Health & Wellness Blog

Program of the Month – November

November Program of the Month is brought to you by Performance Coach Jack Parker!

11-9-7 Program

I’ve been working in the industry for just over 8 years now and never has it been so popular for both male and females to want to get strong. “Strong is the new sexy” is something you often see advertised on social media. I’m all for becoming stronger in your gym training, the benefits of lifting heavy weights are immense from improvements in one’s confidence and mental capabilities to all the physiological adaptions that take place (better muscle control, co-ordination, improved central nervous system response and much more). However, with rise in popularity has brought about a few concerns for me, mainly gym beginners or even regular gym goers with little weight training history starting with a program geared towards heavy lifts. As the pyramid below suggests your muscular endurance comes first, master bodyweight movements. Muscular strength is higher up the ladder and so hypertrophy and endurance should be programmed first. As an example, if you can’t hold a solid plank (glutes, quads, abdominals, latissimus Dorsi all active with a neutral spine) for a least 30s seconds your body really shouldn’t be deadlifting heavy as you haven’t learnt the basics first and as the weight progresses the more your risk of injury increases.


So, what’s the 11-9-7 program all about? Quite simply this program is geared towards correct Technique patterns when experiencing muscle fatigue, without the pressure of heavy loads. You will improve in the major lifts and work towards building muscle. Having said that even your most advanced lifters would be pushed on this program so it’s all relative and not just for beginners. This program focuses on 1 major lift a session and assistance based movements. Be sure to begin each session with a good warm up, one that will increase your heart rate, focus and prepare you for the major lift.

The Major Lifts

  1. Back squat
  2. Conventional deadlift
  3. Standing shoulder press
  4. Bench press

Assistance exercises

Back squat assistance

  1. Front squat (barbell, dumbbell, goblet)
  2. Bulgarian split squats
  3. Front foot elevated static lunge
  4. Reverse lunges
  5. Hack squat
  6. Single leg seated leg press

Conventional deadlift assistance

  1. Sumo deadlift
  2. Bent over row
  3. GHD Glute ham raises or swiss ball hamstring curls (better for the beginner)
  4. Glute bridges
  5. Pull ups
  6. Lat pulldown

Standing shoulder press assistance

  1. Seated dumbbell shoulder press
  2. Dips or bench triceps dips (better for the beginner)
  3. Face pulls
  4. Push press
  5. Cable reverse fly’s
  6. Ab roller

Bench press assistance

  1. Chin up
  2. Incline bench
  3. Skull crushers
  4. Push up
  5. Scapular pull ups
  6. Any row variation

Program format

4 major lifts, 4 days of training. Ideally 2 days consecutively followed by 1 day off. Choose 3 accessory exercise for each day.

4 week periodisation

Major lifts

Accessory work

Choosing the weights

Firstly, with this program you shouldn’t be missing reps, if that’s the case you have set the weights to heavy. We are going to work of the RPE scale (rate of perceived exhaustion) this scale is numbered 1-10 and refers to how you feel or are feeling after/during exercise. (1) would means this is easy peasy “I could do this all day’ (10) would mean this is my limit! I nearly failed.

Here are the Major lifts reps explained

*When you see 11+, 9+, or 7+, that means you do the max reps you can manage with that weight, with the goal of setting a rep record in each workout.

Your RPE will rise as you increase your weight on the exercise so as an example your squat sessions for might look like the following

*even with a starting weight of 40kg its imperative that you warm up gradually – start always with the bar. Warm up sets aren’t written in the program.

For your accessory work choose 3 exercises and use a weight that you can achieve 10-15reps consistently across the 3 sets. If for example you choose pull ups and you can’t do enough bodyweight pull ups, use a band to achieve the rest of the desired reps. If that band doesn’t offer enough assistance to manage the needed reps choose a better suited exercise like the Lat pulldown.

Rest period

Putting it all together

Wk 1 example


Written by Performance Coach Jack Parker


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