Well, as some of you know, I took my first shot at writing my own workout program and have been running it now for about 3 months. It has definitely been a fun learning experience going in the gym everyday and running an advanced program that I, myself, wrote. Unfortunately, the results that I have achieved have been less than stellar. If anyone out there was brave enough to try and run this program along side of me I hope you are getting awesome results and should keep going if you are. Since it hasn’t produce for me, I will not be recommending it to anyone. Below, I will break down my results, my critiques and advice, should anyone want to run the program.
So before I started running the first cycle of this program, I test my maxes the week of June 6th, 2016.
Bench 245 x 2
Squat 295 x 3
Deadlift 365 x 4
After running three cycles of my program and re-testing my maxes on the week of September 26th, 2016, my best lifts were:
Bench 260 x 1 (and did 245 x 3 the week before)
Squat 325 x 1 (and did 305 x 3 the week before)
Deadlift 425 x 0 (and did 395 x 3 two weeks before)
So it isn’t super easy to compare the numbers, as none of them were a true 1 rep max effort. I only got one rep on bench and squat but went for a second and felt that I could have done 5-10lbs more for a max. Over the two cycles, I would say I put a solid 5lbs on my bench, 10lbs on my squat and 20lbs on my deadlift. Note that bodyweight has remained fairly constant, too. Staying around 186-188, measured first thing in the morning.
Program Critiques and Why I’m Changing.
I have a few reasons for changing things up, but the main one is I’m not happy with the progress and I think future progress will just be slower. If I thought I could add 35lbs to my total every 3 months from here on out, I would probably be sticking with it. But honestly, about 80% of my results came from running the program for the first cycle. I have a feeling that if I ran it again, there would barely be a statistical increase. And as I have written about in my post, power of the mind, it is extremely important in the iron game. If you don’t believe something will work, it probably won’t.
My biggest critique of this program is the frequency. I don’t think it works doing an upper/lower split and only working out 3 days a week (which is probably a good reason why 99% of programs have you lifting 4 days a week, at least). If you did squats on Friday, you weren’t squatting again until Wednesday. I found it very difficult to stay comfortable with my movement and form under increasingly heavier loads when only practicing, sometimes, once a week.
Another problem I have is that the intensity and volume was a touch high, for me. Everyone handles this differently depending on age, genetics, caloric intake, training history, etc. For me, it was too much on several days. In looking over my notes, I have a lot of missed reps and bad workouts. I believe I got a little carried away with some of AMRAP sets followed by 3 sets of deadlifts. It is just so mentally challenging and bad for progress when you start consistently missing reps. I believe it is better to smoke your workout while doing slightly lower weight and volume than to grind yourself into the dirt to get the extra weight but at the expense of missing reps and working to failure.
Advice for Program Changes
I am not going to make any changes to the program, myself, because I’m not planning to run it again for awhile. I’m just going to leave it as is with a note referencing this article should anyone come across it and want to run it. My advice falls in line with my critiques above – just cut the sets back so you are doing no more than four sets of bench and squat, no more than 3 (maybe 2) 3 sets of deadlifts and spread the volume out over 4 workouts per week instead of 3.
You can also feel free to send me a message and I can discuss my experience in more detail if you are trying to run it.
So am I done with this business of trying to write my own programs and getting stronger? Of course not. Sure, I didn’t knock it out of the park on my first attempt, but I learned some stuff and made some modest gains so it was still time well spent. Failure is part of the process when learning or trying to achieve anything. You can never be afraid to fail at things. As for my next program, I will probably be looking into another periodization program but this time, I’m planning to do a full body routine. I have had issues with full body in the past but that is usually just me trying to do too much. For now, I’m just doing a very simple 3 x 10 on squat, bench, pull up, overhead press, curl and leg raise. Same routine everyday, just trying to get back to working full body. Full post to come on the new routine when it’s complete.