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Powerlifting Strongman Discussion on powerlifting, strength and more, including the squat, dead lift, and bench press




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Old 01-13-2016, 08:37 PM
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Wink From Russia with Strength and Power

For years, the countries of Russia and others from the former Soviet Republic have dominated international powerlifting and Olympic lifting competitions. And for years, there has also been an aura of mystique surrounding the methods they use to produce such phenomenal athletes, not to mention a lot of misconceptions about those methods.

In this article, I’m going to clear up those misconceptions by laying out the methods they utilize, plus I’m going to outline a couple of routines based on these methods. In fact, I think many lifters (including bodybuilders) in the Western world would achieve better results by incorporating these routines at least part of the year. (These routines are also excellent for any MMA fighters that might reading this, as these workouts build a lot of strength and power—functional muscle mass, not just bulk.)

Without further ado, let’s get down to the Russian principles that could make you a bigger, stronger athlete than you had previously thought was possible.

Method #1—Synaptic Facilitation. This is what the Russians base a large part of their training around. Some western coaches have called it “greasing the groove.” Synaptic facilitation refers to the body’s ability to improve strength on an exercise by performing the movement more frequently. As one Russian axiom goes: “If you want to bench more, you have to bench more.” In other words, the more you bench press, the better and stronger you will get at it. Frequent performance of lifts, in essence, teaches your body to do the lift more efficiently, thus making you stronger.

Method #2—Train More Than One Lift At Each Session. I believe one of the worst mistakes a lot of American lifters make is to perform only one lift (and the assistance exercises associated with that lift) at each session. It’s not uncommon to find American lifters squatting at one session, bench pressing at the next, and deadlifting at the third. The lifters who do this mistakenly believe that this will lead to improved recovery and, therefore, more strength on the lifts.

The problem with this type of training is two-fold. One, you never get in very good shape by performing only one lift per session. Two, you never allow your body to increase its rate of recovery by training so infrequently. Sure, you’re sore and tired when you first attempt to increase your workload so dramatically, but your body will adapt. And when it does, you will be a bigger, stronger bodybuilder, powerlifter, strength athlete, or MMA fighter.

Every time the Russian powerlifters train, they do some type of deadlifting or squatting with some type of bench press work. Doing this consistently makes a powerlifting contest an absolute breeze. If you will train so that your workout sessions are harder, more demanding than any contest you enter, you can be sure to dominate.

Method #3—Train Smaller Muscle Groups More Frequently And With More Volume. Another mistake many American bodybuilders make is to train their larger muscle groups with more volume than their smaller muscles. But a lot of Russian and Eastern-bloc lifters believe that the smaller the muscle, the more volume it can handle. This is the reason they train the muscles that are used in the bench press more frequently than their squats or deadlifts. While many Russians train their squats and deadlifts two to three times a week, many of them also train their bench press up to eight times per week.

Method #4—Perform A Limited Number Of Exercises At Each Workout. One method that Russians use (and one that goes against what is currently used by many Western lifters) is to rarely do more than bench, squat, or deadlift at each session. Sure, they do some slight variations of the exercises—like deadlifts off boxes or deadlifts in the rack, incline bench presses or close-grip bench presses—but they do little else in they way of assistance exercises. About the only assistance work they do are good mornings, dumbbell presses, or some type of abdominal exercise.

Method #5—Keep the Reps Low No Matter the Amount of Weight Being Lifted. Rarely will you see Russian lifters using high reps, especially on their core lifts. Most Russian programs are based around keeping reps between one and five on the three major lifts (or the two Olympic lifts). Lifters who keep their reps this low, even on warm-up sets, are able to recover from their workouts quicker. This allows the lifter to make better use of frequent workouts and synaptic facilitation.

Method #6—As You Increase Weight, Decrease Reps and Increase Sets. Most pyramid schemes used in the West involve increasing weight and decreasing reps on each subsequent set. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, as long as it’s performed properly. A lot of bodybuilders, however, make two major mistakes. First, they start out using reps that are too high. And, second, they decrease the number of sets that are used as the weights get heavier. Here’s what a typical set/rep scheme on the bench press looks like for the majority of bodybuilders:

135lbsx15repsx2sets

175lbsx12repsx1set

200lbsx10repsx1set

225lbsx8repsx1set

240lbsx6repsx1set

Now, let’s take a look at what a pyramid scheme on the bench press for Russian lifters might look like:

135lbsx5repsx1set

175lbsx5repsx2sets

225lbsx3repsx2sets

265lbsx3repsx3sets

295lbsx1repx5sets

The Russian scheme works better because it allows the lifter to warm-up properly plus reserve strength for the heavier sets. Also, it allows more sets to be performed which helps synaptic facilitation and allows the lifter to recover quicker.

The Routines

Now that we’ve looked at the major principles the Russians use in their training, it’s time to design a couple of programs based on these methods. What follows are two workouts—a beginning and advanced—which are very close to the routines used by the majority of Russian powerlifters. The first program is a three-days-a-week regimen. The second is a four-days-a-week program.

Routine #1

Day One

1. Squats—50% of one-rep maximumx5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 90%x1repx4sets

2. Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 85%x1repx4sets

3. Squats—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx1set, 70%x5repsx1set

4. Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses—10repsx5sets

5. Standing Good Mornings—10repsx3sets

Day Two

1. Deadlifts— 50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx5sets

2. Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx1set, 70%x4repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 70%x5repsx2sets, 60%x8repsx1set, 50%x10repsx1set

3. Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses—10repsx5sets

4. Deadlift Off Boxes—60%x5repsx1set, 70%x3repsx3sets, 80%x2repsx4sets

5. Weighted Sit-Ups—10repsx3sets

Day Three

1. Squats—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx4sets

2. Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx3sets, 80%x1repx3sets

3. Dips—10repsx4sets

4. Seated Good Mornings—10repsx3sets

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this program:

—Make sure you lift on three non-consecutive days each week. Most people thrive best on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

—Each percentage of your one-rep maximum should be based on your best lifts in either your workouts or your last competition (if you’re a competitive powerlifter).

—On the sets that aren’t based on percentages, pick a weight where you take each set a couple reps shy of failure.

—Make sure that you change the reps each week on the core lifts. Work up to fives, threes, twos, or singles.

—The Day Three workout should always have the lowest volume. This will help you to recover better for your Day One workout the next week.

—Test your one-rep maximum at least every five weeks. This will cause you to constantly increase the weight used for your percentages.

Routine #2

Day One

1. Squats—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 90%x2repsx4sets, 80%x5repsx1set, 70%x6repsx1set

2. Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 90%x2repsx4sets

3. Squats—60%x5repsx4sets

4. Dips—5repsx5sets

Standing Good Mornings—5repsx5sets

Day Two

1. Deadlifts Off Box—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx3sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 90%x1repx5sets

2. Incline Bench Presses—60%x5repsx6sets

3. Sumo Deadlifts—60%x3repsx5sets

4. Weighted Sit-ups—5repsx5sets

Day Three

1. Squats—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx1set, 70%x3repsx2sets, 80%x3repsx2sets, 90%x2repsx2sets

2. Close Grip Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx3sets, 80%x3repsx3sets, 90%x1repx4sets, 80%x5repsx1set, 70%x7repsx1set, 60%x9repsx1set

3. Squats—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx2sets

4. Weighted Push Ups—10repsx5sets

5. Seated Good Mornings—8repsx4sets

Day Four

1. Conventional Deadlifts—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x4repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx5sets

2. Bench Presses—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx2sets, 70%x3repsx4sets

1. Rack Deadlifts (pins set at knee level)—50%x5repsx1set, 60%x5repsx1set, 70%x5repsx3sets

2. Lying Triceps Extensions—10repsx3sets

3. Hanging Leg Raises—15repsx4sets

All of the tips from the first program can be applied to this one. Here are a few more, however, so you can get the most out of this routine:

—Train four days a week. You can use one of two splits. Either use a two-on, one-off, two-on, two-off split (training on, say, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) or use a one-on, one-off, one-on, one-off, two-on, one-off split (training on, say, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). I prefer the former, though most Russians have traditionally used the latter version.

—The first couple of weeks you might want to decrease the volume used on the last two workouts. After that, however, make sure you stick with the program.

—This is a taxing workout program. Don’t attempt it until you’ve spent several months training on the first routine, or one very similar to it.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this article has helped to clear up some of the misconceptions regarding how a lot of Russian lifters train. In addition, you now have two very good programs for packing on mass and strength, or for building a lot of strength and power. Give the routines an honest try and you might be surprised by the results these workouts will give you, especially since they probably go against the grain of many things you might be currently doing.

By C.S. Sloan


About The Author

C.S. Sloan is freelance writer, contributing editor for Iron Man magazine, strength athlete, martial artist, and Integral mystic. For more great information on training, check out his blog at: C.S. Sloan's Integral Strength
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2016, 08:59 AM
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thats so impressive man
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:04 AM
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I'm in my second week off of lifting and am/ was looking for a new program to follow. Thanks for providing me this one!
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Old 06-08-2016, 05:58 AM
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That sounds fun, benching 3 x week lol... chickenhawk, would you know how to progress from week to week with this routine? Author suggested we test max every 5 weeks so it's 4 week mini cycle?
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:57 AM
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this article is totally Boss!! thanks.
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:32 AM
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I have used high frequency for a few meets and at various points and can say I feel it is superior and effective, but needs to be eased into over years. The good news is that even a little bit promotes progress.

Hawk
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:59 AM
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Hawk, here is how I trained. When I hit 800 on the deadlift at a World Championship I went:

Warm-up room
135 x 5 x 2 very explosive with pauses
225 x 1 explosive
315 x 1 explosive
405 x 1 explosive
495 x 1 explosive
585 x 1 explosive

From here I always found a nice place to sit away from everyone else so I could visualize and get myself psyched up. My training partner would get me when I was on deck. Pulls the straps up, put on the belt, powder on the thighs/shins and head to the stage when I was called to chalk up. 1 ammonia cap in each nostril, walk by the bar two times yelling like a rabid dog and breathing hard and deep, then one last yell, a quick deep breath and quickly drop down grabbing the bar and pulling like a rocket is up my ass. I always had my own music on and hen I got on stage I could not longer hear the music, hear the crowds yelling and could not see all the flashes from the cameras when I pulled. I was like a tunnel visioned rabid mad man with 1 goal.

Stage
625 x 1 - 1st attempt
770 x 1- 2nd attempt
800 x 1 - 3rd attempt

My 1st attempt was always more than what ever the heaviest 1st attempt was but much lighter than I knew I could pull. My 2nd attempt was to beat my best which was 765, the 3rd attempt was just go for broke. How this felt always dictated how much I would go. I never knew until the 2nd attempt was over. 800 was my all time dream so I went for it and got it. I weighed 280 and was in the 308's. The following week I was talked into being a guest lifter and my own meet, I pulled 775 at 273lbs for a new world record again. It went up so quick I might have been able to go over 800 but I was also the meet director and was kind of exhausted from all the work involved in setting up a meet.


That training concept you put up from Russia is the base of Westside training. I wrote a very popular article on Western Conjugate Training a few years back and use it specifically in my high school program training all the sports and my powerlifting team. It is like doing powerlifing and powerlfiting together. We trained heavy all year round, even during season and continually got stronger and stronger.

Last edited by bigtex; 08-24-2017 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 09-16-2017, 03:16 PM
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Thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading your exploits and accomplishments. It seams there are so many facets of training. I am currently enjoying reading the Scientific Priciples of Powerlifting by Juggernaut. So far the best I have read on the subject amd explain so much of my experience as they detail different loading strategies and why they do what they do. I think you'd enjoy it and I would enjoy your thoughts.

I did Sheiko and while it nearly killed me but made me look at things with new eyes and open the box I was stuck in. My partner is about to start a conjugate program, but I am a victim of my mind and am still stuck on phase potentiation.

I do like the big jumps in the dl. I like 50lbs or even 10% to save that lower back. Obviously, we may make smaller jumps when we get close to a PR.

Hawk
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