Back in 2012, I followed a hardcore training program.

Every workout, I had to do 5 sets of 5 reps of 3-4 heavy barbell exercises, followed by a few lighter ones.

And, it sucked major ballz.

Despite being 23, I felt drained 25/8.

I dreaded each workout.

And other than my back and legs (who respond amazingly to training) the rest of my body had my friends jokingly ask “Do you even lift?”

Looking back, there were many problems with the program.

The first one is that low reps are not important if you want to build a nice body. Studies comparing low and reps show you can enjoy the same rate of muscle growth. You only need to equate the number of reps and weight.

Take for example the 5X5 barbell squat.

Suppose I lifted 100 kilos.

That would give us a volume of 5 X 5 X 100 = 2,500

Instead, I could lift 70 kilos and do 3 sets of 12 reps.

This would give me a volume of 2,520 which is almost the same.

But, it would be easier on my joints. I’d also save time since I’d have fewer rest periods (the more rest periods you have, the more a workout lasts.) And I wouldn't feel as drained the next day.

Another problem was that each workout lasted a lot.

I'm talking about 90+ minutes.

This was a problem because I always had to go somewhere after training. So, I cut my rest periods short and my performance suffered.

Finally, I *dreaded* the workouts.

For example, one day I had to do 5 sets of heavy barbell squats.

Then, I followed them with 5 sets of barbell bench presses.

I'd then move on to 5 sets of heavy barbell rows.

And finally, 4-5 more exercises for 3 sets and moderate reps each.

If you have followed a similar program in the past, you've experienced that feeling of dread. You wonder if you’ll have the energy to complete the workout. You wonder if you'll beat your previous numbers. And even if you do, you’ll feel like poop the rest of your day.

Anyway, the program worked for some guys.

So it wasn’t necessarily a bad one.

But, it was a bad one for me.

And, after discussing with clients who tried the program themselves, we agreed on this:

Unless you structured your days around the program, it was hard to follow.

This meant sleeping as much as possible (So, if one of your kids was sick and you had to stay up late, this was problematic.) Making sure you were fresh and kept stress to a minimum before the workout. Never skipping a meal, etc.

If you couldn’t do the above?

You’d lose time, energy, and might even hurt yourself.

Now you might wonder:

“OK Fotis, what would you have done differently?”

Lots of things.

As mentioned, if workout volume remains the same, you can tweak sets and reps. So, I would have lowered the amount of sets while increasing the number of reps.


Most of the exercises used a barbell. This can aggravate your upper body’s joints like the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. So, I’d used dumbbells, bodyweight and cables instead.

This is the beauty of training principles:

When you know them, you can upgraded all programs.

In the process, you’ll enjoy it, progress, and improve your physique. As a bonus, you'll protect yourself from injuries, aches, and pains.

Anyway, that's all for today.

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Author's Bio: 

For a decade, Fotis Chatzinicolaou has been helping men over 30 look great naked while minimizing joint pain. He's also the author of the book Sculpted Grecian Body