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Steve Justa Singles

Thought I would post something I recently came across that I hadn’t been familiar with before. Maybe someone else will find it interesting/useful. It seems Dan John wrote about it in one of his books.

It’s called Steve Justa Singles. You basically pick a lift you want to improve, and then work that lift every day (7 days a week).

The actual “program” is to use 70% of your 1RM and perform 3 single reps with 2-3 mins rest in between each set. After day 1, you increase the the number of sets +2. So on day 2 you would do 5 sets of singles at 70% 1RM. You continue doing this until you reach day 7 at 15 sets of 1 rep. Then for the following week you increase the weight. I think technically Mr. Justa would have you test your new 1RM, before re-running the next week at a new 70% but I could be wrong. That is not my plan as it seems you would be testing the 1RM far to frequently to me.

Instead I am just adding 5lbs each week over 20 weeks to build up to a new Front Squat PR. These workouts are just supplementing my other training and more of a way to get in more practice on the front squat. I don’t think my issue is so much strength related as it is technical. I just haven’t done thousands of front squats yet.

After hammering away on back squat for so long I have created a relative imbalance in the front squat. I am using this singles method in the morning while drinking coffee and reading the news to get in some technique work on the front squat.

These workouts are very low stress so far and won’t really cause you to even break a sweat. I suppose that will change as the weights get heavier, but I am hoping to keep at it for all 20 weeks and see what happens.

Here is my planned progression. Note my current 1RM on Front Squat is only 330lb. On week 20 I will plan to do 15 singles at 330 lb. If I can pull that off I am certain I should have a better 1RM on front squat than previously. At least that’s my current working theory.

Program Notes:
Front Squat 70% for 3 reps, +2 more reps each day for 7 days a week. Then increase 5lb.

Week 1, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (235lb)

Week 2, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (240lb)

Week 3, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (245lb)

Week 4, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (250lb)

Week 5, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (255lb)

Week 6, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (260lb)

Week 7, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (265lb)

Week 8, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (270lb)

Week 9, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (275lb)

Week 10, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (280lb)

Week 11, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (285lb)

Week 12, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (290lb)

Week 13, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (295lb)

Week 14, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (300lb)

Week 15, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (305lb)

Week 16, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (310lb)

Week 17, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (315lb)

Week 18, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (320lb)

Week 19, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (325lb)

Week 20, Day 1-7: 3-5-7-9-11-13-15 (330lb)

I for one am dubious that a non-noob can go from doing their 1RM once to doing it 15 times in 5 months. I’m concerned also that some sort of overuse injury will rear its head along the way. But I sincerely wish you the best of luck, and am legit curious to hear how it turns out (please either log your experience, or give us a full report once it’s over).

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Sounds good. I am also unsure how it will go but interested to find out in any case. I think if it were the DL I would fail miserably. It being a movement I know I should be better at than I currently am gives me some hope.

Only in Week 2 Day 4…so a long ways to go and it is still very easy for now.

This looks be on the same theory as this. Which my wife is running.

Its ultra high frequency but really low intensity.

I’ll start with the good news. Its worked for my wife. She struggles to train with any great intensity. And this REALLY helped her. She is however a total “newbie”. And her gains could have been achieved with any sort of programme.

Bad news - and @EyeDentist called it - injury. My wife (because she wouldn’t listen to me about her wrist angle in the squat) has developed carpel tunnel or something similar. This is likely due to squatting 5 times a week - or every other day now - for the last 4 months. She’s on an enforced hiatus.


Carlbm, this is good to know and thanks for the response. You both are probably correct as far as overuse and potential for injury are concerned. I will proceed with as much caution as I can, and be ready to rethink my plan accordingly. It’s very good points from both of you.

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I have nothing further to contribute other than I literally JUST finished “Rock Iron Steel” 3 days ago and this, along with the barrell lifting program, both stood out to me. Excited to see your results.

I do like the look of that challenge and the duration isn’t that bad even.

its an easy challenge. The daily effort is about 70% of max. The secret is to work out as hard a you can WHILE still be fresh for the next day.

Its a balancing act. Sure. But honestly its not “hard”. Its not meant to be.
How it would work for someone with a few years experience / pressing body weight for reps I do not know.

I don’t know too much about Steve Justa and just randomly came across his name a couple weeks ago, but after I seen your reply that you had just finished one of his books I began thinking this idea may not be completely terrible. If T3hPwnisher knows of it maybe there is a chance it will work out…but then my second thought was wait…isn’t that the maniac I seen in a recent video doing 50 rep sets of 400+ lb trap bar deadlift just because.

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In truth, I grabbed the book because Marty Gallagher recommended it in “Purposeful Primitive”, which was an awesome read. Highly recommend.

Thanks for the recommendation. I love to read just never know what. Will give it a go.

Oh man, if you like existentialism, I am your man, haha.

But that book and Powerlifting Basics Texas Style are fantastic reads. Also highly recommend The Complete Keys to Progress and Super Squats. Honestly didn’t care much for Justa’s book, but I imagine when it came out it was a big deal.

From memory Dan and Pavel both used this on trained lifters with success. I think it is more about varying the stimulus than a particular method.

Still banging out singles each morning. So far so good, but weights are still light. I am not waiting the full 2-3 mins of rest suggested at this point as there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to require that yet. I make a conscious effort to re-rack the bar each time and try to approach the set with as perfect form as I can muster (try is an important distinction here) for a single.

Already seeing some benefit from all the front squat practice… I think. I am trying to devise ways to stay more upright coming out of the hole. What I have noticed so far is that if I try to use the stretch reflex to bounce out of the hole quickly my form degrades and I tend to pitch forward. So I have been doing these first few weeks of work doing 1-2 sec pause squats instead. More out of necessity of form than it being ideal to practice the technique.

Another thing I have been doing is purposefully “leaning back” at the top as I drop into the squat while making every effort possible to lift elbows higher the deeper I go. In reality I am not leaning back or lifting my arms much at all, but it seems to help the inevitable drop in rack position that would happen otherwise as I reach full depth.

Thinking to add zercher good mornings between sets, but perhaps only focus on the top portion (thoracic ??) as this seems to be where I fold when the weights get heavier. Maybe even trying a zercher good morning but holding the crossed over arm position like a bodybuilder with bad wrist mobility doing from squats in order to better mimic the bottom position. Basically, I want to use good mornings to help combat a bad lift and fight through the bottom bad rack position long enough to get into a better position. Not sure if that exercise is a thing, but may be worth trying.

Also, does anyone know what seated versus standing good mornings tend to work? Any good ideas you can present me would be welcomed.

Happy holidays!

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‘Hey everybody, I’ve started the marathon! Just passed the Mile 1 marker. Pace feels really slow, so I decided to pick it up.’

‘Also, I’m thinking about doing a set of burpees every quarter mile or so. What could be the harm?’

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Hah …yeah that’s true my bad

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I focus on pulling the elbows together toward each other. That seems to help build tension across the thoracic spine and stay upright.

In my opinion pushing the pace a little is OK. Just be sure that you’re rested enough for perfect execution, like you’ve been doing.

Not bouncing when you’re training squats is Good. In training(in my opinion), it’s keep tension on the muscles you’re trying to work. And Bad to “practice” ugly, deformed reps.

Good mornings sound like a great lift to work the “back” of your body while the front squats work the “front.” For this program working the GMs in between the squats might be a little much.

I think zercher GMs are good. Holding the bar in my arms hope me use less lower back and more hamstrings. If you’re trying to work your upper back you can stand, or sit, focusing on staying upright and do upper back/thoracic “extensions.” Bar on shoulders, or held zercher style.

It’s pretty natural for seated GMs to work lots of lower back.

If you slide your feet out and forward, in front of your knees,wider than your hips, then keep your back straight and your abs tight you can get lots of glute and hamstring work.


Flats, thanks a lot for this reply. Very informative and helpful. I will take a closer look at all of this.

Also, I should have said it before but thanks also to EyeDentist for his reply. It wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to hear but exactly the type of thing I sometimes need to hear.

Appreciate all the feedback gentlemen.


Great point SkyzkS…one more thing to work on!

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