Unapologetically Powerful by Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake is a strength training program for women designed to improve your strength and personal records in the three big lifts: bench press, squat, and deadlift.
Though it can prepare you for the competitive stage, this is not by any means a prerequisite, and you can use the program just to get as strong as you can instead.
The program has the back up of an in-house 12-week study protocol on a test group which showed great results after just 6 weeks, plus the back-up of another more formal study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The plan lasts for 12 weeks and was created by Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake, a top trainer and strength coach at The Movement Minneapolis.
Its emphasis is on the perfect form on all three lifts before attempting any increase in loads, and it focuses especially on real strength achieved through a full range of motion, no cheating, and rest at the bottom of a lift before the push in order to negate the stretch rebound.
Stay tuned to find out what this is all about and whether it is for you or not.
Who Is This Program For?
Unapologetically powerful is for women who love weight training and want to get strong in the big compounds movements but also get functional strength for everyday life purpose.
This program does not take much of your time, the workouts are pretty short, but intense and must be followed with a schedule for 12 weeks at least, much like any strength training program.
This means this program is suitable for dedicated women who are not afraid of using heavy weights down the line and actually seek strength gains to lift more, in the gym and in life.
If you are looking for a plan to just “tone up” your muscles and lose a little bit of weight along with it, this plan may not be the right choice for you.
On the contrary, if you enjoy loading the barbell and see the progression in your strength gains, Unapologetically Powerful is for you.
Unapologetically Powerful Training Guidelines
As mentioned above, the program is focused on the three big lifts: deadlift, squat, and bench press and is a good preparation plan for power-lifting endeavors.
However, it works just as well if you do not have any interest at all in power-lifting competitions. It is just a strength training protocol designed to increase your strength, whatever your ultimate goal.
The plan is scheduled on two 12-week schedules and the guidelines for the 3 big lifts are as follows:
Squat – It should be performed to full depth, butts all the way down bringing the hips below knee height. Front squats are recommended, as these engage better your core and back muscles while allowing for better balance while going all the way down.
Dead-lift – I should be executed in a sumo stance.
Bench press – This press follows the squat in its implementation, with a full range of motion and the bar held on your chest for a second before pressing it up again.
The goal of this technique is to make the 3 exercises as hard as possible, removing the advantage of elastic rebound at the bottom of the movement, which is also safer as it helps develop good form without dangerous weight throwing, so harmful for your joints.
It is so designed precisely for developing real strength from a lock-down position, very useful for functional strength in real life, with a greater carryover effect than lifts performed using a loose bottom-bounce technique, which may not translate into real strength when outside the realms of the gym equipment.
Also, this program uses a progressive approach to the full range of motion even before progressive overload is applied. This means that it teaches you to develop good control and feel for the movement all the way down without a care for the load first.
It does so in a step by step way, so that when you can perform a real, full range of motions all the way to the bottom, only then are you ready to start increasing the load.
The Bio-Feedback Strategy
A very nice aspect of this program is that it elicits the development of a feel for your body and its response to training for optimal results.
As often is the case, workout schedules, and real-life not always go hand in hand peacefully. Other aspects of life like job, family, commitments, or day-by-day energy levels can make your performance fluctuate.
This is when it gets tough and counterproductive when trying to stick to a rigid schedule or a given number of exercises, sets, weights, and repetitions when in reality you are not ready for it on any particular day, with the result of skewing your training with sub-par workouts and wrong exercises.
Jennifer teaches how to be flexible about what movements you do, using only those that feel good for your body, which can change in any workout.
She encourages you to modify any movement to fit your needs, rather than forcing yourself into a pattern that does not feel good for your body.
She calls this technique “bio-feedback“, which is the ability to listen to your body and its signals in order to understand what is good for it and what movements work the best for you.
This ability allows you to reap the best from the plan or indeed any other plan, playing around a schedule to suit your individual needs and body response for optimal results.
What Gear Do You Need?
You need equipment. Strength training calls for heavy poundage, which means a barbell, plates as needed, a bench and a power rack.
Realistically, this plan is best implemented in a gym environment, preferably working out with a pal to assist you in the lifts.
It could be done at home with no problem with sturdy free-weight home equipment, not machines, to replicate a gym power-lifting workout, but working out in a gym environment with a friend for mutual support and safety reasons would be the best.
About JVB Aka Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake
Today she is a trainer and strength coach at The Movement Minneapolis, working with Jen Sinkler, also a reputable coach and author of strength and hypertrophy women workout programs like The Bigness Project and Lift Weight Faster.
She decided to call herself JVB as an easy way for people to tell each of them apart. In her gym, she teaches men and women from all walks of life who train for strength, and now online as well.
In recent years she started implementing “intuitive” training, or bio-feedback training, and she is one of the members of the online fitness portal girlsgonstrong.com.
Unapologetically Powerful Components
This is a digital program offering many components. Everything is downloaded upon purchase with no shipping required.
There are actually two packages on offer, the standard silver one, and a gold version. Both are identical except that the gold version has an extra program called “Unapologetically Prepared”, which is an introductory program in addition to the main Unapologetically Powerful.
Unapologetically Powerful is made up of 6 components in PDF and video formats, like this:
Unapologetically Powerful Training Programs – There are actually two 12-week programs within, one for beginners and one for intermediates for a total of 6 months training, a whopping course for all fitness levels.
The Exercise Video Library – 141 exercises plus 3 warm-ups accessible through links in the Glossary manual. These alone are worth the plan because they teach you proper form, so important to NOT get injured in a strength training program.
The Exercise Glossary Manual – This book goes hand in hand with the video library. There are photos and descriptions of the exercises with links to the videos.
User Manual – A detailed description of the program and what it is all about, the theory part of the plan.
A Gear Guide – A useful booklet with suggestions as to what gear works best for you, cutting out anything that does not work.
A How-To Compete Guide – A manual covering all aspects of competing in power-lifting.
This second program is offered as an option in addition to the main one for those who need to prepare their body before they can follow the main program.
The reason for it is to address movement issues that need to be dealt with before the main powerlifting program, as some people may need to build up a solid foundation first, before jumping into the more demanding main program.
This ancillary program was designed for JVB by David Dellanave, founder of The Movement Minneapolis.
The layout is a scaled-down version of the main program, with 3 digital components in PDF format, addressing specifically mobility limitations and how to overcome them.
- A Training Program – The workout schedule.
- A User Manual – The theory part.
- An Exercise Glossary Manual – The exercise demonstrations with photos and descriptions but not links to videos.
Unapologetically Powerful Bottom Line
Unapologetically Powerful is a well-crafted strength training protocol for women that take extra care of safety, good form, and effectiveness for real-life strength.
The program teaches you how to get honestly strong at the 3 big lifts of bench press, squat, and deadlift by NOT using your elastic bounce at the bottom of the movement, and even extending the range of motion as far down as possible.
Great care is taken toward progression, first for developing a full range of motion, later for increasing loads and strength, not before. This ensures as much as possible an injury-free, fast progression toward your goals.
Unapologetically Powerful can be used either way, as a means to competing in power-lifting or just to get as strong as you can possibly become.
Considering that it offers guidance for a 6-month time frame and a wealth of tools like videos, manuals, and an extra optional plan for mobility, it is an excellent protocol for any female involved in strength training and/or power-lifting.