Improvements to Off-season Workouts

I’m starting my off-season lifting this week and I have been doing a lot of research from Cressey’s website and what has been said by kyleb, LankyLefty, and others on this site. I’m content with most of the program as it follows much of Wolforth’s teachings, but I’m starting to think that our lifting portion could be more efficient.

The workout consists of Monday,Thursday as LB lifts with Tuesday, Friday as UB lifts. Would a Monday, Wednesday,Friday schedule with both UB and LB lifts mixed in be better?

Also, the workouts consist of 2-4 circuits where you go through for example, DB chest press, DB single arm rows, bicep curls, triceps pushdowns, lat pulldowns, should punch press with no rest between exercises but 2 min between circuits. Should there be more rest in there?

Finally, are exercises such as biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, lat pulldowns good exercises for athletes? Would pushups, chin ups, face pulls, inverted rows be a good replacement?

Thanks for the help!

The four-day vs. three-day split depends on where you are in your training modality. If you are still experiencing novice gains (most are), prioritizing the most critical lift (usually squat/deadlift) in a three-day program tends to work better and faster. If you’re more along the intermediate gains road (better than 1.5xBW deadlift/squat), then a four-day split with more accessory work is generally better.

Circuit training is fine but generally is just testing your anaerobic endurance. Save that for sled drags and tire flipping. Get quality reps in with your core lifts, because there’s no way you will be able to bench, squat, or deadlift anything reasonably heavy if you have no/low rest periods.

You mentioned a lot of exercises but didn’t mention big compound lifts. Are you doing those? Cressey, LL, and I all strongly recommend them.

As for curls/tricep stuff, that all depends on how strong you are in other spots. I suspect you should be focusing more of your efforts on increasing total body strength via compound lifts instead of isolation/accessory/assistance work.

EDIT: I forgot to list the LB lifts, but we use back squats, deadlifts, step ups, RDL, lunges, SB curls, etc. But for the UB, we don’t use many compound lifts. We do bench press with DB, but use mostly isolated lifts.

It sounds like the 3 day lifting schedule would be better. So I should squat, deadlift, bench press, rows, chinups, situps for each M,W,F workout? Besides core work, would I need any other exercises or just use solely the big compound lifts?


For me, a 4 day split works much better than a 3 day, although that works well for novice lifters.

If you’re doing a 3 day split, organize the day around your main lift…

so you could have a front squat day, a deadlift day and a DB bench day, although each total body day would incorporate both upper and lower body movements.

On front squat day use mostly posterior chain accessory exercises (like RDLs or glute hams) and on deadlift day use more quad dominant accessory exercises like lunges and step ups.

Try to keep a balanced ratio of vertical and horizontal upper body pushes/pulls. I like a 1:1 ratio of the main strength lifts (pushups, db bench, inverted rows, chin-ups, db rows, etc), while also working in additional accessory back work like band pull a parts, face pulls, etc. It probably comes out to more of a 2:1 pull to push ratio if you count these prehab exercises as well.

Mix in core as a superset towards the end of your lifts. some anti rotation movements (paloff press) and anti extension movements (bar rollouts) are a must, and having some explosive rotational stuff as part of your extended warm-up or activation stuff is a good idea (something like 5x3 medball slams or rotational throws paired with box jumps or lateral bounds…you get through it fast and it promotes that explosiveness).

So you might have

A1) 5x3 medball shotputs
A2) 5x3 box jumps with single leg landing

B1) front squat 4x6
B2) band pull-aparts

C1) Plyometric pushup 4x5
C2) TRX inverted row 4x8-10

D1) Glute ham raise 3x8
D2)Paloff Press 3x10-2sec holds

E) finisher (sled pushes, farmers walks, sledge hammer tabata interval, etc)

Thanks, that helps a lot!