Thor’s Power Program: Phase 1 Week 3

This is the third installment to my series documenting my experience with the powerlifting/strongman template created Sebastian Oreb. Check out week 1 and week 2.

Check out the training vlog for Week 3, on my YouTube channel!

Day 1

Safety Bar Squats: 5×5 at 352lbs

This week, the SSB Squat felt a lot harder than usual. It might have been some fatigue from the previous week’s deadlift session, I’ll need to add in an extra day of rest between deadlift and squat day moving forward. The sets of five felt closer to an RPE 9.

I have a feeling that the camber of the weight is also attributing a little bit to more work on the back as a whole. Since the weight is pulling me forward, my back is working extra in order to stay upright, this might be why regular deadlifts are not prescribed in this section of the phase.

SSB Bulgarian Split Squats: 3×10 at 90-100lbs

From a technical standpoint, the split squat movement is finally feeling a bit more stable, this is the third week of practicing the movement pattern. Based on last week’s stance length, I opened up the front leg a little more, I also switched to elevating my rear leg on a bench, this added more stability to the movement, over the foam pad. The rep range, although really fatiguing, felt like a good pump in the quads and provides a nice stretch in the hip extensors on the rear leg, without adding a lot of stress to the back.

SSB Single Leg Calf Raise: 3×12 150lbs

I probably got carried away with the weight selection here. If you notice on the training vlog, I won’t be performing full reps (arguably from the start) towards the later half of each set, as the calf pump sets in and full extension becomes more difficult.

Day 2

Overhead Press: 5×5, 145lbs

This was a 5lb increase from last week and the press felt quite good for the first four sets. I think the higher volume on this press is helping build my technical aptitude. Using a belt helps me maintain more of a neutral spine as it physically prevents extension of the lumbar spine.

Chin Ups

This week, I switched to the fat grip option on the power rack to perform the chin ups. This added a degree of difficulty to the movement. I was able to get 10 reps, however the wider 2″ diameter grip proved to add some difficulty, which prevented adding any extra weight to the movement.

It’s surprising what effect a grip change can have on a movement. I had to use chalk to help reduce the amount of slipping my hands had on the wider grip. This again highlighted another one of my weaknesses, like most things in this program.

High Incline Bench Press: 4×10, 165lbs -Superset- Pendlay Row: 4×10, 195lbs

Really enjoying performing incline press varieties on the new Rep Fitness AB-3000. I am also experiencing very little, if any, shoulder discomfort with this movement. Even with the increased pressing movements, without necessarily concentrating on opposing movements, the shoulder joint has been feeling quite good.

I am beginning to feel that high benching & pressing volume can’t be the sole reason for shoulder discomfort. Not only with this program, but with the preceding programs I have run, all of which have had a significant amount of benching & pressing movements over the course of a week. My shoulders haven’t experienced any discomfort in recent months.

My Pendlay Row to incline bench weight ratio isn’t quite at 1:1 just yet. However, I suspect that as I get more practice and a bit more proficient at the movement the incline bench will most likely overshoot the Pendlay Row weights.

External Shoulder Rotation -superset- Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollouts

I performed these with the same bands I use for face pulls. Having a garage gym has a fair amount of limitations. However, slowing down the movement and doing a couple more than is listed, helps add to the volume for the movement, since I can’t change intensity.

I added in some more direct ab work, with some more kneeling ab wheel rollouts. I did try one rep on my feet, and failed pretty hilariously, which will definitely appear on this week’s training vlog.

Day 3.1

Day 3 workout was split across two days due to scheduling conflicts. Splitting up the work on back to back days, created a bit more tiredness than usual, which I’ll attribute to the DOMS.

Snatch Grip 1″ Deficit Deadlift: 5×5, 330lbs

The movement felt technically solid, I am still unable to do this movement at this weight for this many reps & sets without the assistance of straps. Over the five sets, RPE hovered at around 7-8. I did notice that when I would stop concentrating on form (due to the relatively light weights), my body would lose some tension and the form would slip. The main benefit from this movement, is the fact that even though the weight is light, it’s heavy enough that it prevents you from losing the technical aspect of the lift. This will mean that the ability to maintain bracing and rigidity is being trained quite well.

Day 3.2

Rowing

20 minutes: 3850 meters/206 calories

Given the extra time available for this session, I added in some rowing before the weight lifting started. This session was performed in the morning and my personal preference is to do at least a little bit of cardio to warm up. Whether this is scientifically necessary is unknown to me, I just feel better when I have some blood pumping through the body when I train this close to waking up.

Romanian Deadlift: 3×10, 275lbs

This felt a little more difficult than usual due to the rest in between the snatch grip deadlifts the day before. It could also be possible that the 20 minutes of rowing added to the fatigue and a pump in the lower back.

Front Squat 3×10, 135lbs, 155lbs, 185lbs

My lower back was feeling especially fatigued during the RDL’s and moreso after the sets. I decided to perform some front squats, which I haven’t performed in months. The original program calls for direct hamstring work and I don’t have any equipment that allows for isolated hamstring work. So rather than add some more volume to my lower back, I opted this week to train the front squat movement, as this would still illicit some stress in the legs and abs without placing extra stress on the lower back.

Barbell Curls -superset- Planks

Since I had some extra time and haven’t done any direct arm work. I added in some barbell curls, working up to a top set of 95lbs at 10 reps. Adding in a little extra ab work with some submaximal plank holds. My planks usually last for 60-90 seconds at a maximum, these plank holds were for approximately 30 seconds each.

Day 4

Bench Press: 5×5, 245-250lbs -Superset- Pendlay Row: 5×10, 155lbs

Significant decrease in Pendlay Row weight this week. most likely due to the double deadlift days in the two preceding days. This was added to be a hike in the desert, where I found a 135lb stone to take home. These are a couple of excuses as to why my Pendlay row this week was especially weak. My lower back definitely felt fatigued, whilst the rest of my back didn’t feel too fatigued.

Back to the actual benching. Felt solid again this week, adding some wrist wraps for some extra support as the grip was feeling a little weak. Technique wise this week, I was focusing on leg drive. The cue that is working better for me is to slide my body towards the wall my head is near.

Basically have the heels on the floor and set everything up, as you grip the bar and start to apply pressure to your shoulders into the bench itself, start driving your legs into the floor so you would should your head off the top of the bench. This should solidify the entire body and lock it in. As you can see in the video, I am still bouncing around a bit, especially when the barbell touches my chest, this is a sign that I am not as tight as I could be. Something to work on for the future.

Low Incline Bench Press: 4×10, 185lbs -superset- Face Pulls

Slowly but surely, the incline bench press is increasing, although this was a lower setting than usual. Same principles that apply to the bench apply to the incline.

In an attempt to add some overload to the face pulls, I opted to perform sets of 12 in between all the warm up sets and all but the last two sets of working sets of the incline bench. This added up to 6 sets of 12 of face pulls with the EliteFTS red bands. It took a lot of volume, but I eventually felt a little pump in my upper back/shoulder area towards the end of the session.

Final Thoughts

After three weeks on this program, fatigue and soreness seems to last a little while longer during this program, especially for the legs and the lower back. Having trained somewhat whole body for the better part of the preceding six months, switching to an almost body part split, is quite taxing.

The setup would be very familiar to those that are used to bodybuilding style splits, as the program is built upon movement/body part splits. Compared with other powerlifting templates, where the movements are split across over a week, the fatigue for each body part seems to be a lot more intense and last a fair bit longer than when the movements are spread out over a week. How this will effect overall strength output will be interesting.

The downsides of training each movement/part once a week has several issues from my point of view:

  • Practice of the movement only occurs once per week
  • The intensity and volume of each subsequent movement will suffer due to the intra-session fatigue. E.g., if squats were performed on one day and then Bulgarian Split squats performed later in another session later in the week, I would argue that more weight could be lifted.
  • Each session’s RPE seems to be quite high, with slightly longer recovery cycles needed between each session.

Tune in next week for a review of Week 4, the final week of Phase 1!

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