Pavel Tsatsouline writes about a program used by Alexander Faleev in Russia to yield superior results.
"Comrade Faleev dabbled with powerlifting for seven or eight years, then took a few years off. He poured over years of his training logs looking for what worked and came back to the barbell with a vengeance. In just six months, he reached the coveted Master of Sports level in powerlifting.
Faleev has summed up his approach as "Nothing extra!" In one sentence, it is about doing only four things: the squat, the bench, the deadlift, and competing regularly. That's it.
The system the Russian had developed for his strength and size breakthrough could have come out of The 4-Hour Workweek. Among Tim Ferriss tools for getting the most out of life is Pareto's law. The essence of the law is that 80% of all results come from 20% of the efforts. Applied to muscle and strength, it means, if most gains will come from the three powerlifts, why waste your time and energy on curls and close-grip benches?
Before I will move on to the nuts and bolts of the training regimen I will address your objections. I can read your mind: "But I am not a powerlifter, and I don't want to look like one!"
The sport of powerlifting (PL) has an unfair image of refrigerator-sized men whose faces turn red from blood pressure when they bend over to tie their shoes or rather try to bend over and get stopped by an enormous uni-ab. To say that all PLers look like that is akin to stating that all runners are thin and wiry.
Look at photos of powerlifters in lighter weight classes. They are as hard as a rock, and many are ripped without curls and cable crossovers. Take Texan John Inzer who held the world record in the deadlift for years, 780 pounds at 165 pounds of bodyweight or Ukrainian Oleksandr Kutcher, who recently beat that record with 793 pounds. These guys look more like gymnasts than refrigerators."
Faleev's 80/20 Routine
5 x 5 Progression:
For beginners, Faleev offers a straightforward progressive overload workout with 5 sets of 8 reps. Eventually you are supposed to advance to 5 x 5. In my opinion, you should go straight to 5 x 5. Sets of five are the meat and potatoes of strength training.
Start with a conservative weight. If you manage five reps in all five sets, next time add 10 pounds and start over. Not 5 pounds, and definitely not 2, but 10. For reasons that are outside of the scope of this article, Malibu Ken and Barbie jumps with tiny plates are a waste of time.
Most likely you will not bag all the fives on your first workout with the new weight. Perhaps you will get 5, 5, 5, 4, 3. No problem, stay with the poundage until you get all 5's. Your second workout might be 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, and your third of fourth should get you to 5 x 5. Slap on another pair of "nickels"(5-lb. plates) and work your way up to 5 x 5 again. According to Faleev, the above progression will add 110-175 pounds to your max in each of the three powerlifts in one year, provided you are fairly new to the game.
Deadlift 1x per week; Squat and Bench 2x per week
You will be deadlifting once a week and squatting and benching twice a week, once heavy and once light for the latter two. Your light days are for honing technique, not for burning out your muscles with high reps. Do 5 sets of 4 reps (5 x 4) with weights that are 80% of the heavy days. For instance, if you did 5 x 5 with 200 on your heavy day, stay with 160 for 5 x 4 on your light day. That's it! The key to the program's success is in doing less.
The Russian recommends the following schedule:
Monday heavy squat (SQ)
Tuesday heavy benchpress (BP)
Wednesday heavy deadlift (DL)
Thursday light SQ
Friday light BP
I personally have tried this training regimen, and it left me with some new PR's. YES THIS IS ONE LIFT PER DAY. I enjoyed this program because of its simplicity and the fact that you could focus all energies on ONE LIFT. However, my shoulder strength suffered, which slightly affected my bench press. My squat and deadlift skyrocketed after cutting out exercises I had done before like rack pulls, leg pressing and romanian deadlifts. After my workouts I felt I had worked really hard but I was not fatigued like I had been with my old workouts. After completing a macrocycle with this program I decided to switch up my workout program to include some assistance work for shoulders, back and hamstrings. The weekly format of my workouts remains the same, I just added in assistance on heavy days. I also liked the progression of 5x5,4x4,3x3,2x2,compete and kept that incorperated. I generally like Pavel's writings and his philosophy, but this program seemed to be a little too simple for a competitive powerlifter.
I posted this thread because there is not a lot of info on this program on the web, so please share any personal experience or thoughts on this program.