end of the rope with both hands, and stand upright so there is tension on the rope when your arms are extended down by your sides. Perform curls using while maintaining a neutral grip. Keep your palms facing together throughout the entire movement. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions, focusing on squeezing and contracting with your biceps to drive all movement — movement of the upper arm should be limited, and elbows should remain in generally the same position throughout your range of motion.

Substitutions 

Hammer Curls; Neutral Grip Curls; Cable Curls; Machine Curls; Any other bicep variation

Modified Slider Hamstring Curl

Demo Here

Find a stretch of floor that is relatively low friction (something like wood or turf, not rubber or asphalt). Start by lying down face up, with sliders or small towels below your feet (or wearing just socks). Raise the hips into a glute bridge, and perform a hamstring curl with one leg at a time by pushing your heel out away from the body, then back to the start position, all while maintaining your bridge position as best you can. Alternate legs, and perform the prescribed repetitions on each side.

To scale this version to an harder variation, perform this exercise with both legs at the same time.

Substitutions

Any Hamstring Curl or Hamstring Isolation machine; Other hamstring focused exercises (Glute Ham Raise, Romanian or Stiff-Leg Deadlift, etc.)

Eccentric Nordic Hamstring Curl

Demo Here

Start in a kneeling position with your feet anchored (under a rack, a heavy piece of furniture, heavy DBs/medicine ball/plates, or having a partner hold them down). As you maintain a straight position at the hips (aiming for a straight line from knee to shoulders), begin to lean your torso forward, controlling your descent with your hamstrings. Keep your hands in front of your body to support and catch yourself as you get closer to the floor.

In the eccentric-only version, descend as far as you can as slowly as you can, while lengthening the hamstrings until your arms catch yourselves. From this position, walk your hands backwards until you return to your start position.  In the full version, also raise your body back up to the start position by actively contracting your hamstrings. This is a fairly advanced exercise, and you may find it helps to press yourself up with a push-up to get some momentum going from the beginning.

If you are unable to perform these, that’s okay! We recommend a Glute Ham Raise as a great substitute, or any other hamstring curl with a slow eccentric (negative), such as slider hamstring curls.

Glute Ham Raise Demo Here

Substitutions

Glute Ham Raises, Slider Hamstring Curls, Any Hamstring Curl or Hamstring Isolation machine; Other hamstring focused exercises (Glute Ham Raise, Romanian or Stiff-Leg Deadlift, etc.)

High Knees – Running

Demo Here

With a bit of space in front of you, perform high knees by driving one knee up to wards your torso, then alternate and perform the same movement with your other leg before the first foot touches the floor. Repeat for the prescribed repetitions or time. Can be performed in place, or inching forward.

Substitutes

Any other cardiovascular movement that helps you raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.

Wide Grip Inverted Rows

Demo Here

With a barbell fixed in a low position in a squat rack, hang underneath the bar with your feet on the floor and your hands spaced slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (aim for 2-4 inches wider than shoulder-width per hand). Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the bar maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position. To scale this movement, bring your feet closer (easier) or further away/elevated (harder). Can also be performed with a TRX or Rings.

Substitutions 

Inverted Row (Regular Grip); Pronated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Cable Row; Chest Supported Row; Machine Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Lat Pull Down

Supinated Grip Inverted Rows

Demo Here

With a barbell fixed in a low position in a squat rack, hang underneath the bar with your feet on the floor and your hands spaced bench press-width apart, holding the bar with a supinated (underhand) grip. Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the bar maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position. To scale this movement, bring your feet closer (easier) or further away/elevated (harder). Can also be performed with a TRX or Rings.

Substitutions 

Inverted Row (Regular Grip); Supinated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Cable Row; Chest Supported Row; Machine Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Lat Pull Down

3-Position Inverted Rows

Position 1 Demo Here

Position 2 Demo Here

Position 3 Demo Here

With a barbell fixed in a low position in a squat rack, hang underneath the bar with your feet on the floor and your hands spaced slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (wide grip). Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the bar maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position. Start by performing rows using this wider grip for the prescribed repetitions. Then, flip your hands so you are using a supinated (underhand) grip, and repeat your rows for the prescribed repetitions. Finally, return to an pronated (overhand) grip at a normal position shoulder-width apart, completing the final amount of prescribed repetitions.

Substitutions 

Inverted Rows (Regular Grip); Pronated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); Supinated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Cable Row; Chest Supported Row; Machine Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Lat Pull Down

Pronated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home Version)

Demo Here

Set up under a strong, sturdy table or desk (if possible, ask a partner or family member to spot by supporting the table and ensuring it doesn’t tip). Lie down underneath the table, with your feet on the floor underneath the table, and your shoulders lined up under the edge of the table. Reach up and hold onto the table, with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart. Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the lip of the table, maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position.

Substitutions 

Supinated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Seated Banded Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Banded Lat Pullover; Half Kneeling or Quadruped Banded Lat Pulldown

Supinated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home Version)

Demo Here

Set up under a strong, sturdy table or desk (if possible, ask a partner or family member to spot by supporting the table and ensuring it doesn’t tip). Lie down underneath the table, with your feet on the floor facing away from the table, and your shoulders lined up under the edge of the table. Reach up and hold onto the table, with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart. Starting with your arms extended and your body in a straight line (with an engaged core), pull your chest towards the lip of the table, maintaining the same straight body positioning and then lower back to an extended start position.

Substitutions 

Pronated Grip Inverted Rows (At-Home version); DB Row; Seated Banded Row; Pull Up; Chin Up; Banded Lat Pullover; Half Kneeling or Quadruped Banded Lat Pulldown

Half Kneeling Windmill

Demo

For the kneeling variation, start in a half kneeling position. Hold a KB/DB overhead, in the same hand as your upright knee. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell. Rotate your trunk towards the ground on your kneeling side. Touch the floor with your free hand. Reverse the movement by raising the torso and punching the kettlebell back up to the ceiling. Can also be performed with a DB. This progression is a great developer of strength and coordination for the Turkish Getup.

Can also be performed at home by substituting a KB/DB for a water bottle or small backpack weighted with books or other objects. Since this exercise is so technically demanding, the absolute load used is less important

Substitutions 

Suitcase Walk, Side Plank variations, Turkish Getup, Half Turkish Getup

Banded Isometric Bicep Curl

Demo Here

Holding a band (pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps, curling to a 90-degree bend at the elbow, making sure you have tension and resistance from the band. Focus on squeezing and flexing your biceps as you resist the band tension, holding for the prescribed time.

Substitutions 

Banded Bicep Curl; Banded Hammer Curl; Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curl; Banded Bicep Curl 21’s;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Banded Hammer Curls

Demo Here

Holding a band with a neutral grip (band pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor, palms facing together), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps, curling to a 90-degree bend at the elbow, making sure you have tension and resistance from the band. Focus on squeezing and flexing your biceps as you resist the band tension, holding for the prescribed time.

Substitutions 

Banded Bicep Curls; Banded Isometric Bicep Curls; Banded Reverse Grip Curl; Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curl; Banded Bicep Curl 21’s;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Banded Reverse Grip Curl

Demo Here

Holding a band with a pronated, overhand grip (band pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor, palms facing the floor), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps, curling to a 90-degree bend at the elbow, making sure you have tension and resistance from the band. Focus on squeezing and flexing your biceps as you resist the band tension, holding for the prescribed time.

Substitutions 

Banded Bicep Curls; Banded Isometric Bicep Curls; Banded Hammer Curl; Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curl; Banded Bicep Curl 21’s;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curls

Demo Here

Holding a band with a supinated grip (band pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor, palms facing away from you), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps. For each prescribed repetition, perform a rep with a full range of motion, then perform an additional half rep (from the bottom until your elbows reach 90-degrees) — that’s considered one “1.5” rep.

Substitutions 

Banded Bicep Curls; Banded Isometric Bicep Curls; Banded Hammer Curls; Banded Reverse Grip Curls; Banded Bicep Curl 21’s;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

Banded Bicep Curl 21’s

Demo Here

Holding a band with a supinated grip (band pinned under your feet, or attached to a low anchor, palms facing away from you), set up so there is light tension in the band while your arms are straight down by your side. Increase tension by standing on more of the band, and decrease tension by allowing for more slack on the band between your feet and hands. Begin your rep by contracting your biceps. Perform 7 reps for the bottom half Range of Motion (elbows straight to elbows at 90-degrees), then 7 reps for the top half Range of Motion (elbows at 90-degrees to fully bent), then 7 reps full Range of Motion (elbows straight to fully bent) — note that the demo shows 3+3+3.

Substitutions 

Banded Bicep Curls; Banded Isometric Bicep Curls; Banded Hammer Curls; Banded Reverse Grip Curls; Banded Bicep 1.5-Rep Curls;

DB Curl; Barbell Curl; Single Arm Cable Curl; Concentration Curls; EZ Bar Curls; Hammer Curls

3-Position Banded Curl

Demo Here

Set up a single band to a low and sturdy anchor point in front of you. Start by facing away from the anchor, and take ~3 steps away so that the pulley is behind your body, and your upper arm is behind your torso (position 1). Perform curls for the prescribed rep range. Then, turn around so that you face the anchor and your upper arm is then in front of your torso (position 2), and perform the prescribed rep range. Finally, step closer to the anchor until you are almost standing above the fixed point, and keep your upper arm directly by your torso perpendicular to the floor (position 3). Perform the prescribed reps. Now you’ve completed one set.

Each position of this exercise group trains the biceps, however we are now biasing fibers along different areas of the muscle, by achieving peak resistance at different shortened/lengthened states (i.e. resistance profile is hardest in the lengthened position for Position 1, and hardest in the shortened position in Position 2). If substituting for another curl variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

Substitutions 

3-Position Cable Curl; 3-Position DB Curl; Any Bicep Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; Barbell Curl, Concentration Curl, Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment), Preacher Curls, Alternating DB Curls, Hammer Curl

3-Position DB Curl

Position 1 Demo Here

Position 2 Demo Here

Position 3 Demo Here

Set up with an adjustable bench and a pair (or more) of Dumbbells. With the bench upright angle set at ~45 degrees, begin by performing Seated Incline DB Curls for the prescribed reps (Position 1). Then, without rest, turn over and perform Prone Incline DB Curls for the prescribed reps (Position 2). Finally, stand up and immediately  without rest perform DB Hammer Curls for the prescribed reps (Position 3). At the end of your hammer curls, you’ve completed one set or round of this exercise grouping.

Each position of this exercise group trains the biceps, however we are now biasing fibers along different areas of the muscle, by achieving peak resistance at different shortened/lengthened states (i.e. resistance profile is hardest in the lengthened position for Position 1, and hardest in the shortened position in Position 2). If substituting for another curl variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

Substitutions 

3-Position Cable Curl; 3-Position Banded Curl; Any Bicep Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; Barbell Curl, Concentration Curl, Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment), Preacher Curls, Alternating DB Curls, Hammer Curl

3-Position Tricep Burnout

1. Banded Tricep Pushdown Demo

2. Banded OH Tricep Extension Demo

3. Banded Tricep Kickback Demo

This is a three-exercise giant set, intended to be performed continuously with no rest in between exercises. Start by performing Banded Tricep Pushdowns for the prescribed reps/time, then immediately grab a dumbbell and perform Banded OH Tricep Extensions for the prescribed reps/time, followed by Banded Tricep Kickback for the prescribed reps/time. Once you’ve completed one round of each exercises, you can then rest (or move onto the next exercise). If substituting for another tricep variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

You can perform this 3-Position Tricep Burnout with any number of variations, but we recommend picking 3 exercises with different tricep (humerus) positions relative to your torso. Start with something in front of your torso (e.g. Rope Pushdowns or Skullcrushers), then something overhead (e.g. DB, Cables or EZ Bar OH Extension), then something behind your torso (e.g. Bench Dips or Tricep Kickbacks).

Substitutions 

Any Tricep Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; Rope Pushdowns; OH Tricep Extensions, Skullcrushers, Dips; Close Grip Pressing Variations, etc.

3-Position Banded Delt Burnout

Demo Here

This is a three-exercise giant set, intended to be performed continuously with no rest in between exercises. Start by performing Band Pullaparts for the prescribed reps/time, then immediately fix your band under your feet (grabbing one side in each hand), and perform Banded Lateral Raises for the prescribed reps/time. Maintaining this position, finish with Banded Front Raises for the prescribed reps/time. Once you’ve completed one round of each exercises, you can then rest (or move onto the next exercise). If substituting for another delt variation, aim to complete in sets of 15+ reps, and pushing to technical failure.

Substitutions 

Any Delt Burnout of 15+ reps to failure; DB Lateral Raises; Prone Incline Y-Raises; Band Pullaparts; Face Pulls; DB or Plate Front Raises

Neutral Grip Lat Pull Downs

Demo Here

On cable pulldown machine, choose a neutral (parallel) grip handle, and hold with both hands. Keeping your torso upright, chest tall, and elbows pointed down, squeeze the lats/armpits and lower the handle to roughly your collarbone level. Try to keep your elbows tucked tight to your torso as you pull the handle down, better engaging your lats.

Substitutions 

Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups); Horizontal Pulling movements (DB Rows, Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

Supinated Grip Lat Pull Downs

Demo Here

On cable pulldown machine, choose a straight bar attachment, and hold with both hands using a supinated (underhand) grip. Keeping your torso upright, chest tall, and elbows pointed down, squeeze the lats/armpits and lower the handle to roughly your collarbone level. Try to keep your elbows tucked tight to your torso as you pull the handle down, better engaging your lats.

Substitutions 

Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups); Horizontal Pulling movements (DB Rows, Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

Half Kneeling Banded Single Arm Lat Pulldown

Demo Here

Set up a band wrapped to a high anchor (bannister, door hinge, pull up bar, etc.). Taking a half kneeling position (right knee down, left knee upright), grab the handle with the same side hand that is kneeling on the ground. As you reach up and extend your arm to grab the band, there should be some tension on the band before you begin your pull — adjust further from or closer to the anchor as needed. Perform a single arm lat pulldown, aiming to pull your right elbow in towards your right hip while keeping your torso upright and holding the rest of your body as steady as possible. Perform the prescribed number of repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Any unilateral pulling or rowing movements (DB Rows, Cable Rows, Hammer Strength Rows); Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Lat Pull Down); Horizontal Pulling movements (Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

Quadruped Single Arm Lat Pull Down

Demo Here

Set up a band or cable pulley with a single handle attachment in a low position. Grabbing the handle or loose end of the band with one hand, back away from the anchor and enter a quadruped position. Extend your arm overhead, ensuring there is some tension on the band before you begin your repetitions (adjust further from or closer to the anchor if needed). Perform a single arm lat pull down, aiming to pull your elbow in towards your hip while holding the rest of your body as steady as possible. Perform the prescribed number of repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Any unilateral pulling or rowing movements (DB Rows, Cable Rows, Hammer Strength Rows); Lat Pull Over (DB or Cable); Vertical Pulling movements (Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Lat Pull Down); Horizontal Pulling movements (Barbell Rows, Inverted Rows, Chest Supported Rows, etc.); Any other back or lat focused exercises.

2-Up, 1-Down Leg Extension

Demo

For 2-Up, 1-Down Leg Extensions, perform a normal (concentric) leg extension with both legs, then using a single leg, perform a slow controlled eccentric (from extended leg to bent knee) over 3-4 seconds back to the start position. Use both legs to extend the weight back out again, and repeat the single leg negative using the same leg, unless specified otherwise (i.e. Alt 2-Up, 1-Down Leg Extension, as demonstrated in the GIF above).

Substitutions

Other quadriceps focused exercises (goblet squat, leg press, etc.)

Leg Extension 21’s

Demo

Leg Extension 21s (demoed above as 3+3+3) are performed as prescribed reps for the first half of Range of Motion, then prescribed reps for second half of Range of Motion, then prescribed reps for the full Range of Motion, typically prescribed as 7+7+7.

Substitutions

Other quadriceps focused exercises (goblet squat, leg press, etc.)

Reps in Reserve (RIR)

Reps in Reserve, or RIR, is a method of evaluating training effort or prescribing load in a flexible and self-determined manner. This is a useful tool in prescribing loads based on how challenging a set feels to the lifter, and helps account for the ebbs and flows of life. Sometimes stress and fatigue can be super high, so using an explicit percentage may be over-exerting relative to your capacity on that day. In other circumstances, you may feel exceptionally strong and well-rested, in which case an explicit percentage may be underestimating your potential in that session. By incorporating RIR into your programming, we can be a bit more nimble and allow for some flexible auto-regulation in your training.

The concept of RIR is pretty straight forward, and refers to how many repetitions away from failure you were with a given weight for a given number of reps. Something that is a 0 RIR would be a truly maximal effort, where no more weight could be added or reps could be performed at the given load and rep scheme. An exercise prescribed with 3 RIR would be a solid effort, but the set would be less challenging and the lifter would have ~3 reps left in the tank at the end of their set. If you’ve ever used RPE, you can think of RIR as “10 – RPE”, so a lift prescribed at RPE 7 is the same as 3 RIR (where 10-7=3).

For example, if we are prescribing an exercise as “1×1 @ 3 RIR”, that means we want to do one set of one repetition, using a weight that we could perform ~4 total reps if pushing to true failure (the ~4 reps comes from the 1 completed rep + the 3 reps in reserve). If an exercise is prescribed as “3×6 @ 4 reps left in the tank”, that means we want to perform 3 sets of 6 repetitions using a weight that we could do for ~10 total reps if pushing to true failure (6 completed reps + 4 RIR).

If you’re not too sure, we recommend not trying to overthink things – it definitely gets easy with just a bit of practice, and it’s fair game to err on the conservative side. For your first time performing a set to a prescribed RIR, your goal should be to establish a baseline, evaluate how things felt on that set, and adjust as needed for subsequent sets or sessions if things felt easier or harder than the description. You won’t mess up your progress if you’re closer to 3 or 5 RIR when the program calls for 4, but getting in the ballpark will ensure you have room to push your training as we progress over the following weeks.

Low Ceiling Pulse Lunges

Demo Here

Starting with feet together, take a step forward and begin to perform a walking lunge. Rather than fully contracting and reaching a tall, upright position between steps, perform a partial split squat repetition (this is the “pulse”), then take the next steps while maintaining the low, engaged position, as if there were a low ceiling. Can be performed bodyweight or loaded (goblet with a KB, with DBs in each hand, or with a Barbell on your back or in a front rack position).

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Walking Lunges

Demo Here

Starting with feet together, take a step forward and perform a lunge. For walking lunges, as you come back up, bring your rear foot forward to meet your front foot. Repeat with the alternate leg leading. Can be performed bodyweight or loaded (goblet with a KB, with DBs in each hand, holding a plate, or with a Barbell on your back or in a front rack position).

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Overhead Walking Lunges

Demo Here

Grab a weight (KBs, DBs, holding a plate/medicine ball, or for the most advanced and challenging, with a barbell) and lift it overhead, aiming to maintain a stacked vertical position between wrists, elbows, shoulders, and hips. Perform your lunges by taking a step forward with one leg, dropping into a 90-90 lunge position while maintaining your upright torso. As you come back up, squeeze your front leg glute as you bring your rear foot forward to meet your front foot. Repeat with the alternate leg leading. If limited on space, perform as alternating rather than walking.

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Forward-to-Backward Lunges

Demo Here

In the Forward-to-Backward variation, perform one lunge forward, then press back up and step back straight into a reverse lunge — that is one rep. Continue for the prescribed reps.

Substitutions

Split squat variations; Lunge variations; Step Ups; Any other unilateral lower body movement (single leg press, single leg glute bridge, etc.)

Single Arm Banded Chest Press

Demo Here

Set up with a band anchored at chest height (can be performed standing or half kneeling, as demonstrated in the GIF). Hold the band in one hand and turn around and take a step to the side of your free hand. Step away from the anchor until there is some tension in the band when your arm is out to your side and your elbow is bent 90-degrees. Begin your banded chest press by squeezing and contracting your pec while pressing the band until your arm is straight in front of you. Perform for the prescribed repetitions, then repeat on the other side.

Substitutions 

Cable Flyes; Banded Flyes; DB Flyes; Incline DB / Barbell Bench Press; Push-ups; Pec Deck Machine

Single Arm Banded Lateral Raise

Demo Here

Stand upright with your foot pinning down a long band, holding the loose end in one hand. With a slight bend in the elbow and your palm facing towards your midline, slowly raise your arm out to the side until your arm is parallel to the floor and your palm is facing down. Lower back down and repeat. There should be a moderate amount of tension on the band while your arm is at your side, but not so much that you can’t perform the repetition to a full range of motion. Adjust tension by changing how much or little of the band you stand on.

Substitutions 

Cable Lateral Raise; DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

DB Lat Pullover

Demo Here

To perform a DB Lat Pullover, lay on a flat bench, hold a dumbbell with arms extended over eye level and a slight bend in the elbow. Lower the weight down over your head until your arms are parallel to your head, while maintaining your elbow angle through the entire range of motion, then return to the start position. If a pause is prescribed, pause at the bottom with your arms overhead, resisting the weight by using your lats to control the load before returning the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

Cable Lat Pullover; Banded Lat Pullover; Lat Pull Down variations (wide grip, single arm, etc); Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Rows

Banded Lat Pullover

Demo Here

Attach a band to a high anchor point. Standing facing the anchor, holding the band with both hands. Extend your arms overhead and in front of you with a slight bend in the elbow, and step back until there is tension in the band. While maintaining a slight elbow angle, pull the band down towards your waist. Think about leading the pull with your elbows, tucking your arms back to your torso throughout the repetition. When your elbows reach parallel with your torso, perform a slight pause to avoid any momentum (unless a specific pause or tempo is prescribed) and control the movement back to the starting position.

Substitutions 

Lying Banded Lat Pullover; Cable Lat Pullover; DB Pullover; Lat Pull Down variations (wide grip, single arm, etc); Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Rows

Lying Banded Lat Pullover

Demo Here

Attach a band to a low anchor point, 6-12″ off the ground. Lie on the floor face up, with the band in both hands and your arms extended overhead with a slight bend in the elbows. You should be far enough away from the anchor that there is some tension in the band even at rest with arms overhead. While maintaining a slight elbow angle, pull the band down towards your waist. Think about leading the pull with your elbows, tucking your arms back to your torso throughout the repetition. When your elbows reach parallel with your torso, perform a slight pause to avoid any momentum (unless a specific pause or tempo is prescribed) and control the movement back to the starting position.

Substitutions 

Standing Banded Lat Pullover; Cable Lat Pullover; DB Pullover; Lat Pull Down variations (wide grip, single arm, etc); Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Rows

Supinated Grip Cable Row

Demo Here

Sit on the floor or a seated cable machine and hold a straight bar attachment with an underhand grip. Set up far enough away from the pulley so that there is tension on the cable when your arms are extended. Start your rep by pulling the handle back towards the lower abdomen. Return to the starting position and repeat. Focus on driving your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together during the contraction, and allowing the cable to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulders and stretching your lats. If you do not have access to cables, you can perform these variations with bands.

Substitutions 

Banded Rows; Barbell Row; Pendlay Row; Dumbbell Row; Inverted Row; Any other horizontal pull/row

Wide Grip Cable Row

Demo Here

Sit on the floor or a seated cable machine and hold a straight bar attachment with a wide overhand grip. Set up far enough away from the pulley so that there is tension on the cable when your arms are extended. Start your rep by pulling the handle back towards the lower abdomen. Return to the starting position and repeat. Focus on driving your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together during the contraction, and allowing the cable to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulders and stretching your lats. If you do not have access to cables, you can perform these variations with bands.

Substitutions 

Banded Rows; Barbell Row; Pendlay Row; Dumbbell Row; Inverted Row; Any other horizontal pull/row

Single Arm Cable Row

Demo Here

Sit on the floor or a seated cable machine and hold a single handle attachment. Set up far enough away from the pulley so that there is tension on the cable when your arms are extended. Start your rep by pulling the handle back towards the lower abdomen. Return to the starting position and repeat. Focus on driving your elbow back, retracting your shoulder blade during the contraction, and allowing the cable to return to a deep and reaching start position, protracting your shoulder blade and stretching your lat. If you do not have access to cables, you can perform these variations with bands.

Substitutions 

Single Arm Banded Row; Chest Supported Row, Single Arm Lat Pull Down, DB Row

Elevated Pike Hand Stand Push-Up

Demo Here

Set your feet on a stable surface with your hands on the floor so that you’re bent over in a 90 degree position, with your legs extended and your hips as stacked above your shoulders as possible. Lower yourself toward the ground as far as possible, aiming to keep the 90 degree angle. The closer you are to being vertical, the harder the push up will be. Scale accordingly.

Substitutions

Push-Ups, Modified Hand Stand Push Ups, DB Bench Press, DB Chest Flys

Isometric Pull-Up

Demo Here

Perform as a static hold at the top of your pull-up position for max time.

Substitutions 

jumping pull-ups, assisted negative pull-ups, negative chin-ups, negative pull-ups

Dead Hang Pull-Up

Demo Here

Set up under a pull-up bar, with a pronated (overhand) grip. Grab the bar just outside of shoulder width. Hold your body in a straight line for max time, with your feet off the ground.

Substitutions 

jumping pull-ups, assisted negative pull-ups, negative chin-ups, negative pull-ups

Cable Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Set up a cable machine with the pulley set in the low position, using a rope handle or V-bar attachment. Grab the attachment with both hands, and raise the weight above your head with your arms bent and hands behind your head. Extend your arms by contracting your triceps, until you lockout overhead. Lower the weight with control again behind your head to return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

Banded or DB OH Tricep Extension; Cable push downs; Skullcrushers; any other tricep-specific exercise

Banded Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Set up a long resistance band anchored to a low position. Grab the loose end of the band with both hands, and raise the band above your head with your arms bent and hands behind your head. Extend your arms by contracting your triceps, until you lockout overhead. Lower the weight with control again behind your head to return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

DB or Cable OH Tricep Extensions; Cable push downs; Skullcrushers; any other tricep-specific exercise

Cable Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Set up a cable machine with the pulley set in the low position, using a rope or single handle attachment. Grab the attachment with one hand, and raise the weight above your head with your arm bent and hand behind your head. Extend your arm by contracting your triceps, until you lockout overhead. Lower the weight with control again behind your head to return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

OH Tricep Extension (DB/Band/Cable – with both arms); Single Arm Cable Push Downs, Single Arm DB Skullcrushers; Single Arm DB/Band OHP

Banded Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension

Demo Here

Set up a long resistance band anchored to a low position, or stand on one end. Grab the loose end of the band with one hands, and raise the band above your head with your arms bent and hand behind your head. Extend your arm by contracting your triceps, until you lockout overhead. Lower the weight with control again behind your head to return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

OH Tricep Extension (DB/Band/Cable – with both arms); Single Arm Cable Push Downs, Single Arm DB Skullcrushers; Single Arm DB/Band OHP

Copenhagen Plank Raise

Demo Here

Lay on your side with your feet under a bench or elevated surface. Place your top foot on top of the bench. Place your bottom elbow and forearm directly under your shoulder and, lift your hips off the ground by driving your top foot down into the bench — you should feel the adductor and groin muscles of your top leg working hard. Lift your bottom leg up until it touches the bottom of the bench. Unless a specific time is prescribed, hold this position for 1-2 seconds, maintaining a straight line from shoulder to hip to to knee to ankle, before lowering back to the start position with control.

Substitutions 

Copenhagen Plank; Modified Copenhagen Plank; Modified Copenhagen Plank Raises; Cossack Squat; Side Lying Adduction; Hip Adduction Machines; Goblet Squat with Adduction; Hip Thrust with Adduction

Modified Copenhagen Plank

Demo Here

Lay on your side with your feet under a bench or elevated surface. Place your top leg on top of the bench. Unlike a traditional Copenhagen Plank where your foot/ankle is the point of contact on top of the bench, a Modified Copenhagen Plank is scaled easier by instead anchoring at the knee (bent 90-degrees), and placing your shin along the bench – shortening the lever arm created by your body. Place your bottom elbow and forearm directly under your shoulder and, lift your hips off the ground by driving your top leg down into the bench — you should feel the adductor and groin muscles of your top leg working hard. Lift your bottom leg up until it touches the bottom of the bench. Hold this position for the prescribed duration, maintaining a straight line from shoulder to hip to to knee to ankle, before lowering back to the start position with control.

Substitutions 

Copenhagen Plank; Modified Copenhagen Plank; Modified Copenhagen Plank Raises; Cossack Squat; Side Lying Adduction; Hip Adduction Machines; Goblet Squat with Adduction; Hip Thrust with Adduction

Modified Copenhagen Plank Raise

Demo Here

Lay on your side with your feet under a bench or elevated surface. Place your top leg on top of the bench. Unlike a traditional Copenhagen Plank where your foot/ankle is the point of contact on top of the bench, a Modified Copenhagen Plank Raise is scaled easier by instead anchoring at the knee (bent 90-degrees), and placing your shin along the bench – shortening the lever arm created by your body. Place your bottom elbow and forearm directly under your shoulder and, lift your hips off the ground by driving your top leg down into the bench — you should feel the adductor and groin muscles of your top leg working hard. Lift your bottom leg up until it touches the bottom of the bench. Unless a specific time is prescribed, hold this position for 1-2 seconds, maintaining a straight line from shoulder to hip to to knee to ankle, before lowering back to the start position with control.

Substitutions 

Copenhagen Plank; Copenhagen Plank Raise; Modified Copenhagen Plank; Cossack Squat; Side Lying Adduction; Hip Adduction Machines; Goblet Squat with Adduction; Hip Thrust with Adduction

Cable Belt Squat

Demo Here

Setup in front of a cable machine wearing a dip belt around your waist, and with the pulley set to the lowest position. Straddle the pulley, and clip the dip belt to the cable. Perform belt squats to depth for the prescribed reps, focusing on keeping an upright torso. Can also be performed on a Belt Squat machine if available, or by attaching weight plates to dip-belt, while straddling two blocks.

Substitutions 

Leg Press; Front Squat; Goblet Squat; Zercher Squat; Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

Modified Clapping Push-Up

Demo

Set up in a push-up position. If you are able to perform more than 5-6 regular push-ups, we recommend performing these in a regular push-up position, and if you can preform fewer than 5-6 regular push-ups, we recommend setting up in a modified (knees down) position. Descend from the top to the bottom of a push-up position as normal. When you press into the floor to drive your body back up to the top, press as explosively as possible, lifting off the ground where possible. While at the peak of your rep (and in the air), clap your hands together, then return them to the position and catch yourself before you descend into your next rep.

Substitutions

Regular or Modified Push-Ups, DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, BB Bench Press variations; Subs for Close Grip or Diamond Push Ups include more tricep dominant exercises (Skullcrushers, Rope Pushdown, Dip variations, etc).

Plyo Push-Up

Demo

If you are uncomfortable performing a full clap in between reps, you can try a plyo push-up, or modified plyo push-up. In these variations, you still press as explosively as possible and even aim for your hands to come off the ground, but you do not move them away from their position under your shoulders between reps.

Substitutions

Regular or Modified Push-Ups, DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, BB Bench Press variations; Subs for Close Grip or Diamond Push Ups include more tricep dominant exercises (Skullcrushers, Rope Pushdown, Dip variations, etc).

Modified Plyo Push-Up

Demo

If you are uncomfortable performing a full clap in between reps, you can try a plyo push-up, or modified plyo push-up. In these variations, you still press as explosively as possible and even aim for your hands to come off the ground, but you do not move them away from their position under your shoulders between reps.

Substitutions

Regular or Modified Push-Ups, DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, BB Bench Press variations; Subs for Close Grip or Diamond Push Ups include more tricep dominant exercises (Skullcrushers, Rope Pushdown, Dip variations, etc).

Barbell Reverse Lunge

Demo Here

Set up a barbell in a squat rack at the same height as you would for a traditional back squat. Unrack the bar, and take a slight step back, enough to clear the J-hooks. Standing upright with feet roughly hip-width apart, reach one foot back approximately ~2-3 feet, landing on the ball of your foot, and perform a lunge. Use your front leg to drive you back up to the start, thinking about pushing that foot into the ground and squeezing that glute. Return both feet together, and then repeat with the other foot. Alternate for the prescribed repetitions.

This exercise can be scaled easier by substituting the barbell for another weight implement (DBs or KBs), or performed bodyweight.

Substitutions

Lunge variations; Split Squat variations; Box Step Ups; Split Stance or Single Leg Deadlift; Single Leg Press, Extension, or Curl; any other unilateral lower body movement.

Deficit Reverse Lunge

Demo

Can also be performed off a deficit if specified (as demonstrated above). For these, start standing upright with feet together on an elevated surface (roughly 2-6″). Reach one foot back and perform a lunge. Return both feet together, and then repeat with the other foot. Alternate for the prescribed repetitions. Can be performed bodyweight or weighted (typically with DBs or KBs).

Substitutions

Lunge variations; Split Squat variations; Box Step Ups; Split Stance or Single Leg Deadlift; Single Leg Press, Extension, or Curl; any other unilateral lower body movement.

Modified (Knees Down) Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart (unless grip width is specified) and knees down on the floor. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest to the floor, coming close to touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms through the floor, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position. This is a scaled version of the traditional Push-Up, and is one of our suggested variation (along with the Hands Elevated Push-Up) to develop broader pushing strength if unable to perform 6+ traditional push-ups.

Substitutions

Modified (Hands Elevated) Push-Up; Traditional Push-Ups; Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Modified Handstand Push-Ups; Bench Dips; DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press variations

Modified (Hands Elevated) Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on an elevated surface (bench, plyo box, stacked bumper plates, staircase, wall), slightly wider than shoulder width apart (unless grip width is specified) and balls of the feet on the ground. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest, coming close to touching the elevated surface. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms down to push your body up, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position. This is a scaled version of the traditional Push-Up, and is one of our suggested variation (along with the Knees Down Push-Up) to develop broader pushing strength if unable to perform 6+ traditional push-ups. The higher the elevated surface, the easier this variation will be scaled.

Substitutions

Modified (Knees Down) Push-Up; Traditional Push-Ups; Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Modified Handstand Push-Ups; Bench Dips; DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press variations

Feet Elevated Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with feet on an elevated surface (bench, plyo box, stacked bumper plates, staircase, etc), with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart (unless grip width is specified – e.g. Close Grip Push-Ups can be scaled harder by elevating feet). Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest, coming close to touching the elevated surface. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms down to push your body up, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position.

This is a more advanced version of the traditional Push-Up, and is a suggested variation to continue to develop pressing strength when a traditional push-up with your bodyweight alone is insufficient stimulus. The higher the elevated surface, the harder this variation will be scaled. As mentioned above, this variation can be used to increase the difficulty of different push-up variations (e.g. wide or close grip push-ups).

Substitutions

Traditional Push-Ups; Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Modified Handstand Push-Ups; Bench Dips; DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press variations

Wide Grip Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on the floor, aiming for ~0.5-1 hand-width per side wider than your normal push-up grip, and balls of the feet on the ground. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest, coming close to touching the elevated surface. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms down to push your body up, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position. Unlike a Close Grip Push-Up variation, expect your arms to flare out slightly wider than the usual “tucked-close-to-the-torso” position we aim for. With that said, we still suggest keeping some angle less than 90-degrees between arms and torso.

Substitutions

Traditional Push-Ups; Single Arm Banded Chest Press; Modified Handstand Push-Ups; Bench Dips; DB Bench Press, Machine Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press variations

Diamond Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on the floor, with your hands together under your chest — index finger to index finger and thumb to thumb, creating a diamond between your hands — and balls of the feet on the ground. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend at the elbows to descend the torso, aiming to keep your elbows as tucked as possible as you lower your chest to the floor, coming close to touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms through the floor, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position.

This is one of the most advanced Push-Up variations we will cover, and is very tricep dominant. To scale easier, you can either modify your setup (knees down or hands elevated) while maintaining the diamond position, or you can slightly widen your hand width as needed, while still aiming to keep your elbows tucked close to your torso.

Substitutions

Close Grip Push-Ups; Traditional Push-Ups; Close Grip Bench Press; Skullcrushers; Rope Pushdown; Bench Dips; Chest Dips

Close Grip Push-Up

Demo Here

Start in a plank position with palms on the floor, just barely outside shoulder width apart and balls of the feet on the ground. Aim to maintain a straight line in your body, from feet to knees to hips to shoulders. Bend elbows to descend the torso, hips and chest to lower your chest to the floor, coming close to touching the ground. Keep your body in a straight line, making sure not to raise or sink the hips. Press the palms through the floor, activating the chest, shoulders and triceps and returning to the start position. With this hand position, we should be aiming to keep your arms as close to the torso as possible, aiming for roughly 10-30-degrees of angle between arms and torso at the bottom to maintain more emphasis on the triceps in this variation.

This is a more advanced Push-Up variations we will cover, and is very tricep dominant. To scale easier, you can either modify your setup (knees down or hands elevated) while maintaining the close grip position, or you can slightly widen your hand width as needed, while still aiming to keep your elbows tucked close to your torso.

Substitutions

Diamond Push-Ups; Traditional Push-Ups; Close Grip Bench Press; Skullcrushers; Rope Pushdown; Bench Dips; Chest Dips

DB Iso-Hold Lateral Raise

Demo Here

With a dumbbell in each hand and a slight bend in the elbow, lift one arm out to the side and slightly in front (elbows coming 10-30  degrees in front of your torso) until it is parallel to the floor, and hold this position (an isometric contraction) while performing the prescribed repetition with your other arm. Without lowering the DBs, switch which arm is holding the isometric contraction and perform the prescribed reps with the other arm. Then, perform the final amount of prescribed reps with both arms at the same time. See the demo link above for more detail, as an example of 3+3+3 Iso-Hold Lateral Raises.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Raise; Prone Incline DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Cable Lateral Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Prone Incline DB Lateral Raise

Demo Here

Setup facing an adjustable bench set to a high incline position (45-85 degrees of angle). With a dumbbell in each hand and a slight bend in the elbow, hold your torso against the upright of the bench. Lift the weights out to the side and slightly in front (elbows coming 10-30  degrees in front of your torso) until your arms are parallel with the floor (not allowing your torso to move off the bench and rely on momentum). Lower back down with control and repeat. Can also be programmed as a hold, in which case you would maintain your top position for the prescribed amount of time.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Raise; Prone Incline DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Cable Lateral Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Banded Lateral Raise

Demo Here

Stand upright with your foot pinning down a long band, holding one side of the loose end in each hand. With a slight bend in the elbow and your palm facing towards your midline, slowly raise both arms out to the side until your arms are parallel to the floor and your palms are facing down. Lower back down and repeat. There should be a moderate amount of tension on the band while your arm is at your side, but not so much that you can’t perform the repetition to a full range of motion. Adjust tension by changing how much or little of the band you stand on. If you are unable to perform holding one end of the band in each hand, you can try standing on just one side of the band (allowing the other half to loop freely between your hands), or opt for the looser tension single arm banded lateral raise variation.

Substitutions 

Cable Lateral Raise; DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

Seated Incline DB Lateral Raise

Demo Here

Setup with an adjustable bench set to a high incline position (45-85 degrees of angle) and sit with your back against the upright. With a dumbbell in each hand and a slight bend in the elbow, lift the weights out to the side and slightly in front (elbows coming 10-30  degrees in front of your torso) until your arms are parallel with the floor (not allowing your torso to move off the bench and rely on momentum). Lower back down with control and repeat. Can also be programmed as a hold, in which case you would maintain your top position for the prescribed amount of time.

Substitutions 

Banded Lateral Raise; Prone Incline DB Lateral Raise; Prone Incline Y-Raise; Cable Lateral Raise; Overhead Pressing variations; any other shoulder exercises

EZ Bar Curl 21s

Demo Here

To perform EZ Bar Curl 21’s, grab an EZ Curl Bar with an underhand grip and start by completing 7 partial reps through the bottom half of the range of motion, 7 reps for the top half of the range of motion, then 7 reps as full range of motion — this is one set. See demo link above (shown as 3+3+3 using a straight bar rather than 7+7+7 with an EZ bar). Can also be performed on a barbell bar, with DBs, or on cables. May also be prescribed with different rep ranges (e.g. 8+8+8 would be 8 bottom half, 8 top half, 8 full ROM).

Substitutions 

Barbell Curl, Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment), Alternating DB curls, Hammer Curl

Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curls

Demo Here

Stand and hold an EZ Curl barbell with an overhand (pronated) grip, palms facing down/towards your body. Keep the upper arms stationary, and curl the bar forward and up while contracting the biceps. Lower and repeat for reps.

Substitutions 

Zottman Curls; Hammer Curls; Barbell Curl; Cable Curls (V-Bar or EZ Bar attachment); Alternating DB curls

Toes Elevated KB Romanian Deadlifts

Demo Here

Start standing upright with a single KB in both hands, and feet roughly hip width apart. Standing in front of a weight plate or similar, aim to elevate your toes by 1-3″. Begin the rep by reaching your hips back while allowing your torso to tip forward, focusing on maintaining a strong and rigid trunk as you descend. Continue descending until you feel a light to moderate stretch in your hamstrings and/or glutes. Then, return to the start position by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes. This variation can add a greater hamstring and posterior stretch, as well as better reinforce hingeing mechanics as you start in a biased position that naturally encourages you to push your hips back during the repetition.

Substitutions 

Barbell RDLs, Split Stance RDL, Hamstring Curls

B-Stance Banded RDL

Demo Here

Set up in a staggered stance, with one foot’s toe in line with the other heel. Wrap a long resistance band under your front foot flat on the floor, and hold each loose end in each hand. Soften the front knee slightly. Put your weight on the front foot and hinge at the hip and push your hips back. The back foot should support like a kickstand (we recommend only using the ball of your foot for balance), with most of the weight should be on your front leg. Control your slow negative and keep your back flat. Keep your arms long throughout the repetition, allowing the band do add resistance as you squeeze your front foot glute and drive your hips forward and shoulders up. Perform for the prescribed repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Substitutions 

Split Stance/Single Leg RDL, Single Leg Press, Split squat variations, Lunge variations, Single Leg Hamstring Curls, other unilateral lower body work

Standing DB Overhead Press

Demo Link

For standing DB OHP, set up in a stance shoulder-width apart, clean the DBs up to your shoulders, and press overhead. Do your best to keep your ribs down, hips forward, and glutes squeezed (so that your pelvis is stacked under your torso), rather than arching back.

Substitutions 

Barbell OHP; Seated Cable OHP; (Modified) Handstand Push-Up; Overhead Pressing Machines

Single Arm DB Overhead Press

Demo Link

For the single arm DB OHP, set up similar to the regular DB version, but use your free hand to balance and support on a bench, rack, or other sturdy piece of equipment. Do your best to maintain an upright torso and avoid tilting, leaning, or twisting.

Substitutions 

Barbell OHP; Seated Cable OHP; (Modified) Handstand Push-Up; Overhead Pressing Machines

Single Arm Banded Overhead Press

Demo

For the single arm banded OHP, set up similar to the regular banded version, but use just one hand to press against the band. Do your best to maintain an upright torso and avoid tilting, leaning, or twisting.

Substitutions 

Barbell or DB OHP; Single Arm DB OHP; Banded Front Raises; Banded Lateral Raises; Machine Overhead Press

Seated L-Sit Walk

Demo

For the L-Sit Walk variation, press both hands into the floor and raise hips and inch hips and heels backwards. Put hips down and bring hands to meet them.

Substitutions 

Bodysaw, Hanging Leg Raises, Bear Crawls, Side plank, L-Sit Hold, V-Ups

Seated EZ Bar Shrug

Demo

Sitting on a box or bench with a slight torso angle forward, perform shrugs for the prescribed number of repetitions, pinching your shoulder blades back and together and aiming to reach your shoulders up to your ears. Can be performed with a DB or EZ Curl Bar behind your legs.

Substitutions

Standing or Machine Shrug variations; Heavy Farmer Walks or Yoke Carries

DB Skullcrushers

Demo Here

Laying on a bench, hold a DB above your body directly above your shoulders. Without moving your upper arm, hinge at the elbow and lower the weight in a controlled manner towards your skull, stopping a few inches above your face. Then reverse the movement and return the weight to the start position.

Substitutions 

Tricep push-downs; OH Tricep Extension; Dips; Any other tricep exercises

Terminal Knee Extension Split Squat

Demo

Loop a band around a sturdy upright at knee height, and loop the other end around the back of your front knee. Step back so there is some resistance at the top of your split stance position. Perform your split squat as normal, allowing the band to pull your front knee forward. As you drive back up to the top, squeeze your front quad while resisting the band.

Substitutions 

Walking/Alternating/Reverse Lunge variations; Box step-ups; Flat or Front Foot Elevated Split Squat variations

Feet Up Spoto Press

Demo

For a Feet-Up Spoto Press variation, set up with your competition style (regular) bench press grip. Rather than placing your feet on the floor, bend your knees and place feet flat on the bench to remove your leg drive and place greater emphasis on your upper body pressing muscles.

Substitutions 

Board Press, T-shirt press, DB or Machine Bench Press variations

Banded Face Pull

Demo Here

Set up a band to an anchor at or slightly above your shoulder-level, holding the band with both hands in a pronated (overhand) grip. Pull the band directly towards your face while keeping the upper arms parallel to the floor. Control the band on the way back to the start position. Note that the higher you pull (band or rope towards your eye-level), the more you will train your overall upper back, including your shoulders and external rotators. The more that you pull in line with your shoulders, the more directly you will target your rear deltoids. Neither are inherently right or wrong, and we recommend training a combination or alternating (for balance), or whichever is more comfortable for you.

Substitutions 

Blackburns; Banded Face Pull; Band Pullaparts, Prone I-T-W-Y, Rear Delt Flyes