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The One Lift A Day Workout

The One Lift A Day Workout
Writer and expert8 years ago
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One lift a day programs are a training variation that comes from Olympic weightlifting styles. While the program may seem interesting and fun when you first think about it, when actually applied this program isn’t for your average, every day gym-goer. This program is exactly what it sounds like: one lift each day. There are also rest days spread throughout the week.

Now before you think, “Awesome I can do curls for an entire workout!”, this is not what that means. This program was designed for  you  to take a big heavy compound lift like the bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell row, or overhead press, and do one for at least 30-45 minutes. This is a brutal, exhausting workout that is not intended for people looking to just stay in shape. The key to this workout is to keep the weight and intensity very high, which is what makes this program such a challenge.

Does The Program Work?

This program most definitely does work and improves your strength and even hypertrophy. There are essentially two downsides to this program though: it can become very stale - no one wants to do only one exercise every time they go to the gym, people love switching up workout equipment and applying fifteen different exercises into their chest or back days - and the second reason is that it will leave you extremely sore. Dan John, an elite weightlifting coach, has said on many occasions that people cannot even get out of bed the next day due to the unbelievable soreness.

While this program can be very boring, due to the lack of different exercises and variation, it yields great muscle growth. One lift a day can also be beneficial to powerlifters as well, considering their main goal is to be the strongest in the big 3 lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift.

How To Create A Solid One Lift A Day Program

Here is where things can be suited to your own personal style. The only key factor is to always incorporate one compound movement. This program allows a lot of personal preference and can be formed into any way you could think of. The main focus is to use as heavy of a weight as possible with one exercise for 45 minutes.

one lift a day

An example could be doing a German volume type training where you’d do 10 sets of 10 reps. Another could be 5 sets of 5 or 4 sets of 9. Now while many will think “just 5 sets of 5??”, if you use the correct intensity and keep the weight to almost near your maxes, this will be a grueling workout to say the least.

Recommendations for this program are to lift 3 weeks straight, usually 4 – 5 days, and then take an entire week off from the gym on the fourth week. On paper this sounds like a very simple and unchallenging, but step into the weight room and squat for 45 minutes straight and I guarantee you will be thinking differently.

Benefits To One Lift A Day Training

The benefits of doing this style of training are pretty compelling, to say the least. A big factor, for most people with busy schedules, is less time spent in the gym. I can’t begin to explain how many times I have heard people say they can’t workout or get in shape because they don’t have time to. Instead of spending 45 minutes watching Pretty Little Liars, hit the gym and do this program. It takes under an hour and everyone has at least one hour of the day they can spare.

Another benefit to this program is that there is no accessory work so you don’t have to write down all your movements and switch stations and change equipment. You stay in one spot, do one exercise and call it a day.  A third benefit from this is that there is a lot less volume, and since it’s hitting one body part a week basically, there is a huge amount of recovery time.

one lift a day

One last benefit that doesn't necessarily concern everyone, just mainly powerlifters, is that this will make you incredibly strong and good at the big key lifts. The best way to get good at the big 3 lifts is to do them repeatedly! Well, doing  bench press for an hour will make you better at the bench press just because of all the workload, form setups, time under tension, and it helps train your body and mind how to properly do the bench press, work on mechanics and leverages, and learn how to excel at it.

Sample One Lift A Day Workout

Day 1 – Squat: 5 sets of 7

Day 2 – Bench press: 6 sets of 4

Day 3off

Day 4 – Deadlift: 7 sets of 4

Day 5 – Overhead press: 4 sets of 5

Day 6 – off (optional barbell row or pullups)

Day 7 – off (optional accessory work like arms or calves, but not needed)

Take-Home Message

This program is not for the timid or beginner lifter. This is a rough program and very taxing. If you're up for the challenge, I suggest you call your boss and let him know you’ll be missing a few days of work once you start this program. Good luck.

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