Starter Program: Day 1

Day 1

Squat and Bench Press

3 sets of 5 reps.  Find a weight that is challenging, but not crushing.  We use the the RPE- scale to find the correct weight.  See the RPE section for more details on that, but make sure you leave 2-3 reps left in the tank.  Warmup as you build up to the appropriate weight.  It usually takes me 3-4 sets to build up and discover the weight I need for that given day.  You should rest at least 1-2 min between sets.  As the weight starts to get heavier and harder you might need to rest up to 3-4 min.  The goal each week is to see if you can add 5 lbs to the bar each time you squat and bench press.  But you need to make sure you keep the appropriate stress.  If you don’t need to add 5 lbs, then don’t.  Life stress, fatigue, and lack of sleep can influence your effort on any given day.  

If the barbell is intimidating and you have access to a full gym, you can always use a leg press machine in place of the Squat or the chest press machine in place of bench press.  


Pull-ups are one our favorite exercises.  There is nothing like pulling up your own bodyweight.  If you can’t do pull-ups, don’t worry, use some assistance.  

Tester:  Do as many reps as possible, but under failure.  Use whatever assistance you need to do pull-ups, if you can’t do bodyweight pull-ups.  Make sure the quality of the pull-up is maintained, people love to recruit other stuff in their pull-ups.  When I say “do as many reps as possible” I really mean as many reps as possible with good quality.  If you are getting fatigued and you know you could do another rep but it will be junk…stop.  If you accomplished 8 reps, then take 1/2 the reps and do 4 reps every minute at the top of the minute for 5 minutes.  That is called a 5 min EMOM.

Accessory Work

What do we mean by “accessory work”?  The main lifts require more muscle mass.  They are more taxing overall to the body because the loads are typically higher.  There are multiple joints involved in a back squat, so we need to keep the stress level lower.  Grinding out all your reps for a back squat or a bench press is not the best for injury risk reduction.  But…when it comes to the accessory movements they are typically single leg, single arm and single joint movements.  The volume can be higher and you can flirt closer to failure on some of the movements.

We design this portion of the program to coincide with our seasons.  We might have more sport specific movements that translate to the outdoors in this section.  Trying to mimic sports in the gym is not ideal and we rarely do that, cause you need to practice your sport.  What we will try to do in this section is prepare the body for the sports and select movements that could transfer to the sport.  When we are in our ski season or mountain biking/running/hiking season the program will change to a more maintenance program.  The volume will come down and weights might go up.  The movements will focus on general strength rather than specific sport movements.

We will also include some movements that are designed to target areas that can become nagging injury areas.  I like to call these movements injury risk reducers.  I would always rather have a strong “bad” back then a weak “bad” back.  Getting stronger is not a guarantee.  We do not claim to “fix” people or “keep you from injury”, but it seems like the research shows that if you are stronger the occurrences of injury and the magnitude of injury can be reduced.  

Stay away from snake oil salesmen claiming something that sounds too good, cause it probably is. 

This is one of our go to accessory work programs during the season for general strength:


2 Sleds to 15 Swings X 3 sets (rest 1-2 minutes between sets)

If you don’t have a sled that is fine, most people don’t.  Get on a bike, put the resistance all the way up and go hard for :20-:30 sec.  If you have not done kettlebell swings that is fine too, just do 15 RDL (Romanian Deadlifts)


10-15 Bench Row each side into 10-15 DB Push Press X 3 sets (Rest 1-2 Minutes between sets). 

If we give you a rep range then you need to find a weight that is hard.  If you can’t get to 10 reps it is too heavy, if you easily get to 15 reps then the weight is too light.  This is another method to keep your weight regulated.  If it is too easy it’s not doing much, if it’s too heavy then risk of injury goes up and it’s not doing much either.


10-15 DB Curls

10-15 Tricep Extensions

10-15 Lateral Raises

Most of these movements are single joint movements and going close to failure is quite effective.  You will need 3 different weights for each of these if done correctly.  



10 Ab wheels

20 Weighted Situps

20 Russ Twists

X 3 rounds

If you don’t have access to an ab wheel you can do heel raise as a modification to target the lower abs.  On Mondays we usually try to add weight if you can.  Team Abs on Wednesday is designed for more reps and more conditioning the abs and trunk muscles.  Mondays are more designed for strengthening the abs.  If you can do situps then add some weight.  If Russian Twists are easy then add some weight, but make sure quality of movement is maintained.

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