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Layer System with Strength Emphasis

Hey CT, in your opinion what is the best way to structure the layer system for solid strength gains? Currently I am doing the 2RM ramp, 3 cluster sets at 90%, 3 extended sets, and the 8x3 speed HDL at 50%. I am also cycling the cluster work. Also, on the extended sets, is it normal to only get one rep during the second micro sets? I usually have to grind very hard on these.

Thanks!

[quote]shanetrain49 wrote:
Hey CT, in your opinion what is the best way to structure the layer system for solid strength gains? Currently I am doing the 2RM ramp, 3 cluster sets at 90%, 3 extended sets, and the 8x3 speed HDL at 50%. I am also cycling the cluster work. Also, on the extended sets, is it normal to only get one rep during the second micro sets? I usually have to grind very hard on these.

Thanks![/quote]

When you are REALLY focusing on strength, HDL work can actually interfere with strength gains.

The best layer approach if strength is your main goal is:

  1. Ramp to 1RM
  2. 2 sets Cluster with 90%
  3. Ramp to 2RM
  4. 2 sets Cluster with 90% (of 2RM)
  5. Ramp to 3RM
  6. 1 set cluster with 90% (of 3RM)

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]shanetrain49 wrote:
Hey CT, in your opinion what is the best way to structure the layer system for solid strength gains? Currently I am doing the 2RM ramp, 3 cluster sets at 90%, 3 extended sets, and the 8x3 speed HDL at 50%. I am also cycling the cluster work. Also, on the extended sets, is it normal to only get one rep during the second micro sets? I usually have to grind very hard on these.

Thanks![/quote]

When you are REALLY focusing on strength, HDL work can actually interfere with strength gains.

The best layer approach if strength is your main goal is:

  1. Ramp to 1RM
  2. 2 sets Cluster with 90%
  3. Ramp to 2RM
  4. 2 sets Cluster with 90% (of 2RM)
  5. Ramp to 3RM
  6. 1 set cluster with 90% (of 3RM)[/quote]

CT does that apply to all of our ramp / cluster lifts if maximal strength is our goal? So the slight incline, slight decline, overhead pins, snatch high etc?

I’m curious how one would ramp to a 1RM and then ramp to a 2RM. I am also looking to emphasize on strength, but have been doing 1RM, 3 cluster sets or 3 HDL (serves as great conditioning) and speed HDL for technique.

CT,I wish I had read this before my workout this morning–2:30 AM. I did 1 through 4, as per an earlier post where you advocated doing the 2 rep max and clusters before the 1 rep max and clusters and would have done 5 and 6 instead of four speed sets. Wait until next time!

CT—I’ve thought a bit more about this since my prior post and, like Howie, I wonder how you go down from a 1 rep max, to 2 rep max to 3 rep max. Where do you start your rep for each descending rep max? Let me illustrate: suppose your 1 rep max is 100 units–pounds, kilos, or whatever–your clusters weight would be 90 units for two sets of cluster. If you start your 2 rep max at the 90 percent figure of your 1 rep cluster, you may get 1 or 2 sets but I would imagine you wouldn’t exceed or equal your 1 rep max.

Thus, where would you start your 2 rep max ramp–at 50 percent of your 1 rep max? 60 percent? 70 percent? When you reach your 2 rep max, for illustrative purposes let’s assume it is 80 units, then you would use 90 percent of that–72 units for your two sets of clusters. Then where do you start your 3 rep ramp? With 50 or 60 percent of your 2 rep max? For illustrative purposes again, let’s go with 60 percent–48 units. I assume, again, that your three rep max will be less than your 2 rep max–for illustrative purposes, let’s say 70 units.

Thus our three rep cluster weight would be 63 units, for two sets. I see a possible “kink” in these clusters–the possibility, since you are using a lighter weight than both the 1 and 2 ramp clusters, of getting more than 6 reps with your first 3 rep max cluster. Wouldn’t you then add more weight for your second set of clusters? It seems to me that if your reverse the process you would have a more logical basis to start the next ramp. Your working weight–90 percent of the three rep max–starts the weight for your 2 rep max, etc. You are dropping reps while adding weight. Does this make sense? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

I think the point of ramping to a new 2 and 3rm is to increase the volume but also the rpe of the lifts.

These are training maxes you’re going for, so after the first two clusters you now do your 2 rep training max, which might be close to that of a fresh 2rm if you say just walked into the gym OR it could be less.

We’re trying to build strength here, you can’t stay at 90% the whole workout, you can’t go high volume AND high intensity. Usually it is one or the other.

More muscle fibers will get recruited with this greater exhaustion leading to increase strength gains and muscle mass.

The best bet would be to try this out for 4-8 weeks on a movement and see how it works for you.

[quote]Sawinwright wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]shanetrain49 wrote:
Hey CT, in your opinion what is the best way to structure the layer system for solid strength gains? Currently I am doing the 2RM ramp, 3 cluster sets at 90%, 3 extended sets, and the 8x3 speed HDL at 50%. I am also cycling the cluster work. Also, on the extended sets, is it normal to only get one rep during the second micro sets? I usually have to grind very hard on these.

Thanks![/quote]

When you are REALLY focusing on strength, HDL work can actually interfere with strength gains.

The best layer approach if strength is your main goal is:

  1. Ramp to 1RM
  2. 2 sets Cluster with 90%
  3. Ramp to 2RM
  4. 2 sets Cluster with 90% (of 2RM)
  5. Ramp to 3RM
  6. 1 set cluster with 90% (of 3RM)[/quote]

CT does that apply to all of our ramp / cluster lifts if maximal strength is our goal? So the slight incline, slight decline, overhead pins, snatch high etc?[/quote]

Yes it could, although if one is using a non dead-stop movement (e.g. regular bench or squat) instead of clusters I`d do sets of 3 reps with 90%

corst–why can’t you stay at 90 percent for your clusters, assuming your 1 rep max weight for the 2 rep and 3 ramp are lower than the 1 rep max? I agree that if you stay at 90 percent of your 1 rep max for all three cluster layers you can’t stay at that amount. The point I’m trying to figure out is where do you, weight wise, start your ramps for the 2 and 3 rep max? My assumption is you start at a lower weight and work up to your 2 and 3 rep maxes, but where do you start those? Maybe a solution is to determine your 1, 2, and 3 rep maxes before starting the program and you have numbers you can reference for each of the three rep max ramps as a guide. Hope CT wages in on this as his thoughts would be crucial.

The 90% is from the ramp done immediately before… when you ramp up a 1RM, you do clusters with 90% of the 1RM, when you do a 2RM, you use 90% of your 2RM, etc.

CT, I understand that but I’m still puzzled by starting weight selection as you go from 1 rep max to 2 rep max to 3 rep max ramps. Once you get those maxes, sure no problem you use the 90 percent of that rep max for your clusters.

[quote]germanicus wrote:
CT, I understand that but I’m still puzzled by starting weight selection as you go from 1 rep max to 2 rep max to 3 rep max ramps. Once you get those maxes, sure no problem you use the 90 percent of that rep max for your clusters. [/quote]

Hey man, I was confused about this as well. However, I looked in CT’s forum page under the topic “Layer System Powerlifting” and he laid it out perfectly there for how to work up to a 2RM and a 3RM. Hope that helps.

Here is what it said there for this type of ramping. The clusters are replaced with “2 sets of 3” since it is a full lift, and not from pins. Sorry if this is incorrect CT.

  1. Ramp to 1RM (starting at about 60%)
  2. 2 sets of 3 reps with 90% of 1RM
  3. Ramp to 2RM (starting at about 80%)
  4. 2 sets of 3 reps with 90% of the 2RM
  5. Ramp to 3RM (starting at about 80%)
  6. 1 set of 3 reps with 90% of the 3RM

[quote]bassip21 wrote:
Here is what it said there for this type of ramping. The clusters are replaced with “2 sets of 3” since it is a full lift, and not from pins. Sorry if this is incorrect CT.

  1. Ramp to 1RM (starting at about 60%)
  2. 2 sets of 3 reps with 90% of 1RM
  3. Ramp to 2RM (starting at about 80%)
  4. 2 sets of 3 reps with 90% of the 2RM
  5. Ramp to 3RM (starting at about 80%)
  6. 1 set of 3 reps with 90% of the 3RM [/quote]

Correct, and on lift from pins you simply replace the sets of 3 by sets of clusters

CT In the clusters based on 90% of 2RM and 3RM, do you shoot for as many reps as possible, or stop at 6 or 7 reps?

[quote]pndpmt wrote:
CT In the clusters based on 90% of 2RM and 3RM, do you shoot for as many reps as possible, or stop at 6 or 7 reps?[/quote]

If you get 6, add more weight for the next set, if you can’t get 3, decrease the weight (if you have one more cluster to do)

bassip21 thanks for the information. Since I’m not particularly interested in powerlifting, I didn’t check that post. Again, thanks fro bringing it to my attention.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]pndpmt wrote:
CT In the clusters based on 90% of 2RM and 3RM, do you shoot for as many reps as possible, or stop at 6 or 7 reps?[/quote]

If you get 6, add more weight for the next set, if you can’t get 3, decrease the weight (if you have one more cluster to do)[/quote]

CT I understand that part for the clusters based off 90% of 1RM, but for the clusters based off your 3RM, wouldn’t that weight be light enough to get 6+ reps right from the start?

[quote]pndpmt wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]pndpmt wrote:
CT In the clusters based on 90% of 2RM and 3RM, do you shoot for as many reps as possible, or stop at 6 or 7 reps?[/quote]

If you get 6, add more weight for the next set, if you can’t get 3, decrease the weight (if you have one more cluster to do)[/quote]

CT I understand that part for the clusters based off 90% of 1RM, but for the clusters based off your 3RM, wouldn’t that weight be light enough to get 6+ reps right from the start?[/quote]

Probably not after all the work you did previously.

I tried it guys, worked out pretty immense.

I did my ramp to 1 rm, did the clusters, then I just started doing 2’s with the same weight, if I hit it fine I just added 2.5kg each time until I hit the 2MR. Once I took the 90% again, after the clusters, I was able to hit my 3RM, plus another 2 ramps of 2.5kg.

Worked really well, the only time I decreased the weight was when I took the 90%, at no point other then that did i need to decrease.