Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ridiculously awesome write up from Sam Byrd

This is from June of last year, however I wanted to post it up because of many of the things Sam points out here, and how much it speaks about the base building articles I have been working on.

The article comes from something he wrote on elitefts.  It's here, but I wanted to point out some of the real nuggets of wisdom from Sam that I've been driving home for a while........

  • There are a few approaches I take just depending on how I feel at that point, but generally, I don't like to go very heavy very often so I try to avoid adding actual weight to the bar as long as possible. 
  • I like to use rep maxes rather than heavy singles because its less taxing on me and because its less intimidating. Confidence is key in this sport, as with pretty much anything else in life. 
  • I'm a lot more confident with a 5 rep max for a new PR than a 1 rep for a new PR. 
  • I avoid they heavy stuff as long as possible.
  • 100% effort on every single rep- all should be fast and explosive, no grinders. If you are grinding at all or slowing down then you tried to progress too fast.
  • After all those weeks crushing weights confidence is pretty high. I've performed hundreds of explosive powerful reps and not one single miss or grinder any where.

So as I've been saying a while, stop training your ego, stop maxing in the gym.  I am constantly telling guys to program with their everyday max in order to easily hit new goals.  This is hard for a lot of guys to get their head around but the fact is, you DO NOT need to use max weights to get maximally strong.  

Do you think it's a coincidence that Sam reinforced the fact TWICE that he avoids getting too heavy for as long as possible?  

You'll also notice that Sam works on this "base building" for a LONG time.  No deloads built in.  No weeks where he has to take a down week.  

  • At this point Ive got between 10 and 18 weeks of foundation training under my belt.
10-18 weeks of base training.  That's awesome.  No deloads or down weeks or any of that shit needed.  Why?  Because he trains smart, and saves his big shit for meets.  He builds strength in the gym, he doesn't show up acting like the cock of the walk and busts out 700-800 pound squats so he can impress people in the gym.  

If Sam Byrd can stay in the 405-500 range for 3-5 months to train his squat, and he's an 800 raw squatter, why are you doing max singles, or damn near it, week in and week out?  

More food for thought.  


  1. "If Sam Byrd can stay in the 405-500 range for 3-5 months to train his squat, and he's an 800 raw squatter, why are you doing max singles, or damn near it, week in and week out?"

    I would assume your target audience is advanced lifters and not beginner/intermediates. Am I correct?

    1. More or less. However guys that have 500-600 pound squats count in that as well. I don't think a guy with a 315 squat needs to fall into this category.

    2. Do you feel any different about say an intermediate that is around 420-450? Same basic principle right? 75-85% range for most sets?

    3. Yes because only intermediates say stuff like "around 420-450". There's a world of difference between 420 and 450.

    4. I am intermediate, at best!. 420 is the number. My question was do the same basic principles apply? Submaximal weights. I would say yes based on everything I've read from you. Your first post where you say 315 doesn't fall into this category, was why i was not sure.

    5. I don't know because I haven't applied these principles directly to intermediates. My guess would be they won't work as well because advanced guys can do things intermediates cannot.

    6. Thanks for the answer! I guess everything is relative. I mean your main point was not pushing 95-100% max singles week after week. I have to believe that would be true for anybody. I believe in the submaximal. Maybe an intermediate's percentages would be slightly higher end of the range?

      Thanks again!

    7. Yes, and I was going to expound on that after I answered.

      I think a beginner or intermediate could/should work sub maximally, however it'd be more in the 78-88% range rather than the 60-80% range that Sam talked about.

  2. I gotta say, keeping it light but pushing the reps is doing well for me right now. I just go in and smash weights, matching or beating my rep goals for the night. That was the best advice you gave me, Paul.

    My assistance work is very light right now, and that's OK. If things keep going the way they are, I may make my initial annual goals way before the end of the year. The lunges 4x20 after the new cycle's squats for 14 reps pretty much exhausted me. I'll be keeping the assistance weights where they are for now until I can crank them out solidly.

    I'm definitely looking forward to training--except on the over 20 rep days. Those require some mental preparation and me telling myself to stop being a baby.

  3. Recent T-Nation article on 600 lb deadlifting says the exact same shit.

  4. Hey Paul, that is Sam's training log, check out his comment about his 4 different training phases each year (conditioning, mass, strength, recovery).

  5. keep posting those ideas on training, i´m sure they will convince MANY lifters out there to change their mind regards on how to "train optimally, not maximally" (louie simmons)

  6. Paul - May I ak what sort of program you recommend for that type of lifter that squats 315? I currently bench 270, Squat 350 and deadlift 450, so that's why I ask.

  7. The best quote from the Sam Byrd write-up is this:

    "Ill tell you, but generally people either dont believe me or dont like what they hear so they gaff it off. "

  8. My numbers are pretty low so I hope this Strong-15 still pans out for me. If not then I guess I know. I started week 5 today.

  9. I'm only a couple weeks into setting up my 5/3/1 cycles really light, but i'm loving it. I'm not even repping out big sets yet. For instance, rather than rep out the final bench set this week, I just kept hitting it for a triple with 2 mins rest until one of the reps felt a little shaky. 7 sets. All easy and fast. Left the gym feeling great.

    1. This is similar to what Pavel Tsatouline suggests in his Russian Bear Routine
      Make a solid 5 reps (after a good warmup of course)
      Rest 3-5 mins
      Then strip 10 % and make another 5 reps
      Rest 3-5
      Strip another 10% and hit as many sets of 5 as possible until technique breaks down
      So with 225 for first set it will look like this
      225x5, 205x5, 185x5, 185x5, 185x5…. And so on…

  10. Paul, do you know how often Sam Byrd squats? Once per week? Thanks.

  11. Disregard my previous question, I found the answer (twice a week) in Byrd's write-up, sorry!

  12. Well I'm midway through week 5 of the Strong-15 and think I'm going to scratch it. I'm going back to Intermediate Madcow 5x5. I'm probably one of your youngest readers and I think this program suits my needs better. I hate program hopping but feel this is my best move as I've seem to take a step backwards lately. I'll still apply your principle of progressing slowly which I think will allow me to run this for quite some time with linear progress.

    With kind regards: Relentless