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3 Prong Strong Program Overview

Make some serious strength gains on your bench, squat and deadlift (and every other exercise too) with this 6-week training plan.

3 Prong Strong Program Overview

While building muscle mass can be a complicated endeavor involving numerous intensity techniques and a variety of training cycles, building muscle strength is much more straight forward: Just lift more weight!

Of course, achieving that goal may not be so simple – unless you know what you're doing, as I do. If you follow my 3 Prong Strong program, getting stronger can actually be easy and simple.

In a nutshell, 3 Prong Strong is a step-wise progression from lighter weight and higher reps to very heavy weight and very low reps over a six-week period. The emphasis is on maximizing your one-rep max (1RM for short) in the three big lifts: bench press (the true measure of upper body strength), the squat (the true measure of lower body strength) and the deadlift (the ultimate test of overall body strength). Of course, you'll also get stronger on just about every other exercise you do, from shoulder presses to leg press to barbell curls to close-grip bench press and even calf raises.

Three Prong Strong Breakdown

The program starts with sets of eight reps done with a weight that’s about 80% of your 1RM (80% RM) on each of the three major exercises (bench press, squat, deadlift). On exercises for which you don’t test your 1RM, you’ll simply find a weight you can do for eight reps. You’ll follow this load and rep scheme for the first two weeks of the program.

In weeks three and four, the reps drop down to five reps per set while the weight increases to around 85% of 1RM. Then, in the final two weeks, the weight increases to 95% RM as reps drop down to only two per set. You’ll retest your 1RM on all three big lifts the week following.

Although the training program is a six-week plan, it will actually take you eight weeks, taking into account 1RM testing on bench press, squat and deadlift the week before and the week after.

Power Element

Getting stronger isn’t just about lifting heavier weight. Sure, that's a big part of it, but you also need to develop power. The more power you have, the better you can explode out of the bottom of a squat or bench press. That starting power can make all the difference in lifting an extra 20 pounds on a particular lift. So in addition to the stepwise progression of lifting heavier weight for fewer reps, you’ll also spend one workout each week lifting fairly light weight for fewer reps.

The key here is that you’ll be performing these reps as fast and explosively as possible, which is the key to building the kind of power that will carry over to more strength. When you combine heavy lifting with explosive power training, you have a lethal combination for building pure, raw strength.

Muscle Confusion (and Growth)

Even if you're more interested in adding an extra inch or two to your biceps than adding 20-40 pounds to your bench press, that doesn’t mean that this program has nothing to offer you. Quite the contrary. It’s true that the 8-12-rep range is best for building muscle, but you can't stick with 8-12 reps forever. After about eight weeks of training in this rep range, your muscles will start to stagnate as they grow accustom to the workouts are no longer challenged. This is why changing up your rep ranges and weights and periodic basis is a good idea. It's not just a good idea, in fact – it's the only idea that will keep you growing.

So consider taking on the 3 Prong Strong program to throw your muscles a real curveball that will result in them growing not only stronger, but bigger too. You’ll see some growth during these six weeks, but the gains will really pile on after that. Once you're done with this strength plan, you’ll likely be using significantly more weight than normally on other exercises like curls or dumbbell presses when you go back to your hypertrophy training in the 8-12-rep range. This greater overload should translate into more muscle growth.

3 Prong Strong Training Split

In a perfect world, you’d use the below training split during the six-week program, with rest days between Workouts 2 and 3 and Workouts 3 and 4. However, if this doesn’t work for your schedule, training on any four days of the week will be fine.

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Testing 1, 2, 3

Remember that the week before you start this program you’ll need to test your 1RM on the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Then you'll need to retest them the week following the program.

And no, you’re not estimating your 1RM here with a 5- or 10-rep max. After all,

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