Canadian Non-linear Autoregulating
Progressive Resistance Training




By Chris Thibaudeau, March 16, 2000. © Iron Magazine Online


Move over Bulgarian burst training, so long Russian peaking program here comes something, huh hmmm, radically Canadian! This article will present a periodized training approach straight out of the Canadian woods that is sure to greatly increase your strength. It combines elements of a classic percent training program and instinctive training. The most important benefits of this program is its great flexibility and it's effectiveness.

The problem with most periodized programs using percentage of your 1RM to determine your daily load is that depending on your state of mind, level of fatigue, motivation, etc., you might well be a lot weaker than what you are supposed to lift that day or on the opposite quite a bit stronger in which case your workout will probably leave you wanting more. This wont happen with this approach because it is self-adjustable and it insure that you work to the maximum of available physical capacities.

It's a training technique better suited for intermediate or advanced trainees who know their body and know approximately what they are capable of lifting.

I first designed this routine based on the work of Dr. Mel Siff (1993) on APRE training and used some of his principles to build a powerlifting routine taking full advantage of your physical capacities and your body's adaptive mechanisms.

This is basically a powerlifting routine. Powerlifting is a strength sport where three lifts are contested: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. So this routine is designed to develop these three lifts and lift big in competition.

For those of you who tried Stefan Korte 3x3 program or Louie Simmons WBC methods you will see certain similarities with my program. If you know how an olympic lifter trains you will also see some similarities with my program because I used my olympic lifting experience to design this program. The result is a program that will give you BIG gains in strength and power in a very short amount of time!

The program is divided into two phases. A 6 weeks preparatory period and a 4 weeks peaking period. The preparatory period's objective is to increase the strength of your muscles, your speed-strength and your neural efficiency while the peaking period's objective is to develop your capacity to showcase the gained capacities during a limit strength effort.


Preparatory period

Basically you will train 4 times every 7 days. You do each of the three competition lifts three times per week (similar to Korte 3 x 3 program) while varying the load, volume and tempo on each of the training days.

The fourth training day is to work on your core strength and on your perceived weaknesses.

There are three types of workout (besides the remedial training day).

Type 1. Speed days where you use 55-60% of your 1RM performed as fast as possible for 8-10 sets of 2 (similar to WBC).

Type 2. Heavy days where you work up to your 3RM (maximum weight you can handle for 3 reps) in 4 to 7 sets.

Type 3. Moderate days where you work up to your 6RM (maximum weight you can handle for 6 reps) in 4 to 5 sets.


  • At each workout you use a different type of training for each of the lifts. For example day 1 might be a speed day for your bench, a moderate day for your squat and a heavy day for your deadlift.

Here is what a week of training during the preparatory period looks like

Table 1. Example of a weekly training routine - 3 types of training

Set

Speed day

Heavy day

Moderate day

0

Warm-up

Warm-up

Warm-up

1

2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

3 reps at 50% of your 3RM

6 reps at 50% of your 6RM

2

2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

3 reps at 75% of your 3RM

6 reps at 75% of your 6RM

3

2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

3 reps at 100% of your 3RM

6 reps at 100% of your 6RM

4

2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

* Add 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

* Add 5lbs and try to get 6 reps

5

2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

* Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

* Add 5lbs and try to get 6 reps

6

2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

* Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

 

7

2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

* Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

 

8

2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

   

*If you are able to successfully finish the preceding set

The last set you do finish is considered your new 3 or 6RM and is the base for your next week workout calculations.



Table 2. Weekly workout organization by lift for the preparatory period

 

Training day 1

Training day 2

Training day 3

Training day 4

Conditioning

Week 1

  • Speed bench
  • Heavy squat
  • Moderate deadlift
  • Speed squat
  • Heavy deadlift
  • Moderate bench
  • Speed deadlift
  • Heavy bench
  • Moderate squat
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat

    Week 2

    • Speed deadlift
    • Heavy bench
    • Moderate squat
  • Speed bench
  • Heavy squat
  • Moderate deadlift
  • Speed squat
  • Heavy deadlift
  • Moderate bench
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat

    Week 3

    • Speed squat
    • Heavy deadlift
    • Moderate bench
  • Speed deadlift
  • Heavy bench
  • Moderate squat
  • Speed bench
  • Heavy squat
  • Moderate deadlift
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat

    Week 4

    • Speed squat
    • Heavy deadlift
    • Moderate bench
  • Speed bench
  • Heavy squat
  • Moderate deadlift
  • Speed deadlift
  • Heavy bench
  • Moderate squat
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat

    Week 5

    • Speed bench
    • Heavy squat
    • Moderate deadlift
  • Speed squat
  • Heavy deadlift
  • Moderate bench
  • Speed deadlift
  • Heavy bench
  • Moderate squat
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat

    Week 6

    • Speed deadlift
    • Heavy bench
    • Moderate squat
  • Speed bench
  • Heavy squat
  • Moderate deadlift
  • Speed squat
  • Heavy deadlift
  • Moderate bench
  • Core training

    Assistance exercises for perceived weaknesses

    Interval training if overfat


    Competition period

    The goal of the competition period is to bring you to your top performance the day of your competition. What you need to do to accomplish this is to develop your neural factors as much as possible and recover as much as possible to be in top physical and mental shape at your competition. So you will need to increase intensity even more to fully stimulate your nervous system and reduce the training volume gradually to allow your body to recover fully and supercompensate before your competition.


    The first 2 weeks

    The early competition period (first 2 weeks) is also the last chance you'll get to work hard on your weaknesses so remedial work is increased at this point. During these first 2 weeks you will train very heavy on your remedial exercises (4-7 sets of 2-3RM on 1-3 remedial exercises per lift). During the competition period you will remove the conditioning workout to allow for better recovery.

    You will also remove one workout for the competitive lifts (the moderate day) that you will replace by an additional remedial workout. Since you replace a moderate intensity workout (6RM) by an additional intense workout (remedial exercises for 2-3RM) the average intensity increases which is an important nervous system stimulator.


    Table 3. Types of workouts during the first 2 weeks of the competition period

    Set

    Speed day

    Heavy day

    Remedial days

    0

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    1

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 3RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 3RM

    2

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 3RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 3RM

    3

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 3RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 3RM

    4

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    * Add 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

    * Add 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

    5

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2-3 reps

    6

    2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2-3 reps

    7

    2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 3 reps

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2-3 reps

    8

    2 reps at 60% of your 1RM

       

    *If you are able to successfully finish the preceding set

    The last set you do finish is considered your new 3 or 6RM and is the base for your next week workout calculations.



    Table 4. Weekly workout organization by lift during the first two weeks of the competition period

    Week

    Training day 1

    Training day 2

    Training day 3

    Training day 4

    1

    • Speed bench
    • Heavy squat
    • Speed deadlift

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift

    • Speed squat
    • Heavy deadlift
    • Heavy bench

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift

    2

    • Speed bench
    • Heavy squat
    • Speed deadlift

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift

    • Speed squat
    • Heavy deadlift
    • Heavy bench

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift


    These 2 weeks will be by far the two hardest weeks of the program. Their role is to shock the body (muscles, tendons and nervous system) with a high volume of intense training. Doing this 2-4 weeks before the competition will ensure that your system will have the time to cope with the stress, supercompensate in it's capacities and assure that you are going to transmute the gained capacities at the right time.


    The last 2 weeks

    The last two weeks before a competition are mainly to allow your body to supercompensate to optimal levels of strength and power at your competition. During these two weeks the volume is decreased, mostly on remedial exercises. However the remedial exercises are not totally eliminated since we don't want to find our good old weaknesses the week before the competition now do we?!

    Basically you work out 3 times per week with one limit strength day (not merely a heavy day anymore), one speed day and one remedial day.

    During the third week the limit strength workout will consist of working up to your 2RM in the competition lifts. The speed day remains the same although you cut down the volume to 5 sets of 2 to reduce the demands imposed on your nervous system and allow it to be in top condition for your competition. The remedial day is only maintenance work at this point. You do 3 sets or 3 of 1-2 remedial exercises for each lift.

    During the fourth week the limit strength workout will consist of going up to your 1RM, or very close to it on the competition lifts. At that point you can attempt a given weight 3 times until you either make it or miss it 3 times. The volume on the speed days is once again reduced. You now do only 3 sets of 2 reps only to maintain your nervous system's capacities. The remedial day is only maintenance work at this point. You do 3 sets or 3 of 1-2 remedial exercises for each lift.


    Table 5. Types of workouts during the third week of the competition period

    Set

    Speed day

    Heavy day

    Remedial days

    0

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    1

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 2RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 3RM

    2

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 2RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 3RM

    3

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 2RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 3RM

    4

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    * Add 5lbs and try to get 2 reps

     

    5

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2 reps

     

    6

     

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2 reps

     

    7

     

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 2 reps

     

    *If you are able to successfully finish the preceding set

    The last set you do finish is considered your new 3 or 6RM and is the base for your next week workout calculations.



    Table 6. Types of workouts during the fourth week of the competition period

    Set

    Speed day

    Heavy day

    Remedial days

    0

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    Warm-up

    1

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 50% of your 3RM

    2

    2 reps at 50% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 75% of your 3RM

    3

    2 reps at 55% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 1RM

    3 reps at 100% of your 3RM

    4

     

    * Add 5lbs and try to get 1 reps

     

    5

     

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 1 reps

     

    6

     

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 1 reps

     

    7

     

    * Add another 5lbs and try to get 1 reps

     

    *If you are able to successfully finish the preceding set

    The last set you do finish is considered your new 3 or 6RM and is the base for your next week workout calculations.



    Table 7. Weekly workout organization by lift during the third week of the competition period

    Week

    Training day 1

    Training day 2

    Training day 3

    Training day 4

    3

    • LS bench
    • Speed squat
    • LS deadlift

    OFF

    Active recovery

    • Speed bench
    • LS squat
    • Speed deadlift

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift

    Table 7. Weekly workout organization by lift during the fourth week of the competition period

    Week

    Training day 1

    Training day 2

    Training day 3

    Training day 4

    4

    • LS bench
    • Speed squat
    • LS deadlift

    OFF

    Active recovery

    • Speed bench
    • LS squat
    • Speed deadlift

    - Remedial exercises bench, squat, deadlift


    Ideally you should plan your training so that there will be 72 hours (3 days) between your last workout and your competition.


    Some of the keys of this program

    1. You must always try to lift more weight during the moderate days, heavy days, limit strength days and remedial days. Always try to reach a personal best at the set number of reps each week. You cannot get stronger if you don't lift bigger weight!
    2. You must always try to lift the weight as fast as possible during the speed days. Ideally your 2 reps should last approximately the same time as it takes you to complete 1 normal rep with a heavy weight.
    3. Always rest a day between the competitive lift workout.
    4. Understand the muscles involved in the performance of the competitive lifts and develop your capacity to find your weak link and to select exercises that will help you correct these weaknesses.

    This program combines all the elements necessary to the performance in the three powerlifts namely:

    1. Developing the strength of your muscles
    2. Developing your neural efficiency
    3. Developing your speed-strength
    4. "Drilling" the competitive lifts for maximal technical efficiency and economy of effort
    5. Correcting your weak links
    6. Bringing the nervous system and muscle to a peak at your competition.

    This kind of system has been used for decades in olympic lifting and produced more strength and power than any other training philosophy combined! Give it a try and you'll see for yourself how effective it is.


    Chris Thibaudeau


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