Occam’s Protocol Free Weight Option: Workout A and B with Video Demo

by Stephen

Since last year when I first started Occam’s Protocol I have been performing my A and B workouts with mostly machine weights. Just this month, in an attempt to mix things up a bit, I  started adding more free weights.

To be honest, I was a bit intimidated at first, especially when I referenced the Occam’s Protocol chapter and saw that picture of Tim doing the Yates Row… Just looking at it made my back hurt.

But, after a bit of review and practice in the gym I realized it is not all that intimidating. In combination with machine weights you can really tailor your Occam’s routine to keep things fresh and exciting at the gym.

Here is a breakdown of the entire protocol with accompanying video demonstrations of each workout.  I have included a review of the “Occam’s Essentials” at the end of this post.

Free weights can be used if you prefer them, or if you travel often and need standardized equipment that is the same around the world:

1. Yates row with EZ bar (ideal) or barbell × 7 (5/5 count)


2. Shoulder-width barbell overhead press × 7 repetitions (5/5 cadence) 


Barbell Overhead Press The elbows are kept in front of the shoulders and do not flare outward. The bar travels in front of the face, but the head and upper torso move forward to be under the bar once it passes the head. The split stance prevents excessive arching of the back, but a shoulder-width parallel stance can also be used

3. Optional: Abdominal exercises from “Six-Minute Abs”

4 Hour Body Six Minute Abs Myotatic Crunch
1. Slight incline bench press with shoulder-width grip × 7 (5/5 count) (If no Power Rack is available, use dumbbells, but you’ll often run into problems with adding weight in small increments.)


2. Squat × 10 (5/5 count)


Squat (Shown above with the Smith Machine) The feet, slightly wider than shoulder width, are placed a foot ahead of your hips. Initiate the movement by breaking at the hips (imagine pouring water out the front of your pelvis) and sitting backward, descending to where your thighs are parallel with the ground. Look up at approximately 45 degrees throughout the movement and do not pause at the top or the bottom.

3. Optional: Kettlebell or T-bar swings from “Building the Perfect Posterior” × 50

4 Hour Body Kettlebell Swing

4. Stationary bike × 3 minutes (to minimize subsequent leg soreness)


OCCAM’S ESSENTIALS: Click Each Tab To Reveal Content

Occam's Frequency
Occam's Feeding
Occam's Prescriptions
How To Determine Starting Weights, Add Weights and Modify Your Routine



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin August 7, 2012 at 11:50 am

I really have an issue with Tim’s recommendation for squatting to parallel. I will probably write about it soon.
See http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/leg_training_myths_exposed


Stephen August 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

Great Article Justin!

I have suffered from patellofemoral syndrome many times when initiating the weighted squat which has been the main factor I stopped using it in my workout routine. I found this did not happen when I used the leg press machine.

After reading this article I think the answer is pretty obvious. Today I am going to try a lighter weight and bend past 90 degrees. I think the problem is loading to much weight on the bar, and stopping at 90. I had the same problem when I did biceps curls, they caused more harm than good, for much of the same reason… It wasn’t a full natural range of motion.

I am interested to see how this works.

Thanks as always Justin!



luke January 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

how do i determine the starting weight for the leg press since the workout reps are 10 and not 8?


Stephen January 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Still should be the same, let me know if I am missing something here.

To Determine Starting Weights:

Perform sets of 5 repetitions of each exercise with one minute of rest in between.
Cadence should be fast but controlled on the raising and two to three seconds on the lowering.
Do not perform more than 5 reps per set.
If you can lift more, wait a minute, increase the weight ten pounds or 10% (whichever is less), and attempt again. Repeat this until you complete fewer than 5 reps.
After you fail to complete 5 reps, calculate 70% of your last full five rep set.
Take a 3 minute rest and perform a 5/5 cadence set to failure using this weight.
Congratulations, you just performed your first proper set to failure for this exercise, and this weight will be your starting point for Occam’s Protocol.
EXAMPLE: 150 lbs male doing the Close-Grip Supinated (palms facing you) Pull Down

90 lbs x 5 reps (fast on lift and 2 seconds on release)
(1 minute rest)
100 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
(1 minute rest)
110 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
(1 minute rest)
120 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
(1 minute rest)
130 lbs x 4 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release) (he failed to complete 5 reps, so 120 lbs was the last full 5 rep set)
Then the math:

take 70% of the weight of the last full 5 rep set
120 x 0.7 =84
we round up or down to the nearest weight we can actually use on a machine or bar, which leads to 85 lbs
(3 minutes of rest)

85 lbs x 8 reps to failure (5 seconds on the lift and 5 seconds down)
Take a 5 minute rest, then repeat this process with the Machine Shoulder Press. Once finished with this workout A, record the target weights you will use for your next A.



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