Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SLL Programming Combinations Part 2 - Squatting

Here comes the fun part of mixing and matching programs.  Lower body work.  Namely, for the squat and pull.

So first, let's talk about the squat.

You can get very creative with the programming here.  So let's just throw out some examples.

No need to go over the strength peaking phases.  That's what the strong-15 is for all by itself.  However, you can mix and match some of the cycles depending on goals, and if a lift is weak or needs to be brought up.

Squat Woes - 

For a guy whose squat is really lagging, and wants to squat twice a week there are a multitude of ways to go about this.

You can program both the big-15 and strong-15 cycles together, and simple do them both in the same week.

Day 1 - 
Squat - big-15 programmed light for reps with 50% set

Day 2 - 
Squat - strong-15 with pause squats

Someone will ask "so what should I plug in?"

Be honest about your "everyday max" (I am writing more about this in LRB/365) and program that in for phase 3 of the strong-15.  So if it's 500 you will program in 500 for phase 3, 465 for phase 2, and 425 for phase 1.

The big-15 is based around 85% and 73%.  So you can use that same everyday max as a good starting point.  That means an over warm-up to 425, and a rep set with 365.

The cycle runs 9 weeks.  My advice for you is to be smart and leave a LOT in the tank the first three weeks, which is the acclimation period anyway.  So you might want to just hit the 365 for a set of 8 and then 4 for the 50% set, and call it a day.  Add a rep or two every few weeks to either the top set or the 50% set so that you're busting out a high rep set pretty easy by the end of 9 weeks.  Just make sure for the first 3-4 weeks you leave a lot in the tank.

Listen, lots of guys still don't get this.  You do NOT have to bury yourself with perceived intensity or actual intensity (bar weight) in order to get stronger.  I hit a PR last night on db bench press after not doing them for many weeks, and when I did do them the last time it was just with the 100's for some high rep sets.  The Russians do all of that volume and frequency using very low percentages.  BE SMART!

Ideally here, what you want to do is just DESTROY every session for the whole 9 weeks, take a week off (or at 50%) then do a testing week up to a "max".  Or don't.  I don't like maxing in the gym and feel it serves almost no purpose other than ego boosting.  But if you don't compete, and want to say "I squatted X amount" then do what I just wrote.

I do not recommend deadlifting during this time, since this is a squat cycle with a lot of work.  Your dead should be just fine if you are doing lots of upperback work, and pushing the reps hard during the final 3-4 weeks.  All of the strong-15 workouts should be fast and explosive.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If you start grinding, you are in trouble.  Every workout should feel "good".  Not like a burden.

If you are one of those headcases about deadlifting, then pull light every other week after the big-15 repetition day.  By light, I mean a triple with 60% of your max at best.    

Option 2 - 

The other option is to break up the strong-15 cycle into 2 days for the week, and just do the singles on one day, and the pause squats on the other.

This one is pretty straight forward.  I don't feel like I need write a "split" out to show this.  A great way to keep heavy deadlifts in this split is to just use the pause squat days as part of the warm up before deads.  Will work perfect.

Option 3 - I'm suicidal 

Option 3 is probably something you never thought of.  But that's ok, because I'm a thinking man and I thought of it for you.

Ok so yeah, it's a front squat but it's Klokov.  And he's fucking cool.

Option 3 is to take the strong-15 and squat three times a week.  So the entire cycle would be condensed into three weeks.

Now how to structure this is key.

Anytime you up the volume and frequency, you must take the bar load (intensity) into account.  If you're going to up the volume and frequency, the intensity must come down.  Otherwise, you will stall quickly, and burn right the fuck out.

Take your same "everyday max" and use 93% of that for phase 3.  So you will plug in 465 for phase 3, which means you will work up to a "measly" 435 over 3 weeks.  Hey wait, that's roughly 87% of your max.


So programming wise, you would program in 395, 435, and 465 for phases 1, 2, and 3 respectively.  Try to be as explosive as possible during these weeks.  If you want to test after three weeks, take a 50% week where you squat once, then test.  Easy enough.  

Closing - 

These combinations are more for guys who have really been struggling in the squat, and need to give it a lot of attention, especially option 1 and option 3.

After a few cycles of these you should see your squat really take some nice jumps.  When you are at a point where you feel like it's up to snuff, so to speak, drop back to once a week, or keep option 2 as your mainstay.  Your mileage may vary in terms of recovery and former injuries, so be mindful of that.  Most importantly, if you want these to work, PROGRAM smart.  Not egotistical.


  1. Paul, I've been thinking a lot about down the road going a few cycles only using 25's and 45's. For the Big-15, it seems like it would look something like this:
    1 Rep Target 455
    Weight Reps
    135 10
    225 5
    275 4
    315 3
    365 2
    405 1
    365 AMAP
    When I hit 10-12 reps with 365 jump to the next increment:
    1 Rep Target 495
    Weight Reps
    135 10
    225 5
    315 4
    365 3
    405 2
    455 1
    405 AMAP
    Is occasionally forcing yourself to make bigger jumps a good idea? If so, for who/when?

    1. You can do that. It's not really the big-15 tho is it?

    2. No, totally understand that. I'm just trying to think of a methodical way to approach only using 25's and 45's.

  2. What about something similar to option 2, but instead of splitting up the session into 2 days, you just run it twice? So, say you're on the first week of the third phase, you would run that day's squats (heavy stuff and the pause squats) on Monday and Thursday (or whatever). Does that sound reasonable?

    Also, second question: I seem to remember you mentioning that it would be okay for someone to do more backoff sets (at the percentages you program them for already) while running the Strong-15. And that the reason that you don't have more is because you know most people will end up doing other shit anyhow, and so it's a recovery thing. Does adding another 1-3 sets of, say, pause squats make sense if you take out most of the accessory stuff? So for instance, the day would be Strong-15 squats + pause squats and some extra back-off sets, ab work, calves, and then done. Seem reasonable?

    1. No to both?

      For the second one, I found where you mentioned it: just under the Pounstone picture. For some reason that popped into my head yesterday or the day before, and is exactly what happened for my squats yesterday (first week of phase 3, I did the prescribed stuff, then did another set of 5 and 2 sets of 3 pause squats at the same weight, then decline sit-ups and some easy calf work). Squats just felt awesome yesterday and I wanted to take advantage of it.

    2. No to the former. Don't do the same workout twice in one week. That makes zero sense.