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HLM-ish Ed Coan Style intermediate Program

Hey guys!

I’ve recently moved into the very early stages of intermediate training, and I’m sick and tired of the SS 3x5/5x5 model. It’s been good to me and I’ve made great novice progress, but I’d just like to mix it up a bit for a period of time.

I recently “competed” in a mock gym meet, and managed the following lifts just at the end of novice LP:

Squat: 1x160kg
Bench: 1x115kg
Deadlift: 1x190kg
Press: 1x80kg

I considered dropping some weight and just doing a regular HLM, but then I thought better of it and decided I want a 220kg DL, 180kg squat, and 120kg bench before I lose some weight. Maybe. Unless I want a 250kg DL etc. when I get to my current goals… nothing new under the sun.

What I’ve sort of concocted is a template based on Ed Coans programming (based off some bodybuilding.com forum post about Coans programming for intermediates).

10 week cycles, starting with 8s for 2 weeks, 5s for 4 weeks, 3s for 2 weeks, 2s for a week, a final week working up to a single, and then a “meet week”.

The thing is, I don’t like only training the lifts 1 time per week. I’m fairly certain I need atleast twice a week for squats and benches. So I thought, why not make a sort of HLM version out of this program?

Monday: Squats, Benches + assistance, weights as calculated according to Coans outlines
Wednesday: (Light squats very quickly done as warmups), Press, Deadlift routine (Coan/Philipi thing)
Friday: Squats, Benches + assistance, somewhere between 80-90% of Mondays weights

On Sunday’s I usually do some strongman training with a strongman group in my city, farmer’s walks, apollon’s presses, tyre flips, atlas stones etc. This is just for fun and not for entering competitions, I just really like the training style. This training is the first I’ll cut if I need more recovery.

It’s hard for me to spread the weight training over more days than Mon, Wed, Fri because of kids, family, work, all that regular jazz. I would like to bench on separate days from squatting if I could, but atleast for now it’d be optimal for the rest of my life to keep the two together.

What do you guys feel about this layout, any tweaks, changes or other thoughts?

FYI: there are still advanced lifters training 5’s regularly. Coan did 5’s regularly his entire career.

Take a couple of weeks and hit some heavy singles.

How do you do your 5x5?

  1. 225x5x5?
  2. 45x5 95x5 135x5 185x5 225x5?

You could work up to a single heavy set of 5 for a couple of weeks to break it up.

Say: 45x5 95x5 135x3 185x1 225x1 235x5

You could also throw in some heavy singles for a couple weeks also.

Say: 45x5 95x5 135x3 185x3 225x1 245x1 265x1

I’d advise not to make too many changes all at once.

5’s have worked for a very long time for some of the greatest powerlifters ever, including some of the greats today. Dan Green, Lillibridge’s Tyler Butcher all still utilize the 5 often in training as a work set or sets.

First, if the 3x5/5x5 has been good to you and still is being good to you I’d really recommend sticking to it - if you need a little variety add in some extra assistance work at the end of each session to keep you interested.

Second, how much do you weigh and how tall are you? I’m just asking to get an idea of your size compared to your lifts.

However, if you really can’t get excited about doing 3/5x5 any more you probably will do well to change it up a bit. If this is the case I’d recommend either 5/3/1, since it works and is a bit different to what you’ve been doing; or the Texas Method, which is a logical progression from what you’ve been doing. Niether are dyed in the wool powerlifting programs, but they’ll still get you stronger and 5/3/1 especially has several variants that should satisfy your thirst for change.

I think the main question you need to ask yourself (and answer honestly because there isn’t a wrong answer) is what you want out of your training:

  1. do you want to have fun more than anything and you’re not too worried about how much stronger you get or how long it takes?


  1. is your main concern getting stronger in the big three, with that being the reward and training the means of getting it?

If the answer is 1, by all means mix it up. If the answer is 2, see how much more you can get out of what you’ve been doing - if you need it, add some fluff at the end of each session for fun but not so much you won’t recover.

Just my two cents’ worth.