T Nation

Tier System Afficionados....


Can anyone with experience of using Joe Kenn?s tier system provide any input into this proposed routine? Apologies in advance if this post is a long one!

Strength/hypertrophy/conditioning emphasis ? I aim to compete in strongman next year, and want to build a solid ?general? base with this programme. Prior to this I have used a pl-focused template (chiefly the Joe Average one to anyone familiar with this), which has increased the ?big 3?, but left me somewhat soft and out of shape? Overhead strength and learning the o-lifts is obviously a priority.

For this phase I wont use any speed-strength work, as I don?t feel it?s a particular issue, and besides my overhead strength and pulling strength is so low it barely warrants DE work.

I have based most of the rep ranges from Waterbury?s set/rep bible? This differs from Prilipens recommendations, but as I say, conditioning and hypertrophy (along with the strength, obviously) are the initial primary concerns, I can tweak things later as my numbers increase to maximise power output.

Anyway, here is the first 3 weeks of this phase:

Monday ? Session L
Priority LB ? Olympic squat ? 8x3 waved between the 80-90% mark

Major UB - Incline Bench with bands ? 5x5 @ 80%ish, straight weight ? strive for record in week 3

Minor TB ? Power clean ? 5x5 @ 70-75%ish (I have kept reps at 5 here to encourage good technique)

Wednesday ? Session U
Priority UB ? Push Jerk ? 8x3
Major TB - snatch grip deadlift/power shrug combo ? 5x5
Minor LB ? DB split squat ? 3-4 x 8-10

Friday ? Session T
Priority TB ? Rack pull (knee height) ? 8 x 3
Major LB ? front squat with bands ? 5x5 (may occasionally switch this with DE work)
Minor UB ? CG bench with bands ? 3-4 x 8-10

At the end of each session I?ll add a few assistance exercises for 2 sets of 12-15 ? usually a press, an upper body pull and a posterior chain exercise.

After 3 weeks, I?ll change exercises and carry one. I was planning on doing 3-4 cycles like this and seeing where I?m at?.

Any views/thoughts/criticisms??

I will be doing sm conditioning 1-2 days a week. Apart from that I am a man of leisure, save the occasional game of tennis with the mrs?. Sleep, diet, all that crap is all ok.


search for a post entitled "question for big martin." theres more than one, so you gotta sort through it, but he outlines what he does with his athletes for the tier system, and answers a bunch of question from other people.

hope it helps-


Couple of thoughts

  • I believe the Push Jerk is classified by Coach Kenn as a TB exercise, which is certainly how I would think of it, given the dip n drive, and the overhead split squat at the end. For UB I would stick with the military press.

  • I dont know how advanced you are, but IMO, by morphing waterburys rep recommendations into the tier sys, your missing out on one of the best aspects of the tier system - the self regulation of volume, ie 6 sets of teh first, 5 of the second, 4 of the third. I would strongly recommend you stick with the recommended # of sets, and pick whatever reps you want.

  • Is there a reason you have the week starting off with the lb priority day and ending with the tb? Becasue theres no way I would leave a TB day til the end of the week.

-the work afterwards I would stick to ab and low back/hammie work. try out the volume for a few weeks before you throw in more press stuff

  • as far as rotating exercises, id wait til you stop improving on an exercise before you change it out

  • you mentioned strongman conditioning - specifically what? will you get a chance to work the events? The beauty of the tier sys is that it anticipates sports practice, so you could do a full on strongman training day, or a technique work day, or you could try working actual events as part of the workout, if you have access to the implements when you work out (eg stones for TB work)

I really like your exercise choice (except for the push jerk in UB,) i especially like your work on the partial DL since thats in a lot of contests, and the snatch grip dl as the minority tb exercise to work the bottom of your dl

Let us know how it goes, for various reasons I wouldnt be able to do tier work fro my strongman, but I've often wondered how it would work out


thanks, both posts were very helpful... I've re-organised and simplifed my thoughts based on the post above and some of Big Martins posts.

Essentially I am small and weak (relatively speaking), so will arrange my training thus:

priority (6sets) - effort
Major (5 sets) - volume
Minor (4 sets) - speed

The effort work will probably be a bunch of 3's, waved depending on feel, and looking to beat the previous weeks best. I'll change exercises when I can't do this.

The volume will be the tried and trusted 5x5 approach - I know 'functional hypertrophy' is a wooly term but I think it is fitting for the aims of this tier.

The speed tier will be slightly different - 4 sets of 6. This keeps the rep range within prilepins recommendations, but will hopefully develop the ability for more sustained, power efforts... Anyway, I'll suck it and see.

For the assistance I will either just do core and post chain stuff, or else I may throw a few russian complexes in here for the metabolic conditioning aspect - I feel this is important for strongman also.

Thanks again for the help...