Welcome back to the American Partisan Workout Fundamentals series! Once again, real life got in the way of me posting sooner – sorry about that! But I’m back with some more good info for my fellow American Partisans. Here’s a full list of the Workout Fundamentals, for reference:

Now that we’ve exhaustively covered the theory of the Workout Fundamentals themselves over the past 6 posts, it’s time to provide proper examples of what a workout should look like, according to the 9 Fundamentals. Please keep in mind, the workouts provided in this post are designed primarily for beginners, but to be honest, I’ve been using more or less the same workout formula for around 20 years now; it was 20 years ago that I left behind the “bodybuilding” style of working out once and for all, in favor of the full-body workout. The Integrated Workout Formula and full-body workouts have been working so well since then that I am still using these concepts to this day! It just highlights the fact that, as in shooting, the Fundamentals… are the Fundamentals. They are evergreen, and always apply. 

Again, using a ready, thorough, and yet simple formula is the key. All the American Partisan Operator needs to do is plug different, high-quality exercises into the Integrated Workout Formula that I presented, and he’ll automatically have a good program to work with – the Formula makes it easy and almost a no-brainer. Apply some guts and determination, and you’re all set!

Today’s beginner-level workouts will include an equipment-based workout and a minimalist workout as well. Let’s get right into it.

 

Full-Body Workout for Totally Deconditioned / Absolute Beginner

For the deconditioned absolute beginner, the sample programs below will detail exactly how to flesh out the structure provided by the Integrated Workout Formula. Just fill in the blanks. The first program provided assumes the presence of gym equipment, while the second program provided assumes very minimal equipment.  (Disclaimer: these workouts are just examples that may or may not work for you; however, these workout programs should be good for the vast majority of absolute beginners.)

The purpose of this beginner program is to provide deconditioned and beginner Partisan trainees with a good entry point into physical fitness, but also with an eye on improving and turning up the intensity after several months of doing this particular program. The program is purposely structured to take the needs of beginners into account by starting out with light weights (= low intensity) and high repetitions for now. 

Basic Program Information and Explanations

  • Weekly Workout Days: Monday; Thursday (3 – 4 days apart; can be different days of the week, as your situation dictates, but with the same spacing of 3 – 4 days between workouts)
  • Strength Training (Push-Pull-Legs / Core-Grip-Neck Circuit) Instructions
    • Perform all exercises of the circuit one after another in the order presented, and without rest for the number of sets and repetitions prescribed; rest after each round of the circuit, as indicated
    • Absolute Beginners: ONLY when first starting out, you may rest as needed between exercises within the circuit; but after several weeks, move to eliminate any rest periods between exercises, and simply wait for the end of the circuit in order to rest. This is how improvements are made – they need to be forced.
    • After going slowly through a “startup” phase for the first month or so (more on the “startup” phase in the General Notes and Instructions section below), go through the circuit for 3 rounds for around 3 – 4 weeks; then start performing the circuit for four rounds for at least several months, taking particular care to build up your numbers – that’s the whole point!
  • Explanation of My Workout Shorthand Format: “Load x # of Sets x Number of Repetitions / Time in Position”

(Note: Whenever a time duration is provided [i.e., “time in position”] instead of a repetition number, this refers to the length of time, in seconds, spent holding your body or a load in the prescribed position)


Some Examples of My Workout Shorthand Format:

  • Push-Ups: BW (BW = “Body Weight”, i.e., no external loading used) x 3 x 20 = Use your body weight for 3 sets of 20 repetitions of each set of Push-Ups 

  • Barbell Squat: 300 x 5 x 5 = 300 lbs. on the barbell for 5 sets of 5 repetitions for each set of the Barbell Squat 

  • Hang from the Chin-Up Bar (aka “Hangers”): BW x 3 x 60 seconds = Use your body weight to hang from the bar for 3 sets of 60 seconds for each set of Hangers

  • Etc.

 

General Program Notes and Instructions 

  • YouTube is a potentially useful resource for seeing how to do exercises; Google Images is also quite good
  • The time and load values I have provided here are approximate and just a suggestion that should work for most people; if not, then find a good starting point that works for you
  • The overarching purpose of the workout programs presented below is to get novice Partisan lifters into gear for more serious and intense work to come; the body needs to be taken out of its deconditioned “slumber” slowly and effectively; go slowly! This process really can’t be rushed!
  • ATTENTION, TRUE BEGINNERS AND VERY DECONDITIONED PARTISANS!!! Start out with just ONE single round of the circuit provided. Go through the circuits presented only ONE time through for the first one to two weeks to get yourself used to the new work you’re putting on your body. After the first one or two weeks, add a second round of the Strength Training and Conditioning circuits, and do that for another one to two weeks; repeat this gradual process of increasing workout volume until you are able to perform three to four rounds of the circuits provided, as described in the Strength Training Instructions, above
  • The absolutely most critical thing is that there must be some realized, measurable progress (i.e., American Partisan Workout Fundamental Concept #6: Progressive Overload) from workout to workout! Improvements in Strength Training must be TAKEN by conquest, and are made as follows:
    • Continue adding repetitions or time to body weight exercises
    • Where external loading is used (iron weights; other), the load should be increased by 5 lbs. as soon as you can do 20 repetitions with a specific load. So, for example, if you start with 12 repetitions using 20 lbs. on a particular exercise, then continue adding repetitions until you OWN 20 repetitions and perform them for two workouts in a row; then, add 5 lbs. and start back at 12 repetitions with the new increased load, building up in the same way.
  • For the Conditioning portion of this program, make improvements by adding time to the duration of your conditioning “burst”, 2 – 3 seconds at a time
  • Duration times provided for the different elements of the workout formula are approximate; the workout may take a bit longer as you increase the workout volume by making improvements and increasing your time doing certain exercises

 

American Partisan Total Beginner Workout Program 1 – Equipment Available (Gym) / Non-Minimalist Version

The workout program just below is intended for use in an equipped location, i.e., a gym. While any of my physical fitness programming is based on simplicity, both in equipment and structure, the one element of physical fitness that truly has no substitute is the use of heavy iron weights – barbells and dumbbells (along with benches, plates, and barbell racks, where applicable). A lot can be done with crude loads and objects (like sandbags and barrels), but in my opinion and experiences, nothing allows for the structure, efficiency, and versatility in strength training like barbells and dumbbells. For this reason alone, an investment in at least some dumbbells and an overhead bar should be considered very seriously if you have a home-based gym setup – these two basic pieces of equipment add many options to your exercise possibilities. Add a bench to round out the toolkit. 

Also, many with a home gym setup will still not have particular access to heavy barbells, plates, and racks from which to lift them. For home gym setups falling into this light-duty, “semi-equipped” category – that is, your home gym doesn’t contain barbells, racks, and even benches, your workout should end up being a hybrid mix-and-match between the gym-based workout presented just below, and the minimalist workout program provided in the following section. That’s ok too – you will still be satisfying the basic needs of the workout formula anyway. 

I. Warm-Up + Stretch (Duration: ~ 15 min)

  • Jog/Run for 10 minutes (treadmill; trail; or pavement)

  • Stretch tight areas on your body for 5 minutes: back; shoulders; neck; etc. (Note: YouTube is pretty good for getting some stretching ideas!)

II. Strength Training Circuit (3 – 4 Cycles; Rest Time Between Circuits: 2 Minutes) (Duration: ~ 15 minutes)

  • Push: Push-Ups (Traditional) – BW x 3 – 4 x 20

  • Pull: Chin-Ups (Traditional) – BW x 3 – 4 x 6

  • Legs: Dumbbell Squat – 20 x 3 – 4 x 20

  • Core: Throw-Arm, Straight-Leg Sit-Ups – BW x 3 – 4 x 15 (Start by lying on your back with your arms extended straight above your head and legs perfectly straight; throw your arms forward to generate the momentum for the start of your Sit-Up and sit all the way up; lie back down, and repeat for the prescribed number of reps)

  • Neck: 2-Way Neck Bridge Hold Against Wall (Front and Back) – BW x 3 – 4 x 45 seconds each side

[Note: Grip will be addressed in Part III, below]

III. Strength Endurance / Conditioning Circuit (2 – 3 Cycles; Rest Time Between Circuits: 2 Minutes) (Duration: ~ 10 minutes)

  • Elbow Plank: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds

  • Pike Press Hold: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds

  • 12″ Step Jumps: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds (jump on the step, then off the step; repeat for 30 seconds)

  • Light Standing Dumbbell Curls: 12 x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds

  • Hangers (Hanging from an Overhead Bar for Time – this is the Grip portion of the workout): BW x 2 – 3 x 45 seconds

IV: Cardiovascular Training (Duration: ~ 15 minutes)

  • Jog/Run for 15 minutes

V: Cool-down / Stretch / Mobilizations (Duration: ~ 5 minutes)

  • Basic Toe Touches to the Front (Stretch): BW x 1 x 30 (make sure to stand fully upright between repetitions!)

  • External Rotations with Cable (Mobilization): BW x 1 x 15 each arm

  • Stretch tight and/or just-worked parts of your body


American Partisan Total Beginner Workout Program 2 – Minimalist Version

Now onto the “minimalist” workout program.

You’ll note that the “minimalist” workout below actually has most of the same elements as the gym-based workout suggested above. Why? Because this workout is meant for absolute beginners, and so Calisthenics exercises – exercise done with no special equipment, and usually just body weight – are an outstanding entry point for a deconditioned male lifter to get the physical fitness ball rolling, and will thus factor largely into beginner-level programming. Best of all, Calisthenics truly never get old, and should ALWAYS be included in some form or fashion in the American Partisan’s fitness lineup… forever; it seems obvious that an American Partisan Operator ought to be able to deftly, effectively, and powerfully move his own body at all times, right?

As such, not a week has gone by in my life (more or less) for over 25 years that I haven’t done some Chin-ups, Sit-Ups, and Push-Ups (or Dips) somewhere during my workouts, to say nothing of many other quality Calisthenics exercises! I always seek to find ways to slot Calisthenics exercises into my workout somehow. Calisthenics exercises are an obvious go-to for the minimalist setup; the universe of Calisthenics exercises is pretty vast, and I’ll be covering Calisthenics exercises in greater detail in a future post! 

For more advanced trainees doing minimalist workouts later down the line, the introduction of external loading (again, using sandbags, barrels, loading belts, and other objects) will be very helpful for adding intensity and functional variety to your workout. But for beginners, mere body weight will be sufficient in most cases. 

[Important Note: This minimalist workout assumes the availability of an overhead/chinning bar. Don’t have one? GET ONE!!! If there is any one single piece of exercise equipment that is pretty much mandatory and that simply cannot be substituted, it’s the overhead bar. I’d also recommend that all Partisans equip themselves with all of the equipment specified in my very first post, but certainly the overhead bar is truly a MUST.]

I. Warm-Up + Stretch (Duration: ~ 15 min)

  • Jog/Run for 10 minutes (treadmill; trail; or pavement)

  • Stretch tight areas on your body for 5 minutes: back; shoulders; neck (Note: YouTube is pretty good for getting some stretching ideas!)

II. Strength Training Circuit (3x Cycles; Rest Time Between Circuits: 2 Minutes) (Duration: ~ 15 minutes)

  • Push: Push-Ups (Traditional) – BW x 3 – 4 x 20

  • Pull: Chin-Ups (Traditional) – BW x 3 – 4 x 6

  • Legs: Body Weight Squat – BW x 3 – 4 x 25

  • Core: Throw-Arm, Straight-Leg Sit-Ups – BW x 3 – 4 x 15 (Start by lying on your back with your arms extended straight above your head and legs perfectly straight; throw your arms forward to generate the momentum for the start of your Sit-Up and sit all the way up; lie back down, and repeat for the prescribed number of reps)

  • Neck: 2-Way Neck Bridge Hold Against Wall (Front and Back) – BW x 3 – 4 x 45 seconds each side

[Note: Grip will be addressed in Part III, below]

III. Strength Endurance / Conditioning Circuit (2x Cycles; Rest Time Between Circuits: 2 Minutes) (Duration: ~ 10 minutes)

  • Elbow Plank: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds

  • Pike Press Hold: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds

  • 12″ Step Jumps: BW x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds (jump on the step, then off the step; repeat for 30 seconds)

  • Sandbag Curls: 25 lbs. (of sand in the bag) x 2 – 3 x 30 seconds (see examples of how to do this here and here)

  • Hangers (Hanging from an Overhead Bar for Time – this is the Grip portion of the workout): BW x 2 – 3 x 45 seconds

IV: Cardiovascular Training (Duration: ~ 15 minutes)

  • Jog/Run for 15 minutes

V: Cool-down / Stretch / Mobilizations (Duration: ~ 5 minutes)

  • Basic Toe Touches to the Front (Stretch): BW x 1 x 30 (make sure to stand fully upright between repetitions!)

  • External Rotations with Cable (Mobilization): BW x 1 x 15 each arm

  • Stretch tight and/or just-worked parts of your body


Final Word: The Fallacy of Regularly “Changing Up Your Workout” – If It Ain’t Broke…

As I keep saying and as you can hopefully see from the example just provided, workout program design is not difficult. Keep it simple! You can even try putting your own workout together using what you already know how to do, and placing it within the framework I have provided above and in previous posts. Exercises can be swapped out for others that satisfy the element’s needs. For example, if you have Dip bars and prefer to do Dips (a type of “Pushing” exercise) instead of Push-Ups, or want to do Standing Barbell Curls instead of Standing Dumbbell Curls (a type of “Pulling” exercise), then have at it! As long as you make sure to use quality exercises, pretty much any desired substitutions can be made. 

One question I hear a lot and that I’d like to address here is, “how long should you continue the same program?” Again, the answer is simple: Until you’re really sick of it! There has long been this notion out there (at least since I began working out years ago) that a trainee should “change up the workout” every few weeks to “keep the body guessing” or some such freakin’ BS, but like so many other urban legends and so much “conventional wisdom” swirling around out there (especially in the world of fitness), this is a baseless claim that just won’t go away. Sorry, but I simply don’t accept the idea that a workout needs to be changed up with some fixed, arbitrary regularity; most of the people spouting this nonsense don’t look so good neither LOL. Yes, elite athletes need to go through regular changes to their workout program structure as part of their peaking cycle.  But the American Partisan Operator is not training to peak for a competition cycle; he is getting into and staying in fighting shape in a general sense. While it is good to change a program up if you’ve grown really bored of it, or if your progress has stalled altogether, the only real way to know that you’re making progress is… to keep doing the same program for a good while, and watching the numbers increase. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! End of story.

As far as lack of variety, to be honest, I’ve stayed on the same basic program sometimes for years at a time, and with productive results. I like to  use what has been shown to be effective, and I have always shunned the idea of “changing up the workout” for its own sake, and have instead chosen to stick with a program of basic movements in order to develop my abilities in the fine details of key lifts. Fine details and technical improvements are critical to achieve the highest level of progress in any physical skill, and this high level of performance can only be realized after a tremendous amount of tedious repetition; without this tedious repetition, you won’t get far at all in physical skill development, so you’d better get good and used to boring repetition; repetition is the essence of perfection!

So in the final analysis, I strongly suspect that those praising and preaching constant, counterproductive “variety” in workouts are merely avoiding the difficult grind of struggling through a program rep after rep, set after set, and workout after workout to make increases and improve exercise technique. Now, later on down the line, after obtaining a solid increment of progress in your exercise performance (again, progress that is objectively measurable by increases in Conditioning times and loads lifted), then it’s perfectly fine to start substituting one lift or exercise for another and then settling in for another lengthy phase of building, assuming that you’re using only basic, quality exercises to begin with. Of course, be sure to stick with time-tested classic exercises, and start developing your abilities in the new lift/exercise. In fact, it’s encouraged to develop your skills in different basic lifts over time to create more versatility in your strength applications.

Well, that’s all for now! I hope you’ve all found this post useful and informative. I’ll be sure to add more workouts (for intermediate and seasoned trainees) and ideas in the coming weeks and months. I’ll also be hitting the subject of food lifestyle/nutrition soon as well, so stay tuned! Please feel free to contact me with any questions on any of the details presented above; I look forward to any comments as well. Now get out there and start working out! 

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