Earn the Right Template – Jim Wendler

Earn the Right Template


[caption id="attachment_3597" align="alignnone" width="450"] Don't be Tito - Listen to Cult of Luna[/caption] I can safely say that this template falls squarely in the “stupid” template region, not far from Idiots Cove.  So don’t use this if you are looking for smart template or like to be cerebral about your lifting. First, let’s discuss where this comes from – the name, anyway.  Years ago, I was talking with Jim Steel and we were talking about the endless exercises that people did in every workout, some of which were warranted/had meaning, most which didn’t.  We then started talking about earning the right to Squat and Leave.  Now I understand this is heresy to many in the training world, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve done one movement per workout and totally smashed myself, physically and emotionally.  The more experienced you get, the more you put in every rep and every set.  But even as a young lifter, we would have Squat Only days, and have a squat party that usually resulted in the same feeling as a Friday Night Drinking party: nausea and cramps.  (Note: I remember hearing stories years ago about Arnold and other bodybuilders doing something similar but I’m always cautious of the tales from Days of Old. Still, it’s a great story of setting up a squat rack in the woods, firing up a grill, drinking some beer and squatting all day. Even if it’s not true, it can certainly inspire.) Now the one thing I cannot help myself from doing is making something stupid into something a bit more intelligent.  So its akin to jumping off a building and at least having a parachute in your hand.  So let’s discuss the rules of Earn the Right:
  1. If you are doing the squat, deadlift or power clean (or something similar) – do ONE lift per day, not two.
  2. If you are pressing or bench pressing, you can superset another movement but make sure it’s not a high stress movement.  Chins/pull-ups, curls, face pulls, fat man rows would all fit the bill on this.  If you choose to do a barbell or dumbbell row, make sure you are using weight that doesn’t wear you out.  You don’t do 3 lifts.  So choose wisely.
  3. Be smart about the consequences of this training – I recommend training 2-3 times per week. 3 is the MOST when doing this.
  4. If you are lifting 2 times per week (weights), you can do the third day as a “Earn the Right” with the sled or Prowler.   So as an example: Monday – squat. Wednesday – Press/Chins. Friday – Prowler.
  5. All the other days should be devoted to RECOVERY. This means doing some light aerobic work, the Everyday Gay Training circuit (recommended everyone do this) and doing mobility and flexibility work.
So those 5 basic rules will keep you honest.  Now for the programming: What I did, and this is because my training max is still very low due to surgery, is use the LAST SET of my work sets and set a goal for total reps done.  There is no set reps per set (although there is nothing wrong with that…it helps keep your mind on a goal per set AND save you from yourself.  In other words, you don’t ruin yourself on the first couple of sets.)  So let’s see an actual example:

Week One

Monday

  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Med ball throws – 10 throws
  • Squat – my final set was 350 pounds, this was done earlier this week and a culmination of kicking my own ass the last couple of weeks.  So I shot for 50 total reps at 350 pounds.  I did 10 sets of 5 reps.

Tuesday

  • Bike – 30 minutes
  • Agile 8 and some additional work for hips
  • PM: foam rolling and band stretching

Wednesday

  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Med ball throws – 10 throws
  • Press – 155 for 75 total reps
  • Rope – 6 sets of 55 pulls/arm (this was done very light but my arms and forearms were toasted)
Note: the rope and press were “supersetted”.  I did 3 sets of presses followed by 2 trips of rope pulls (attach rope to sled, add weight to sled, pull sled hand over hand). Like the squat, 155 was my last set of presses.  I started with 50 total reps of presses and worked my way up to 75 reps.

Thursday

(same basic thing as Tuesday)

Friday

  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Sled pulls with harness (6, 40 yard walks as heavy as I could go)
  • Lay in grass for 20 minutes, hate all choices I made
  • Sit in chair and watch others push Prowler and have zero intelligent thoughts
 

Saturday/Sunday

  • Bike and stretch

Week Two

Monday

  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Box Jumps – 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Trap Bar – 405 for 50 total reps (done with 10 sets of 5 reps).  Like the squat, this was done with my final work set of the day.

Tuesday

  • Bike – 30 minutes
  • Agile 8 and some additional work for hips
  • PM: foam rolling and band stretching

Wednesday

Bench pressing kills my shoulders so I stick to the press exclusively.  So I use the same weight I used last week (155) and again shoot for 75 total reps.
  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Med ball throws – 10 throws
  • Press – 155 for 75 total reps
No supersets on this day – so just one movement.

Thursday  (same as Tuesday)

Friday

  • Bike – 20 minutes (warm-up)
  • Agile 8
  • Prowler – 2x160, 2x250, 4x360 (each of the “sprints” and I use that term very loosely with the last four, were horrible.  I don’t know if I’m in horrible shape, a huge pussy, or this is really heavy and I’m doing ok (or a combo of 2 or 3 of these things).  But I sat in the weight room for 45 minutes and just stared at my kid and my wife, who seemed to be enjoying life.  At that point in time, I couldn’t fathom liking anything over than oxygen to my brain.
As you see, each day was a total blitz on one big movement.  Lots of work, lots of reps and was absolutely one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time.  It gave me a huge challenge each day, a singular focus of each day and there is a great amount of pride when you finish.  So how can we do this with your current program?  Let’s address that now.
  • If your training maxes are very low, for whatever reason, you can use the last set of the day as your guide.  Use the final set (the heaviest weight for the day) and shoot for a total amount of reps – Malcolm X it: get the total amount of reps by any means necessary.
  • If your training maxes are challenging, use the first work set or the second work set of the day as your guide.  So for example, on the 3x3 day, your work sets are 70%, 80% and 90%.  You would use 70 or 80% as your guide for your total amount of reps.  If your training max is 400 pounds, you would use 280 or 320 as your set weight.
Remember DO NOT DO more exercises – one lower body movement and kick ass.  One, maybe two, upper body movements; don’t think it’s a good idea to do some extra upper back work or whatever.  This template is designed to do two things:
  1. Challenge your mind and body.
  2. Simplify your training to the basics.

Stupid shit I did:

  •  I’ve done the 10x5 with upper/lower movements in ONE workout (for example, squat and press) but this catches up very quickly if you don’t regulate the weight.  The kicker with this is that it gets to be too much, too quick and I lost focus. This isn’t a bad idea but it has been my experience to keep ONE thing hard. And when you are really pushing hard, do just this one thing.
  •  Too much hard conditioning – when LIFTING twice a week in the “Earn the Right” fashion, too much prowler/sled work (3-4 times a week) wasn’t a good idea.  Remember that everything has a price and there is NO WAY around paying it.  You know how people talk about recovery?  They do this, that and think rubbing monkey semen on them is the solution.  The NUMBER ONE THING YOU CAN DO FOR RECOVERY IS…..not being a fucking moron with your training.  So when you do do something idiotic with your training, much like this template, you have to account for it.
  •  I don’t do diets or whatever, I eat and move on with my life.  However, making sure I was drinking enough water made a huge difference.  All of this stuff was done in summer conditions and set after set of squats takes its toll.
  •  The one thing I never fucked up and I think is important is I never compromised a set – you will get tired and I would much rather do a set when my mind and body were ready then do something when bar speed would be low.  I have to be careful with my back (fatigue in the back is not a good thing) so I made sure every set was done with full mental and (as much as possible) physical readiness was achieved.  Now this does not mean you spend 15 minutes between sets – my squat days are my longest days and I’m able to be done with 50 reps in 30 minutes.  And I’m taking my time – so most of you may be able to complete the days quicker due to lighter weights (% wise) and not having back surgery. But remember that even with this template QUALITY is always more important than QUANTITY.  Or in relation to this template, choose quality reps over the time it takes you to do the workout.   Every single set I did was preceded by a mental focus on bar speed, tightness and making sure each rep was fast as I could manage at the time.  I cannot state this enough – the trend these days is all about volume and quantity. I understand that people want to do more and more but that doesn’t mean it’s better.  Quality reps with a quality mindset – that is infinitely more important.  Do things right, do them fast, do them with purpose.  THAT translates to strength more than just throwing everything against the squat rack and hope something makes a difference.
  •  Conclusion: Don’t overthink ANY of this – choose a day, choose ONE lift, be smart about the weights you choose/goal, and have fun.  This is about as dumb as ANY 5/3/1 template.  The worst thing you can do is outthink stupid.