T Nation

Tier Training (Joe Kenn)

Hey All,

So I’ve read and re-read my copy of Joe Kenn’s “The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook” about 20 times.

I know the information that is in there is excellent, but I find it to be organised/ presented in a confusing and sometimes contradictory way.

Has anybody here succefully implemented a Tier Training plan? Would you mind if I asked a few basic questions about volume/intensity?

In exchange I’ll post the program that I do, with before and after stats so that everyone can see how I get on.

Thanks,
Dan

Yes, the information can be confusing. Have you gone over to elitefts and asked Coach H your questions? If you look through the Q & A archives, you may find answers to alot of the questions you have. Also, Coach Kenn and his assistants are great about answering emails.

What questions do you have?

Hi,
Thanks for your reply - much appreciated!

let’s start simple…

Am I correct in assuming that the first workout of a 70% strength endurance cycle would look like:

Tier 1(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 2(L) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 3(U) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 4(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 5(L) 5 sets 15 reps

with the given intensities

Thanks,
Dan

I am familiar with Tier system. i use it once in every while if i feel like doing total body workouts. Your program doesn’t look right to tell you the truth. Tier 4 and 5 is too much volume and is usually 2 sets of 15-20 reps (think prehab or rehab or mobility drills - see westside since it’s basically modified westside program geared for athletes).

Where the heck is the book?? I need to read up on endurance strength part. ok… go over to page 105-108. Assuming that’s your main emphasis, they should be used for first tier, not all tiers! for 2nd tier and 3rd tier, find something else to do like Gen-C, Dev-S, Met-S, Exp-S or Max-S (page34-37). Make sure you follow S-end Descending protocol (p35). See page 64. You could use that as your guideline to set up exercises. Tier one is placed as number one priority, it becomes less and less as you work towards tier 5 with less sets (the reps will be different depending on what you’re doing). Does any of these make sense? At first, I was totally lost when i first read it too. It took a while for me to figure it out plus I asked kenn some questions. You can ask Coach H at elitefs if you have any questions or you can ask me.

[quote]lummox wrote:
Hi,
Thanks for your reply - much appreciated!

let’s start simple…

Am I correct in assuming that the first workout of a 70% strength endurance cycle would look like:

Tier 1(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 2(L) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 3(U) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 4(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 5(L) 5 sets 15 reps

with the given intensities

Thanks,
Dan[/quote]

[quote]lummox wrote:
Hi,
Thanks for your reply - much appreciated!

let’s start simple…

Am I correct in assuming that the first workout of a 70% strength endurance cycle would look like:

Tier 1(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 2(L) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 3(U) 5 sets 15 reps
Tier 4(T) 5 sets 6 reps
Tier 5(L) 5 sets 15 reps

with the given intensities

Thanks,
Dan[/quote]

Dan,
Tungsten is right…that is too much volume. Don’t feel bad, I was COMPLETELY lost after I had read the book a few times and I still have questions about it pretty often. However, I have utilized the Tier System and I am very happy with the results.

I use the Tier System, however I use it in conjunction with coach Thibaudeau’s old block system. For example, I emphasize either hypertrophy, power or maximum strength for each block.

Now, the total volume depends on what type of block I am on. Here is an example,

I will, for the 1st 3 tiers, use work sets of 6, 5 and 4. Which tier gets what volume depends on what the block emphasis is.

For example, on a maximum strength block, my set up will look like this:

*Total Body–

Tier 1:
Total- 6 x 3-5 (work up to 3 or 5RM)

Tier 2:
Lower- 5 x 2 (this is a speed box squat)

Tier 3:
Upper- 4 x 5 (pick an upper body compound movement)

Tier 4:
Total- 3 x 8-12

Tier 5:
Lower- 2 x 10-15

Now, for a block that emphasizes power, I will use the same set up, except that the speed exercise will be Tier 1 and will have 6 sets. The strength exercise will be Tier 2 and will have 5 sets. Volume will be Tier 3 and have 4 sets.

On a Hypertrophy block, I wouldn’t put the volume tier as Tier 1 however, because Tier 2 will be a maximum strength exercise…this will mean that your speed exercise would be the third tier and since I want to move the weight on my speed lift as fast as possible, I want to be fresh. Therefore, I put the speed tier 1st, but still use only 4 sets as if it were the 3rd Tier. It would look like this:

Total Body–

Tier 1:
Upper Body-4 x 3 (speed bench)

Tier2:
Total Body-6 x 5 (80-85%)

Tier 3:
Lower Body- 5 x 6 (70-80%)

Tier 4:
Upper Body-3 x 8-12

Tier 5:
Total Body-2 x 10-15

This is not exactly how Coach Kenn explains it in the book and it doesn’t exactly answer your question about the S-end cycle either. But, I have been using it this way for close to a year after reading a post that Silverback wrote about how he uses the Tier System. I am extremely pleased with this set up and it has worked well for me.

Annihil8tor-

Nice… I don’t always follow Kenn’s either. I don’t really follow that kind of your program regarding max strength and power strength. If you have the book, on page 67, you’d see that you do 6-10 sets for max strength for the first tier, for the 2nd tier 5-8sets and for the 3rd tier 3-4 sets. that’s for max strength emphasis. For power emphasis, 1st tier is 8-10sets, 2nd tier for ME is 5+ set and 3rd tier is 2-3 sets. Kenn calls them elite template for max strength and power emphasis based on westside principles.

Tungsten

I’ve pretty much stuck to the 3x5 traditional as far as volume goes when using the Tier system. I started out working up to a 1 rm on Tier 1, but since I am still trying to put on a little mass myself, I have chosen to use the straight 6 sets of 3-5 to get volume in. Week 1 I will work up to a 5RM (6x5) and week 2 I will get 3x5, 2x3. I just think its easier for ME to monitor volume this way as well.

Sometimes I will just break off and do a straight Westside template for about 8 weeks, but like I said I have used this set up for the last year or so and since then I have seen great results and no injuries (knock on wood).

How do you have it set up?

Guys! - These answers are awesome, exactly what I wanted.

Thanks so much for taking the time - I’m really grateful.

Right, I’ll now start dissecting the information…

Tungsten wrote:
go over to page 105-108. Assuming that’s your
main emphasis, they should be used for first
tier, not all tiers!

A-ha! (I did think the volume was very high, but then it is supposed to be a strength endurance program :slight_smile:

So,

1)Figure 4-17 states that for a 3x5 tradional template, the work sets for Tier 1 is 6.
2)The 70% Strength Endurance cycle shows 5 sets of 6 for week 1.

How does this get sorted out?

cheers,
Dan

Yeah i know… I think that’s for the first week, i guess an introductory week then the next 2 weeks it’s 6 sets as loading weeks and the last week of cycle, it’s 4 sets to unload. Kenn probably should redo the book to make things clearer but oh well. On Page 38, it shows mesocycle and macrocycle. It’s just to give your body recover once every in a while, that’s what unloading is for. For total body, i wouldn’t do hang clean at all. Use power pull off the floor or blocks. Even power clean. If you use hang clean, it messes up your CNS’ ablitiy to lift explosively. If you read DB Hammer’s stuff, you will understand why. I’m in the process of incorporating some of his methods but I have a long way to go! If you think reading Kenn’s book was hard, try reading DB’s book, it’s 1000 times more difficult to figure out what the hell he’s talking about. Lol :slight_smile:

[quote]lummox wrote:

Tungsten wrote:
go over to page 105-108. Assuming that’s your
main emphasis, they should be used for first
tier, not all tiers!

A-ha! (I did think the volume was very high, but then it is supposed to be a strength endurance program :slight_smile:

So,

1)Figure 4-17 states that for a 3x5 tradional template, the work sets for Tier 1 is 6.
2)The 70% Strength Endurance cycle shows 5 sets of 6 for week 1.

How does this get sorted out?

cheers,
Dan
[/quote]

Tungsten wrote
Yeah i know… I think that’s for the first week, i guess an
introductory week then the next 2 weeks it’s 6 sets as
loading weeks and the last week of cycle, it’s 4 sets to
unload.

Ok, that’s what I guessed. - it’s 6 sets, not taking into account the fact that you’re cycling.

On Page 38, it shows mesocycle and macrocycle.

yeah, which are different other definitions of the terms that I’ve been taught previously :slight_smile:

I’m still not clear on
a)reps and intensities for Tiers 2-5

b)a 12 week progression
-eg do you do 70%, then 72.5% etc.

You guys have helped already, as I can see how your examples and descriptions fit into the elite template.

Perhaps we should write a book called “understanding the Tier System” ? >:D

I’ll come back with some specific questions and thoughts next week and I’ll see if you can answer them or agree with me.

I’m determined to understand this, as I’m sure it’s quite simple - I understand each of the different concepts, it’s just putting it together such that I could write a 12 week program off the top of my head… :slight_smile:

have a good weekend…

Dan

PS: I wouldn’t emphasise the Hang Clean either…