Thursday, December 5, 2013

Base Building: Progression and goal setting

Base Building templates are built around three factors, for the most part.

  • EDM (everyday max)
  • Volume
  • Bar Speed

Because these are the three key components, the obvious question becomes "where is progression built in?"

That's an easy question to answer.

Progression is determined by the lifter, and his understanding of those three factors.

If bar speed increases on a considerable basis over time, then it's up to that lifter to discern how much he should raise his EDM by.  Let's not lose sight of the fact that the whole point of BB is to increase your EDM, so that your BASE LEVEL, your sustainable level of strength, has increased.  This is how your offseason should be spent, unless you're trying to increase your base level of muscle mass.  Mind you, these are two entirely different training protocols, though there will be overlap with both.  BB will increase muscle mass (trust me, it happened with me), and mass building will up your base level of strength.  However each one does a specific job better than the other.

So back to progression, and how to plan for it.

Once you've established your EDM and understand what weights you will be working with for your phase, it's not entirely a bad idea to set a goal for what you would LIKE to be working with eventually.  I write "eventually" because the BB methodology is built around "slow and stead wins the race".

For example, right now I'm using BB Bench model I.  That means I'm basing my EDM bench at around 425, something I know I can do any day of the week.  So my work sets are at 315 x 5 sets of 8, all reps paused.

Now there are days (like last night) when 315 x 5 x 8 is hard, and other days where I feel like I can throw it through the roof.  My own personal focus is that even on the days where I feel like total shit, I can still hit 5 x 8 @ 315 with good speed across all 5 sets of 8.  Last night, that wasn't the case.

My goal in terms of progression is to EVENTUALLY be able to do 365 x 5 sets of 8 (all reps paused) on a GOOD DAY.  This is not a short term goal.  Just something I see up there as a place I would like to be.  My EDM at that point would obviously be significantly higher (duh, right? around 485).

Now this runs counter point to most of my points about setting small goals, and inching forward.  The reason here is because I know I will probably go into BB model II for a while, where I would be using 365 for 3 x 5, then 315 x 3 x 5, then a set with AMAP, and then BB model III before finally coming back to BB phase I

If you notice, I don't raise my EDM throughout all three of those phases.  It stays the same.  What I will do is the following........

Run phase I until I never have a day where 315 x 5 x 8 isn't easy as shit
Go into phase II, and set goals with both bar speed AND goals on the AMAP set
Go into phase III and set goals with both bar speed AND goals on the AMAP set
Go back to Phase I when I feel as though 365 x 5 sets of 8 all paused, are clearly possible

I do not have a timetable on this.  It might take a year, or two years, or three years.  The point is, that whole time I will be still be inching forward, making progress.  Rather than being greedy and trying to force things to happen, I will inch forward slowly so that I'm not sitting here saying I haven't gotten any stronger in three years.

Most guys are not going to be patient enough to understand how to make this process work for them, and that's too bad.  They spend too much time reading information about going balls out every single session with no understanding that training that way has a time and place, but will eventually find one at a point of diminishing returns.  In that regard so will EVERY form of training.  This is why in the Base Building manual, I make a point to emphasize that training must have PHASES THAT BUILD ON EACH OTHER.  One style or method of training will not help you reach all of your goals.

Get Base Building HERE 


  1. Great points, Paul. I adopted this mentality, oddly enough, AFTER I quit competing because the balls-out mentality is what ended me competing due to injuires. I've always gone back to an Escalating Density Training model where I'm trying to beat a given out of TOTAL reps in a given time period. Like you mentioned, it can be a very slow burn. I may get 10 sets of 3 in 20 minutes and once I achieve that, I go for 10 sets of 4 next time. However, given 4 reps is more intense or closer to a RM, I may not hit my 30 rep total the next time. I may get 24 total. BUT I know I had a few more intense sets so I'm ok with that and I know after a few more sessions, I may beat the 30 rep total and it may take a month, 2 months, who knows? But, I may solid, steady progress. Great work!