Strength Foundation 12-Week Workout: Week 10

Welcome to Week 10 of the Strength Foundation 12-Week workout program from UC Berkeley fitness operations director and premier strength coach Devin Wicks. This is the second week of Month 3: Strength, the goals of which are listed below. This week, many of the exercises will be familiar from last week, but that's because you're working on trying to really push through more than one exercise for most muscle groups and, if you feel comfortable with it, working up to a third set of those. Because you're lifting in splits, you should have time to push all the sets. Days 1, 3, and 5 you'll work your legs, arms, and abs. Days 2, 4, and 6 you'll work your chest, back, and shoulders. You're also going to add an additional sprint on the treadmill, and shorten the recovery between threshold and sprint intervals, to really blow out your legs. (See the FAQs for an overview of threshold cardio and sprints.)
The Strength Foundation 12-Week Workout program is broken into three months, each with distinct goals. You are now in Month 3: Strength

Month 3 (Strength): Primary Goals
  1. Use the strength gains of Months 1 and 2 to safely build greater muscle mass through additional exercises, heavier weight, fewer repetitions, and additional sets.
  2. Begin using multiple exercises to target a single muscle group, thus changing the stimulus presented to the muscle. This creates more muscle teardown (which you need to build muscle) and requires the nervous system to operate at a higher degree of efficiency.
  3. Move to lifting in splits in order to work muscles harder while maintaining a manageable gym schedule and appropriate recoveries.
  4. Maintain correct form—keep all movements slow, controlled, and stable.
  5. Continue to improve cardiac efficiency by combining threshold and sprint training on the treadmill.


Exercise Muscles Weight (Goal) Set 1 Reps (Goal) Set 1 Reps (Actual) Set 2 Reps (Goal) Set 2 Reps (Actual) Set 3 Reps (Goal) Set 3 Reps (Actual)
Barbell Squats Legs Rep Max 8 - 10 8 - 10 8 - 10 (optional set)
Step-ups with Alternating Knees Legs Rep Max 8 - 10 8 - 10 8 - 10 (optional set)
Dumbbell Concentration Curls Biceps Rep Max 8 - 10 8 - 10 8 - 10
Rope Tricep Press-Downs Triceps Rep Max 8 - 10 8 - 10 8 - 10
BOSU Medicine Ball Crunches Abdominals (Center and Lower) Rep Max 20 20 20
Medicine Ball Russian Twists Abdominals (Center) Rep Max 20 20 20
Exercise Time Overview
Treadmill 30 - 40 Minutes Do 35 - 40 minutes of running on the treadmill. At each 4 minute interval, include 1 minute at your threshold, followed by a 20 second sprint, for a total of 5 intervals.
  1. For the first 10 minutes, achieve and maintain an RPE of 6 - 7.
  2. At minute 10, spend one minute at threshold-an RPE of 8 - 9. Don't just go faster-add both resistance and speed to gain intensity.
  3. At minute 11, go directly from your threshold minute to a 20 second sprint. This is an RPE of 9+, an all-out effort.
  4. Recover at an RPE of 6 - 7. It will be tempting to crash after the sprint, but try not to go below an RPE of 6 at any point.
  5. Repeat the preceding interval each 4 minutes. So, at minutes 14, 18, 22 and 26, spend 60 seconds at threshold, followed by a 20 second sprint, and use the remainder of the time to recover at an RPE of 6 - 7 until the next interval.
  6. At minute 30, cool down at an RPE of 5 - 6 for your last 5 - 10 minutes.
See How to Calculate Your RPE for an overview of this heart-rate tracking methodology.
Exercise Overview
Barbell Squats Rack an Olympic bar at shoulder level. Stand upright in front of the barbell so that it is resting across your shoulders and behind your neck. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward at a natural angle. Hold the barbell on either side of your neck about one foot more than shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing forward. Lift the barbell off the rack and step back to give you room to squat. You may want to practice with a dowel or weightless bar if you haven't done this exercise before. Slowly lower down toward a fully squatted position, pulling your weight down through your leg muscles as you descend, and thinking about sitting down rather than back. Push your chest out very slightly in front of you to counterbalance the heavy load on your heels. Your back should maintain a natural arch; do not over-arch. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, you will have reached the depth of the squat. Reverse motion and drive up through your feet to return to the starting position.
Step-ups with Alternating Knees Stand upright facing a box, or an aerobics step on multiple risers, or a flat bench, and take an Olympic bar or appropriate fixed barbell across your shoulders, behind your neck, letting the bar rest on the dip between your deltoids and trapezius, and lightly balancing it with your hands. With your right foot, step up onto the box, simultaneously lifting your left knee, such that your knee is above your hip when you are all the way on top of the box. Lower your knee and step down, then switch sides, stepping up with your left foot as you lift your right knee. Your knee must come higher than your hip in this motion. Do not twist-keep your chest lifted and your shoulders square. Continue to alternate throughout the set.
Concentration Curls Sit on the end of a flat bench, with your thighs spread into a V-formation. Lean your upper body forward. Grasp a dumbbell in one arm, with the palm facing forward. Bring that elbow to rest against your inner thigh, and let the weight hang down. From the starting position, keep your elbow pressed against your thigh as you slowly curl the weight up. Keep your torso, upper arm, elbow and leg all still. At the top of the lift, twist your wrist so that the pinkie turns toward your body. Squeeze your bicep briefly at the end of the motion, and then slowly lower the weight. Complete an entire set on one side, then switch the weight to the other hand for the next set.
Rope Tricep Press-Downs Hook a rope triceps attachment to the highest position on the cable machine. Stand facing the machine and take one rope handle in each hand. Stagger your feet with one in front of the other. Keep your body tall and your shoulder blades together as you bring your hands directly down beside you, ending with your hands held at either side of your hips. Your elbows should stay squeezed in toward your sides throughout. From the bottom of your motion, bring your hands back to the starting position, but do not bring your elbows much beyond 90 degrees, such that you maintain tension on the cable. After you have completed one repetition, immediately move into your next rep.
BOSU Medicine Ball Crunches Lie on your back on a BOSU ball, with a medicine ball above your head where you can reach it. The BOSU will be under your back, so that you can balance entirely on the ball. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, such that your calves are parallel to the floor. Put your hands behind your head and do crunches, using your center to lift your shoulders slightly off the ball, then lowering back down. Your calves should stay parallel to the floor throughout this exercise, and your body should balance on the ball. For the medicine ball variation on this exercise, grab the medicine ball and place it on your shins, so that it rests there while you do crunches.
Medicine Ball Russian Twists Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball in both hands at chest level. Engage your transverse abdominals (the horizontal band of muscle below your belly button) and keep your back flat as you lean your upper body behind vertical, no more than 30 degrees. Keep your chest lifted so that you don't slump, and rotate sideways to bring the ball around to the side as you extend your arms. Touch the ball lightly to the floor beside your hip, and then bend your elbows and bring the ball back to your chest as you straighten your body. Immediately repeat on the other side, rotating your upper body as you extend your arms and tap the ball to the floor beside your other hip. You have now completed one repetition.