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Your Program Sucks: Part 1

By November 1, 2019November 9th, 20204 Comments
1 November, 2019
Sebastian Oreb

Your Program Sucks: Part 1

…because your technique sucks

Welcome to Part 1 of me explaining why your program sucks. This will be the first in my muti-part series on programming, where I introduce you to my magic formula for the perfect program.
During my time as a strength athlete and coach I have met countless people who are on this quest to find the magic formula for programming and this is something I find myself talking about a lot. I’ve decided to write this series to answer my most commonly asked programming questions. When people find out what I do for work or approach me for coaching, it is only a matter of time before I will be asked:

“Hey Bas, what’s the best rep range to build muscle mass?"
“What’s the best rep range to get strong?”

So basically what they want is for me to tell them the magic formula for programming.
To some of you this might sound like a silly question, but it’s actually not. In fact, this is a question that I’ve been trying to answer myself for a very long time. Looking back on my early days of coaching, I took a lot of pride in the programs that I wrote for my clients but for so many years the results I was achieving simply weren’t hitting the mark. Thankfully I’ve been able to learn from the mistakes I made and through this process of trial and error (with clients that range from the absolute beginner to some of the world’s most elite athletes), I have in fact uncovered the secret to perfect programming and discovered where I was falling short in the past. Keep reading.
Let’s start with what it’s not. I bet you’ve heard of the famous German Volume Training (10 sets of 10) as one of the most brutal but effective methods of building muscle, or even the 5 x 5 method – the “holy grail” of strength development. There’s The Westside Method, 5/3/1, Smolov Squat Routine, The Bulgarian Method, and even the revolutionary 3 x 5 😉 As amazing as these methods have been for some people, these programs alone do not hold the answer.
Before I tell you my secret, I want to break down a few programming myths that I’ve heard over the years:
  • There is nothing special about 5 reps over 6 or 4 and 10 is not better than 11
  • Lifting more than 5 reps in a set is not cardio (you’re just unfit)
  • Your muscles don’t need to be “shocked” into growth (funnily enough, our bodies are smarter than we are)
  • Lifting less than 5 reps can actually build muscle (and quite effectively I might add)
  • You did not invent “Powerbuilding”
There is no perfect exercise, no perfect rest prescription and certainly no perfect piece of exercise equipment. When I program for myself and my athletes- from the absolute beginner all the way through to the strongest man in the world- I follow a hierarchical model of importance, and there is one particular factor that I hold in the highest regard. I can say with absolute confidence that no other training variable will lead to greater success or failure on a program than the one I am about to share with you.
This is the Gospel of Training, according to Bas- and here is your first commandment:

If your lifting technique sucks, your program sucks. Yes, even if it’s written by me.

That’s it. Technique is EVERYTHING. This is the magic formula. Except it isn’t really a magic formula, because there is no magic formula and there is no perfect program. Now that you know this, there’s no turning back. Welcome to the Matrix.
Now for what it’s worth, from a business perspective I really wish there was a magic formula. As a coach, I love to educate and if I think about how many seminars would sell out if I could teach the magic cure for optimal gains- well let’s just say I could have retired yesterday. When I ask industry professionals and lifting enthusiasts what topics they would like to learn about at my seminars- the most popular topic is always program design. Anyone who has attended my Program Design Seminar or received coaching from me will know that I always begin by teaching correct movement. It doesn’t matter if your goal is fat loss, injury rehab, to punch harder, jump higher, run faster or to become the strongest man in the world- if your first priority is not in mastering the basics of proper technique using free weight exercises, then I’m sorry but your program sucks. Of course there are other variables that change the effectiveness of your program, but these are always of secondary importance to your lifting technique.
I love giving out free content for my followers, so I’ve written out a training template to demonstrate how simple and effective your training can be. This is a very basic outline and by no means a complete program. Over my next few posts we will be filling in the gaps and adding to this template as we work our way down the hierarchy of factors that will have influence over your strength training success. It’s my hope that at the end of this blog series, you will not only have yourself a kickass program, but you will also understand “how’s” and “why’s” behind its construction.

Day 1: Squat

A - Squat 5x5 (variation of your choice)

B - Enter your favourite quad building exercises as well as your favourite rep set scheme

Day 2: Upper Body Horizontal Push Pull

A - Upper Body Horizontal Push 5x5 | Pull 5x5

B - Enter your favourite chest and back building exercises as well as your favourite rep set scheme

Day 3: Deadlift

A - Deadlift 5x5 (conventional, because sumo is for cheaters and butt eaters*)

B - Enter your favourite posterior chain building exercises as well as your favourite rep set scheme

Day 4: Upper Body Vertical Push Pull

A - Overhead Press 5x5 | Chin Up 5x5

B - Enter your favourite deltoid and back building exercises as well as your favourite rep set scheme

Rest – 3-5 minutes between each set
*just kidding, conventional deadlifters eat butt too
That’s all for now. In Part 2 of this series we will be talking about the second most important programming variable and some common mistakes I see surrounding that. Stay tuned!

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