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Strong in 8

The ultimate 8-week strength program

Strong in 8

If you've tried my Micro Muscle or Shortcut to Size (and if you haven't, I urge you to start it today) then you are undoubtedly much stronger and bigger today than you were 12 weeks ago.

The number one question I get from those who have done the program is, "What can I do next?" My answer to that is, "It depends on your goal." And if your goal is to focus on maximizing strength gains, I highly recommend my Strong In 8 program.

Strong in 8 Training Specifics

Strong In 8 follows a five-day training split to allow you to have a separate day each week to focus on the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat.

You will do 4 sets for each muscle group. Keep the weight the same on all four sets for the best strength gains. To make sure that you are fully recovered, rest about 3 minutes or more between sets. This will allow you to stay within the prescribed rep range with the same weight on all 4 sets.

You should be very close to muscle failure on the first 3 sets and be sure to go to muscle failure on the last set. After reaching muscle failure on the last set of each exercise do a rest-pause set by racking the bar and resting for just 15-20 seconds. Then continue the exercise getting as many sets as possible until hitting failure again.

Rep ranges will change each and every week in a linear fashion. This is known as a microcycle, which you should be familiar with if you've done my Micro Muscle (aka Shortcut to Size) program. Each week weight will get heavier and reps will decrease.

There are two four-week phases of this program. In Phase 1 reps start at 13-15 per set in week 1 and progress down to 4-6 per set in week 4. In Phase 2 reps climb back up, but they start off in week 5 of the program at 10-12 reps per set (same as in week 2 of Phase 1) and progressively drop down to just 2-3 reps per set in week 8 to get you ready to test your 1-rep max again in the week that follows.

Even though this is an eight-week plan, it will actually take you 10 weeks to complete when you factor in 1-rep max (1RM) testing the week before starting and the week after completing the program.

Here's how to best test your 1-rep max:

  1. Take the weight you can normally lift for 10 reps to failure, multiply it by 1.33 and round up. For example, if you can bench 225 pounds for 10 reps, start your 1RM attempt with 300 pounds.
  2. Perform a few warm-up sets doing no more than 3-5 reps per set. Gradually increase the weight over 2-3 sets until you are about 75% of your estimated 1-rep max.
  3. Attempt your estimated 1-rep max weight for one rep and only one rep.
  4. If you were successful on the first try but know you can do more, add another 10-20 pounds for your next attempt. Keep adding 10-20 pounds until you reach a weight at which you fail. Use the last weight you were successful at as your 1RM. If you weren't successful on your first attempt, don't be discouraged. Simply decrease the weight by 5-10 pounds and try again. Once you reach a weigh that you can do for one rep, use that as your 1RM. Be sure to allow a good 4-5 minutes between attempts.

Note: For the most accurate results, don't do a 1-rep max test for the bench press, squat, and deadlift all in the same workout. Spread them out over the week with at least one day of rest between sessions.

Training Split

This is a 5-day split that you can do any of the 5 days of the week that fit in your schedule. Just be sure to do them in the order listed regardless of the day of the week. Below is a sample schedule using a 5-on 2-off scheme.

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