T Nation

Moving on from Strength Skill Circuit Program


Hey CT,
After completing 8 phases of the strength skill circuit I feel I need to change as my weights have increased greatly and with the circuit style Ill find it hard to increase progression…

I have had the best time on this program, with this style of training being my favourite and I have made some incredible results in size and weights lifted for example I comfortably do 225lbs for reps on the bench and do 135lbs for reps on the military press…

I like this style of training and the type of physic it builds so what are your thoughts on doing the Russian strength skill program?

Is this a good program to produce similar results to the strength skill circuit? For me to increase mass and athletic build? If not, what program would you recommend?

I enjoy working out 6 days a week so could I add an extra Manual Labor Workout on day 3? So I can hit Olympic style lifts twice a week…

Thanks for the help with this,


I did this program for a cycle and then stole it and turned it into something else. It’s an awesome program. Why not just change the prescribed lifts to Olympic lifts, variations, and related lifts and leave it a five day program?

(Yes, I read that you like working out six days a week.)


Thanks cmorano for the reply…

How did you go with size/mass gain when you did the program?

Also when you changed the program into something else what did that look like?

Thanks for the help


I didn’t really have time to gain any size. Also, I don’t eat enough to gain mass. I think you would need several cycles of this program to gain significant mass but I definitely had the post workout pump. I think you can do better if you are looking for a mass program. I used this program to recover strength after a maintenance program during ski season. I had to keep adding weight though because the lifts would get too light for singles to do anything. I was using a combination of RPE and VBT to know how much weight to add. This program helped me find reasonable training maxes and get some good technical practice.

Using the Russian Strength Skill program I determined some things about my progress. I found I do much better with more frequency. Twice a week is the way to go for me. I also like the two day blocks and the Saturday work capacity session. Finally, the singles scheme reminded me of cluster sets. I took this information and created a 12 week strength and conditioning program that will prepare me for a more specific skiing meso which will land me right at the beginning of ski season.

Since the program I wrote is a bit taxing I split it into three week blocks, not four. The third week is a conditioning week - for deload. I need conditioning. It helps me carry build and carry strength. I am not so advanced that interference is a problem. Also, the programs I use don’t have strongly incompatible training modes. Here are the lifts I chose: squat, power clean (on cluster set days, hang clean high pull on strength days), press, weighted pull ups. Monday and Tuesday are cluster sets for conditioning, Thursday and Friday (which became Friday and Saturday, so the work capacity day is optional during the two week strength blocks) are strength days. It’s almost like running two separate programs over each other but is really just a DUP. I used submaximal weights and wrote set sizes based on relative intensity. The only really hard part of this program is the cluster sets, the days after… But I’ll claim that these have greatly improved my conditioning. And the strength format has improved my strength, I just finished 5 x 3 @ 85% and the weights were almost too easy, though I did not measure velocity. I mostly use velocity to monitor squats during the clusters. The tests at the end of twelve weeks will be HR recovery and 5RM.

I am finishing six weeks now (yay half way!) and I have found some things to change. For example, there is no coherence with the cluster progression from one three week block to the next. But here is the current format…

Week 1
15 x 1 @ 80% (30s rest between reps) (clusters listed first)
4 x 6 @ 70% (all strength days use 3 min rest between sets) (strength days listed second)
Week 2
15 x 1 @ 80% + 2.5/5 (30s) add for 2.5# upper or 5# lower body
4 x 5 @ 75%
Week 3
Tempo intervals, prowler work, sprinting, agility cone drills, boxing/kali speed drills (medium intensity, 4x/week)
Week 4
10 x 3 @ 65% (30s) - not a dynamic effort work out, but try getting that velocity
5 x 4 @ 80%
Week 5
10 x 3 @ 65% + 2.5/5 (30s)
5 x 3 @ 85%
Week 6
sprints, complexes, tempo intervals, et cetera (medium intensity, 4x/week)

The following weeks are written but not yet tuned in. I am not sure if my peak and taper are right. Conditioning week is also for hypertrophy, mobility, and addressing imbalances. It’s only a week but it’s designated - as opposed to, “I fix problems when they arise”.

Week 7
8 x 1 @ 85% (1 min rest)
6 x 3 @ 85%
Week 8
8 x 1 @ 85% + 2.5/5 (1 min rest)
5 x 1 @ 90%
Week 9
condition (high intensity 2x/week, low 2x/week)
Week 10 (as close to a deload or taper as it gets in this meso)
8 x 1 @ 70% (30s)
4 x 2 @ 80%
Week 11
Test 5RM (or AMRAP at 90%) and HR recovery
Week 12
Condition (low intensity, 3x/week)

If I do this again I would try Haff’s prescribed clusters, and direct program to strength only. Then I’d try a separate block focused on conditioning only using other types of clusters. I really dig these clusters. There are numerous ways to change the variables in clusters for a variety of training effects. Caution: you can destroy yourself or build yourself with clusters. Very powerful stuff. Haff’s clusters are reasonable and sane. The clusters I did here are intense. Those numbers might not look like much on paper but they are tough. I thought that 15 x 1 @ 80% (30s) required focus, then I got to the 10 x 3 @ 65% (30s) weeks.


That was very helpful, thanks for the detailed input…



Could try this -similar and very effective…


Thats great RampantBadger, that program looks awesome, definitely my type of training…

Ill keep this program up my sleeve after I do a couple of weeks of the Russian Strength Skill program see how I go with that…

Ill keep posted with my progress…

Thanks again,