The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

100 Rep Challenge

09/03/13
100-rep-challenge

Here's what you need to know...
  • Challenges make the body and mind resilient. The win doesn't come from the outcome, but from the perseverance it takes to push through.
  • This is a 6-week challenge. Each week you'll do two days of barbell lifting, two days of 100-rep exercises, and two days of sled pushing.
  • The 100-rep work is made up of an upper body day and a lower body day. You'll perform 100 reps of each exercise before moving on to the next exercise.
  • For strength you'll do two exercises a week. The first two weeks will be 3 sets of 5 reps; the third and fourth week will be 3 sets of 3 reps; the last two weeks will be 5/3/1.
  • For conditioning you'll push the Prowler six times in 40-yard intervals using either heavy, medium, or light weight.

Resilience: The Reason for Challenges

Wendler Racked Weights

Challenges may seem meaningless, but there's something remarkable about setting out on the hard path, struggling like mad, and reaching the final destination.

Still, many people shake their heads at those who seek these challenges and ask why anyone would subject themselves to such "trivial" things.

They're missing the point. The work and the perseverance required to reach the goal are what really matters. These things harden the body and the mind. They teach you resolve and how to fight through mental and physical pain.

Challenges also give you the opportunity to test your limits. How far are you willing to go? Do you have what it takes to go on when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel?

More importantly, these challenges, if hard enough, teach us that anything's possible. I'm not so ignorant to think that one day I'll grow wings and fly, but sometimes when an obstacle seems too tall to overcome, I can draw on the strength built through these "trivial" challenges.

Challenges build momentum that can carry over to real life.

The Challenges

Wendler Talking

The performance goal of the 100-Rep Challenge is simple: complete all the workouts listed below. Not a day or rep missed. This isn't training to "increase your bench press 30 pounds in two weeks!" or "add a half-inch to your arms in one workout!"

We're training hard work, mental fortitude, and work ethic.

This workout wasn't haphazardly put together on a napkin. I've combined strength work, conditioning work, and hypertrophy work in a manner that allows you to target each area over a 6-week period.

I've used many of these 100-rep exercises during my rehab and over the years. However, it wasn't until Paul Carter and I took the time to brainstorm about how to incorporate them into a proper training program that it all came together.

The 100-Rep Challenge is something special. You'll get strength work from the heavy barbell lifts, conditioning from both the Prowler pushes and 100-rep work, and hypertrophy from the 100-rep work as well.

Recover and Grow

Wendler Face

You'll be outrageously sore. Expect it and embrace it. It's only 6 weeks, hardly a lifetime, and something you should demand from yourself.

This isn't a time to cut out sleep, stretching, or mobility work. This isn't a time to be "cutting." Cutting is for people that don't have the discipline to eat right the majority of the time.

This training will allow you to earn you hearty meals. It'll force you to learn about recovery.

The 100-Rep Workout is great for hypertrophy – you'll tap into a rep range most never venture into. It's also terrific for strengthening your tendons, and will give you an outrageous pump. (Yeah, I said that!)

Related:  Building a Bigger Yoke

Your body will change in these 6 weeks – your arms, traps, and hamstrings will grow, and your conditioning will also improve.

Training Week Overview

Monday: Lower body weight training
Tuesday: Lower body 100
Wednesday: Prowler walk
Thursday: Upper body weight training
Friday: Upper body 100
Saturday: Prowler walk

There are two days devoted to strength, two days devoted to conditioning, and two days devoted to hypertrophy.

100-Rep Work

The following exercises will be used exclusively for the 100-rep work. It's not complicated. Just do 100 reps in one set.

There are only three exercises per day and trust me, this will be all you'll need. Don't feel compelled to add more exercises; do them as prescribed.

If you feel any of the weights are too heavy for your current level, simply do less. The weights listed are what most people who have 5 or more years of training can handle. They aren't easy but they're doable.

And if you have any doubts, stop having doubts. You must expect more from yourself.

Upper Body 100

Wendler Back

1. Front Plate Raise

Do this with a full range of motion, i.e., until the hands/plate are over the head. Using this range of motion greatly taxes the upper back and shoulders.

Weight: 25-pound plate

2. Barbell Curls

Weight: 45-pound barbell

3. Karwoski Rows

This is like a shrug/upright row hybrid. Holding a heavy barbell, shrug and row it up to your belly button. Hold for a second at the top and repeat. Don't use straps.

Weight: 135 pounds (a barbell plus two 45-pound plates)

Lower Body 100

Bulgarian Split Squat

1. Bulgarian Split Squat

This is done with one leg in front and the back foot up on a bench.

Weight used: bodyweight only. Finish all reps on one side before switching. You'll do 100 total reps – meaning 50 reps per leg.

2. Hamstring Curl

Lie on a floor or bench. Do both legs at the same time.

Weight: 10-20 pound ankle weights.

3. Sit-Ups

Lock your feet under something stable, cross your arms on your chest and do a sit-up.

100 Rep Notes

  • You're free to substitute any exercise you wish, but I can only approve of the ones listed above. These were picked for a variety of reasons, namely to target weak points, target areas people want and need to develop, ease of performing 100 reps, mobility, and the simple challenge of getting better.
  • You can rest during the 100-rep set but you can't put the bar down and you can't make the exercise "easier" during this time (i.e., lying down during a rest period during the sit-ups). If you're in doubt of what constitutes rest, you're probably doing it wrong.
  • At the top of the front plate raise, squeeze your traps and upper back. Use as straight of arms as possible.
  • Your form will probably get sloppy; that's to be expected. Still, you must try to maintain some integrity during the set. The weight is light enough that you won't get hurt, but the point of doing the exercise is to exhaust and annihilate the muscle, not to just get the reps.
  • You'll be sore – expect it.
  • You can rest as much as you want between exercises. Don't bring a stopwatch – we're in the weight room, not on a track.
  • You must learn how to relax your mind during these sets – don't focus on the pain. You have to learn to dissociate yourself from reality.
  • I usually attack the first 50-60 reps without stopping, take a short break and catch my breath (not really), then hammer out sets of 10 reps. This makes it easier to handle, mentally.

It also helps greatly if you have someone counting the reps for you. You'll invariably lose count as your mind starts to wander away from the pain.

Weight Training Overview

Week 1

Monday

  Exercise Sets Reps
A Squat * *
B Good Morning or Straight Leg Deadlift 3-5 5-10
C Hanging Leg Raise 3-5 10-15

* 5/3/1 sets and reps

Thursday

  Exercise Sets Reps
A Bench Press * *
B Standing Press 5 10 * *
C T-Bar Row or Dumbbell Row 5 10-15

* 5/3/1 sets and reps
* * you choose the weight

Week 2

Monday

  Exercise Sets Reps
A Deadlift * *
B Good Morning or Straight Leg Deadlift 3-5 10-15
C Hanging Leg Raise 3-5 10-15

* 5/3/1 sets and reps

Thursday

  Exercise Sets Reps
A Standing Press * *
B Bench Press 5 10 * *
C T-Bar Row or Dumbbell Row 5 10-15

* 5/3/1 sets and reps
* * you choose the weight

Lifting Notes

  • This is a six-week program; lifting will be done twice per week. Since only two exercises are done per week, you'll only go through one 5/3/1 cycle in the six-week period.
  • In other words, the first two weeks will be 3 sets of 5 reps, the third and fourth week will be 3 sets of 3 reps, and the final two weeks will be the 5/3/1 week.

Related:  5/3/1 How to Build Pure Strength

  • No substitution of any exercise. If you substitute, it's no longer the program.
  • The "5 sets of 10 reps" of the bench press and press are done with approximately 50% of your Training Max. This is just a baseline number and can change. The important thing is to push yourself and get the required reps.
  • Hanging leg raise can be done with bent knees or straight legs (or a combination of both).
  • You're welcome to push the last set hard on the 5/3/1 sets – this is up to you and how you feel for that day. I'd recommend pushing the sets hard but always leaving 2-3 reps "in the tank."

Prowler Workout

Prowler push

Perform six, 40-yard Prowler trips on Wednesday and Saturday. Walk when doing the Prowler. The slower work will force you to use full steps and strengthen your legs. No rest periods are given because it doesn't matter.

Get the work in – this is about getting the legs stronger. The conditioning will improve naturally.

Related:  Conditioning When the Weather Stinks

Pick three weights for the Prowler: heavy, medium, and light. I use the following weights: heavy = 270 pounds, medium = 180 pounds, light = 90 pounds. Adjust these weights for your strength and the surface on which you push the Prowler.

Wednesday

Do 2 trips of 40 yards with each weight: light, medium, and heavy.

In my case, I'll do two 40-yard walks with 90 pounds, two 40-yard walks with 180 pounds, and two 40-yard walks with 270 pounds.

Saturday

All six trips of 40 yards will be done with the medium weight. For example, I'll do six 40-yard walks with 180 pounds.

No rest periods are given because it doesn't matter. Get the work in – this is about getting the legs stronger. The conditioning will improve.

Final Thoughts

Wendler Prowler

If you're unsure about the challenge, spend the next 4 weeks incorporating a few of the 100 rep lifts into your current training to see how you fair. This will give you some time to get used to the breathing and the soreness.

But if you feel you're ready, jump in; don't just toe the water.

Once you make the commitment, take 36 blank sheets of paper. On each paper, write down each workout. So each workout has its own page. Write the complete workout you'll do each day.

Write it, don't type it. Writing it gives it personal meaning and realness; it's something tangible. It becomes reality. Go get a small, 3-ring binder and put these pages in it. Label the binder, "100 Rep Challenge." Now leave your phone in your car or gym bag – the binder is all you need.

Leave a space at the bottom to make notes. Then write down what you ate, how much you slept, and what you did to improve your recovery for the next session. Be proactive in all departments.

This binder will give you accountability for all areas of your training and helps you see what you need to improve on and what you excel at.

Yes, this 6-week challenge sucks, but it'll teach you a lot about yourself and you'll develop the mental and physical granite that many of us seek from the iron.

09/03/13