Experimenting with OLAD (One lift a day)

Posted by Luke Boyle on the

New lifters often place far too much importance on choosing the right program. Stronglifts or Starting Strength? 5/3/1 or PHUL? In reality, the right program is the one that gets you in the gym consistently. For 9 months (minus a couple for a patellar dislocation) I haven't been running a program, instead I get to the gym in the morning and decide on my core lift. The chosen exercise depends on a few factors like, how much energy I have, how my joints feel, how INTENSE I'm feeling...

My progress plateau might suggest that this experiment was a failure, however, it has made the gym far more enjoyable than cranking out the same repetitive workout week in and week out. I also noticed that I end up spending far more time on the core exercise and often won't add any accessories. Workouts are overall shorter and more satisfying. I've also been able to rotate in more variations (e.g. push press, pin press,safety bar squats, deficit deadlifts) which helps with lift boredom. The next logical step from here would be to make my workouts more consistent and strategic.

The One Lift a Day (OLAD) system has gained more popularity in recent years. Eric Bugenhagen has been championing OLAD for years and Alec Enkiri recently broke down his OLAD program. Given his insane strength and general athleticism (585lb deadlift, 4.5 second 40, 60" box jumps) it's always interesting to see how his programs reflect that. I challenge you to find a cookie cutter program that includes resisted sprints. The exercise selection with OLAD is entirely up to you and should be based on your goals, but Alec suggests including a squat, hip hinge, loaded carry, horizontal press, vertical press, upper body pull.

For rep schemes and progression I turned to Dan John's one lift a day program This program is built on 4 week cycles like so:

  • Week 1: 7 sets of 5
  • Week 2: 6 sets of 3
  • Week 3: 5/3/2
  • Week 4: Off

I'm going to be doing this program for 3 months (i.e. 3 of these 4 week cycles). My exercises (with a recent set in brackets):

  • Monday: Back Squat (95kg x 3)
  • Tuesday: Push Press (no recent sets)
  • Wednesday: Farmer Carry (140kg for 15 meters x 2)
  • Thursday: Bench Press (80kg x 5)
  • Friday: Deadlift / Deficit Deadlift (no recent sets)
  • Saturday: Pendlay Row (70kg x 5)

I'll be documenting progress for the next 3 months and we'll see if the gains gods bless me.