The Lone Wolf Workout: Train Heavy Without Spotters!

Beasts don’t train light. They train heavy to build maximum strength – the kind of strength that separates them from the rest of the sheep. So what is the lone wolf supposed to do when they want to train heavy and hard? This workout is designed for the lone lifter who wants to push themselves to failure and put in the work required to make huge gains!

This workout will build strength and hypertrophy. If you want to be stronger than the average peasant and still look the part, this program can jumpstart your progress. Each exercise is chosen to be safe and effective for the solo trainee. There aren’t any circuits or 15+ rep sets. That stuff is for those who aren’t willing to endure the pain of training heavy and pushing to failure. They can’t handle it, but you can.

The science behind the Lone Wolf Workout

Beasts not only train hard – they train smart. This program follows principles of strength and hypertrophy training that have been shown to produce results when used correctly.

Strength training – Prilepin’s chart

This is the chart created by A. S. Prilepin after examining the training programs of elite Olympic lifters. It displays an effective range of training intensities and volumes that produce strength gains. For building strength on this program, we have used it to a T.

Hypertrophy training – volume and frequency

For training volume with regards to maximum hypertrophy, the evidence is slightly confounding. Since we want to train to failure, we must examine the research that involves sets taken to failure for muscle gains. Research has shown that 9 sets per muscle group taken to failure can increase muscle mass by as much as 21 sets per muscle group, meaning that we can utilize 9 sets per week to work smarter and get the same results (see here for a more in-depth discussion)!

For frequency, it’s best to stick to what can create the most Muscle Protein Synthesis, since this is what starts the process of building muscle. MPS is maximized after training for between 36 and 48 hours, so training every other day seems like the most logical approach. But since we are training to failure for the majority of our work, we have to let our joints and other connective tissue heal as well, so training each muscle group twice a week will help avoid training too much while still enabling us to reap the benefits of higher-than-average training frequency. Read more about why training twice a week is the best option.

The Lone Wolf Workout

Day 1 – lower body

Anderson squats – 5 sets x 2–4 reps/set @ 85% of 1RM
Romanian deadlifts – 4 sets x 3–6 reps/set @ 75% of 1RM
Leg press – 4 sets taken to failure
Machine leg curls – 5 sets taken to failure
Barbell calf raises – 5 sets taken to failure

Day 2 – upper body

Incline barbell pin press – 5 sets x 2–4 reps/set @ 85% of 1RM
Weighted chin-ups – 4 sets x 3–6 reps/set @ 75% of 1RM
Decline dumbbell bench press – 4 sets taken to failure
One-arm rows – 5 sets taken to failure

Day 3 – rest

Day 4 – lower body

Barbell deadlifts – 5 sets x 2–4 reps/set @ 85% of 1RM
Hack squats (machine or barbell) – 4 sets x 3–6 reps/set @ 75% of 1RM
GHR leg curls – 4 sets taken to failure
Dumbbell walking lunges – 5 sets taken to failure
Seated calf raises – 4 sets taken to failure

Day 5 – upper body

Pendlay rows – 5 sets x 2–4 reps/set @ 85% of 1RM
Weighted dips – 4 sets x 3–6 reps/set @ 75% of 1RM
Lat pulldown – 4 sets taken to failure
Hex press – 5 sets taken to failure

Days 6 & 7 – rest

Notes:

  • Anderson squats and incline barbell pin press – set the rack up to where the safety catches are, or slightly above your normal range of motion. If you fail on a set, the bar will land safely on the rack so you won’t need a spotter.
  • On the strength training movements, don’t go to failure unless it falls within the given rep range.
  • On the hypertrophy training movements, always go to failure. Aim to choose a weight that allows you to fail at around 8–12 reps.
  • Strength progression – once you hit the maximum reps on all prescribed sets, increase the weight by 5–10 lbs next week.
  • Hypertrophy progression – once you can hit 12+ reps on all prescribed sets, increase the weight by 5–10 lbs next week.

Now you can stay a lone wolf and still train your ass off! Be safe and put in the work required to see the changes you desire.

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