Lifting with the Editor: Upper Body Day

Lifting with the Editor: Upper Body Day

Prevail Strength Coach Jacob Goodin

Sometimes people mistakenly think that because their trainer or coach prescribes them certain workouts, that trainer must do the exact same things in their own training.  While this is true in a very general sense because all of us at Prevail practice what we preach, each Prevail coach has their own unique style of training based on what they enjoy and their current goals.  Here is a small window into a single day of of my training along with a glimpse of how my overall program is structured.

The Program

I train 4 days a week using an upper/lower split, focusing on a single primary barbell lift followed by several assistance lifts to augment strength gains and bring up any weaknesses.  The primary lift gets the most focus and I plan out my sets, reps, and percentages carefully.  The assistance lifts are usually done for sets of 8-10 using as much weight as I can muster on any given day.  See below

Day 1 – Overhead Press + assistance work

Day 2 – Front Squat + assistance work

Day 3 – Bench Press + assistance work

Day 4 – Deadlift + assistance work

Day 3 – Bench Press

This week was a scheduled down-week for me, so I used lower percentages in my primary lift (bench press) and did less assistance work.  Here is a picture from my training log and a translation on the right in case it doesn’t make sense.  I list the lift performed on a single line with the weight and reps below it.

At the top of the page I wrote down that my work sets for the bench press (as opposed to warm-up sets) will be 3 sets of 5 reps at 60%, 65%, and 70% of my 1RM, and that the actual weights used will be 120, 130, and 140 lbs.

A1) and A2) was a power/core circuit that I use to transition smoothly from my warm-up (not recorded) and into the main lift.  

B1) is the primary lift, and B2) functions as an active rest and to preserve shoulder health.

C1) and C2) are the first of my assistance exercises.  I super-set  high rep bench pressing and neutral grip chin-ups.

D1) and D2) are another push/pull superset, but this time using the suspension cables to add an intense stabilization challenge.  This helps recruit rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers.

E2) was just some random rows that I added in for fun.  E1) I scratched because I couldn’t hold good shoulder position.

F1) was my finisher of the day, which is just a fun way to leave the gym feeling scorched and also increasing overall volume and work capacity.

Note: TRX is my abbreviation for the suspension straps

What Does this All Look Like?

Good question.  Everyone knows what a bench press and chin-up are and I was short-handed using the camera since my training partner Dr. Tom Walters was out of town, so here are a couple videos of the not so familiar lifts that I did today.

TRX Push-ups Feet-Elevated:

Barbell Complex: Shrugs/Rows/Overhead Press

BAM!  Another training session is in the books.  Remember that your training should always reflect your goals, strengths, limitations, and passions.  Stay tuned next time for some serious front squatting action featuring yours truly and my training partner Dr. Tom Walters of the Arthro-Kinetic Institute.

Jacob Goodin is a Prevail strength coach, Westmont College instructor, and Providence Hall High School head track and cross-country coach.  “Like” him on Facebook or go to to set up a training session today!

Achieving Postural Excellence

Daniel Guzman, BS, CSCS

Posture can be one of two things in your life. Either you understand spinal position and sit/stand with good posture, or you don’t. Simple enough. However, most people only think about their posture when someone tells them to sit-up straight or most likely when you read the title of this post.

Neutral Spine Position

Our bodies are created to hold a natural curve in our spine. It is kind of an S shape that starts with your cervical spine, moves to your thoracic, down to your lumbar and ends with your sacrum and coccyx. There are many muscles that help hold your posture correctly (or not).

Most gym jockees have no idea what a neutral spine is let alone holding spine position in a movement. One of the most common mistakes is when people lose their spine position in a Deadlift or Squat. But aren’t those lower body lifts? Why would I worry about my upper body? Because if you don’t then your back will hate you either immediately or in the near future as your load increases.

Another problem when teaching a neutral spine position is athletes moving into a lordotic position where your hips overly posterior tilt. Sometimes you might also see the ribs flare out or the chest stick out way too much.

Coaching Cues

First, check this post on learning to hold a neutral spine in a hip hinge.

Some common cues you might hear are: chest out, brace your core, chin tucked, scaps back and down.
The truth is, the best cues are the ones that work. You have to know your client and figure out the one description that will help them out the most. Teaching your athletes to hold a neutral spine will improve their lifts, prevent injury, and produce results in their competition.


Quality movement should be the most important focus of a training regimen. This will lead to greater power and strength gains in the weight room, which transfers into your sport. Whether you are deadlifting, squatting, pushing ot pulling, work to achieve a neutral spine.

Lifting With the Editor: Push-up Slide Walk

The Lift: Push-up slide walks are an upper-body/core finisher that can be tacked on to the end of any upper-body day.  It puts the pecs, triceps, and anterior core under constant tension and requires a lot of focus to keep the form in check.  If you can complete the movement it gives a great bang-for-your-buck.

The Good: I’ve been performing a few sets of this movement once a week after an upper-body lift and it is definitely a great way to encourage positional strength and sneak in some core work.  I personally include zero direct core training in my own training because 1) it bores me to death and 2) my core strength seems to improve as I move heavy barbells around.  All that to say that the first time I did this my abs were very sore for 48 hours after.

The Bad: If you look closely my head drops a bit on a couple reps and I’m not quite strong enough to completely unload the sliding hand.  Also, the toe-scurry during the upward movement looks a little silly so if you do this in a big gym you could get some looks.

Neutral Spine with Pelvic Tilts Part II

This is the final installment of a 3-part video series on golf posture by PGA pro Don Parsons, from the Studio at Twin Lakes. Don is an experienced and knowledgable golf pro with decades of competitive and teaching experience. When he is not analyzing golf swings, he trains with Prevail Coach Guzman to build a better physical foundation for his own swing.

Check out the video below! In case you missed them, here are links to Part I and Part II.

To set up a an appointment with Don, visit his website to set up an appointment today

Choosing 1 Exercise for Life

Daniel Guzman, BS, CSCS

The team at Prevail has been talking about their favorite movements or exercises to do in their programs. Some of us love metabolic work and others are more strength based. So we proposed the question:

If you could choose to perform just one lift or exercise for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Office Manager Jade Mundell:
I would probably say a Tabata of some sort because they are quick, intense an effective. I like that I can add them into any workout to boost metabolic work. Also, if I’m short on time, I can do one anywhere with no equipment.

Coach Jacob Goodin:
I suppose I would have to say the deadlift. It uses and coordinates more muscle mass then any other lift. It also builds posterior chain strength, a nice bootay, and when coached correctly can help fix a host of postural problems. Plus, nothing feels better than ripping huge weights off the floor and then dropping them.

Coach Juliann Lynch:
My number one is a deadlift, but I love the push up as well. They require great scap and core stability through out the entire exercise. Plus, they can be done is so many different ways to alter where the workload is concentrated and body tension is really needed.

Coach Peter Blumert:
The Snatch. It has/teaches all the components of pure athleticism: mobility, stability, technique, power, strength, balance. More so than any other exercise, if I can still do a full squat snatch in 30 years from now, I will be a very happy old man.

Coach Chris Ecklund:
If only one: Clean – Front Squat – Jerk (from the floor). Probably a 2:2:1 ratio. Great posterior chain pull from the floor (and relatively light for us old guys). Helps maintain hip and ankle mobility, grip strength, upper body pulling patters. Good scap stability and dynamic pull. Triple Extension explosive movement. Love front squats, so I like this combo because it gives rise to various catch heights (catching high into a full squat, catching low in a squat). Also, the jerk for upper body push and shoulder girdle stability. Good eccentric shoulder press pattern.

Coach Daniel Guzman:
I would choose any form of the Clean (from the floor or hang, high catch position or low catch position). First, the clean is a movement that I have a lot to work on and I know I could continue to learn and perfect my clean for the rest of my life. It is a dynamic movement that calls for specific direction and rate of force development by recruiting typeII muscle fibers. One of the top choices for athletes as well.

Coconut Oil Part I

Jill Latham, MS, RD

This is the third in a series of nutrition tips from our registered dietician Jill Latham.  Each video is packed with practical tips and information to keep you eating healthy during every season of life.  Check it out and tell us what you think!

Visit Jill at her website Vibrant Earth Juices.

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