The Definitive Guide To Strength Training At Home Part 2

In part one of this series, we discussed some very basic ideas about gaining strength while training in the comfort of your home.  Part two will be a bit more in depth discussion of the “why’s” and “how’s” when it comes to approaching getting stronger at home.

The first part of touched upon the idea of CAT training and utilizing the overload principle to continually make progress.  With all that being said, there are a few reasons why I feel that this is one of the best ways to train at home.  CAT training allows you to basically get the most out of the weights that you select.  If you can make progress with 60% of your max and not get beat up…what is the point of stressing your system with heavy weights?

With all that being said, here are some recommendations of programs to follow for when you embark on your strength training journey.

Beginner Strength Trainer

Mark Rippetoe has probably the best book available when it comes to learning to either teach or perform basic barbell movements.  Why is this important? Because those will be your bread and butter in a home gym.  Performing big, compound movements gives you the most bang for your buck because you are training economically.  Why do 4 exercises when you can get away with 1?

Starting strength lays everything out in a way that is manageable for beginners and intermediates to understand and follow.  Do yourself a favor and just purchase this book and learn/refer to it when your form feels off.

While there are some criticisms of the form and basic positions discussed in both the squat and deadlift, I will argue this.  If you are a beginner then LEARN what he is teaching and then adapt what works for you.  The elbow position for an absolute beginner is the least of your worries so keep things simple and do what he says.  Once you can repeat the movement then you can work on pinching the elbows down and together.

Intermediate Trainer

After you have exhausted the plans provided in Starting Strength, you can begin to look to a new program.

At this point you should be able to perform each movement with a decent amount of skill and also need to look into a new style of programming to get results.  At this point, I am going to recommend two programs that provide a bit of leeway into those of you that want to experiment with your own programming yet still follow a plan.

These two programs are  5/3/1 and Paul Carter’s Base Building.  Each program works on very similar principals while still offering enough variations to keep you interested.

5/3/1 overview

5/3/1 is the brain child of Jim Wendler and a way that I had trained for YEARS.  Essentially, you start with a three-week wave based on percentages of a training max (READ: SOMETHING YOU CAN HIT EVERY DAY)

  1. Week 1:  5 reps @ 85%
  2. Week 2: 3 reps @ 90%
  3. Week 3: 1 rep @ 95%

After this, the training max is bumped up and the wave restarts.  While there is more to the program than this that is a general overview.  A lot has changed since the creation of the program but it allows for the pursuit of rep maxes and really anything else that you would want to add in.  Jim does a fantastic job of answering questions on multiple forums should you want some free info

Base Building overview

Paul Carter and Jim Wendler are close friends that have been bouncing ideas off each other for quite a while.  When you read through  Base Building,  you will begin to see similarities between systems.  The difference is that Base Building recommends you stick with certain percentages and adds more volume than you are used to.  If you haven’t trained this way, it might be a bit boring until you test and see the progress made.   An example workout for a squat might look like this:

5×5 @ 60% in under 9 minutes

Doesn’t look like much on paper, but trust me, it’s PLENTY of work.  Base Building offers a nice piece of mind and a change of pace after you have been hammering away at REP PRs for a long time.  It’s nice to be able to go in the gym (or downstairs) load up your squat rack with fairly light weight, put the work in and leave.   There are also a few great options for meet prep in the book as well if you are interested in competing.  Regardless, there is a ton of information to be gained through reading Paul’s thoughts.

Final thoughts

While each book is slightly different, they both have similarities and that is where the strength of each program lies.  Using a training max ( Lighter than you think) and pushing weights as hard as possible through each set gets results.  If you focus on those two things then you can’t NOT make progress.

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