As satisfying as beating personal records is, I am undecided as to whether I like planning for the record or just getting them whenever the training and the mood is ready for it. Since I don’t compete, there is the satisfaction of planning for them at the end of a 4 month training cycle like Jim Wendler‘s 531 or the Juggernaut Training Method, which I have just concluded along with my training partner, Derek Satterfield. With the final week of the phase being a deload week for the body to recover, my nervous system begins to kick in, thinking about the following two weeks of smashing PR’s. The anxiety level heightens a little in anticipation, though I’m sure not to the level of a real competition, but it is palpable to be sure.
My 1RM’s all went up at the conclusion of the Juggernaut program. Those lifts were the bench press, squat, strict overhead press and deadlift, my favorite.
Having done Jim Wendler’s 531 program for 8 months and over a year of conjugate-style speed-strength training as coached by ECWC pro strongman, Scott Brengel, we decided to do a cycle of Chad Wesley Smith‘s Juggernaut Training System, which has been described as 531 2.0 by some.
The JTM cycle consists of 4 waves with each wave being 4 weeks. The first wave has the highest amount of volume with reps being at 10. The second wave was at 8 reps, the third at 5 and the final wave was triples. Within each of those 1 month blocks are four phases for each lift:
Accumulation, which is a high volume general phase,
Intensification – intensity now increases along with specificity, while volume decreases,
Realization – which is a peaking phase. In all the phases, you will lift beyond the prescribed reps on the last set, but in the realization phase only, you will take it to failure. That rep count will help determine the weights you will handle for the next block after your reload week.
It should be noted that while 1RM’s will go up for most people at the conclusion of the cycle, JTM is really designed for achieving rep maxes as Smith favors them over single lift max efforts. It wasn’t until the very end of the program that any lifts were 90% or over, which admittedly had me a little anxious over single lift maxing since we weren’t handling the heaviest loads. Derek and I thought for our goals, another month could have been added featuring doubles and singles using the same template.
You will gain size and strength with all this volume and of course the amount is dependent on other factors like diet and rest. (My diet is sketchy, admittedly). Derek is a hardgainer and even he put on some size. There is a lot of flexibility in this program and you will want to add in the recommended assistance training and even med ball work. You will also want to do train your work capacity with sled work, hill training or something equally unpleasant.
Prior to beginning JTM, my 1RMs were:
Strict Press, 195 lbs,
Full Squat, 365
Bench Press, 275
The rep maxes at the conclusion of JTM were,
Strict Press, 175×5
Full Squat, 335×7
Bench Press, 255×5
After the Deload week, I tested my 1RM for the lifts.
Strict Press, 200
Full Squat 405
Bench Press, 300
Deadlift, 525, with some in the tank.
Here is the spreadsheet with my numbers:
We are both quite happy with the gains we made on JTM, but probably would have liked an additional month with doubles and singles, but really, we could have added those in at the end of the Intensification and/or Realization sessions which I will do next time around.
If you have done or are doing 531, you will appreciate the added tweaks to the program. Though not necessary, I suggest looking for some third party templates for JTM using a search engine.
As always, we are interested in your comments.