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The Stress-Free Strength Routine

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By Geoff Neupert, Master SFG, CSCS


We just had our second child a daughter. Shes amazing as is the pure lack of sleep we are experiencing. It is not uncommon for me to get around four hours a sleep a night. This makes training very challenging. It makes making progress in my training even more so. The purely sane and rational thing to do during this period of time would be to go on a maintenance program. I am neither sane nor rational and I expect my body to make the progress I demand from it, or close to it, regardless of what my daughter or the rest of my life is doing. In order to keep from hurting myself (again like I did routinely in my 30s), I am now working with my old weightlifting coach. I tell him whats going on in my life, what I think I can handle, and he writes my programs, with some guidelines of course. If you have a lot going on in your life and lack the ability to fully recover from your workouts like you once did, you have zero business training the way you used to or the way others do. What I want to share with you is what is routinely working for me to push my strength levels back to where they were 15+ years ago, without having to work as hard as I did back then. Its very simple, its called The Top Set Method This has been used for time in memorium by some of the strongest guys in the world. Very simply, you work up to one top set in your training and call it a day. Traditionally, you would go all out on that set. But for guys (and girls) whos recovery ability is challenged, that would be a mistake. Instead, you should grade your exertion on an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale of 1 to 10 and keep your RPEs between 7 and 8. Sometimes, 6s are good too usually when you think a weight is going to be a 7 and it feels really light. Save the 9s for the end of your strength cycle one, two workouts at the most. Heres how I suggest you set up your training:

1. Use either 55 or 53 for your workouts. Or for better results, alternate between workouts of the two. 2. Start your cycle light around 60-65% to give yourself some momentum and train the skill of strength. 3. Train 3 times a week using an A-B Split that is, where you alternate between an A training session and a B training session.

Also, turn your warm ups into Group Sets Group sets, are a little trick I learned from my weightlifting coach. You simply perform your warm up sets back-to-back, adding load each set, with as little rest as possible between them. This excites your nervous system and allows you to put more force into each rep of that top set. And they work like a charm. (You might feel a little winded after doing them, but dont worry about that the metabolic effects dont have a negative neurological transfer.) Heres how I recommend you perform this: Sets 1-3: As little rest as possible between them and then rest 2-3 minutes after set 3. Set 4: First work set. Rest 3-5 minutes after. Set 5: Top set. However, if youre really hurting in the sleep department or using some highly technical lifts, you may want to do it the following way (which is what I do): Set 1: Rest long enough to add load or around 30 to 60s, depending on the exercise or how Im feeling on that exercise Set 2: Rest long enough to add load OR about 60-120s, depending Set 3: Rest 2-3 minutes Set 4: Rest 3-5 minutes, usually more toward 5 minutes the heavier the load Set 5: Top set. When I was younger, I used to love the high volume, multiple 70 Percent for five by five type routines. Now, I just dont have the time, energy, or desire to perform them. Ive found I can make great, steady, measurable progress using the Top Set Method. If youve stalled or burnt out, you should give it a shot Its the most stress-free strength training method Ive found.

Geoff Neupert: StrongFirst Bio Geoff Neupert, Master SFG, CSCS, has been training both himself and others with

kettlebells since 2002. Hes been in the fitness/strength & conditioning industries since 1993 and has worked as a personal trainer, Division 1 strength and conditioning coach (Rutgers University), and a personal training business owner. He has over 22,000 hours of one-on-one personal training since he started counting in 2002. He currently writes a daily strength and conditioning report called Kettlebell Secrets, in which he dishes out no-nonsense advice to get as strong, lean, and well conditioned as possible using kettlebells; he also consults with clients online. Geoff has authored multiple books and training programs, including, Kettlebell Muscle, Kettlebell Burn 2.0, Kettlebell Burn EXTREME!, Kettlebell Express!, Kettlebell Express! ULTRA, and Kettlebell STRONG!, The Olympic Rapid Fat Loss Program, Six Pack Abs 365, and The Permanent Weight Loss Solution. He has also co-author the ground-breaking training books: Original Strength and Original Strength: Performance. Geoff is a former state champion and nationally qualified Olympic lifter. He is married to a wonderful woman and has two young kids, who keep him on his toes, which coincidentally, is pretty good for hamstring development.

Geoff is also the CEO of Original Strength Systems, a movement restoration system whos mission is to set people free through movement.

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