Questions Answered: Inside the 4-6-10 Strength Program
Updated: May 17, 2018
I started my rendition of the Easy Strength program on February 15. I write this on March 1st and I have logged 13 training sessions in this time. I have received numerous questions about how to implement the program and what options are available. I will do my best to address them here but the simple fact is, there is no one way to run it. No spreadsheets, no percentages, and no absolute pattern. Only general rules that need to be somewhat pliable. Just as the individual running their version of the program must be.
Let’s recap the basic rules and then look at how I applied them to my training.
Powerlifting specific exercises
6 exercises - 4 mandatory 2 optional
Each exercise done 4-6 days per week
Program runs 4-6 weeks
Each exercise done 6-10 reps total for the day
Rep scheme never repeats 2 days in a row
No missed reps
To recap, I chose the high bar squat, paused bench press, deadlift, and military press as my mandatory exercises. I added strict curls and ab rollouts as my optional ones but I have done all 6 exercises in all of my training sessions so far. Many, many questions about exercise selection and additions. Funny, nobody ever asks if they can do less exercises, which I would actually be fine with. This is as directly as I can answer this question; you can choose any exercise you want, BUT, the program is a strength program. Large compound exercises fit nicely into strength programs. If you are worried about your rear delts lagging behind because you have not trained them directly for 4 week, then a strength program is not what you're looking for. Adding your favourite exercises on top of what I suggested is between you and your physiotherapist/psychiatrist and not for me to comment on. After all, you will be doing a program you made up, not me.
When I started, I had no specific plan for how many days per week I was going to train. I essentially wanted to leave it up to schedule and motivation. If I had time to train and wanted to train, I trained. So far it has worked out that I have only taken Sundays off, but this not an essential or suggested schedule. It is what I have done so far. I suggest, when in doubt, take a day off. Or do the mandatory minimum with moderate weight. Some days you push, some days you glide.
Being 2 weeks in, I don’t see an issue with going another 2 weeks, which is what I had originally planned. I am feeling no fatigue or soreness and the movements are all feeling very smooth. Practicing nearly every day will do that. I have been asked what exercises I will run in my next cycle and I feel I need to address this question quickly and directly. I will not be repeating another cycle immediately after this one. Some people have somehow gotten the idea that this is something you could do indefinitely if you changed the exercises. I am not sure this is the case, and I believe every program should lead into something else. It is simple periodization, one aspect of training should not be focused on continuously. This is more likely to lead to stagnation than progression. The idea is to focus your effort for 4-6 weeks and then move on.
Now to address sets, reps and weight. Everyone wants me to break this program down into exact numbers. How much volume? Should I follow Prelipin’s chart? What percent of 1RM should I be using for each rep range? Do you have a sample program? These are all reasonable questions. To answer them in order: 1) Hard to say. 2) If you want to but I wouldn’t 3) Will vary 4) No. Now that we have cleared all that up, let's look at what I have done so far because I have based my training on the rules set out in the beginning and nothing else. Let's break down the squat.
13 training sessions
Average resistance 295 lbs
Average total reps 8
Highest resistance used 365
Lowest resistance used 225
225 was used for 2 sets of 5 reps
275 was used for 5 sets of 2 reps, 2 sets of 5 reps and 1 set of 10 reps
295 was used for 3 sets of 3 reps and 2 sets of 4 reps.
315 was used for 2 sets of 3 reps, 6 sets of 1 rep, 1 set of 6 reps (twice), and 3 sets of 3 reps.
365 was used for 6 sets of 1 rep
To address percent of 1RM, I have no idea. The reasons for this is: my most recent high bar 1RM was tested over 3 years ago at a higher body weight, I had a knee injury that hampered my squat for over 2 years, and I had recently taken about 6 weeks off of training because of moving and other circumstances. This left me with no idea what my current 1RM is and using a previous one would be totally useless. So I was left with what was instructed at the beginning: 6-10 reps per day, no missed reps, and the advice I have given more than any other, go lighter than you want to. There is room to push it a few times throughout the whole process but mark my words, if you push too hard too often, the program will push back.
The other exercises look basically the same so no need to break them down in the same boring fashion. The takeaway is this; there is no specific pattern, so stop looking for one. You can use the same weight for many different set and rep combinations. Some will be easier, some will be harder. That's the point. Waving the volume and intensity daily allows for frequent practice without beating you up. If nothing else it should clean up anyone's technique, which is never a bad thing.