I need to explain the title of this first before I get started. In 1987, I had just finished my freshman year of high school and I went and saw Predator in the theater. This was during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s peak, when Terminator, Commando and the Conans were all coming out and guys across the world were flocking to the gym and buying any book or magazine with him on the cover. This movie is by far my favorite movie of all time. When it comes on one of those cable channels that plays the same movie over and over and my wife will cringe because she knows I only need to hear about three seconds of it from across the room and I will know it’s on and she’s then subjected to me reciting all the lines and giving her useless trivia about the movie until it’s over.
For those of you haven’t seen the original Predator, while I don’t understand that at all, I’ll give you a quick summary before you go and find a copy of your own. The movie is about a small group of Army Special Forces that specialize in hostage rescue led by Arnold Schwarzenegger. These guys were, for the most part, larger than life characters that looked like they fell out of a comic book carrying weapons that would give a rhino a hernia, and who were all apparently issued uniforms that didn’t have sleeves, chewing Redman and chomping on cigars while they patrolled through a jungle on their mission.
There’s a scene when Arnold’s squad of bad-asses, who are on a search and rescue mission, run into the Predator, an alien that’s essentially hunting them down one by one for sport. One of Arnold’s guys, Sgt. Duke, witnesses his best friend get blown in half and decides to grab his trusty M-60E and about 100 rounds of linked 7.62 and hunt this thing down. The whole time, he’s screaming the lyrics to Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally, the same song that was on the radio on the helicopter while they were being inserted.
Well, long tall Sally, she's built for speed
She got everything that Uncle John need
Oh baby, yes, baby
havin' me some fun tonight, yeah.
I’m gonna have some fun tonight
I’m gonna have some fun tonight
The guy is fired up to avenge his friend’s death and just singing the song as he’s winding up to do it. I always loved that scene because he looked insanely determined and his rendition of the song sounded awesome as he was scrambling up that hill trying to kill that thing.
This movie had a profound effect on me. Right then and there I decided to start lifting weights. I also decided I was going to start chewing Redman that day, but that had a much different outcome—mostly me puking my guts out and praying for death. I was small in high school—I think my first day of wrestling practice my freshman year I was measured as 4’ 11” and barely 98 pounds. I also believe that in the first three matches that year I wrestled girls, as they didn’t have anyone else that light. Obviously I had no freaking idea what I was doing and just started collecting a pile of crap that I could lift in my bedroom and not be harassed. I think the very first “weight” I had was an old ammo can that was in the garage. I filled it full of rocks and pennies and did one-arm rows with it all night. I’ve always lifted weights since that day, trying my best to get away from my 98-lb former self. Granted, many years of that was of your chest and curl variety, but I was still in the gym damn near everyday.
Many, many years later, I started Olympic weightlifting. Now I joke about doing beach work all the time to people and in the articles I write, but I really don’t do that much, contrary to what videos show, and it always takes a back seat when I start any kind of competition preparation.
Recently I thought about making a program where I could combine my two favorite aspects of lifting weights, getting in some work with the Olympic lifts as well as have some fun doing some of the stuff that got me to lift weights in the first place. My incredible and beautiful wife is currently deployed for a bit, so this is basically the let’s get jacked before she gets back program.
What I wanted to do was come up with something that allowed me to do the lifts everyday but also gave me the time and energy to have some fun in the gym with some bodybuilding-type lifts. Ideally what I wanted to was add a little size and still get some honest work in doing the Olympic Lifts.
So I give you the “Predator Cycle”
10 doubles at about 75-80%. Give yourself some room here, because over the next 3 weeks, we are going to bump it up. If you can handle 80%, by all means do it, but you will probably have smaller jumps in weeks 2 and 3. For example, a guy with a 120 kg snatch would go 96 kg for week one, then maybe 99 kg for week 2, and then 103 kg for week 3. I would probably go 100 week 2 because, 99 seems weird.
2. Back Squats
10,8,8,6,6 reps. I didn’t assign weights, and sets shouldn’t be to failure. Just find that happy place where you are getting the work in but not staying up the night before thinking about them.
That’s right kids, blow it out. I would say about 75-100 reps is what you’re looking for. Look at it like this: dumbbell incline bench 10,10,8,8,6,10 is 52 reps right there, and I bet you are pretty pumped. Throw in some dips or LIGHT flyes to finish it off. It shouldn’t be heavy barbell work—you’re chasing a pump, not numbers here.
50-75 reps. Maybe superset with the chest, maybe not. Who cares, have fun and get it on. If you need me to list bicep exercises, I don’t like you as a person.
5. Abs & lower back
1. Power Cleans
10 doubles at 75%-80%ish. There is a theme here…
2. Clean Pulls
5 Triples. You call it on the weight; however, on the third rep you have to shrug that weight 5-10 times.
50-75 reps. Good time to sneak in some Roadhouse-type complexes, lateral raises, etc.
4. Abs & Back
10 doubles at, you guessed it, 75-80%ish.
2. 1¼ Front Squats
This is going to suck. 5 triples at your call on the weight—but push this lift. This lift after the doubles in the clean will be such an awesome experience you’ll have a hard time not wanting to hug me if we ever meet.
We are going for a lat pump here. 75-100 reps of DB rows, chins, inverted rows, low cable rows; whatever you can pull down or row.
50-75 same rules as Bis on Monday.
5. Abs & Back
1. Clean + 2 Jerks
10 sets at 75-80%ish
2. Snatch Pulls
5 Triples. You call it on the weight; however, on the third rep you have to shrug it 5-10 times. I would probably grab some straps for this.
3. Accessories and your arms suck day
What this means is calves, forearms, neck and any body part you hate, so if you think your chest is shit, then blast away. For the love of all things, it’s Saturday—get a great pump on and walk out of the gym and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Drop the sets to 7 and add 3-5%. Squats and pulls remain the same because you are controlling the weight.
Drop the sets to 4 and add 3-5%.
On the squats, if you can increase the weight, do it. If you need to play the game and increase your workload for the day, then do that as well. Basically, take the reps x the weight for the total amount of lifts and try to beat it next week and then the next.
On the bodybuilding stuff, don’t sweat the weight, just the reps. It’s not about the weight here, just the pump. Avoid heavy movements. This isn’t the time to knock out heavy singles in the bench—that’s not the point of this program. Like I said before, chase the pump, not the weights.
On week 4, work up to a max double on all of the lifts you've been working. If you hit a PR, which many of you probably can and will, then awesome. Cut the squats and pulls to 3 sets each, but keep the bodybuilding the same.
For the next 4-week block, have fun and pick out some new lifts, like off the blocks, or the hang for doubles, maybe snatch pull + snatch for 10 sets… Keep it fun, but use those 10 sets to get in some good work at 75% and up, then 7 sets week 2, then 4 sets week 3, adding weight every week.
Some disclaimers about this program
This thing has no business being in a program anywhere near a meet, if you are serious about that meet. There is no peak or test day. Look at this as “summer break”. You will go back to school feeling better about yourself and have that look of being jacked and relaxed, but you sure as hell aren’t ready for finals. Like I said earlier, this needs to be scheduled away from a meet you care about. I honestly believe 1-2 cycles of this would be an excellent way to get ready for one of Greg’s competition prep cycles.
If your technique sucks, 10 doubles might not be the answer to your problems. It might smooth out your technique if you have someone helping you, or it very well could hammer in some really bad habits.
Don’t neglect the squats. There aren’t any weights on them, but you need to push them.
Abs, back (I mean lower back) and mobility work. You still need them.
You need to ATTACK every set and every lift. Ten sets can get boring, so you need to think of it as a 10-round fight and you’re trying to knock this thing out every round. Then you have some squats or pulls, and then it’s time to get the pump on. I mean seriously—you get to snatch and walk out of the gym with a bicep pump in the same day? You’re welcome.
Everyday has to have an Olympic lift in it or at least a variant. Two reasons: this isn’t T-Nation, and Adidas FINALLY released those sweet white shoes. I will be damned if I am not wearing those in the gym even if I am doing curls.
Food and recovery: You are going to be hungry, I promise you that. Have food ready to throw down your throat as soon as you finish. I left the gym the other day and forgot food. The people at Carl’s Jr. appreciated that bad decision. Sleep and do all that other awful crap that goes along with being diligent in recovery like contrast showers, etc.
This is supposed to be a fun and small break from what you’re currently doing. Over the years, the term functional has been thrown around a lot by “experts” when it comes to lifting weights. They have told people that curls, etc. are the worst thing in the world you can do. Yeah that’s all cool, and I notice those guys are the same ones who have who arms that are functional for fishing keys out of locked cars through the window. Functional fitness to me is the ability to carry my refrigerator up and down a few flights of stairs—anything else really isn’t functional. I’ve been in some shitty scenarios in my life, and I have never thought, “Damn, I wish I had done more wall balls and burpees.” In my opinion, there are two real reasons to be in the gym: adding kilos to your total, or trying to look good in a T-shirt. This program should at least help one of those out.