4-week Sample Strength Training Program for your Workout Routine: Using Only Dumbbell Weight Training and Bodyweight exercise – by John Sifferman

Description: This is a general physical preparedness (GPP) style program that can be used for a variety of goals including fat loss, building muscle, and building your overall work capacity (AKA “gas tank”).  Please note that this is not a specific program for specific athletic goals, rather a generalized program for simple goals such as body composition changes.  With every sample strength training program, please note that you have individual needs, that you are not a blank slate, that you have a lifetime of conditioning under your belt (whether you like your conditioning or not).  You will need to supplement this program with training for your individual needs, and may need to substitute some of the exercises with others.  Also recognize that not all goals can be achieved strictly through exercise – some require very specific lifestyle adjustments to be achieved.  For instance, fat loss is dependent on the principle of energy balance, (and ensuring you are in a caloric deficit) as opposed to simply training harder or longer.  In order for any strength training program to be effective, you must consider all of the variables needed to achieve your goals.

This program requires minimal equipment and can be performed at home or at the gym.  There are three, full body strength training sessions per week, performed on non-consecutive days, for four weeks.

Session scheduling, sessions A, B, C, and D.
Week One:
A B A

Week Two:
B A B

Week Three:
C D C

Week Four:
D C D

Sample schedule for week one:
Monday: strength training session A
Tuesday: other activity such as athletic skills practice, cardio, leisure activities, etc.
Wednesday: strength training session B
Thursday: other activity such as athletic skills practice, cardio, leisure activities, etc.
Friday: strength training session A
Saturday: other activity such as athletic skills practice, cardio, leisure activities, etc.
Sunday: rest

Equipment required: Stopwatch or Clock, Dumbbells, Pullup Bar, Bench or Chair, and Floor Space for bodyweight exercise.

Special Notes on How To Maximize Your Progress:

There are a total of 4 different sessions, each one will be performed 3 times over the 4-week period.  This gives you two chances for each designated session (A, B, C, or D) to outperform your previous results.  Your goal should be to set new personal records each time you repeat a session, otherwise you will not make optimal progress.  The two easiest ways to progress in this program are as follows:
1.    Increase the total amount of circuits per session.  For instance, if you went through the dumbbell circuit in Session A twice when you performed it for the first time – go through it three times the next time through.
2.    Increase the amount of time that you perform each exercise.  If you did bodyweight squats for 30 seconds the first time through, try aiming for 35 or 40 if you’re feeling strong.

Constantly seeking improvements in performance will ensure that you are pushing your limits and will see the best results.  Do you think you will receive the best results by putting in a marginal effort? I don’t think so!

Here are three more rules to keep in mind when doing the exercises:

Discomfort rating: Don’t move into any pain during these exercises.  Don’t confuse pain with discomfort, they send very different signals.  If an exercise is uncomfortable, that is OK, just don’t push into pain – learn to tell the difference.

Effort/Exertion rating: Try to aim for at least a 60% level of maximum effort during each exercise.  This means that 100% would be working as hard as you possibly can be.  Generally, your goal should be to stay between 60-80% of your maximum effort capacity.

Technique rating: I cannot stress the importance of using proper technique that is both EFFICIENT and EFFECTIVE.  Make sure that you are performing the exercises nearly perfectly – think 8 out of 10, 10 being perfect technique or form.  If you cannot perform an exercise listed below with near perfect technique, either drop down a skill level (ie doing knee-pushups instead of regular pushups) or substitute another exercise.

4-week Sample Strength Training Program for your Workout Routine: Using Only Dumbbell Weight Training and Bodyweight exercise

Strength Training Session A (30-60 minutes)

Joint mobility warmup: 5-10 minutes

Bodyweight circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Bodyweight squats 30-60 seconds
•    Pushups 30-60 seconds
•    Pullups (negatives or hanging on bar are substitutes for beginners) 30-60 seconds

Dumbbell circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Dumbbell swings 30-60 sec/arm
•    Bent-over dumbbell rows 30-60 seconds
•    Overhead presses with dumbbells 30-60 seconds

Cool down with joint mobility and yoga, 5-10 minutes.

Strength Training Session B

Joint mobility warmup: 5-10 minutes

Bodyweight circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Reverse lunges 30 sec/leg
•    Close-hands pushups (AKA diamond pushups) 30-60 seconds
•    Bodyweight rows 30-60 seconds

Mixed circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Dumbbell bench or chair step-ups 30 sec/leg
•    Front plank on forearms 30-60 seconds
•    Side plank 15-30 sec/side

Cool down with joint mobility and yoga, 5-10 minutes.

Strength Training Session C

Joint mobility warmup: 5-10 minutes

Mixed circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Dumbbell front squats 35-60 seconds
•    Bent-over dumbbell rows 35-60 seconds
•    Lateral lunges 15-30 sec/side
•    Pushups with hands on dumbbells (get deeper into range of motion) 35-60 seconds

Mixed circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Forward lunges 30 sec/leg
•    Mixed grip pullups (negatives or hanging on bar are substitute for beginners) 30-60 sec.
•    Incline pushups 30-60 seconds
•    Front plank 40-70 seconds

Cool down with joint mobility and yoga, 5-10 minutes.

Strength Training Session D

Joint mobility warmup: 5-10 minutes

Mixed circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Dumbbell deadlifts 30-60 seconds
•    Bodyweight rows 35-60 sec.
•    Single-arm dumbbell swings 35 sec/side
•    Pushups 35-60 sec.
•    Hold top pushup position for 15-30 seconds after finishing repetitions – contract abs and lengthen out your spine in two opposing directions.

Mixed circuit, repeat 2-4x, no rest between exercises 60-120 seconds rest at end of each circuit:
•    Walking lunges 30 sec/leg
•    Inchworm exercise 30-60 seconds
•    Alternating overhead presses with dumbbells 30-60 seconds
•    Side planks with elbow locked (arm straight) 20-40 sec/side

To your health and success,

John Sifferman, NSCA-CPT

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