Thank you for joining the SQUAD! The goal of this section is to provide SQUAD members with a new workout plan each month. This section is updated monthly with a different workout plan for you to follow and learn from as the year moves on. These workout plans may be focused more on fat loss, strength, muscle growth, athletic performance, or overall health. These workout plans may not always fit in line with your specific goals, or even go together. They are not part of a yearlong plan, but instead they are something different for you to learn from each and every month.
Feel free to pick and choose workouts or exercises from these plans to add to your own custom training plan, or follow these plans exactly as they are written. The workout plans in this section will change monthly and they do not store in a library. If you like a plan, then make sure to make a copy of it before it changes. If you don’t understand an exercise, then check the Exercise Library section of this membership and see if that exercise is available.
This section will also help you continue to have fun in the gym by offering a new workout each month! Even if you don’t follow these plans exactly, make sure you read through them and see if something interests you. You may learn something now that you can apply to a future plan later. This section should help you keep your workouts new and exciting while teaching you something new each month.
Remember, the most important aspect to any of these training programs is the dedication and intensity that you apply to them. Any workout can be catered to help you target specific goals, but the real truth is that all workout plans will work to help get you in better shape if you apply the proper intensity and focus. You may need to modify plans in the future to target specific goals, but as long as you work hard and apply yourself to any plan, then you will see progress regardless of whatever plan that may be.
Let’s get started!
This month’s workout is built on a 2 days on, 1 day off; 2 days on, 2 days off split. You will hit every muscle group once per week with the exception of arms and calves that are hit twice a week. You will have 3 rest days all with the option of cardio or some sort of physical activity.
The rep ranges in this split are focused on bodybuilding hypertrophy. This means that you can use this program to help you gain muscle mass, or you can use this program to focus on fat loss. Your diet will be the aspect that will determine if this plan is focused on fat loss or muscle gain. The training plan and rep ranges will remain the same regardless of your specific goal. I will note that if you are using this plan for fat loss then I suggest that you perform some sort of activity or cardio on your rest days and that you add HIIT or LISS cardio on your workout days as well.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with starting with this plan as a base and modifying it for your goals and schedule. Some of you may not be able to incorporate the rest days as mentioned in this plan. I suggest that you get 3 rest days per week with this plan. You can follow this plan as written or you can space the 3 rest days out as necessary. I believe that the number of exercises, sets, reps, etc. will work best if you allow yourself enough rest time to recover. If I write a plan with 6 workout days in the future then I will adjust the total workload to allow my body to recover with less workout days. Please keep that in mind if you modify this plan.
I want you to notice the spacing of the workout days in this split. You will hit calves on day 1 and day 4. This is to allow enough rest for your calves between training sessions. You will also notice that arms get hit on day 2 and day 5. This is also to allow for enough recovery between training sessions. Remember that your muscle recovers and rebuilds during your rest time and not during your training time. Training supplies the stimulus and rest plus nutrition supplies the recovery.
If we take things a step further I want you to notice how back and legs are separated in the plan. This is because your back and your legs are your largest muscle groups. It requires a lot of energy to train these two muscle groups, so we need to separate them to allow for enough rest and recovery in between sessions. You will also notice how chest and shoulders are separated by enough recovery days. This is because you will train your delts as a secondary muscle group on chest day. In a way your delts will get trained twice per week because they get hit while training your chest on most exercises. The point I want to make here is that your workout split is important so that you can allow enough recovery in between sessions to get the best performance and see the most progress as well!
Here is the workout split for this training plan:
DAY 1 – BACK/CALVES
DAY 2 – CHEST/ARMS
DAY 3 – REST/CARDIO
DAY 4 – LEGS/ABS
DAY 5 – SHOULDERS/ARMS
DAY 6 – REST/CARDIO
DAY 7 – REST/CARDIO
DAY 1 – BACK/CALVES
PULL UPS: 3 sets of bodyweight to failure with 1 minute rest.
We start with pull ups because it is a valuable body weight movement and something that is easy to track the number of reps that you can do. You should focus on progress there! Pull ups are a great back workout and they are best done when you are fresh. If you are capable of using a dip belt to add weight then do this for your last set. This exercise is placed in this part of the workout so that you can use it to warm the back up prior to the rest of the workout
LAT PULL DOWN: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest. Last set a drop set to failure.
The lat pull down is a simulated pull up using a machine. I am placing this exercise here so that you can work the same muscles in the same motion as the pull up. I have required that you perform your last set as a drop set to failure. The drop set is to help you reach muscle failure with the same muscles, following the same movement pattern, as the pull ups.
DBELL PULLOVER: 4 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I’ve found that the dbell pullover really targets the small muscles in the upper back as well as the lats. Your body will use these muscles as part of shoulder stability in this exercise, and it will use the lats alongside those muscles to move the weight. IMPORTANT: It is important that you perform each rep slowly. This will reduce the chance of injury and increase the effectiveness of this exercise.
BARBELL ROW: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1-2 minutes rest.
I chose the barbell row because I always like to include a heavy compound exercise in the heart of the workout. This will be your heaviest movement, but that isn’t an excuse to use sloppy form. I want you to push yourself here, but I don’t want you to break your form. Strict form on this movement and focusing on strength progression is a great way to add thickness and density to your back.
CLOSE GRIP CABLE ROW: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest. Last set a drop set to failure.
You will be fatigued at this point, so our second rowing exercise will be cable supported. The close grip on this exercise will also work the muscles of your back in a different way than the barbell row. I’ve added a drop set to failure here so that you can fully exhaust your back since today’s workout is almost over.
HYPEREXTENSION: 4 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
The barbell row and the cable row will work the extensors to some degree. That said, we didn’t deadlift in this back workout so I would like to focus on some erector specific exercises. The hyperextension is great to help build the posterior chain. You want to build your back today, but you will also get some carry over for your glutes and hamstrings.
SEATED CALF RAISE: 5 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I want you to stretch each calf for 30 seconds during your rest period. We finish today’s workout with the seated calf raise. Don’t take it easy on the stretches in between sets. In my opinion, the stretches during the rest period are harder than the actual working sets!
DAY 2 – CHEST/ARMS
CABLE CROSSOVER: 4 sets of 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest.
The cable crossover, when done properly, is a great way to push blood into your chest. You’ll know if you’re doing it properly by the pump that you get in your pecs. If you aren’t getting a pump in your pecs then you need to check your form. This movement is placed here to help warm the chest and shoulders up prior to the pressing movements.
FLAT DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
I have always felt that the dbell bench press is better to build a chest from a bodybuilding perspective. The flat barbell bench press is great for a lot of things, and it’s great for powerlifting, but it’s not the best for bodybuilding. I want you to push yourself here, but focus on form to make sure that you are using your pecs during the movement and that you aren’t just using your delts and triceps.
SMITH MACHINE DECLINE PRESS: 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
You can also use a plate loaded decline machine here as well. The decline pressing movements are HANDS DOWN the best bodybuilding movements that you can do to build your chest. Your chest should be fatigued and pumped by the time you get to this movement so train safely and let the movement patter of this exercise really put some work in on your pecs!
PLATE LOADED INCLINE PRESS: 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
We are doing a plate loaded machine for the final pressing movement for today’s chest workout. This is much safer than a free weight exercise involving barbells or dumbbells. This machine moves on a fixed path so feel free to really push yourself here and reach muscle failure because we are done training pecs for the week after this.
VGRIP TRICEP PRESSDOWN: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 30 seconds rest.
Your triceps should be pumped and fatigued by the time you get to this movement. The vgrip tricep pressdown is one of the heavier cable movements for triceps, so go ahead and go heavy here. Make sure that you get a full stretch and contraction with each rep.
CABLE KICKBACK: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest in between arms.
This is the finishing exercise for the triceps for today’s workout. Your triceps should be close to finished by the time you start this exercise. If they aren’t then you are not training hard enough. I want you to perform these with one arm at a time and rest for 30 seconds in between sets to allow your triceps to recover and maintain optimal performance.
EZ BAR BARBELL CURL: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
I want you to perform your first two sets with a wide grip and your last two sets with a narrow grip. This barbell works the biceps and related muscles differently than a straight bar. I find that most people like this bar better because it doesn’t place as much strain on the wrists.
DUMBBELL PREACHER CURL: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest in between arms.
I want to finish today’s workout with the dumbbell preacher curl. IMPORTANT: I don’t want you to go very heavy with this exercise because your biceps should be somewhat fatigued from the back day and from the previous exercise. I want you to focus on your form and getting a pump instead. Take your time with the eccentric and the concentric of each rep and really feel the bicep working!
DAY 3 – REST/OPTIONAL CARDIO
Your rest days allow you to get some extra work in. This is especially true if you are trying to lose body fat. If you are focused on muscle growth then you may want to take this day completely off and rest up for tomorrow’s leg day.
If you insist on doing something then you are allowed to do any activity that doesn’t involve weight lifting. You can go for a run, hike, bike ride, play a sport, or just go to the gym and do any cardio of your preference.
WARNING: Just remember that you have leg day tomorrow, so whatever you do, just keep that in mind.
DAY 4 – LEGS/ABS
LEG EXTENSION: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I like to perform the leg extension early on in most of my leg workouts. Personally, I believe that it is a great exercise to warm up the quads and the knees. Don’t kill yourself here, I want you to save effort for the squat, but don’t take things too easy. Your quads should be warm and have a pump by the time you finish your 3rd set.
LYING LEG CURL: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
Just like the leg extension, I am using this movement to help warm up the hamstrings prior to the heavier leg exercises. The same rules apply, don’t kill yourself here, but instead focus on the contraction and warming up the hamstrings.
SQUAT: 5 sets of 10 reps with 1-2 minutes rest.
This is the reason that we came to the gym today! This is the king of all weight lifting movements (the deadlift is debatable). I want you to keep your first couple sets light and make sure that you are properly warmed up. Use this time to focus on your form and get in the zone. Squat workouts should never be easy! I want you to continue to slowly increase the weight with each set and make your last set your heaviest set. Track the weight that you use and how many reps you get on your last set. You should strive to get more reps or use a heavier weight over time.
LEG PRESS: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 1-2 minutes rest.
You should be feeling pretty wiped out after the squat. I like to use the leg press here so that I don’t overload the machine with too much weight and perform quarter reps. I want you to use a weight that allows you to perform a full range of motion. Make sure that your butt stays planted firmly in the seat! If you notice that your but comes off the seat and your back rounds then you are only risking injury.
STIFF LEG DEADLIFT: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1-2 minutes rest.
You can perform this exercise with a barbell or dbells. I want you to use a moderate weight and focus more on the eccentric (negative) part of each rep. Don’t treat this exercise like you would a conventional deadlift. This movement requires STRICT form. This isn’t a strength exercise. Focus on the stretch of your hamstrings at the bottom of the rep and the contraction of your glutes at the top. The only direct hamstring work we are getting in this workout plan is with the lying leg curl and the stiff leg deadlift…so make sure to focus hard on these and make them count!
STANDING CALF RAISE: 5 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I want you to stretch each calf for 30 seconds during your rest period. The same things that were said for the seated calf raise can be said here as well. I find that I like to perform the standing calf raise on leg day because the pad on the seated calf raise can sometimes hurt my quads if they have too big of a pump. IMPORTANT: Make sure that you aren’t going too heavy. If your legs are fatigued then you can risk injury to your knees if you try to go too heavy on this movement.
INCLINE SIT UP: I want you to start out on an incline that you can perform comfortably and work your way up to the highest incline possible.
I want you to work towards doing 100 total reps in as many sets and with as much rest as you need. Once you can get 100 reps easily then I want you to add weight by holding a weight while you perform your reps. See if you can work up to 100 reps with a 45lb plate!!
We finish today’s leg day with abs. I don’t believe in doing a ton of direct ab work. Ab work is there to help you build muscle and strength like anywhere else. Ab work does not give you abs…your diet gives you abs. That said, I think that it is important to focus on core strength. If you can strengthen your core then you will be stronger in the weight room and your athleticism will increase as well!
DAY 5 – SHOULDERS/ARMS
REVERSE PEC DECK: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest.
I want you to perform your last set as a drop set to failure. This exercise is here to target the rear delts and small muscles of the upper back. These muscles are also hit on back day and they also play a role with shoulder stability. I like to hit my rear delts first on this shoulder day to get them out of the way and warm up my shoulders before the rest of the workout. This is the only rear delt exercise so I have added a drop set to help make sure that you reach muscle hypertrophy in that specific delt.
DBELL LATERAL RAISE: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I want you to perform this exercise with both arms at the same time. You can perform them standing or seated. Just make sure that you are not using too heavy of a weight. I know bodybuilders and powerlifters that use a 10-20lb weight on this movement and it works for them. Your form is everything here! If you can target the medial delt and focus on getting a pump in your deltoids then you are doing it right. I like to do these before pressing so that my deltoids have blood in them and are ready to put in work with a pressing movement.
SEATED DBELL OVERHEAD PRESS: 4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
This is the only heavy overhead pressing movement in this workout split. I prefer to use dbells over barbells for this plan so that you can allow each delt to work independently of one another. This will help bring up a lagging side and help ensure that you are building strength on both sides. Barbell overhead presses (military presses) are great, but often we have one side that is stronger than the other and it can dominate a lift.
CABLE UPRIGHT ROW: 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 1 minute rest.
I want you to perform your last set as a drop set to failure. Some people don’t like this movement because it can cause shoulder pain. If you find that you are getting injury-type pain with this movement then I want you to stop doing it and replace it with more lateral raises or something similar. If you can do this movement then I like to do it with cables for the type of tension that they provide. The cable also makes it easier to perform the drop set. Lastly, this movement also incorporates the traps which is what we will be training next. Keep the weight moderate and focus on your form and the contraction. Use this exercise to finish off the delts and warm up the traps before getting into the shrugs.
BARBELL SHRUGS: 5 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute rest.
The barbell shrug is an interesting movement. Some argue that heavy partial reps build big traps because the traps have to stabilize the weight. Others argue that lighter weight with strict form is a must. The truth is that both sides are probably correct. Feel free to go as heavy as you like and perform full reps or partials. Just don’t make your form too sloppy that you risk injuring your back or core. Your back and core play a big role in stabilizing the spine on this movement.
ROPE PRESSDOWN: 4 sets of 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest.
I want you to perform your last set as a drop set to failure. We have to hit our arms on this day. The triceps were hit with the pressing movement earlier in this workout, hit directly earlier in the week, and hit with the pressing movements on chest day. I am only adding one tricep movement today because they have gotten enough work this week. I am choosing the rope extension because this exercise only works with strict form. Use the drop set to guarantee you are putting in work, but otherwise focus on getting the biggest pump in your triceps as possible!
ALTERNATING DBELL HAMMER CURL: 4 sets of 8-12 reps per arm with 1 minute rest.
You can perform these standing or seated. Your total reps per set will be somewhere between 16-24 reps because you are alternating arms each rep. This exercise works the top of the forearm along with the biceps. Earlier in the week we performed some heavier bicep specific exercises. I want to use today to focus more on the brachialis, brachioradialis, as well as the biceps.
DBELL WRIST CURL: 3 sets of 15-20 reps per arm with 0 rest in between arms.
This is the only forearm specific workout. The hammer curl hits the top of the forearm and the wrist curl hits the bottom. I like to perform these on a flat bench press so that I can lay my arm down flat on the bench and let my hand/dbell hang over the edge. Focus on the stretch and contraction of the forearm just like any other exercise. I find that higher reps work better than low reps for forearms. The most important thing is to take your time and feel the muscles in the forearm work. So if you do high reps or low reps, that fact remains. Lastly, grip the dbell as hard as you can while you perform this movement. This will help with grip strength and also help you build your forearms.
DAY 6 & 7 – REST/OPTIONAL CARDIO
I want you to make sure that you take one of these days completely off from the gym. I believe that rest is important for any plan to work, but it is definitely needed for this specific plan. You can perform any non-weightlifting activity or cardio on the other day if you want. I suggest that you do something if you are focused on fat loss, and there is nothing wrong with taking both days completely off if you are focused on building muscle mass.
I want to point out that all workout plans will work best if you implement a logbook. It’s important to track your training so that you can see the progression/regression in performance. This is valuable information that you will need in order to make the proper adjustments to move forward.
You may not need to track every set, rep, and exercise of your workout. That said, you should be tracking key parts of it. I suggest starting by tracking the last set of each exercise. Write down the exercise, the amount of weight that you used, and the total number of reps that you got. You now have a number to beat next week. You should make it a goal to match or beat your total number of reps with a certain weight each week. Once you get more reps than suggested in the plan, then you can make a note to use a slightly heavier weight the following week. This slow progression in weight will lead to big strength increases over time!
If you are trying to lose weight then you may notice that your strength levels drop. This happens to most people when they restrict their calories in an effort to burn body fat. However, if you know your performance each week then you can fight to keep as much strength as possible. Overall the most important thing is that you will push yourself that much harder because you have specific goals to focus on each and every week.
You may get to a point where you don’t have to track the last set of every exercise and you can just track the heavy compound sets, or the exercises that you want to improve. One thing is for sure; you will need to learn how to use a logbook regardless of how and what you choose to track. You will make a lot more progress if you do!
It’s important to remember to have fun with this! Your workouts should be challenging, but you should enjoy them. If you don’t enjoy working out in the gym then you need to find a different hobby for exercise. I have found if you don’t enjoy something that you won’t continue to do it and this goes for all things in life. The key to staying motivated and staying consistent lies in learning to enjoy what you do! So make sure that you are making these workouts fun!
Feel free to modify this plan however you want, or follow it exactly as written. I want to remind you that these SQUAD monthly workouts are here to help you learn, help you progress, help you have fun, and help you get better! These workouts may not be catered specifically for your goals, but they will help keep the gym exciting, give you fresh ideas, and help you learn and improve as time goes on. Use them however you need to make yourself and your life better.
Let’s get better together!!