SGT Workout Breakdown Program 4 – Part 2By Sarah Rippel
By Sarah Rippel
In the first article, I covered the conditioning-biased warm-up! You can read Part 1 here:
The 10 min EMOM Conditioning Warm-Up
Today we will continue to breakdown the rest of the workout components:
Moving on to the next component, we have the “lift warm-up.
LIFT WARM-UP: 15 Minutes to work up to 80-85% of “training max”
For this specific training day, we are performing an overhead press variation. In the actual workout template, I programmed the Z Press, but any overhead press can be substituted.
The Z Press is basically a barbell overhead press performed in either a straddle-sit position, or with legs out straight in front of you. In both variations, the legs need to be engaged, as a base of stability is important for overall performance of the press.
It is important to note that this variation may not be optimal for those with shoulder mobility restrictions. A better option for this type of person would be a landmine 1-arm press in half-kneeling or standing, or a kettlebell “see saw” or 1-arm press in half-kneeling or standing. Having a person sit on the ground to perform an overhead press effectively reduces the amount of contribution that can be made from the lower body. This may make it difficult to perform without compensation for those who have shoulder restrictions, as they will find it hard to finish out the press with a vertical arm and low backs more than likely will not be happy.
I use a “training max” instead of a true or estimated 1-rep max with my groups. There are a few reasons for this. The most important being it basically creates a buffer so that people can train at an appropriate level of intensity on their strength work.
The lift warm-up is not unlike working up to a 1-rep max. Using this training max, we would follow this progression in my gym:
50% x 5
60% x 3
70-75% x 2
80-85% x 1
In my gym we use the TrainHeroic app, which enables me to deliver programming remotely, in addition to tracking my clients’ progress. It estimates 1-rep maxes and updates every exercise we perform, so it’s easy for my clients to know how much weight they should be using.
I realize some people would rather use RPE (rating of perceived exertion) rather than 1-rep max in estimating loading, and that is completely fine! An emphasis on so many numbers may not be desired, therefore a “looser” approach where people can dictate their own weights can most definitely be an option.
After hitting that final set, it is time to move on to the strength circuit that includes “work sets” of this main lift.
STRENGTH CIRCUIT: 3 Rounds
- Seated Rope Climb x 3-5
- Z Press
- Band Chop in Half-Kneeling x 6-8/side
The first exercise in the circuit is one that emphasizes vertical pulling. The Seated Rope Climb is a great option in that it simulates a rope climb but is a lot more accessible for most people. In my gym, we start these on the ground, either seated or laying all the way back. From here, a person can use as much or as little of their legs to help assist the “climb.” A hand-over-hand pulling motion is performed until the person is standing. They control themselves as they lower back to the ground with knees bent or with the body in a plank position, depending on their level.
A Z Press work set follows the Seated Rope Climb. The work sets for this training day are:
- 75% x 5-7+ reps
- 70% x 7-9+ reps
- 65% x 9-11+ reps
It is a “light” day in terms of loading for the work sets. There are a few important aspects of the strategy I used for both loading and reps within this program. The first is that the loading for each work sets decreases, which can be contrasted to a standard loading scheme which involves either straight sets or increasing load. In addition, I chose to use a rep range rather than set a specific amount of reps for each set. This paired with the use of “+ sets” allows people to push more if they feel up to it that day or meet the minimum requirements. I have found this to be a really great element of the strength work!
The third exercise in the circuit is a Band Chop in Half-Kneeling, which can be considered a “core” exercise.
Once three rounds of the strength circuit have been completed, people move on to the assistance circuit.
ASSISTANCE CIRCUIT: 3 Rounds (10-12 minutes)
- Earthquake Bar Overhead Hold x 20-40sec
- Alternating Front/Lateral Raise x 10-15 ea
- Band Face Pull x 10-15
This circuit can be done for rounds or in more of a density training manner by setting a timer for 10-12 minutes and having people perform as much as they can get done in that time. More often than not, 2-3 rounds can be completed in this block! I always encourage my clients to stop when they feel “done,” and sometimes two rounds is all it takes.
The Earthquake Bar Overhead Hold is a unique exercise. Basically you press the barbell overhead and hold it for time, focusing on maintaining good alignment while minimizing the “shaking” of the barbell and dangling weights.
The unique aspect of the Earthquake bar is that it flexes, so it creates an oscillatory effect (aka it “bounces”), but also having weights dangling from the ends means they will swing back and forth. This produces an insane challenge with very little loading.
I have an Earthquake “E-Maxx” Bar which weighs almost nine pounds. Keep in mind with this exercise that the loading itself isn’t important. My groups are ladies-only, and we almost always use 10-15 lbs per side to begin with on this overhead hold. I realize not everyone has an Earthquake (or Bamboo) bar, so an option is to use a 15-lb training bar & dangle weights from the ends.
The second exercise combines the dumbbell front raise and lateral raise. Essentially you perform a rep of the front raise, then a rep of the lateral raise, and continue alternating the two movements for 10-15 reps of each. This is a burner!
The third exercise is a Band Face Pull for 10-15 reps, which hits the upper back/rotator cuff. It is always a good idea to include upper back work in every training session!
So, there you have it, a breakdown of one workout from Program 4! Hopefully I have given you a little bit of a peek inside my programming thought process. The intent behind the specific exercises & components of workouts should always be clear in your mind when designing a program. Program design isn’t rocket science when you adhere to a concrete set of principles. In fact, it can actually be fun!
Other articles by Sarah Rippel:
The Continuous 20-Second Interval Format
(“BURN” Circuits w/ Videos )