| Gyms Are Open – Here’s How To Select A Training Program

Author / John

6 - 9 minute read

Power Athlete Crew,

I’ve been following your third monkey programming during lockdown and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When the gym opens up in the near future I’d like to follow one of the power athlete programmes, but unsure which one to pick.

I play rugby Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (in season) in the centre or wing position.

I also play squash 1-2 times a week and go cycling also when the suns out. So I am after a programme that will compliment me in my chosen sports (in levels of importance – rugby 1 squash 2 cycling 3).

Physique wise I am slim. 76-79kg 5ft 10 and wouldn’t mind sticking on some extra muscle also whilst maintaining speed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, cheers. 



Thank you for reaching out. You are not alone, 3,000+ athletes have been killing it on Third Monkey, riding the gainz train with nothing but a couple cinder blocks, a bucket of concrete, and a willingness to get outside of their comfort zone. People tagging #ThirdMonkey have some of the most creative, austere home gym set ups we’ve ever seen. As fun as ripping up our hands with cinders has been, I understand your excitement to get back to training in a traditional gym setting.

From your inquiry about which of our programs best suits your training needs, it sounds like your weight room workouts supplemented a very active lifestyle and aided in empowering your performance on the pitch (that’s rugby for field).

Power Athlete offers over a dozen daily training programs and supplemental programs. The training is delivered to the palm of your hand through a best in-class training app thanks to our partners in strength, TrainHeroic. Each of these programs is engineered to not only provide daily workouts, but also world class coaching through interactive feeds, video review, written narratives, and movement demos, all in addition to world class programming so we can empower athletes to crush their fitness goal.

Before I give some specific direction for your training, let’s introduce a few key factors you need to consider before selecting your program.

Identify Training Barriers

You’ve got a general idea of what you’re looking for out of a program, so let’s lead off with potential barriers when it comes to training, life, and sport, then see if you can narrow in on a program that is best suited for you.


When we were quarantined at home it was not a matter of having time to train, it was how much time each day we want to get sweaty. As life begins to normalize with daily demands of work, family, and responsibilities, our old friend, “I don’t have time to workout” is patiently waiting for their return. We can easily slam the door on this excuse with two simple questions:

  1. Do I have 60 Minutes to workout today?
  2. How many days a week can I make time for a 60 Minute workout?

You were very dedicated to your workouts and sports previously and will make time for a 60 Minute session today. From your note, it also sounds like you’re willing to dedicate at least four days to training to help supplement your sport practice while it is in season. Programs like Bedrock and Field Strong require at least 4 days a week around 60 minutes or more to cover all demands of a field/court sport athlete preparing for their season or improving athleticism. Since you’re in-season, options like Grindstone with 2 mandatory workouts less than 60 minutes and up to 4 optional sessions a week is a great option. We have a ton of working professionals and high-demands parents on this program to arrange weekly training based on a hierarchy of strength and health versus athleticism demands.

Great starting point, let’s move on to the next barrier.


All of Power Athlete’s training programs are written with the assumption that you are training solo. While we welcome training partners and use of the programs for team training, the programs are written with a standard barbell, dumbbell, pull up bar and free weight equipment for training alone. While machines can be subbed to mimic movements, we won’t program specific machine movements. Our Jacked Street program is the perfect example of this applying various set, reps, and arrangements of free weights to target an increase in muscle size. Similar programs, often used by bodybuilders, aiming to increase mass rely on single movement machines. No need for these on Jacked Street, or any of our programs. Once your gym opens back up, stake your claim in the squat rack or platform, and knock out your training.

This is an ad. Please consider our shameless self promotion.

While we consider Third Monkey as a “No Equipment” training program with weight solutions such as Cinder Blocks, we do provide supplemental programs that are truly sans equipment. These include our sprint centered Speed Kills program which is an 8 week block of workouts that can be executed at a local track or in your street pounding pavement. A more flexible (Ingo) no-equipment option is our Iron Flex program. This is a movement therapy program combining 5-6 bodyweight movements a day many use as warm up preparation for their training or as a mid-day movement option to unwind at their work desk.

If you do find yourself with limited equipment such as moderate weight dumbbells, similar to most hotel gym experiences, then our Lean & Able is the perfect program. We often recommend this program for people just starting off in their training and fitness journey. Also, if you find yourself traveling more for sport or recreation soon, this the ultimate hotel training program for keeping lean.

Training Level

Your experience training and exercising is very important when selecting a program. If a program meant for an introduction to fitness such as our Lean & Able program is selected for a trained individual, then they might not be challenged enough to get their desired results unless they take careful consideration of increasing and progressing the load throughout the training week. Same goes for selecting a more advanced program such as Field Strong; it’s likely the athlete will not reap the intended benefits because they are not wired up to respond to the stimulus of the training.

Some of the questions we ask in helping people new to Power Athlete select a program include:

  1. Are you comfortable training with a barbell?

If you’re new to training or have had negative experiences with a barbell in the past, we have options that utilize other weight equipment to challenge you each day with Lean & Able. Or, programs like Iron Flex that focus on improving fitness and strength by improving your ability to move your body well.

  1. Are you new to Power Athlete training, and are you a teenager or young adult?

We get a lot of teenagers sent our way by parents and sport coaches. The window of 13-20 years old is when an athlete has the most potential to increase strength, power, and speed they’ll maintain for the rest of their life…as long as they follow the appropriate program. For all teenagers and first time weightlifters in their 20’s and 30’s, we direct them to our Bedrock program designed to lay the foundation of strength for which athleticism can be built upon with our more advanced Field Strong program.

  1. Are you new to Power Athlete training, and are you 40 years of age or older?

It is never too late to begin a health and fitness journey, pick up where one left off, or adjust the journey to consider time, life, and injury. We are proud to offer athletes in this age group our Grindstone program specifically for anyone not letting life get in their way of getting in shape and staying strong.

Program Selection

Once training barriers are identified, we can focus on the goal of each program and see if they align with what you’re training for. Your email stated you’re looking for a program to compliment your sports of rugby, squash, and cycling, in that order of importance. This tells us you’re training for your sport, which is your job or hobby, with the intention of competing at your highest level. This is a good note because we do not have to focus on Power Athlete’s training programs that are designed to prepare law enforcement, fire, and military professionals for the  specific demands of their job, as well as institutional demands, that we focus on through our HAMR and ARMR programs.

Stacking squash and cycling on top of your rugby practices shows us a love for exercise and hardwork, but recommending a training program like Johnnie WOD that uses heavy weights in challenging 7-15 minute barn burning workouts most days would be more volume than I would recommend. On a similar vein, our Jacked Street program is immensely popular amongst athletes training to build muscle mass, bust their ass, and look great doing it. These are awesome programs for hard working exercise lovers that want to look good, but with all you’re doing already outside of sport we can find a better program to suit your goal of complimenting rugby, squash and cycling. 

We know you’re interested in looking fit and training for life. Lean & Able and Grindstone focus on long term health and fitness for most, and right now life is focused on sport in-season for you. I am starting to get a feel for which program will best suit you based off time, equipment, training experience, and what you’re training for, especially your goal of, “sticking on some extra muscle whilst maintaining speed.” At 79 kg (174 lbs), I agree you could use a little more meat on your bones, especially playing a contact sport!

Program Recommendation

Lewis, the recommendation I have for you, since you’re in-season right now, is going to be our Grindstone program with Johnnie BOD “bolted” on for accessory work. You will need to hit Grindstone’s two Mandatory Days on the days you do not have rugby practice. Two of the days you have practice we need you hitting the Recommended Days, with the final Optional Day of training each week after the third day of rugby only if you’ve got the juice remaining. After practice we need you either using dumbbells or Cinder Blocks at home to smash Jonnie BOD’s 10-15 minute circuits focused on increasing your muscle mass and getting you to the respectable 90kg club!

Once your season is complete and you have more time to train (and recover), come join me on Field Strong to increase your strength, power, speed, and athleticism, all while continuing to enjoy squash and biking around town.

Empower Your Performance: What Are You Training For?

Deciding what program to follow and ensuring it is the correct fit for time, equipment and experience is no easy task. Select a program that is not in line with your training schedule, goal, or community, then you will delay your goal or even worse, turn yourself off from training. In order to guide you on your training journey and ensure you’re following the most appropriate training program for you we created an easy program selection survey. Similar to the thought process we went through with Lewis above, dive into the survey below and ensure you’re on the right training track.

Lewis knew his goal coming off of Third Monkey and reentering the gym. Many of you are still looking for your main goal or reason why to train and bust your ass in the gym. If you have not locked in on training for a specific goal, I encourage you to focus on finding a fitness community you can connect, relate, and challenge. All of the programs we’ve introduced in this blog have communities that are alive with banter, personal training accomplishments, and training videos of PR lifts or ones in need of coaching. Pop into that survey above, follow the program recommendation, and take on the training with mindset of joining a team and community to become what you’re training for.

If you take our survey and still have a question, hit us up in the comments below and we’ll set you straight.

Related Content 

PODCAST: Power Athlete Radio Ep. 291 – JohnnieWOD Origins
BLOG: On The Grind: A Hustler’s Guide to Grindstone by Ben Skutnik
BLOG: Getting Started on Field Strong by Carl Case
BLOG: Getting Started on Bedrock by Carl Case

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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


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