The Simple Way to Get Super Strong!

Don’t you hate it when you are sucked in by a click bait title…sorry. This article will show you the simple path to sending your strength numbers through the roof. Note: I said simple not easy.

If we breakdown the above tweet by Dr Dan Cleather, what does this actually mean? Going by this “plan” you are aiming to increase your best performance by 2.5kg every 3 months. This would mean 10kg per year. Surely you can go faster than that right? Certainly, this could be the case for younger athletes. What about those with a higher training age? Take a look at your workout journals/logbooks from previous years (you should be keeping one). How much did you increase your performance last year? 9/10 peoples programs revolve around doing different things each month but seeing very little improvement!

If we carry on with this 2.5kg goal for the duration mentioned in Dr Cleather’s tweet. We are looking at 10 years. 10 years and 100kgs of improvement! Taking a 3RM of 140kg to 240kg! I would sign up to those results in a second!

The target audience with Reiver Performance is athletes. People who play a sport and use resistance training as a tool to help them improve that sport. You could certainly train to gain faster results by trying a powerlifting peaking program. The issue with this is these programs are designed for powerlifters, whose sport is to improve their weight lifted in the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. These programs are not made with the intention of someone also performing sports training 2-3 times a week and playing matches aswell! In reality you would be giving a half hearted effort to both your sport and your resistance training leading to less than desirable results! The beauty of slow burner programs like Dr Cleathers are that they can work perfectly in unison with sports training whilst not taking anything away from the main focus: Improving at your sport!

What would this slow burner program look like?

Firstly, let’s get an indication of where your strength levels currently are. I would use an adaption of the Epley formula found in Jovanović (2020).

1RM = (Weight x (Reps + RIR*) x 0.0333) + Weight

*Reps in Reserve – How many reps do you think you could of done had you went to failure.

So let’s say in the Back Squat you lifted 120kg 5 times but had you needed to you could of lifted it 3 more times.

1RM = (120 x (5+3) x 0.0333) + 120

1RM = (120 x 8 x 0.0333) + 120

1RM = 31.968 + 120

1RM = 151.968 kg

We will round down so that we edge of the side of caution. This would lead to a 1RM of 150kg for the back squat. This is an estimation of where your current strength levels are! We can now use this for programming.

A simple yet effective program that can be used is Marc Keys’ (Cast Iron Strength) “25-20-15”. This program looks like this:

Week 1 - 5x5 @75% 1RM

Week 2 - 5x4 @80% 1RM

Week 3 - 5x3@85% 1RM

You would then add 5kgs to each lower body lift or 2.5kgs for an upper body lift and repeat the cycle.

Using our example above the program would look like this:

Back Squat Program (Based on 150kg 1RM)

Week 1 - 5x5 @ 112.5kg

Week 2 - 5x4 @120kg

Week 3 - 5x3 @127.5 kg

Week 4 - 5x5 @ 117.5kg

Week 5 - 5x4 @125kg

Week 6 - 5x3 @132.5 kg

The observant amongst you may of noticed two things:

1) I have always chosen to round down.

I would use continue this theme throughout your programming and edge on the side of caution. You are better to leave the gym thinking you could of done more than doing too much and setting yourself back. This also helps to counteract any overestimation that may be present in the formula.

2) This plan would in fact increase your performance by 15kgs in 3 months.

True but the intention is to start light and progress slowly. Unfortunately for us all life tends to get in the way of our training every now and then. Jobs, school, families, flu pandemics are just a few things that can disrupt our training routine. The chances of having an uninterrupted run at training are slim. Setting a goal of increasing your performance by 15kgs in 3 months is one that most will likely struggle to achieve. 2.5 kgs on the other hand that is something we can all strive for.

Remember simple doesn’t mean easy! Have the courage to start light and progress slowly and over time chip away at those strength goals!

6 Week Simple Strength Program

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Cleather, D. (2018) ‘The little black book of training wisdom’

Keys, M.

Jovanović, M. (2020) ‘Strength Training Manual: The Agile Periodization Approach Volume One and Two’