The Foundation

I’ve always been told that if you could only do a few exercises in the gym, the main ones that you would want to give you overall strength would be: Bench, Squat, Deadlift, Cleans and Military Press. I want to incorporate these lifts into my routine but when should I fit these in? For example, right now I have a few problems. I’m now working out my chest due to a labrum tear in my left shoulder. The labrum is a piece of cartilage that connects/holds the ball-socket joint of the shoulder together. Also my chest is a bit more overdeveloped than my back so I have to balance out. My set up is
Workout 1: Back, shoulders (just shrugs)
Workout 2: Bi/Tris/Forearms
Workout 3: Legs
Take a Day off and repeat.
Where can I work in these major lifts? Has anyone had shoulder surgery because I’m not really looking forward to surgery if that’s the road I have to go down. Thanks.

Funny the difference a letter makes. The above message should have said, I’m NOT working out my chest. Sorry.

I haven’t had shoulder surgery, so I don’t know how much this will help, but here it goes any way. You are right about the basic lifts being some of the most productive. My philosophy is that you build a lot of mass with the basic big lifts, then bring up the lagging parts with peripheral stuff. Here’s my routine: (a) pull-ups, squats, dips, crunches; (b) deadlifts, bench press, rows, crunches; (c) leg extensions, curls. That’s it, two full-body weight workouts a week and one other to bring up some laggers. If you’re pushing some serious iron, it’s all that’s necessary. I’d definitely make sure the shoulder is stabilized first, then think about a new routine rather than trying to add the big lifts into what you already do. Hope that helps.

Instead of thinking in terms of “body parts,” use Ian King’s way of dividing up the body. Use horizontal pushing (benches), horizontal pulling (rows), hip dominant (deadlifts), quad dominant (squats), vertical pushing (overhead press), vertical pulling (chins), shrugs, arms and calves. Now make a workout focusing on your imbalances. You could do something similar to me. MONDAY: Deadlifts, rows, close-grip benches. WEDNESDAY: Chins, overhead press, shrugs, calves. FRIDAY: squats, benches, dips/curls. I’ve been doing the 5x5 method for 8 weeks. I’ve made some great progress following this type of split. I have next week off, then I’m doing a month of 6x2(4) using the same type of split as above. After another week off, I will be using Charles Staley’s Convergent Phase Training. I have made changes to the program to account for my imbalances. So it should work well for me. Also, I do abs first on training days and 20 minutes of cardio after my weight workouts. On Tues, Thurs and weekends, I run sprints and/or mountain bike. I’m currently trying to get lean while increasing strength. So far, so good. Hope that helps.

Whoa! I’m experiencing Deja Vu all over again…Nate Dogg, do you ever get tired of posting the goods for guys like us? Seriously, Krak, Nate has some sound knowledge goin’ on and you should definitely consider what he’s mapped out there…

Timbo, my man! I’m just trying to reinforce something that is very important. And after listening to Ian King in Orlando, and reading some of his books, I’ve found that his method of dividing the body is the key to addressing imbalances and putting together a great program. Too many people do the “body part” system and don’t take into account certain things. Like the fact that the back needs to be worked from two planes (vertical pulling, horizontal pulling), and that the quads and hip dominant exercises need equal balance. So I don’t get tired of re-typing this stuff over and over again. Besides, how many people read something only to forget about it later? If you keep drilling it in people’s heads they will eventually get it and understand why things are done a certain way. Besides, after so much time not making progress, I’ve figured things out bro. And I’ve been making more progress in the past 6-8 weeks than I have in the last two years. So I don’t mind repeating myself. And once you use the Ian King way of dividing bodyparts, you can put together your own program focusing on imbalances.

Nate, buddy, that wasn’t meant as anything besides a little wisecrack:-) I know I personally appreciate and enjoy every one of your posts and hope every one else reaps the same benefits. I basically just meant that you should have one post similar to that above in a Word doc and just cut and paste when a question like this arises:-) I know you enjoy helping others out and you’ve pointed a lot of peeps in the right direction, including me:-) Keep up the great work and get ready to hit those DLs! The best way to learn is thru teaching and repeating what you already know, this is true my man.

Timbo, I hear you loud and clear my man! I knew you were busting my chops! It’s all good bro. And you’re right, I should have that in a Word document so I can just copy and paste it all over the forum! It would make it a lot quicker and easier! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the info so far. Do you recommend a particular book/video by Ian King that I should pick up?

Get Buffed is good, but if you want to know how to design your own programs, I highly recommend “How to Write Strength Training Programs.” It’s a good book and has three sample training programs at the end. And it explains why he does things the way he does. I don’t use everything Ian preaches, but the body part division was one of the most important things for me.

These, in my opinion are critical lifts. In your case, however, your first order of buisness is to nurse the shoulder back to health. I suffered an injury where I tore every ligament in my shoulder. While, it took a while to get it back in working order, I did accomplished this in a very short period of time. This did however, force me to train cautiously, where the focus was strenghtening the week shoulder more so than any other excercise. My recovery was short of amazing. Once a healthy and fully functional shoulder was accomplished (i.e. - I got it up to about 90%) I was able to perform these critical lifts. I love the afore mentioned excercises. The are a great base on which to build funtional strength. To begin in corperating them in to your routine, I would recomend using them as finishers. For instance, when you have a leg or back day, use two sets of dead lifts as a way to finish the day’s work out. Use fairly light wieght and do 10 to 15 reps with perfect form. Sonn rather that finishing with then, you can build your routine around them and accomplish amazing things in the gym. I have. That’s my $.02. If I had to pick only two excercises that I could do and nothing else, it would be bench and power cleans.
PS>. Light weight power cleans for high, high reps, is a great cardio routine.

All this info has been great. No offense to the T-Mag staff but I get a response in these forums and I’m not just one of the 1000s of emails. New question to bother you guys with. I love squats but last night I was in the rack warming up with two plates and the position of my arms to hold the bar on my traps was really bothering the shoulder. I don’t have little chicken legs and want to keep it that way. Until the shoulder is better I’m working up my new leg routine. I’m thinking leg press, quad exts, ham curls and calf raises. Any input?

Can you do front squats w/o pain? I’d do them first if they were comfortable. If all squats are out of the question, do deadlifts, cleans or snatches, leg press, hack squats or Ian’s bodyweight exercises. That might work until your shoulder heals.

Daymn, T-freaks, I feel as if I should be turning over $19.95 + S&H for the info in this post. Pure ultrafiltrated quality. Anyone know the proper form for performing both cleans and snatches? Thanx. Lata.

"MB Eric: Whoo-ha, whoo-ha, gotcha all in check, but no money orders since 1344."


Monkeyboy Eric, the Olympic lifts are hard to explain without having someone actually showing you how to do it. I’d recommend finding someone that knows how to perform the lifts correctly. Otherwise, you may find some books on it or check out MILO. They have articles on Olympic training each issue. :slight_smile:

Nate Dogg: Doing it doggy-style since he was a young pup in 1975.

I think Fred Hatfield has a “Safety Squat” bar that may do the trick for you. I htink it basically puts the weight in a front squat position, but the bar is behind your neck, and allows you to use your arms on the rack pins to aid the movement if needed. Might be worth checking out.

MB Eric, Nate’s right, it’s hard to get the Olympic lifts down without someone there to watch your form. Here’s how I learned to do full squat cleans: 1) I started out first by doing “dead hang cleans”. These are cleans done without any hip involvement, just the traps. These are good because they teach you to pull with your traps and not your arm muscles. 2) Moved on to power cleans from a high hang. 3) Power cleans from a low hang (this helped me practice the knee re-bend for the second pull). 4) Power cleans from the floor. 5) Power clean from the floor, pause, front squat. 6) Power clean from the floor followed immediately by a front squat. 7) Full squat cleans. Some tips about cleans: Think of your arms as ropes. Allow your arms to “break” at the elbows naturally after the pull, don’t pull with the arm muscles. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible - when you execute the second pull the bar might bump or bang into your thighs, which is a good indication that you’re doing it right. Try to pull the bar straight up, not back or forward. As far as snatches go, I’m still working on these. Basically the same progression as cleans. Right now I’m doing power snatches plus overhead squats to strengthen my shoulders and back so I can get used to the weight. These’re great to do just for the stares you’ll get in the gym. If you’re really interested in this stuff check out Arthur Drechsler’s Weightlifting Encyclopedia, great book.

Thanks guys. Spanks, how exactly are the Dead-hang Cleans performed? Thanks, dude. Lata.

“MB Eric: Spearin’ through spandex since 1866.”


Dead hang cleans are done from a fully upright position. Just stand there with the bar and shrug explosively, then drop under the bar to receive it. Since there’s no hip involvement it forces you to use your traps. You can do these ending in a power clean or a full squat clean. The full squat clean variety is great as a warmup.

Hey MB, you really should have a coach for the Olympic Lifts, but you can also find some nice step-by-step descriptions/pics on the web. Try the “biofitness” website and go to the online demos for weightlifting. They have demos for many of the modified OL’s too.