one lift a day program

The One Lift a Day Program For Strength and Hypertrophy

The “One Lift a Day” training regimen is undeniably simple but taxing. No, we’re not exaggerating—it truly presents a substantial challenge. Nonetheless, its core principles are refreshingly straightforward. Despite its unlikelihood, a fitness magazine would rarely showcase such a program, as most readers would be reluctant to try it. The lingering question is: Will you be the exception and defy the odds?

What is the One Lift a Day Program ?

The “One Lift a Day” program has its origins deeply rooted in the past of Olympic lifting. It bypasses all the superfluous elements of modern training and offers a simplicity that can easily go unnoticed.

Not only does it reduce the time spent in the gym, but it also allows for increased recovery time. However, it’s important to note that it may lead to occasional absences from work due to its unique demands.

Now, let’s delve into why individuals who attempt this program often develop a sense that the program is not worthy. While We initially intended to address this aspect later on, there are some subtle yet significant factors associated with the One Lift a Day program. Perhaps the most perplexing issue for most newcomers is hard to comprehend: you won’t be able to spend an extensive amount of time at the gym… because you simply can’t.

Another closely linked issue is the absence of versatility. Since you’ll be focusing on only one exercise per session, there’s no room to deviate from the task at hand. If you’re scheduled to perform squats, you will solely be engaged in squats.

Likewise, if the exercise of the day is chin-ups, you’ll find yourself immersed in chin-ups for a full 45 minutes! The program’s inherent simplicity and dedication to a singular exercise may seem daunting at first, but it’s precisely these characteristics that make it so effective.

By honing in on a specific lift each day, you’ll be able to maximize your efforts and progress in a targeted manner. However, it’s important to recognize that this approach requires mental fortitude and a willingness to push past your comfort zone.

Ultimately, the “One Lift a Day” program offers a unique approach to training, one that challenges conventional norms and embraces the essence of simplicity. While it may be met with resistance and skepticism, those who embrace its principles often find themselves reaping the rewards of focused, intentional training.

The allure of focusing solely on “just chin-ups” may have seemed enticing while driving to the gym, but you can be sure that after approximately five sets, you’ll find yourself yearning for the “relief” that comes from switching exercises—an opportunity to provide both the body and mind with a respite.

However, within the framework of the One Lift a Day program, such relief remains elusive. The primary challenge lies in the absence of excuses. When you commit to performing squats, it unequivocally becomes a squat day. There’s no room to hide or seek solace in this program.

You can’t convince yourself that you’ve had a productive workout because you managed to incorporate 10 different lifts or accumulate a significant volume of training or even compensate with a grueling abdominal routine after avoiding the exercises you dislike.

The beauty of this approach lies in its inherent simplicity: you select one lift each day and dedicate your entire workout to that particular movement. At first glance, it appears effortless, doesn’t it?

Yet, this deceptive simplicity can prove to be quite challenging in practice. By stripping away the complexity of computerized printouts, meticulous seat positions, precise alignments, controlled tempos, and the predetermined order of lifts, the One Lift a Day program offers a refreshing advantage. Instead, you embrace the purity of performing a single lift for an entire session. However, be wary of underestimating its difficulty—this deceptive ease can catch even the most seasoned individuals off guard.

In essence, the One Lift a Day program forces you to confront the chosen exercise head-on, devoid of distractions or alternatives. It demands unwavering commitment and exposes any weaknesses or areas in need of improvement. By immersing yourself in this focused approach, you’ll experience both the physical and mental benefits that arise from such concentrated training.

One lift a day – the program and exercise selection

Exercise selection should align with your goals and accommodate your lifestyle. Consider your weekend activities, such as going out, family activities etc… and adjust your workout accordingly.

For instance, if you know that squats leave you barely able to move from one leg to the other, it’s wise to schedule them away from Thursday or Friday to avoid compromising your weekend plans.

For powerlifters or those following a “power bodybuilding” approach, the One Lift a Day program is ideal. A suggested weekly approach could be structured as follows:

Monday: Bench Press or Bench Press Variation (Incline Bench Press, Dumbbell bench press Floor Press)

Tuesday: Row, Row Variation (T-bar Rows, dumbbell rows etc.) or Chin Ups

Wednesday: Squat or squat variations ( front squat, box squat, barbell hack squat)

Thursday: Off

Friday: Military Press or Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Saturday: Deadlift or other variations (sumo deadlift, rack pull).

You might be wondering about abdominal and serratus exercises. To be honest, a forty-five minute workout of Military Presses will engage and work your abdominal muscles just as effectively as a few sets of direct ab work.

Your arms will be worked indirectly as well. Pushing and pulling heavy weights will tax your arms enough.

Now, let’s consider a few important points:

The One Lift a Day Program is undeniably challenging. While it yields impressive results, it’s not necessarily enjoyable, except perhaps for your friends who find amusement in watching you struggle to walk after those demanding squats. It’s highly likely that you won’t complete the entire month of this program.

Reps and Sets

After selecting your exercises, the next step is to determine your set and rep scheme, aligning it with your specific training objective. For instance, your scheme should be tailored to your desired fitness goal, ensuring optimal progress.

– Choose sets with 5 reps or less if your goal is strength.
– If your goal is hypertrophy do sets of 8-12 reps.
– If your goal is endurance do sets with 13-15 reps.

Instead of settling for the typical three sets of ten for hypertrophy or four sets of three for strength, consider incorporating one of these proven set and rep schemes into your workouts for added interest and productivity.

  1. 8 sets of 3 reps: Load the bar with your 5RM weight. Performing 24 reps with your 5RM will enhance strength and provide effective muscle-building volume.

  2. 5 sets of 5 reps: A classic powerbuilding approach, this scheme develops both strength and muscle size. Complete all five sets with the same weight or gradually increase to a final, maximum weight set.

  3. 4 sets of 8 reps: This scheme focuses on functional hypertrophy, building strength that matches your muscular appearance. It offers a more forgiving alternative to the demanding nature of 5 sets of 5 reps.

When considering the One Lift a Day program, it’s crucial to explore various approaches to reps and sets. One strategy that can prove helpful is to view the training week in a more comprehensive manner, extending beyond the typical monthly or weekly perspective embraced by most trainers. A practical idea is to gradually reduce volume by half each successive week by manipulating reps and sets.

Let’s examine the workout structure for Week One: 5 sets of 5 reps. This is a difficult session for any lift, particularly when performing compound movements like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, snatches, or cleans.

Set 1: 225 pounds for five reps

Set 2: 245 pounds for five reps

Set 3: 265 pounds for five reps

Set 4: 275 pounds for five reps (a challenging set, as fatigue sets in and completing another set may prove difficult)

Set 5: 285 pounds for five reps (with a help of a spotter)

The intensity of this routine seems to ignite a burning sensation in every fiber of the legs. In some instances, my athletes have found themselves physically incapable of getting out of bed the following day.

Week Two: 6 sets of 3 reps

In Week Two, the volume is significantly reduced to 50% of Week One, with a total of 18 reps (compared to 35 reps in Week One). Follow the same weekly format as Week One, but aim to increase the weight lifted. After the challenging volume of Week One, Week Two may appear relatively easier on paper.

Week Three: 5-3-2

Here, we consider the double as a maximum effort. Coaches and athletes alike often exaggerate their capabilities with maximum singles, but doubles tend to provide more accurate information. It’s generally reliable to assume that whatever weight an individual can handle for a double, they can usually handle for a single.

Week Four: Off!

On the surface, Week Four may seem counterintuitive, as it involves taking a full week off from lifting. Many individuals scoff at the idea of a complete week of rest. However, we challenge you to try the One Lift a Day program and then reassess your perspective.

If you’re interested in trying it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Focus on heavy weights and shorter workouts. It’s difficult to sustain a high level of intensity for an extended duration.

If the entire concept seems too extreme, you can simply incorporate occasional “One Lift Only” days into your training. This will break away from the conventional training methods and can actually be enjoyable.

The One Lift a Day program has the potential to introduce a new training paradigm to many lifters: core exercises should be prioritized, while assistance exercises play a supporting role. Unfortunately, this basic truth has been forgotten by many trainers over the past decades.

Take these factors into consideration before embarking on the One Lift a Day program. It’s an intense and demanding regimen, but it also holds the promise of significant progress and breakthroughs in your training.

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