So biglifter brings up a good and honest question.
Basically that he understands the program, but wants to know if strength building is involved in the three phases.
Well hell yes it is. That's the point of the program.
One thing that a lot of guys need to understand is that the peaking phase is roughly 11 weeks. The 9 weeks of training, the off/deload week and then the meet.
One of the best things are this program is that it should completely force you to start light the first several weeks.
I can't emphasize enough to guys have important it is to start light, and get a running go at big PR's. The single fastest way to stall and short circuit your strength progress is to start way too fucking heavy. Your ego will kill progress every damn time.
The first phase workouts should allow you to leave the gym feeling good. You should really feel like "I could do that again." Especially on the squat and deadlift day(s). Your back off sets should feel fast and powerful, you should feel better after you leave than when you walk in.
It's hard for a lot of guys to get into ego dropping mode. I guess you just have to ask yourself, is it more important to hit big lifts in the gym or on the platform?
Even in the testing phase (the third week) you don't have to kill yourself in the first phase.
EACH PHASE SHOULD BUILD ON THE NEXT ONE!
This is not mumbo fucking jumbo, I've worked this shit many times. And everytime I started a cycle too heavy and grinded lifts too early, the sooner I stalled and/or went backwards. Everytime I started a phase light and easy, I got stronger over a longer period, and hit some nice PR's. You have to remember that
If you grind a few lifts in the THIRD phase, but still make them, that's ok and isn't unusual. You need to grind a little bit before the meet, but not every week, and certainly not early. Your back off sets should always feel "good". I'm mainly talking about squats and deadlifts here. Your bench singles should feel solid and good, but the back off should be taken until your eyes bleed, then you have the optional light day later in the week. And when I say light, just get a nice little pump and call it a day. That could mean 155x12-15 for a big (400+) bencher. So take that into consideration.
You have to remember that 9 weeks of training is a good amount of time, and if you start too heavy early you'll stall out around week 4-6 and then shit starts grinding too hard, and you start missing lifts and you will go BACKWARDS. Have momentum going into week 10 and 11. When you take that opener they should all fly like there is no weight on the bar. Then for that nice little PR the second attempt should feel fairly easy. This sets you up for the big PR on the third attempt.
The first phase everything should almost feel like speed work. Especially the first couple of weeks. If you're worried about progress, blow your nuts out in the testing weeks of phase two and three. You'll know where you're at. I tell you this, if you start too heavy, you'll be disappointed in the testing weeks of phase two and three for sure.
So understand the difference between training for a top single and building strength through momentum, and training for a top "gym maximum".
If you're smart, you'll be rewarded with the strength gains you are after. If you're dumb, you'll end up that generic man that gets jack and shit done after jack left town.