Frequently asked questions
What program should I choose?
This really depends on your goals and how committed you are to the process going into it.
If you just want to work out every now and then and get in shape then the Total Body Circuit Program will work best.
If you are considering barbell training but you are unsure if it's right for you or not then the Finding Fitness Program will probably be best.
If you are committed to the process of proper training or have already begun your journey of getting jacked and strong but are still relatively new then go with the Novice Template.
If you already have a decent strength and hypertrophy base (1-2 years of focused and proper weight training) and you want to continue to improve that then go with one or both of the Intermediate Templates.
If you already have a decent strength and hypertrophy base and you want to become a well rounded overall athlete then go with the Ultimate Performance Manual or the Conjugate Manual.
Define novice, intermediate, and advanced. Explain your vision of these concepts.
A novice trainee is anyone who can still make progress on the most basic form of strength and hypertrophy training. In the case of my templates this is a 3x per week full body style training program with a heavy focus on basic movement patterns and minimal additional accessory movements.
An intermediate trainee is someone who has already built some strength and muscle and thus requires more volume and training intensity in order to continually progress as compared to a novice. This is accomplished by increasing the frequency of training, using higher average and peak intensities on the primary movements, and using greater training volumes by adding to the primary/secondary movements as well as by incorporating more accessory and isolation exercises.
The Late Intermediate is somebody who has made an initial surge of progress on a basic form of intermediate programming and can thus benefit from taking these concepts a step further. A trainee in this stage is experienced enough to be able to rotate between more basic and more advanced forms of intermediate programming and get good results out of each one by leaning on their experience level and giving their body a fresh type of stimulus every few months.
I view weight training from a long term perspective. There is no rush to get to the finish line as natural strength and muscle are, by nature, processes of time anyway. They require time and consistency to mature and reach their full development. Spend 1-2 years on novice type programming. When the gains slow down to a trickle there then move on to early intermediate programming, and spend 6-12 months there. When the gains slow down then begin to incorporate more advanced forms of intermediate programming.
At that point you can just keep on building indefinitely or you can choose to segue out into other endeavors. This may include generalized athletics and performance training (such as in my Ultimate Performance Manual); or it may include specialized strength training work (focusing on becoming an elite squatter or bench presser, for example); or it may include specialized performance training (for example, training to become a better jumper, or faster sprinter, or better endurance athlete); or it may even include specialized hypertrophy training, such training to build up specific body parts.
When should I advance from one template to another? For example, when should I move on from the Novice Program to the Intermediate Program, or from Intermediate to Late Intermediate?
It all depends on how much progress you are making! If you are fairly new to lifting you should be able to get at least 3 rounds out of the Novice template and still make solid progress on it each time. By then it will likely be time to upgrade to the Intermediate template.
If you have both the Intermediate and Late Intermediate templates then you can run these programs for a good while. There are not going to be any hard and fast rules here because these 2 templates are highly complementary and you can basically switch back and forth between them indefinitely if you choose to. If progress ceases then you can move on to something else and revisit these templates again down the road so that your body is desensitized to this style of training. Same goes for the Ultimate Performance Manual.
What kind of results can one expect from each of your templates in terms of hypertrophy or strength?
This is going to vary greatly depending on the athlete and how well they adhere to the programming in the gym, as well as how well they optimize variables outside of the gym, such as sleep, diet, stress, etc. Assuming all variables are optimized then a young male trainee of average body weight should be able to hit the 2/3/4 strength standard of bench press (200lbs), squat (300lbs), and deadlift (400lbs) after 2-3 years of consistently training and progressing through these programs. This is assuming that you allow your body to put on weight as it requires over the course of this process.
How long do the training sessions last?
If you are moving through the exercises without resting excessively then most of the sessions will probably average the 90 minute mark to complete. This is going to vary somewhat depending on which template you are using and which training session you are performing.
How would a lifter go about deloading on any of your programs?
The Novice, Intermediate, and Late Intermediate Templates all contain a scheduled deload at the midpoint of the program.
In general, however, I would recommend simply taking a full week off from all the programmed exercises at the end of each full run through one of the templates. You can switch things up in the gym during that time and do more machine work or try some new movements out, but you should be letting the body recover so you should not be doing anything excessively heavy or high in volume. Alternatively, you can try to stay active outside of the gym during this time by playing sports, going for a walks, etc.
The Ultimate Performance Manual does not contain any scheduled deloads, however, if you felt you needed one you could do so when you were in between the two 6 weeks blocks. The simplest way to deload is to cut out all accessory exercises that week, and reduce both volume and intensity by about 1/3 on all primary and secondary exercises. So for example, if you just squatted 3 sets of 5 with 300lbs this past week, then during the deload week you would squat 2 sets 5 using 200bs.
Alternatively, if you find that decreasing intensity is not helpful for you then you can just keep the intensity high and drop the volume down more substantially. So using the same example, if you just squatted 300lbs for 3 sets of 5 the previous week, then you could deload by squatting 300lbs for 1 sets of 5.
What equipment is needed to complete these workouts?
All of the workouts were designed to be able to be completed with the typical equipment you would find in any decent commercial gym. This includes primarily barbells, dumbbells, and a variety of machines. Most of the workouts can also be modified so that they are suitable for a variety of home gym situations as well, assuming the home gym contains most of the basic pieces of equipment.
The workouts within the templates are all fill in the blank in terms of exercise selection. Every exercise within each workout is categorized so that there are multiple exercises to choose from in order to fill in each slot within the template. That way you can select exercises to use which satisfy your personal equipment availability. This includes things like barbells, dumbbells, machines, bands, calisthenics, specialty equipment, etc.
Do your programs contain any conditioning work?
The Ultimate Performance Manual has conditioning work built into the program. The Novice and Intermediate Templates do not as the primary focus of those programs is building up a base of strength and muscular hypertrophy, however, there is plenty of room to incorporate conditioning work into those programs if that is something you wish to include.
Are there "skill-focused" exercises in the templates? Things like cleans, jerks, snatches, or other exercises where you need to have enough experience and mobility to do them productively.
All of the programs contain options for including modified Olympic lift variations, such as power cleans, power snatches, and high pulls. These lifts can be further modified by performing them form the hang position (as described here and here). When performed this way the lifts are rather simple to learn and do not take much skill to become proficient enough with in order to make them a productive use of your training time. I would encourage most lifters who wish t become masters of the barbell to become comfortable and proficient with at least one of these simple, modified variations.
That said, it is never a requirement that any of these lifts be used in any of the templates as there are other options available.
Do your templates use RPE?
No, none of the templates use the "rating of perceived exertion" scale. However, both the Late Intermediate Template and the Ultimate Performance Manual utilize a similar method of auto-regulated training that is detailed in the templates.
What sort of jumping gains can I expect from the vertical jump program?
This is going to be highly dependent on the athlete. If you are fairly new to vertical jump training and have never used plyometric exercises like depth jumps, or power type movements like power clean/high pulls then it is quite possible that you could gain anywhere from 6-12 inches on your max vertical jump with a full run up.
If you are a more experienced athlete in general and you have more experience with jump type training (plyometrics, power exercises, etc.) then with solid execution of the program you can probably expect to gain about half of that. But again, it's going to depend on the circumstances and assuming everything in the program is executed correctly. The longer it has been since you have done specialized jump training the better your gains will be. The more cycles of this program that you run the less gains you will get out of it.
If doing the Intermediate or Late Intermediate Template and time becomes an issue would you be able to do just the main compound movements (the exercises with the percentage of one rep max and rep scheme) and still get good strength results? Or is each accessory/isolated exercise necessary for building strength for the big 4 compound movements?
You can get away with this for a little while, but it is not something I would recommend doing for any extended period of time. If you are constantly skipping skipping accessory exercises then eventually your progress is going to suffer.
Are there alternative exercises/exercise substitutions in the programs?
The programs are created in a "template style." This means that every single type of exercise found within the templates is categorized into groups, and the workouts within each template contain several exercise prescriptions from each of the varying groups. The user selects the exact exercises that they want to use from each group in order to fill in the template. This means that there is no need for alternative exercises because there are already dozens of exercises to choose from and the user can select all the exercises that they want to use. This means the templates are highly customizable to the individual and that they can be re-used many times as well.
Are there exercise demos?
The Ultimate Performance Manual and Vertical Jump Program both contain demo videos for some of the lesser known exercises, as does the Total Body Circuit Program. For the most part, however, most of the exercises included in the templates are incredibly common movements that are very easy to find tutorials videos on if you don't already know how to do them (for example, squats, bench presses, deadlifts, overhead press, incline bench press, chin-up, etc.).
The links to all the Demo videos are here:
What is intended aim of each template? For example, strength or hypertrophy, or more strength focused, or more hypertrophy focused, or power focused, etc.
The Novice, Intermediate, and Late Intermediate Templates are designed as sequential pieces: a 1, 2, 3, so to speak. Once you graduate from the Novice Template you are pretty much going to be done with it unless you want a return to full body training down the line. But the Intermediate Templates have a longer shelf life and can be used as return points at any time over the course of the lifting career. The primary goal with this 3 point sequence is to build the base of muscular strength and hypertrophy. Building and maintaining this base is a requirement for every trainee who wishes to maximize their long term progress. Once built, it becomes easy to segue into whatever direction you choose. It's a simple concept, but most people get it wrong.
The Ultimate Performance Manual is designed for trainees who have already built a solid base of strength and muscle. If you are focused then you can probably accomplish this base building phase in 2-3 years. With this base you can easily transition into the more well rounded style of training found in the Ultimate Manual and make great and sustained progress with it in the long run. The focus with the Ultimate Manual is further muscular hypertrophy, building more strength in specific lifts of your choosing, and accompanying all that with massive explosive power and kick ass levels of general conditioning.
Is "Ultimate Performance" meant to be a sort of "Advanced" thing after the Novice > Intermediate > Late Intermediate ones? Or is it more of a stand-alone? Your site says "last stop" not sure if literal or not.
It's more of a stand alone. You do not need to be "advanced" to find success with this program, but I would not recommend that a Novice perform it either. Intermediate athletes and above will be able to find the greatest amount of success here.
Why don't these templates focus on all training aspects at once? It is mentioned that they focus on few elements at a time, like strength and hypertrophy. Wouldn't it be better if they focused on all of the training aspects at once, in order to cover training from all angles, so the person can be strong, big, athletic, and healthy ?
This utility of this concept really depends on the stage of training the athlete is in, and what their goals are. The newer you are to weight training the less benefit you will get from a more universal training structure that attempts to improve every facet of physical fitness at once. Novice athletes are better off building a base of strength and hypertrophy first and foremost, and then once that is accomplished they can segue out into other endeavors to become more well rounded. It only takes a few years of focused training to build up a respectable base of strength and hypertrophy, and that base is going to transfer into every other physical activity that you ever attempt to do.
You mentioned that these templates have a lot of exercises to choose from. Does this apply to the rep ranges / set scheme also? For example if a lifter wanted to do the bench press, would he be able to choose from different reps / sets schemes like 5×5 , 3×10 , 3×3? Or is it a fix reps and sets for each day of the week?
The set and rep schemes are periodized depending on the phase of the program you are currently in. This allows us to manipulate training volume in the manner that is most optimal for maximizing progress. This would be a much less predictable process if volume was simply chosen haphazardly.
Do these templates give the lifter the ability to train as many days per week as he wants to or are the number of training sessions fixed?
The number of sessions is fixed, but this number varies depending on which template you are using. For example, the Novice Template contains 3 full body training sessions per week, the Intermediate Templates contain 4 training sessions in an upper/lower split, and the Ultimate Performance Manual contains 5 training sessions per week.
Do the templates give you the freedom to focus on specific lifts, body parts, and aesthetic goals? Or are they just strength, performance, and general hypertrophy templates? For example if a person wanted to get yoked, or wanted to get that old school bodybuilder look would he be able to that?
The templates are primarily generalized strength and hypertrophy routines designed to maximize overall strength and hypertrophy in the greatest number of people over the long run. However, since they are customizable the user has the freedom to focus on whatever specific lifts or body parts they want to focus on using the exercises that they believe will accomplish these goals most effectively.