This program is a more advanced version of Phase III and similarly consists of an easy introductory week, followed by increased loading over the first four weeks. The volume of work is reduced in the fifth week, allowing you to recover from the previous loading period before your test for new maxes during the sixth week. In contrast to Phase III, you will test for actual 1RMs in the sixth week. At the completion of the sixth week, you can take a week off from training and then restart the program with any needed modifications.
Who is this for?
This program is designed for experienced men and women who have already gone through at least one cycle of Phase III.
The overall structure is Load > Peak > Test. At the daily level, there are four weight training days per week and two additional days of light cardio and flexibility/mobility work. These two additional days are essentially recovery days so keep the work light and easy. Weight training days are generally structured to have 2-3 major lifts (strength emphasis) followed by 2-4 smaller additional exercises (hypertrophy emphasis).
If you already have a cardio routine, go ahead and use that in place of the default cardio suggestions. If you have not been doing any cardio, this program will introduce you to a variety of cardio forms. Run through the program as is, trying them all out, and by the end of your first run through it you should have a good idea what works for you. In your following run through the program, go ahead and make the needed changes to incorporate your chosen form(s) of cardio in place of the defaults.
Similar to the advice given about cardio, keep your existing routine if you have one. Otherwise, run through it as is, find out what works for you, then make the needed changes the next time through.
All weight training days, with the exception of a few exercises in the last week, are done at submaximal effort. The first time you encounter a new exercise you have not previously done, the app will assign an estimated working weight. Use the following procedure to correctly calibrate the weights for future workouts.
- Scan through your assigned weights.
- Locate the first set with the heaviest weight
- That set is your first “workset”.
- The target reps in reserve (RIR) for all your worksets is 4-1 RIR.
- Adjust the weight of your sets as needed by either adding or subtracting weight, so that your heaviest sets fall in this RIR range.
During the course of your first run through the program, you will most likely encounter some weak areas. Make a note of these. Your goal should not be to avoid them, but rather to eliminate them. You have essentially discovered weak links in the chain. Fix those and you make the entire chain stronger.
Film your max attempts in the final week. Load up those videos for technique analysis in the Coach’s Office section of the app. Examine your form on the 1RM tests. These will highlight your strengths and weaknesses as you shift away from weak areas to stronger areas as you struggle to complete the rep. Make a note of those weaknesses. You can swap some of the major exercises for specialized exercises that attempt to fix any weakness you identify.
For example, during your max squat attempt, you see that your hips rise faster than your shoulders on the way up and you pitch forward over your toes. This may indicate that your quads are weak because you shifted your body in such a way as to position your back to take an increased load. You might then decide to do more front squats for two reasons: 1) more quad emphasis during the squat and 2) to break a habit of leaning forward because if you try that during a front squat you’ll fall on your face.
Incorporate these changes into the next cycle and attempt to find and fix additional weaknesses. This is the path forward and a sustainable route to long-term progress.
Enjoy, and get Strongur!