Wednesday Workout Whys

I am constantly reminding my coaches that they need to understand the whys of fitness.  In the world of social media posts I see a ton of posts with cool exercises, but typically they are on a stand-alone basis and also no one really discusses why the workout or exercise is designed in a particular fashion.  If this is passed on from coach to coach the answer to the whys is typically “somebody told me to do it that way” There needs to be more thinking and discussion about why?  So I thought I would start by posting a Wednesday Workout Why.  This will have a workout that we have used with a client and then discuss why I wrote the workout in this way.  I write up to 40 workouts per day and over the last 20 years have written thousands of workouts.  I have them in boxes and can look back and see how my programs have changed over time with my own evolution as a coach. 

Below is an off season workout for a collegiate tennis player. 

Dynamic Warm up precedes all of our workouts.  This takes about 6 to 8 mins.  It is to prep the body for work and check in to make sure all systems are go.

Reverse Hypers:   12 reps, 10reps, 8reps, and 8 reps Weight is added to each rep and the athlete should not be able to exceed the number of reps stated.  In other words if it says 8 reps they should not be able to do 12 reps with the weight.

Ab Dolly Rollouts with a ½ Foam roller behind the knees to increase the intensity. 


Hex Bar Deadlift, 8, 8, 6, 5

Single Leg Eccentric Plyo Box Step Downs, 8,8,6,6

Dumbbell Free rows 15,15,12,12

Versapulley Iso Inertial set at a force level of 3 for absolute power efforts.  This is what we call a Short Short Row ( that excludes the arms and is all hip explosions for absolute power.  12, 12, 12, 12.  We call this 12 to make 6.  The athlete goes out easy on the first 4 to 6 pulls and then really hits the gas for full power output in the last 6 efforts. 

Landmine Rotations:  20,16,12,12

The Whys:

The workout has a primary objective of trying to get some great absolute power overloads.  The workout is set up in a superset so that we can cover a lot more ground in one workout.  It is also a total body workout because I think it is a much better use of time.  It has emphasis and a primary objective of absolute power in the second half of the workout. 

We start the workout with a dynamic warm up and then go into a set of reverse hyperextensions.  If I know I am going to be loading the hips and lower back I like to lower the risk for injury by adding an exercise that can get the athlete some good activation of the hips and lower back before we get real heavy in the other lifts.  This coupled with the ab dolly trunk stability exercise following gets the athlete off to a good start and also would help identify any potential biomechanical or muscular issues earlier in the workout lowering the risk for injury.

The next exercise the Hex Bar is the meat of the first half of the workout.  It is a heavy lower body strength exercise followed by a slow eccentric stability exercise with the step downs.  I like around a 6 second descent.   I like these two exercises together as one complements the other. 

So the first half allows the athlete to prep to have great muscle firing to support the absolute power objective in the second half of the workout.  Optimum time for post activation is about 6 mins.  So by the time of the last heavy hex to the versa pulley will be close to optimum time for post activation. 

The second half starts with some dumb bell free rows.  These are one arm dumb bell rows without any other point of contact.  So you are hinged at the waist and incorporating a rotational core component in the pull.  Great for a tennis player.

The next exercise is my primary objective of the whole workout.  It is to get an overload in his absolute power in his hips on the versa pulley. 

This is bookended with a higher velocity land mine rotational movement that complements the dumb bell free rows. 

Now you have an idea of the thinking that goes into this workout.  Program design is what makes for great workouts, not just cool exercises.  Keep it simple and have a primary objective. 

Until next time,

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS