T Nation

Maximum Strength


I thought this would be the best place to post this. Basically, I've been lifting for about a year and a half. Spent the summer cutting fat, and have put on about 15 lbs since the time I took my avi with some high volume TBT. I decided I want to spend a good 16 weeks getting stronger and quicker. I know Cressey's a bad ass in this territory, and although this program is "old news" I thought I'd do Maximum Strength. My goal for the four months is to get my 1RM powerlifting total to 1100 lbs. I haven't tested my maxes since the end of last year, but I'd have to guess myself at anywhere between 900-950. At that time I hit 405 DL for 2RM, 325 squat for 2RM, and I actually only did db press on which I hit 105 for 2RM.

Has anyone on here had experience with this program? I'd like to know if you think my goal is reasonable for a four month time frame considering I still have so much room to grow being relatively new to the training scene. I'm also curious as to people's thoughts on this particular program. Any input is welcome. My only qualm at this time is that the program emphasizes pulling over pushing. Truth is all my push exercises (bench, military, etc.) are weak sauce and I'm actually happy with my pulls (weighted chins, rows, etc.) I think it stems from 11 years of competitive swimming as a young'un. Is it plausible to replace a couple of the pulls with some heavy overhead presses (barbell, db, from pins, etc...)?

Thanks in advance!


Here's my log from back when I ran it (trip down memory lane, wow): http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_log/maximum_strength_with_ironabrams

1100 is ambitious but doable especially if you're willing to gain at least 10 lbs through the course of the program.

As for the pushing v pulling, don't mess with any of it. Give them both all you've got and you'll get the results you're looking for.


I just completed Cressey's Maximum Strength program and overall I was pretty satisfied with the results.

A little background - I'm 22 and have been lifting for 2-3 years now. I still have some considerable room for improvement but the gains on made on Cressey's program were decent in my opinion. I increased my deadlift 1RM by about 30lbs and my Bench 1RM by about 20. The thing I liked most about the program was that it was well-rounded, so to say. It included warm-ups as well as exercises joint health/integrity, which is something I needed to focus on more.

Without actually going back and flipping through the actual workouts, I'd have to disagree that the program places more emphasis on pulling than it does pushing. Cressey includes a lot of horizontal pushing exercises - bench presses (regular, speed, two-board), push-ups (regular, close-grip, w/resistance-band), incline presses (close-grip, dumbbell). And in the later phases he includes some pin presses as well. I actually pushed myself too hard and ended up getting tendonitis in my left arm. Could also be because I slacked off on the mobility stuff.

Like IronAbrams said, your goal is ambitious but I think if you put the effort into it you could increase your 1RM powerlifting total by 100 or so pounds. Best of luck-


I meant that there are not a lot of vertical pushing exercises. Only isolation work for the shoulders, but no heavy overhead stuff.


If you are going to do the program, just do the program as written, don't change anything.

I did the program when I was weak as shit right when I first started lifting. My box squat went from 225 to 315, bench 225 to 245, and deadlift 325 to 365 I think.

Maximum strength is well written and well worth your time, all you can do is work your ass off for the 16 weeks and see where you end up.


I did it and absolutely loved it. I only put on a few lbs of scale weight but everyone I knew commented on how much bigger and leaner I looked. The only problem was the day I was supposed to do my final testing I got a virus and had to be hospitalized and not only lost all of the gains I got on the program, but some even before that. It took me close to 5 months to get back to where I was at the start of the program, haha. If you're gonna do it, do it as written. It's definitely worth it. Oh, eat like your life depended on it. You're gonna need the cals.


Wow! So your total went up 150 lbs...gives me hope.


My only complaint is that I found the 4 week rotation of exercises a bit frustrating. I felt like by the time I'd got them down it was time to move on to the next 4 week block.


Take my results with several grains of rock salt. 90 pounds of that came from squat alone, before I did the program I had only trained legs about 3-5 times ever, all doing pussy half assed workouts.

If I did it again and got 150 lbs out of it now, I would send Eric Cressey a check for $200.


Anyone have a link to the original program? The search function didn't give much.


It is a book, its about $16, you can find it at a variety of book stores or on amazon.


I ordered it from here, but don't know if they're still selling it.


i ordered mine 3 weeks ago from amazon, still haven't got it though : (


I'm here to bump this with a question. On his sets and reps he'll say "5x4" is this ramped up to a top sets (165x4, 175x4,185x4,195x4,205x4) or straight sets (205x4, repeat four more times).

Also, did anyone replace the box squat with the free squat? Thanks.


I did straight sets most of the time but Eric also likes something he calls the "Rule of 90%". For example, you ramp up on your warm-ups for front squat something like 95x5, 135x4, 185x3, and then 225x6 is a near max, within one rep of failure set.

That was your first set of 6 and today calls for 4x6 so you have 3 more to go. The weight on your next three sets should be within 90% of your top set. So 220x6, 210x6 and 205x6 would all count but 195x6 would not. Ramping up to a top weight on your first set and then gauging the others off of that is a sound strategy. If you do the same exercise two sessions in a row than that helps too since you already have a frame of reference.

You could also warm up the way you posted (165x4, 175x4,185x4,195x4,205x4), in that case your 185x4, 195x4 and 205x4 sets would all count towards your 5x4 for the day. You would need two more sets in between 185 and 205 to finish up.

As for box squats I would encourage you to do them as long as you're doing them properly, Westside style. By that I mean a controlled negative onto the box, no dropping, a slight rock on the box and then hip and leg drive off of the box with no good morning-ing. Box height should be around parallel with for most people of average height is not a bench. I did actually use a bench for most of the program and gained 50 lbs on my free squat but my sticking point is in the quarter squat position which is very unusual.