Conjugate Method

What are your thoughts on the conugate method? From what I have read and from my understanding there is no need for an unloading, because of the exercise varience you can continually work above 90% with no harm.

It’s not as simple as that. What you are refering to is a specific application of some elements of a conjugated system applied to powerlifting (e.g. the westside system).

Conjugated periodization is much broader than that. It basically refers to training a wide array of physical capacities and/or utilizing a lot of training methods in a given training period.

Charlie was one of the first to use conjugated training. He would use training methods for strength, maximum speed, acceleration (etc.), power at the same time (instead of using periods of unilateral training). However he would vary the relative importance of the training means according to the period of the year.

I use a similar method when it comes to strength training. In any given training period (which I call training blocks) I will use all 4 basic force training methods:

  1. Eccentric training
  2. Isometric training
  3. Concentric training
  4. KEAT (kinetic energy accumulation training)

However the relative importance of each method, as well as the specific applications of the methods will vary depending on the yearly plan.

So it would be like training power and limit strength at the same time(ie in a given workout). For instance training with an oly lift, its pull, a jump squat, a squat, and a functional isometrc(3 power, 2 limit) with variance of exercises?

And also would the application of switching exercises every 2-3 weeks so intensity could be kept high apply in the method you described?

Not necessarily at every workout, it means training all the required capacities in the same training unit. This can be done by training all the qualities in the same workout or week of training. The volume of work for each quality should vary during the year to suit the goals of the moment.

I do not believe that switching exercises can negate all the potential negative effects of high intensity work. The real reason that one can seemingly continue to gain strength for a longer period of time when changing the exercises around is mostly due to motor learning and improved motor coordination that comes from perfecting a certain lift. This type of adaptation is very fast (1-3 weeks) and plateau just as fast, which is why you have rapide gains in a lift at first. This is not truly general strength gain, but rather specific strength gains to a certain exercise. Athlete should aim at improving the strength of their motor apparatus (muscles and CNS) and this is not optimally done when there is no chronic training adaptation. This is not to say that we should not vary the exercises, but rather that the variation of the training means and methods (HOW we perform each exercise) is more important that specific exercise selection.

To get back to high intensity training. Even if you vary the lift, the general draining effect on the CNS still holds true. Meaning that you can still overtrain the CNS if you are not careful. The fact that you can keep on progressing (because of short-term adaptation to new lifts) can give the illusion that everythig is right, when in actuality it isn’t.

That having been said, if one is using a powerlifting template in which there is only one session with 90%+ weights per structure (one upper body and one lower body for example) there is no need to worry (unless there is a lot of high quality work done on the track or on the field).

I’m sorry but i am not following too well, I know your a write so would it be possible to point me to a specific article displaying what your talking about?

This goes far above a simple article. I just completed a new book detailing this training system.

Try to understand the following:

  1. Every training method has a) an acute specific effect, b) an acute general effect, c) a chronic specific effect, d) a chronic general effect.

Acute = short term, immediate modification
Chronic = long term modification following a systematic training regimen

Specific = effect on the movement structure being trained
General = effect on the whole body’s functioning

  1. The effect of a training method can either be positive or negative. A positive effect leads to an improvement, a negative effect leads to regression (or stagnation).

  2. The effect of a training method can affect a) the muscle structures b) the nervous system c) the energy reserves

So basically you have…

  1. Acute specific positive effects
  • On the muscle structures: improved contraction capacities (warming-up of the structures, reduction is viscosity)

  • On the CNS: activation (getting the CNS ‘primed’ to execute the exercise being trained)

  • On the energy reserves (not much in this case)

  1. Acute specific negative effects
  • On the muscle structures: protein breakdown (muscle-microtrauma)

  • On the CNS (reduction of activation because of metabolite accumulation in the muscles)

  • On the energy reserves (depletion of the ATP-CP and glycogen stores of the worked muscles)

  1. Acute general positive effects
  • On the muscle structures: general warming-up of the body, increased peripheral blood flow

  • On the CNS: general activation/improvement in the capacity to send motor commands

  • On the energy reserves: not much in this case

  1. Acute general negative effects
  • On the muscle structures: overall muscle fatigue, increase level of acidosis

  • On the CNS: general CNS fatigue/draining

  • On the energy reserves: depletion of the body glycogen reserves

  1. Chronic specific positive effects
  • On the muscle structures: strengthening of the muscle tissues and tendons

  • On the CNS: improved nervous conduction and growth of the connections within a certain muscle, improved intra and intermuscular coordination in the trained movement

  • On the energy stores: increased storage withing worked muscles, impreoved enzymatic actions

  1. Chronic specific negative effects
  • On the muscle structures: accumulation of microtrauma if there is not adequate rest, weakening of the tendons for the same reason

  • On the CNS: increased activation treshold within an overstressed muscle (a muscle requires more CNS output to be activated properly), loss of coordination in an overpracticed movement

  • On the energy reserves: chronic depletion of the glycogen stores

  1. Chronic general positive effects
  • On the muscle structures: possible improvement in hormonal profile leading to general hypertrophy (debatable)

  • On the CNS: general improvement in the efficacy of the CNS to create solutions to motor problems (improved capacity to adapt and learn new movements, which is why elite athletes may need more frequent variation to progress)

  • On the energy reserves: improved storage of energy as well as improved capacity to use it efficiently

  1. Chronic general negative effects
  • On the muscles: injuries, overall physical fatigue (type A overtraining)

  • On the CNS: type B overtraining

These are in NO WAY the only effects of training, but you get the idea. As you can see, planning the training of an elite athlete is MUCH MUCH more than simply selecting exercises, reps and sets…

This is from my upcoming book, it may help you understand better. There are about 10 charts in this segment which cannot be included, but you get the general idea.

Using the block structure to facilitate program design

I personally like to design my training programs block by block. A block is a structural training unit lasting from 1 to 6 weeks in which the basic focus of the training process is the same, For example, in a maximal strength block you would put an emphasis on methods used to increase maximum strength. Contrary to the old periodization model we still include all other types of work in the block, to avoid loosing some gained capacities.

Generally I will use 4-weeks blocks or 3-weeks blocks. In the past I would stick to four weeks but now find that three weeks is best, especially in advanced athletes. The way to structure block training is to go from structural methods to functional methods and then to specialization methods. I use the terms accumulation (structural), intensification (functional) and explosion (specialization) for my new blocks. Adding one block of each creates a training cycle.

I now use the following block structure (note that the column refers to volume while the arrow refers to intensity).

So during the blocks volume is lowered in a step-like fashion (week 1 has the highest volume; 100% and the volume of the other blocks is planned according to the first week). The last week of each block is generally a test week or at least a very high intensity week.

For an accumulation block I recommend 4-weeks blocks, since we want to cause significant structural changes (increase in muscle mass and tendon integrity) we need at least that. An atrophied individual or a beginner athlete might require 2-3 such blocks in a row to start a training cycle. During a structural block we choose the training methods that have the highest impact on muscle mass.

  1. Accumulation block
    Post-fatigue method (concentric)
    Superslow eccentrics (eccentrics)
    Yielding-iso for time (isometric)
    Medium intensity altitude landings (KEAT)

For an intensification block three weeks seems to be the best option. Most of the gains promoted by the methods used in this block are via neural adaptations which occurs very rapidly. Going on for more than three weeks with the same methods will not bring on continuous gains for most athletes. During this block we select training methods which have the highest impact on maximal strength improvement.

  1. Intensification block
    Maximum lifts (90-100%) (concentric)
    Pure eccentrics (100-150%) (eccentric)
    Overcoming-iso for intensity (isometric)
    High intensity depth landings (KEAT)

For an explosion block three weeks are also optimal, once again because the gains are mostly due to neural adaptation. The methods we want to use in this block are those which improves power the most. Depending on the needs of the sport we may opt either for a speed-strength profile (lighter loads, more acceleration) or a strength-speed profile (relatively heavy load lifted as fast as possible).

  1. Explosion block
    Olympic lift variations (concentric)
    Overspeed eccentrics – bands (eccentric)
    Overcoming-iso for speed (isometric)
    Depth jumps for height (KEAT)

*NOTE that during each block you still maintain the gained capacities. Meaning that during the accumulation block, intensification and explosion methods will still constitute 10-20% of the training volume and so on.

The last two weeks of a cycle can be a mini-peaking block which has a week of super high intensity and moderate volume followed by a week of high intensity and minimal volume/frequency, a test or competition is done 2 days after the end of the block.

So we can now get the general design of our training cycle:

Accumulation 4 weeks + Intensification 3 weeks + Explosion 3 weeks

We thus have our general plan for each type of training method. We now need to design a more specific plan in which intensity, volume and exercise selection is included. Here is an example of how this can be done.

  1. Accumulation (4 weeks)

1.1 Concentric (post-fatigue)
Upper body
Bench press + triceps extension
Seated rowing + straight-arms pulldown
Military press + lateral raises

Lower body
Front squat + hip flexion
Romanian deadlift + hip extension
Sumo deadlift + hip adduction

Week 1 : 5 x 10 + 10
Week 2 : 5 x 8 + 8
Week 3 : 5 x 6 + 6
Week 4 : 5 x 4 + 4

1.2 Eccentric (superslow eccentric)
Upper body
Incline dumbbell press
Barbell rowing
Dumbbell shoulder press

Lower body
Back squat

Week 1 : 5 x 5 (10-1-X tempo)
Week 2 : 5 x 4 (10-1-X tempo)
Week 3 : 5 x 3 (10-1-X tempo)
Week 4 : 5 x 2 (10-1-X tempo)

1.3 Plyometric/KEAT (low-intensity altitude drops + isometric hold of the last landing)
Upper body
Push up drops (0.3 – 0.5m), elbows 90 degrees

Lower body
Altitude landing (0.7- 1.0m), knees 90 degrees

Week 1 : 5 x 10 + 30 sec. hold on last rep
Week 2 : 4 x 10 + 40 sec. hold on last rep
Week 3 : 3 x 10 + 50 sec. hold on last rep
Week 4 : 2 x 10 + 60 sec. hold on last rep

1.4 Isometric (yielding-iso max duration)
Upper body
Bench press 3 positions
Barbell rowing 3 positions

Lower body
Squat with dumbbell 3 positions
Romanian deadlift 3 positions

Week 1 : 4 x 40 seconds per position
Week 2 : 3 x 50 seconds per position
Week 3 : 2 x 60 seconds per position
Week 4 : 1 x 70 seconds per position

  1. Intensification 1 (3 weeks)

2.1 Concentric (maximum lifts 90-100%)
Upper body
Incline bench press
Barbell rowing

Lower body
Back squat
Romanian deadlift

Week 1 : 8 x 4
Week 2 : 6 x 3
Week 3 : 4 x 2

2.2 Eccentric (Pure eccentric 100-150%)
Upper body
Bench press
Lat pulldown/Chins

Lower body
Leg press
Leg curl

Week 1 : 6 x 3 @ 100%
Week 2 : 6 x 2 @ 120%
Week 3 : 6 x 1 @ 140%

2.3 Plyometric (high intensity depth landing + static hold on last rep)
Upper body
Push up drops (0.5 – 0.7m), elbows 90 degrees

Lower body
Altitude landing (1.0- 1.3m), knees 90 degrees

Week 1 : 4 x 5 + 30 sec. hold on last rep
Week 2 : 5 x 4 + 30 sec. hold on last rep
Week 3 : 4 x 3 + 30 sec. hold on last rep rep

2.4 Isometric (overcoming-iso for intensity)
Upper body
Bench press against pins 3 positions

Lower body
Deadlift pull against pins 3 positions

Week 1 : 8 x 3 sec. per position
Week 2 : 6 x 5 sec. per position
Week 3 : 4 x 6 sec. per position

  1. Explosion 1 (3 weeks)

3.1 Concentric (Olympic lifts and explosive drills)

Upper body
Ballistic bench press
Max power incline bench press (45-65%)

Lower body
Power snatch from blocks
Power clean from blocks

Week 1 : 8 x 5
Week 2 : 6 x 4
Week 3 : 4 x 3

3.2 Eccentric (overspeed eccentrics with elastic bands and bar bands – bar weight = 45-65%)

Upper body
Bench press
Barbell rowing

Lower body
Back squat
Good morning

Week 1 : 4 x 6
Week 2 : 5 x 5
Week 3 : 6 x 4

3.3 Plyometric (depth jump 0)
Upper body
Depth push ups (0.3-0.5m)

Lower body
Depth jumps (0.7-1.0m)

Week 1 : 3 x 10
Week 2 : 4 x 8
Week 3 : 5 x 6

3.4 Isometric (overcoming-iso for speed)
Upper body
Bench press against pins 3 positions

Lower body
Deadlift pull against pins 3 positions

Week 1 : 10 x 3 sec. per position
Week 2 : 8 x 2 sec. per position
Week 3 : 6 x 1 sec. per position

Once that we have our general plan for all the training methods we will use, it’s time to allocate the different methods in a training week (thus to distribute the workload across a week of training).

Yes i know, but i am trying to do the best thing i could as a 17 year old student, and i only know what i have read from forums’ article, and other things during free time. I read something on,, which kind of explained it also. So basically you select exercises, workout structure, set and rep ranges, training blocks, based on the building of general, specific, chronic, and acute qualities?

I am sorry if this is frustrating, but i am trying to learn all i can, and its good oppotunity to have someone with your knowledge that can help, thank you

Maybe it would help if i put up what I am currently doing. This is only weights, not Plyo’s(or KEAT) or my running. I basically give a movement type or its variation and I select one for that day.
Day 1
1.Snatch movement
2.Snatch Pull movement
3.Snatch Deadlift Movement
4.Hamstring/Glute Movement
5.Tricep Movement

Day 2
1.Jerk Movement
2.Push Press(behind neck, or in front of)
3.Press(ie Bench, Incline, Military, etc…)
4.Back Movement(ie Pull-Up, row etc…)
5.Shoulder Movement

Day 3
1.Clean Movement
2.Clean Pull Movement
3.Jump Squat, or jump shrug
4.Squat Movement
5.Functional isometric

I also like to use complex training and the use of plyo before weight training. This system has worked well for me as my numbers are fairly high as compared to my teammates. Any comments are appreciated.

All I know is that when I was 17 I would read the same things as someone older and wiser and get a different meaning from it :slight_smile:

So don’t sweat it, it will be a while before you fully understand all this training stuff

yeh i kno wat u mean, but i think im starting to get it, cuz i think i have been making it way more complicated for myself than it needs to be. The impression i have been getting is that lower reps=less time under tension, which equals CNS stimulation which is essential in sport(power without size). and high reps(ie 6-10 range, personally i only go up to six) equals more time under tension, thus muscular stimulation and the development of more muscular strength than CNS strength(ie motor unit efficieny, maximum firing rate, syncronization)? So a mixture of the two would be best in training, through varience of reps or say lower reps with like oly lifts, squats, pull, jump squats etc…, and high one with “auxillary exercises” like good mornings, glute ham raises, explosive reverse hypers…Am i on to something here? And also could unloading be done with the reduction of say one rep per set and one set(ie 5x3 and during unloading week 4x2) because wouldnt this technically cover both the lowering of volume and intensity because overall intensity would be reduced(i use my 5 rep max for sets of 3) and allow a good leeway for super compensation to occur…?

i understand now, with volume, intensity, and exercise selection you can vary what is focused on, and if one has already gone through an accumulation phase, would one just continually switch between the max strength and explosion phase, or would a maintainance phase of equal distribution of each be used? And also could you read my above post to answer cool and tell me if i am understanding things yet. I think i am starting to get it, you have been great help and i plan to buy your new book and your previous one. Thank you.