Monday, October 5, 2015

Powerbuilding: George Leeman Style

For those of you who do not know, George Leeman is a beast of a man who has been setting new standards in strength and size in the powerlifting world. Definitely check out his youtube channel to siphon some of his knowledge and see some amazing feats of strength.

I can't presume to know exactly what type of program George Leeman actually prescribes for his clients (other than a thread on reddit with some brave internet warriors crapping all over what someone copied and pasted for reddit karma), but all of his videos point to the same type of advice:

Tenants of George Leeman (*not his words, just lessons I've extracted from his videos)
1. Train using a linear progression
Start a training cycle with the lightest weight you can use to still make gains, then slowly increase the weight until it is too heavy for you to put anything more on the bar.

2. Gain strength in higher rep ranges
This goes hand in hand with tenant 1. It is much easier to increase your 10RM by 5lb than it is to increase your 3RM by 10lbs. By slowly increasing the poundage each week (while training to maintain the same reps or more reps than the previous training session) the expectation is that you may eventually be able to rep your 1RM.

3. Singles are an expression of strength, not a way to build strength
This really revolves around 'what do you need to be good at right now.' If you need to be good at maxing right now, it's a damn good idea to practice doing singles. If your meet is far off in the distance, there are better ways to build strength than using singles.

4. Don't be a pussy
If you are not getting all of the reps you possibly could have gotten because you gave up prematurely, you dun goofed. George seems to train most of his big money exercises (and apparently some assistance exercises as well) with 1 all out set. He does not tend to shy away from approaching failure, although he will stop a set when his form starts to seriously deteriorate.

My adaptation
I've been running the program below for a month, and it's been good to me so far. The moment I start finding a program getting complicated (i.e. needs a fucking spreadsheet to maintain), I know I've gone terribly wrong somewhere. In general, this program has changed VERY little from what I've been doing for the past few months. The major changes are how I'm approaching weights and volumes.

Any exercise below with a '+' next to it is one all out set for as many reps as possible. Each one of these exercises starts at 70% of my 1-3RM of that exercise. No matter how many reps are performed on any given day, increase the weight for the next session by 5-20lbs. Once a new 1-3RM is obtained, drop back down to a new 70% value.

Any exercise below with a 'A' next to it is considered general assistance work. The weight never drops on these exercises. The goal is to get 50 reps in 5sets. 2min rest between sets. Assistance exercises are super setted with each other.

Squat/Press Day
Front Squat 1x10 or 1xamap
Partial Front Squat 1x10
BTNP 1x8 (seated, strict)
BTNPP1x8, BTNP 1x10
A Pause Zercher Squat or Reverse Lunge
A Inc DB Bench or HSPU

Pull Day
Pullup 1x3, Pullup 1x10
Power Clean 8x3 or Snatch High Pull 8x3 or SDL 1x10, Rack Pull 1x3, Shrug 8xamap
A Yates Rows or Seated Rows or Hammer Strength Pulldown
A RDL or Back Extension

Chest Day (if energy allows)
Floor Press 1x3, 3x5, 3x12
(superset with above) Zottman Curl 3x8, Hammer Curl 3x10

In general, I cycle my days like: Squat/Press, Chest, Pull, but there is no definitive pattern.

Edit 11/20/15
I've had a few weeks to play around with this style. Things I've noticed:
- The burnout factor is large and real. Training to failure or close to failure on large lifts consistently wrecks havoc on my body. I feel like this style of training would work with a little less frequency on the large lifts than I use now (i.e. I'm not recovering enough to do what I'm doing)
- Strength consistently goes up, but any lifts near my max are grinders. I found after a few sessions of low rep work near my max, this problem went away
- (Linked to under recovery) I feel tired more consistently. Sex drive is relatively low. My routine design is VERY different than George's, so I have to imagine both of those variables came into play

Edit 12/9/15
Allowing for more rest and food, this methodology still works pretty damn well. My only complaint is I'm sometimes out of gas by the time my assistance work comes around. Adding in conditioning a few times a week to allow my gas tank to expand (also, it helps to lean out).

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