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Triple Progression and RPE 8 Combined?

Hey Coach,

you explained and mentioned the triple progression model a few times in your latest articles. I have been using this model for a few years give or take. As I understand it, you recommend it for the main lifts which are the exercises I use it for.

Now, I’m often being told that I should not go so close to failure (I don’t fail but 0 Reps in the tank) on the big lifts which is what you recommend often as well. But I don’t see how these two would fit together.

How can I use triple progression WITHOUT going near failure on the bench/squat/press? If I leave one or two reps in the tank I would have gotten 6 | 6 | 6 instead of 6 | 5 | 4. So how would I progress like that? I can’t objectively judge if I have the same number of reps in the tank every time when I’m under the bar.

I’ve been struggling to combine these two concepts for a few years now and it takes a toll on my recovery. I often have severe workout hangovers after squat days (which I guess is normal to a degree).

I’m a 2A actor according to your test if that changes anything.

Thank for your time in advance.

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The only way I can think of combining these two concepts is that on the main lifts, instead of hitting muscle failure, focus on hitting technical failure. Meaning, progress on technically solid reps only. If you lose groove, lose tightness, eg flare your elbows too soon on the bench, hips shoot up on Squats or deadlifts, you went too far.

This way you will not be going to muscle failure every time because you won’t be trying to muscle up weights with semi good form at the end of your sets, but you will still abide by the principles of the a Triple Progression System and hit technical failure, so it’s still quantifiable and you still have a way to measure progress.

Maybe not the perfect way, but this came to mind at first thought

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Thought about that too. With a squat it could work but with the bench, I don’t think so. It’s too subtle sometimes to judge in advance when you are under the bar. But I could stop when I did the first rep with not so good form. With the press it is also problematic as I don’t break form on the lift even when I go to failure. So there wouldn’t be a distinction point.

Bench is certainly harder to judge, you kinds have to know your own pitfalls with the movement, what is usually first to fall apart.

With the press, if you start leaning too far back or overarch, could be a way to gauge

Think back to that first workout, you went 6/5/4, with a rep or two In The Tank for next time.

During your next workout, pull one of those reps from the tank and go 6/5/5.

After that, in your next workout, retrieve one more rep from the tank, 6/6/5.

When you get to 6/6 and a final set of 6 in the 4th workout you will have put in enough time and work to Progress, without blasting yourself.

Depends on the technique I guess. I use the starting strength technique and usually don’t have the problem of excessive leaning as I do a hip extension at the beginning of the movement.

But I like your approach of identifying technical breakdown or changes and calling it failure. I read that from CT too but I have my difficulties implementing it all the way through.

It’s not easy. Never mind recognising the problem, mentally it’s hard stopping yourself when you feel like you can squeeze out another 2. At least for me, but back in my bodybuilding focused days years ago my training was Dorian Yates style HIT so going from total failure to technical failure has its challenges until this day still.

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Yes I can relate. It’s not hardcore to stop when you still could :smiley: my mind doesn’t like that

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No it really doesn’t, but you can make up for that with smart programming. You can add one ‘hardcore’ set of a low impact accessory exercise that targets a weakness. If in doubt, add it at the last set of your upper back work. At least that’s what I do, and it tends to satisfy my thirst for ‘hardcore’ failure and intensity technique work. Maybe not with bent over rows but something a little less taxing, my go to in case of upper back is chest supported DB rows on low incline, but chin ups, pull downs, and machine rows can work too. Or any other muscle that causes you to get stuck. And this is when smart programming comes in because for adding in a past failure set you need to take out another element, hence why low tax exercise, and if needed cut the volume. This applies even more if you use Triple Progression on 2 movements per workout as that’s fairly taxing as is.