Workout of the Week - Week Sixteen

Sixteen has always been my favorite number. Whether it is because of Peyton Manning or not I can't say but for this week I am going to give you one of my favorite workouts/workout structures. 


When it comes to strength training I program for myself 95% of the time.  I have always been a big fan of what I call contrast giant sets. I use this structure for a couple of reasons. First, its a time efficient structure that allows you to get a lot done in less time because you don't have to rest as much between sets. Second, it allows you to maintain a balance between movement planes. I have found that keeping this balance allows my clients and myself to keep our joints happy. 

I structure each giant set with the first exercise being the main focus. The second movement is done in the same plane but opposite direction, horizontal push followed by a horizontal pull. I typically stick to using a bodyweight exercise for the contrast movement. Finally, the third set is either a core exercise or some form of corrective. 

An example of this would be Bench Press (Horizontal Push) Ring Row (Horizontal Pull)Side Planks (Core). The focus of this giant set would be the pressing movement. On the next upper body day I would do a Barbell Row (Horizontal Pull) Push Up (Horizontal Press) Paloff Press/Chops(Core). 

I enjoy mixing in barbell or dumbbell loaded exercises and contrasting them with a bodyweight exercise. This helps keep your focus on the main lift of the day but also allows you to get extra volume in at a lower intensity during the contrast exercise. Most recreational athletes and lifters over work one plane, most notoriously the bench press. Training in this manner allows you to mitigate the development of an imbalance across planes and aids in the efficiency of your workouts. 

Another example of an upper body set with this structure. 

Barbell Strict Overhead press 4 x 8 

Ring Pull Ups 4 x 6 - 8 

Bird Dogs 4 x 10 ea. 

For a lower body workout 

Front Squat 4 x 6 

SL DL 4 x 8 

Reverse Plank 4 x 5 breaths 


RDL 4 x 8 

Split Squat w/Valgus Knee Band 4 x 8 ea

T-Spine Mobility 

Upper Body Warm Up - If full body workout 

This structure allows you to move from exercise to exercise with little to no rest. It also gives you more time to recover during the core/corrective set for the next main lift. Some trainers would call these tri-sets or supersets but I end up adding extra work in whether it be warm ups, mobility, or corrective so they typically become giant. The main concept is to work on what you need and spend less time checking your phone or wandering around the gym. 

I like applying this structure to a full body workout as well. A total body day would start with the lower body giant set followed by upper and finishing with some auxiliary lifts. You can also maximize your efficiency by doing upper body warm ups with lighter weights or bands during the lower body giant set. This way you'll be ready to start with working sets when you've finished your lower body work. 

Give this structure a shot for your next mesocycle (3/4 weeks) and see how you like it. I find that most endurance athletes are pressed for time between hours on the bike, the road, or in the pool so maximizing time and efficiency with strength workouts helps aid in program compliance. 

Happy Training,