T Nation

Should I Be Doing Power Work in Complexes?


Hey there CT.
I’ve spent this week testing my 3RM on all my compound lifts to gear up for your built like a bodybuilder preform like an athlete. I’ve altered it so I only train 4 days a week. 2 days in zone 2, 2 days in zone 3.
I was wondering if I could benefit by doing the work in complexes? 3reps pushpress, 3 reps front squat, 3 reps, 3 reps bench. Doing in a circuit. Just curious as to what benefits I may reap from working in this fashion.


It can be done if you have the gym space and if it’s not too busy. I call those “strength-skill circuits” and it is a very effective way to train BUT don’t rush it, you still want enough rest to recover well enough to perform on each set.


Thanks for the reply CT. I found that on the push days I enjoyed it. Couldn’t take it though on my pull days. Also, I gave it a real shot last week. Doing everything the way you planned it. But after my second day of pulling my low back was just a wreck (previous work injury flaring up). I can handle one heavy session a week on the DL. Something like a 5/3/1 scheme works well for me on that movement. Any suggestions on how to fix this? I really enjoyed the program but I had to start skipping exercises after that second pull day. Thanks for any advice Coach.


I would recommend a strength-circuit looking something like this:

Back squat
Military press

Bench press

Power clean from hang (or snatch grip high pull)
Incline bench press
Neutral grip pull-ups

You rotate through the workouts.

8 sets of 2-3 reps using the Hepburn progression method (you add one total rep per workout).

First time you do a workout = 1 x 3, 7 x 2
Second time = 2 x 3, 6 x 2
Third time = 3 x 3 , 5 x 2
When you reach 8 x 3 you add weight (10-20lbs) and start from 1 x 3, 7 x 2

Exercises are done as a circuit


I look forward to trying this. Looks very different than anything I’ve done. Thank you very much for your time. I know it is valuable. If you wouldn’t mind I have a couple of clarification questions (forgive my ignorance).

Which training zones do you suggest using for the triples and doubles? Zone 2 for triples and Zone 1 for doubles? Or am I supposed to use the same weight for both the doubles and triples?

So I get all the way to 8x3 with no set of doubles (keep removing a set of doubles as I add to the triples?)

One last question. With this protocol are any assistance exercises allowed?

Thank you Coach. I appreciate you.


Same weight… that is the progression model… start with around 80-85% of your max and you build up reps until you hit 8 x 3… when you do, you go up in weight


It would look like this… for simplicity’s sake I will only use one exercise and workout for the example:

1st time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 1 x 3, 7 x 2

2nd time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 2 x 3, 6 x 2

3rd time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 3 x 3, 5 x 2

4th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 4 x 3, 4 x 2

5th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 5 x 3, 3 x 2

6th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 6 x 3, 2 x 2

7th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 7 x 3, 1 x 2

8th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 315lbs, 8 x 3

9th time you do WORKOUT A
Back squat 335lbs, 1 x 3, 7 x 2



EITHER one big lift OR 2-3 isolation exercises


Great. Thank you so much! Please allow me one more question and I will shut up and get to work. I have tried 6 day volume before. Your Look like a Body Builder and your Best Damn Workout. Both goes at it have not gone to well for me. For what I have tried it is not safe for me. (I’d really love to avoid the operating table) Do you think this protocol would be less stressful on the lumbar? Or will a Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat work for this method? I suppose I could just give it a whirl and see for myself. I just get nervous sometimes because one bad mistake will mean bad news for me.
X-rays show 2 bad bulges along with 2 very degenerate discs. I know others have fought through worse, their balls are bigger than mine I suppose.


I posted the plan in 3 workouts so that you can use any frequency you want. As long as you rotate through the workouts. At this point you know your body best. Anyway, the key is selecting weights that are heavy but not excessive so that all reps are solid.


Understood. Thank you Coach. I will attempt 6 days of volume. I think with this new method (new to me) of progression I may have a good chance on sticking to it without feeling like a cripple taking plates off the bar :~D
If not then I will do 4 days, something I know is reliable for me. Either way, I’ll post some results when I get through weeks 8.

Thanks Coach, cheers!


CT, do you recommend the same exercises for all 12 weeks of Strength-Skill? I’m on the A/B plan 4 days per week. Your article said 12 weeks is the minimum for effective results.


Yep that is the whole purpose of strength-skill: to become highly skilled at displaying strength in your chosen lifts.

Less than 12 weeks and you don’t have long enough to really put on a lot of weight on trhe bar and challenge yourself


CT, thanks for the reply. What muscle groups do you find lag with Strength Skill? I was planning on doing cable Gironda rows and low cable curls. I substitute Zerchers since back squats kill my knees and I’ve done front squats only for a long time. I also do behind the neck instead of military press.


Biceps, lats an rear delts might get undertrained the most. But it can also depends on muscle dominance. Basically you should do isolation work for your lagging muscle groups.