THE PROGRAMME LAYOUT....

The foundation of The Strength Sessions Programme is our famous 4 month rotation:

Each month has 8 main exercises.

First you do month 1, then month 2, then month 3, then month 4. (Came up with that myself 🙂).

Ah, but the real genius: once we’ve done month 4, we go back to month 1!

Wherever we are in the programme, that’s where you join in. So we all do the same thing at the same time, albeit at different difficulty levels.

With this rotating programme structure I believe we get the best balance between novelty and consistency, and really get the most out of our minimalistic routines.

Each month the programme will feel new, but you'll consistently be working on mastering the same group of exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CONSISTENCY MATTERS...

Both consistency in getting your training done, and consistentcy in the exercises you do. If you keep doing random exercises every time you train, you won't get anywhere. So, in our programme, we don’t want too radical a change from month-to-month, but we still want the programme to feel new each month. To achieve this, we rotate a small number of the very best exercises, but month-to-month we vary the reps, the style, and the angles so that we avoid plateus and to make the programme feel fresh.

This way we don’t have a chance to plateau and we reduce the risk of repetitive movement injuries or boredom that could occur if your programme never changed.

Of course the programme adapts to you, and each month's programme is just a template. 

But you must change your programme as close as possible to the template each month. In The Strength Sessions we want to leverage loss-aversion: If you miss a week, you cannot just start the programme again. That’s how people end up never finishing programmes and always get stuck on the early part of a twelve-week programme.

Stay on programme and do as much as you can. If you miss your favourite stuff, remember that strength transfers. And you’ll be better at it next cycle.

QUICK REFERENCE: FULL PROGRAMME

Years of planning, testing and tweaking has gone into The Strength Sessions Programme. Here's a quick overview of the types of exercises in it so you can get your mind around the structure:

--> Every month there's a single-leg squat -- Swapping between different styles. Every other month we do Kettlebell Swings as well. That's pretty much all your leg training. If you get really good at squats and swings, you will have great legs. That's all you need to focus on. You can add and tweak ite in tim -- if you want to, if you need to -- but onn;y once you've earnt the right by provving you can get it done consistently.

--> We always train 2 or 3 exercises from the 'Pull' category: that's Chin Ups, Body Rows and Hangs. The Chin Ups and Hangs each get trained in different styles 3 months out of 4. With one month off giving you what should be a nice break from each, while you put more energy into the others. The Body-Rows get big focus in month 3 and 4, with the Modified Back Support giving us a different way to train scapula retraction in Month 2.

--> Push-Ups get trained directly 3 months out of 4, but you’ll also develop serious pushing strength on the pushing focused gymnastic holds (particularly the Planche and Bent-Arm Handstand moves).

--> The gymnastic holds get trained every other month, and in two styles: static holds and pulsing reps.

--> In month 1 and 3, we train the L-Sit and the Bent-Arm Planche progressions.

--> In months 2 and 4, we train the two Handstands (straight arm and bent arm) and the Straight-Arm Planche positions.

--> Each month there’s one main ab exercise, which is enough, considering there’s a lot of extra indirect ab work on things like the Chin Ups, the L-Sits, the Planches and the hangs.

Here's a pretty grid I made all by myself using a spreadsheet and a colour code for quick programme reference. I suggest you take a screenshot and get it tattooed onto your forearm so you always have it to hand.

MONTH 1: BASICS MONTH

First month: basics month. That means simple. That doesn’t mean less effective -- remember that. Every time we bring the programme back around to basics month, you should be filled with a tremendous anticipation as it's one of the best months to really test your strength and show how you've improved at the classic moves. Simply get fundamentally better at this stuff and your body will show it.

First in month 1, we have our simplest style of one-leg squat, the Dead-Start Skater (deceptively difficult). Then there's the chance to improve your basic Push-Ups, or your chance to work up the Push-Up Progression Ladder. Then we work on the Kettlebell Swing, simply increasing weight and reps and sharpening our Glute-Lock. Next up is the Dead-Hang, one of the fitness worlds most neglected good things to do.

Then we bring in our gymnastic-style work with the L-Sits, the Bent-Arm Planche and the Hollow Body Hold in their simple 'stick-the-position-and-hold-for-a-long-time' form. Warn your abs: they are gonna work HARD. Then again so will your shoulders, your arms, your upper back, your chest, your hip-flexors and your quads. Good times and a More-Athletic Body are assured.

THE DEAD-START SKATER SQUAT

These -- like any squat -- work quad, glute, hamstring, inner/outer thighs and stabaliser muscles. The Dead-Start Skater requires you to pause at the bottom of the rep, before powering back up. Probably my favourite squat of all the worlds squats for serious leg development. We can get a hell-of-a-lot of tension in the leg musculature with minimal learning time, equipment and injury risk. These really are the business. Strive to master them and you'll have great legs, always.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

THE KETTLEBELL SWING

These are all about your hamstrings, back, arse, and your grip, and your abs (big time). They will make you strong, powerful and durable. Or, they will kill you. Please, oh please, oh please, do two things for me: firstly, don't duck them. They will do you so much good. But if you don't learn them properly, they may do you so much bad. We don't deadlift on The Strength Sessions programme, so these are all the more important. Master them, or at least resolve to bring them into your programme as soon as you can.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

CHIN UPS

I have a real penchant for Chin Ups. I have serious feelings for them. If you do one move to develop impressive guns, make it these. one move to make you wanna stay lean, make it these. One move for your upper body, make it these.

You'll work your grip, you'll work your arms, you'll work your lats and you'll work your abs, and don't worry, if you can't do them, we include so many cool ways to build up to them in this programme. Pick the one that you fancy, and are ready for, and get yourself on the road to your first real Chin Up and a serious physique improvement.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

DEAD HANG 2 MINS

NEWS FLASH!!!! YOUR ARMS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO GO OVER YOUR HEAD!

Thus, the fundamental benefit of hanging training. To hang well, you need healthy shoulders, good range of motion in your thoracic spine, a strong, functional grip and probably somehthing to hang off. You want all of these things, but this is one of the most neglcted areas of training in fitness -- so let's practice them a lot!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BASIC PUSH UP

There's a reason that Push Ups are used all the damn time in any programme where people don't find them too easy. Two actually: 1) They are really bloody convenient -- and we are ALL about that. 2) They are a real compound move that work a LOT of muscle bits in one go: Your chest, your triceps, your shoulders and your abs. That's why we work on them directly 3 months out of 4 and have a whole progression ladder dedicated to mastering them.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

L-SIT STATICS FOR TIME

These are like the very first move you take on when you start to do any kind of gymnastics strength work. I love them because they're so practical and so scaleable. If you're super advanced, you can do them on the floor, but if you're not, we can scale them right back to absolutely basic level. Whichever level you're at, as long as you push yourself, you'll get a serious tricep, abdominal, hip flexor and scap retractor stimulus.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

HOLLOW BODY HOLD

Finally an ab exercise!..they yell.

Now, not only is the Hollow Body Position a fundamental gymnastics position, with many carry over 'skill transfer' benefits, but yes, it's one bloody god rectus abdominus exercise in it's own right. Proper position is everything, master it, then progressively increase the difficulty.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BENT-ARM PLANCHE STRENGTH

I love this move for two reasons...firstly, the first time I saw it, I thought it was the coolest thing I've ever seen. How on earth can you do a push up with both feet off the floor?! Now of course I know it's just brute strength and a manipulation of body angle, but I try to remember my initial impressions when I'm experiencing the rather uncomfortable side of it... struggling to breath and not crash on my nose. The second reason, is that I find them so damn good for heping the non-strong develop strength for push-ups while not doing push ups. They can be a game changer, and that's why we use them.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

GO TO MONTH 1 HOMEPAGE

See the best ways to lay out your months training. 

MONTH 2: CONSTANT TORTURE

In Month two you get a one month reprieve from The Kettlebell Swings, but we take our Dead-Start Skater Squats and put a cruel ‘constant-tension’ twist on them. So they are easier per rep, but you do more reps (and under constant tension (the clue's in the name) and they burn like hell!

Next we tweak the Chin Ups. The big thing this month is to practice EXTRA STATICS at the top. That means with added weight or a one-arm emphasis if you’re strong, and if you’re not-- then you should really embrace this style as it’s easier to hold a static position at the top of a Chin Up than it is to hit a real Chin Up, so this is your chane to master the first few rungs on The Chin Up Progression Ladder. Either way, practicing statics should improve your technique and really boost your strength.

Then we take our Basic Dead Hang from Month 1 and bring in increased stomach strength challenge by moving onto harder body positions.

For the gymnastics holds this month, we bring in the Tuck Planche and the two handstand drills and The Modified back support for improved shoulder mechanics, before finishing with the Gymnastic Style Leg raise to build direct ab and hip flexor strength.

THE CONSTANT-TENSION SKATER SQUAT

Right, take the Skater Squat from last month, but switch focus from brute strength, to total control. Make each rep a little bit easier, but do more. Take out the pause at the bottom and exagerate the locked-legged top poisition. Then you have the Skater Squat constant tesnion style. Let's get one thing straight: whether you do or nbot, your legs LOVE high rep work. If you want them to grow or tone, there's little better than these. Your legs should be on fire and full of blood even after just one set. In class, we do 4. In training, I often do 5 before lying on the floor for a while, thinking about butterflies.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

TUCK PLANCHE HOLDS

These are another little gymnastic-strength hold that is sooo simple, yet so tough. It's very easy to find a very difficult position, with real strength needed from the chest, shoulders, triceps and abs, plus it has loads of fun progressions to work your way through (see the Planche Progression Ladder), hence the use of them on this programme.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

CHIN UP -- EXTRA STATICS (OR SPEED WORK)

Practice moves frequently; tweak the variables. A great way to keep progressing in your training. After standard Chin Ups in month 1, this month we want to practise statics with more weight than you can do Chin Ups with, and if you have a good set up, we want to practice speed reps. Same plane of movement, but much more explosive. This will really get you into the mindset of non-fatiguing training and becoming More-Athletic. Round here it's not so much about how much you can do, it's about how well you can do stuff.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

DEAD HANG STRENGTH -- BODY POSITION EMPHASIS

In Month 1, we simply build strenght-endurance on the hang. Get to the all important 2 minute mark. Next month, we make it more difficult to grip. This month, we make it more integrated by bringing in more ab strength. Work your way to holding a full L-Sit while hanging for time.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

HANDSTAND STRENGTH

You don't have to work on handstand balance to do The Strength Sessions programme, it depends if you're into it. I am. But I'm not sure I reccommend it. If you do, be patient! Anyways, I still like to include Handstand strength and position practice in the programme as it's so damn good for you. You'll need strong shoulders, great range of motion, strong arms, strong wrists and good pelvic control (important for body awareness and better training on all sorts of stuff). So get stuck in, persistently, diligently and carefully please!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND

This sis sort-of the static-hold style of overhead press in our programme. Tricep strength. Shoulder strength. If you fancy, and have access, sometimes I like you to Overhead press instead of work your bent-arm handstand strength. the two go hand in hand. But, it's the Bent-Arm Handstand that we really focus on in the programme due to the convenience of it and the many progressions that we can strive to master.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

THE MODIFIED BACK-SUPPORT

A deceptively effective move for your posture and your upper back and arm strength. It's a little different to a real gymnastics back support move, but similar: your hands are behind you with staright arms as you strive to take most of your weight with the shoulders down, arms locked and perfect technique.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

GYMNASTIC STYLE LEG RAISE (SEATED)

These will help your L-Sits and give you killer abs. Control and quality is everything, Obsess over improving your position, getting your quads firing to master the lock out position at the top and then feeling your six-packy, sculpted tummy thingy control every inch as you lower your legs.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

GO TO MONTH 2 HOMEPAGE

See the best ways to lay out your months training. 

MONTH 3: ROLLING SQUAT MONTH

To kick off month 3, we start our two month flirtation with the powerful, dangerous and dangerously effective Pistol Squat. It starts with the rolling style (for those with healthy knees only), then continues next month with Platform Pistols. Awesome thighs assured. We bring back the Kettlebell Swings, but this time with short sharp clusters of intense work. Then you get a one-month reprieve form the Chin Ups to avoid boredom (or simply make you miss them), and avoid over-use injuries from doing the same movement all the time, but fear not, we more than compensate by keeping you working on Dead-Hangs — but this time with a grip challenge emphasis, — and we focus BIG TIME on setting records on the Body Row -- remember,  similar muscles are worked to the Chin Ups on these, just with a different plane of movement.

Finally, for the gymnastic holds, we bring in ‘pulsing reps’... rather than a simple static hold, we move in and out of the work-zone for reps. That allows you to test yourself in a new position, but to back away. Move in, move out, move in, move out. A great way of pushing past your sticking points on these moves. All is finished off by the Hollow Extensions, severe ab torture and the punishment you deserve if you have tight hamstrings.

ROLLING PISTOL SQUAT PROGRESSIONS

Now we turn our attention to Pistol Squats, leaving the skaters alone for a couple of months. This month, we use a backwards roll to 'cheat' with momentum (if you need to), next month we reduce range of motion with a platform (if you need to). These are fun, and are a nice way to get you used to squatting with a full range of motion. Unless you do Pistols, you're probably not doing that!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

THE KETTLEBELL SWING CLUSTERS

Swings are back, but this month in short sharp clusters of work. We want you to get really god at quickly initiating and delievering powerful sets of 5, with perfect form and as much weight as possible. It's worth spendinhg the money, or making a trip to a gym once a week just to swing these things if you do it well. You'll get a healthy low back and a great looking arse for your troubles too.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

DEAD-HANG GRIP EMPHASIS

This should be your third straight month of hanging practise. This month, we go back to a relaxed body position and put all the challenge on developing an unbelievably strong grip. start with the false grip, then a towel, then one arm, then one arm on a towel. You'll grip strength will shoot up, and most likely so will your strength on everything as grip strength tends to carry over well to everything.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BODY ROW

This month we want a big focus on Body-Rows. Strive to train them as fresh as possible and focus on them like your life depends on it! Training Body-Rows will have decent carry over to Chin-Ups, they will work your biceps and forearms, your Lats (but not as much as Chin-Ups) and all imprtantly they'll work all the musculature of the upper back and rear shoulder. You need this. We all do.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

L-SIT PULSES

Time for pulsing reps! We bring back the L-Sit, but switch back and forth between an extreme position that you can just about hold for one-second and very easy recovery position. If it's your first month, go easy, you might not be ready for these in their full glory!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BENT-ARM PLANCHE PULSES

We also bring back the Bent-Arm Planche this month, but in the pulsing rep style. Move into an extreme position and load up your shoulders, triceps and chest with as much force as you can handle for a split second, then back of. Carefully but dilligently give those muscles a new stimulus to adapt to!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

SPEED PUSH UPS

Just like with the Chin Ups, we like to put a speedy twist on your Push-Ups this month. Pick a version you can do a pretty good 10 on, but just do 5 reps, but make them scarily explosive on the way up. Slowly lower, then blast back to the top. Finsih the set fresh. It's about strength and power; not fatigue.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

HOLLOW EXTENSIONS

These are great for building ab strength, and I find them particularly good for people who struggle to hold a good position on traditional Hollow Body Hold. They will also help you improve your L-Sits.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

GO TO MONTH 3 HOMEPAGE

See the best ways to lay out your months training. 

MONTH 4: HANDSTAND MONTH

Into Month 4: We simplify our Pistol Squat...get down, get up. No riolling, no fun, just get yourself a mat or step of the right height and blast those thighs of yours.

Next, of course, we bring back Chin-Up Progressions with massive grip emphasis by holding onto a towel (or rope). Get stuck in!

After that, we keep you pulsing on the gymnastic moves, but this time apply it to the Tuck Planche and the handstand drills (please try not to get carried away and kill yourself).

Push Ups and Body-Rows also get freshened up: we add more range of motion to our Push Ups, which means we get much better activation through the chest, then we spend longer in the top position of the Body-Row. You won’t like that at first, but trust me — the results are worth it.

Finally your low abs get iron-strong by holding The Dish.

PLATFORM PISTOLS

Platform Pistols are the absolute easiest of all the squats. To learn that is. Get a low enough mat and they are plenty hard enough for most folks. You can get a massive mechanical quad, glute, hamstring strength stimulus with these. Pick a height you can master, master it, then go lower. Before long you'll be going all the way to the floor and you'll have amazing legs to reward you for your efforts.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

TOWEL-GRIP CHIN UPS

WARNING: YOU MIGHT FIND THESE RATHER TAXING.

Here we bring our improved grip strength from last month, pair it with our lust for Chin Ups after month off, and unleash fury with the towel grip Chin Ups. Choose your towel carefully, chalk your hands and go mad. If it's too tough, use the feet cheat or static holds and resolve to master them! We need tough stuff to strive for. It's what keeps us interested.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BODY-ROW -- EXTRA STATICS

We work Body-Rows, just like last month, but with extra emphasis on holding longer, neater positions at the top of each rep. This is particularly important on these as it's the hardest part and our often too desk-orientated lives can make it super tough to get your shoulders all the way back -- but you want to be the person with healthy, strong, well rounded, good-looking shoulders, right?

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

DEEP PUSH-UPS

More direct Push Up practice this month. If you have the set up for it, we particularly want you doing deep reps, with your chest going below your hands. This may mean elevated hands of course, but that’s fine and will lead to better push ups on the floor in the long run.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

HANDSTAND WALKOUTS

These can be pretty brutal, but executed well look really good and involve a whole load of musculature. At the top, it’s your shoulders & triceps that do lots of the work, then we walk into an elevated feet, elongated plank position bringing in a serious ab strength challenge.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND PULSES

Bent-Arm Planche practice for chest, shoulder and triceps strength, but pulsing style, so we set up with perfect upper body position, then step in and out of more challenging positions for reps. Test your strength, retreat. Test your strength, retreat.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

TUCK PLANCHE PULSES

Here’s your chance to edge towards take off on your Tuck Planche. We use these pulsing reps to get a glimpse of the future and give you hope. Set perfect arm and back position, then test that strength my easing in and out of more and more extreme positions!

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

DISH

This works your lower abs big time. You set up a posterior pelvic tilt, lock it in and then challenge that position for a long hold. Another important drill that both makes your abs look great and transfers over into better form in other moves too.

>>> SEE THE FULL EXERCISE BREAKDOWN <<<

GO TO MONTH 4 HOMEPAGE

See the best ways to lay out your months training. 

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