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How to Periodize Main Lifts During a 12 Week Template?

Hi Coach, hope you are doing well.

Based on your template “How I added 100 pounds to my deadlift”, I wanted to create a 12 week program using some of the rep schemes you have mentioned in this article:"22 proven rep schemes

I would use four 3-week blocks where each block increases in intensity.

So you would use four different loading schemes for the main lifts over a span of 12 weeks.

  1. What could be a logical order? You shared this in a previous topic( Olympic Lifts in 'How I Added 100 Pounds to My Deadlift' Template)

WEEKS1-3: 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 2, 1 x 1
WEEKS 4-6: Ramping to 3RM
WEEKS 7-9 (currently): Ramping to 2RM, then lower by 20-30lbs and do 2 reps EMOM for 10 minutes
WEEKS 10-12: Contrast set - first rep with about 90%, then lower by 40lbs and do max reps (in the same set) for 4 sets

Would be great if you could give some other examples.

  1. The assistance exercises would stay the same for six weeks where you could use double progression for the first half and rest-pause for the second half.

  2. Is it enough to test my 1RM at the end of the 12 weeks or more frequently? How should I progress within the loading schemes?( hopefully you understand what I mean)

All laid out here…

(Admittedly 10 weeks)

then could follow on with this…

1 Like

thank you for your reply but I want to create my own plan.

If your goal is strength you normally want to use more of a linear approach, from the schemes where the average load is lower working your way up to the schemes where the average load is higher.

If size is your main goal you will often do best to do the opposite (maybe doing one moderate phase, then going heavy and gradually working toward adding volume).

If you want a combo you should probably alternate between volume and intensity blocks.

For example;

Weeks 1 - 3 = lowest average loads, highest average volume
Weeks 4-6 = second heaviest loads, second lowest volume
Weeks 7 - 9 = slightly heavier than weeks 1-3, slightly lower volume
Weeks 10-12 = heaviest, lowest volume

And ideally, from week to week in the “volume” blocks your goal should be to increase volume (adding reps or even sets) while at least maintaining the same weight (adding weight not being the main goal) whereas in the “heavy” blocks the goal should be to add weight from week to week.

So if my main goal is strength I could do something like this:

WEEKS 1-3: 7/5/3 Wave

WEEKS 4-6: 5/4/3 Wave

WEEKS 7-9: 1/6 Contrast

WEEKS 10-12: 5/4/3/2/1

I consider weeks 1-6 as the “volume” blocks though not being optimal because it could be hard to consistently add volume to the waves ( need your help here) and 7-12 as “intensity” blocks.

Weeks 7-12 should be good but I´m not quite sure with weeks 1-6.

Can I use your alternative too? ( starting post)

Thank you for your time

What you can do is:

Week 1: 5/4/3 waves
Week 2: 6/5/4 waves
Week 3: 7/6/5 waves
Here you should shoot for maintaining the same weights from week to week while adding the 1 rep per set

Week 4: 1/4 contrast
Week 5: 1/5 contrast
Week 6: 1/6 contrast
Again, with the goal of using the same weights with the additional rep per set

Week 7: Poliquin cluster (5 reps / 20 sec between reps)
Week 8: Miller extensive cluster (4-6 reps /30-45 sec between reps)
Week 9: Miller intensive cluster (3-4 reps / 45-60 sec between reps)
Here you would obviously add weight from week to week

Week 10: 5/4/3/2/1
Week 11: 3/2/1 waves
Week 12: Ramp up to 1RM


That was super helpful :+1:

I guess the “style” of the assistance exercises is good, so double progression on the first half and rest-pause on the second half over the course of 12 weeks ?

Should I limit to two waves?

Should I do 3 pairings and go to failure on the very last set? https://www.t-nation.com/training/22-proven-rep-schemes

Yes. With “higher” rep waves you only do two

You progress in load from wave to wave (pairing to pairing) you don’t need to reach failure on the last one, but you should definitely not be able to do one heavier set.

And only the sets of “higher reps” should get progressively heavier

I just recommended this article to someone. One of my all time favorite t-nation posts. Greatest strength progress I ever made on the 4 days per week like that.

Thanks for that CT!

Though I understand the basic concept of contrast sets, I´m a bit confused by your answer now.
Does that mean that the “activation” sets do not go heavier from pairing to pairing?

Which percentages should I use in the first week for the first set of 4 reps?

I would go like that:

Week 1 - 1/4 Contrast

90% x 1
82,5% x 4
92,5% x1
85% x4
95% x1
87,5% x4

Week 2- 1/5 Contrast

90% x1
82,5% x5
92,5% x1
85% x5
95% x1
87,5% x 5

Week 3 - 1/6 Contrast

90% x1
82,5% x6
92,5% x1
85% x6
95% x1
87,5% x6

My second question is which percentages should I use for the Miller extensive/intensive cluster?

I mean that the sets of 1 should not go up from wave to wave. Their purpose is to activate the nervous system more for the “work sets” (sets of 4, 5 or 6 reps).

If you perform a 1/4 contrast the target for your last set of 4 will be around 87.5% (even though I personally don’t work in percentages, but it will give you an idea), for the 1/5 contrast around 85% and for the 1/6 around 82.5%.

The sets of 1 will be adjusted accordingly, to at least give a small overload versus the heaviest “work set”.

For example (and keep in mind that I don’t really use percentages, this is for better illustration of the concept).

92.5% x 1
82.5% x 4
92.5% x 1
85% x 4
92.5% x 1
87.5 %x 4

90% x 1
80% x 5
90% x 1
82.5% x 5
90% x 1
85 %x 5

90% x 1
77.5% x 6
90% x 1
80% x 6
90% x 1
82.5 %x 6


Again, I don’t use percentages for several reasons:

  1. Depending on training experience, muscle fiber make-up and neurological efficiency, the number of reps you can do at a given percentage can vary.

  2. Depending on your fatigue or stress level on a given day what is your true 80% might be 90% for that day or 77.5%.

  3. The body doesn’t progress linearly. So using percentages progression rarely work.

YES I have written percent based programs in the past. But it is not how I work 90% of the time (pun intended).

As for te Miller cluster, I have written about them in past articles and given percentage ranges.


Hey CT,

What RPE would such a set of 4 reps at 87.5 % be? To me that seems like a RPE 9-9.5

I read you don’t work in percentages, but could you guess how heavy that last set usually is when you see it being done by your clients?

Thank you very much. Now I understand it better

When I program I do include the RPE in the prescription. I’ll show you an example:

The last set of a contrast set up will be a 9 - 9.5 indeed.

The 9 is how the client felt before the session and the 8 represents the perceived quality of his session.


Ok thanks!
That seems hard but it’s only one really heavy set.
There will be a deload included I’d guess. Sounds very interesting. Is there usually a recovery problem if used for all big lifts? Are there restrictions?