Few things are more life-sucking than busting your ass in the gym and not seeing a lick of progress.

Conversely, it doesn't get much better than showing up for your scheduled workout and lifting more than ever before. To help you achieve the coveted "I just destroyed some serious weight that would kill most mere mortals" post workout high, here's a sweet little six week mesocycle that will leave you setting mammoth PR's in no time.

This workout is primarily designed for a mid-to-late level intermediate or an early level advanced lifter. The lifter needs to know their one-rep max (their actual one rep max, not what they hope they can do if a hot-tub full of fitness hotties is watching them).

If you don't know your current 1RM, I suggest you max out properly to determine it. Incidentally, it's likely you're still a newb if you can't guess your 1RM with a high level of accuracy.

  • The theme of this program is simple. You're going to get better at lifting 92.5% of your max. When the number of reps you can perform at 92.5% of your max goes up, so does your max.
  • 92.5% is a nice number because it's heavy enough to condition you to lift very heavy weight. It's likely more than you've been using in a traditional workout program, yet not so heavy that you completely burn yourself out in just a few weeks.
  • This program is best suited for large, compound movements. I've used it mainly with squats, which I think it's best suited for, but any big money lift like bench presses and deadlifts will work.
  • This method can go into whatever workout routine you're doing, but it's designed to be performed once a week.
  • If you want to try it with higher frequency, simply repeat the scheduled day for that week. I wouldn't try to scale up faster than the listed progression.
  • If you want to include a technique-focused lighter day – i.e. Westside – that's fine as well. Follow that up with 2-4 assistance exercises that work on your weak points and you're golden.
Week Work Set 1 Work Set 2 Work Set 3 Work Set 4
1 80% x 2 reps 86% x 2 reps 92.5% x 2 reps N/A
2 80% x 4 reps 87.5% x 3 reps 95% x 2 reps N/A
3 80% x 2 reps 86% x 2 reps 92% x 2 reps 97.5% x 2 reps
4 80% x 5 reps 87.5% x 4 reps 95% x 3 reps N/A
5 80% x 2 reps 86% x 2 reps 92.5% x 2 reps 100% x 2 reps
6 80% x 2 reps 86% x 1 rep 92.5% x 4 reps + N/A

As a rule, I always test-drive my routines before I release them to TNation readers. One of my lifters started this routine with a 425-pound squat, and he'd been stuck in the 385-425-pound range for over a year.

After 11 weeks on this routine, he hit 430x3 and looked like he had 5 more in him. He was also squatting a second time each week using 50-70% of his 1RM for sets of 5 reps, using a slow controlled descent and pausing at the bottom to work on technique.

Here's the routine based on that 425-pound 1RM with actual weight lifted per set:

Week Work Set 1 Work Set 2 Work Set 3 Work Set 4
1 335 x 2 365 x 2 395 x 2 N/A
2 335 x 4 370 x 3 405 x 2 N/A
3 335 x 2 365 x 2 395 x 2 415 x 2
4 335 x 5 370 x 4 405 x 3 N/A
5 335 x 2 365 x 2 395 x 2 425 x 2
6 335 x 1 365 x 1 395 x 4+ N/A

A few more notes about this program:

  • If you fail on weeks one or two – you don't know your max and you overestimated it. Silly rabbit. Start the program again and take 20 pounds off your max.
  • Some might scoff at the recommendations down to a .5%. Don't get bogged down in the semantics. The textbooks say you'll generally lift your 92.5% 1RM for 3 reps, so all we're doing is working on improving that.
  • As you can see in the previous example, normal weights were used. A 1% difference is usually 5 pounds; a 2.5% difference about 10 pounds. The key is to follow the basic theme of the workout.
  • Only work sets are listed here. You'll certainly want to warm-up, and for something like squats most successful lifters prefer a moderate number of warm-up sets.
  • For example, to get ready for a 335-pound work set, a solid warm-up prescription would be 45x 8-12, 135x 6, 195x 5, 245x 4, 295x 3. Then it's go time.
  • If you successfully complete the cycle and wish to repeat it, simply add 5-15 pounds to each set and repeat. 10 pounds seems to work very well.

An honest 10-pound strength gain in six weeks of training is nothing to snicker at. And if it can be reliably repeated with similar results? Well, that's all the better.

Serious lifters with a few notches on their weight belts know there's no quick fix to strength. Instead, strength comes from hard work on productive exercises, and it's usually a painfully slow process, earned one excruciating rep at a time. Put some work into this program and you might find it paying you appreciable dividends down the road or on the platform.

Tim Henriques has been a competition powerlifter for over 20 years. He was a collegiate All American Powerlifter with USA Powerlifting. In 2003 Tim deadlifted 700 pounds (at 198), setting the Virginia State Record. Follow Tim Henriques on Facebook