T Nation

From Bodybuilding to Raw Lifter with the Conjugate Method

The past 20 years have been devoted to competitive bodybuilding. I had a great run, but I’m old (50 years old) and I dont give a ferret’s fury ass about being below 5% fat anymore. In short, I love to eat.
At the present moment, I’m weighing in at controlled 232-235 and 6’1". I’ve been heavier through use of AAS (260+), now only using a test patch. My desire is to take a year to just get much stronger to a point where I can begin competing. I have always been a weak bodybuilder, unless I used gear. I dont want to use anymore because I feel much healthier.
My one rep PRs are awful, but I know I am stronger then this and I will improve.

Here are my one rep PRs, taken 2 weeks ago:

Squat: 255
Bench: 245
Deadlift: 385

I had better numbers two years ago, but that was two years ago.
I’ll be using a conjugate method for raw lifters. If you are experienced with conjugate as a raw lifter, please, by any means, give me advice. I train folks for a living, but I am my own worst client. Please dont be a douche. I will be relentless on embarrassing you if you are an asshole.
Because I am new to conjugate, I am identifying my weak points and training them. I will rotate my main lift every 3rd to 4th week, depending on how well I do. I am going to keep the assistance work the same until I stall.
My biggest asset is the book I use to find variations of the main lifts and accessory work.


Day 1 – Max Effort Squat/DL

Mobility/Plyo Jump 4/5/6x2

Low box squat – working up to a 1rm/Back down-75/80/85% of day’s best 2 x AMRAP (wave weekly %)
6/30 185x3, 235x3, 255x1, 275x1, 280x1 (pre 9) 225-6 / 5
6/23 185x3, 225x3, 245x3, 255x3 / 205x6,

Stiff leg deadlifts 4x4-6
6/30 225x6, 235x6, 245x6, 255x4
6/23 185x8, 8

Pull-Throughs 3-4x15
6/30 80x10, 10, 10, 9
6/23 80x10, 10,10,10,10

Reverse hypers 3x AMRAP
6/30 12, 13, 12 QA
6/23 12,12,10

Weighted carries 3 x75 yards
110 lbs

By the way, my gym I train in is Pure Focus. It’s the best gym in all of NJ, having a big powerlifting following.

1 Like

You should look people into Burley Hawk and obviously Matt Wenning. They’ll be your best best for raw conjugate.


Will do. Thanks oldbeancam Any other advice?

Not really because I’ve never ran it. But Burley’s sessions are very similar to mine and i like my training at the moment if that helps. Ha

I’m always looking for ideas to better the sessions. I love to read anything. My clients and athletes love that I do this, and it always helps me be better a better trainer and coach.

Show us the SQUAT RACKS!!! ANd DL platforms!!!

Disclaimer: haven’t run conjugate but I’ve given some thought to how I would.

For a raw lifter, and (kudos on the honesty) one who’s quite weak for their size, I’d probably start with using very, very basic variations for my ME work, use my comp style for DE work and the RE work for hitting weak points.

For example, for DE squats I’d use my comp setup, but pause in the hole using lower percentages of my max (say 60, 62.5, 65 in weeks one, two and three) for 8x3, then next cycle use slightly higher percentages but no pause and 12x2. For ME one cycle I’d pick something close to my comp setup that disadvantages me at my weak point. I tend to fall forward, so I’d go three weeks with a lower than normal bar and more forward lean, then next cycle keep the lean, put the bar back in its normal position and pause where I normally fail.

That way, you keep a large store of wider variations for when you really need them.

1 Like

I’ll get er done tomorrow morning

1 Like

Best thing that fixed my gait was weighted carries. I abhor cardio with a passion. I will do it but prefer a hard finisher and weighted carries have had a great effect on conditioning.
My DE setup is very similar to what you’ve suggested. I do pause squats with a percentage of my one rep max. Depth has never been a problem for me because I always did pause squats and Jefferson squats.

1 Like

where in jersey this at brother?



with a soundtrack

1 Like

Max Effort Bench

Ball Slam 4/5/6x2

40 lb Chains + barbell bench press (recorded weights without chains)– work up to a 1rm/Back down-65% of day’s best 2 x amrap
7/1 160x3, 175-2, 190x2, 225x1, 235x1, 240x1
175x6/8 (felt stronger than last week)
6/23 155x3, 165x2, 185x1, 195x 205x1, 215x1

Lat pulldown (wave up sets from week 1) 3-5x12
7/1 155x12, 160x10, 9, 6
6/23 145x12, 12, 155x12

Close grip bench press (wave up) 3-5x12
7/1 140x12, 12, 145x8, 8
6/23 135x10, 10, 140x10

Hammer strength overhead press 4x12
7/1 70x12, 12, 75x10, 8
6/23 50x12,12, 12,14

Iso preacher curl 3x12-15
40x12, 12, 10
Cable tricep extensions 2-3x12-20
80x12, 12, 12

Grip work

Cardio: 30 minutes of hills

Off day. Just rested, mobility work, and some walking the dog. Watched one of my athletes take first place in her powerlifting meet. 20 year old girl who squats 275 for 3 sets of 6 and doesnt break a sweat.


Dynamic lower body

2 second pause squats 12x2 65-75% of 1rm (30 s rest)
7/4 175x2------

Speed Deadlift singles 60% 6 x 1 (30 s rest)
7/4 270x1,-----(feeling stronger)

Single leg press 3-5 x 15
7/4 90x15, 100x10, 8,
6/21 90 x 10, 10, 5

Band Leg curl 2 minutes

Weighted bench sit-ups 4 x 15

Calf work 4x 12,10,8,6
70x12, 75x10, 85x8, 90x6

Battle ropes for 15 cycles, 30 on, 30 rest.

1 Like

Max Effort Squat/DL

Front squat work up to a hard 3tm/Back down-75% of day’s best 3×5-8
115x3, 135, 175x3, 185x3 / 140x5, 5, 6

Deadlift 5 x 3
240x3, 280x3, 315x3, 340x3, 3 (wasn’t sure that I would get a third on 360 lbs

Pullthroughs 3-4x12
85x12, 12, 95x10, 12

Weighted ab cable crunch 4 x 10-15
165x10, 10, 10, 8

1 Like

Pin Press @ notch 13 – work up to a 3rm/Back down-75% of day’s best 3×5-8
7/9 135x4, 185x3, 205x3, 215x3, 225x3 / 170x8, 6, 5

(Note: seeing a weak point in the middle of the ascent. Next week I’m going to change my secondary lift to floor press to see how that works)

Close grip bench press (wave) 3-5 6x12
7/9 145x10, 10,10, 10, 6
7/1 140x12, 12, 145x8,
6/23 135x10, 10, 140x10

Lat pulldown (wave) 3-5x12
7/8 160x12, 12, 165x9, 8, 8
7/1 155x12, 160x10, 9, 6
6/23 145x12, 12, 155x10

Changed my delt work to Blackburns.
My shoulders were fried from bench work. I’m going to work up to a 5rm on my second upper body work day for the first lift.

Cable tricep extensions+cable curl 4 x 12
85x12, 12, 90x11, 10
75x12,12, 85x10,10
80x12, 12, 80x12, 12
70x12, 12, 75x12, 12

Interesting stuff this week.
I’m starting to see where I really suck and I’m continuing to research the various lifts to fix the weak points. I’m also noticing that my joints don’t hurt as much because of more variety and most likely the increased amount of recovery time.
I love that I can switch things out if I don’t need to improve on that area and replace it with something to fix it improve on.