My new workout routine (v1)

Implementation details for getting strong.

Recently I wrote about finally knowing my purpose for getting strong. Knowing my purpose has always been the missing piece for me and now I have it. It’s a huge step forward.

But now what I need to do is figure out what my workout routine is going to look like. The implementation details.

In this post I outline the first draft of my new 2024 workout routine.

The "Big 3" workout

After my previous newsletter went out, several readers have replied to share their stories. One of you shared the resource you’ve been counting on — (Thank you, Kirill!)

What I gather from the site is similar to what I’ve gathered over the years of getting on-and-off my regular exercise routine, so I’m going to take it to heart.

So, I intend to do the following exercises, with the stated reps and sets:

  1. Bench press, 5 x 5
  2. Deadlift, 5 x 5
  3. High barbell squat, 5 x 5

That’s the “Big 3” workout. I think it's a great routine because it’s so simple.

Only 3 exercises for the whole year?

As far as I can tell, that’s what is being recommended by Andy from, so I’ll stick with it for at least a month.

These 3 exercises are compound exercises that hit several muscle groups at once. Together, I assume they should hit most of the regularly used muscles for daily activities. That’s honestly good enough for me.

What about progression? What happens when your body gets used to the same workout and stops growing stronger?

Reading tells me this is the simple answer: increase the load, but focus on maintaining good form while doing the same workouts.

Again, this sounds wonderful to me. Focus only on 3 exercises, always do them in good form, and increase the load when your strength growth stagnates.

Warm up routine

A warm body (i.e. higher temperature) means a body with more blood circulating. Since blood carries oxygen and muscles need oxygen to do their thing, warming up helps workout performance.

My warm up routine will be focused on warming up the body. From a bit of reading, that’s called a “dynamic warmup,” as opposed to a “static warmup.”

Specifically, here’s my warmup plan in order of execution, taken from

  1. (5 mins) Briefly jog on the treadmill until I break sweat
  2. (3 mins) Briefly stretch tight areas, like my calves, shoulders, neck, and quads
  3. For each of the 3 exercises, do 1 warmup set with low load

That should get my body warmed up. Aiming to finish warmup in under 15 minutes.

Gym membership

I currently don’t have a gym membership and would need one to gain access to a bench, barbells, squat rack, and mirrors for observing form.

There’s a gym near where I live that I’ve had my eyes on for a while because of the people who go there to train.

The crowd consists of not so much people like me now, but people whom I want to be very soon. They’re bodybuilders and power lifters. People who — to my surprise — I think of as less vain and more focused on the workouts than the aesthetics outcomes. To these folks, I believe, going to the gym is about strength, not fitting in bikinis and trunks.

Secretly hoping to make friends with some of them, so we can hold each other accountable and so that I can have spotting buddies, especially when measuring my 1 rep max.

I’m signing up on Monday at 9am.

Workout schedule

I work full time but remotely, with flexible-ish hours. My colleagues are similar, and they understand people do things in the day and extend their hours before or after the on-paper hours. I intend to leverage that understanding fully.

So, my plan is to workout on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9am - 10am everyday. That’s an hour of time I must now allocate.

The commute broken down:

  • 5 minutes walk to gym
  • 5 minutes walk to home
  • Total = (commute to) + (commute from) = 10 mins

Then there’s 3 exercises, 5 sets of 5 reps each:

  • 5x rest, 2 mins each, between each set = 10 mins per ex = 30 mins rest
  • 1 set of 5 reps = 1 min each
  • 5 sets of 5 reps = 5 mins
  • 3 exercises = 5 x 3 = 15 mins
  • Time to setup equipment per workout = 3 x 3 mins = ~10 mins
  • Total = (exercise time) + (rest time) + (setup time) = 15 + 30 + 10 = 55 mins

So in total, in theory, I should be spending 65 minutes to make my workout routine happen. Add in a reality buffer, and it’s probably more like 75 minutes. Sounds reasonable to me.

No change in diet, except more protein

I read their Nutrition Setup Guide v3.9 and concluded that I’m OK with my current diet.

I do not intend to count my calories, macros, micros, or change the timing of my meals or take any supplements.

Whey protein isn’t exactly a supplement as they say. In my mind it’s not either, since it’s already been part of my diet that just needs to be increased for muscle growth.

I’ve ordered my first container of whey protein in, what, 10 years? It arrived today:

Banana cream flavoured whey protein

My plan is to take a scoop of 25g about 30 minutes before my first warmup.

Since our body digests whey protein at 8-10g per hour, this would mean it would have access to enough protein throughout my 1-hour workout.

No supplemental creatine for now

I may consider taking creatine during workouts down the road, to help my muscles perform better during each workout. This means more bang for the buck during a session:

On average, a recent meta-analysis suggests that creatine can help us build muscle about 1/3rd faster.

Creatine apparently does NOT cause hair loss and has been studied extensively, proving not to have weird side effects on people. It’s a non-essential nutrient that is also produced naturally by our bodies.

How creatine works is it enhances ATP availability. From biology class, I recall ATP being called a unit of energy for cells. Creatine gives cells more energy, thereby giving me more energy. Something like that.

But I want to keep things simple. Therefore, I’m only adding whey protein into my diet for the first month.

Parting thoughts

I realise I’m banking a lot on a resource shared by a reader whom I barely know in real life. That may become a problem, or it may prove to be the best knowledge shortcut I’ll take. Execution will tell.

Other than that, this plan feels solid to me. The shifts in my lifestyle do not seem significant. Overall, I’m not worried about much for now.

All that’s left now is to lift some stuff and grow stronger.

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