Max Strength

I was wonderng how everyone structures there Max strength work? I am looking to use a 3-1-3 approach, step loading from 80-95%. My biggest issue is how many sets and reps should Ibe doing. I know some of this depends on the training age of the athlete. I have been lifiting for about 7 years, mostly bodybuilding methods. Any thoughts on how to adjust set/reps and total volume?

david, i always understood that for the max strength phase you set up 3 weeks on, 1 week off, so is your example posted your personal preference, you just happen to go 4 weeks on? also wouldnt three days a week of this heavy of weights be a little much, why not 2 days a week?

I think of posterior chain exercises as those exercises which work primarily hip and back extension. So no, I don’t consider one legged squats posterior chain exercises. That is not to say that the posterior chain is unaffected by one-leg squats, just that I don’t consider that the primary focus of the exercise.

BTW, what is your goal for doing 1-leg squats?


Is the single leg squat not not a lunge (and not loaded of course) a posterier chain excercise?



Originally posted by gf_200

how do you structure your accumulation phase to prepare you for the 3-1-3 MxS phase?

I keep my accumulation phase pretty short and generally work around 3 sets of 6 reps. I have a pretty good sprinter’s build, so there aren’t really any structural deficiencies I need to work on. Although I may do a bit more work on my upper body this coming off season. Even so I find that sets of six provide a nice balance between hypertrophy and strength.

David and XLR8 what specific exercises do you perform?

Well, you can look in my training journal to see the specifics (

but basically I use the squat and bench as my basic lifts (although variations such as box squats, deadlifts, db bench, incline bench are acceptable.) I try to hit a poterior chain lift as well, for example, SLDL or good mornings. If I am doing olympic lifts, I will do those first and like the power snatch and power clean although I wil also do the hang versions, full cleans and jerks once in a while.

Since it is a max strength cycle, you will want to use low reps, usually less than six. Personally, I rarely go above three, but you will be doing more sets, up to six working sets (no, you can’t count your warmups :slight_smile:

This will seem incredibly low for someone used to bodybuilding but it is one of the most effective ways for building raw strength.


how do you structure your accumulation phase to prepare you for the 3-1-3 MxS phase?

Wk 1
Sessions 1 & 2: 8x2r @ 85% 2RM
Session 3: 4 x2r @ 90% 2RM

Wk 2
S1,2: 6x2r@ 90% 2RM
S3: 3x2r@ 95% 2RM

Wk 3
S1,2: 5x2r @92% 2RM
S3: 2x2r @97% 2RM

Wk 4
S1,2: 3x2r @ 95% 2RM
S3: …2r@ 102% 2RM

Thanx David W. One more question for you. Ive recently bought Bompas Periodization Training for Sport book and he suggests using intensities of 40-60% for the accumulation phase with high reps. Now I know that you like to use lower reps(4-6) in this phase. Do you also suggest using such intensities or do you use higher intensiites leading up to your max strength phase?

Resurrecting old discussion threads :
I guess in DW’s example posted Wk 1 should be considered the unloading ("off ")one.

I have some very useful info on clean and squat. But I will provide the cleans approach because it is easier to implement and more applicable a method compared. The squat method will lead to a 7-14 day recovery period, not conducive to fast sprinting but if you want to have your own “Guns of Naveron” THEN I will provide info if you want. Both fit into the CF training nicely only that to implement the squat reps you need access to regeneration techniques every day, professional massage etc etc.

Anyway here goes.

A friend of mine trained with a European Champion powerlifter for one year. Originally my friend was a long jumper. An exceptional one at that but because of improper training never fulfilled jumps greater than 7.60-70m. I may add that he had a serious amount of strength training background before embarking on this training phase with this powerlifting monster. Yes this power lifter did OLs as well.

Ok enough of the background more of the nitty gritty.

8 sets of doubles were than each week 2x a week with 1 min recovery between each set increasing the load by 2.5kg each week.

8 sets because Dave (the powerlifter) had found that 16 reps total in a session for cleans was optimal. 1 minute recovery because it ensured just enough recovery for the phosphate pool before attempting the lifts. Two reps in each set as opposed to 4 or 8 to limit reps falling into lactate intra set and overall and keep decrements in acceleration of the bar to a minimum.

Starting with a bodyweight of 75KG

Here goes
Week 1

Week 2
" " 87.5KG

Week 3
" " 90KG

Week 4
" " 92.5KG


Week 5
" " 95KG

Week 6
" " 97.5KG

Week 7
" " 100KG

Week 8
" " 102.5KG

That was the first cycle of the max strength phase. After two more cycles that year he was able to clean 140KG x2.

Obviously this does not mean that you will clean the same amount but shows that there are many simple well thought out ways to attain power in the weights room. One more thing they were all HANG CLEANS. He did extensive training on bench using the same method above. Assist exercises were SLDL Seated row, bent row and ham curls. The squat was done once every 7-10 days using a different regimen he managed to squat 260KG for 2. His bench was 140KG for 2 strict powerlifting technique.

I may add that he did all this when taking time off track. The squat sessions were SO intense he thinks it would have been impossible to sprint without some serious regeneration techniques like massage, sauna etc etc. He thinks that you can definitely apply the regimen for the clean and bench in the CFTS of course the Max st phase of CF’s system demands a step like loading unloading where as the method mentioned above is more of a block with loading which ramps up and then is abruptly unloaded in the regeneration week and then ramps up again.

I may also add that he had ony cleaned 85KG max before embarking on this training. With very very bad form. One thing about him is his ability to adhere to a regimen and not dither. His diet was tight, he was mentally on point, never beat himself up if he missed lifts. He did miss lifts but if he managed to get the lifts to shoulder height they were considered complete. The most noticeable thing was the speed of his leg split to get under the bar. ALL LIFTS WERE HANG CLEANS.

This is “straight from the horses mouth”. I hope this helps. Hope I am not pissing anyone off by posting so much, just trying to help…

The text below is an email from my friend explaining in his won words how to achieve a 140KG clean eventually.

Hope you are well pal. As promised, here is the protocol for the cleans.

It doesn’t matter how many weeks you do it for. it is just progressive. I have given an eg below but it depends on how high you max is. When I started this time, I started at 90kgs and it is about 16-20 weeks to get to 135x2x8. but I used 100kg cos it is easy numbers

  1. do a 1 rep max test for the clean if you don’t know your max. . whatever you do 1 rep max on say eg 100kgs then by the end of the training you want to be able to do 100kgs x2 x 8. That gives you a 1 rep max of 120kgs ish or more.

So if the 1 rep max is 100 kgs go to 75% and start there.

so week 1: 75kgs x2 reps x 8 sets. take the least amount of recovery you need to COMPLETE the next lift. There is no point in failing at any stage. It is going to range from 1 min to 3 mins I reckon depending on the weight and which set you are doing . In the early weeks, cos it is not that hard, I normally circuit cleans with some leg extensions (3 reps max) or Straight Leg DeadLift (3 reps max), some hanging leg raises (5-6 reps) and a shoulder press / bench press (3 reps max).

So procedure:
clean x2, then leg ext x3, then hanging leg raise x5, then shoulder press x3. then walk back to the bar and clean again. repeat 8 times. With the other weights exercises (leg ext, shoulder press etc) let them get gradually heavier through the sets. so 1st set eg. 30kgs, 2nd set 60 kgs, 3rd set 90kgs. you should reach a 3 rep max by the 8th set.

Then each week get progressively heavier on these exercises but not by too much. only 5kgs max more each week.

week 1: 75 kgs x 2x8 + other exercises
week 2: 77.5kgs x2x8 + other exercises (2.5-5 kgs more)
week 3: 80 kgs x2x 8 + other exercises "
week 4:82.5 kgs x2x8 + 1 x 92.5kgs + other exercises

week 5 rest

week 6: 85kgs x2x8 + other exercises (2.5-5 kgs more)
week 7:87.5 kgs x2 x8 + other exercises "
week 8:90kgs x2x8 + other exercises "
week 9:92.5 kgs x2 x8 + 1 x 100 kgs + other exercises

week10: rest

week 11: 95kgs x2x8 + other exercises (2.5-5kgs more)
week 12:97.5kgs x2x8 + other exercises "
week 13: 100kgs x2 x8 + 1 rep max test at the end
week 14: rest

week 15: 1 rep max test

1 rep max should now be 120kgs +. Training time for this should not really be more than 25 mins so you can see you have to work at a steady but quick pace. This stops neural deterioration. This also means very limited talking.
Everyone has their own warm up routine for things. here is one I use. if the weight to start the 8 doubles is 75kgs then 10kgs = 1 rep. so

the bar x10
35kgs x6
45kgs x5
55kgs x4
65kgs x3. take 1 min recovery between. then each week the warm up weight goes up by 2.5 kgs too.

It is important to note that week 4 and week 9 have a 1 rep clean 10 kgs heavier than the other sets. this is done after the last set of cleans. The reason for this is psychological as much as anything. The 92.5 kgs in week 4 is just so you know that you have the next 4 weeks in the bag. The week 9 lift is to show you that you have made enormous improvements so that after all those lifts you can still do a single at 100kgs. Week 13 gives the confident of having done 16 lift at what previously you could only do 1 at. The test at the end is to prepare the nervous system to deal with bigger weights than 100 kgs.
Then rest for a week and when you come back it is SHOWTIME!!

It is also critical to go up in 2.5kgs. 5kgs is too big a jump. the nervous system doesn’t like it, and the body doesn’t develop that quickly and the lifting technique is too different with a 5kg jump. 2.5 kgs keeps everything in order. It is my experience that the hardest weeks are 2 and 3 of this training. This when the body realises that you are training power and power only. If you can get through these weeks then it strangely feels easier. the rest week is crucial cos that gives you the compensation to come into the next 4 weeks at a much higher level.

Hope this helps. Will keep you informed on my progress over the next month.

Want to add that your 1RM will be relative to what you do on a given day, example if you do track before weigths then there is no point in doing a 1RM on a rest day, you do it straight after the track. What ever it ends up as being thats it.

Sounds cool. I;m going to try it during my next MaxS phase.

interesting in the vertical displacement of the exercises…however…3rm on leg extension??also as they are hang cleans, did he use straps?

Yes I PERSONALLY would not do 3RM for leg extensions. Yes he used straps and chalk…very important. Good query.

thanks for this info!
it’s interesting for the “low-rep/high-set” procedure and the amount by which the load is increased; PJ had posted an interesting programme by the cycling national team (track) and i know it’s beed used elsewhere with very good results; have a look if you haven’t already

thanks again!

Good save Pakewi - an interesting thread. Yes, I presume that the first week above, at such a low relative intensity, should be viewed as an offload week.

Low reps/ low volume for long sprinters is an interesting thought and something I would like to explore further but without much info out there on it. Your posts and some of the old posts by David W are very thought provoking.

In my (unscientifically trainined) mind I see it like the old “don’t flog a dead horse” saying. Why put a particular energy system under even more stress in the weights room - when perhaps its recovery from this form of training, not more of it, is what is required for advancement of endurance qualities?

Thus allowing not only advancement of strength/ power, and resultingly speed, but also specific endurance qualities of the athlete.

Do you have any other references or studies or personal observations to share on this interaction between weights room and endurance on track/ pool? Any results from the Omega to support this?