The Tactical Physique: A Functional Strength Training & Conditioning Workout

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
May 12th, 2020
Updated: April 7th, 2021
1.3M Reads
strong men and women working out in the gym
Improve performance (and aesthetics) with this functional strength training program. Bodyweight movements, conditioning work, and supersets work together to help you build a stronger foundation for a functionally fit physique.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    General Fitness
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration10 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Other
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

Body part split training is great and all but what about muscle that can function in the real world as well? Functional strength training has gotten a lot of press lately for good reason: It’s not only a new and (not so) unique way of training but also one that has a practical purpose attached. What good is it to have perfectly proportioned pecs and highly-peaked biceps if you can’t lift a sack of cement?

Strong legs, back and shoulder girdle developed not only for mass and muscularity but also for lifting, holding, pushing, pulling, throwing and heaving can benefit you in more ways than you think. When the whole body is strong and works synergistically, you develop a flow and strength that isn’t easily gained by traditional body part splits of one muscle group per day type training. Bombing a single muscle into submission over time will serve little in the way of walking out of the gym and having the ability of overall strength and capability.

Case in point: What good is it to kill your legs, squeezing every single morsel of energy from your quads, calves and hamstrings with additional intensity techniques such as drop sets, super high reps, negatives and forced reps only to limp out of the gym? 

Related: 4-5 Day Workout for Building Muscle & Strength

Enter The Tactical Physique

Some may argue that the terms “functional” and “physique” don’t necessarily belong in the same sentence. As functional is more of a practical, performance-based idea and physique has a little more to do with aesthetics, looks and nice biceps.

The purpose here is to bridge a gap so to speak. To focus on the functional side of training and letting the physique benefit in the meantime. Let’s be honest; you know you want to be functional, fit and have the ability to actually use the muscle and strength on your frame but another goal is to look good too.

Let’s look at how you can work toward both goals at the same time and kick butt outside of the gym too. Let’s stop limping out of the gym with our heads hanging low exhausted, frazzled and beat down and make our time, effort, sweat and tears benefit us for once.

Functional Fitness: A Change of Mindset

First and foremost you need to wipe the slate clean in your mind. Get away from the traditional thinking of pummeling a single body part until there is nothing left. Let’s start focusing on whole-body functionality – what your body is truly capable of when all those individual parts start working together like a well-oiled machine.

Military Special Forces, specially-trained Police Officers and Firefighters all have an indelible need to become and maintain a functionally fit body. The simple act of wearing and carrying heavy, cumbersome equipment for extended periods of time while under extreme amounts of stress requires a body that is capable of handling those conditions and then some.

It’s time to start thinking of your training around different variables, different planes of action and different levels of performance. Your body is one whole unit, not separate little pieces loosely strung together.

Shoring Up Common Weaknesses

Now, let’s break down a few of the more common weak links in the traditional lifter when it comes to strength. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but will serve to point out some unknown problematic areas that will directly affect other lifts regarding strength and development.

  • The posterior chain: As this subject could be another article by itself, the posterior chain comprises all muscles comprising the posterior area of the body, functionally speaking. The yolk (traps and posterior delts), all back musculature, lumbar, glutes and hams make up this often neglected area. Most lifters focus on the mirror muscles; chest, biceps and quads. Over worked pecs and underworked lats, for example, can pull the shoulders forward, concaving the chest. Weak hams and glutes can hinder not only the development of the quads but also the performance on squats and other lower leg moves.
  • Overhead pressing: Real, full range overhead pressing is a rare site in most gyms these days. A properly performed overhead press provides the entire shoulder girdle with stability and strength that will carry over into other lifts such as bench presses, pull-ups and rows.
  • Stabilization and core: With a heavy use of machines and seated exercises, there is a growing epidemic of weak cores. Your ability to stabilize your body serves to provide you with whole-body control and strength. Developing and strong core is key when you need lower back strength and a steady trunk.
  • Lower body range of motion: Half and quarter rep squats will get you nowhere fast. Sure, you can pile on the weight and impress your friends, but how can you apply this practice? Limited ranges of motion are most common amongst lower body lifts. Developing muscle through a full range of motion will strengthen that muscle through the entire scope of its function.
  • Unilateral training imbalances: Utilizing too many machines and bilateral weight movements will eventually develop imbalances. One leg, hip, arm or shoulder stronger than the other will not only spell injury down the road but also significant strength differences from one side to the other. Unilateral training will quickly build balanced strength.
  • Bodyweight strength: Again, with the massive use of machines including plate-loaded machines, the average gym-goer’s ability to manipulate their bodyweight with purpose and control is rare. Real-world strength requires some form of bodyweight training including core development which is essential.

8 Training Variables For An Effective Functional Strength & Conditioning Workout

Below are some of the main variables you will utilize toward your new functionally fit, tactical physique. Each day of training will include every variable but one will be the main focus for specific days.

  • Strength: You will work with low reps to develop raw strength. Low reps and multi-joint movements will carefully be regulated regarding volume of work.
  • Hypertrophy: Some moves will be for good ole-fashioned muscle size. Increasing the cross sectional fiber size of muscle will help with other aspects of the program and will build an impressive physique at the same time.
  • Muscle endurance: As an often overlooked aspect of performance, muscle endurance will not only serve as a functional benefit but will also aid in fat loss.
  • Power: The ability to move weight or your own bodyweight quickly and deliberately serves yet another important aspect of performance.
  • Cardiovascular endurance: For the most part, you will forego the traditional form of low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio exercise and adopt high intensity interval training (HIIT). More efficient, more intense.
  • Speed and agility: Increasing your body’s ability to accelerate and inject some sprinting intervals will go a long way toward fat loss. Agility will enhance your ability to manipulate your bodyweight to change direction with speed and accuracy. It will also serve as good cardio work.
  • Prehab: This will include dynamic warm-ups and stretching and foam rolling. Priming and prepping the body for the work to come is essential for not only increased blood flow and performance but also longevity regarding the prevention of injury.
  • Range of motion and stretching: This will entail not only a stretching component at the conclusion of each training session but also adhering to a full range of motion of each exercise. The more a muscle stretches, the more it will contract.

Related: Warming Up For Dummies: A Lifter’s Guide to Injury Prevention

Tips to Achieve Your Best Physique

The program laid out here will address these issues and more. Wiping your proverbial slate clean and starting on a new path of not only restructuring your training plan but also sticking to it is not an easy task. You will be challenged and tested. Shifting from a traditional body part split training plan to a more comprehensive and holistic approach will take discipline, consistency and most of all a complete and utter belief in your new direction.

Once you have the tools in place and are acclimated to the new workouts it will be time to turn on the intensity and work to progress past your limits and reap the reward of more strength, power and muscle and less fat.

Here are just a few points when beginning the Tactical Physique Training Plan.

  • Give the program at least four weeks, preferably six. Any new plan takes time to shift into gear and for progress to be made. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will you so build not only muscle and strength but also your discipline over time. Overnight fixes are for dreamers.
  • Each day will begin with some prehab and dynamic warm-ups/stretches. These are vital to your success. Skip them and see your gains slow and injury risk increase instantly.
  • Most of the training is at a quick pace. Pay very close attention to rest periods. Each session should last around one hour. Anything too much longer and you (not the program) are wasting time.
  • Challenge yourself. Just because you perform some supersets doesn’t mean you can go light and take it easy just for the sake of finishing out your set. Load some weight on the bar and get to work.
  • Form and function are an absolute requirement. If this is a problem then cut your weight in half and practice textbook form. Sloppy form equals a sloppy physique.
  • If you find yourself gassed and unable to finish a session, reduce the number of sets slightly and slowly build your endurance. Don’t sacrifice intensity for the sake of going easy and just completing the workout.
  • As stated earlier, each session will include all training variables to a degree; however, each day will also focus mostly on one or two of those variables.
  • If after four or six weeks you find the program isn’t for you, simply go back to what you were doing before. No hard feelings.
  • If you are up to the challenge then let’s go to work!

Each session will be performed once per week with an optional weekend day thrown in for those who want to go the extra mile. Your week may look something like this:

  • Monday: Day 1 - Strength
  • Tuesday: Day 2 - Hypertrophy and Muscular Endurance
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Day 3 - Power
  • Friday: Day 4 - Speed and Agility
  • Saturday: Day 5 - Optional full body conditioning
  • Sunday: Off

The Tactical Physique Training Plan

Foam rolling/massage. Be sure to perform a few minutes of either foam rolling or simple massage of certain areas such as hips, quads, hamstrings, lats and shoulders.

Dynamic warm-up/stretching. The following will be performed prior to each training session. You may increase or decrease the volume slightly, but it will be necessary to include for better performance and a safer workout.

Perform all moves with little rest for one round:

Post training. Be sure to perform a comprehensive stretching routine focusing not only on the specific muscles stresses but also other areas affected by the training session.

Day 1: Strength

Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Barbell Back Squat 3 x 8-12 4 x 5 2min
Barbell Romanian Deadlift 1 x 12 4 x 5 2min
A1: Incline Bench Dumbbell Press 2 x 12 4 x 5-8 *
A2: Wide-Grip Pull-Up 2 x 12 4 x 5-8 *
*Rest for one minute between supersets
B1: TRX Row - 3 x 10-15 *
B2: Plyometric Push-Up - 3 x 10-15 *
*Rest for one minute between supersets
C1: Hanging Leg Raise - 3 x 15-20 *
C2: Planks - 3 x 20-30s *
*No rest between supersets
Sprint Intervals - 8 sprints 1min

Day 2: Hypertrophy and Muscular Endurance

Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
A1: Standing Barbell Shoulder Press 2 x 12 4 x 10-15 *
A2: Rear Delt Rope Pull 2 x 12 4 x 10-15 *
*No rest between supersets
Bulgarian Split Squat 2 x 12 4 x 10 each leg 30s
B1: TRX Curls 1 x 12 4 x 10-15 *
B2: Parallel Bar Triceps Dips 1 x 12 4 x 10-15 *
*No rest between supersets
C1: Dumbbell Deadlift - 3 x 10-15 *
C2: Single Leg Calf Raise - 3 x 10-15 *
*No rest between supersets
D1: Incline 3-way Sit-Up - 3 x 15-20 *
D2: Lying Leg Raise - 3 x 15-20 *
*No rest between supersets
Sled Pull or Drag, or Farmer's Walk - 3 Lengths 1min

Day 3: Power

Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Clean and Press 2 x 12-15 3 x 5-8 1min
Jump Squat or Box Jump 1 x 10 4 x 10 30s
Walking lunge - 3 lengths 1min
Plyometric Push-Up 1 x 10 3 x 5-8 30s
Single Arm Dumbbell or kettlebell flat bench press - 3 x 5-8 1min
Bent-Over Barbell or Dumbbell Row 1 x 12 3 x 5-8 1min
3-Way Plank* - 1xAMRAP -
*Alternate from side, middle, to other side for 10s each (for total of 1-2min)
Sprint Intervals - 8 sprints 1min

Day 4: Speed and Agility

Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Timed Shuttle Run (at least 10 yards) 3min jog 5 x max effort 1-2min
A1: Weighted Front Lunge - 3 x 5 *
A2: Weighted Side Lunges (both sides) - 3 x 5 *
A3: Weighted Reverse Lunge - 3 x 5 *
*Rest for two minutes between supersets
Seated Calf Raise - 3 x 12 30s
B1: Reverse-Grip Chin-Up 1 x 12 3 x 8-12 *
B2: Flat Bench Barbell Press 1 x 12 3 x 8-12 *
*Rest for one minute between supersets
C1: Dumbbell Shrug - 3 x 8-12 *
C2: Hyperextension - 3 x 8-12 *
*Rest for one minute between supersets
D1: Floor Crunch - 3 x 15-20 *
D2: Bent-Knee Hanging Less Raise - 3 x 15-20 *
*No rest between supersets

Day 5: Optional Full Body Conditioning

Complete the following exercises back-to-back with no rest between exercises. This counts as one round. Rest 1-2 minutes after each round. Perform 3 rounds, resting when necessary, eventually building up to 5 rounds without rest.

Exercise Reps
Push-Up 20
Prisoner squat 20
Pull-up 10
Walking or stationary lunge 10 each leg
Triceps bench or parallel bar dip 10
Short sprint Varied lengths
Ab crunch 20


Posted on: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 19:45

Can I swim on day 5 instead of doing the optional full body conditioning?

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Posted on: Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:53

Hey Lucas - yes you can

Posted on: Sun, 04/04/2021 - 09:32

Can u mix cardio in this plan?

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Posted on: Tue, 04/06/2021 - 09:22

Hey To - it's best to follow this program as written. If you feel like you still need additional cardio with this program, you can add that in. Keep in mind you should have one complete rest day per week.

Rubi Leslie
Posted on: Fri, 03/12/2021 - 09:28

What do you do if you've followed this program for awhile ? Do you guys do custom online programming at all?

Taylor Vukosa
Posted on: Sun, 02/28/2021 - 17:39

for the warm up sets, are we supposed to use weight? or just body weight?

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Posted on: Mon, 03/01/2021 - 10:41

Hey Taylor - you can do body weight or a light weight.

Posted on: Sun, 02/28/2021 - 14:53

Bello questo schema di allenamento, io per 5 anni ho fatto crossfit e posso dire che gli somiglia tantissimo mi piace, da provare subito. Grazie

Posted on: Wed, 02/24/2021 - 01:51

I was wondering, should I use lighter weights in hypertrophy and speed day? What I usually do in the first exercise of hypertrophy day is I lift the heaviest weight I can and if I can't lift anymore, I quickly decrease the weights by 5 lbs. Or should I stick to a lighter weight that allows me to lift it for 4 sets with 10-15 reps? In speed day, do I need to do the exercises as quick as I can? For example the bench press, should I opt for a lighter weight that I can lift up and down fast or is it just a normal bench press?

And how about the barbell row on Power day? Should I add weights and move more explosively or should it be like a normal barbell row? Thanks!

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Posted on: Wed, 02/24/2021 - 09:56

Hey Lester - yes, you should use lighter weights for the speed and hypertrophy days. You'll want to use the same weight across all sets for a given exercise. The speed day strength exercises should not be done as fast as possible. You can focus on being explosive with the movements, but don't just crank out the reps as fast as you can. The weights you use on power days should be heavier.

Posted on: Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:01

Ok! Thanks for the reply and thank you for the free programs in your website!

Posted on: Sun, 12/06/2020 - 16:16

Love this program. Just finished it and want to start a similar one, but they are really hard to find. Can anyone suggest a similar program?

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Posted on: Mon, 12/07/2020 - 08:40

Hey Tomas - you can repeat this program if you would like.

Posted on: Fri, 12/04/2020 - 08:58

Me and a friend have been using this program for 10 weeks now. Loved it. I do combat sports beside weight training and this program seems to be very helpfull. Before I have only been training "normal" weight training.

We want to start a new, similar program, but it is very difficult to find a program that is as good as this. Does anobody know of a program similar to this that we can use?

Posted on: Mon, 10/26/2020 - 07:07

Possible to explain the sprint intervals? that's a sprint for example 30 seconds all out or a certain length?

Posted on: Tue, 10/13/2020 - 21:07

I've created a simple home gym and like to workout there. Unfortunately, I don't have a place to do sprints as I work out early morning (too dark outside), and I do not own a treadmill. Any suggestions?

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Posted on: Wed, 10/14/2020 - 10:43

Hey Terry - jump rope is a great alternative. Plus it takes up minimal space!

Posted on: Wed, 09/30/2020 - 11:12

This workout seems to be very similar to the “6 week navy seal workout routine” that Brad also posted. They are essentially the same exercises in different orders (Link below). I have been on that program for months and love it. I have seen results and I am interested to know if switching to this workout would be any more beneficial than the other one?

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Posted on: Thu, 10/01/2020 - 10:31

Hey Grant - The two workouts are similar, however, this workout is a little more tailored to the functional fitness world. If you're wanting to switch up your routine from the navy seal workout, this would be a great option!

Quincy Lowder
Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 01:26

Hi, I was thinking about starting this workout plan. I was wondering if this plan is also good for reducing body fat as well as building muscle.

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Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 13:40

Hey Quincy - this is a great program for improving your overall fitness, including losing body fat and building muscle. If fat loss is your primary goal, nutrition should be a priority.

Posted on: Sat, 08/01/2020 - 15:02

Brad, this was The Perfect Workout. I'm in the state of my life where I know that building size is going to be hard, but functionality is a must. As a 37 year old father of five I need to be functional for my kids. This was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

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Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:16

So glad we could help you, Jake!

Posted on: Fri, 07/10/2020 - 22:48

This workout is insane, I'm out of shape but won't be for long. I'm beat coming out of the warmup and then the real work starts. Appreciate the workouts you guys put the effort into making (for free!). Loving the variety and the way my heart rate kicks up throughout this one. Thanks.

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Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:16

Thanks for the kind words, Nick. Keep us posted on your results!

Posted on: Sun, 05/10/2020 - 17:42

I don’t have barbell or bench at the current moment due to restrictions. Will this be as effective if I substitute barbell exercises with dumbbells and substitute bench with Swiss ball or the floor?

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Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:18

Hey Nathan

You can absolutely make those substitutions. Especially that swiss ball, that's really going to help engage your core and build your overall strength.

Posted on: Wed, 12/11/2019 - 01:26

I take a boxing conditioning class three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Is it possible to split this up so I do 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) one week, and the next two the next week, and alternate?

Marisa Savage
Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2019 - 13:06

I'm really excited to start this routine--it's just what I've been looking for to challenge myself.

Posted on: Wed, 11/20/2019 - 17:57

Program is kicking my ass and love it. How long is a length for the sprints and lunges? Thanks

Posted on: Sun, 11/03/2019 - 08:15

Hello bard
I was wondering isn’t it an issue if I work the same muscle for 4 days in a row? I mean muscle needs to recover in order to gain strength and built it self.
Just don’t want to get injured

Posted on: Sun, 11/03/2019 - 08:05

Hello, The plan looks very good, but I was wondering, Isn’t it a problem if I work same body parts day after day for 4 days? I mean muscle is built And gets stronger when you are resting.
Just don’t want to injur my self.

Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2019 - 15:34

Being 46 years old, retired from the military, and with wrist and elbow surgeries and 3 fused vertebrae, I thought my best years were behind me. This program got a couple of them back! I’ve been doing it on and off for almost two years, alternating with a few weeks of kettlebell flows, rearranging the workout days, etc, and love the function and mobility I’ve gained.

Posted on: Tue, 09/03/2019 - 10:42

Hi! Coming from this for 2 months. now from holidays what do you recommend, i've thought about these two:
Fast Mass Program: The 4 Day Superset Split Workout
Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower (P.H.U.L.) Workout

maybe the best would be the first one.

any thoughts? thanks!

Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:20

How long is a length for lunges and sprint?

Justine Pagenhardt
Posted on: Sun, 08/18/2019 - 14:39

Is this the same workout for 10 weeks or how do I buy the 10 week

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Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:07

Hi Justine,

Same workout for 10 weeks and it's free!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:07

Hi Justine,

Same workout for 10 weeks and it's free!

Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:23

Yeah you kinda have to make minor tweaks and adjustments week to week yourself. I viewed this more along the lines of a base template. Also, this article may have mentioned this but you don’t need constant variety of exercises to make gains. It’s actually better to have a program that keeps same exercises for several weeks because the first week or two you are just getting used to the new routine,. once you got the routine down and know your baseline performance (i.e. workout journal) then you can proceed with pushing yourself to make gains. It’s actually a pain in the ass when a routine gives you overload variety because it becomes a constant exercise of researching new movements on youtube so you can be proficient in them rather than just crushing your workouts.

Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2019 - 20:57

hey i just did this workout for a few months and i loved it! any recs for a follow up program to stimulate muscle growth?

Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2019 - 14:27

Hi! im caoming from S H U L and i've started (1 week) the total anihilation fat loss but, is there any functional traning like that for 4 days? because thats for 5 days and i cant train that long.


Posted on: Sat, 05/04/2019 - 13:12

Day 5 instructions do not make sense. Am I super setting different exercises?

Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2019 - 07:26

It's really quite clear that it's meant to be a circuit...

Posted on: Sat, 01/12/2019 - 23:47

Hey there coach
Can the above program switches to beginner standard, thank you

Posted on: Sat, 01/12/2019 - 14:03

I'm over weight & I've been away from the iron game for quite time,
My question is I'm a begginer & i'm willing to push myself fo go thru this program, so can?!, cuz i will start this program after 30days of bodyweight workouts, your response will be very appreciative.

Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2019 - 15:42

I modified as needed, when I started, like doing body weight split squats instead of Bulgarian split squats, assisted pullups, regular pushups, etc, and added in others as I got stronger.

Mikkel Bielefeldt
Posted on: Thu, 01/03/2019 - 14:35

I like this program, very good designed, just what I'm looking for. I was just wondering if I could exchange the full-body conditioning day out with 30-40 minutes of running, and if possible of course without hurting myself, can I end off, maybe just two of the days with a 5-15 min jog.
You said in "Day 2" as the last exercise "Sled pull or drag or farmer's walk" that we need to do 3 lengths, let's just choose farmer's walk, would that mean I need to go as far as I can without hitting anything three times? Let's say that there's a little area where I can go 25 feet is that what I need to go or is it longer or less.

Posted on: Tue, 11/27/2018 - 23:32

Everything described about this workout plan is exactly what I am looking for, building functional strength while also improving my aesthetics. However I do have a few questions.

1. If this program really works, why are you offering it for free?
2. 10 weeks is a long time to be doing the same workouts over and over, could you modify workouts and change some up every 4 or 5 weeks?
3. After the 10 weeks is up, what do you suggest we continue with if we wish to maintain these workout goals?
4. I love doing Kettle-bell training like turk get ups, windmills, and swings, snatches, and presses. I would love to add these in to the program somewhere for myself to continue doing these workouts that I enjoy. How would you suggest adding them in?

Posted on: Tue, 11/13/2018 - 14:07

Just started the program and am really enjoying it.
With the muscle endurance exercises where there is no rest in-between each super-set, how are you meant to complete 4 sets of 10-15 reps? Do you pick a weight where you will not go to failure on the first 1-2 sets? Or is it that you reduce the weight when needed to complete the repetitions?

Posted on: Tue, 10/30/2018 - 15:38

Its certainly a basic question, can you please advice the difference between Warm Up Sets and Work Sets for each day, For e.g,
Exercise Warm Up Sets Work Sets Rest (Sec)
Clean and press 2 x 12-15 3 x 5-8 60

Does this mean 2 Sets and 12 or 15 Reps
Work sets mean 3 Sets with 5 or 8 Reps
Also is the rest period after each set in both category or finish 2 sets back to back in Warm up set and rest 120 to continue 3 work out sets. Please explain.

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