elitefts™ Sunday Edition

I attended the 1982 Mr. Olympia at the iconic Opera House in Sydney, Australia. It was the Arnold comeback Olympia for most, but for me it was the day I purchased my first book on strength training: The Strongest Shall Survive by Bill Starr. It was the book that started me on my journey. Starr's classic has complexity in it's simplicity. Much like peeling an onion, under a simple exterior there is another more complex layer, and it keeps going. However, it does make me wonder...am I about to commit heresy in proposing an alternative?

I have built my programs around the core values of heavy and basic, and I have emulated Bill Starr in adhering to the logic of utilizing a pull, push, and squat exercise as the foundation for programming for size, strength, and power. I still think that the 5 x 5 program is one of the best for developing size and strength, but I would like to propose an additional set and rep plan for your consideration and trial.

Utilizing the key points from both the Prilepin chart and the concepts of an undulating periodization scheme, I would like to propose the following as an adjunct to the 5 x 5:

Note: Prilepin's range are in brackets

Week 1: 4/5 sets x 6 reps @ 60%, 30 reps (18-30)

Week 2: 5/6 sets x 3 reps @ 80%, 18 reps (10-20)

Week 3: 5/6 sets x 4 reps @ 70%, 24 reps (12-24)

Week 4: 3/4 sets x 2 reps @ 90%, 8 reps (4-10)

I have been using this, or a near variation of this, for quite a while now in my rugby strength and power training programs. I feel that the players have developed a much better understanding of programming and training by using this system, and since they have nowhere near reached their potential as strength and power athletes, I think that they can stay on a program for a longer period of time (more so than more developed, purely strength and power sport athletes).

I have used this system with all my major compound multi-joint movements, and I feel that it crosses over well for both Olympic-modified movements and more powerlifting-specific movements, whilst keeping true to the utilization of a pull, push, and squat movement in each workout.

This is a great two- or three-day a week program, or it could easily be split into a four-day pull/push upper body and a pull/push lower body day. (Using the criteria of pushing being an anterior emphasis and pulling being a posterior emphasis).

Although I program exclusively for rugby players, I really think that any combat/collision sport would benefit from giving this program a try, especially American Football.

Program Examples (Main exercises only)

Two Days Per Week

Workout 1 Workout 2
Power Clean Power Snatch
Back Squat Front Squat
Bench press Incline Bench Press

Three Days Per Week

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
Power Clean Power Snatch Deadlift
Back Squat Front Squat Over Head Squat
Bench Press Incline Bench Press Push Press

Four Days Per Week

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3 Workout 4
Power Snatch Push Press Power Clean Incline Bench Press
Front Squat Weighted Chins Back Squat Bent Row

Related Articles:

The Best Training for Muscle Mass for Beginners

Cluster Training

Back Three Program for Rugby