Things I Have Learned From 15 Years of Conjugate Training

TAGS: Circa max, stress management, Conjugate Training, extra workouts, supplemental work, matt ladewski, assistance work, training partners, programming, program design, reverse hypers, gpp, steve fredine, deadlift, squat, powerlifting, strength training, bench press

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In 2002 I would visit the elitefts website every day in hopes that a new article would be published. I was often disappointed. This was a time when very few articles were published per month. At times, it would be two or even three weeks between the new articles. Then one day an article titled Things I Have Learned In My First Year Of Exploring Conjugate Training by Steve Fredine was published. I was only a little over a year into my conjugate training and I related to each of Steve’s points. I now write what I have learned and picked up over the last 15 years.

  1. Having long arms, I have to work more on my bench setup.
  2. The stronger my hamstrings, the better my deadlift.
  3. My back gets strong very easily.
  4. Reverse hypers should be done before direct hamstring work.
  5. Good training partners are more important than I can explain.
  6. Manage your stress outside the gym to be as strong as possible in the gym.
  7. From 10,000 feet, every conjugate program looks the same (ME, DE, RE).
  8. Up close every conjugate program looks very different.
  9. Speed kills.
  10. Stay with the bar.
  11. You need balls and attitude for a big deadlift.
  12. Nutrition and sleep = recovery.
  13. Isometrics suck but make my deadlift go up.
  14. Don’t stop looking for the answer.
  15. Reverse hyper volume is 4x the dynamic effort volume.
  16. Weight releasers will teach you confidence with heavy weights.
  17. Circa max is not for weak hearts or minds.
  18. Added sled volume will help my conventional deadlift.
  19. If you hold your breath long enough you will pass out.
  20. One training session with people stronger than me helps more than a month of articles.
  21. Your box squat is 85% of what you can free squat.
  22. Lower traps always need more work.
  23. Have fun.
  24. Equiblock is hot.
  25. Hot Pink is not.
  26. Don’t touch your face or balls with that stuff on your hands.
  27. Blue heat does not open the sinuses.
  28. Equiblock will reheat in the shower even 12 hours later.
  29. Stay athletic.
  30. Speed bench is normally a flat percent for 3 weeks.
  31. Jump up on boxes.
  32. Push the prowler.
  33. The prowler will take you to near death.
  34. Be aggressive with max weights.
  35. Treat light weights heavy.
  36. Treat heavy weights light.
  37. You will get injured if you are pushing your limits.
  38. The last horse in the race is not the one who gets hurt.
  39. Get the sand out of your vagina.
  40. Boxers are not for squatting.
  41. Pull double overhand until you have to switch to a mixed grip.
  42. 72 hours between big workouts.
  43. Take a five-pound max effort record and get out.
  44. Five-pound gym records each week is 60 pounds in a year.
  45. Train assistance work like a bodybuilder.
  46. Supplemental work is critical.
  47. The workout begins when you cross the threshold of the gym.
  48. Not everyone should spread the floor when squatting.
  49. Knees out.
  50. Squat on both hard and soft boxes.
  51. Keep extra shoe laces in your gym bag.
  52. It is okay to fail.
  53. It is only failure if you quit.
  54. Surround yourself with great people.
  55. Only take another if you can add 20 pounds and make the lift.
  56. Belt squat walking will fry your glutes.
  57. Keep your GPP levels high.
  58. It is okay to not train with a bar for a few weeks after the meet.
  59. Dumbbell pressing is a big key to the raw bench.
  60. Stop doing reverse band deadlifts.
  61. Math and physics don’t lie.
  62. Keep baby wipes in your gym bag.
  63. Chuck Taylors are still great shoes for squatting.
  64. Some people need to open their knees before sitting back.
  65. A percent is a percent. Raw or geared, the percents are the same.
  66. Find good massage therapist.
  67. You can train around pain by keeping the parts strong.
  68. Find a good chiropractor.
  69. If your floor press is close to your bench, your leg drive sucks.
  70. Find what works for you.
  71. Do seated calf work.
  72. If you train alone, your camera is your training partner.
  73. If the rep was perfect it was not a max effort.
  74. Keep calm in the gym.
  75. Turn it up to 11 at the meet.
  76. Stay at 90% of your best at all times.
  77. You got into this to be strong, not the best gear manipulator. Get stronger.
  78. Stronger raw = more potential strength in gear.
  79. Sometimes we all need a come to Jesus talk in the gym.
  80. Trash talk your training partners.
  81. The legends all got there by being strong and having longevity.
  82. Your job is to make your training partner better than you.
  83. Don’t let your training partner catch you.
  84. Train seated calves to protect the knee.
  85. Don’t neglect your shoulders.
  86. Do biceps work or you will be sorry.
  87. Genetics are an excuse for those who are not all-in.
  88. Gain weight until your deadlift goes backward then clean it up.
  89. Competition in the gym is good.
  90. Suspended good mornings are the worst.
  91. Do regular good mornings for more reps.
  92. Don’t do max effort good mornings for singles unless they are suspended.
  93. You upper back will be sore after a good bench session.
  94. When stress goes up, training needs to be managed carefully.
  95. Do ab work standing up.
  96. Take time off after meets.
  97. Special shoes and knee wraps are gear.
  98. The deadlift is king.
  99. Reverse hypers for a minute is death.
  100. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  101. This is chaos training — just like Steve said.
  102. I was given tons of free help and now it is my turn.
  103. Stay off the internet to argue over stupid shit.
  104. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
  105. Get over yourself. You will fade away soon enough.
  106. Stay one step ahead of the adaptation.
  107. Three week waves.
  108. Two week waves are acceptable.
  109. Bands over the plates changes things.
  110. Ballistic benching is not for everyone (but it works for me).
  111. If you are slow, lower the weight.
  112. Short bands are great for raw lifters.
  113. Over speed eccentrics will take you to another level.
  114. If you are worried about your opener you are screwed.
  115. Do more of fewer exercises.
  116. I train longer than an hour and I am still alive.
  117. Extra workouts do help.
  118. Not everyone needs extra workouts.
  119. If you remove a part of the system it might not work by itself.
  120. Your training is a constant experiment within the system.
  121. Don’t be afraid to get rid of exercises.
  122. Find someone who isn’t afraid to say you squat high.
  123. Go to seminars.
  124. Look at other models of training to reinforce your belief in this one.
  125. Keep reading and learning.
  126. Keep fine-tuning your technique.
  127. This is not a short-term program.
  128. Work your ass off.
  129. The answer may be under the next rock.
  130. If you're slow, get faster.
  131. If you're fast, learn to strain.
  132. Sets of 5 on speed bench works for geared benchers.
  133. Intensity is defined as a percentage of your one rep max.
  134. ME = high intensity, low volume.
  135. DE = medium intensity, high volume.
  136. Dynamic effort: 50%, 55%, and 60% plus 25% band tension
  137. Dynamic effort: 75%, 80% and 85% with just straight weight

Over the last 15 years I have had an amazing up and down time learning and fine tuning my system. I am sure over the next few days I will think of even more items I should have put on this list. If I missed something please put it in the comments below.

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