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AdamW

The Average F'n Program: A Simple And Efficient Training Template

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Adam, what are your views on sets and reps in the squat once no more progress can be made with 3x5?

Would it be worth doing 5x3 then 3x3 or could it still be worth sticking with 5's as thats what most intermediate program's are??

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I don't have much experience with anything less than sets of 5 to be honest so I can't say. I made my best squatting progress doing the Greyskull style "2x5, 1x5+" method where I was always getting 8-10 reps on the last set. I think I peaked out at around 365 for a set of 8 before my last meet although I'm positive I could beat that now.

I'm actually still doing 3x5, doing 395 tonight. In my experience squatting strength responds really well to volume, so I definitely recommend pushing sets of 5 as far as you can. I know very strong squatters though who do 8x3, so it obviously works as well.

One method I used to make a lot of progress was ramped sets of 5 instead of sets across. 80% x 5, 90% x 5 and 100% x 5+ worked well (the percentages are obviously based on the target weight for the day, not 1RM.) Should be able to squeeze progress out of that once 3x5 gets to be too much. But again, I'm squatting mid 400s and still using sets of 5 so until I get to a point where it stops working and try something else, I can't say for sure! I think though that looking at programs like the Texas Method makes it apparent that sets of 5 are always valuable on the squat to build strength even if they are not limit sets. You can always alternate between volume for sets of 5 and a PR session, mixing it up with 5RM/3RM/2RM/1RM/whatever to keep progress going up overall even though your sets of 5 aren't the PRs anymore, and that's the whole principle behind the Texas Method.

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What are your thoughts on a heavy set of 3, followed by a drop down set of 8 (i.e. the second day of madcow) as the source of progression. Too little heavy volume?

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I guess it depends how you set it up, it obviously works in the Madcow program. Do you mean to use that 3+8 protocol for both days, adding weight every session, or to just set it up just like Madcow?

You could easily take the exact same squatting setup from Madcow and use it in this program, using the ramped sets of 5 on Monday and the 3+8 setup on Friday. I've never done Madcow myself so I can't speak from experience but it seems to work for a lot of other people and it makes sense that people would get some decent progress out of it at the tail end of a 3x5 program. It drops the sets across in favor of ramped sets to allow you to reach a little higher (much like I talked about in my last post), and only adds weight once per week instead of every session, so with those two factors combined it's only logical that someone would be able to milk it for some more gains.

After that stops working you sort of have to move to a system that allows you to make slower progress. I like the idea of having a PR/Intensity squat day and cycling the intensities on that day, while feeding that day with volume from the other squat session. This is again the whole Texas Method principle, but instead of pushing a new 5RM every week you would cycle through a few different rep ranges that test a similar level of strength but stimulate it in a different way, and add weight every 2 or 3 weeks. This wouldn't be necessary if you just jumped into a Texas Method setup right after your typical 3x5 template, but going from 3x5 to Madcow to TM means you have already milked a lot of the weekly progress that you could get out of the TM on the Madcow program.

Ultimately, programming for strength is just about trying to figure out a way to do better than you did last time. How you do it doesn't really matter as long as it's working. If you have an idea you want to try, the best thing to do is try it ;) I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this stuff but I've only tried so many things, so as much as I can try to look at something on paper and analyze whether it should work or whether it will work better than something else, nobody knows for sure until someone actually does it.

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After that stops working you sort of have to move to a system that allows you to make slower progress. I like the idea of having a PR/Intensity squat day and cycling the intensities on that day, while feeding that day with volume from the other squat session.

It sounds like there's demand for an AFP intermediate program as well. :D

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I'm starting a slightly modified version of this program next week :)

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Well look at that! Haha... Care to share your modifications Mike?

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Well look at that! Haha... Care to share your modifications Mike?

It's all in my training log

-modifications are not something I would recommend to others, just trying to figure something that works for my situation right now. Otherwise I would have posted them in here.

Edited by Mike

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Saw and replied! Very cool man looking forward to following along.

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1 week from now I will start on the program as well :D

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Awesome Mark, thanks for giving it a shot, looking forward to seeing how you enjoy it!

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I'm having my son start it soon. He's tired of doing whatever on the machines now. Question on progressions:

Is it +5lb every time you lift and +10lb on deads every time you lift? Or is it increase weekly?

The reason I ask is that one of the strengths of the SS/SL approach (three lifts) is that all the lifts will be progressing at roughly the same rate--at least for a while. But on the AFP, squats would go up much faster than everything else. The presses, rows, and deads are all once a week. That's not inherently evil, as you can go a really long time straight up through your intermediate gains with weekly progression. I just want to make sure I'm giving my boy the right guidance.

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With Session by Session increases you will see the following each month (just with math, assuming 4 week months):

  • Squats: 40lb
  • Press: 20lb
  • Bench: 20lb
  • Rows: 20lb
  • Deadlift: 40lb

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Session by session, 5lbs on everything except deadlifts which are 10lbs. Similar rate of progression as SL and SS really, a little slower overall.

Not sure where you are getting the idea that the squat progresses faster on my program than SS/SL, it progresses at the same rate as the deadlift (10lbs per week) while the upper body movements progress by 5lbs per week.

4 weeks on SS/SL is...

  • Squat: 60lbs (assuming 5lb jumps, you're actually supposed to start SS making 10lb jumps)
  • Press: 30lbs
  • Bench: 30lbs
  • Rows: 30lbs
  • Deadlift: 60lbs

So the ratio between the lifts is identical on my program, 1:1 squat:deadlift, and 1:1 for all upper body stuff. Overall it progresses at 2/3s the pace of the other programs, but the overall slower progression is not a big deal IMO and may actually be preferable, because nobody is going to make the 60lb monthly jumps from SS/SL on their squat for very long, or even the 40lb monthly jumps on my program. So really it just lets you lift a bit longer before having to reset, and you might actually get a little further without having to reset because of the slightly increased recovery time.

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Sorry, I forgot midweek was deadlifts and no squats. See what those other programs did to me? So I was originally thinking 60lbs for squat, and only 40lbs on deads and 20 on everything else.

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Haha no problem I thought maybe that's what you were thinking but then you posted the breakdown of the increases and had it bang on! Hehe...

Let us know how your son does on the program, I suspect he'll be squatting in the mid 500s within 6 months.

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Only if he's as average as you. Me, I'm quite a bit below average and am strangely OK with that. It took me just under a year to hit a 405lb squat--once. Hopefully I can get 450 by Christmas. Oops, almost forgot, I'm converting to metric--that would be a 205kg squat.

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A 405 squat in a year means you worked hard man, not below average at all! If you remember the Ex-SL heated discussion when I first joined the forum, 385 in a year is what I proclaimed as "average" :D So you've got 20lbs on average my man.

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Which weight bracket are you guys talking about? :P

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I'm gonna say anyone around 185+, you're okay Nep don't worry ;)

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Not us underswole pygmies that's for sure.

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And by the way, I like the name "Average F'n Program'. Marketers don't come up with ideas this cool because they're only thinking whether it sounds 'catchy'.

But by all means, use the IronStrong name in the title if you want. 'Ironstrong F'n Strength Program'? Might help with people confusing the topic for something else.

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Haha thanks Mike, yeah the name has grown on me, I think I can live happily with it. Thanks for the permission to use the IS brand though, if I decide to change it to anything else that would be the name I would want to use!

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Haha thanks Mike, yeah the name has grown on me, I think I can live happily with it.

Glad you've come to your senses ;)

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A bit late with the name suggestions, but how about-

F'n Average Trainees: Strong Lifts Alternative - Get Strong!

Because everyone knows a catchy acronym is vital to success.

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