powerlifting pendulum training?

i already read the article and would like to try pendulum training…could anybody give me an example of a program using CTs gudelines…?..any comment would help…


Well you could use one week for max effort lifts and the next week dynamic effort type work etc

If you are gonna do that, then why not just use them in the same week.

recovery :slight_smile:

less boredom or something - who knows :wink:

Well I’m doing a form of pendulum right now, but not exactly like how CT layed it out in his article

Although it sounds like pendulum training might work well, i still dont think it could be better than the conjugate method where max effort, dynamic and repitition work is all done in the same week, thereby increasing force, velocity, hypertrophy and endurance.

yeah, i’m a big fan of westside’s conjugate periodization as well for my athletic needs. but CT’s work is tried by him and his athletes to produce consistent results. i’m gonna try the athlete pendulum for a while just to do something different than the modified westside template i’ve used for nearly 2 years. westside is the best method i’ve ever used to date for myself btw.

BTW, one can still use the basic principles of the Westside method with a pendulum twist.

Week 1: Structural training: no max effort (competition exercises performed for 6-8 reps). Keep on doing dynamic effort. Assistance work is done “bodybuilding-style”

Week 2: Limit strength training: regular max effort workouts done twice a week instead of one (use different exercises each time, working different parts of the lift). Dynamic effort is done but with half the volume (3-5 sets) and is performed once a week following the second max effort workout of the week. Assistance work is done for 3-6 reps. Use a load of chains, but no bands.

Week 3: Power training: Dynamic effort is done as usual, but twice per week for each lift. The max effort work is included but instead of going for a 1RM you go for a 3RM only once a week. Assistance work consist only of explosive lifts, jumps and throws. Use a lot of bands instead of chains.

Week 4: Same as Week 2

Week 5: Structural training. Unload the CNS by performing only assistance exercises with light loads (bodybuilding training). This is help the CNS recover and will give the joints a break.

guys…personally i don?t like westside training…whenever i do power work i do the olympic lifts variations…power clean and snatch from hang or blocks and push jerks…actually i liked CTs guidelines because you don?t need to do power work…i hope you could help me…


C.T. could you please post an example of how the power and limit strength workouts would look like? Are these full body workouts? Would placeing isometric work on one of the max effort days be advisable? Thanks.

Could one use a different isometric method each week as well?


You all are asking basic questions that CT outlines in his book. He is more than generous here, but you should get his book. I am a trainer, and have been using many of the same ideas that CT outlines in his book. I love the book, but am almost pissed he gives you all so much. If you are well versed already his second book is invaluable. He lays out many of the training methods in a chart form… so it is organized. Many guys here read one kool idea and hop on that train for a while…then hop on another later.

The idea is to categorize every little trick or secret into a comprehensive menu. This way when you cycle into a hyper phase, or a strength-speed phase, you can look at your menu…plus, if you are using the conjugate method, you can alter your dynamic work monthly, instead of just waving it… you can alter your repetition work monthly, etc.

CT lays out many great, and I mean great techniques for you in the book…and creates a menu for you…a guideline… i personally just took what I didn’t have of his, and added it to my menu…

If you don’t get his book, I feel you all are foolish… and I have never met CT… in fact, if you spend all this time here trolling these threads, and you don’t get his book, I will go so far as to say you deserve your plight if you are stuck. It is that good, and that is a bold statement coming from a guy with upwards of 125+ training books and videos. I was honestly kinda pissed he gave out such good stuff… now, when I finish my football books and write a training book, it will have to be that much better… he has literally raised the bar… but that is a good thing for you all.

This is coming from a guy who has 5 kids under him getting D1 scholarships this year… including a kid who is running a 4.36 electronic 40 (down from a 4.65 22 months ago), and has coached numerous collegiate all-americans… I know the goods, and CT has given you all some absolute gems. Trust me when I say he has written what others should have, but didn’t.

That all being said, one of the biggest drawbacks of the westside system for athletes is that it taxes the CNS 4 days a week with no unloading weeks. Add in some acceleration, max speed, and plyo work, and your CNS is toast within a month… even if you are using gear… either that, or you aren’t really maxing and being explosive.

That being said, the conjugate method is truly the way to go, in my opinion. So, the athlete must figure out another way.

Since my athletes are on block schedules, we use a M-W-F lifting schedule one week (following a Joe Kenn (another fine book)), and a Westside schedule on the T-R week of classes, with M and F lifts after school. This allows our MT RF week to be week number 2 and 4, so it is easy to increase volume during week 2, and really back off an week 4 and test on R & F.

The pendulum system has the same effect for the athlete, in that it allows the CNS recovery every 5th week… this is necessary, unless you are a beast. It also allows most of us the opportunity to grow a bit while we rest our nervous system. At 205, I like that idea. I have always been really fast, but never a beast… now that I am getting older… I want to try being big… sounds fun. The pendulum system allows this while still producing stunning gains in power, especially if you are continually choosing different methods from your ‘menu’.

So to recap…

If you like westside…great! So do I!

But, until you have given pendulum a try, don’t hypothesize whether one can be better than the other… they both hhave applications, and I believe, that for the average athlee out there, he either has to cycle westside, or he will falter. Pendulum is just a way to do that: alter the focus of a conjugate system. It waves just like westside does, only it waves the way it taxes the CNS one step further to allow recovery and promote growth. This last point is incredibly important in my opinion.

If you have tried both… let us know… I have, so I have posted. If you haven’t tried both, postulate on the coming of the end, or on the lottery, but not on whether one method is better… that is just silly, at best.

My view.

Coach H

Silverback, its awesome to hear from you in this forum. I have both of C.T. ebooks as well as Joe Kenns book and let me tell everyone that you could invest in all three for less than $100
and you will have more information than 90% of the strength coaches in the world. I agree that C.T. and the crew at Elite Fitness ,you included coach H,
give so much free information we are selfish to keep asking for more. However I do think with all the information I have obtained, personaly I suffer from a case of information overeaching, my biggest problem is in application of such information into a suitable plan. I understand the principles behind the pendulum system as well as the tier system but fitting it into a long term plan is where I run into problems because of the different techniques I want to incorporate.
I do appreciate all the help you guys give to us silly amateurs in our quest for understanding. Please don’t misinterpret our desire to learn for greed though I can see how it can be seen that way also forgive me for this rant and Coach H, keep the ball rolling I would love to hear more about how you have fit conjugate periodisation into your monthly plans.


I am a different Coach H than the Coach H on Elite… I think he is a big guy… I am a fast guy… but, I think he is big and fast… I am only about 212 as of last night.

One of the easiest things to do is to lay out a yearly plan, like in Kenn’s book.

If you are an athlete, I would either use pendulum, a modified tier system (more on this in a second), or use ascending-descending.

The tier system is cool due to this:

My first two exercises for the three days is always a power and a MaxS exercise. Then the third is a big compound movement.

So, for Total Body Exercises I would do this:
Tier 1 Clean; Tier 2 Trap Bar Dead w/shrug and toes; Tier 3 Front Squat and Press; Tier 4 Overhead DB Squats; Tier 5 Iron Cross

For Lower Body:
Tier 1 Box Squat (westside); Tier 2 Squat; Tier 3 Bulgarian Squat; Tier 4 Circle Lunges; Tier 5 Reverse Hyper

For Upper Body:
Tier 1 Jammer (or x-pushups); Tier 2 Bench; Tier 3 Bent Rows; Tier 4; Skull Crushers; Tier 5 Chins

Now here is the kool part:

Tier 1 and Tier 2 are interchangeable… depending on what the block’s emphasis is… so I put power first, then Strength, then Tier 3, tier 4 , tier 5.

But, I change the number of sets!

So, on Hyper emphasis block on Total Day I would use 4U-6T-5L-3U-2T, but the upper is my X-Upper exercise, where the 6 sets of T is the trab bar dead.

On Hyper U I would use 4L-6U-5T-3L-2U… the lower is box squat, and the upper is bench.

Does this make sense?

On Hyper and Power phases, the power exercise is Tier 1, but on Strength phase, the power exercise is placed as tier 2…

Then, you just manipulate the number of sets so that your emphasis gets the most sets:

Hyper Block
4 power
6 Strength
5 Hyper(tier 3)
3 Tier 4
2 Tier 5

Power Block
6 Power
5 Strength
4 Hyper (tier 3)
3 Tier 4
2 Tier 5

Strength Block
6 Strength
5 Power
4 Hyper (tier 3)
3 Tier 4
2 Tier 5

On hyper block the day’s emphasis is actually the second exercise, but we do the power first so we are fresh for explosives.

I hope this makes sense. It helps you to use blocks and Kenn’s stuff at the same time. Now just use what technique of Hyper, what technique of strength, and what power rep scheme you want to use… and you are basically done.

With so many different Hyper, Power, and Maxs rep schemes out there (ie. wave load, 1-6, pre-fatigue, post-fatigue, cluster,etc), you should have about 758 years worth of training just through writing down the articles here and those three books.

Keep on reading, and keep us posted on the progress.

Lil’ Coach H


I agree great post SB

Kenn’s tier system is a great one. On his old site he had a ~20page article outlining it. Awesome… Well SB just outlined the gist of the tier program in a single post. For conjugate fans this post is worth saving

Thanks Silverback. I should have realized you were another coach H when you listed your bodyweight in the low 200s but your programs are similar. I printed your response and will put it into practice today. You have given me alot to work with.

What was Kenn’s old site?

Coach H,

This is from one of your earlier posts,

“Since my athletes are on block schedules, we use a M-W-F lifting schedule one week (following a Joe Kenn (another fine book)), and a Westside schedule on the T-R week of classes, with M and F lifts after school. This allows our MT RF week to be week number 2 and 4, so it is easy to increase volume during week 2, and really back off an week 4 and test on R & F.”

Im a little confused on your 4 week structure, the first week is the tier system, then you switch to a westside split?? Could you lay out how the four week block is structured? (ME days, DE days)

westside could be considered pendulum training, training 2 qualities, the microcycle being half a week, …

dynamic - max effort - dynamic - max effort

Hope my ramblings made some sense… if the guys who had Kenn’s old article wanted to post it, or wanted to add it to one of their own sites, that would be great for the people who do not know what it is. I recommend the book.

If you hop back and forth between westside and Tiers, then on the MT RF week you can do it just like westside with a Dynamics on MT and Maxes on RF, or you can do like Chris suggested and alternate them… neither is wrong.

I currently consult for a number of HS’s, and they alll have very dissimilar schedules, so I often have to get very creative…

For freshmen I usually stick with teaching the basic lifts in a progression, and then having them do a modified bodyduilder type routine… I know aaarggh, but a solid base is really needed here, and I am not one to let 14-15 year olds do MaxS type work. We lift them 3 days a week usually, using a modified tier system. If they are on a block, I use a tier on MWF and a modified positions of flexion program. This was an old ironman program, and is actually pretty good. It can be altered for your own tastes, but it basically is a lower volume bodybuilder workout. I keep the young ones to about 42 sets per week as a base. The tier is 4-3-3-2-2 sets basically durin week 2-3.

Sophmores get some more of the same, but we use some neat techniques to help train the CNS a bit in the weight room. CT gives some good ideas on ways to bust sticking points… without torching these young guy’s tendons. We also use some pre-ex stuff, and continue with building a base. For the first two years, core work and especially spinal erector work is huge, along with building a strong dynamic range of motion. We use GPP, and many martial arts type of movements to build core and dynamic strength in wide ranges of motion. This strengthening/stretching is very similar to what pavel and CT recommend… although they both approach the same premise from different angles, namely that you must strengthen a muscle in a range for the nervous system to give it freedom to move there.

3rd and 4th years (these are guys who have been lifting for 2 years…period…not just 11th or 12th graders) use a tier system and a westside template. While I love the clean personally, I am not there with these kids day in and day out, so many times they will only do it once per two weeks. Personally, I use the snatch and clean more, but, I have experience. For Speed exercises we use T-Clean or high pulls, U-X-Push-ups, or Jammer, L-Box Squats.
On the westside week, the kids can do D-upper, D-Lower, Off, Max Upper, Max Lower. On Week 2 we almost use the westside method exactly, so there is quite a bit of volume for these young cats. After either the dynamic or Max exercises, we either do EDT for 10 minutes or so, and let them pick 2 exercises from a list, facing off against an equal teammate, or we use another hypertrophy method (OVT (Post fatigue), etc). We limit the time though, because they are also running.

Now, on week 4, we are testing on R-F, so Monday and Tuesday are light, then Maxes come on R or Friday… exactly as they would in Westside.

I usually build for 3 weeks, like CT does, and then test on R-F of week 4.

Week 1 Take your base sets and cut 1 from each tier or subtract a couple reps from each set, or lower the weight some. Week 2 increase weight, high volume. Week 3, High intensity, modrate volume. Week 4 recover and test.

Ok, here is the key though: Westside truly taxes the heck out of your CNS at that age, especially if the kids are up late, and are also on a running/agility/plyo (only 11th+ do plyos) program. So, it is tough on the T-R block week. I really prefer a M-Total (Clean, Trap Dead, etc.), W-Upper (Jammer, Bench, etc.), R-Lower split. This is due to my running schedule of
M-CNS Intensive (accel/agility/MaxSpeed)
T-Recovery Extensive tempo
W-CNS Intensive(Accel/Agility/MaxSpeed)
R-Lungs and recovery-Intensive Tempo
F-Coach goes home early

Most coaches prefer this schedule, and allows for a true recovery over the weekend… plus, you know the kids are playing basketball, etc on Saturday.

My truly elite guys drag the sled some or do extra quick workouts after they grab lunch… just 10 minutes of arms and 10 of abs… mostly because they do curls very rarely. They also come in on Saturday mornings and all take turns dragging a couple sleds…

We get the parents to buy into the program, so we don’t ever lose sleds or equipment. I actually give a Powerpoint presentation at every school outlining the whole nine yards. Then, I go over NCAA requirements, and student-athlete marketing strategies to get recruited. I was a college coach at some places with pretty low budgets, but we had scholarships. So, I feel kids should really market themselves as much as possible. Then, we go over the lift-a-thon program, and how it will benefit the kids. At each of the schools I am at, the administration has bought into the lift-a-thon idea. So, they make goal setting and participation in the lift-a-thon necessary to be in weight training. If you get each of the 200 kids in weight training to raise $15 for a lift-a-thon, and have prizes, etc. It can bring in about $5000 / year for the weight room after prizes. Most schools raise more…some much more. When I was in HS, our weightroom was as nice as Gold’s…maybe nicer.

But, you need to have someone present it professionally to an administration, and to the parents of student athletes. That is where I come in… plus, the NCAA part is easy for me, because my wife works there. So, I have a perfect resource, and I can’t escape the rules discussions…aaargh.

That last little part was to give you HS coaches some ideas of how to raise money for GHR’s and R. Hypers and safety squat bars.

Anyway, I hope this made sense.

I am trying to stay away from filling your heads with too many ideas. Like I said, CT gave you all enough for the next 20 years…seriously. Be honest with yourselves, pick an APPROPRIATE place to start, map a course, and get to it. Whether you use CAD, EDT, OVT, GVT, Wave loading, 1-6, etc, makes little difference, as long as it is appropriate, and you buy in…let me say that again, you buy in. That makes the difference. Each has a slightly different effect, but they all produce results…or they wouldn’t be part of this site.

Here is a quote from the Elitefts site I though all of you should think about: “I lived by the training program, the eating program, the competition program. I was always the master at writing out the programs. I knew that as soon as I put it down, the last thing I ever wanted to do was disappoint myself. I knew that I had to look in the mirror each day, and I could not look in the mirror and say, ‘You know something? You’re a fucking loser. You can’t even do the kinds of sets and exercises and eat the kind of food that you wrote down.’ I didn’t want to have to face that.” -ARNOLD

Plot the next 4-8 weeks… and stick to it. Buy In…to yourself and your course of action. Analyze, but don’t second guess.

OK, I am tired, and I have to kick Matt Furey’s squatty butt tomorrow on the VCR (calisthenics for recovery). Wish me luck.

I hope this answers some stuff for you guys… and brings about even more questions…hehe.

Lil’ Coach H