Have you ever had this feeling that your training is going nowhere? Are you still torturing your body with the same old program you were using for last 5 years of training? Are you sincerely amazed with the lack of results? Ok, enough questions. We’ve both definitely been in such situation. You are doing 3 full-body workouts per week for a really long time. Then they just stop working. You get an enlightenment and try some sort of Upper/Lower Split. Your gains skyrocket to stratosphere and your reason to live seems to be restored. You think that you’ve found The Program. However, after decent amount of time the story repeats itself. You get frustrated (and maybe depressed) one more time. What to do? There are lots of ways out. I’d like to discuss one of them today. What if you could train every day (or almost every day), and get outstanding results? Seems too good to be true, but my solution fits the previous sentence perfectly. Enter “One Skill a Day” Training Program.
One Skill a Day?
Yep. In one sentence:
Pick 6 skills you want to improve, and train them 6 days per week, one skill per day.
So, basically, you take 6 skills and spread them throughout the week in such manner, that you will be concentrating only on one skill per day. In addition, I think that with high-frequency programs it is important to leave one day off. Your week can look like this:
Monday – Skill 1
Tuesday – Skill 2
Wednesday – Skill 3
Thursday – Skill 4
Friday – Skill 5
Saturday – Skill 6
Sunday – Off
How to pick up the skills? If you read this article, you know that we can divide all the human movement patterns very roughly into Upper Body Push, Upper Body Pull and Leg moves. So the number “six” fits magically here and you can pick 2 Upper Body Pushing exercises, 2 Upper Body Pulling exercises and 2 Leg exercises. Your week now may look like this:
Monday – Upper Body Push 1
Tuesday – Upper Body Pull 1
Wednesday – Legs 1
Thursday – Upper Body Push 2
Friday – Upper Body Pull 2
Saturday – Legs 2
Sunday – Off
There are some modifications you can make but more on this later.
Then you pick up the actual skills you want to improve and put them into appropriate category. Let’s assume that you want to improve Double Kettlebell Snatch, Planche, Sandbag Military Press, Weighted Pistol, One-Arm Chin-Up and Front Lever. In this particular case, your week should look something like this:
Monday – Planche
Tuesday – One-Arm Chin-Up
Wednesday – Double Kettlebell Snatch
Thursday – Sandbag Military Press
Friday – Front Lever
Saturday – Weighted Pistol
Sunday – Off
Of course, I took these exercises just for example. You need to pick your own or scale the intensity.
What’s next? Sets and reps. For this particular program I would recommend flexible set/rep scheme. I mean the one that has only total number of reps that should be performed, not set in stone 3 x 3 or 5 x 5. I feel that it is much more suitable for this program. So I wouldn’t go higher than 15-20 total reps in these skills. Let’s get back to our example. Let’s assume that you planned to perform 15 total reps in Weighted Pistol (per leg, of course). As this is strength work, I’d start with a weight you can lift for 5-6 reps maximum, and stick with it until I do all 15. Again, let’s assume that you can perform 6 repetitions with 32 kg kettlebell. So your session can look like this:
Set 1 – 5 reps (leave on in the tank)
Set 2 – 5 reps
Set 3 – 3 reps
Set 4 – 2 reps
Total: 15 reps
NOTE: If you are training static hold, then you obviously need time prescription. I would say that 15-20 reps total roughly equals 30-60 seconds total. Make all the adjustments.
Is it all? When you feel no energy, you can do just this and call it a day. But most of the time I’d add assistance work. By “assistance work” I mean 1-2 exercises that can help you improve the skill you are training. For example, after performing all the sets of Front Lever Hold you can add Front Lever Raises from the full hang and Ice-Cream Makers.
I would do assistance work for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. So scale the intensity accordingly.
Let’s finish our example program (I’ll use hypothetical strength levels, you owe me a beer if it’s perfect for you):
A) Advanced Tuck Planche Hold – 30 sec total
B) Tuck Planche Push-Ups – 3 sets of 8
A) One-Arm Chin-Up 90 Degree Holds – 30 sec total
B) Rope Climbs 3 sets of maximum
A) Double Kettlebell Snatch – 12 reps total
B) Double Kettlebell Swings – 3 sets of 12
A) Sandbag Military Press – 15 reps total
B) Kettlebell Alternating Military Press – 3 sets of 8
A) One-Leg Front Lever Hold – 30 sec total
B) Advanced Tuck Front Lever Raises – 3 sets of 8
A) Weighted Pistol – 15 reps total (per leg)
B) Sandbag Zercher Squat – 3 sets of 8
Again, it is just an example. I can’t possibly know what your strength levels are, so you need to do some homework. Hate homework? Check this out.
How I Came Up with This?
It is nothing new. Such programs existed long time before I was born. Like we say here in Ukraine: “Everything new is well-forgotten old”. But sometimes you need to be reminded about something to understand its value.
Lots of athletes used some sort of high-frequency training with success for decades. Arnold and Sergio Oliva (pictured above), the all-mighty Bulgarians, Pyotr Kryloff and Arthur Saxon, Eugene Sandow and plenty of others. The important thing was to make it work for average genetics, which I think I accomplished (by restricting volume).
Why So Often?
High-frequency programs always work awesome for me (and also for my clients). The problem usually is in time. I know that it is lame excuse. However, sometimes you just can’t commit to training every day because of some reasons that are out of your control. Anyway, if you are used to training 3 times per week and hit plateau, then high-frequency training can be your lucky way out. In my experience high-frequency training is good way to gain more strength through neural adaptation, build more muscle through increased training volume and lean out a bit through burning more calories (more often).
Why Only One Skill?
Because given the intensity is high this will be enough. Maybe you will be able to do more than one skill in future, but I really doubt it. Reread this article. If intensity and frequency are high, then volume should be low. It is law.
What Modification Can You Make?
I insist that you should use the program as it laid out earlier in this article.
I understand that this can be impossible for some people (due to some disability or different reason), but I don’t want this modification information be a way to escape leg work (or some other type of work you don’t enjoy, but should be doing).
So here is the way to modify the program. You can mix and match quantities of movement patterns, but use no more than 3 per type. For example, you can’t perform leg work. Then you pick 3 Upper Body Pushes and 3 Upper Body Pulls and just alternate them. You got the idea.
How to Go Absolutely Nuts with It?
You can take modification above and take it further. Just a quick warning: use this information only if you are completely sure that you will have steady income of food, lots of sleep and minimum stress in following weeks. Otherwise, stick to original plan.
Ok, so to go absolutely nuts we’ll need twice-a-day approach. We will pick 3 Upper Body Push exercises, 3 Upper Body Pulls and 3 Leg exercises. We can program it this way:
AM – Upper Body Push 1
PM – Legs 1
Upper Body Pull 1
AM – Legs 2
PM – Upper Body Push 2
Upper Body Pull 2
AM – Upper Body Push 3
PM – Legs 3
Upper Body Pull 3
It should be around 4-6 hours between AM and PM workouts. If possible, take a nap. And don’t forget to eat enough calories and protein.
My Actual Program
And to show you that this program is not some piece of junk I’ll share the actual routine I follow now. It was created using the principles I laid out above. Here it is:
A) One-Arm Chin-Up Progression (I vary exercises every week)
B) Rope Climbing
C) Back Lever Pull-Outs on Dip Bars
A) Double Kettlebell Swing
A) Free-Standing Handstand Push-Ups Progression (I use partial ROM now)
B) 2 Finger Sliding POAPU
C) Kettlebell Alternating Military Press (or some other kettlebell press)
A) Front Lever Hold
B) Front Lever Raises
C) Ice-Cream Makers
A) Double Kettlebell Squat
A) 5 Finger Assisted OAHSPU
B) Double Kettlebell Military Press (or Push Press, or Jerk)
A) Controlled Bar Muscle-Up
B) False Grip Pull-Ups
C) Russian Dips
A) One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch
B) Straddle Planche Push-Up
C) Triceps Extensions
Some days when I feel absolutely no energy, I can do just the skill and screw everything else. But most of the time my current training looks exactly like this.
So there you have it. If you struggle with your training or everything pisses you off, “One Skill a Day” Program can be perfect solution. You shouldn’t use this program if you don’t have at least 40 minutes to train 6 days per week (everybody has different conditions). But if you have, then crush it and acquire the gains you deserved. Thanks for reading.
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Do you have any thoughts? Do you think that sharing so awesome content is unethical and inappropriate? Do you hate me for making everything simple and clear? Let’s chat in comments.
Alex “One Skill a Day” Zinchenko
Are you tired of lack of results? Strength training seems like rocket science to you? Do you want to get strong, build muscle, lose fat and get awesome finally? Let the professional do all the dirty work for you.