Friday, June 8, 2012

Even more on small workouts.........and ETA on Strength-Life-Legacy

Another installment of small workouts, and this time I wanna give some examples of all different types of small sessions.

To start, I wanna emphasize again that to me, a small session should allow you to leave the gym feeling better than when you walked in.  You should be able to do a small session while feeling like shit, hungover, or after getting kicked in the balls by the Black Stallion, or your ex-wife.  

Point being, these sessions are not "hard" in the way big sessions are.  30 minutes max.  And during that 20-30 minute time frame, you should be moving almost non-stop.  

For example I often just throw a couple of 25's on each side of the ez-curl bar and start doing upright rows.  I do as many as I can, then put the bar down long enough to shake the burning out, then go right back at it until I hit 100-150 total.  After that I'll hit some rear delt work, like the reverse tit machine, for another 100 reps with minimal rest.

Now it's pretty easy to decide what weight to use when you are doing to knock out a quick 50-100 reps.  

A light one.  

So some quick answers to some questions that have come in about small sessions.....

  • No, you don't want to do a top set to failure after all the volume.  The whole point is to NOT impede recovery, yet still get some growth inducing work in.  
  • Big movements that tend to lend themselves to being friendly with lots of plates on the bar are not good options.  Even dumbbell movements don't often do that.  For example, db bench press, db overhead press, etc.  Not good options.  
  • Soreness is fine.  I still get sore from light weights if I do enough reps, with little rest between sets.  
  • If you need long rest periods between sets, get your fat ass into shape.  
  • Pick 2 or 3 movements to go after and basically for the next 20-30 get 250-350 total reps in for the session.  Or something in that ball park.  
  • It hurts.  It ain't cancer bitch.  Deal with it.  

Small session examples/options - 

Traps, rear delts, back stuff - 
upright rows - 45-65 pounds x 100-150 reps (as many as you can on the first set, then wing it from there)
bent laterals - 20 pounds x 100-150 reps, i.e. 4x25

rear tit machine - something light x 100-50 reps, 4x25 or 5x20
side laterals - 15-20's x 100-150 reps

Prone bench rows - light as shit x 100-150 reps
Band Pull Aparts or Cable Face Pulls - 100-150 reps

Pecs - 

Light Flyes of any kind - 100 total reps

Biceps/Triceps - 
empty bar curls - 100-150 reps
ez bar skulls - 65 pounds x 100 reps, 5x20 or 4x25

rope pushdowns - 100-150 reps 4x25
incline db curls - 100-150 reps 5x20

Lower Body - Since I really didn't go over this much.  But, not a lot to work with here either, as most lower body movements can be systematically taxing.  

Leg Curls (any variation) - 100-150 total reps, 
Leg Extensions - 100-150 total reps
Calves - Pick something and go bananas.  

Closing - 

Small sessions are used to fill in the gaps.  Don't worry about progression so much as just being consistent with getting them in.  If you find you are getting stronger and stronger on what you can use for the total reps, that's awesome, but it's not overly important.  

Also, if you have a terribly shitty bodypart, it's fine to hit it almost every small session.  Remember, this is about prehab and filling in the blanks.  

Strength, Life, Legacy - 

Book should be out in 2 weeks.  I'm probably more excited than any of you about it.  

And for the love of God, do something fucking cool this weekend.  I don't care if that means eating a whole bottle of blueberry jelly.  Have something worth talking about and LIVE an experience.    


  1. The Black Stallion's the reason my wife left me in the first place...

    Pretty useful post.

  2. Paul,

    I purchased your program almost two months ago and have been using the Big 15 for bench pressing only as a test run. I like my results so far, so I plan on starting the entire philosophy soon. (I've been doing Texas Method since October of last year.)

    When I finish this current bench press cycle (currently on Week 7), should I restart the cycle again along with doing the squats & deadlift cycles for the first time?

    In other words, once a cycle ends after Week 11, is it a good idea to restart it again the very next week?


    1. I personally like to take a small break in there. Mentally and physically the cycle can take a toll. Just go by how you feel at that time.

  3. Paul I hate to ask this but when your lifting during a small session is it done in a slow and controlled manner feeling the squeeze or in a fast explosive kind of way?

    1. If I had to say, I'd guess just medium speed.

  4. Hi Paul,

    You mentioned that most guys screw up their elbows because they let them act as brakes while doing triceps extensions. What about doing them from the floor, and letting the floor act as the brake? I have done them for a while now, and my elbows feel great.


    1. The elbows still have to overcome the inertia to move the weight off the floor, so that joint get torqued badly even off the floor.

      My elbows felt fine too, until my 30's.

    2. So is there any real way to avoid pain the elbows, apart from stretching, massage, and luck? I was reading the other day about Ted Arcidi, and how by the early 90s his elbows had spurs that were measured in centimeters that he had to have major surgery for, and that pretty much ended his lifting career. Granted I probably won't ever be benching 705 pounds, but I'd still like to retain the use of my elbows (along with everything else) well into my old age, as much as possible.

      Any thoughts on preserving yourself while continuing to get stronger, apart from stretching, periodic massage, and praying that your joints don't screw you over?

    3. Don't do skullies

      Don't let the weight on squats transcend down through the forearm into the elbow joint

      Don't bench 700 pounds.

    4. What do you think of doing your tricep extensions like this then:

      Rippetoe usually knows his shit, and the motion looks similar to PJR pullover. Still gonna get elbow pain from these?

    5. Probably not, because the elbow doesn't take the torque in either the eccentric or the concentric portion.

  5. Ive never done Face Pulls before and im definitely gona give them a go. Always struggled to hit rear delts efficiently, dumbells just seem tricky for me in regards to targeting them, I never really feel it properly back there or other muscles compensate.

    Is there any relevance to the height of the cable pully? (pulling down from high up, pulling upward from low down, or mid height at shoulder etc). Also to end the rep in the right position would you say you should pretty much be in a front double bicep pose to finish?


    1. Yeah there is. Set the cable at face height. And pull the rope like you are trying to smash yourself in the face with the center metal piece (that attaches to the cable). You won't hit yourself in the face but it's a good mental click.

  6. Paul, I do all my workouts in my home gym, rack for most work, stands for overhead press. I'm a bonehead, What's a rear tit machine?

    1. It's one of those pec deck machines you can also use for rear delts.

  7. My neck sucks, Paul, should I just hit some sort of neck work for 5x10-20 or go for one set of 50 like Jim does nowadays?

    1. Do neck daily if that's the case. use a 45 pound plate on your face, and do neck crunches. No joke. Do this for 50 reps the first few sessions then work up to 100.

    2. Nice Paul. Anything I should know progression wise or should I just focus on getting the work done?

    3. Just get the work in. Over time you'll figure out the poundage issue.

    4. I've considered getting a neck harness sometime in the future? same principle as the neck crunches or should I do things differently in that case?

    5. Yeah you can do neck daily. Just don't go crazy with the poundage.