This 12-week, 40-session program is designed for athletes new to training or who have been away from consistent training for 6 or more months. It can be completed with only the equipment available to you in a large commercial gym (a globogym with barbells, free weights, dumbbells, etc., but no unconventional equipment like sandbags). The program’s goal is to progressively prepare you for the intensity and volume of sessions, maximize your gains as you transition back into regular training, and to prepare you for the next phase of training.
The program is broken into two 6-week phases. The first phase is an orientation phase designed to establish solid movement throughout the full range of motion with foundational lifts while slowly introducing you to and ramping up your work capacity – your ability to do work over time.
The second phase is a build phase that will increase the volume and intensity of work to the full measure of Atomic Athlete training.
This program has a heavy strength focus to maximize the adaptations your body is ready to make as a rookie, or rusty (whichever the case may be), athlete. But, over the course of the 12 weeks, you’ll shift to more frequent work capacity as you naturally adapt to be able to handle more work and therefore need a greater stimulus to continue adapting.
For roughly the first 8-12 weeks after returning to training, you shouldn’t expect a ton – or any – changes to your muscles. You may lose some fat if you’re diet is clean, but don’t expect to see your muscles grow. That’s because the first way that your body gets stronger is through neuromuscular adaptation. Essentially, this means that your body is going to “wire up” existing muscles that you’re not really using very much or at all. This process takes time, and since you’re only getting stronger by starting to use muscles you already have, your muscles won’t really grow.
We aim to maximize that process for you by designing strength sessions that are at the proper intensity to force neuromuscular adaptation. There isn’t any hypertrophy (muscle growth) work in the strength portion of this program since rookies simply won’t experience much, if any, hypertrophy.
In this plan, there is a sharp focus on maximizing strength gains. The first two weeks are all strength sessions. As you progress, though, the focus shifts to Work Capacity.
This is simply your ability to do work over time – both how much you can do in a given amount of time, and for how much time you can do a given amount of work. The goal is to decrease the time it takes you to do work and extend the duration that you can sustain working at intensity. We also work capacity to increase your mental fitness. Oftentimes athletes (even the most experienced) are limited by some mental aspect of a work capacity effort. You’ll become familiar with how your mind can get in the way during these efforts and learn methods to manage your head.
We like to use three rules that frame how we want athletes to approach and manage a work capacity effort: 1) No rest in transition; 2) Don’t go to muscular failure – stop and rest with one or two reps in the tank; and 3) If you have to rest, limit your rest to five breaths.
The progression of work capacity is deliberate. Initially, the goal is to get you working intensely and continuously for 30 minutes. Then, the intensity of work increases.
In the final four weeks of the program, you’ll do some endurance work as well. It’s short (30-60 minutes), and designed to harden the connective tissues at your joints without injuring you. These are done at a low intensity – just moderate pace – so that you can focus on making the duration of the run without worrying about making a certain distance in a certain time.
This program is designed to be completed in a fully-equipped commercial gym (e.g. Golds, 24 Hour Fitness, YMCA, etc.). If you’re doing it at home with limited equipment, you’ll need at least the following:
standard 45 lb Barbell
Enough free weight (plates) to find your 5RM/1RM
Women: 15 lb Dumbbells; Men: 25 lb Dumbbells – preferably, you’ll have more than this, but if you only have one pair this should be the loading.
Padding for the floor
12-18” Step-up bench (most bench press benches are 17-18”)
Lat Pull Down Station
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