T Nation

Long-Term Programming Question


I’m a 33 year old with relatively low 1RMs. I’m a tennis player, with a tennis player’s build (tall and thin). In a thread in 2014 (which seems to have vanished since this forum changed formats) you suggested the following for longer-term programming:

3-6 weeks – low intensity, high volume (Forever BBB)
3-6 weeks – medium intensity, medium volume (SSL, 5’s PRO, with jokers on week 6)
3-6 weeks – high intensity, low volume (SVR II or FSL/jokers on 3 and 6)

I have finished a 6-week cycle of the original BBB (I don’t know what the “Forever” version is) with the “less boring” adjustment (squat supplemental on deadlift day, etc.). I kept up with the program and at least hit the minimum reps each day (usually I got 10 reps on 5+, 6 on 3+, and 2 or 3 on 1+). I think I am ready to move to the next phase and want to make sure I’ve got the programming right.

  1. For “SSL, 5’s Pro, with jokers on week 6” I assume you are suggesting 5’s Pro for the assistance lifts, NOT the main lifts. The Main lifts would be Warm-Up+5/3/1+SSL, right?
  2. Is the SSL for one set, three sets, five sets?
  3. I liked mixing my supplemental sets (e.g., 5x10 with BBB) with my main sets (5/3/1) so I ended up squatting twice a week, but I only see this approach advertised for BBB. Can I do this with SSL+5’s Pro or any other template?
  4. Any other programming suggestions based on my goal of maintaining/increasing power and speed on the court?


Are you currently playing tennis now?


I am currently doing one-hour group drill sessions once per week and playing a casual game once a month or so. I am considering playing in a league in a few months.


I would offer this as a solution if you want to get the most out of tennis - take this with a grain of salt as I’m only relying on my own experience in football and track.

First, your training, as an athlete, should never be BBB. Ever.
Second, your training MUST be more than lifting - you have address agility, speed work and conditioning.
Third, your training, even in the off-season, should have some more skill work.

Periodizing your training during the off-season, for the weight work need not be terribly difficult.

3 cycles of 5’s PRO with SSL (5x5)
2 cycles of PR work and FSL (5x5)

Then reset.

So lifting should be 2-3 days/week.
Conditioning/Agility 2-3 days/week
Skill work - min of 3 days/week
Mobility/recovery - 7 days/week

Do not confuse GPP with SPP - in other words, training in the weight room is GENERAL, not specific. Don’t mimic “tennis moves” with weights. Tennis, like many sports, is probably on the “Specific, not general” training bandwagon. I see these sports as ripe for someone to step-up and apply these principles. But changing a paradigm is difficult and I don’t see it happening soon…or even ever.


Thanks Jim, that’s great info. Glad to hear about BBB. While I enjoyed doing it, I can barely get my thighs in my pant legs these days.

I’ll admit that winter has put a damper on my conditioning, though I have continued to walk, bike, ski, and/or skate on a near-daily basis. The USTA has a lot of programming that appears to combine conditioning and skill pretty effectively ( http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/8701_PD_NCAA_Plans.pdf and https://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Sport-Science/249179_Movement_Training_and_TennisSpecific_Conditioning/). However, if I can squeeze it all in I’d like to add some tire dragging, weighted walking, hill sprints, or fartlek running on unpaved surfaces.

Just so I’m crystal clear, a lifting day during the first week of a 5’s PRO with SSL cycle would look like this, right?

Warm up sets, then:

Can/should I mix up the lifts and do for example Squat 5’s Pro and Deadlift SSL on the same day? Then on Deadlift day do Deadlift 5’s Pro and Squat SSL?