T Nation

Attempting to Use Your System


Hi coach,

So my progress on front squats has stalled, and working up to the same weight for 3 every workout is getting me nowhere.

So I have decided to really focus on getting the lift stronger for a while, and am going to use the system you recommend.

As I understand it, my workout should be:

-work up to a heavy single for that day, not necessarilly a true 1RM, but something that is challenging as hell but not a grind.
-lower the weight to 90% of that day's training and do multiple sets of 2 or 3 with that weight.

Does that sound about right to you? Or have I misunderstood your approach?

Also, how many sets with the 90% would you recommend?

Is there anything else I should know?

As always, thanks very much for your time and any insight you can offer.



is it the 'Layer System' you're referring to?

If so;

1) ramp to 1RM (not true max) over 6-9 sets
2) 3x Cluster sets @90% of max weight in first layer -10 seconds between reps, so 1rep/10sec/1rep/10sec..
3) 3x HDL sets; the standard approach is take ~70% of max weight in first layer, perform 5 reps, rest 20-30 seconds, 4 reps, 20-30sec, 3 reps ... etc down to 1 rep. -thats 1 set, then perform another 2 sets of 5-4-3-2-1 reps with the 20-30sec rest.

other options for third layer;

hard 5's - 80% of max weight; 5 reps, 30 sec rest, 5 reps, 30 sec rest, 5 reps. done!
extended sets - 80% of max weight; perform as many reps as possible, rest 30 sec, perform as many reps as possible. done!

this is basically what CT outlines for the fundamental layer system... the third layer setup you choose will depend on the exercise, and you goals (strength vs size etc).

hope that helps!


thanks a bunch iboro! That's exactly what I was looking for


Rds I have been training with one of the many layer set up's now for quite some time.I feel they have a part of pretty much every style of training that I like.Hope It works out for ya.


thanks man, I just figure it's time to try something new to spark some new progress.

I'll report back with how it goes





so I finally got round to trying this today.

Love it! Really, really enjoyed it. It'll take a bit of getting used to though.

The 3 cluster sets where you do one rep, rest ten seconds, repeat, were hard as hell, but not so hard I couldn't get through it. Only got 2 reps on the last set admittedly. I like how there's autoregulation built in.

I did the hard 5s and they ruined me. I had to sit down for 5 minutes drinking water and trying not to pass out.

All in all, very happy with my first attempt at the layer system. I'll give it an honest go for the next couple of months and see how it goes


oh aye and one more thing worth mentioning: The pump I have in my legs is unreal! Never would've expected it from using relatively low reps


Good stuff rds,your dropping down to 90% of your ramp right?If you can't get 3reps on your clusters drop the weight5-10lbs.If you get more than 6 increase It 5-10,If you didn't know.Glad you like It and a plus Is there are many different layers now It's hard to pick what one you want to run haha.Any questions just put them here.Myself and a lot of other peeps have been running one form or another of the layers for quite some time.


yeah mate, dropped down to 90 for the clusters. Reps were 4, 3, 2. I think the drop in performance is because it's been a long ass time since I've timed rest periods. I expect to adjust to that pretty quickly.

I think I'm going to stick with the hard 5s for a while, just because. I'll give the other layers a chance at some point but I'll stick with the hard 5s for the third layer for a while just to give it a chance to work its magic


hard 5's are my favourite because they're the same volume as 5/4/3/2/1's, but allow you to use more weight, and complete the sets in less time.

anyway, good luck to you bro. don't worry so much about the low rep cluster scores, like you said, you just need to adjust. you'll adapt quickly over the next few weeks.