The Programme

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”  Mark Twain

Info:
This block consists of twelve sessions instead of the usual ten. Some of the sessions are fairly short and all of them can and should be completed in less than ninety minutes. My coaching and programming is constantly evolving and the squatting in this block is reflective of that.

Day 1

1. Back Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #BackSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Power Snatch + Snatch
2.1 Find your daily max in the complex. Drop the bar after each lift and make sure that both are done in less than twenty seconds.
2.2 When the power snatch is turning into a deep power snatch you switch to snatch doubles and continue to a daily max. You now have thirty seconds to execute the lifts.
2.3 After finding your daily max in doubles you switch to singles and find your daily max. Do one lift every other minute.

As you change the exercises it’s important that you end up increasing the weight and successfully get the lift(s). Being smart about how to increase the weight is crucial and it’s better to increase less and making the lift than taking a big jump that doesn’t pay off. Sometimes you have to gamble, of course, but you should know the likelihood of any gamble paying off and act accordingly.

3. Power Snatch to Snatch to Overhead Squat
3.1 Drop down to 70% of the heaviest power snatch + snatch for one rep-out set. Start with power snatches and let it gradually turn into snatches. On the last snatch you switch to overhead squats and do as many reps as possible. Reset in the starting position on all power snatches and snatches instead of doing touch and go.
This set is supposed to be a real grind. You need to keep the technique sharp as you go from one exercise to the other and have good enough judgement to push the limits in the snatches and yet switch to overhead squats before missing a lift.

You are allowed to change the grip on the last snatch in order to do better in the overhead squats but be very careful that you don’t end missing the snatch because of it.

Day 2 

1. Front Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #FrontSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Clean & Jerk Ladder
2.1 Do five clean & jerk every third minute. Increase with five kg after each completed round and continue until you are unable to complete all five reps within the three minute mark. You have to wait until the three minutes are over before beginning a new round. The starting weight is 80kg for the men and 55kg for the women. If this is already a heavy weight for you it makes sense to scale it down to get more good lifts done.

3. Clean Pulls
3.1 10-1 at the weight of the heaviest clean you managed in the previous part. Pulling the bar high or exploding in any part of the movement is not important as that increases the risk of you leaning back and pushing the bar away from you. Try instead find a good flow and focus on keeping the bar close to the body. From round five and down you have to do it as Eccentric Clean Pulls, which is where you lower the bar very controlled into the correct starting position, hold it for a second or two and then proceed with the next rep.

Day 3 

1. Back Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #BackSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Hang Snatch
2.1 Find your daily max in singles.
2.2 Drop down to 75-80% for one set of five reps.

3. Death Overhead Squats
3.1 Five sets of three to five reps at the heaviest weight you managed to hang snatch.

In this exercise you need to use jerk blocks or a similar type of setup so that you can place the bar at a height that allow you to get into your bottom position for the overhead squat from which you stand up from a “dead” position. You then lower yourself slowly from the top to the bottom, break for a few seconds and continue with the next rep. It’s important that you don’t drop the bar from the top but instead focus on getting a good eccentric rep done.

Day 4

1. Barbell Cycling
40kg for the men and 25kg for the women.

60 overhead squats
30 touch and go muscle snatches
30 touch and go power snatches
30 touch and go hang power snatches
30 touch and go hang snatches
60 overhead squats

Think of the barbell cycling as a warm-up workout done at 80%. Instead of going really hard you focus on your technique.

2. The Deadlift Cycle

3. Glute-Ham Raise/Nordic Curls

Four sets of 8-10 reps. Quality over quantity. If you don’t have a training partner to help you it is possible to use the GHD machine. The important thing is that you make the hamstrings work and start building strength in this movement. The longterm goal is to do ten unbroken reps in the GHD at a controlled pace without any supportive bands.

4. Back Extensions

Four sets of 8-10 reps. Start with an empty bar and only add weight if you feel comfortable. Squeeze your behind in the top position. Longterm goal is to do ten controlled reps at 50% of your body weight.

Instructional video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teD0E_ngFSE.

Day 5 

Bulgarian Hour!
In no more than 60 minutes find your daily max in:

1. Death Front Squat Triples
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7IYUTLXPhI&feature=youtu.be

2. Hang Power Clean Doubles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIZZizajdos&feature=youtu.be

3. Cluster Singles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRxIzAuzn2s&feature=youtu.be

Day 6

1. Back Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #BackSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Snatch Balance Chipper
For quality not for time: 30% x 10, 40% x 10, 50% x 10, 60% x 10, 70% x 10, 80% x 7, 90% x 5, 100% x 3.

The percentages are of your 1RM snatch. If this is the first time that you are trying snatch balance you really should not be concerned with going super heavy and certainly not with getting a good time. This is supposed to be quality work so take your time and do it right without rushing anything. You are allowed to split up the sets as you wish but you can’t drop the bar to the floor. Taking the bar down safe and efficiently is as important as the lift itself.

Furthermore, don’t confuse snatch balance with a behind the neck power jerk into overhead squat. In behind the neck power jerk it is important to drive the bar high and to make the catch deeper only out of necessity on heavy weights. In snatch balance the dip and drive needs to be more measured so you can get deep under the bar even on lighter weights. Speed, depth and precision is key here – not a powerful dip and drive.

3. Snatch Pull
3.1. Three sets of triples at 105% of your 1RM snatch. Start with a light weight to find the groove and then build up in weight.
3.2 Three sets of five reps at 70% done as touch and go. Lower the bar controlled and precisely to the floor every time. You want to build a strong back while reinforcing good technique.

This is how to pull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW0GXInJTeU.

Day 7

1. Touch and Go Snatches
1.1 Find your daily max in touch and go snatch doubles.
1.2 Do one rep at the weight of the heaviest doubles every minute for a total of ten rounds.

2. Clean & Jerk
2.1 Find your daily max in clean + double split jerk.
2.2 Do one additional rep at 95% of the heaviest complex every minute for a total of ten rounds.

Remember that it’s better to fight than to fail!

Day 8 

1. Front Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #FrontSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Barbell Cycling
60kg for the men and 45kg for the women.

100 deadlifts
80 hang power cleans
60 front squats
40 shoulder to overhead
20 thrusters

Day 9

1. Barbell Yoga
Spend thirty minutes straight moving around with an empty barbell. You should actively be looking for positions where you feel stiff and then try to open them.

2. The Deadlift Cycle

3. Glute-Ham Raise/Nordic Curls
Four sets of 8-10 reps. Quality over quantity. If you don’t have a training partner to help you it is possible to use the GHD machine. The important thing is that you make the hamstrings work and start building strength in this movement. The longterm goal is to do ten unbroken reps in the GHD at a controlled pace without any supportive bands

4. Back Extensions
Four sets of 8-10 reps. Start with an empty bar and only add weight if you feel comfortable. Squeeze your behind in the top position. Longterm goal is to do ten controlled reps at 50% of your body weight.

Instructional video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teD0E_ngFSE.

Day 10 

1. Muscle Snatch to Power Snatch to Snatch
Do five muscle snatches, increase the weight, do five more reps, increase the weight and continue like this until the muscles snatches are getting too heavy or it feels like the technique is breaking down. From here you switch to power snatches and continue until they qualify as deep power snatches from where you switch to full snatches. Always do five reps at each weight. This workout is for quality and not for time but with no sitting down or interruptions doing the workout.

The starting weight is 40kg for men and 25kg for women and you should be looking to increase with five kilos after every fifth rep. However, if your 1RM is low you can make 2,5kg jumps instead in order to get more quality reps in. Scale as needed to make it the best possible workout FOR YOU!

2. Behind the Neck Lunges
3. Front Rack Lunges
4. Overhead Lunges

Find your daily max in ten steps in the three different versions of lunges. If possible you should use a rack and do it as walking lunges. One step = one rep. It has to be done alternating.

Day 11 

1. Hang Power Clean + Touch & Go Clean + Power Jerk
1.1 Find your daily max in the complex.
1.2 Do five additional singles of regular squats clean + power jerk at the heaviest weight that you managed in the complex. Increase with two kilos after each lift provided you are feeling strong and confident.

2. Shoulder to Overhead
2.1 Drop down to 70% of the complex and do fifty reps for time. Every time you break up a set you need to do seven bar facing burpees over the bar.

Day 12

1. Back Squat
1.1 Find your daily max in singles.
1.2 Drop down in weight for some additional work-sets. If it’s a good day and you think you can achieve one of the listed #BackSquatGoals you go for it! If not you either keep the weights lighter or skip the work-sets entirely to save your energy for the rest of the session.

2. Snatch Pull + Touch & Go Snatch
2.1 Find your daily max in the complex.

3. Clean & Jerk
3.1 Find your daily max in singles.
The Squatting

The squatting approach is very simple and I have found it to be really successful with many of the athletes I work with. You start out the session by finding your daily max in singles. The rule here is to go as heavy as possible without failing a rep. Instead of spending energy speculating about whether or not you will have a good day of squatting you find out by finding your max for the day. Based on that you either (1) stop and continue with the next part of the program, (2) do 3-5 additional sets of 3-5 reps at 80-90% focusing on technique and speed or (3) you go for one of your Squat Goals if you have a good day and think you can make it.

The idea of squat goals is that you write down what your best numbers are and follow up with a list of short-term goals. Every time you reach one of them in training you then substitute it with a new one. All the girls have to be realistic and short-term oriented.

The following is a list of Julie Abildgaards current squat numbers and the goals she has set for herself.

Current records:

Back Squat: 137×1, 130×2, 125×4, 120x5x5 (one set every 3rd minute), 110×10.
Front Squat: 126×1, 120×2, 115×3, 110×4,105/5×5 (one set every 3rd minute).
Overhead Squat: 110×1, 100×2.
Paused Front Squat: 120×1.

#Squat Goals

Back Squat: 140×1, 135×2, 130×3, 125×5, 120×10.
Front Squat: 130×1, 125×2, 120×3, 115×4, 110×5, 105/5×5 (one set every 3rd minute).
Overhead Squat: 110 (with textbook technique), 105×2, 100×3.
Paused Front Squat + front squat: 120×1+1, 110×5.

One more important aspect of the squatting is that you are allowed and strongly encouraged to do either the back- or front squat sessions with a pause in the bottom position every other or at least every third time you squat. Make sure that you also set some #pausedsquatgoals and work towards them.

And the pause in the bottom should be 3-5 solid seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwsZMHmKDQU

The Deadlift:

I have used different deadlift cycles over the years but the following is my favorite and general recommendation.

  1. Deadlift once per week.
  2. Straps and belt are not allowed.
  3. Use your strongest mix-grip or double overhand for all the sets.
  4. Start the cycle at approximately 50% of your 1RM.
  5. Do one set of twenty reps and three sets of ten reps.
  6. Complete at least one set every fifth minute.
  7. Increase with 5-10kg every week. When you get to the point in the cycle where the set of twenty reps is seriously challenging you switch to doing one set of ten reps instead and follow up with three additional sets of five reps at the same weight.
  8. Never go to failure. Finish the cycle with the heaviest possible set of ten reps while maintaining good/decent form and then re-start the cycle with the aim of surpassing the weights of the precious cycle (both for the 20’s and 10’s)

This is what my previous deadlift cycle looked like:

Week 1: 120/20, 3×10.
Week 2: 130/20, 3×10.
Week 3: 140/20, 3×10.
Week 4: 150/20, 3×10.
Week 5: 160/20, 3×10.
Week 6: 170/20, 3×10.
Week 7: 175/20, 3×10.
Week 8: 180/20, 3×10.
Week 9: 185/20, 3×10.
Week 10: 190/10, 3×5.
Week 11: 200/10, 3×5.
Week 12: 210/10, 3×5.
Week 13: 215/10, 3×5.
Week 14: 130/20, 3×10. Aiming for 190/20 and 220/10 in this cycle!