“It is time to REDEFINE YOUR LIMITS,” Joe Donnelly says of this workout, which is the first week of the 500 series (500 reps per workout) summer strength and conditioning program from his pro football days. Donnelly, aka “Mr. Intensity” and “the master of fitness,” has built a loyal and enthusiastic following in the health and fitness community for his no-nonsense approach to personal training, nutrition and motivation.
“The idea behind this program,” Joe explains, “is to increase the athlete’s VO2 max through the high-volume training and then slowly reduce the rep range, increasing the strength of each lift, then adding in isometric exercises to maximize the three areas of focus, which are muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength and lean muscle mass. For the entire 10-week program, every two weeks the rep range drops by five reps and you add in one set for each exercise. So by week 10, you are squatting eight sets of five reps with maximum conditioning, both muscular and cardiovascular, while building lean mass and increasing strength.”
Day 1: Chest AM and PM Conditioning
“The idea is to pick a weight that you can hit the rep range for every set without having to reduce weight at the end because you are gassed. For example, on bench press we start off with four sets of 25 reps. Now, I can easily do 225 pounds for 25 reps— however, by the third set I would be so gassed I might only get 15. Knowing that, I would probably do 185 pounds for four sets of 25 reps with 90 seconds between sets.”
|Morning Bench Press||4 x 25 (90 seconds between sets)|
|Incline Bench Press||4 x 25 (90 seconds between sets)|
|Plyo Clap Push-ups||4 x 25 (90 seconds between sets)|
|Cable Chest Flyes||4 x 25, superset 25 push-ups between each set|
|Total = 500 reps
Evening: 40-yard sprints: 15 reps at 85% of max (30 seconds rest between each sprint).
Day 2: Legs
|Leg Extensions||4 x 25|
|Squats||4 x 25|
|Leg Press||4 x 25|
|Barbell Lunges||4 x 25|
|Leg Curls||4 x 25|
Day 3: Arms AM and PM Conditioning
|Straight-bar Curls||4 x 25|
|Spider Curls||4 x 25|
|Rope Curls||4 x 25|
|Reverse Curls||4 x 25|
|Close-grip bench press||4 x 25|
|Skull-crushers||4 x 25|
|Dips||4 x 25|
|Overhead Rope Extensions||4 x 25|
Evening: 30-yard shuttle runs: sprint 10 yards, touch line, sprint back to start touch line, sprint 10 yards through finish (30 seconds rest, 10 reps);
400-yard gassers: sprint length of football field (100 yards), touch line and return to start, touch line and sprint back, touch line and sprint back to start (400 yards total).
Day 4: Back and Evening Conditioning
|Deadlifts||10 x 10|
|Chin-ups (assisted if needed)||4 x 25|
|Wide-grip Cable Rows||4 x 25|
|Wide-grip Pulldowns||4 x 25|
|Single-arm Dumbbell Rows||4 x 25|
Evening: Sled pull or push: max intensity for 12-15 seconds (45 seconds rest, 10 reps) plus 40-yard hill sprints or stairs: 10 reps at max intensity.
Day 5: Shoulders and Evening Conditioning
|Dumbbell Lateral Raises||4 x 25|
|Military Press||4 x 25|
|Dumbbell Press||4 x 25|
|Straight-bar Front Raises (prone)||4 x 25|
|Rear Delt Flyes||4 x 25|
Evening: Car push, release and sprint. Stand powerfully behind a car in neutral. Using a good, flat back and your legs, drive to push the car at maximum intensity for 15 seconds. When the timer says GO, release from behind the car and sprint all out for 40 yards. Two minutes rest, 10 reps.
Day 6: Core Workout and HIIT
|Decline Bench Sit-ups||4 x 25|
|Incline Bench Reverse Crunches||4 x 25|
|Inverted Wipers (obliques)||4 x 25|
|High knees on Dip Bars||4 sets, 60 seconds|
|Deadmill Sprints on Treadmill||Max intensity for 15 seconds, 45 seconds rest (15 reps)|
Day 7: NFL Conditioning Test
16 x 110 test: “This is basically the standard conditioning test for division 1 and NFL football players. 16 x 110-yard sprints in sub 15 seconds, with 40 seconds between each sprint. It is brutal,” Joe says.